The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 38
(Part 5 of 10)

Q. During the journey did you not receive food?

A. We received neither food nor water. Only when we left Auschwitz, each one got a loaf of bread, and again at night, accompanied by an orchestra, they put us into a cattle freight car. There we remained without water or air. Each one wanted only to get a drop of the little water that seeped in from the window, which was not altogether shut, for our lips were dry and our tongues were sticking to the mouth.

Presiding Judge: From the rain?

Witness Ansbacher: Yes, from the rain.

State Attorney Bar-Or: How long did you remain below in Dachau?

Witness Ansbacher: We remained in Dachau until, some days later, they decided that they would detail us for labour.

Q. To what kind of work were you assigned?

A. We were distributed amongst all kinds of jobs. My first assignment was to the cement works. When I joined the commando, I did not know what cement works were. While I was working there, they did not send me home at all, that is to say, to the camp, and for 24 hours, day and night, we had to carry sacks of cement on our backs for a distance of thirty metres, each one weighing fifty kilograms, by running from the railway freight cars to the works and putting the sack on to the conveyor.

There was a German there from the labour battalions, and he held in his hand a sharp instrument shaped like a hook, with the aid of which he quickly opened the sack of cement which poured off my back on to the conveyor. Sometimes, when the work was not progressing fast enough, he threw the iron instrument at his victim and drew blood, and shouted out to those present: "Faster, faster, and get back to work!" So we went back. I was cold, so I took a cement bag from there and put it on like a shirt.

Q. When you say "I was cold," did you not have any clothes on your back?

A. I only had a shirt and pants of the type of a pyjama, which I received in Auschwitz, no underpants nor anything else. My socks were made from prayer shawls, and on our feet we wore heavy wooden shoes; I could not walk in them, for I developed corns and my feet hurt.

Q. You walked barefoot?

A. Yes, I walked barefoot.

Q. How long could you carry on like that?

A. I cried all night, for I could not stand it any longer - nothing could help me. They shouted at me: "Nothing is going to help you here - whoever remains here will die. Carry on!" And so, running all the time, I carried sacks on my back. The next morning, to my great fortune, I was sent to other work. In general, we had already learned from Theresienstadt and Auschwitz that it was always desirable for two or three companions to keep together and help one another. There was strong egotism, and we had learned that if some kept going together, somehow we would see it through.

There was one young man who had come together with me from Theresienstadt. His name was Liben. This young man kept together with me, and together we went to work. As a rule we managed to remain in the same commando. There was forced labour for the firms "Moll" and "Holzmann." We constructed huge buildings, in which war materials and fuel for the German army were concealed. Going to work and coming back was a story in itself.

Q. Did an epidemic of Flecktyphus, spotted typhus break out in the camp?

A. It seems to me that they called it Bauchtyphus (stomach typhus). I had Flecktyphus. There is a difference between the two. Bauchtyphus was what we got in Theresienstadt. The Flecktyphus that almost all of us contracted in the camp was due to lice. We looked like animals - we could not shave, the conditions did not enable us to look after our bodies, we could not wash ourselves, since it was so cold that it would have torn the skin.

Q. Did this sickness spread from person to person by means of the lice?

A. Yes.

Q. What was the mortality rate?

A. The mortality rate was very high. In figures, I would say hundreds each week. Each day there was a huge pile of bodies alongside the camp gate. The ordinary members of the Totenkommando (the death commando) threw the bodies on top of each other. At first, when the mortality rate was not so great, before the Flecktyphus broke out, they still buried these bodies in a common grave. Later on, they did not even bother to bury them, they left them piled up and did not attend to them at all. In the camp, there was also a man who had previously been a dentist, and he had to remove all the gold teeth from the dead.

Q. When did you leave Dachau?

A. I left Dachau shortly before the liberation, and I was transferred to the camp at Allech.

Q. Approximately when?

A. Then they told us...

Q. Mr. Ansbacher, approximately when?

A. In April 1945.

Q. I have one more question, Mr. Ansbacher. I asked you to bring with you drawings by artists of Theresienstadt from the Yad Vashem collection?

A. Yes.

Q. To bring them so that you could identify to the Court what they illustrate. Did you bring the drawings?

A. Yes. Drawings, and also three photographs.

Q. Please give them to me.

Witness hands over the drawings and the photographs to Mr. Bar-Or.

Q. Can you see this photograph? What can you identify here? (Shows the witness a photograph.)

A. This is a transport.

Presiding Judge: Is it a photograph or a drawing?

State Attorney Bar-Or: This is a photograph.

Witness Ansbacher: The photograph shows a transport arriving at Theresienstadt. This here, to the best of my knowledge, is the Hamburger Kaserne. I have only one doubt, concerning the building actually adjoining the Hamburger Kaserne, which was the house where I lived, L206.

Presiding Judge: Who photographed it?

Witness Ansbacher: I do not know.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Did it reach the archives of Yad Vashem?

Witness Ansbacher: Yes.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Everything that I am submitting, Your Honour, is from the material which reached the archives of Yad Vashem, and it is being shown to the witness, first of all, for the purposes of identification.

Presiding Judge: Were there once military barracks in this place?

Witness Ansbacher: Yes.

State Attorney Bar-Or: It was a military fortress of the Austrian army.

Presiding Judge: The photograph will be marked T/651.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I show you a drawing signed by Leo Haas. What does it depict? (Shows a drawing to the witness.)

Witness Ansbacher: Here we see a transport arriving at the station at Bauschewitz. We also came at first to the station at Bauschewitz, and it was only then that the doors were opened. This was the railway station near Theresienstadt.

Q. Who built it?

A. I do not know who built the station at Bauschewitz. In 1943 the people of the camp continued with the building of the station from Bauschewitz to the ghetto at Theresienstadt. This was the route from Bauschewitz to Theresienstadt. This first photograph already shows the transport arriving at the site of the Schleuse , in the ghetto itself.

Presiding Judge: Did you know Leo Haas?

Witness Ansbacher: As far as I know, he was a painter who worked in Theresienstadt. He signed most of his works and wrote the exact date. He was sent to Auschwitz together with other artists. To the best of my knowledge, he now lives in Prague, and he is one of the few who survived.

Presiding Judge: This drawing will be marked T/652.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I will now show you a drawing, again by Leo Haas, of a cart bearing below the sign SS. Perhaps you would describe what is shown here? (Shows a drawing to the witness.)

Witness Ansbacher: In this drawing, we see the only truck that came to the station at Bauschewitz, before it was actually a station - in fact it was the ghetto itself. In this truck they removed from the station only those who were already dead or who were close to death, who were dying. The driver drove in a wild fashion. He was an SS driver who drove on purpose in zig-zags. On the way from the station at Bauschewitz to the ghetto, many of these sick and feeble people died.

Q. Did you see this.

A. I saw it many times.

Q. And what is depicted here?

A. What is depicted here are dead bodies, sick people, and people still alive, and parcels - all together on the cart. And this is the SS truck which was known to every person in Theresienstadt.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/653.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I now show you another drawing by Leo Haas, evidently from the year 1944. I would ask you to describe what you see.

Witness Ansbacher: To the best of my knowledge this drawing shows the Schleuse.

Q. What is the Schleuse?

A. The Schleuse was the place to which people were taken after they arrived on the transport. They conveyed them into a closed courtyard where they were classified according to work potential, according to sex and age. Everyone had to pass by a check post of Czech gendarmes who seized any article which had some value, such as thermos flasks, cigarettes, writing paper, and even toilet paper.

Q. Was this immediately after the transport arrived at Theresienstadt?

A. Immediately.

Q. Even before the transport went in?

A. Before they went into the truck they did not have any contact with those who had been there some time. This place in the picture - where we also arrived - shows the Schleuse in the Kavalier Kaserne which was next to the Hohen Elbe hospital. From there we could see the faces of the people of Theresienstadt, who looked at us in alarm. This was our first welcome into the ghetto.

Presiding Judge: I see here a signboard on the neck of each one. What is it?

Witness Ansbacher: Every Jew sent from Germany had a number, as in the case of cattle, and there we bore the number of the transport. Those who came from Germany also received a Roman numeral. Those who came from Berlin and Prussia were given the Roman numeral I, those who came from Bavaria the Roman numeral II, and those who came from Czechslovakia did not have Roman numerals, but simply the letters and numbers of the transport.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/654.

Witness Ansbacher: In the case of the Jews from Germany, it also said "Kennort" (place of identity) and "Kennnummer" (identity number). For it was known that all the Jews of Germany had, apart from their date of birth, a number of other essential particulars which had to be quoted on every official occasion.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I see here something that appears to be a death waggon. Perhaps you can say: Was this in

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