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Last-Modified: 1999/06/07

Session No. 65
21 Sivan 5721 (5 June 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the sixty-fifth Session of the
Court open.

I wish to announce that the Attorney General has informed us
that in his estimation the Prosecution's case will conclude
by the end of this week.  Thereafter, at the request of
Defence Counsel, there will be a recess in the hearings for
one week, in order to enable the Defence to prepare for the
continuation of the trial.

Attorney General: I call Mr. Moshe Bahir.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Bahir:   Yes.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Moshe Bahir - my name was originally Shkalek.

Attorney General: You live at 8 Rehov El Al, Ramat Gan, and
are employed at the Bank Hapoalim in Givatayim?

Witness Bahir:   Yes, Sir.

Q. You were born in the town of Plock, in Poland?

A. Yes.

Q. You were there until 1941?

A. Yes.

Q. And then you were deported from Plock?

A. Correct.

Q. Where to?

A. To the Zhodova camp.

Q. And from there?

A. We were there for four days.  From there, we were
deported to Czestochowa.

Q. You were there for several months?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: How old are you now?

Witness Bahir:   I am now thirty-three, Your Honour.

Attorney General: You were transferred to Zamosc and, two
weeks later, to a nearby village called Komarow?

A. Yes.

Q. You were there until 16 March 1942?

A. Either the 16th or 17th.

Q. What happened to you on that day?

A. It seems to me that it was 17 March.  We were taken to
the large market place in Komarow.  They selected all the
men who were employed at places of work that were of value
to the Germans.  Amongst them was my father who worked at
the airport, twelve kilometres from Komarow.

Q. And you, too?

A. I was not working.

Q. But you were also selected?

A. I was in the market place, together with my mother and
brother.  My father was taken away from the market place.  I
was left there with my mother and brother and other persons
who were older than I.  I could easily have escaped, because
we were not so strictly guarded.  My father was also
standing there, since he had a card indicating that he was
an airport worker.  He asked me to run away.  I told him I
wanted to go with my mother.  We did not know where we were
being sent to.  We left the next day for Zamosc, and, on 18
March, we went from Zamosc to Sobibor.

Q. How long did the journey last from Zamosc to Sobibor?

A. I reached Sobibor on 20 March 1942, in the afternoon.

Q. How many people, approximately, were there on that train?

A. I think there were about two thousand five hundred

Q. What did things look like when you got off the train?

A. I remember that before we went in, the first five railway
carriages were brought into the camp ahead of us.  I was in
the second section of the transport.  When the first five
carriages were brought into the camp, I saw that the people
inside the carriages were beginning to say the confessional
prayer.* {*Confessional prayer (Hebrew: Viddui. The prayer
recited by a dying person.  According to Jewish tradition, a
person who is critically ill should be urged to confess his
sins.  If he is unable to compose his own confession, he may
recite the customary formula.}  I did not know what this
meant.  I also did not know the meaning of the term "the
death camp Sobibor."

I must say that the majority did not know it; my mother also
was not sure.  But it was only then that I became aware of,
or I understood, what was the meaning of the death camp
Sobibor.  The moment my mother took out her last slice of
bread, which she was preserving for the time when my brother
or I might faint from hunger, and began to share it out to
other children, I said to myself - despite the fact that I
was a boy of fourteen and a half - apparently there is no
longer any need for her to keep a slice of bread for her own
children.  This made me understand that we would no longer
need to eat.  About half an hour later, the remaining
carriages, including the one I was in, were brought into the

Q. Now, please tell us: Were the doors opened from the

A. All the doors of the carriages were opened.  German SS
men, in green uniforms, were standing there, as well as
Ukrainians in black uniforms.  While I was still on the
train, I heard the word "aufmachen" (open up), and all the
carriages were opened up simultaneously.  There was terrible
shouting.  They began taking us to Camp 1.

Q. All of you together?

A. The second transport - that is to say, the second section
of the transport.

Q. What happened to the women and the children from the

A. When we entered Camp 1, the women and the children were
separated to the right and the men to the left.  I went
along with my mother and brother.  My mother held my hand
from the moment we were about to leave, since the women and
children went ahead of the men towards the gas chambers.

At the point when I was already at the exit point of Camp 1,
together with the women, Oberscharfuehrer Gustav Wagner held
me back; he halted me and said: "Du bist ein Mann" (you are
a man) and pushed me towards the men.  They waited for half
an hour.  Fifty of these men were chosen for work, including
myself.  I should like to point out that there were not many
men in this transport - most of them were women and

Q. Have you seen your mother and brother since then?

A. I have never seen them since.

Presiding Judge: How old was your brother?

Witness Bahir:   My brother was younger than I was.  He was
twelve and a half.

Attorney General: And they walked towards the gas chambers
in Camp 3?

Witness Bahir:   First of all to Camp 2, where the women
took off their clothes, and from there towards Camp 3.

Q. What kind of work were you given at Sobibor, Mr. Bahir?

A. The first job of work I had to do was to clear a hut of
pots and all kinds of eating utensils belonging to victims
who had preceded us, since there was no place to sleep.
There were a number of small huts for artisans.  They were
from the first transport, from which people had been
selected for work.  I was in the second transport, from
which they kept back men for regular work.

Presiding Judge: You say that they emptied a hut of eating

Witness Bahir:   Yes, Your Honour, the hut was full of
eating utensils, and around the hut there was a pile, three
times as large, of eating utensils only, pots which the
people had brought to the camp at Sobibor before my arrival.

Attorney General: And you had to clear them away?

Witness Bahir:   Yes.  And after that, we constructed bunks.
I also worked, at first, in transferring personal belongings
from Camp 2 to the train.

Q. What personal belongings were there in Camp 2?

A. There was a very high heap.  I do not remember its length
or dimensions, but it was a very large one.  We worked for a
month in removing it from Camp 2 to the carriages.

Q. What did this pile contain?

A. Only personal belongings of the people who preceded us.

Presiding Judge: Clothing?

Witness Bahir:   I am talking only about clothing.  Apart
from the large pile at Camp 2, which stretched as far as the
Lazarette - close to the Lazarette there were also three
huts full of clothes, near the railway station, at a place
which was subsequently evacuated and occupied by the

Q. What was it that you referred to as "Lazarette"?

A. It was a pit, not far from the camp - five hundred metres
away from the camp and from where we were working.  When we
were running two hundred metres with the bundles, there was
a pit, and when someone was injured or had his sexual organs
bitten by the dog Beri, Unterscharfuehrer Paul Grott would
say to him: "What happened to you, my poor man?  You can't
carry on like that.  Who did that to you?  Come with me to
the Lazarette."  And he went with him.  A few minutes later,
we would hear a shot.

He would accompany tens of workers in this way every day.  I
am referring to men who were selected for work, for they did
not choose men for work every day.  They selected them when
they needed them for work.  If, on one day, fifty men were
selected for work, the following day they killed eleven men
of our group.  This was done by Paul Grott, who led them all
to the Lazarette.

Attorney General: Were those who arrived on the transports
also transferred to the Lazarette?  Those who arrived on the
transports - men, women and children - were they also taken
to the Lazarette?

Witness Bahir:   At a later stage, not at the beginning.  At
a later stage, there were small carts that came right up to
the hut, and into these they used to throw the sick people
and the aged, together with those who were dead.  On the
way, it often happened that the dead bodies lay on top of
the old persons, and the old ones on the sick.  These were
sent directly to the Lazarette, and not to Camp 3.

Q. To the gas chambers?

A. They did not go to the gas chambers, but to the

Q. So you were in Sobibor from 20 March 1942, until when?

A. Until 14 October 1943, the day of the revolt.

Q. Did you also have work to do at the railway station?

A. My first job after transferring the personal belongings
from Camp 2 was with the "Bahnhofkommando" (Railway Station

Q. What was the Bahnhofkommando?

A. It was a group of twenty or twenty-five men who helped to
remove the bundles belonging to the people who were
transferred to the death camp of Sobibor, after the victims
had alighted from the waggons, and they cleared the
platform, in order that the transport waiting outside would
be able to come in.  Later we had a truck on to which we
loaded the personal belongings in order to speed up the
work, and they used to transfer the belongings to Camp 2 in
this manner.

Q. You also had another job - polishing boots?

A. Yes.  That was an additional job.  I used to get up an
hour and a half before work and, for this reason did not
have to attend the morning roll-call.  I used to polish the
boots of the officers - I and my friend, Joseph Pines.

Q. On one occasion, did senior German officers arrive at
Sobibor when you were polishing boots?

A. Yes, I remember that.

Q. Please describe it to us.

A. It was in the month of July 1942.  I remember this
incident well.  I remember that two hours before the arrival
of the train, my friend, Joseph Pines, and I were called to
polish the officers' boots.  The officers' quarters were
near the platform.  At approximately 11.00 or 11.30, two
hours after I had been called, I saw a luxury train coming
in to Sobibor.

Q. In what way was this a "luxury" train?

A. The victims who arrived in those days were brought in
freight cars, and you could see all kinds of belongings
hanging out of the cars.  This one was a train with
passenger carriages.  A group of senior officers alighted
from it, and it was headed by Himmler who stood out, with
his spectacles and long coat.  There were eight other
officers, one of whom was Eichmann, and together with them,
three civilians.
Q. How did you know that this was Eichmann?

A. Sir, I did not know that it was Eichmann, I also did not
know that it was Himmler.  On that day, the Jews were not at
work, and when I came to the camp, I told my comrades what I
had seen, and then I was told that the first officer was
Himmler, according to his pictures.  They did not know
Eichmann; I did not know it was Eichmann until after I had
left the camp.

In 1945, I was in Lublin.  By the time I was in Lublin, half
of Poland had already been liberated, in 1944, and I went
around all the time with a feeling that I had undergone
something which no other Jew had experienced, possibly
because I had been a young boy.  I had this feeling, and I
tried to give vent to my emotions; I tried to unburden my
heart to people, one of whom was Dr. Emil Sommerstein.  He
was the only Jew in the first Polish Government, which had
come from Russia.  I came to him and told him; I told him a
great deal.  And he said to me: "In Lublin, there is an
Institute of Documentation;*{*The Central Jewish Historical
Commission in Lublin whose materials were transferred to
Lodz in 1945, and in 1947 became the Jewish Historical
Institute in Warsaw} since you remember these officers so
well, perhaps you will be able to identify some of the SS
officers in Sobibor."

I went there and was shown some pictures and, in one of the
photographs, I pointed out the men whom I had seen.  First
of all, I pointed to this man - he was the first, Himmler,
and I saw one other; there were four men in the picture I
saw - and amongst them I pointed to Eichmann; the man in the
Institute of Documentation said that it was Eichmann.  He
said: "Don't think that Himmler was the only one who dealt
with the Jewish question, there were others as well; there
was also Heydrich, there was someone else called Eichmann -
he was responsible for the transports to all the
extermination camps."  Then I got to know that that man was
called Eichmann; until then I did not know, nor did anyone
else know, that he was Eichmann.

Q. That man whom you saw in July 1942 - did you see him
again in Sobibor?

A. I saw him for the second time in 1943 - roughly in the
month of February, but then it was not a train that arrived
- then the officers arrived by plane - we also knew that.  I
was then working in the German officers' casino.  I worked
there for eight months, starting the day after the first
visit, for on the day after that first visit, the two Jewish
girls who worked in the German casino were killed, and, in
their stead, I was chosen to work there, together with my
friend, Joseph Pines.  From that day, I worked in the casino
until March 1943, about one month after the second visit of
Himmler and his colleagues.

Q. Is this Joseph Pines still alive?

A. No, he was killed during the revolt.

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