The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/06/02

Q. What happened to those Jews afterwards?

A. A day or two after the Jews were returned to Kistarcsa,
we received an order that all the members of the Judenrat
were to come to the Hotel Majestic, to the offices of the
SS.  I came around 9:00, 9:30 to the office of the Judenrat.

All were nervous, because all of us, the whole of the
Judenrat, had never before been summoned to come together.

Q. Where was the Hotel Majestic?

A. At the Schwabenberg, that was actually the headquarters
of the Sondereinsatzkommando.  There it said:
Sondereinsatzkommando IVB4.

Q. Who were the German officers working there?

A. I did not know them all - Eichmann, Krumey, Wisliceny,
Hunsche, Novak.  Later on I met Klages on one occasion - he
belonged to the SD - who was located elsewhere.  He took the
place of Krumey, because at the beginning of July they
transferred him to Vienna from Budapest.  Some other officer
came in his stead, I think his name was Krueger.

Q. Were the offices of Eichmann, Wisliceny and Hunsche in
the same place, in the Hotel Majestic on the Schwabenberg?

A. Yes.

Q. In the same place to which all of you were summoned?

A. We were all summoned to come on that one day.

Presiding Judge: When was that?

Witness Freudiger:  It was two days after the train was
brought back to Kistarcsa, it could have been, perhaps, 12
or 13 July.

State Attorney Bach:  Did all of you actually go?

Witness Freudiger:  At the beginning we all went, with one
exception.  Berend was not in the office at the time.  Eight
of us came, instead of nine.  We came to the office on the
Schwabenberg.  We went in.  They asked us whether everyone
was present.  I was somehow the spokesman.  I said, Berend
is not here.  He was a young member - he had not been a
member of the executive for long.  They said he, too, must
come here.  We had a taxi, and they said: Send the taxi to
fetch him.  We sent the car back - it was six or seven
kilometres from town.  An hour later, Berend was also there.
I told the officer there, Hunsche: Our complement is full.

Q. Was it mainly Hunsche who spoke to you on that day?

A. Yes.

Q. What did he talk to you about, and how long did he keep
you there?

A. This could have started roughly at 10 or 10.30.  He said
a few words to us and told us to wait, and that soon he
would take us into his office.  We waited an hour, an hour-
and-a-half, two hours.  Our members were extremely nervous.
Eventually Stern, who was seventy years old and not in good
health, said to me: "Freudiger, go to Hunsche and ask him
why they summoned us here."  I went to Hunsche and said: "We
are all waiting, what is going to happen?"  He replied:
"Soon, soon."  And another hour passed.  After an hour, our
nervousness grew. I said to Hunsche: "What is going to
happen?  We would like to telephone our office to tell them
we are here."  And he said: "No, do not telephone, I will
phone right away."  Then I asked him to provide something to
eat.  I said I was able to fast, I was an Orthodox Jew, but
he should give food to the others.  Stern was there, and he
gave him a slice of bread and a cup of coffee.  The others
did not receive anything.  At approximately two o'clock, he
took us to his office and began speaking about various
subjects - that the life of the Jews had to be organized,
how to organize the Burial Society, and all sorts of
matters.  That would have been an interesting subject for
discussion, if there had been Jews in Hungary, but not when
there were no longer Jews in Hungary.  Thus the time passed.
Then he again sent us down, and we waited for him.  By now
it was six p.m.  I said to him: "We are allowed to walk in
the streets until eight o'clock only."  All of us, by now,
had the yellow Shield of David.  The whole Jewish
population, as I have previously said, had permission to be
in the streets from 2-5 p.m.;  we had special permission -
from eight in the morning until eight in the evening.  I
pointed out that it was now six o'clock, that we were up
there on the Schwabenberg, and that we had to get home.  He
answered: "Don't worry, I will provide you with an escort,
and everyone will reach his home."  He said there was
something we had to arrange.  After that, at seven o'clock,
the telephone on his table rang.  He began speaking.  Then
he stopped and went into another room.  Apparently he did
not want us to hear, that we should hear what he was saying.
We heard him saying: "Well, very well."  After that he
returned to the room.  We were left in the middle of a
sentence when the telephone rang.  Then he came back and
said: "All right, now you may go."  We went home.

Q. During all this time, from ten in the morning until seven
in the evening, was anything at all discussed which seemed
to you to be a matter of importance?

A. No.  If there had been Jews in the country, it would
perhaps have been important, but to talk about the Burial
Society when the Jews had already been killed in Auschwitz?

Q. What did you find out when you returned home?

A. I, of course, could no longer go back to my home, for it
had been destroyed by a bomb.  I was living in the Old Age
Home of the Orthodox community.  It was not far from the
Schwabenberg.  It still had a telephone, because in
institutions, in hospitals, the telephone was allowed to
remain.  I got back at eight o'clock, a little before eight,
and I received a telephone call from Kistarcsa to the effect
that SS men, a special contingent with Hauptsturmfuehrer
Novak, and thirty trucks had arrived.  They shut out the
Hungarian police force under Vasdenyei and the remaining
police who were in the Kistarcsa camp.  They took the Jews
who had been on the train before, put them on the trucks,
and left the place in a hurry.  As I learned afterwards, the
phone call Hunsche received was a message that a train had
brought them to Hatvan, in a direction opposite to that of
Budapest.  They had transferred them to a town closer to
Kistarcsa in another direction, and sent them in an express
train beyond the borders, to Auschwitz.  The call to Hunsche
was to the effect that they had crossed the border.  It was
after this that they allowed us to go home, for they thought
that if we got to know about it, we would again intervene
and run to Horthy.
Q. Did you speak to Wisliceny about this episode?

A. Yes, definitely.  On the next day or the day after I
spoke to Wisliceny - I described the whole incident to him.
Wisliceny said to me...

Q. Perhaps you would quote what Wisliceny said in German?

A. He explained the meaning of the telephone call.  I told
him the whole story.  Then he said: "You stayed there until
Hunsche received the telephone call that everything was in
order."  And he said to me in German: "Was glaubt denn der
alte Trottel, Eichmann wird diese Ohrfeige einstecken, dass
er seinen Zug hat zurueckholen lassen?" (Does that old fool
really believe that Eichmann would keep quiet at this slap
in the face that his train was sent back?)

Q. To whom was he referring with the words "der alte
Trottel" (the old fool)?

A. To Horthy.

Q. Was it only from Kistarcsa that Jews were later taken
away by force, as you described?
A. There was one other place, about a week or ten days
later, another concentration camp, at Sarvar, from where
they also took away 1,000 or 1,200 Jews.  But there they had
already begun with the second stage.  They did not begin
deporting them in trains, but came immediately with trucks
and locked up the police.  What they had done at Kistarcsa
on the second occasion was the model for Sarvar.  That we
knew only after it was done.

Q. When you said "they came," to whom were you referring?

A. Novak and his men.

Q. Did you also discuss this matter with the commandant of
Kistarcsa - Vasdenyei?

A. Yes.

Q. Did he also confirm it to you?

A. He was really an honest man and apologized.  He said:
"What could I do?"

Presiding Judge: Who was this man?

Witness Freudiger:  He was the Hungarian police chief of

State Attorney Bach:  Did he express his regrets at this

Witness Freudiger:  Yes.

Q. By the way: What is the distance between Budapest and
Sarvar, that second camp you mentioned?

A. It is further away.  Sarvar is in the west of Hungary -
it could be at least 120 kilometres away.

Q. After this occurrence, when you returned to the
Schwabenberg and saw Hunsche and his comrades, did they
again refer to the incident when you were held at the

A. Actually I did not have much to do with Hunsche, but he
knew me.  A day or two after I had been in the office there,
when he saw me, he asked laughingly: "Sind Sie noch immer
nervoes?  Stern hat sich schon beruhigt?"  (Are you still
nervous?  Has Stern already calmed down?)

Q. Mr. Freudiger, I shall not question you on details of the
negotiations that were conducted between Brand and Kasztner
and the Germans.  We shall hear about this directly from
Brand.  I would ask you only this: Did you occasionally
receive reports about these discussions from Dr. Kasztner?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember that he once expressed himself on a
certain matter concerning the wording of a draft proposal
for a deal made by Eichmann?

A. Yes.  He always reported on something when it was already
done. He always confronted us with a "fait accompli," and
informed us that there had been such negotiations.  He said
that people would be sent to Bergen-Belsen, and after that
also to Strasshof, there had been some haggling, trucks
would be delivered, etc.  He asked him whether they were
sending these people to Germany?  Perhaps only to Bergen-
Belsen.  There had been no talk as yet of Bergen-Belsen, but
only that the train was to proceed to the Spanish frontier -
this was what was afterwards called the Bergen-Belsen train,
instead of to the Spanish frontier.  It was after 6 June,
after D-Day.  Major battles had already taken place in
France.  We then asked what would happen if some disaster
occurred, for the route was not all that safe?  To that
Eichmann once replied: "Nu, es ist keine grosse Sache.
Getoetete oder beschaedigte Juden werden mit anderen
ausgetauscht." (Well, that is nothing of importance.  Killed
or injured Jews will be replaced by others.)  This is what
Kasztner told me that Eichmann had once said to him, that he
was an honest man, and if he sold 3,000 Jews, he would have
to supply him with this number, and if they should be killed
or injured, there would be others.  He would supply other
merchandise.  His expression was: "This is nothing of
importance, dead or injured Jews will be replaced by

Q. The main thing is this expression "Vernichtete oder
beschaedigte Juden werden mit anderen ausgetauscht"
(exterminated or injured Jews will be replaced by others).
Please tell the Court about your last meeting with the
Accused on 21 July 1944.

A. As I have said, the whole of Hungary, with the exception
of Budapest, was already judenrein by the beginning of July.
A duel was being fought whether or not to deport the Jews
from Budapest.  We hoped that Horthy would be the stronger -
we had some indication that, on the German side, too, that
Veesenmeyer was also not so rigorous and was opposed to
Eichmann's plan to expel the Jews from Budapest at all
costs.  On 21 July - I remember that day well, it was a
Friday - I received an urgent telephone call from Wisliceny
saying that he wanted to speak to me, and that I should come
to him right away.  I went to his private apartment on the
Schwabenberg.  He told me that a day or two before he had
been in Bratislava, where he had spoken to Rabbi Weissmandel
and with all our Jewish friends; they had heard the B.B.C.
broadcast which reported on Brand's programme to exchange a
million Jews for 10,000 trucks, and that the B.B.C. added
that a guarantee had been required that these trucks would
not be used except on the western front, but not on the
eastern front against the Russians, and His Majesty's
Government could not do anything against its allies, the

Presiding Judge: I think you have made a mistake here.  They
wanted to say that the trucks would be used only on the
eastern front, and not on the western front.

Witness Freudiger:  That they should guarantee not to use
them on the western front.

Q. You simply interchanged "east" for "west."

A. His Majesty's Government was very sorry - it could not
accept this offer.

Q. Were those his words in English?

A. Yes, as far as I remember, he said that in English.  But
it may be that I am mistaken.  Afterwards the press, the
Hungarian newspapers, also reported it.  Rabbi Weissmandel
told him that this was clear proof that the matter would now
be carried out.  It had already been going on for a month
and a half.  Throughout this month and a half we had not
heard a word about the whole matter.  Now it was of no
value.  And why were the English disclosing such a matter,
because they were seeking an alibi against the Russians?
And now they would do it.

State Attorney Bach:  Was this what Rabbi Weissmandel said
to Wisliceny?

Witness Freudiger:  Yes.  Rabbi Weissmandel said this to
Wisliceny, and the proof of it was that Mr. Freudiger
already had 250 trucks which they could begin to deliver on
account of the 10,000.

Presiding Judge: Were they already in the possession of the

Witness Freudiger:  No, in the possession of Mr. Freudiger.

State Attorney Bach:  Wisliceny said to Mr. Freudiger that
he had learned from Rabbi Weissmandel that he (Mr.
Freudiger) had 250 trucks?

Witness Freudiger:  Yes.  And he summoned me and asked
whether this was true.  I said it was true.  Of course, I
had neither 250 trucks, nor even one, but since he asked me
whether I had them, I told him that I did - the Almighty
would help me.  After that he said to me: "Fine, if Eichmann
calls you - I have spoken to him - confirm this, and in this
way the question of the deportation of Jews from Budapest
will be removed from the agenda." "Very well," I said to
him, "I am going to Eichmann."  It was about five to ten
minutes from there.  He was living at the Hotel Majestic.
He said to me: "Eichmann must not know that I have spoken to
you - do you know that he is angry with you and also with
me?  We have not spoken to each other - go down into town,
and he will call you."

I returned to the offices of the central executive, where
there was already an uproar.  They asked me: "Freudiger,
where have you been?  They are looking for you all over the
city - Eichmann has already telephoned for you twice."  Of
course, I was unable to tell them where I had been.  I went
back to the Hotel Majestic.  Eichmann was not in his office.
I waited outside, and some minutes later he arrived in his
car.  He saw me waiting outside and came up to me and said:
"Come in."  I went to him and stood there at attention.  He
said to me - perhaps I may repeat this, too, in German: "Ich
habe die Verstaendigung bekommen, dass Sie 250 Lastautos zu
Ihrer Verfuegung haben?" (I have received information that
you have 250 trucks at your disposal).  I replied: "Yes."
After that he said to me: "Go to Obersturmbannfuehrer
Becher, tell him about it and arrange with him for their
delivery."  I said: "Very well."  He then said: "And see
that he is satisfied," and then - this was the first time
that he had not shouted at me - "you, too, will be
satisfied" (Schauen Sie, dass Sie ihn zufriedenstellen, Sie
werden auch zufrieden sein.) (Endeavour to satisfy him; you,
too, will be satisfied.)

Q. Mr. Freudiger, one other question connected with the
matter of Kistarcsa.  You said before that you had a member
of the executive named Janos Gabor.  A day or two after the
incident which you recounted to us about the return of the
train and its seizure for a second time, were you also
informed of something by Janos Gabor?

A. I said that Janos Gabor was a liaison officer before he
was appointed to be a member of the second executive, but
after he was appointed as a member, he continued in that
role, and day after day he used to go to the Hotel Majestic
in order to deal with current matters.  He came back and
said that he had spoken to Eichmann and had received a
telling-off - it was something awful.  Eichmann shouted at
him and said: "What is this - you people are interfering in
my affairs, you are here to assist us and not to meddle in
our business."  He said that Eichmann was very nervous, and
after that there were days when he did not want to go to the
Schwabenberg any more, and he said that Eichmann had shouted
at him in such a way that he was afraid to go.  After that,
nothing happened in this connection.

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