The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Session  No 13

8 Iyar 5721 (24 April 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the thirteenth Session of the
trial open. Professor Baron will continue his testimony. You
are still giving evidence under oath.

Attorney General: Professor Baron, at this morning's
session, you gave us a description of Jewry before the
Holocaust. Let us leave aside the story of the Holocaust for
a moment, since we shall be hearing proof thereof in other
ways. Please tell me, can you give us a description of this
Jewish world, vital, full of life and creativity, as it was
revealed after the surrender of Nazi Germany?

Witness Baron: Generally speaking, the impression we
received in 1945 was one of total destruction, a much
greater destruction than the extent to which Jewish
communities were destroyed at any time in their history
which is so full of destruction. Even in the days of the
first Crusade or the Black Plague, there was no devastation
as all-embracing as this and spread out over such a great
and vast area as in the year 1945. For example, in Poland,
in the country where there had been approximately 3,300,000
Jews before the Second World War, very few remained.
According to the figures in our possession, and according to
the census conducted by the Central Jewish Committee in
Poland on 15 August 1945, only 73,955 Jews remained, of whom
13,000 were Polish soldiers and 5,446 were registered in ten
displaced persons' camps in Germany and Austria. In other
words, out of 3,000,000, possibly within a slightly larger
territory, there remained a very small remnant of those who
had survived.

The same held true for Germany, where between 15,000 and
20,000 Jews survived, or  in Czechoslovakia, and other
central European countries.

Possibly, the graver aspect was the fact that so few
children remained. That is to say, of the element  so vital
for the future of the Jewish people, there now remained so
few. We can say that in Czechoslovakia,  Bohemia, Moravia
and Silesia, where a census taken in 1930 showed that there
were 117,551 Jews, there remained in October 1945 only
14,489 Jews, and of these only 1,179 were children aged 15
or younger,that is to say a very small percentage of
approximately 8.5-8.6.

This was so terrible a situation that it was obvious  that
the Jews of Central Europe would not return to the condition
of prosperity and growth which they had endured before the

The greatest tragedy lay especially in the fact that the
destruction was the largest in those areas where the Jews
were most creative and prosperous, namely in Germany, Poland
and adjacent countries. Other countries in which the
destruction was slightly less than this had not been so
productive and so vital to the Jewish world as a whole, as
were the very areas which were almost entirely emptied of
their Jewish inhabitants.

If I may be permitted to quote a personal experience,  I
visited the town where I was born, Tarnow, in 1937 and again
in 1958. In 1937 there was still a flourishing community of
some 20,000 Jews, with all their outstanding institutions, a
synagogue that had existed there for about 600 years, and so
on. In 1958 I found about 20 Jews there, and only a few of
them were natives of Tarnow. This was typical of a large
number of towns throughout Poland and the neighboring

According to the census I mentioned before, Jews were found
in a total of 224 centres in Poland. Before the war there
were more than 2,000 communities in that country -  that is
to say the vast majority of the communities had been
completely wiped out - there were no Jews there at all, and
those found in the 200 localities were obviously very few
indeed. The destruction was therefore horrendous, and as I
mentioned before, there had never been anything like it in
the history of the Jewish people.

Q. That is to say, without precedent in the entire history
of the Jewish people.

A. Unprecedented in the entire history of the Jewish people.
For example, the Chmielnicki massacres in the middle of the
seventeenth century, resulted in the destruction of not more
than one-third of Polish Jewry only. The other countries
scarcely suffered at all. In the days of the Crusades,
communities were wiped out in Germany, Hungary and in
Palestine, but in Spain and Italy, in the Balkan countries
(except Constantinople), and possibly in North Africa and
the other Asian countries, there was hardly any destruction
at all. In other words, only a minute part of the Jewish
people suffered destruction. Generally speaking this is true
of all the disasters and all the suffering the Jewish people
endured throughout the generations. But this time the
catastrophe was decisive for one third of the nation, and
moreover in the most productive centres, and to such an
extent that Jewish communities even outside Europe, whether
in the United States or other countries of the American
continent, or here in the Land of Israel, all these
communities felt that they had been orphaned, left without
their parents, that their parents had disappeared, that
these fathers who, with their spirit, their culture and
their religious faith and so on, had inspired all the Jewish
communities. All these had now become bare of their
substance. Perhaps it may be added that not only is the
number small, but more so the quality had been greatly
diminished. For actually the massacre of the more
enlightened, of the spiritual leaders, was even greater than
within the community in general. The communities
established after the War had to begin almost afresh, and
precisely without that great spiritual leadership they had
previously possessed. Thus the destruction truly reached
down to the very foundations.

Q. Professor, can you now give us  your evaluation of the
effect of the destruction upon European Jewry and World

A. Yes, these effects continue to be felt to this very day,
and there is no doubt that they will be felt for decades,
perhaps for whole generations. In the ultimate assessment
there were, according to our statistics, approximately
16,500,000, or possibly even more, Jews in the world in the
year 1939. Today, at the most, there are 12,000,000. At the
end of the Second World War, there were, apparently, only
10,500,000. That is to say, even today, sixteen years after
the War, the number of surviving Jews is less by a quarter
or more than what it was in 1939. In order to appreciate the
significance of this destruction, it would suffice to
compare it with nations defeated in the war, those who in
fact were vanquished in the war, such as the Germans or the
Japanese. In Germany, when the War ceased, there were many
destroyed cities, the nation was starving, everything seemed
dark and gloomy. Nevertheless, today, sixteen years later,
the populations of West and East Germany together have
greatly increased.  I do not now remember the latest
figures, but there is certainly no doubt that their
population has increased by about a quarter of the previous
number of inhabitants. Japan, which experienced Nagasaki and
Hiroshima, nevertheless now has about 90,000,000
inhabitants, that is to say about one-third more than in the
year 1939. At the same time, the  Jewish people today
numbers no more than about 12,000,000, as I stated. And one
thing has to be borne in mind: if the natural increase of
Jews had been that of  the rate of  the thirties, by more or
less the same annual average of 120,000, then  22 years
after 1939, they would have undoubtedly increased by more
than 2,500,000, that is to say, there would have been more
than 19,000,000. If the Jews had participated, as no doubt
they would have participated, in the changes that came about
in the forties and the fifties in the expansion of the world
population, in that population explosion which I mentioned,
the average annual increase would certainly have amounted to
at least the 140,000 of the twenties and possibly even to
150,000 and 160,000, that is to say, the Jewish people would
have now totalled about 20,000,000 souls or more. Instead of
20,000,000 there are 12,000,000.

Furthermore, in the fields of culture, religion, education,
communal activities and organization, the destruction of
European Jewry was felt, as I have already stated, in all
the countries of the world.

If you will permit me, I would add something else. It is
difficult to picture, it is hard for the imagination to
conjure up what would have happened to the Jewish people if
Hitler had arisen not in the thirties of the twentieth
century, but - let us say - in the seventies of the
nineteenth century. If it were possible to imagine this
development and to conjecture what would have occurred if,
instead of Bismarck being responsible in the political
sense, for the Franco-German War in 1871, if in his place
there had arisen a man like Hitler, another Hitler, and
instead of conquering France he were to have conquered the
entire area from the Atlantic Ocean to the Russian zone of
occupation as Hitler had done, and if he had then
exterminated the Jewish people as the new Hitler had done -
the results then would have been unfathomable. What would
have remained of the Jewish people would have been so
negligible that the genocide - as they afterwards termed it
- would have been total. There would not have been a Jewish
people in the world. In the United States, Canada, Britain
and all the other countries, including Soviet Russia, the
remnant of survivors would have been so infinitesimal that
it would almost have been out of the question to re-
establish the Jewish people. At present, of course, the
conditions have changed for the better and there remains a
surviving remnant - more than a surviving remnant - two-
thirds of the nation were already beyond the areas under
Hitler's control, and they were saved.

Attorney General: Professor Baron, would you be able to tell
us something about the numbers of the victims of the Jewish
people in the Holocaust?

Witness Baron: It is, of course, difficult to count the
losses exactly; not merely because I myself am not a
statistician, but, in general, we know that the Germans
destroyed not only people but also the documents and the
memoranda on which some sort of an estimate could have been
based. But from everything I have examined and read, it
seems to me that the figures which are contained in several
sources are very close to the truth, namely about six
million Jews. As we know, this figure was stated by the
Nuremberg Tribunal. I also have with me the book by Gregory
Frumkin, the well-known statistician of world affairs, who
gives a general survey in his book Population Changes in
Europe Since 1939. This book was printed in London in 1951,
and also in New York. After he quotes certain figures for
all countries, he reaches the conclusion that the number of
Jews known to have been killed reached 4,372,000. Thereafter
he adds:

     "If the population of the territories ceded to the
     U.S.S.R. were included, it would probably be found that
     the total number of Jews murdered by the Germans
     amounted to some 5 millions, and if the U.S.S.R.
     territory occupied by the Germans during the war were
     likewise taken into account, the figure might easily be
     between 6 and 7 millions."

The same conclusion was also reached by the Anglo-American
Commission of Enquiry which examined the Palestine problem
and the question of Jewish refugees; it took into account
approximately such a number. On page 58 they quote the total
number of the Jews in Europe. They arrive at a figure of
9,946,000  Jews who were in Europe in the year 1939 and of
4,224,000 Jews who remained in 1946 - that is to say, a
difference of roughly 5,724,000.

All the figures are, as I have pointed out, estimates,
assumptions, because the documents ensuring an exact account
are lacking. Even from my calculation, which I previously
mentioned, to the effect that in 1939 there were 16,500,000
Jews in the world and that subsequently 10,500,000 survived,
it emerges that about 6,000,000 Jews disappeared. And while
there were other victims - not only the Jews who were killed
by the Nazis - one must remember that  children were born in
other countries, such as, for example, the United States.
According to accounts in our possession, in the United
States there is an increase of  50,000-70,000 Jews every
year in the United States in excess of those who die; in
other words in the course of six years the Jewish community
in the United States increased by 300,000-500,000 Jews.
If we add all the figures together then, in my opinion, this
usually accepted figure of 6,000,000 is practically certain
- it may be slightly less, but it can also be greater than
that, and might even reach 7,000,000. At all events such an
extent of the Holocaust is enormous.

A question even much more important is: what in actual fact
has remained,  namely, what were the consequences of the
Holocaust, as regards the whole world and as regards the
Jews. As regards the Jews, as I have already said, a third
of the nation no longer exists - instead of 20,000,000 or at
least 19,000,000 there are only 12,000,000. And it was
particularly the most creative countries that disappeared
from amongst the centres of Jewish  culture. This has, of
course, basic spiritual and religious aspects. The influence
on the Jewish people cannot easily vanish. Even in the times
of the War people were asking the old question "Shall the
righteous men suffer and the wicked men prosper?" Indeed,
why had it to be the Jews of Poland and Lithuania where the
righteous men of Israel were more numerous than the wicked.
Why were they  the ones to be annihilated and not others,
why were they destroyed at all? And if you will permit me I
would quote to you from a particular sermon given during the
Holocaust by Rabbi Kalman Kalmish Schapira, because this
question still exists - it has not disappeared. He said in
his sermon, in 1941 or 1942  recalling that when ten men
were killed by order of an alien Government, the question
arose whether the world would continue to exist. And he
said: "Shall the world continue to exist and not be turned
into chaos? When the ten martyrs* {*Heb. "asarah harugei
malhut," name given to ten sages put to death by the
Romans.} were killed, the angels cried out bitterly: `Is
this the Torah and is this the reward?' And a heavenly voice
was heard, saying: `If I should hear another voice, I shall
turn the world into water.' And now, innocent children, pure
angels, even the great holy men of Israel are murdered and
slaughtered only because they are Jews, they are greater
than the angels, and the vast spaces of the world are filled
with their cries of horror which could break down barriers
of iron. And they cry out `Is this the Torah and is this its
reward?' And notwithstanding this the world did not overturn
and remained as if nothing had happened..." And this
question of `Shall the righteous man suffer' continues to be
asked by thinking Jews of every generation from that time

There has come down to us the legacy of the ghetto, the
songs of the ghetto, the songs of the partisans, we have
been left the preachings of Leo Baeck, the well-known
scholar who survived after leaving the concentration camp at
Theresienstadt, a legacy which obviously enriched the
treasures of the Jewish people. But we still regard
ourselves as orphans, whose parents were murdered.

From the point of view of the world as a whole, there is no
doubt that there is a serious rift here. For the first time
the Nazis introduced into the world a doctrine which was
exceedingly dangerous, which constituted a threat to the
entire world. If any nation is entitled to determine in
regard to another nation, whichever it may be, that it is
sub-human, and that it is possible to annihilate it, ill-
treat it throughout the world, there would be no end to it.
Any nation possessing arms would be able to attack another
nation, weaker than itself, for it can simply say that it is
sub-human. And, in the historical sense, these are things
that can exist and this doctrine constitutes a danger not
only to the Jews, but to the whole world.

There is also another matter: The Nazis introduced a new
precept even into the hatred of Jews. In general they were
really anti-intellectual - they did not accept at all that
relationships between nations should be based on logical
foundations. There were very strong irrational elements, but
only on the Jewish question did they begin immediately with
anti-Jewish research. They founded institutions, one after
the other, to study the history of the Jews, the life of the
Jews. And first of all - the Political Institute for the
History of the New Germany -- Reichinstitut fuer Geschichte
des neuen Deutschlands - in Berlin, and the Institute for
Research into the Jewish Question - Institut zur Erforschung
der Judenfrage - in Frankfurt. And they entrusted their
spiritual leader, Alfred Rosenberg, to be the director of
this Institute. Everywhere they raided Jewish libraries, the
Rothschild library and the library of the Alliance in Paris,
and after a few years they amassed 350,000 books in order to
prove in scientific fashion that the Jews were worthless.
They continued this process, not only in Germany, where
there were also other foundations and institutions of that
kind, but when they conquered Poland  they established at
Poznan a special Chair for the History of the Jews. In
Paris, in France, there was a special Institute. And they
even influenced the Italians to commence investigating the
history of the Jews, of course in their pseudo-scientific
manner, in Florence, in Bologna, Milan and elsewhere in
order to collect anti-Jewish material. I happen to know even
of a special library collected by Streicher, the Streicher
who generally speaking did not excel in intellectual
accomplishments. And for his pornographic outpourings he had
no need for documents. But nevertheless, he assembled 7,000
- 8,000 books in Hebrew, books of the Kabbalah etc. These
are now in New York. He employed a number of so-called
"experts" who extracted from these books -  works of the
Rabbis and others -  documents for the purpose of
denigrating Judaism and the Jews in general. It seems to me
that this heritage is gradually disappearing, as the world
has been warned. I am glad to see that in the world there is
actually an appreciation of the fact that genocide is a
dangerous thing for the whole world and not only for the
Jews. They should accordingly realize that they should not
begin to study Jewish history in the non-scientific manner
of those institutes which I mentioned, but that all this
pseudo-scientific heritage should disappear from the world
and in its stead should come  pure scientific research based
upon the truth.

Attorney General: Thank you, Professor Baron. And now, to
conclude, here is a map. I would request to submit it and I
would be grateful if you would assist us by showing the
progress of the Nazi occupation in Europe according to
dates. May I be permitted to hang up the map?

Presiding Judge: Yes, certainly.

Attorney General: Here before us is a map of Europe.
Professor Baron, will you kindly trace for us the progress
of the Nazi occupation according to dates?

Witness Baron: This is Germany  which, from 1933 onwards,
was under the rule of the Nazis. This was German territory
[He points to the map.] In 1938, in March 1938, Austria was
annexed to Germany when its armies invaded Austria during
that month. In the same year, in September 1938, the armies
of Germany occupied the Sudetenland. Thereafter, in 1939, in
March 1939, they occupied Czechoslovakia and partitioned it.
The main sections, Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia became a
Protectorate. The section of Slovakia became an independent
state. Afterwards the  War broke out on 1 September 1939 and
the armies of Germany occupied Poland. However, in September
of that year, 1939, the forces of Soviet Russia also entered
East Poland. When Poland was partitioned, the western part
was annexed to Germany proper; that is to say the regions
which belonged to Germany before 1914 plus other areas such
as Lodz, for example, which were added to them.

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