The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/06/07

Q. When were you given a particular task in regard to that
foot march to which you referred?

A. Krausz informed me on 22 November, that on the same day
we would be meeting with Mr. Wallenberg, in Mr. Wallenberg's
office.  There would be present - and he mentioned the name
to me - a Hungarian officer who had a very important post at
that time, and he would supply details.  We did not know
exactly where these people were going to be taken to, on
foot.  On the same day, 22 November, we had a meeting with
Wallenberg.  There were representatives of the embassies -
he himself was there in his personal capacity - there were
representatives of the Portuguese and Spanish embassies;
they were also involved in rescue activity, they dealt with
converted Jews, with Jewish Christians.  Krausz and I were
there on behalf of the Swiss embassy.  We listened there to
a report from the officer, his name was Major Batizfalvy; he
was a Hungarian officer, and he gave particulars of the
dreadful situation of the thousands of marchers from
Budapest, and especially those from the brick factory, on
the road to Hegyeshalom.  At first, they went along the main
thoroughfares, the main road, and thereafter on side roads.
Conditions were very bad - hundreds, thousands, were falling
by the wayside.  They were not being given food - they were
in an awful state - they were being treated very badly.  He,
Batizfalvy, had received from Ferenczy, who was the liaison
officer between the Germans and the Hungarians, four
protective letters to enable members of the embassies to
proceed along the road, in order to give help to, and to
bring back mainly those who possessed our letters of
protection.  He told us that they were being taken along the
road to Hegyeshalom, and there they were going to be handed
over to the Germans.  There was a large group at
Hegyeshalom.  The situation as he described it was very bad.
He said that he would give us these letters of protection.

Presiding Judge: Who said that?

Witness Breszlauer:   Batizfalvy.  He said that, so that we
might be safe on the road and that no harm would befall us.
We would be given the opportunity of attending to our people
and of bringing them back - those who had letters of
protection.  That was on 22 November.  On the 23rd, we made
certain preparations.  We, the members of the Swiss embassy,
knew that there were only a few there with these letters of
protection, since all their papers had been taken away from
them. We knew that there were only a few such people.  We
knew that they had been subjected to a thorough body search
before they were sent off from the brick factory, and that
everything had been taken from them.  We deliberated what we
should do, in what way we could help.  I took with me a
rubber stamp of the Swiss consulate.  I took blank letters
of protection, a typewriter, and I left on the 23rd,
accompanied by Kluger and a Jewish driver, Pollack.  We left
by night.  We departed from Budapest at 3.30 in the morning.
Early in the morning we reached Hegyeshalom.

State Attorney Bach:  Did you see Jews on the road?

Witness Breszlauer:   We did not see them on the road.  It
was night. By then they were not walking along the main
roads, they were on the side roads.  Apart from that, most
of the groups walking were given a chance to rest at night.
On the journey there, I did not come across any persons

Q. So you saw the marchers only at Hegyeshalom?

A. Yes.

Q. What did you see at Hegyeshalom?

A. I arrived at Hegyeshalom.  I found the people in a state
- I was accustomed to unpleasant sights, but it was a
picture...there was a large farmyard there, with a big barn
into which the people had been confined - thousands of them.
There were also smaller sheds for drying tobacco.  There
were also some people there.  But the majority of the
people, several thousands, were in this huge barn.  They
were under strict guard.  I could see them - through holes
in the wood, through chinks in the boards.  There were also
small holes.  I saw faces of people who had made their way
for 200-220 kilometres without food.  There was the fear of
death in their countenances.  They were in a horrible state,
without any hygienic conditions.  They performed their
bodily functions inside the barn.  There were women and men
there.  I could only hear shouts of "Help!"  They thought
that people had come from the embassy, they believed that
they were able to save them all, and they began shouting.  I
saw they were in an awful state.  They were hungry and
thirsty.  I am not capable of describing the situation in
which I saw these people.  That was the position.  There
were people there whose names were familiar.  There was a
well-known veteran actor - I don't remember his name -
lawyers, scientists, scholars, persons from all walks of
life.  They searched, first of all, for well-known people in
Budapest, removed them from their homes and took them along
this road.

Presiding Judge: How many people were there?

Witness Breszlauer:   I could not check that.

Q. Hundreds?  Thousands?

A. There were thousands.  There was terrible congestion in
the barn.  They had arrived there in the morning and were
delivered the following morning at the border, to the
Germans.  I was there for four days.  I tried everything.  I
went for a drink - I went to the taverns - I gave money to
all kinds of people, I wanted to obtain details, I wanted to
get written records.  They were handed over at the border to
Wisliceny; he received them by numbers, not by names.  There
were records.  I did not manage to get a record, nor did I
know the exact number.  It was said that roughly ten
thousand persons had already been handed over to the Germans
by the time I came there.

Q. Were you able to get near them, or could you only look at
them from outside?

A. Only from the outside.  They were shut in, but, here and
there, there were some near the door.  I searched on the
first day, on the second day; I had some form of contact
with people at a lower level, they were given bribes.  The
position there was that there were many Hungarians who
themselves were pained by what they saw, but there were more
of those who were afraid; they even wanted to get some form
of alibi for themselves: "I helped, tell them that I
helped."  There were people who were allowed in.  I had some
contact, I wrote down names, by night; I worked all night
and wrote out the certificates.

Q. These letters of protection?

A. Yes, which I could hand to these people.

State Attorney Bach:  What were the ages of the people you

Witness Breszlauer:   It varied.  There were elderly people,
there were young people, there were middle-aged people,
there were people who had been seized in the streets, those
who were removed from their homes, and also those who had
already been mobilized.* {*The reference is apparently to
the Hungarian Labour Service.} There were those who had
already been mobilized, those also came.  These were of a
certain age.  But a large number were children and quite old

Q. In your investigation - I understand that you submitted a
report - did you ascertain how many people, in all, took
part in this march?

A. According to my estimate, there were more than fifty
thousand persons in all.  There were not yet so many there,
but I made enquiries later, for it still continued
afterwards.  I also learned from the people there that the
Germans only wanted to receive persons who were fit for
work.  But the Hungarians wanted to hand over all of them.
I tried to ascertain where these were.  I learned that there
was an abandoned building in a forest near Hegyeshalom -
apparently it had once been a hunting lodge.  It had several
rooms, and there I found these people.  They were waiting
for their death.  They received no treatment, no
medicaments, no attention, hardly any food.  Here and there,
they were given a little cold soup.  Anyone who had money
received some water for his money, sometimes some bad
coffee.  I saw a dead man there, in the hall; I say dying
people.  There were people who were still able to speak, who
shouted: Help!  I was not there for a long time.  The
persons in charge got to know that I was there.  They were
armed with bayonets, with rifles: "How did you dare come
here?"  I showed them their authorizing documents.  They
told me that if I did not get out of there within one
minute, they would shoot me.  I left the place.

Q. Those who spoke to you later - were they Hungarians?

A. They were Hungarian gendarmerie.

Q. Was the guarding of the Jews on the road in the hands of
the Hungarians?

A. The guarding of the Jews on the road was in the hands of
the Hungarians.  In Hegyeshalom, I saw several Germans.  I
was there during lunch, and I heard their conversation and
their stories.  I did not speak.

Presiding Judge: What Germans?  In uniform?

Witness Breszlauer:   Yes.

Q. In what uniforms?

A. Of the Gestapo, the SS, the SD.

State Attorney Bach:  How long were you in Hegyeshalom?

Witness Breszlauer:   I left Budapest on the 23rd and
returned on the 27th.

Q. Did you also see anything on the way back?

A. On the way back, I saw a fairly large group, consisting
of several hundred people; I noticed that most of them were
elderly people, women, pregnant women, people who were not
capable of working.  I thought that these were some of those
who had been returned.  I wanted to join them.  I asked
where they were bound for?  Budapest.  I said: "I want to
join them - I will walk with them."  They would not allow me
to do so.  On the fourth day, when I was in Budapest, I was
told: "The validity of your documents has expired."  I sent
several hundred persons back.  On the first day, I remember,
it was close to one hundred, and the same on the second day,
and on the third - then they came to me and said: "The
documents that you received, which gave you the right to
move around freely, are no longer valid; you will have to
return immediately and report to the Ministry of the
Interior."  On my way back, I came across that group of
several hundred persons.  I wanted to join them.  They would
not allow me to speak to them.  I followed up my enquiries
in Budapest, I went from place to place, I wanted to know
where these people had disappeared to.  Afterwards I learned
from some source that these people were brought to the
Danube where they were shot; they were killed and thrown
into the river Danube.

Q. Did you put in a report afterwards?

A. Yes.  The following day, I sent a report - I gave it to
Krausz, and he forwarded it to the Swiss consulate, and they
sent it to Switzerland.

Q. I have here a copy of the minutes of that meeting of 22
November and of your report.  Please examine this document
and tell us whether this is your report and the minutes of
that meeting.

A. I did not see the minutes of the meeting, but it

Q. According to the contents, are you able to say that it
accords with the discussion that took place on that day,
that report of Major Batizfalvy, and thereafter your report?

Presiding Judge: Is it the actual report?

State Attorney Bach:  This is the actual report, and the
minutes of the meeting which preceded the witness' journey.

Presiding Judge: Who wrote these minutes?

State Attorney Bach:  It only says "Minutes recorded in the
office of the Swedish embassy." It does not say here who
wrote them.

Witness Breszlauer:   [after perusing the documents] That I
do not know...

Presiding Judge: What don't you know?

Witness Breszlauer:   This is my text, I wrote it.  At the
end I see three sections: the minutes of the meeting that
were sent, this is exactly as it was.  My report, which was
sent, was written by me, and there is, here, a report of the
Red Cross - of this I do not know.

State Attorney Bach:  The document consists of fourteen
pages; the report by the witness ends on page eleven.  After
that it says: "The account is supplemented by
representatives of the Red Cross," that is to say,
additional reports came in from representatives of the Red

Presiding Judge: Do you wish to submit it?

State Attorney Bach:  I ask to submit this document.
Perhaps the witness would identify his signature.  This is
also the text of the report which you identified at the time
and signed.  Your signature appears on the reverse side.

Witness Breszlauer:   Yes, this is my signature.

Presiding Judge: Does this include the three documents you

State Attorney Bach:  Yes, it also includes this document.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1237.

State Attorney Bach:  After you handed in your report, were
you able to do anything to help these people?

Witness Breszlauer:   I brought back several hundred people
at the time.  Wallenberg also had several people returned.
It was easier for him - he had an exact list of the people,
and he was able to look for them.  I was unable to look for
them in this way.  But I returned several hundred people.
After some days had passed, I found them at the railway
station.  They were sent back to Budapest.

Q. Do you have any idea how many of these people died on the

A. The number was very large.  Those who were weak were shot
on the road.  I spoke of a number of people who came back.
There was a young woman there who had come with her parents.
Her parents were unable to walk; they were shot on the road,
and she remained on the road, alone.  The number of people
who died was great, both on the way, as well as there.  On
the one night I was there, I think about thirty-six people -
or some such number - died in the huge barn.  The mortality
rate was high.  The people were weak, they had become
enfeebled from the way and from lack of attention.  Many of
them, also, were shot.  The journey was a long one.  There
was a group of people there who had been sent from Bor.
They were young people.  About four thousand were working
there.  A large part of them could not bear the conditions
any longer.  They came from Yugoslavia on foot.  I looked
for them, since I had many acquaintances amongst them - I
looked for them later, but I did not see them.  A great
number of these were killed.

Presiding Judge: You say that the distance was 220

Witness Breszlauer:   200 to 220 kilometres.

Q. And in how many days did they cover this distance?

A. Seven to eight days.

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

Dr. Servatius:  Witness, you said that on this march a few
thousand were shot to death.  Did I understand you

Witness Breszlauer:   Yes.

Q. Who fired these shots?

A. I was not present.  As far as I know, they were escorted
by Hungarians.

Q. May I be permitted to read out to you an extract from
your report: "Twenty-five thousand people were dispatched on
22 November."  This is on page four.

A. Yes.

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