Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-052-03 Last-Modified: 1999/06/02 Q. When did the mass deportations from the provincial towns begin? A. The deportation itself? Q. Perhaps you would first say when, in fact, the first deportation of Jews from Hungary took place - after the entry of the Germans? A. The first deportation was at the end of April. I do not remember whether that was on 10 or 12 April. At any rate, it was before the "ghettoization" I spoke about. One day they made a selection from the inmates who were detained in Kistarcsa... Q. It does not matter, but I believe it was, in fact, at the end of April? Presiding Judge: In the neighbourhood of Budapest? Witness Freudiger: It was in the neighbourhood of Budapest - 15 kilometres from Budapest. State Attorney Bach: This name will still appear in a number of testimonies. So, what happened to the Jews there? Witness Freudiger: 1,500 Jews were detained there, and from them they selected men aged from 16 to 60, and women, I believe, from 18 to 50. People who were below or above these ages were sent home. Later they were sent abroad. Since they were examined and only people who were of working age were taken, we thought that they were really taking them for labour. Afterwards we learned that they had been sent to Auschwitz. But, previous to that, we were convinced that they were sending people aged 16 to 50 to work. Q. When did you find out that these people had also been sent to Auschwitz? A. On one occasion I received a letter from Rabbi Weissmandel, in which he wrote... Q. When did you receive it? A. When a particular trainload of Jews passed through Slovakia in the direction of Auschwitz. It did not say there that they had reached Auschwitz, but were in the direction of Auschwitz. Q. When did you receive the letter? A. I received many letters. I do not remember in which letter it was. But at the time we were corresponding, when there was an exchange of letters on the deportation itself, he mentioned to me that there had been such a train. Q. Apart from this one train, which you have spoken about now, when did the mass deportations from Hungary begin - from the provincial towns? A. On 15 May. Q. And until when did they continue? A. 7 July, perhaps 5 July. Q. How many Jews did they manage to deport during this period? A. In my opinion, 600,000. Presiding Judge: Will you kindly repeat the two dates? Witness Freudiger: The first train left on 15 May, and they concluded the deportations during the first days of July, on the fifth or the seventh. I no longer remember exactly. Q. Did you receive accounts in Budapest of the manner in which these deportations were carried out? A. Yes. Q. What were these accounts? A. Of cruelty. Q. Would you go into a little more detail? A. You have heard so much about these matters that perhaps I may be permitted not to speak about them. State Attorney Bach: All right, perhaps we shall bring witnesses who themselves saw that. Did you have a further conversation with Wisliceny regarding the carrying out of those deportations? Witness Freudiger: Yes. Q. Do you recall a conversation with Wisliceny in which he informed you of certain matters relating to the link between Eichmann and those Secretaries of State, Endre and Baky? A. Yes. First of all, I have to say that Wisliceny - although the negotiations on the subject of the "Europa Plan" and on the matter of funds had passed out of my hands, still I always wanted to be in contact with Wisliceny. He complained to me on one occasion that Eichmann was exceedingly angry, that he was very cross with me and with him, that he had said that Freudiger was a swindler, that I wanted to cheat them when I had begun to talk of two to three million dollars - "das ist Kleingeld" (that is small change) for Hungary. Presiding Judge: Who said that? Witness Freudiger: Wisliceny told me this on behalf of Eichmann. He told me that Eichmann was annoyed with me because I was a swindler, and that Eichmann was angry at him for also going the same way. He told me that he had given him this "Schmutzarbeit" - this dirty job - when he sent him to carry out the "ghettoization." He said that he was now going to leave Budapest, but that he would come back later on, from time to time, and he told me how to get in touch with him, where I could find him. State Attorney Bach: Since you have already referred, Mr. Freudiger, to that conversation in which he spoke of Kleingeld - did he also mention a particular case, also in connection with Hungary, and say that this deal would be more worthwhile from the German point of view? Witness Freudiger: Yes, Wisliceny said so to me. I do not know whether on behalf of Eichmann or in his own name - this I do not remember any more. I began conducting negotiations, in order to rescue all the Jews of Hungary, a million people, in exchange for two or three million dollars, and they made a deal with one family. For 32 persons they received many millions, tens of millions. Q. Who were this family? A. This was the well-known transaction with the family of the Baroness Weiss, which, through Becher, handed over all its capital. Part of it was non-Jewish capital. It was handed over, through Becher, to Himmler. Q. Perhaps you would give the Court further details of the deal with Manfred Weiss. What did their property consist of? A. There is a large island on the Danube, near Budapest, the island of Csepel, with a population of 30,000. There was a large factory there belonging to the family, an arms factory, as it is called: "Schwerindustrie" (heavy industry). Apart from this, there were large agricultural estates. Q. And they gave all this property over to the Germans? A. This was the Labour Trust Company - that was their name - and they transferred all the shares, through Becher, to Himmler. Presiding Judge: To Himmler personally? Witness Freudiger: I do not know. State Attorney Bach: At any rate, into the control of the SS, in return for the departure of the members of the family? Witness Freudiger: Yes, in return for the departure of 32 persons. They transferred them - as I remember - first of all by train to Stuttgart, and from there by private plane to Portugal. Q. Mr. Freudiger, let us come back to the conversation with Wisliceny regarding the deportations. You told us that Wisliceny informed you that the dirty job - as he put it - had been imposed upon him, of carrying out the deportation. I come back to my question about the connection between Eichmann and the Secretaries of State, Endre and Baky, in this respect. A. The deportation began from the north-eastern region of Hungary, the area that had before been Carpathian Russia, as far as Kosice. That took perhaps ten days, and afterwards Wisliceny returned to Budapest, and I got hold of him, I spoke to him, I simply wept, I begged, and I grieved. He asked me what I wanted of him - that he had really tried to do everything possible. And after the deportations had been decided upon, at the demand of the Sonderkommando of the SS who came with a plan prepared in advance, and obtained the approval of the Hungarian Government for it, of Laszlo Endre. Presiding Judge: A plan for what? Witness Freudiger: A plan - as I have heard here at the trial - a plan for the Final Solution. He was given the task of carrying it out. They sat together at the summer lodge, Eichmann, Laszlo Endre, and he himself, and drank cognac in celebration of the fact that the Hungarian Government had at last agreed to the deportation. State Attorney Bach: They drank to the fact that the Hungarian Government had agreed to the deportation? Witness Freudiger: Yes. It cannot be said that they "drank lehayim" (toasted good health). They drank cognac out of joy that they had received the authority of the Hungarian Government. It had not been all that easy to obtain the authority, but they got it. Afterwards they discussed how it could be carried out. Wisliceny suggested sending one train every three days, so I believe. The capacity of a train was 3,000 to 3,200 people, with 45 freight waggons, with 75-80 persons in each waggon. That amounted more or less to 3,000 to 3,200 persons. He said that it was possible to dispatch that number every two or three days. He informed me that there were 150 SS men to carry out the task. Eichmann said that that was not sufficient - it had to be done somewhat faster. Q. Do you know, or did Wisliceny tell you, what had been finally decided? What was to be the rate of deportations? A. Four trains daily, and that is how they went. 12,000 Jews each day. Judge Halevi: Did Wisliceny use the expression "the Final Solution?" Witness Freudiger: He simply said "deportation." State Attorney Bach: Mr. Freudiger, when, in fact, did it become clear to you that these deportations were destined for Auschwitz? Witness Freudiger: Actually, the fact that they were leaving for Auschwitz was perhaps known to me well before the trains departed for Auschwitz, since I had received a letter from Rabbi Weissmandel some days before 15 May - I had received the letter possibly on 10 or 11 May. He then wrote to me: "To our regret and to our sorrow, the evil decree has become a fact." But then the reference was really to people in the border zones, of whom I spoke earlier. He wrote to me saying that there had been negotiations between the Hungarian and Slovakian railway authorities; they had been negotiating about the transit of 300,000 Hungarian Jews through Slovakia. 300,000 was the number of Jews that kept on coming up, 300,000-310,000 Jews; that was the Jewish population of the region I have been talking about. I read the letter and I showed it to the members of the central executive - not one of them wanted to believe me. They said: "That is impossible. How can Hungarian Jews be sent out of Hungary?" I told them: "But that is what it says - this is what Weissmandel had written." Presiding Judge: With whom were you talking about this? Witness Freudiger: With all the members of the Judenrat, and they did not want to believe me. I kept on arguing with them, but they maintained that the matter had to be investigated. That was perhaps four to five days before the deportation began. Dr. Petoe, who was on good terms with Remenyi-Schneller, then the Hungarian Minister of Finance, went to see him privately - officially Jews were no longer admitted - and he spoke to Remenyi-Schneller. Remenyi- Schneller told him that this is impossible. It had not been brought to a meeting of the government, there had been no such decision, and the government would never decide that Hungarians should be sent beyond the border. He came back on the same day. I remained the liar, for the Hungarians were saying that there would be no deportation. The following day - we had connections with the Hungarian railways, for we manufactured clothing for them also - through these connections I got to know that a Hungarian railway delegation had been in Bratislava. More than this I was unable to ascertain, merely that there had been a railway delegation. I reported this at a meeting of the executive. Meanwhile, there was a department for Jewish affairs in the Ministry of the Interior. They wanted to speak to the department for Jewish affairs, and the woman secretary of the Director General told Dr. Petoe - who was on the telephone - that it was not possible to talk to this gentleman, since he was at a meeting with the railway management. Actually, that had been the previous day, 14 May. On the following day they began dispatching the trains. State Attorney Bach: When, in fact, did you become aware for the first time of the details of the fate of those Jews who had been deported to Auschwitz, of what was being done to them there? Witness Freudiger: SS officers, and Krumey in particular, maintained and promised that they were sending them to work in Germany. And for each question that we asked he had an excuse. We asked how could they send aged people and children, together with the whole family? We told him that it had still been possible to understand that at Kistarcsa they had sent people of working age - but here they were sending them all. And he replied: "No, it is the German way to send people together with their families, for then they work better, they do not miss their families." Thus we negotiated for a week or two. Possibly we already knew that they were going in the direction of Auschwitz, for Rabbi Weissmandel had written to us that they were going via Budapest, Kassa (Kosice), Eperjes (Presov), Nowy Sacz, Auschwitz. Q. Mr. Freudiger, I want to put a question to you before we come to what Krumey told you: When did you learn, in fact, from a Jewish source, what they were doing to the Jews in Auschwitz? Judge Halevi: Are you referring to the Jews of Hungary or in general? State Attorney Bach: I mean the Jews of Hungary. Witness Freudiger: As I have said, I had been in constant correspondence with Rabbi Weissmandel. I received a letter from him almost every week. And at the end of May or the beginning of June, I received a batch of letters among which was a report on Auschwitz. I think the Court is already aware of this. Q. Was that the report of the two Slovakians who escaped? A. Yes, the two Slovakians who escaped. I received the mail which the courier of the Hungarian embassy in Slovakia brought me, I received a large number of letters to pass on to all the people. Amongst them I received Weissmandel's letter. I began reading the report. I read it and went on reading, and I asked myself if one could truly believe this. I sat there and simply could not believe it. Presiding Judge: Was this a report about the extermination? Witness Freudiger: I still well remember it - I can see before me the last page. There it said that, so far, 1,450,000 Jews had been put to death. He gave details: from France, from here, from there, detailed numbers. And another 300,000 from various places...1,700 and 50,000; and then the last sentence: now they are getting ready to receive the Jews of Hungary.
Site Map ·
What's New? ·
© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012
Home · Site Map · What's New? · Search Nizkor