The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-053-02

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-053-02
Last-Modified: 1999/06/04

Q. Mrs. Szenes, would you nevertheless now reply to my
specific question - how did you succeed in reaching Hungary?

A. I crossed the border on foot and managed to reach
Budapest.  There I subsequently obtained from the Foreign
Office, in other words from the government, the right of

Q. Where were you when the Germans entered Budapest on 19
March 1944?

A. I was living in Pension Darday, at No 2 Rothermere

Q. What happened to you?

A. The Germans arrived on Sunday 19 March. On the Tuesday of
that week, at 5 o'clock in the morning, I was awakened by SS
men who entered my room and said: "Come with us."

Q. Where did they take you at first?

A. They took me, together with a few Polish refugees who
were also living in the same pension - they took me to
Koshot Street, to the Astoria Hotel, the headquarters of the

Q. How many days were you there?

A. I was there four days, until Friday afternoon. They did
not give us anything to eat or drink.

Q. Throughout the four days, you did not receive anything to
eat or drink?

A. We received absolutely no food or drink. I also want to
stress that then, on the first day, I was the only Jewess
there. There were Hungarian ministers, Ferenc Keresztes-
Fischer, Minister of the Interior, Count Gyoergy Apponyi,
Ferenc Choren, and later on members of the editorial staff
of the newspaper Nepszava, and Mano Buchinger, a socialist
member of the Legislative Assembly.

Q. Mrs. Szenes, where did they take you?

A. Later on - when there were already more of us Jews - they
took us to the gaol on Zrinyi Street.

Q. Can you tell the Court what they did to you there?

A. Already at the Gestapo headquarters they stood us up
against a wall for hours, and they threatened that if we
turned our faces they would use their weapons. When I came
out of the basement of the Astoria and a van for
transporting prisoners was waiting there, I shouted out in
the street to passers-by that they should stop since I
wanted it to be known that I was still alive. When one of
the passers-by stopped, a SS man threatened me with his gun
and threw me on to the truck. In the prison on Zrinyi
Street, there were 16-18 of us in a cell of two and a half

Q. Do you remember that the SS men acted in a certain way in
order to embarrass the women in the presence of the

A. Yes. Every morning we had to rise between 4 and 5 o'clock
and to wash ourselves in the corridor while naked, which was
exceedingly embarrassing to us.

Q. To wash yourselves - that means in the presence of the

A. Yes, in the presence of the soldiers. And if anyone did
not undress and did not wash herself in a way that was
satisfactory in their opinion, they would throw a bucket of
water over her.

Q. Mrs. Szenes, in those years, 1943 and 1944, did you
already know what was happening to the Jews in Auschwitz?

A. Yes. I knew. Already in 1943, when I was no longer in
Michalovce, a man named Klein-Klinowski, who had a Hungarian
passport, and who now lives in Herzlia, moved to Budapest.
He brought the news that a member of the Slovakian Guard had
brought a letter from Auschwitz for the Blei family.

Q. Perhaps we do not need all these names - simply tell the
Court what you know, in fact, of what was happening to the
Jews in Auschwitz.

Presiding Judge: Were you, at that time, already in

Witness Szenes:  Yes. It was stated in that letter that gas
chambers existed there and that they were taking the girls
to houses of prostitution.

State Attorney Bach:  Did you attempt to tell responsible
people in Budapest about these matters?

Witness Szenes:  Yes. I accompanied Klein-Klinowski to Dr.
Georg Polgar, who was then in the social welfare department,
and I informed him of it. I told him about it since danger
again threatened the Jews of Slovakia, and I very much
wanted them to be brought en masse to Hungary.

Q. Mrs. Szenes, what was the response to this story of

A. He said simply: "You are a great poetess and possess a
broad imagination."

Q. Mrs. Szenes, when did you arrive at the Kistarcsa camp?

A. I also want to relate that they took me from the prison
in Zrinyi Street firstly to the Schwabenberg. That was where
the Gestapo was situated. There I was seriously tortured.
And ultimately they returned me to the prison on Zrinyi

Q. Now please tell us when you were transferred to

A. I do not remember the exact number of days, but I  was in
the Zrinyi Street prison for about six weeks.

Q. What happened at the end of these six weeks?

A. First of all, we Jewish women there, at Kistarcsa, were
in the hands of the Gestapo.

Q. After that you came to Kistarcsa?

Presiding Judge: She has already spoken of what took place
in Kistarcsa.

State Attorney Bach:  You were in the hands of the Gestapo.
Can you tell the Court when you were put, for the first
time, on a deportation train from Kistarcsa?

Witness Szenes:  From there they passed us on to the
Hungarians, and we were there for a few weeks under their
control, until July. Then they apparently knew that a
deportation transport was leaving, since they took certain
steps. At first they took us to the Kistarcsa Keleti
station. We travelled by train to Budapest, but not to the
eastern Keleti railway station but to another station, on
the outskirts.

Q. How long were you in Budapest?

A. They then put us in a so-called place of detention, and
there we already met many women and men who had been
transferred there from Roekk-Szilard Street and other places
of detention. After that we were taken to the Keleti railway
station and were loaded on to railway waggons used for
transporting animals. We were about 70 people or perhaps 80
in one waggon. We stood for a very long time at the Keleti
railway station. Then, nevertheless, we were sent away. At a
later stage, we were held up at a station for a very long

Q. After you were held up at that station, what happened to
the train?

A. Since we were in railway waggons designed for conveying
animals, we did not see, we could not observe what was
happening outside, there were no windows. But later on,
despite that, when the train began moving, we sensed that
the train was now travelling in the opposite direction.

Q. Did the train in fact go back, and were you returned to

A. Yes - we returned and in the evening we reached
Kistarcsa. The next morning we heard rumours that we had
been sent back on Horthy's orders.

Q. Mrs. Szenes - what happened to you a few days later?

A. After about four or five days - I do not remember exactly
how much time elapsed meanwhile - it was precisely during
lunch that SS soldiers entered and shouted "Heraus mit euch"
(Out with you).

Q. Did this come to you as a total surprise?

A. It was a total surprise. A terrible panic arose.

Q. What did they do with you?

A. By then buses had already been prepared and they forced
us to board the buses very quickly. A few, who were unable
to walk, were thrown on the buses.

Q. Was any consideration at all given to the sick and the

A. No, no. The widow of Dr. Michael Foeldi, the well-known
writer, had previously taken poison, and therefore was
unable to walk; so they threw her up onto the bus. At great
speed we reached the railway station of Keleti and were put
into the railway waggons.

Q. How many were there this time - how many people were put
into one waggon?

A. In the waggons? Like the first time, that is to say
together, about 70-80 women.

Q. Mrs. Szenes, where did the train take you to?

A. We reached Auschwitz via Slovakia. We crossed the border
at Orlova.

Q. What happened to the people of that transport who arrived
at Auschwitz?

A. They went off, group by group, to the right and to the
left. I was sent off with the group that was directed to the
side of life, and the others, as we know, went to the gas
chambers. Mengele was standing there - he indicated to the
right or to the left. As he divided up the groups, roughly
half by half, in each of the two directions, to the side of
life and to the side of the gas chambers - roughly, I cannot
say exactly.

Q. How do you know that one side led to life and the other
to death, to the gas chambers?

A. They did not conceal that at all, they made no secret of
it. They said that to us right away, when we were directed
to the side of life, the women who were there told us.
Incidentally, I met acquaintances there. There was actually
no need for gas, since many people died in the first weeks,
even in the first days - within a few days they perished.

Q. Do you know roughly how many persons of the transport

A. No. I cannot tell you that, since they were transferred
to various places.

Q. To what place were you transferred from Auschwitz?

A. I was transported as part of a group of 500 people, but
within this group there were only a few people left of those
who had come from Kistarcsa. They took us to Fallersleben in
West Germany, to a factory for war production.

Q. Did you ultimately reach a place called Salzwedel?

A. Yes. Ten days before the liberation, the group was
transferred to Salzwedel; but by that time the group had
already grown to 800 who had come from a death march, had
stopped at Fallersleben and were joined together with us.

Q. Do you recall a particular incident concerning railway
waggons that arrived - waggons full of Jewish men who came
to Salzwedel?

A. Yes. They came after us. But then they no longer opened
the doors of the waggons.

Q. What did that mean? What was the outcome?

A. Since the Americans only arrived ten days later - this
happened on 14 April - they all died there in these sealed

Q. You mentioned earlier a place called Fallersleben. What
happened there to women who gave birth to children?

A. In Fallersleben there were two women who gave birth to
babies. At the beginning the SS women nursed them fondly,
for about four or five days, but afterwards, they took them
away together with their mothers. As we learned they brought
them subsequently to Bergen-Belsen and to the gas chambers.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions to
the witness?

Dr. Servatius:  You said that they brought you to the
Schwabenberg and took you into the office. What office was

Witness Szenes Yes. It was some villa.

Q. But there were several officers there. The chief of the
German Security Police was there, as was the commandant of
the Sipo and the SD in Budapest; there was something there
called the "Sonderkommando Eichmann" and the German Gestapo
was there. Do you remember in which of all these offices you

A. I did not meet any Hungarians there. SS men interrogated
me, in one of the rooms. Prior to that I was guarded by a
soldier of the SS. Then they placed me against a wall for
three hours and said to me that if I should turn my face
around, they would shoot me and kill me. But notwithstanding
that, I could no longer restrain myself, and I turned my

Q. Madame witness, my question was: Do you remember in which
one of the offices you were? You did not see Hungarians. Do
you remember in which office of non-Hungarians you were? Yes
or no? Either you remember or you do not remember.

A. I understand. There were high-ranking officers there, and
on the same day Budapest was bombed. The Germans looked at
the city through binoculars, and tortured many people there,
including both a Jew and a Franciscan monk.

Presiding Judge: The witness did not understand the
question. Dr. Servatius referred here to several German
offices. Are you able to tell us whether it was in the
building of the Sonderkommando Eichmann or of the Commander
of the Sipo or in one of the other buildings - yes or no?

Witness Szenes:  I do not know. They did not tell me and I
did not know it, and I don't know.

Dr. Servatius:  Thank you very much - I have no further

Judge Halevi:  You said that they were interrogating you
there. What were they interrogating about? What did they
want to know?

Witness Szenes:  My impression was that they intended to
attach me to their espionage service - since they asked me
questions of that kind. May I point out further - they said
that a journalist should know that, to which I replied:
"Yes, I am a journalist, but I am not a statistician."

Presiding Judge: Thank you very much, Mrs. Szenes.

State Attorney Bach:  One further witness, whose evidence
will be brief, Mrs. Margit Reich.

Presiding Judge: Kindly stand up. Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Reich:  No.

Presiding Judge: What language?

Witness Reich:  Hungarian.

[The witness is sworn.]

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