The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-052-06

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-052-06
Last-Modified: 1999/06/02

Q. Mr. Freudiger, do you know where the Accused lived in

A. No.

Q. When did you leave Budapest?

A. On 10 August.

Q. Can you tell us where you went to and how you managed it?
I would ask you to do so briefly - there is no need for all
the details.  Where did you go to - and by what route?

A. We left Hungary and escaped to Romania as Romanian Jews.
I cannot say that the passports were forged - the passports
were not forged, only the names were forged.  I did not
state my name, and I obtained the passport.  It was not only
for me.  We secured, through Dr. Fildermann and friends who
lived in Budapest, the means for 130 non-Romanians to travel
to Romania.  The genuine Romanian Jews simply had the right
to return to Romania.

Q. Did Wisliceny know about your plan to escape?

A. Yes.  I was also supposed to go on that train to Bergen-
Belsen, in the same way as the greater part of the Jewish
public functionaries of Hungary.  At the last minute,
Wisliceny notified me that I had to remain in Budapest,
because Krumey, on his own initiative or that of Eichmann -
this I do not know - anyhow did not allow a member of the
Judenrat to abandon his job, and I had to remain.  I
prepared myself, in case he would allow me to do so later
on.  We began to take steps to arrange the passports,
because I got news from my friends in Bucharest.
Approximately in the middle of July, possibly on 20 or 15
July, Wisliceny said to me, suddenly, without any preamble
(we had been talking about other matters): "Freudiger, go
away now!"  After that, a day or two after this, he told me
about the possibility of Romanian Jews returning to Romania.
I did all the rest.

Q. Did you reach Romania safely?

A. The following day, on 11 August, we went by the ordinary
train from Budapest to Romania.  They wanted afterwards to
arrest the whole group - it was not only my family and I,
there were other people there as well.  But we had already
crossed the border.  By the time they came to arrest us, we
had already crossed the border.

Presiding Judge: And from there, from Romania?

Witness Freudiger:  We remained in Romania for 14 months,
and from there we came to Palestine.

Q. Were the Russians in Romania then?

A. On 11 August Romania was still under the rule of
Antonescu.  The Russians entered on 23 August.

State Attorney Bach:  Thank you very much.

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

Dr. Servatius:  Yes, I have a number of questions.

Sir, you spoke about the ban on using the railway, about the
ban on leaving the country, and about many other
prohibitions.  Who issued these prohibitions?

Witness Freudiger:  The instructions appeared in the
official Hungarian Gazette.

Q. Thank you.  Who set up the camp at Kistarcsa, the
Hungarians or the Germans?

A. This camp had been in existence previously.  I said
yesterday that it had been in existence before 1944.

Presiding Judge: Was it a Hungarian camp?

Witness Freudiger:  Yes.

Dr. Servatius:  Thank you, that is sufficient for me.  You
said at one time that, at the end, there was a Hungarian
camp commandant.  Was this the case also at the beginning?

Witness Freudiger:  Yes, it was always a Hungarian.

Q. At the time of the operations or the steps that were
taken, did the Hungarian police or gendarmerie appear?

A. What operations?

Q. I shall not enumerate the operations in detail, but the
question is directed to whether these arrests were carried
out by the Germans, or whether the Hungarian gendarmerie did

A. When hostages were taken at the beginning of the
occupation in Budapest, the Budapest police went together
with an officer or soldier of the SS or a German soldier.
The deportation itself was always carried out by the
Hungarian gendarmerie together with a small contingent of
the SS.  On the train, after they were already in the
railway waggon, there were only SS officers who were in
charge of the train.

Q. You spoke about the Jewish laws enacted by Hungary.  Were
these laws more severe than in Germany?

A. Before 1944 or during the occupation?  Before 19 March or
after 19 March?

Q. Were the laws more severe before that date or thereafter?

A. Before - no.  The laws before 19 March were certainly not
stricter, perhaps even less so than in Germany.  After 19
March, there were laws against the Jews.  I am not familiar
with the German laws.  They deported Jews from there, and
they deported Jews from Hungary.

Q. Do you not know whether the subsequent laws were more
severe than in Germany itself?

A. I do not know the German laws that existed in 1944.

Q. Did you once make a report - on 18 August 1960 - in which
you also described that which you have recounted here?

A. Yes, I gave my account to the police.

Q. Is everything in that written account on this question

A. I did not write that account in August 1960.  We wrote
that account in September 1945.  A large part of that
account accords with the truth.  When we wrote it, we were
under the impact of what had happened - this was a month or
two after we escaped.

Judge Halevi:  1944 or 1945?

Witness Freudiger:  Yes, 1944.  We wrote it in Bucharest at
the request of Dr. Fildermann, the director of the Joint in
Bucharest.  When I read the report some years later, it was
almost entirely correct, but there are matters there which I
see today in a somewhat different light.  But at the time I
knew it that way and felt that way.

Presiding Judge: Was it written by you?

Witness Freudiger:  It was written by the three of us.

Q. Who were they?

A. Myself, Alexander Diamant, and Yohanan Link.

Q. And in 1960, I understand, you gave that to the police.

A. And in 1960 I confirmed that I stood by it.

Dr. Servatius:  Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, it appears
here that this is the account of Pinhas Freudiger about the
events from 19 March to 10 August 1944, whereas at the end
it says "Jerusalem, 18 August 1960" and signed by Philip von

Presiding Judge: That is the same name, Dr. Servatius.

State Attorney Bach:  I should like to explain.  On 18
August 1960, the witness identified the account, and
therefore that date appears there.  The account was written
then [in 1944], and not in 1960.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you wish to submit this

Dr. Servatius:  Not for the present.  I merely want to put
forward an argument to the witness.  [To Witness] It says
here, on page 21, in the copy in my possession, that "In
Hungary the racial laws were much more rigorous than in
Germany, the more so than in Slovakia, and they included a
wide range of Jews who had been converted for a long time,
and their descendants, and also a large number of half-Jews
who were the offspring of mixed marriages."  Is that

Witness Freudiger:  We felt it in this way.  But I think,
according to all that I have read from 1944 to this day
about the events in Germany - I think that was a mistake.
In Germany, too, they seized Jews who had converted out of
the faith, and so on.

Q. Sir, I asked you only whether you wrote the account, and
whether the correct version is what you wrote there or what
you have stated here as a witness.

A. I wrote that, and that was what I thought then.
Meanwhile I learned that this was erroneous, and that in
Germany, too, the situation was severe.

Q. I have another question.  How did the Hungarian
gendarmerie behave - did it treat you with greater
consideration, or did the Hungarian police behave in the
worst manner?

A. The Hungarian gendarmerie, particularly in the provincial
towns, was not any better.  They were very cruel.

Q. Allow me to read out to you what you wrote then, in your
account, on page 11 in the lower part. "The Hungarian
Gestapo was created entirely according to the model of the
German security service, a state within a state, without
control, endowed with full authority, and seeking to outbid
in brutality and shamefulness the body in whose image it had
been established.  Thus there was imposed upon Hungarian
Jewry an arm which took upon itself the orders of the German
rulers and the Hungarians.

A. So what is your question?

Q. Which is correct?  The statement which I have just read,
or the account which you gave here previously?

A. Earlier I said that the Hungarian gendarmerie was no
better than the SS, and here we are talking of the Hungarian
Gestapo.  First of all, these are two separate matters.  The
Hungarian gendarmerie was part of the Hungarian police, a
special part of it, and they were always more aggressive
than the police.  And the Hungarian Gestapo was not yet in
existence.  The Hungarian Gestapo was set up upon the demand
of the SS.  And the head of the Hungarian Gestapo, Peter
Hein, was the one who handed over Horthy to the Germans; he
was the head of the Hungarian secret police.

Q. Sir, that is sufficient for me.

What was Endre's role?  Was he the authority upon whom
everyone's fate depended?

A. Upon whom everyone's fate depended?  Endre was the
Director General of the Ministry of the Interior, and his
function was - he took this upon himself - to help, to work
hand in hand with the Sondereinsatzkommando.  He aimed at -
and this was his aim - securing the consent of the Hungarian
Government for this plan.  He was directing the affairs in
the Ministry of the Interior.

Q. Sir, was he the person upon whose word depended the fate
of every single Jew - for life or death?

A. If Endre wanted to stop the deportations and not to help,
he would either have had to find someone else in his place,
or really to implement it a little more slowly and with
somewhat greater difficulties.

Q. Sir, that is enough.  I shall now permit myself to read
from page 13 of your account.  "The man who had it in his
power to decide on matters of life and death in regard to
the fate of the Jews was Endre."  Is that correct?

A. That was correct.

Dr. Servatius:  I have no further questions.

State Attorney Bach:  I have no questions in re-examination.

Judge Raveh:   How did you arrive at that figure of 600,000
which you mentioned?

Witness Freudiger:  As I said previously, there were 800,000
Jews in Hungary and, in my estimation, there remained in
Budapest after the deportations only the Jews of Budapest
and the young Jews who were in labour service.  I believe
they numbered more than 200,000 - possibly some tens of
thousands more.  As against this, I did not include in these
800,000 those who converted out of the faith.

Q. Were the numbers of those who remained based on
statistical data or upon your estimate?

A. We knew how many Jews there were in Budapest according to
the statistics.  Possibly there was a difference of 10,000,
not more than that.

Judge Halevi:  Mr. Freudiger, with regard to the figures you
mentioned, that in the Auschwitz report that was sent to you
by Rabbi Weissmandel and drawn up by two Slovakian prisoners
of Auschwitz, a total was mentioned of 1,450,000 Jewish

Witness Freudiger:  Yes.

Q. This was before the deportation of the Jews of Hungary.

A. Yes.

Q. Is there another copy of that report?  Did you duplicate
it at the time.

A. The report was printed in a book by the late Rabbi
Weissmandel, which was published some months ago in New
York, entitled Out of the Distress.  The report is included

Attorney General: This book is in our possession.  We are
able to submit it to the Court.

Judge Halevi:  The question is: Who would be able to verify
the report?  The witness?  After all, he duplicated it and
dealt with it.

Attorney General: Perhaps he can do so.  We did not intend
to submit it, since we have no way of verification, unless
the witness can do so.

Judge Halevi:  The witness obtained it, dealt with it and
duplicated it.

Attorney General: We can do so immediately.  We have the
report right here.

Judge Halevi:  I think it is a sufficiently first-hand
source relating to Auschwitz.  Did you tell us who sent this
report to Switzerland?

Witness Freudiger:  Moshe Krausz.

Q. When did he send it?

A. At once.  Already in June.  Possibly it was also sent
directly from Slovakia to Switzerland.
Q. Did you see any letters in Rabbi Weissmandel sounded the
alarm; did Rabbi Weissmandel's call for help also pass
through your hands?

A. Yes.  The letters for help which he sent to us, or...?

Q. No, a call to the free world.

A. A call to the free world - I did not see the actual
letter, because he sent it to Switzerland, to Istanbul, and
perhaps also to America; but I know about the letters and
also about the outcome of these letters.  The Rabbinical
Rescue Committee of America was established as a result of
these letters in 1943.

Q. Did he ask only for financial help or for military help
as well?

A. He asked for everything.  From the Jews he asked for
financial aid - he asked the Jews to undertake all kinds of
activities, to persuade the British and American armies to
help, to bomb Auschwitz.  And we sent letters, and I know
that they reached their destination, describing the route,
the direction in which the trains were going.  Weissmandel
sent a plan of Auschwitz - where the crematorium was
located.  After the report was received, we asked that they
be blown up and I do not know what else, but they did not do

Weissmandel had a further plan.  There was a large railway
tunnel - I don't know how you call it in Hebrew - a tunnel
between Kassa and Presov - his plan was to blow it up.
Nothing came of all these suggestions.

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