The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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

Q. Did you record the hours of work? Were they registered at the Trustee Office?

A. The hours were not registered, but work was done. Our people, my co-workers and colleagues, women and elderly people, who were mobilized for this work so to speak, worked hundreds and thousands of hours, without at first receiving any payment.

Q. What is the picture you have before you now?

A. This picture shows one of the furniture warehouses, in one of the halls in Prague, the same as in most of the Sokol halls.

Q. Please go on to the next picture. What do you see now?

A. Because the whole business grew beyond expectations, warehouses and special stores were opened in all the Sokol halls, which were requisitioned from the Czechs and put at our disposal, and all the synagogues were turned over to us as depots. For this purpose, everything that was holy to us was torn out and removed, and these synagogues were turned into warehouses.

Q. That applies to all these warehouses?

A. Yes.

Q. Please go on to the next picture.

A. This picture shows part of the store of paintings which was housed in the Weinberge Synagogue and held in readiness for orders from the Central Office.

Q. Were these original pictures?

A. Only original paintings. There were a number of excellent paintings, e.g., from the collection of Pick, the great margarine producer at Tschaslau, from whom quite a number of outstanding pictures by first-rate painters were robbed and in part handed out or given away.

Here is a picture showing a store of books. From the list at the front, it can be seen that we had at that time an official store of more than a million volumes, which were stored in the Meiselgasse in Prague in various stores, apart from the special store at the Stupartgasse.

This picture - typewriters. There was a special depot for objects of this kind. In my time, there were a large number of typewriters which were repaired and put at the disposal of the Central Office.

Q. I move on to pictures showing workers. But first a question: These various objects, the typewriters we see here, everything in the depot, did this undergo a process of renovation?

A. I shall come to this subject. I shall talk first of another matter in this brochure because I am so excited. In this brochure, one can also see this slogan: "Old becomes New" (alt wird neu), because many of the objects were dismantled and turned into new items. Many of these objects are to be found here under the heading "Old becomes New."

Q. Who worked on this renewal?

A. Jewish men and women.

Q. In this report you see male and female workers. Can you see the Jewish Star in these pictures?

A. Of course I see it. I also know the people who perished. This one was also a Jew.

Q. Now give the report back to the Court.

You told the Court of the impression Guenther wanted to make on the office of his superiors in Berlin. Does that appear from his report to them?

A. He said so himself. He said that he needed these reports in order to pass them on to Berlin, and that they had to be faultless.

Q. Did you know the SS staff employed by Guenther in connection with the Trusteeship Office in Prague?

A. I knew it well enough.

Q. Can you tell the Court about Guenther's efforts, and how he succeeded in his efforts to retain this staff in Prague?

A. Easily. Because he could provide proof of efficient work and results. I am convinced, and we all knew this, because he did not keep it a secret, neither did his officers. Among his people there were some very decent men, decent according to our notions. I will name especially Hauptsturmfuehrer Ullmann from Vienna, and he is worth naming; he was with me in my difficult and thankless work which was forced upon me; like Miss Matzke, he helped me in my hour of need more than once. Apart from the officers I have named, there were also civilians.

Q. I want to know who were the people who worked there. Was it necessary to employ all those SS people there, all that apparatus?

A. No.

Q. Why were these people employed there?

A. There were not only SS people there. There were so- called war Germans from Prague who worked as civilian clerks.

Presiding Judge: You must answer the questions fully. You were asked: Why were officials employed there who were not needed?

Witness Recht: Guenther set up this staff, and for him it was like a visiting card. I am not just convinced of this, I learned it through experience, by working with them. He wanted to give the impression as if, without the Central Office and without Guenther, nothing could be done in Prague; everywhere things had to be done by the right people, if the work was to be done properly.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Did you know the Commander of the Security Police in Prague during your time?

Witness Recht: I knew him by name: Weimann.

Q. Did you ever see him in the course of your work?

A. No.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have questions?

Dr. Servatius: I did not understand the last reply by the witness. Did he know Weimann or not?

Witness Recht: No. Only from hearsay, from reports.

Q. Did this unit of Guenther's have any contact at all with the Police President, the Commander of the Security Police?

A. Yes, of course. Whether he had any official relationship with him, that is beyond my knowledge. That I was not entitled to know.

Dr. Servatius: Then I have no further questions.

Presiding Judge: Thank you very much, Mr. Recht, you have completed your evidence.

State Attorney Bar-Or: With the permission of the Court, I shall continue with the Theresienstadt file. I turn to our document No. 995, a letter by Killinger which actually comes from Richter. Richter was the representative of the Accused in Bucharest, Romania, in the Judenreferat (Jewish Office) attached to the German legation there. The Court will find both signatures on document No. 995. It concerns the transmission of information from the Benzburg and Theresienstadt camps, about which the German authorities were informed by what is called here a V.M., a "Vertrauensmann" (secret agent). I submit this in connection with the, apparently successful, efforts to smuggle mail out of Theresienstadt about what was going on there.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/856.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I now go on to document No. 994, a letter dated 23 December 1942 from Klingenfuss to the deputy of the Accused, Guenther, about the deportation of first generation issue of mixed marriages holding German nationality. This follows a conversation with the above- mentioned Richter on 17 November 1942 about a request by Klingenfuss in connection with those children of mixed marriages who were to be deported in the near future. And he writes: "I request that the local State Police Headquarters concerned be informed of the deportation operation. (Richter, SS Hauptsturmfuehrer)."

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/857.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I pass on to document No. 162. It was submitted to the Court and marked T/292, in connection with the liquidation of the Jews of Bialystok. I draw your attention to document T/292 at this juncture, because here we learn for the first time about Mueller's request in this telegram, which is addressed to Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler at his Feldkommandostelle (Field Command Post) in the East.

Among other things, he asks that 10,000 Jews be sent away from Ghetto Theresienstadt. The marking of the telegram, which appears at the end, is IVB4a, and it is dated 16 December 1942. Only for the sake of completing the picture, I should like to draw the attention of the Court to one point. We shall at once see Himmler's reply to Mueller.

The telegram also finds expression, eventually, in an express letter sent to the Reichsfuehrer-SS to his Field Command Post. This is our document No. 1581, a letter from IVB4a, signed this time by Kaltenbrunner. Here we have, in fact, a reasoned version of what had been said in the telegram. The difficulty they faced was, as they say, that it was necessary to deport Jews from Theresienstadt to the East, although these were actually Jews who could not be assigned to the work effort because of their age.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/858.

State Attorney Bar-Or: At the end he says: "I ask for permission to remove from Theresienstadt, in the first instance, 5,000 Jews over the age of 65, and to transport them to Auschwitz or to the Generalgouvernement. As in the case of previous transports, in the selection of Jews who may be considered for deportation care will be taken to include only those Jews who dispose of no special relations or connections, and who are not in possession of any high war decorations."

I go on to document No. 1557, the reply from the Headquarters of the Reichsfuehrer-SS to these two applications. This reply by the Reichsfuehrer-SS, or on his behalf, is dated 16 February 1943. And what it says is interesting: "Deportation of Jews from Theresienstadt" - and someone added in handwriting "Jewish Workers." The letter says in brief that the Reichsfuehrer-SS does not wish Jews to be deported from Theresienstadt, since "The tendency to let the Jews live and die in peace in the Old Age Ghetto Theresienstadt would thereby be upset."

Judge Halevi: That is to say, Himmler was more moderate here than Kaltenbrunner.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Here Himmler was more moderate than IVB4.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/859.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I turn to our document No. 1187, a matter concerning individuals again. It is a letter by Guenther, the deputy of the Accused, to von Thadden at the Foreign Ministry, dated 15 November 1943, concerning the Jewish couple Jakob Israel Lucas. I draw attention to the last paragraph.

Presiding Judge: This was an application by the Catholic nuncio?

State Attorney Bar-Or: That is correct, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/860.

State Attorney Bar-Or: And one more document, No. 1194, which was shown to the Accused and marked T/37(293). This is the first indication of preparations for a visit by the Red Cross, at first the German Red Cross, in the Theresienstadt camp. The letter is signed by Dr. Maurer and was sent from the office of the Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service in Prague on 23 June 1943. It says that on 28 July 1943 there will be an inspection of the Theresienstadt ghetto, with the permission of the Head Office for Reich Security, and that five persons are to take part in it. There will be someone from the Chancellery of the Fuehrer; there will be Generalhauptfuehrer Hartmann of the German Red Cross; and at the end it says that von Thadden of the Foreign Ministry and two representatives of the Head Office for Reich Security will take part. The inspection will be under the guidance of SS Standartenfuehrer Sowa and SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann.

Judge Halevi: The Red Cross people are Hauptfuehrer Hartmann and Oberfeldfuehrer Miehaus.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Yes, Your Honour.

Judge Halevi: According to their titles, they were also members of the SS - or were they?

State Attorney Bar-Or: There is no proof of it here. As I understand it, at the time of the Nazi regime, the term "Offizier" (officer) was translated everywhere as "Fuehrer." I also learn this only from the documents.

Dr. Servatius: This is somewhat complicated. These are officials of the Party who also have the title "Hauptfuehrer" etc., and they have no connection with the SS personnel.

Presiding Judge: And no title from the Red Cross.

Dr. Servatius: Party officials who, in this capacity, fulfilled certain functions with the Red Cross.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/861.

State Attorney Bar-Or: The Court will be interested to know that the Accused, to whom this document was shown, refers to it in his statement on pages 2304 ff.

I go on to document No. 1205, the Order of the Day of Ghetto Theresienstadt of 10 January 1943. It deals with transports to the East. I should like to read only the first passage, which says: "In accordance with instructions from the camp commandant's office, five transports of 2,000 persons each are to be dispatched to the East in the course of this month. The dates of departure have not yet been fixed; the first transport may leave already in the course of this week. The transports will be composed, in equal halves, of persons who arrived in the ghetto in transports from the Old Reich and the Ostmark, and of persons who arrived in transports from Bohemia and Moravia. There follow several exemptions from these transports.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/862.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I turn to document No. 1200. This is not an Order of the Day from Theresienstadt, but it is, in fact, an internal order from one of the departments in Theresienstadt. The administration of the Council of Elders was divided into certain departments, and the Court now has before it an internal order from the Health Department, which was headed by Dr. Erich Munk. On 21 August 1943, Munk here informs all gynecologists of the following:

"On the occasion of the two latest announcements of births, SS Obersturmfuehrer Burger lets it be known that in future all fathers of children conceived here, as well as mother and child, will be included in transports and deported. We therefore request you again to report, first of all, all pregnancies known to you which have not yet been reported, since otherwise the examining gynecologist becomes an accessory, and therefore guilty. The information to be given to the pregnant women must be in unequivocal language, saying that the abortions have to be made on official instructions."
Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/863.

State Attorney Bar-Or: This brings me to document No. 1369, which requires a decision under Section 15, and I suggest that the Court might perhaps wish to stop here.

[The Session terminated at 13.00]

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