The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/05/31

Q. Did you also join the action?

A. No, we were far away. But we saw it all. From this I
learned something which I had already guessed, and we
learned it subsequently, in the days of the April revolt as
well, not to be drawn into street fighting. Only after we
heard the explanation of Mordechai Anilewicz...

Q. Did you see the whole action?

A. We saw the action, and afterwards we saw the escape and
how they disappeared. Later on we saw a wooden hut where the
Germans buried three fighters who were captured by them and
murdered. Mordechai Anilewicz was saved and returned after
two or three days; he was saved by simple Jews at the last
moment. But he was one of the few that were saved - the rest
of the fighters fought until the last minute, and this is no
mere manner of speaking - up to the last minute.

For this reason we decided to take other steps, partisan
tactics and to fight in the houses.

Q. The underground prepared a plan of resistance, what to
do. There were various suggestions. Was there once a plan to
set fire to the ghetto and be burned alive?

A. Yes.

Q. You did not accept this suggestion?

A. That was in September 1942.

Q. Why didn't you agree to the suggestion?

A. This was the most dramatic and decisive evening in the
life of the underground. We young people were those who had
remained out of one hundred and twenty thousand Jews who had
been taken off to their deaths; of those who had been
brought in and concentrated together, 60,000 had been taken
to their deaths. We were fighters, Halutzim, we remained
alive. There was a feeling of shame. We felt ashamed for
ourselves. Hence, there were comrades who said, since a few
days before our meagre arms had been taken by the Germans,
at the operation on 3 September, and on that day two members
of our headquarters had fallen - Shmuel Breslaw and Josef
Kaplan, and we again were left as in the days of the
"Rounding-up," without anything - these comrades said that
we ought to perform some final act, to take petrol and
paraffin, burn the ghetto and to go up in flames with it.

Q. Why didn't you do this?

A. I was the one who opposed it. I didn't earn much honour
for myself that night. But I insisted on my point of view
that if we had survived - there was no sense or purpose in
selling our lives so cheaply. If it was true that we could
gain hours, days or months - we ought to promise ourselves
that nothing would be too difficult in order to acquire arms
and to fight with arms.

Q. Let us go back again to January. Did the January
operation pass by completely without repercussions on the
part of the Germans?

A. In my opinion the repercussions were great, and even
greater in the eyes of the Jews and the Poles. We in our
group - those of us whom they didn't manage to capture -
fought in the houses throughout two days. The position was
such, that the group was small, about 40 persons, and only
some of them were armed - we were easily able to circulate
amongst the houses, on the roofs. And it seemed to the
Germans that several groups were operating; in fact they
were small units. We obtained arms, we also killed Germans,
we also took their arms from them, we obtained both hand
grenades and rifles, this was important to us. And the last
thing that we received - the faith that we knew how to

Q. You found a way to reach the other side through the
sewage canals, is that right?

A. It took a long time before we found it. This was one of
the mistakes of the Jewish fighting force - that for months
we burnt all the bridges - we didn't prepare maps.

Q. But finally you found it?

A. We found a man who led us there.

Q. Who had the plans of the sewage system?

A. Yes.

Q. And this was afterwards the means of communication or one
of the means?

A. Twice we took people out, once from the Toebbens-Schultz
area on 29 April or 1 May, and the second time on 10 May in
the morning in Prosta Street - the fighters of the central

Q. You decided to spend Passover 1943 on the other side? Not
inside the ghetto?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. You did not know that an operation would take place?

A. I was on the other side for six days, without documents,
alone and not accustomed to being on the Aryan side.
Afterwards it came to my knowledge that amongst our comrades
in the ghetto there had been a feeling that something was
about to happen, but I knew nothing. I arranged with the
messenger Frania Beatus, a girl aged 17, to go in the
morning of 19 April to the wall of the ghetto in order to
contact a Jewish policeman, a member of the underground, and
say that I was about to join up with a work party that was
coming in. But on 19 April at seven in the morning she
returned, crying bitterly and said: "All is lost." She said
she was going to commit suicide.

Q. Did the Waffen SS enter the ghetto?

A. Yes.

Q. You were on the Aryan side and were unable to enter?

A. The entire ghetto was surrounded - the streets were
sealed off.

Q. What did you do on the other side when the ghetto was

A. I explained previously that I only managed to be on the
Aryan side for six days. I had set out without money since
they were going to forward it to me. I had not yet found our
contacts. Throughout the many months the person who
fulfilled this task was our envoy on the Aryan side, Arie
Wilner, but he was captured by the Gestapo during an arms
transaction. We remained for many months without any contact
with the Polish underground. One day they informed us that
if we didn't want the salt to come after the food, that is
to say if we wanted that the help should come not after the
revolt - it was essential that someone should come
immediately to the other side of Warsaw. And so I went to
the Aryan side of Warsaw, and I had to begin looking for
contacts. It is true that I found there Adolf Berman, but
his contacts were with parties and with organizations for
rescuing Jews, and I needed the military contacts. On the
first day we acquired 22 rifles. The rifles were given by
the Armia Ludova.

Q. How did you pass them on to the ghetto?

A. We couldn't pass them on, but transmitted information
that they were in our possession. We planned to send them by
means of the "Pinkertowey,"* {* A family of undertakers in
the Warsaw Ghetto.} the workers in the Jewish cemetery,
since we in the early days established contacts through
these "Pinkertowey," we thought that a way of transferring
the arms in could be in coffins, but we didn't succeed.

Q. Did you receive a letter from Mordechai Anilewicz?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. I hand it to you. Is this the original letter that you

A. No, Sir.

Q. Was the original letter written in Hebrew?

A. The original letter was written to me in Hebrew.

Q. How did he send it to you?

A. He sent it through the "Pinkertowey." This was a reply to
a letter that I managed to pass on. I translated it - and
this is my handwriting - into Yiddish - so as to give it to
others who didn't know Hebrew.

Attorney General: May I be permitted to ask the Court to
hear the contents of the letter. I wish to submit it, and I
would ask the witness also to read at least two passages.

Witness Zuckerman: I selected two matters from the text.
There was one part in which there was something secret
regarding arms, something of actual importance at the time;
and another part which was private - concerning Zivia who
was there and which had no public interest. Dr. Berman
translated it into Polish, and it was broadcast on the
underground radio.

Presiding Judge: This will be exhibit T/255.

Attorney General: This is our No. 1593. [To the witness]
Please read it.

Witness Zuckerman: He writes in Hebrew, and this has been
translated into Yiddish. He asks me to pass on...

Presiding Judge: You may read it in Yiddish. It will be

[The witness reads the letter in Yiddish.]

Presiding Judge: What are the words in Polish?

Witness Zuckerman: To the best of my knowledge the Polish
words were written by Dr. Berman, who was then on the Aryan
side, apparently in order to translate the letter into
Polish for the radio. This letter has been translated into
Hebrew in the book Fighters of the Ghetto.

Attorney General: And now please read the Hebrew

Witness Zuckerman: "23 April 1943. Shalom Yitzhak. I don't
know what to write to you. I'll waive personal details this
time. I have only one expression to convey my feelings and
those of my comrades. Something has occurred which is beyond
our wildest dreams. Twice the Germans fled from the ghetto.
One of our squads held out for 40 minutes, and the second -
for more than six hours. The mine which had been buried in
the brushmakers' area exploded. On our side only one victim
has so far fallen: Yehiel, he fell as a heroic soldier
beside his machine gun.

     "When the news reached us yesterday, that members of
     the P.P.R. attacked the Germans and that the Schweitz
     radio station broadcast the wonderful news about our
     self-defence, I had a feeling of completeness. Although
     we still have much work to do, everything that has been
     done so far was done to perfection.
     "The general situation: All the workshops in the ghetto
     and outside it were closed, except for "Werterfassung,"
     "Transavia" and "Dering." Regarding the situation with
     Schultz and Toebbens, I have no information.
     Communications have been cut off. The workshop of the
     brushmakers has been in flames for three days. I have
     no contacts with the units. There are many fires in the
     ghetto. Yesterday the hospital was burning. Whole
     blocks of buildings are in flames. The police has been
     disbanded, except the "Werterfassung." Schmerling
     surfaced and has reappeared. Lichtenbaum has been
     released from the Umschlag. Not many people have been
     taken out of the ghetto. This is not the case with the
     "Shops."  I don't have details. By day we sit in our
     hideouts. From evening we change to the partisan method
     of activity. Three of our units go out at night - with
     two objectives: armed patrols and obtaining arms. You
     should know - a revolver is of no value, we have hardly
     made use of it. What we need are: grenades, rifles,
     machine guns and explosives. I cannot describe to you
     the conditions under which Jews are living. Only a few
     chosen ones will hold out. All the others will perish
     sooner or later. Our fate has been sealed. In all the
     bunkers where our comrades are hiding, it is impossible
     to light a candle at night for lack of air...of all our
     units in the ghetto only one man is missing: Yehiel.
     Even this is a victory. I don't know what else I should
     write to you. I can imagine to myself that you have one
     question after another, but this time please let this
     suffice. Be well, my friend, perhaps we shall meet
     again. The main thing: the dream of my life has been
     fulfilled. I was privileged to see Jewish self-defence
     in the ghetto in all its greatness and magnificence.

Q. So now you were on the Aryan side of Warsaw, Mr.
Zuckerman, seeking ways how to transfer arms, seeking a
link, contacts with the fighting ghetto?

A. Yes.

Q. Did it take time until you discovered the maps of the
sewage canals?

A. Yes, not maps, it was a man who came, who remembered it;
he was a city cleaning worker, connected with the Armia

Q. But you were no longer able to smuggle many arms?

A. We scarcely managed to smuggle in arms at all, but we
maintained our connections by telephone, and by means of
runners who reached us from the ghetto.

Q. Now tell us about your activities, and with this we shall

A. After I received the news we went to see what could be
done. After searching around I made contact with the Armia
Krajova and the Armia Ludova. There were very difficult
meetings with the representatives of the Armia Krajova. I
met one of their representatives.

Q. What did you request from them?

A. I requested arms. He introduced himself as Grenadier
Karol. As I learned later, he was a major, I think he was
Yanishewski. I told him the ghetto was isolated, and I asked
for arms. He said that the ghetto was a base of Bolsheviks.
I told him that his information was not correct, that I
myself, who was an officer, was a member of Hehalutz, and
that most of the units were members of the Halutz movements,
and that we didn't ask a Jew who he was when he came to
fight. We wanted to know if he wished to fight. I didn't
receive the arms, but he suggested to  me - this was on 21
April or possibly 20 April - he suggested to me to bring the
fighters out of the ghetto. This was not my task. My task
was to strengthen the spirit of the fighters with arms. But
I said to him that I sincerely requested that they should
prepare houses and also forests for the partisans. Some time
later I learned from a man who guided me, a Pole, a member
of the scouts, Heniek - this Heniek fell during the Polish
rebellion in 1944 elsewhere in Warsaw - he wanted to let me
know through his comrade Irena Adamowicz that Heniek had
killed this major with his owns hands. At that time it
emerged that he was collaborating with the Germans. I
encountered a different attitude on the part of the Armia
Ludova, and forthwith, on the same day, I believe it was 19
April, I received from them 22 or 25 rifles. But I had no
way of transferring them, and they weren't able to help me.
Afterwards it became apparent that a simple thing like a map
of the sewage canals was not in the possession of the Armia
Ludova, even in 1944, at the time of the Polish rebellion.
And we, the Jewish unit, were obliged, within a few days, to
be experts on the sewage canals.

Q. Afterwards the bitter task fell to your lot to extricate
the remnants of the fighters?

A. Yes - we tried several times - in the same way as
messengers reached us from the ghetto, thus we tried on many
occasions to send our people into the ghetto.

2But they used to return from this labyrinth, this blind
alley. Sometimes they got as far as the Vistula, sometimes
elsewhere. They had no orientation of how to get into the
sewage canals - until one day, - one of our runners -
afterwards our chief runner - Simcha (today Rotem), took
this matter into his own hands. And after making several
attempts, he succeeded on 8 May in entering the ghetto. But
this was a short time after the central bunker, with
Mordechai Anilewicz in charge of more than one hundred
fighters, fell in defence of the bunker, at Mila 18. He also
encountered a delegation of desperate fighters that arrived
at that moment. They were sent back and it was necessary to
take advantage of the last hours of the night. By dawn
everyone had to be in the bunkers, and those that managed
went into the bunkers. There were still three groups
remaining in the ghetto and I know from the Polish
underground, from Polish labourers, who subsequently worked
there, who destroyed the ghetto, that for several months up
to the end of 1943 Jewish fighters fell; and I don't know
when, and how, the last Jewish fighters fell.

Q. It took months?

A. Many months.

Q. After you took the fighters out, did you organize
yourselves as an underground on the Aryan side?

A. Yes.

Q. You issued leaflets?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you possess one of the leaflets in Polish?

A. Yes. This is a leaflet of the Jewish National Committee
published in 1944 on the second anniversary of the murder of
the Jews of Warsaw on 22 August.

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