The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-070-03

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-070-03
Last-Modified: 1999/06/08

Presiding Judge: [to witness] What else do you know about
the incident?

Witness Kagan:   This I know, of course, from the time after
we left the camp - that the father of Ilona Brody, by
chance, had contact with a very senior official whose family
had, apparently, been converted to Christianity a hundred
years ago, and he had the same name.  He had asked for some
information from Ilona Brody's father.  Subsequently, Mr.
Brody recalled this man and approached him, and Brody the
Christian assisted him in submitting the application.

Q. He was a Hungarian Christian?

A. A Hungarian Christian.

Attorney General: Were there cases of the release of non-
Jews from Auschwitz?

Witness Kagan:   Non-Jews - of course.

Q. Was there any case of the release of a Jew from

A. No.

Q. Not according to what you know from your work in the

A. No.

Q. And also not according to what you heard from your

A. No.

Q. I am referring to your colleagues?

A. I understand.

Q. Did you know of applications for the release of some Jew
or other received by the Auschwitz headquarters?

A. Yes, we heard about them, and then the answer was marked
"Geheimnistraeger" (bearer of secrets), and for this reason
it was impossible to release him.

Q. Do you remember the case of Mala Zimetbaum?

A. Yes.  Perhaps I could relate the case of Lilly Toffler.

Q. Please do.

A. Lilly Toffler was one of our colleagues in the Kommando.
She worked in the Politische Abteilung - she was even a Kapo
for a time, a very decent one.  There was another Slovakian
woman there who had been appointed to be a Kapo; she was a
collaborator, and hence simply threw her out.  Through very
great influence, she was not sent to Birkenau for
extermination, but was transferred to the Pflanzenzug
Kommando (unit for growing plants).

Q. Whose influence?

A. The influence of a cousin of hers who asked the Kapo to
accept her.  And this helped her.  There, in the Pflanzenzug
Kommando, relations were more or less human, and from there
she wrote a letter to a Polish acquaintance of hers, who was
in the Auschwitz camp.  She used to correspond with him and,
to her misfortune, one of the letters fell into the hands of
the commandant.  The commandant discovered it and made an
investigation.  The letter contained nothing out of the way,
but, naturally, any excuse would do.  She wrote there that
she was concerned about him, that she had not come across
him at their place of work, and that encouraging rumours
were spreading in the camp.  There were always these waves
of inexplicable optimism.  And she concluded: I ask myself
how I shall be able to live after all that I have seen and

Then the commandant - first of all, of course, he objected
to the fact that there were encouraging rumours in the camp
which might keep up the morale of the unfortunate prisoners
and, in addition to that, that this girl knew and had seen
what was going on.  Then he got to know that she had been in
our Kommando, and they conducted a thorough investigation.
Everyone was obliged to write something, so that the
handwriting could be compared.  Afterwards it emerged that
not one of us had written the letter, and that it had been
Lilly Toffler.  They interrogated her very briefly, and she
was executed - this lovely girl of twenty-three.

Q. What happened to Mala Zimetbaum?

A. I had known Mala Zimetbaum since the summer of 1942.  At
that time, she became a "Laeuferin" - a messenger between
blocks and a liaison between the Blockfuehrerstube, the Kapo
and the prisoners.  She was a young girl, of Polish origin,
but she had been living in Belgium and arrived with the
Belgian transport.  She was very decent.  She was known
throughout the camp, since she helped everybody.  And her
opportunities and the power, as it were, that she possessed
were never wrongfully exploited by her, as was often done by
the Kapos.  She suffered like everybody else.  However, she
had better conditions - she was able to take a shower in
Birkenau.  And suddenly, in the summer of 1944, I heard - I
was sitting in the room of my superior - there was a
telephone call - and suddenly, I heard them ringing and
alerting all the Kripo and the Stapoleitstelle, all stations
of the gendarmerie, and I heard the name of the prisoner,
Mala Zimetbaum.  She had escaped.  The escape was organized.
She fled in the uniform of the SS, of an Aufseherin
(supervisor).  The escape occurred on a Saturday afternoon
when there was a reduced camp guard.  Another Pole escaped
with her.  They met beyond the camp, on their way to
Slovakia.  We hoped - we had great hopes - every morning
when we got up, that possibly she would succeed.

It is important to note that Mala had many opportunities -
she had access to the documents.  And it was said that she
had stolen documents from the Blockfuehrerstube relating to
the SD, and that she wanted to publish them abroad.  I must
remark here that her courage was well-known, but there was
also a legend about Mala, and I am not sure whether it is
correct that she managed to steal the documents, but it was
said of her that she was capable of doing so.  A fortnight
later, we learned that they had been captured, they were
caught in a very foolish way, right on the border, by
customs officials.  Apparently, they had lost their way and
asked which way to go.  There they had to cross mountains,
to pass through the Carpathians.  That was when they were
captured.  It seemed strange to the customs officers that a

Q. At any rate, she was sent back to Auschwitz?

A. She was returned to Auschwitz.  This Polish man was
interrogated in our block, and not only in our block.  Our
hut, in which we worked, was close to the small crematorium
which was already out of action, but it was a favourite
place for our interrogators, mainly for Wilhelm Burger, who
had invented his own forms of torture.  There was a torture
instrument there called a see-saw.  That was where he took
this Pole.  We saw him there, passing by after terrible
tortures.  He was hanged in the Auschwitz camp.  Mala was
taken to Birkenau.  Interrogations took place once again in
Auschwitz, and we saw her.

Q. Did you speak to her?

A. Yes, I asked her how she was.

Q. You went in to her?

A. No.  She was in a small hut - that was where people
waited to be interrogated.

Q. What did she do?

A. Serenely and heroically she said, somewhat ironically: "I
am always well."

Presiding Judge: In what language did she say this?

Witness Kagan:   In German.

Q. What did she say?

A. "Mir geht es immer wohl."

Q. What happened to her in the end?

A. Eventually they brought her to Birkenau, they held a
major roll-call, and Mandel, the Schutzlagerfuehrerin
(leader of the protective camp), Marie Mandel, made a speech
and demanded a spectacular and exemplary punishment for her.
Mala had succeeded in placing a razor blade in her sleeve
and, at the time of the roll-call, she cut open her veins.
The the SS man went up to her and began mocking and cursing
her.  Then, with a hand covered in blood, she slapped his
cheek and - again, this may be a legend - she said to him:
"I shall die as a heroine, and you will die like a dog."
After that, she was taken, in this very terrible state, to
the Revier, and in the evening she was put on a cart and
taken to the crematorium.

Q. When the large transports from Hungary began arriving,
the method of tattooing was changed - is that correct?

A. Pardon me, I still wanted to add something important - in
my opinion - on the question of the registration.  As from
25 February 1943, we stopped registering Jews.

Judge Halevi:  What did you stop registering?

Witness Kagan:   We stopped registering Jews in the
Beurkundung (documentation).  The documentation, as far as
Jews were concerned, was stopped altogether, except for
cases where death was not normal, as it were, such as
suicide or killing.  In these cases, we did register them.
But from that date...

Q. What was the date?

A. 25 February 1943.

Attorney General: What was the reason?

Witness Kagan:   We were simply not able to register them.
There were so many supposedly normal deaths.  We worked
during the autumn of 1942 and the winter of 1943 - we worked
from five in the morning until nine-thirty at night.

Q. Who gave the order to stop the registration of Jews? A.
As far as we were concerned, it was the head of the

Q. Who was he?

A. At that time, it was still Walter Quackernack.

Q. Was he a member of the SS?

A. Of course.

Q. Did he hold a rank?

A. Yes, at first he was an Unterscharfuehrer, and then

Q. When the Hungarian Jews arrived, the method of tattooing
was changed?

A. Yes, very simply, once again in order to cover up and
conceal the large numbers that had reached more than two
hundred thousand - perhaps even more, but that was how we
estimated it to be with the men, and over one hundred
thousand in the case of the women - they added the letter
"A".  Because of this, everyone asks me where is my "A", for
mine is a very old number - such numbers hardly exist.

Presiding Judge: So they started anew?

Witness Kagan:   Yes, they started anew.

Q. With the addition of the letter "A"?

A. Yes.  With the men it was series "A" and series "B".

Attorney General: Do you remember the revolt of the

Witness Kagan:   Yes.

Q. Please tell us about it, briefly.

A. The revolt of the Sonderkommando began on...perhaps here
I may...I only want to say that the revolt of the
Sonderkommando was in co-operation with the entire general
underground in Auschwitz.

Presiding Judge: I am sure the Attorney General knows what
he is asking and what he is not asking.  I would ask you to
pay attention to that.

Witness Kagan:   When the revolt broke out, it was at the
beginning of October 1944.   We received specific orders to
leave our work and return to the camp.

Attorney General: What was the reaction that you noticed
amongst the SS when you returned?

Witness Kagan:   They were very frightened.  They left us
under one single guard - they all ran to Birkenau.

Q. After that, ninety-six death forms reached you for

A. That is correct.

Q. What were you ordered to write in them?

A. Naturally - that this was an attempt to escape.

Q. Shot when trying to escape, or something like that?

A. Yes.  Most of them were Jews from Grodno and Greece, and
amongst them there were also some from Russia.

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

Dr. Servatius:  Witness, do you know anything about the
registration in Birkenau from 1942 to April 1944?

Witness Kagan:   I do not know what you mean by
"registration".  If you are referring to the registration of
deaths, I understand that this also came to us.  I know
that, with the arrival of Hungarian transports, this work
was made shorter in the case of Jews; we did not use the
original form, but a shortened one.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps the purpose of the question was not
clear.  We shall hear immediately what Dr. Servatius wanted
from you.

Dr. Servatius:  Perhaps you can answer me briefly.  Please
give me a short answer, not a long one, so that we may be
able to clarify this more easily.  Here, before me, there is
Prosecution document No. 4, a document which was drawn up by
two Slovakian Jews, young men who escaped.  They talk about
the situation in Auschwitz, in Birkenau, from April 1942.
They report that the numbers of the prisoners at that time
began round about - and I am giving you a round figure -
27,400, and it is reported there that there was numbering
and registration, and afterwards they began not to register
them, and this corresponds to your testimony.  According to
that document, up to April 1944, they reached a total - and
again I quote round figures - of 174,000.

Presiding Judge: Is this a document which has already been

Attorney General: No, it will be submitted tomorrow, Your

Witness Kagan:   I do not understand what this is about,
after all, we received...

Presiding Judge: Perhaps we should show the document to the
witness, so that she may be enabled to answer.

Dr. Servatius:  I shall hand this document to you and
explain my purpose.  You said that in 1943 a new series of
enumeration was begun, in which they added the letter "A"
before the number.

Witness Kagan:   That is not correct - I did not say that.

Presiding Judge: All right, we shall clarify that presently.
I heard that the question of the letter "A" began in 1944,
at the time of the Hungarian transports.

Witness Kagan:   Exactly.

Presiding Judge: That is what she said.

Dr. Servatius:  Perhaps matters have become confused in the
process of translation.  If that is the case, the wording of
the document coincides with the evidence.

Presiding Judge: She said explicitly that she linked it to
the Hungarian transports - she said it in her main evidence.

Dr. Servatius:  If that is the case, I shall make a note of
it and agree that there is no discrepancy.  I have no more

Judge Raveh:   Mrs. Kagan, do you have with you the set of
documents No. 1245?

Witness Kagan:   No.

Q. Then, perhaps, I shall give it to you. [Passes it to the
witness] Please take the fourth page.  It says there
"Medical opinion."  Were there cases where the doctor did
not allow punishment to be carried out?

A. For me, this is a bitter joke.  The doctor at Auschwitz
was a hangman - not a doctor.

Q. Did you witness any instance where he did not permit it?

A. No, he was a hangman.

Q. After this comes the section Dienstaufsicht (service
supervision).  Did you witness any instances where
confirmation for carrying out the punishment was not given?

A. Also no.

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