The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 48
(Part 4 of 8)

State Attorney Bach: The next document is No. 575. Richter sends a letter directly to the German consulate in Galatz, in which he proposes to carry out "eine ueberraschende Razzia" (a surprise raid) on the Jews in Galatz, in co- ordination with the competent police organs, in order to determine who did not fulfil his duty under the census law of 16 December 1941.

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/1033.

State Attorney Bach: Our next document is No. 193, which was shown to the Accused and numbered T/37(133). Here it is again Richter who informs Eichmann about details in connection with the German proposal for the establishment of a "Generalkommissariat fuer Judenfragen" (Central Office for Jewish Questions), and he adds that this office will be headed by Ministerialdirektor Lecca, who was until that time Commissioner for Jewish Questions.

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/1034.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is No. 479. Richter sends Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann the copy of an article from the Bukarester Tageblatt of 11 October 1942, which describes the efforts of the Jews Neumann and Filderman to prevent the expulsion of the Jews from Romania, with the help of all kinds of connections and influential personalities.

The article is full of the most vicious invective. At the beginning it mentions that already several weeks ago the Bukarester Tageblatt reported the intention to expel the Jews from Romania. I shall submit more evidence about the significance of these articles in the Bukarester Tageblatt. For the moment, I only draw your attention to the first paragraph of this article.

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/1035.

State Attorney Bach: Our next document is No. 579. It shows that Richter even intervened in judicial proceedings inside Romania. Here he writes to Lecca and mentions the trial of a Romanian official who received money from a Jew who wanted to emigrate from Romania. Various penalties were imposed on him, and the Court also ruled that he would have to return the money to that Jew. Richter describes the trial and adds: "I should be grateful if you would bring this case which, as I mentioned, has made a great stir, to the attention of Minister of Justice Harinescu and point out to him that a court sentence of this kind - ruling in favour of Jews - is very damaging for Romanian justice."

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/1036.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is numbered 578. Richter writes again to Lecca and draws the attention of the Romanian authorities to a case of Jewish property which is camouflaged as Christian property, in order to avoid the regulations of the Aryanization law.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/1037.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is No. 480. Here Richter transmits to Eichmann anti-Jewish propaganda material, which is being distributed, mainly in the rural areas, by the cultural section of the legation, in co- operation with the Romanian Ministry for Propaganda. We did not consider it important to attach the propaganda material; we wanted to point to the fact itself that there was such co- operation and that the material was brought to the attention of the Accused.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/1038.

State Attorney Bach: Your Honours, I submit the last document on Romania, document No. 572. Here we find the first hint of a modification of the German plan. This document was also transmitted by Richter, who says that they are coming up against difficulties on the part of the Romanians, from Antonescu. He reports that he met with Antonescu, and when the expulsion of the Jews, which was ready for implementation, was discussed, Antonescu suddenly said that there was a contradiction in the German standpoint: "At first you said that you did not want the Jews to be moved to the other side of the Bug, and now you want them to be deported after all."

To which Richter replied that this was only an excuse, that they understood very well that this time it was not a matter of deportation beyond the Bug, of haphazard deportation as was the case then; this time the intention was deportation to the Generalgouvernement.

He says that now the Romanians are trying to go back on their commitment, and he quotes a letter from Marshal Antonescu which says that "the evacuation of Transylvania is only being studied. The implementation is being deferred. It will only begin when the right moment comes."

Presiding Judge: Is Mihai Antonescu not the Prime Minister?

State Attorney Bach: No.

Presiding Judge: Is he his brother?

State Attorney Bach: No, they are not related. Mihai Antonescu was the chief minister, and Ion, the marshal, was the President.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/1039.

State Attorney Bach: At this stage, with the permission of the Court, I should like to present the evidence of Dr. Theodor Loewenstein.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Loewenstein: Yes.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Theodor Loewenstein Lavi.

Q. Doctor?

A. Yes.

State Attorney Bach: Dr. Loewenstein, you were born in Romania?

Witness Loewenstein: Yes.

Q. Until when did you live in Romania?

A. Until 1957.

Q. You were Professor of Jewish History and Philosophy?

A. Yes.

Q. Where?

A. At the Jewish secondary school in Bucharest and also at a Jewish university.

Presiding Judge: At a Jewish university?

Witness Loewenstein: Yes, at the time of the war there was a college, a Jewish university.

Q. In Bucharest?

A. Yes.

State Attorney Bach: Did you also live in Bucharest during the period from 1940 to 1944?

Witness Loewenstein: Yes.

Q. In addition to the fact that you were in Bucharest during this period from 1940 to 1944, and that you were present at the events which took place there, did you also do some research on what happened in Romania during the War?

A. Yes. I work at Yad Vashem, doing research.

Q. In which section?

A. In the Romanian section. I have also published several research papers.

Q. Where were you during the summer of 1940?

A. In the summer of 1940 I was mobilized at the Hungarian border.

Q. Mobilized by whom? Within what framework?

A. In the Romanian army.

Q. When were the Jews expelled from the army?

A. In the summer of 1940, at the end of the summer.

Q. Perhaps you can tell the Court briefly what territorial changes took place in Romania during that period, between 1938 and 1941, as regards Bessarabia and Transylvania. Which areas were added to Romania and which were taken away, and what was the meaning and the influence of these changes on the Jewish population?

A. Bessarabia and Bukovina were annexed to the USSR, Northern Transylvania to Hungary, and part of the Dobruja to Bulgaria.

Q. When were these changes made?

A. In June, July 1940.

Q. And afterwards, when did Bessarabia and Bukovina come under Romanian influence again?

A. After the outbreak of war with Russia, in July 1941.

Q. From June 1941 on, what was the area, the districts, which came under Romanian influence?

A. Apart from Bessarabia and Bukovina, the areas between the rivers Dniester and Bug, what was then called by a new geographic name - "Transnistria."

Presiding Judge: Why is this called Transnistria and not Transdniestria?

Witness Loewenstein: In Romanian the river is called "Nistro."

Q. Is Nistro Dniester?

A. Yes.

State Attorney Bach: And what about Transylvania?

Witness Loewenstein: Northern Transylvania remained under Hungarian rule.

Q. And Southern Transylvania?

A. Southern Transylvania was under Romanian rule.

Q. When did you arrive in Bucharest?

A. In 1940 I was still director of the Jewish school in Ploiesti, and there were already many Germans there. Persecutions against Jews had begun and I could not return there, and then I came to Bucharest.

Q. And after that you remained in Bucharest?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you begin immediately to take an active part in Jewish life?

A. Yes, I was director of the Department for Education and Culture in the Executive of the Zionist Organization of Romania.

Q. Tell me, Dr. Loewenstein, when did the German army first arrive in Bucharest?

A. In the autumn of 1940, I think in October or November 1940. At the end of November, German units seized all the schools of the Jewish community in Bucharest. I was also director of a school, and a German officer together with a Romanian officer, came and seized the building. There were about thirty such buildings in Bucharest.

Q. How long was your school in the hands of the Germans?

A. Until the end of the War, all the time.

Q. Dr. Loewenstein, do you know when Hauptsturmfuehrer Richter arrived in Bucharest, and did you know this also at the time?

A. Of course, in April 1941. He appeared in public, together with Lecca.

Q. Had he also been in Bucharest before, without appearing in public?

A. I did not know this, but I read in Hilberg's book that he was in Bucharest in 1940.

Q. But you had definite information, personal knowledge, only since April 1941?

A. Not only knowledge, we felt his presence.

Q. What did you feel?

A. After a few months, he established the Jewish Centre along the lines of all the institutions of this kind. I have also seen the regulations of the Jewish Centre in, I think, Slovakia, and they were very similar.

Q. Where did you see these regulations?

A. I saw them in Bucharest.

Q. And the Jewish Centre in Bucharest was also based on the same regulations?

A. Yes.

Q. What was Lecca's position?

A. Lecca was the person in charge, the Commissar for Jewish Matters in the prime minister's office. But he was not in direct contact with the various Jewish institutions. Sometimes he would appear together with Richter.

Q. Where did he appear?

A. In Jewish institutions. For instance, he came to my office once; I was at the time head of the Department for Education and Culture at the Jewish Centre, and he came with Lecca.

Q. I shall ask you about this later, Dr. Loewenstein. Before that I have something else to ask: It is known that there was a certain political struggle in Romania between Antonescu on the one hand, and Horia Sima on the other. Perhaps you can tell us when this struggle took place, and how it affected the treatment of the Jews in Romania?

A. In the beginning, when Antonescu came to power, the Iron Guard was also in power. Horia Sima, the commander of the Iron Guard, was deputy prime minister. We know now from documents, from the memoirs of Hoettl, that the Security Service at that time sent instructors in order to organize the "Green Police," i.e., the police of the Iron Guard.

Judge Halevi: How do we know this?

Witness Loewenstein: From the book by Walter Hagen - this was Hoettl's pseudonym. They had organized a special police force, and they seized and arrested Jews. Everything the Green Police did was after the German pattern, and first of all the boycott.

State Attorney Bach: Are you saying this on the basis of personal knowledge?

Witness Loewenstein: Yes, I saw it.

Q. Did you see the Green Police in action?

A. Yes, I saw signs "Yid Shop" on Jewish shops. Antonescu published a book in two volumes later, and in it he included records of several meetings of the government. That was in the spring of 1941, and one can see there that he did not agree with this system. In Western Romania, for instance, they seized all the Jewish enterprises, threw out the Jews and destroyed all Jewish trade.

Q. Dr. Loewenstein, by my question I intended something else: How did this struggle between Antonescu and Horia Sima - what was its significance for the anti-Semitic actions of these two bodies?

A. Antonescu said that laws were needed, not all the laws were in existence at that time, and the Iron Guard acted without laws. For instance, they carried out the Romanization - as they called it - or the Aryanization of the Jewish shops and factories without any law. Sometimes, in most cases, they simply took - that is the Green Police - took over the shops and took over the factories.

Q. Which of these two branches, or these two parties, succeeded in the end in winning the support of the Germans?

A. There were not two parties; there was only Antonescu and his officers on one side, and the Iron Guard on the other. In the end victory fell to Antonescu. Matters came to a head in the revolt of the Iron Guard, what we call "the pogrom of Bucharest." One hundred and twenty people were killed. The corpses were hung up in the slaughter-house of Bucharest with a sign "Kosher Meat," etc.

Q. Who did this - the Iron Guard?

A. Yes, the Iron Guard, the Greenshirts, that is the SA and the SS of the Iron Guard.

Q. How do you explain that this struggle expressed itself in pogroms against the Jews, among other things?

A. I think the Greenshirts, the Iron Guard, thought that this was the best method to obtain the support or the help of the Germans.

Presiding Judge: Is this a researcher's assumption?

Witness Loewenstein: This is not an assumption, if you will forgive me.

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