The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 44
(Part 4 of 7)

Presiding Judge: Is this what Ansbacher told us?

State Attorney Bar-Or: Yes, that is correct. And we have also seen a picture of this event. On page 6 he describes the "Rechtspflege im Ghetto" (administration of justice in the ghetto). We shall see documents about this subject later. Here he mentions the close supervision which Guenther II from Prague exercised over him. On page 7 he speaks of the operation of the "Schleuse" (sluice) of which we have already heard. There is an important sentence on page 8, where he speaks about "the way out of the ghetto" and says that in the office in Prague, Theresienstadt was regarded far more as an assembly camp (Sammellager) than as a ghetto for old people. This clearly shows that the whole thing was camouflage. At the end of the page he relates that he was surprised when one day Edelstein, the Jewish Elder, asked him whether it was true that one transport of Jews which had left the ghetto was intercepted and taken to the gas chambers. Seidl told him, so he says, that he knew nothing about it. A few days later Eichmann assured him on his word of honour that such a thing was out of the question.

Seidl relates that, in August 1942, a commission arrived in Auschwitz which was headed by Guenther - this time it is the permanent deputy of the Accused, the brother of Guenther in Prague; the commission went over the questionnaires, in order to determine who was to be sent to the East, perhaps the first selection of many which were made in Theresienstadt. We shall hear later about visits of officials from Berlin to Theresienstadt for the purpose of deciding who would go to the East. On page 10 he speaks about 21 cases of attempted escape from Theresienstadt of which he became aware. On page 11 he starts the description of his experiences with the Einsatzkommando Eichmann in Hungary.

I pass on to the third document. It contains what he said before his judges when the time came for his defence. I direct attention to page 4 of this document where he says that, after the first detachments had arrived in order to put up the camp, transports came finally not only from Prague and Bruenn, but from the whole area of the Reich as it was at that time. These general transports started in June 1942. He says that more transports came at shorter intervals than foreseen and that, until his departure, the highest number present in Theresienstadt at any given time was 60,000 men, women and children. On page 6 he says that he intervened with Himmler, in order that meat should also be distributed at Theresienstadt.

I now draw attention to what is said about matters of health, starting on page 8. After that, on page 9, he speaks about one transport which he remembers, of old people who came from Koeln, where the average age was 70 years, as he remembers. He says that during the time of his activity, close to two years, 18,000-20,000 persons died in Theresienstadt. He also says that sterilization or similar measures were never carried out in Theresienstadt. Before the judges, too, (on page 15), he speaks of the regulation imposing the death penalty for all escapes, all bribery, and all smuggling of mail. He says that this regulation did not originate with him "but with the Head Office for Reich Security, that is to say with Eichmann."

At the end of page 15 he gives an exact description of most of the persons, most of the main figures, in the office of the Accused, including the Accused himself. On page 18 he speaks about the transports sent from Theresienstadt. He himself remembers fifty transports going eastward, each comprising 1,000 men and women.

I go on to page 22 of the third document. Here Seidl reverts to the subject of the executions. In the last passage he says that the letters, or some of the letters, which were smuggled out, arrived in Prague and were intercepted by the Gestapo there. "The Gestapo seized the opportunity to deal a blow to Guenther, or to the Central Office, with whom the Gestapo was not on good terms, and that compelled Guenther on his part to pressure me to stop the smuggling of letters and punish the Jews who were responsible for it." And then he describes how one day Eichmann came to Theresienstadt and informed him, in the presence of the Jewish Elder Edelstein, that every case of mail smuggling was to be punished by death, and that Edelstein was to announce this to his comrades in the camp.

Beginning on page 26, he describes his experiences as commander of Bergen-Belsen, where he arrived in June 1943. He says that the mail from this camp was collected and sent uncensored to the Head Office for Reich Security, to be censored there, in Berlin. What I have just read out is in the middle of page 27.

I shall content myself with these quotations. With your permission, I shall go on to document No. 1201.

Before I do so, it will perhaps be useful for me to submit a sworn declaration, document No. 1337, a declaration from Johanan Zeev ben Pessah Scheck, who is serving in the Israeli embassy in Paris and who was himself an inmate in Theresienstadt Camp. I thought I should not trouble the Court, or Counsel for the Defence, with a special request in this matter, regarding the acceptance of the declaration, as it is only technical. He simply explains how the reports, orders and regulations issued by the Council of Theresienstadt Camp, the Jewish management, were preserved by the witness, how he kept them safe; and now he identifies them.

I intend to submit to the Court several of these orders of the day, "Tagesbefehle," as they were called. I assume that Counsel for the Defence has no objection to the submission of the orders of the day in this way. I shall submit them in the form of actual photographs of the original copies which are in our hands.

Presiding Judge: Did he collect these documents after the end of the War?

State Attorney Bar-Or: He was in charge of the activities of Hechalutz in Theresienstadt. He collected the documents and buried them in the ground. After the liberation of the camp they were taken out and transferred to Prague. From there, through the witness, they reached us.

Dr. Servatius: I have no objection.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/843.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I shall now submit our document No. 1201, Order of the Day No. 6. As this is the first order of the day, I shall speak mainly about its form. Through these orders of the day, the following kind of information was brought to the attention of the inmates of Theresienstadt Camp (from the beginning of November 1941 until the day of liberation in May 1945): (a) Instructions from the Dienststelle, the Commandant's office; (b) Internal instructions given by the management of the ghetto, which was in the hands of the so-called Council of Elders (Aeltestenrat) for internal purposes, for the issue of internal permits and information about certain prohibitions, about punishments imposed by the Commandant's office or by the court which existed within the ghetto, run by the Council of Elders. We shall find specific items in each order of the day.

In the order before us, I ask you to note the prohibition of smoking in paragraph 2, and in paragraph 3 the duty to salute all those wearing uniform.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bar-Or, I am again under the impression that we are going into too many into details, judging by the general progress during this morning. I am aware that you are under a certain amount of pressure.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Your Honour, I hope that I shall withstand this pressure without betraying my tasks in the Court.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/844.

State Attorney Bar-Or: The second Order of the Day is our document No. 1203. This Order - dated 10 January 1942 - is of importance because it contains what we have just read in Seidl's declaration, information about the execution by hanging, ordered by the Commander of the Security Service, of persons named in the Order of the Day, because of smuggling. This was the first group of nine men, exactly as Seidl tells it, the first group to be hanged.

Presiding Judge: This is marked T/845.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I pass on to document No. 1198, Order of the Day of 19 January 1942. The first paragraph refers to an inspection carried out by Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, on 19 January 1942, together with SS Sturmbannfuehrer Stingel and the Commander of the Camp, Dr. Seidl. I beg to draw your attention to Eichmann's warning* {*No warning appears in the document.} relating to postal connections, which is mentioned in paragraph 3. Here it can be seen how such matters had to be addressed to him directly.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/846.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I proceed to document No. 1199, Order of the Day of 23 January 1942. In paragraph 1, instructions from Obersturmfuehrer Seidl are mentioned which are to alleviate the difficulty of postal connections to a certain extent.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/847.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I pass on to document No. 1204, Order of the Day of 19 October 1942. This is one of the orders mentioning transports out of the ghetto to the East. Here also, as in Prague, each transport has a distinguishing mark, in this case: Bx. And it says here in paragraph 1: "At the order of the Commandant's office, the third transport of persons who are too old from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia has to be dispatched from the ghetto on 22 October 1942."

Judge Halevi: What is the meaning of Ueberalterte?

State Attorney Bar-Or: Aged.

Judge Halevi: And it was just these persons who were sent on?

State Attorney Bar-Or: About this point I shall submit an exchange of letters between Mueller and Himmler which shows what were the problems involved.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/848.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I pass on to document No. 1202, again in connection with a postal freeze, Order of the Day of 27 December 1941. This is the second case of smuggling letters.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/849.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Now I go on to document No. 541, dated 20 February 1943. It is a letter from the office of the Accused, IVB4, signed by his permanent deputy, Guenther. It was shown to the Accused and marked T/37(172). There are detailed guidelines here for the technical implementation of what is termed "Wohnsitzverlegung von Juden nach Theresienstadt" (transfer of residence of Jews to Theresienstadt): The categories of Jews to be included, what must be taken along, what may not be taken. Forms for reporting are prescribed, and we see that Eichmann, Section IVB4, must be informed in minute detail about each transport of Jews. (Here I refer to Annexes 1 and 2). We also find in the document the Authorities within the Reich area which were charged with coordination and with implementation of the transport. These instructions actually followed earlier instructions about deportation of Jews from the Reich area to the East.

As regards the reporting, the Court will find details under Letter IV, where it says that reports must be sent to the Head Office for Reich Security, Section IVB4, to the Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service, to the Central Office for the Settlement of the Jewish Question in Bohemia and Moravia, Prague, and to Ghetto Theresienstadt.

Finally, under Letter VIII, about treatment of Jewish property, it says that instructions will be given separately from time to time by the office of the Accused.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/850.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I go on to document No. 546, a letter from the Accused to von Thadden at the Foreign Ministry, dated 15 November 1943. It deals with Jews who hold Hungarian citizenship and who are in the Theresienstadt ghetto. At the end of the letter the Accused says: "Therefore" - i.e., because of what is said above in connection with Bergen-Belsen, etc. - "I have ordered the Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service in Prague to leave the Jews concerned in Theresienstadt until further notice."

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/851.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I go on to document No. 1239. It was shown to the Accused and numbered T/37(304). In connection with this document, I ask for a decision by the Court about the declaration by Dr. John Adler, from London, which is attached to the minute from Theresienstadt of 27 January 1943.

The Court will notice that the minute is in fact a copy, and not the original. Dr. Adler's declaration explains how the copy was prepared, since he saw the original, compared it with the copy, and he confirms that the copy is correct. This was the only way in which we could obtain the text of the document, which appears to me to be rather important. It deals with the replacement of leaders of the Council of Elders, following orders given by the Accused himself.

I ask the Court for a decision to accept the document. The Accused, to whom it was shown, speaks about it on page 3458 of his Statement.

Presiding Judge: Has Dr. Servatius any comments on this?

Dr. Servatius: No, I have no reservations.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 36

We decide to accept the declaration by Dr. Adler. The document will be marked T/852 - the declaration together with the copy of the document.

State Attorney Bar-Or: This minute of 27 January 1943 gives a detailed account of the visit of the Accused, accompanied by two of his men, Moehs from Berlin and Dr. Seidl, to Theresienstadt.

Judge Halevi: I did not understand from the document that this was a visit by the Accused, but that Seidl and Moehs give a message on behalf of the Accused.

State Attorney Bar-Or: The document begins, in fact, with Seidl informing the Council of Elders about his meeting with Moehs in Berlin on 27 January 1943. Moehs brings a certain detailed order in the name of Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann to the attention of Seidl. Seidl passes the matter on to the Council of Elders.

Judge Halevi: Yes, but Eichmann was not there.

State Attorney Bar-Or: The Court will remember that, from its beginning, the camp was directed by the Council of Elders, the Head of which was Jacob Edelstein, formerly Head of the Palestine Office in Prague. His place is now to be taken by a triumvirate suggested by the Accused, and composed of the following three persons: Dr. Eppstein, Dr. Loewenherz and Mr. Edelstein, who will take upon themselves the conduct of the affairs of the ghetto. The Accused asks that Dr. Eppstein, who is about to arrive from Berlin, be entrusted with the main responsibility for the direction of ghetto business.

I go on to document No. 1058. It is a minute by Gerhart Riegner about a conversation, or a consultation, he had with Mr. Andre de Pilar of the Mixed Commission for Relief of the International Red Cross, which took place on 7 July 1943.

Presiding Judge: And who is Gerhart Riegner?

State Attorney Bar-Or: He was himself active on behalf of the International Red Cross.

Presiding Judge: Here, in his declaration, it says that he was "Directeur du Congres Juif Mondial" (Director of the World Jewish Congress), and that he had this conversation with Mr. Andre de Pilar.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I am sorry, I have to make a correction. I see here that Gerhart Riegner was the representative of the World Jewish Congress in Geneva, and here he relates what was said in the conversation with the representative of the Mixed Commission on that date.

Presiding Judge: After that man returned from Theresienstadt?

State Attorney Bar-Or: That is correct. It is with regard to this document that I have to ask for the approval of the Court under Section 15.

Presiding Judge: My colleague points out that Mr. de Pilar did not himself visit Theresienstadt. He spoke with representatives of the German Red Cross who were there.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Yes. I wish to submit this report because it gives, for the first time, a general background picture about what was known then in Germany about Theresienstadt Camp, about the arrangements in force in connection with Theresienstadt Camp.

Presiding Judge: What was known at that time?

State Attorney Bar-Or: Many other matters are discussed here. There is, for instance, a description of the situation in general, of the mood in Berlin in those days. This I do not have to prove, this is not in my brief.

Presiding Judge: This comes, in fact, from a third-hand source?

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