The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-038-04

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-038-04
Last-Modified: 1999/06/01

Q. Why?

A. Every day we saw the transports which arrived.  These
were always people who came with their rucksacks, with bags,
with strong clothing.  For there were special instructions
on behalf of the Reich Association of Jews about what was
needed in the camps, what was worthwhile taking and what was
worthwhile leaving behind, although these instructions were
usually not observed.  Everyone had more or less what was
required in the camp - there were stout shoes and so on.
Suddenly there appeared a group of people with top hats,
frock coats, with patent leather shoes, with walking sticks,
as if they were strolling on some promenade abroad.  We
could not bear to see this, we cried.  We said: "How can it
happen that these people are being brought here unaided,
without anything?"  They had no idea at all what was
happening to them.  Later on they told us that they were
literally dragged from the streets, that the Danish people
helped them and objected to their being taken.  Thus it
happened that, while people were attending to their affairs,
going to court or some other place, they were actually
kidnapped in the street and put into trucks, and they were
no longer seen by their friends.  Among them were two
companions by the name of Rubin, who were together with me
until they were moved to the building for prominent people.
This was something special where only privileged people
lived.  Generally, the Dienststelle in Berlin gave orders
that these people had to be kept separately.

Q. When did you hear for the first time that you would have
to leave Theresienstadt?

A. I heard all the time that I would have to leave
Theresienstadt.  Everyone who was in Theresienstadt was
included in the transports.  One always found some reason to
be released.  We passed through a terrible experience at
night - they were nights of fear.  Here was a transport,
they were preparing the coupons: "Have you received yours?"
"No." "Did you receive one?" "No."  "You have not received
one? I have already received an order to report."  They were
thin coupons, those fateful vouchers.  The number of the
transport was written there, and the personal number.

Q. Who issued these vouchers?

A. They were sent by the Evidenz-Abteilung, a registration
office, the department responsible to the SS for the
condition of the Jews.

Q. When did you get such a coupon?

A. I received such a coupon, as I have mentioned, several
times, but I was always released.  I received my fateful
coupon during the High Holidays in the year 1944.

Q. Were you the only one to you receive this coupon?

A. Almost all our comrades, almost all of them received
coupons.  But some of them were for earlier transports -
there were three transports, one went after the other at
intervals of only one or two days.

Q. When you talk about your comrades, are you talking of the
youths that were together with you?

A. No! I did not remain in the youth hostel all the time.
When I reached the age of sixteen I was obliged to leave the
youth hostel, for I was no longer entitled to remain there.

Q. Where did you move to?

A. They transferred me to the Hanover Kaserne (Hanover
Military Barracks).

Q. What was that?

A. The Hanover Kaserne was a residential building similar to
all the barracks in the ghetto.  It was never our practice
to say Kaserne, we said Magdeburg, Genie, Hohen Elbe;
similarly we never mentioned the days.  We called the days
of the week: Hirsetag (Millet Day), Buchtelntag (Buckwheat
Day) - we gave them names according to the food.  On a day
we received Kneidel (dumplings), it was Kneideltag.

Q. What did you do at the Hanover Kaserne?

A. At the Hanover Kaserne we lived as a group of 15-20 young
men from Czechoslovakia, Holland and Denmark.

Q. What was the work you had to do?

A. I myself worked in the "Proviantur" - this was the
section that dealt with food.

Q. The transportation of food?

A. Both the transportation of food and cooking.  Each one
was engaged in different work.

Q. When you received your final notification on the High
Holidays of the year 1944 to leave, did your mother also
receive a notice to leave?

A. No.

Q. And so, what happened?

A. There was great excitement in our room, for all of us had
tasks we regarded as being essential.  Everyone,
nevertheless, made a further effort perhaps to give
convincing reasons.  One of our companions, for example,
worked in the Talmud-Hundertschaft.  This was something
unique; here they collected, sorted out and catalogued all
the Jewish literature brought to Theresienstadt in hundreds
of crates.  Those were huts near the Hanover Kaserne....

Q. What was the origin of these books?

A. They came from Jewish congregations in the countries of

Q. How did they reach Theresienstadt?  What do you know
about this?

A. We knew that they had come from Rosenberg's office.  We
knew that he was collecting all this material.

Q. And your task, that of the Talmud-Hundertschaft, you say,

A. I did not work there - only rabbis and learned men.
There were very many in Theresienstadt who had an
acknowledged international standing in scholarship.

Q. And they dealt there with the sorting out...?

A. They dealt with arranging, recording, writing a
description of the contents of each book, and some of our
comrades occasionally brought home lists such as these, and
in this way I was able to learn about their duties.

Q. And this was regarded as essential work, releasing people
from the transports to the East?

A. Yes.

Q. How was this carried out?

A. The policy in Theresienstadt, and this was the policy of
Edelstein, and also of Eppstein who continued it afterwards,
was to distribute the workers widely.  That is to say,
sometimes scores of people worked in one office on something
which, let us assume, three to four people could manage
efficiently; they aimed at dividing up the tasks, so that
each one would be considered to be essential, in order to
release him from the deportations to the East.

Q. But it did not help?

A. By then it did not help any longer in most cases, but
earlier there were many more possibilities.

Q. What happened when you had to leave?

A. I was summoned to appear for the transport at the
Hamburger Kaserne, they called the place the "Dwellings of
the Dutch," despite the fact that there were Jews there from
other places as well.  Each barracks had its own kitchen.
We were given a place on the floor to sleep on, and they
told us we would have to wait, to wait for the next
transport.  And the transport was delayed from day to day.

Q. Were you in touch with your mother during these days of

A. Yes.  I was still able to go out of the Hamburger
Kaserne, and I went to my mother every day, to see her, to
encourage and strengthen her.

Q. And on the day of the transport?

A. Again it was night - it was terrible, it aroused within
us a feeling of fear and revulsion.

Q. The train always travelled at night?

A. In most of the cases, as far as I remember, the train
went by night.  And then, again - the projectors in the
courtyard.  Next came an order that we were not allowed to
leave the Hamburger Kaserne.  Then Rahm came.

Q. Who was Rahm?

A. He was the SS commandant of the camp.

Q. Do you know how to spell his name?

A. I know...I am not sure, I think it was with an 'H'.

Q. Did you ever see the name in print?

A. I saw it many times.  I also saw the signatures of

Q. Which signatures did you see?

A. Haindl, Bergel, Seidl.

Q. Are these the signatures you remember?

A. Yes.

Q. Let us return to the Hamburger Kaserne.

A. The place was closed.  There were also people from the
Jewish Council.  We were told: "You are now going to another
labour camp.  There you will build a new camp like
Theresienstadt.  It will be better for you, better than
here.  You will have food and good conditions.  You have no
cause for worry.  We are proud of you, for there you will be
able to build what you were not able to finish here."

Q. Whose speech was this?

A. This was the speech of Rahm or of another SS man; he
passed it on to a member of the Jewish Council who later
read it out to us - like his spokesman.

Presiding Judge: Was Rahm present?

Witness Ansbacher: Rahm was present all the time.  After
that the selection began.  This was really not a selection,
for they sent all of us.  I decided that I would dare to
approach an SS man who was there.
State Attorney Bar-Or:  Was there a selection or not?

Witness Ansbacher There were people who were taken out at
the last minute for all kinds of reasons on the ground of
their being essential - right at the last minute.

Q. And then you decided that you would try to remain behind?

A. While we were walking around in the courtyard of the
Hamburger Kaserne, everyone had to pass in front of the SS
man, to pass by Rahm or some other SS man.  And if my memory
serves me well, there were, apart from Rahm, two other SS
men.  Each one who passed by him had to remove his hat and
go on walking.  On occasion there was someone from the
Jewish Council who would comment about a particular man:
"His job is so and so.  Perhaps, despite everything, it
would be possible to leave him behind?," if he was an
essential person.  But at that stage they no longer had any
influence, and it did not help.

Q. Go back to your own case.  What did you do?

A. I then went up to the SS man and said: "My mother is
critically ill - she cannot remain here without me, I would
ask you to leave me here."  And then he said: "Ho hop!"
That was all - the next person had already come after me.
Afterwards I reached a hall where they were assembling all
of us, and there we already had no more contact with the
people of the ghetto.  I succeeded, nevertheless, in passing
a note on to my mother, and I wrote: "Mother, make an
effort, in spite of everything, as long as you have the
strength, to come to a labour camp.  Follow me.  We are
leaving, and I know you will be helpless without me.  Come
after me - I will surely be able to take care of you.  Try."
And I know from those who came from Denmark, who related
this to me after the war, that Mother volunteered for the
next transport, and I never heard anything further about

Q. Where did this transport take you?

A. To Auschwitz.

Q. How long did you remain there?

A. I stayed there about ten days.

Q. Then you left Auschwitz?

A. Correct.

Q. Where to?

A. I was sent to Dachau in October 1944.

Q. You reached Dachau and remained there until your
liberation by the Americans?

A. Correct.  We were in some of the subsidiary camps of
Dachau.  Dachau was an overall name.  At the beginning we
arrived there, and from there we were transferred to
subsidiary camps.

Q. Please tell the Court, briefly, of your principal
impressions of the Dachau camp.

A. By the time we reached Dachau, we had already passed
through a kind of school in Auschwitz for a short period,
albeit for only ten days, but we knew the first thing that
had to be done was to learn about the situation in the camp.

Q. How old were you when you reached Dachau?

A. When I came to Dachau I was seventeen years old.

Q. And so you had to examine the situation?

A. Yes.

Q. What was the situation?

A. We had to get to know which were the places where you
received blows, where you had to stand in line in order to
get soup, or where you received more soup, where you had to
line up to go out to work and so on.  This took a little
time, and meanwhile we were beaten up, left and right.  We
also received blows all the time we were walking from the
train until we arrived at the camp.  Again we arrived at
night, they always sent people by night.  And some group of
SS men emerged out of the fog and darkness, and we heard
them singing as they drew nearer: "Die Juden ziehen dahin
daher, sie ziehen durchs rote Meer, die Wellen schlagen zu,
die Welt hat Ruh."  (The Jews move from place to place, they
pass through the Red Sea, the waves close over them, the
world has peace.)  We knew that there was something in store
for us, and here the beating started.  They simply struck
out at the crowd at random, left and right, without looking;
they hit us with rifles and with sticks and put us in the
hands of the Kapos who had brought us to the camp.  In the
camp they made us stand in the Appell (roll call) grounds -
in Auschwitz, too.  We knew what the Appell was; we had to
stand there on parade until they would tell us that we could
be dismissed.  They left us there the whole night, and the
SS went away.  We had to stand under the supervision of the
Kapos, after the SS men went away to eat.  We stood there
naked.  They told us there would be a roll call, and each
one's physical health had to be examined.  Thus we stood in
the terribly bitter cold, with ice all around us.

Presiding Judge: When was this? At what time of the year?

Witness Ansbacher It was in November.  We were not able to
go out, you will excuse me, to relieve ourselves, and the
people were standing there under terrible conditions.

State Attorney Bar-Or:  For how many hours did you remain
standing there?

Witness Ansbacher We stood there throughout the night.  In
the morning the SS men arrived and began counting.  They
counted us time and time again, and each time they found
there was some error.  They said to us: "We shall not count
you until you arrange matters yourselves," and they returned
to their hut while we remained standing.  Some of our people
fell down, and nobody paid attention to this.  In this way
we had to go on standing in silence.  Ultimately, they came
back and said: "How many are still left?"  No one was
allowed to say anything. Some started to speak, perhaps to
say something to a neighbour, and then blows came raining
down, and they shouted: "Get dressed - go to the barracks!"
They urged us on with blows in the manner we had learned in
Auschwitz.  All the time we were running in groups of five:
"Hurry, hurry, hurry to the barracks."  However, these
barracks were not like those in Auschwitz, but underground,
in other words everything was down in the ground, full of
damp.  They had actually burrowed into the earth; one could
walk there along a narrow gangway in the middle of the
barrack, and on either side of the gangway people were lying
on thin boards, with very little space between them and the
ground.  We had no blankets - nothing.  They said to us:
"You will stay here until further instructions.  Meanwhile
we did not receive food, there was no water, the supply of
bread had long since run out, for the journey from Auschwitz
to Dachau had been without water, and most people were
simply very weak.

Q. Did it take several days from Auschwitz to Dachau?

A. It took a few days.

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