The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 47
(Part 7 of 8)

Q. To whom was this sum paid?

A. To the Commandant's office.

Q. And after this payment you were freed and returned to Salonika??

A. Yes.

Q. And you remained in Salonika?

A. But there were still problems. There were young men, blessed be their memory, and among them was my brother...The partisans appeared on the scene and they wanted to take their revenge on the Germans. And who were the victims? - the Jews. So the Germans decided to put Jewish guards in places where the railway had to pass. Every 20 kilometers there had to be a guard manned by young Jews, who were replaced every 24 hours. And they let it be known that if, heaven forbid, something were to happen along the railway line they would kill the entire Jewish guard. Imagine under what conditions the Jews lived then! The partisans knew about this and they refrained from doing anything.

Q. Were you in Salonika at that time?

A. I was in Salonika. I am telling you things which I know.

Q. Until when did you remain in Salonika?

A. I remained in Salonika until 26 April 1943.

Q. And what happened then?

A. They started the transports.

Q. And then what happened?

A. Before the transports, after we were finished with the work, we were left in peace for a short while. Then, suddenly, they announced that the Jews had to have a designation. First of all a sign had to be posted on every Jewish business saying "Juedisches Geschaeft" (Jewish business) - I myself had to do this...

Q. In Greek and German?

A. In Greek and German. And any German soldier could walk into the shop and take whatever he wanted without saying a thing. Next they announced that the Jews had to be put into a ghetto. But there were 60,000 Jews in Greece and it was difficult to put them all into a ghetto. So what did they do? They employed special engineers to prepare plans for constructing ghettos, and they put up six ghettos. Those people whom they could not crowd into the ghettos were ordered to leave their homes and move into some shed or wherever, only they had to be in the ghetto.

Q. But not in their home?

A. Not at home; the homes were taken over by the Germans. I have to mention an important event prior to that: There was a Rabbi Gaon of blessed memory in Salonika, who lived on the ground floor of a house occupied by Germans, and on the third floor of that house there lived a German General. Suddenly one day, at 5.30 in the morning, he sent a soldier to call the Rabbi upstairs. An hour and a half later the children downstairs heard a noise. What happened? Father has not come down? When they opened the door they found the Rabbi lying on the floor unconscious, and with no hair. His hair and beard had been shorn off. And this was such a disgrace for him, that he wanted to live no longer.

Q. Now we shall perhaps come to April 1943. What happened then?

A. Do you wish to hear about the ghettos?

Q. No. We have already heard about the ghettos.

Presiding Judge: You were asked what happened in April 1943, that was the question. Please reply to it.

Witness Nechama: Do you want me to tell you what happened to me, or what happened to all the Jews.

State Attorney Bar-Or: To you, Mr. Nechama.

Witness Nechama: I remained in my home in Salonika because in my house there was typhoid, the neighbour upstairs had typhoid and the building had been put in quarantine. The Germans had heard about the quarantine and kept kilometers away. They were afraid and did not come to me. The quarantine was to be for 21 days. Meanwhile there were no Jews left in Salonika. They were all gone, partly on transports and partly to "Baron Hirsch," which was the centre, the ghetto.

Q. They had to be collected there?

A. Yes. I was sure that my house in Salonika would be spared, and I made all kinds of plans to escape. I had a brother-in-law living outside Salonika and he made all the preparations so that I would be able to stay with him.

Presiding Judge: Were you a bachelor?

Witness Nechama: No, I was married - I had a plan how to escape the next day. At 6 o'clock in the morning they came from the Gestapo with a list and said: In half an hour you have to be ready to go to "Baron Hirsch." So I called the Police Commander in my district and he started to argue.

Presiding Judge: Was he Greek?

Witness Nechama: Yes, Greek. He started to argue with the Gestapo Doctor. At that time I did not know German at all, but he knew it well. There was quite a serious discussion, but then he said: Itzchak, nothing can be done, you have to go.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Did you go?

Witness Nechama: Yes.

Q. What happened?

A. When I came to "Baron Hirsch," it was full of lice. My wife began to cry. What was I to do? One had to be patient.

Q. How long did you stay there?

A. Only 24 hours, one night. Then (we had to go) to an office where we were told that we would have to change all our money and that we would get zlotys "because you are going to Poland to a place named Beserko." I do not remember exactly, near Sosnowiec. They said this was in Cracow. They told us that we had to hand over our money and receive zlotys

"and you will be in communities, the Greeks separately, like a Jewish state it will be there." I said to myself: It is no good dying, we shall live there. If I had known the conditions in which I would live I would rather have died on the spot, I would not have lived at all.

Presiding Judge: What happened? Did they deport you?

Witness Nechama: Yes, they deported me.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Where did you get to?

Witness Nechama: Do you want to know exactly?

Q. Where did you get you? Where did the train go to?

A. To Auschwitz.

Q. How long did you remain in Auschwitz?

A. I stayed 38 days in Auschwitz.

Q. And from there you were sent to work?

A. Yes, to a factory for anti-aircraft tanks.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps artillery?

Witness Nechama: Artillery, perhaps that was it?

State Attorney Bar-Or: And from there?

Witness Nechama: I worked there for 18 months.

Q. Where were you sent after that?

A. To Mauthausen.

Q. And from there you went to...

A. Gusen 1.

Presiding Judge: Where is this?

Witness Nechama: It must be in the neighbourhood of Vienna.

State Attorney Bar-Or: When was this?

Witness Nechama: This was in March 1945.

Q. Where were you released?

A. I was released in Wels near Vienna on 4 March 1945.

Presiding Judge: That is to say, you were outside of Greece for two years?

Witness Nechama: Exactly.

State Attorney Bar-Or: When you arrived at Auschwitz and climbed down from the train - what happened? Not what happened the next day, but what happened when you actually left the train? How many of you were from Salonika?

Witness Nechama: We were exactly 78. That was the smallest number. The situation was terrible. Imagine, men and women, young men and girls, how could they live in such conditions. We had been told we were going to Cracow, take with you what you want. Some people took umbrellas because it snows there and rains, so one needs an umbrella. There was so much baggage that one could not move. We did not sleep at all.

Q. When you climbed down from the train in Auschwitz - what happened?

A. I shall tell you. I was one of the first to climb down. When I came down I saw immediately people wearing pyjamas. I was lucky they were French and I understand French quite well. I said to them: "What is going to happen here?" "You will find out later," they replied. "Alright, explain!" "It is forbidden to explain now!" I did not even manage to see my wife. The beating went on, the crying, father looking for son...

Q. Did you know the people who came with you from Salonika to Auschwitz?

A. Certainly.

Q. As far as you know, are there others still alive, and how many?

A. I'll tell you, 56,000 Jews left Salonika on the transports and only 1,950 of them returned.

Presiding Judge: How many of those who went with you and whom you knew returned?

Witness Nechama: I can tell you exactly: Four live here.

Q. In Israel?

A. Yes. Three live in America. Altogether there must be ten.

Q. Out of the 78 whom you mentioned?

A. In our transport there were 2,700.

State Attorney Bar-Or: What does the figure 78 you mentioned - persons in one carriage?

Witness Nechama: Yes. On the whole transport there were 2,700.

Presiding Judge: And out of these, out of those who went with you, only 10 are alive today?

Witness Nechama: I am talking of the whole train.

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

Dr. Servatius: No, I have no questions to the witness. I just wanted to explain, with reference to the pictures, that there is no SS man here, these are German soldiers and it seems that some wearing foreign uniforms are also among them. But that I cannot explain exactly from this (from the pictures).

Judge Halevi: Were you sent to Auschwitz together with your wife and your family?

Witness Nechama: Only with my wife, since my parents had left before me. I told you that I should have escaped. My parents had already left two weeks before me.

Q. Did you wife travel together with you?

A. Yes. Only I remained alive. Of the whole family, my father, my mother, four sisters, my brother and my wife, I alone remained.

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

State Attorney Bar-Or: With the permission of the Court, we shall continue with the documents concerning Greece. I now come to Wisliceny's attempt to penetrate also into the area occupied by the Italians. That is our document No. 1007. It is a report by Hencke of the Foreign Ministry dated 3 June 1943. He transmits to the Staatssekretaer (Secretary of State) at the Foreign Ministry a complaint from the Italian Embassy which was again raised in the context we know already.

In the process of rounding up the Jews of Salonika, Jews who are not Greek citizens are also being seized. Here this concerns Italian citizens. The Italians insist on maintaining their prestige. In spite of the Italian interventions with the German authorities in Salonika the competent military commander had informed the Italian Consul General on 21 May that, to his regret, and an official promise not withstanding, a certain family of Italian* {*Should be Greek nationality, but vide Exh. T/985 for particulars.} nationality had been deported on the most recent train which left for Poland.

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/985.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Our document No. 1008 is a letter by von Thadden, who has asked Secretary Lanza of the Italian Embassy to visit him in order to receive explanations about this Wisliceny affair. Lanza has called and it turns out that the Italians have complaints about the intrusion of Wisliceny into the area occupied by Italy, against which he protests energetically. This can be seen in particular in the passage which appears in the attached translation on page 2 under letter "a" and which speaks about the Accused. The Accused saw this document and it was marked T/37(276). He speaks about it on page 3341ff. of his Statement and what is important for us appears on page 3344, where he says: "Von Thadden puts things into my mouth which I would never have done."

The Accused maintains that von Thadden reports here about things which are complete fabrication. However, in the same breath, he gives Wisliceny, his subordinate, a testimonial of good conduct in no uncertain terms.

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/986.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Our document No. 1009 is a complex one. It was sent by the Foreign Ministry to the Italian Embassy in Berlin on 24 June 1943, again about the same subject, about Wisliceny. The Foreign Ministry rejects the Italian protests and copies of its reply are sent to the Accused and to the German Consul General in Salonika.

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/987.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Our document No. 1010. Von Thadden sends an urgent letter to the Accused about the negotiations with the Spanish Government concerning Spanish Jews in Salonika. There was a possibility that Spain might grant them permission to return to Spain. This concerns about 600 Jews and the matter has in fact been turned over to Eichmann, as can be inferred from the marginal remark dated 26.7.1943.

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