The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-059-02

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-059-02
Last-Modified: 1999/06/07

Q. Do you know whether this idea of your husband's trip
abroad arose in Klage's circles?

A. I do not understand.

Q. Did the first idea of your husband going abroad come from
Klages' or Schroeder's people - Laufer or Bandi Grosz, who
was connected with them?

A. Possibly.

Q. You said something in Court to the effect that the
Accused once told you that he did not have the power to free
anybody.  You will remember that yesterday you said that you
contacted him with regard to releasing parachutists.  I do
not wish to go into the parachutists affair, but into the
Accused's reply that he had no power to order releases.

A. Yes.

Q. Did he also tell you who did have that power?

A. He did not.  But we contacted everyone with whom we had
been in touch.  So we contacted Klages, and we contacted
Becher, and we contacted Krumey and Eichmann as well.

Q. And who had the power?

A. I cannot say, I do not know.

Q. Are you aware of the fact that Klages was the Head of the
SD?  That this was the Security Service, that he was
responsible for these matters - security matters - arrests
and releases?

A. But the parachutists were not held by the Germans, they
had been arrested by the Hungarian authorities.

Q. But I am referring to the Germans, as far as it depended
on the Germans.

A. Of course it depended on the Security Service.

Q. You also said that you took your children to the Columbus
Camp, if I am not mistaken.

A. Yes, I did.

Q. You also said that when Eichmann refused to allow them to
leave, you were very disappointed, but you also saw this as
a sign that the matter was meant seriously.

A. Yes.

Q. Are you perhaps aware that the late Dr. Kasztner received
reliable information from Wisliceny with reference to the
seriousness of the train, and that the latter based himself
on information from Eichmann's secretary?

A. I do not remember.  Later on, Wisliceny was not
considered by us to be at all reliable or credible.

Q. During all the negotiations, did you ever hear anything
about Eichmann's secretary passing on information to your

A. No.

Q. I assume that if Dr. Kasztner had known about this, he
would have told you?

A. I assume so.

Q. You mentioned yesterday the flight of the Manfred Weiss
family from Hungary?

A. Yes.

Q. And you said in that connection that it was not generally
known to the Jews at that time.  You said that the Jews did
not know that the Nazis had already saved Jews such as the
Weiss family?

A. Yes.

Q. This was not known to many people - was it a secret?

A. It was a secret.  The Weiss family was one of the leading
families, they did not have much to do with the ordinary
people, except that Baroness Weiss was involved with child
welfare and other matters, and no one was struck by the fact
that she did not come to a meeting - it was not the sort of
thing that could be checked on quickly.  If I am not
mistaken, we ourselves also heard from the Germans that the
Weiss family had gone abroad.

Q. And did you hear that they had paid out a fortune for
that, certainly vast sums?

A. All we knew was that all the Weiss family's factories
were in German hands, they had been transferred.

Q. And the committee did not deal with these matters?

A. We had nothing at all to do with it.

Q. Did you hear that Becher had dealt with the matter before
you met him?

A. Yes.

Q. Much later, you did remain in Budapest all the time?

A. Yes.

Q. Was there a time when Becher not only dealt with economic
affairs, but was in command at Budapest?

A. I am not aware of that.  I only knew him as the Head of
the Economic Department.

Q. Do you know what was the role of the Accused in this
respect during the period of the large-scale deportations to

A. I can say that, as far as we knew, he was the person on
whom everything that affected Jews depended.  Everything lay
in his hands.  Eichmann was the person who made all the
decisions which affected Jews - he proposed and also
implemented them.

Q. And was there a time when it was known that he was
sending people to the gas chambers in Auschwitz?

A. It was known - of course it was known that Eichmann was
sending people to the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

Q. Did the committee ever discuss the possibility of
eliminating him, Eichmann, of killing him?

A. We had various reports from various countries about what
happened to partisans and people who undertook anything
against Germans.  I do not wish to blow my own trumpet, nor
do I wish to blow the committee's trumpet - we bore this in
mind, what we could achieve.  Let us assume that we go in to
see him, we are not checked, and one of us shoots him.  What
would we achieve by that?  I must say that frankly and
sincerely: We were a Committee for Aid and Rescue of our
people, and none of us was a "gibor," a hero.  We were not
heroes.  So what we bore in mind was how we could try and
keep people alive, because it did not seem at all definite
to us that if he were to vanish, we would manage to save
everything.  That was not at all certain.

May I add something?

Q. Perhaps the next question will make clear what I am
driving at.  I do not believe that you or your fellow
committee members were lacking in bravery or personal
courage.  You proved that in your behaviour when you were
tortured, as you related yesterday.  I believe that if you
had considered it necessary, you would have found the way.
It was a matter to be weighed.

A. That is what I wanted to say: We were not conversant with
the German Nazi hierarchy.  We were convinced - we knew, but
we could not be sure - that perhaps someone else would
replace Eichmann, and the machine would continue working,
perhaps even faster.  Although we had this contact with the
Germans, we had no idea what was going on deep down, behind
the scenes.  And then later we saw what happened in Slovakia
after the partisans' uprising.  After the uprising, not only
those who had taken up arms were liquidated - immediately
after the uprising the entire camp was sent to Auschwitz.

Judge Halevi:  Thank you.

Presiding Judge: Mrs. Brand, I wish to ask you, with regard
to the three suitcases which you handed over in Klages'
office, you said that you handed them over for safekeeping?

Witness Hansi Band  Yes.

Q. For safekeeping, under what conditions?

A. It was just safekeeping.  Since we were afraid to keep
them with us, we had no safes at the time in which to keep
our valuables, and we had already once been robbed by
another office, so we did not wish to expose ourselves to
the same danger again.  So it was necessary to find
somewhere where we would be sure that it would be accounted
for.  And that is how it came about that Klages accepted
them and put them in his safe.

Q. Are you saying "Verrechnung" (accounting)?  That is not
"Depot" (safekeeping).

A. It was supposed to remain our property, which was to be
accounted for.  In other words, it was not to be stolen,
requisitioned or confiscated - and we were to view it as a
quid pro quo.

Q. Was this spoken about with Klages or someone else, or was
it indirectly understood without it being spoken about?

A. First of all I made enquiries.  I did not simply pick up
the suitcases.  I went up to ask him.  I must add that
during this period we had undergone so many defeats at the
hands of so many sides - but the Germans still received us
and wanted to maintain the contact.  We had to do it, but we
were not aware of the Germans' ulterior motives.  So then we
had this problem where we ourselves would collect an amount
of money at home, but we could not keep the money with us -
who would be responsible for it?  That is why he undertook
to keep the money in safekeeping in his safe, until it had
to be accounted for.

Q. That is what you talked over with Klages?

A. Yes.

Q. Was an account ever drawn up afterwards?

A. Yes.

Q. When?

A. Somewhat later.  First of all there was an evaluation,
and later it was accounted for in connection with the Bergen-
Belsen transport.  It was part of the money which was paid
for it.

Q. That means that, at that point, these suitcases were
transferred to Klages?  Klages or Becher?

A. With the calculations, which gave the value, which went
to Becher.

Q. What was the estimated value of the contents of these

A. I do not remember what the amount was, but we tried to
get a high figure.

Q. You do not remember approximately?

A. No.

Q. Now the next point.  You said that Eichmann did not keep
his promise?

A. Yes.

Q. Could you tell us specifically: This he kept and this he
did not keep?  You or your husband - I do not remember who -
spoke of six or eight hundred people.  Did he not keep that

A. He did not.

Q. Why not?

A. He did not keep his promise.

Q. The six or eight hundred: Was that the train which was
later called the Bergen-Belsen train?

A. Yes.

Q. And what did he not keep?  Those people did eventually
reach a neutral country, did they not?

A. When I said that he did not keep his word, that was when
my husband had left, and he had promised that he would send
the first carriages to an accessible place in Austria or in
Germany, and that Auschwitz would not operate, in order to
provide a basis for negotiating - he did not keep that
promise, that was one of the main points.  He immediately
started with the deportations, and he started immediately
with the gassings in Auschwitz.

Q. But that did not affect the six or eight hundred.  That
is why I did not understand this point.  I understood well
that this was a serious breach of his promise: He said that
there would be no deportations to Auschwitz, but there were
- but why, in your statement about the six or eight hundred,
did you say that he did not keep his promise?

A. The reason why I said this was because he promised that
he would bring several hundred people from the provincial
towns to Budapest to be included in this group of six or
eight hundred, and he insisted on our giving him lists; and
when he got them, he always had some excuse or other, and
finally he argued that he did not have anywhere to
accommodate these people.

Q. Was there anything else that he did not fulfil despite
promising, apart from the two matters you have referred to?

A. The fact that he did not fulfil that promise meant that
six or seven weeks later most of Hungarian Jewry had been

Presiding Judge: Thank you.  Do you have any further
questions arising from the judges' questions?

State Attorney Bach:  I have one question, Your Honour.

Mrs. Brand, I should like to clarify something.  You have
told the Court about two conversations with Eichmann in
which  there was talk of sending people to Austria - first
of all the first conversations before your husband left,
when there was talk of temporary deportation to Austria and
not to Auschwitz, and then about the fifteen thousand people
who were sent from Debrecen to Strasshof for labour.  Now,
in those first conversations in your husband's presence, and
perhaps after his departure, was it then also said that a
certain number of Jews was to be sent to Austria?

Witness Hansi Brand:   I do not remember; I can definitely
say, however, that, as far as those from Debrecen and others
were concerned, that was a success of the subsequent
negotiations conducted with Becher.

Q. As far as the first discussions are concerned, do you not
remember a certain number of Jews who were to be sent to

A. I do not remember.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions
which arise from the judges' questions?

Dr. Servatius:  Yes.  Was it a major condition of the
agreement that your husband should return personally and
bring a decision within two weeks?

Witness Hansi Brand:   I do not believe so, it was no more
important a condition than that he would keep the people
alive as long as possible and would not let Auschwitz

Q. Mrs. Brand, may I ask you to reply to my question?  Was
it part of the agreement that your husband should return and
report personally on what had happened within two weeks?

A. Yes, but he said that if he had not finished within two
weeks, he might remain several days more, but he should
simply report to that effect.  I believe, if I am not
mistaken, that that was in the agreement as well.

Q. Thank you very much.  I now come to my last question.
You said that Eichmann told you that he would start
operating the mills again.  Is it certain that he himself
used this expression to you?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it not possible that you are confusing this with
things which you heard from Kasztner, or later from your
husband, or that you read somewhere, so that now you are
presenting this in good faith as your belief?

A. No.

Q. Then I should like to read something out to you from your
husband's book.  On page 258, in connection with the interim
agreement,  it  says  that  he - Eichmann - said  to
Kasztner: "If Brand is not back within three days, I shall
let the mills in Auschwitz run again."  According to this
version, he said it to Kasztner and not to you.

A. In my presence.

Dr. Servatius:  I have no further questions to the witness.

Presiding Judge: Thank you Mrs. Brand.  That completes your
testimony.  We shall now call Mr. Joel Brand.  Mr. Brand,
you are still testifying under oath.

Witness Joel Brand:   Of course.

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