The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-019-04

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-019-04
Last-Modified: 1999/05/30

Witness Burger: Then we were told that the man in question
was Guenther, assistant to the Accused. We were informed
that 1,000 Jews were going to be moved to a camp and
all preparations were to be taken accordingly. As a first
step we were told to draw up lists in alphabetical order and
by occupation. Then we were made to see to it that building
material, tools provisions and medicines were available for
1,000 people. Part of these provisions and materials were
confiscated from Jewish shops or were bought with money
withdrawn from accounts of Jews on Gestapo instructions.
Preparation of these lists necessitated so much work that we
were compelled to work at night too. I remember that one
night Guenther came to the office of the Community with
several SS officers and voiced his dissatisfaction with the
working process; he threatened us that if we did not speed
up preparations his people would carry them out. Then he
threatened us that 1,000 Jews would be sent to a camp in
Poland, and that Salo Kramer and his staff would be sent to
a concentration camp. A few days before 17 October, the
Community was instructed to send a circular to all males
aged 18-70, ordering them to report for "Assentierung" at
the riding school of Moravska Ostrava on 17 October.
"Assentierung" was the instruction given to us, but at that
time we were still unaware what "Assentierung" meant.

State Attorney Bar-Or:  What do you mean by "Assentierung"?

Witness Burger: "Assentierung" means review, as for instance
practised in the past in the army to determine who is fit or
unfit for service. Moreover, we had to announce in the
circular how many personal belongings everyone was allowed
to take with him, to the best of my recollection the limit
was 50 kilograms.

Q. Were you informed of the purpose of this undertaking?

A. No. We were also permitted to take with us DM 300 in

On the morning of 17 October over 1,000 Jews assembled in
the riding school; SD detachments were already present.
There began medical examinations by Aryan doctors. They
proceeded in alphabetical order and completely disregarded
peoples' objections regarding illness or frailty. This kind
of Assentierung went on right into the afternoon and stopped
only after the number 1,000 had been reached. After the
Assentierung we were loaded on trucks and taken to the
railway station on the outskirts of Moravska Ostrava.

Q. Had any people been put in charge of the transport?

A. On behalf of the Community a sort of transport leader
team was chosen. The team was headed by Prof. Emil Eisner.
For each railway carriage a man was assigned to keep order
in the carriage.

Q. Were you one of the transport leaders?

A. Yes.

Q. You arrived at the railway station on the outskirts of
the town?

A. There we changed to passenger carriages which were
sealed. We remained there in the carriages under the guard
of the SD until the morning of the 18th; early on the 18th
the train started moving.

Q. How many Jews?

A. 1,000 Jews from Moravska Ostrava. The first station  we
reached was Cracow. I wish to add that we did not get any
more water from the early morning of the 17th; when the
people of Cracow wanted to offer us water they were chased
away with lashes of the whip by the SD. For the first and
last time the so-called transport leaders became active in
Cracow; that was by instructing us to collect the money from
each individual Jew, as well as all identifying documents.
The money and the documents were handed over to the Gestapo.

Q. Did the people receive anything in exchange for the money
they handed over?

A. In the camp we received zlotys in exchange for the money.

Q. When did you leave Cracow station?

A. We travelled on and on 19 October, at noon, we reached a
station named Nisko.

State Attorney Bar-Or:  That was where?

Witness Max Burger  Nisko is situated on this side of the
San, along the route of Cracow-Rzeszow to Lublin.

In Nisko we were instructed that those in charge of the
carriages, and master builders and engineers - were to get
off the train. Since the carriages were sealed we had to get
out through the windows. At Nisko railway station a group of
SS officers waited for us; one of them delivered an address,
which I can render not word for word, but in its general
sense. I wish to add that upon Eichmann's directive Jacob
Edelstein, Dr. Murmelstein, Storfer, Gruen, Richard, Israel
Friedmann went with the transport. Edelstein came from
Prague, Jacob Israel Friedmann was in Prague at that time,
the others came from Vienna. The address was something like

"About 7 to 8 km from here, across the San, the Fuehrer has
promised the Jews a new homeland. There are no flats and no
houses; if you carry out the construction you will have a
roof over your head. There is no water. Wells in the whole
area are infested; cholera, dysentery and typhoid are
rampant. If you start digging and find water, then you will
have water."

As we subsequently learned from Edelstein and Jacob Israel
Friedmann, the address was delivered by Adolf Eichmann. He
was waiting for us at the railway station. After the address
instructions were given to open the carriages and let the
Jews out. Then they inquired who is old, who feels weak, who
feels ill - those were to step aside. This group had to pick
up their belongings, and I joined this group and walked to
the new destination.

Q. Did you cross the river?

A. The San.

Q. In what state of repair was the bridge?

A. It was an emergency bridge. In his speech Eichmann told
us the Jews were forbidden to recross the San in the
opposite direction. On the way some men collapsed under the
weight of their baggage, and although there were carts
carrying building material, we were forbidden to load our
luggage onto the carts. About halfway there we were allowed
to put the luggage down in the field; we continued walking
without luggage and were led to the new destination. The new
stopping place was a hill with two small peasant huts on it.
That was all there was. Once we reached the top a group was
formed and had to go down and fetch the luggage; the luggage
was now put on the carts, the horses were unharnessed, the
Jews were harnessed to the carts and had to pull the carts
uphill to the camp. In the meantime the first carts arrived
with building material and we were instructed to erect a hut
first for the guard detachment. Rain started falling in the
afternoon and we were out in the rain. Towards evening
Eichmann appeared on the high ground. In the meantime we had
made arrangements for a team to carry water from a village
about two kilometres away, and since we remembered the
warning that the water was infested it was boiled in a
kettle in a makeshift manner. It was the first water we had
got to drink since the 17th. The night between the 19th and
20th we spent in the open, in the morning of the 20th there
was a roll-call again.

Q. How many were you there?

A. Part of the one thousand people, except for the group
which remained below to unload the carts. During the roll-
call they asked again who is over 40, who is a business man,
who is a lawyer. About 250 people were separated, had to
take their luggage and were led out of the camp by the
Gestapo. When we asked Post, the camp commander, what was
going to happen to these people, he explained that they
would live in the vicinity until "you have erected your
houses," then they would return. Afterwards we learned from
people who remained in the village at Piznica, that they
were taken about 6-7 km by the Gestapo, then the Gestapo
fired in the air and informed them "if any of you shows up
in the vicinity of the camp, he will be shot." At that time
we started building a barrack for the about 600 remaining
Jews. We finished the barracks by evening, the roof was
covered with tarred cardboard, and this was the first
shelter for the 600 prisoners in Nisko. During the first
days Eichmann visited the camp, I myself didn't hear him
because my job kept me busy and I had to discuss the layout
and buildings in the camp with the camp commander, builders
and engineers. At that time a delegation left for Lublin. To
my best recollection the delegation included Murmelstein,
Edelstein, Dr. Oskar Singer and some other people and was to
report to Gauleiter Globocnik, since we had been told that
this area would be our new home where we could settle down.

Q. Did you think that Globocnik was responsible for the
administration of the camp?

A. No. Globocnik was Gauleiter of the Lublin District.

Q. And your camp?

A. Our camp was under the command of the SS officers
Eichmann, Dannecker and Brunner.

Q. Wasn't the camp in which you were under Globocnik for
administrative purposes?

A. Upon their return the delegation informed us of
Globocnik's astonishment when he heard that the Jews of
Czechoslovakia were taken to the district of Lublin, since
it was his intention to make the Lublin District "judenrein"
(clear of Jews). When asked where to? Globocnik replied: go
wherever you want, to Russia, for all I care.

Q. Was this the only delegation dispatched from the camp, or
was there another delegation?

A. At a later date there was a second delegation to Cracow.
I shall revert to it. Throughout this time new barracks were
built according to plan - a kitchen and a bakery, then the
guard unit ordered the erection of a stable. The guards had
bought horses with part of the provisions and materials we
brought with us. We had to go on bringing water from the far
off village in the following order: first of all, water for
the guards, second, water for the horses, third, water for
the Jews. During the first days we were not allowed to shave
and then they photographed us. Part of the camp inmates,
about 100 men, were placed at the disposal of the pioneer
unit; every day they had to go down to the San and, standing
more than knee deep in the water, they had to help rebuild
the destroyed bridge.

After some time the group that was separated, Murmelstein,
Edelstein and the others, returned.

Shortly afterwards the first transport arrived from Vienna,
1,000 Jews. Of these 1,000 Jews about 150 were admitted to
the camp, the remainder was chased away, without their
luggage. The luggage remained in the carriages. Some time
later, all the belongings of these Viennese Jews were
brought to the camp, the luggage was opened by the SS, the
luggage also contained women's belongings since it had been
intimated, just as in Ostrava, that transports of women
would also be dispatched. From that luggage the Germans took
for themselves whatever they wanted. With this transport our
wives in Moravska Ostrava sent us camp-beds and mattresses,
as ordered by the Gestapo. A very small number of these beds
were placed at our disposal, the rest was requisitioned by
the Germans. In order to help those who were not admitted to
the camp we endeavoured to establish a support base or a
receiving station and urged camp commander Post to permit
the erection of an epidemic clinic in the nearby locality.
When we received his consent we established a receiving
station for all these old Jews; there arrived another
transport of 1,000 Jews from Vienna, very old Jews. Then
came a transport from Moravska Ostrava, some of them were
homeless, stateless, had been imprisoned in Spielberg
prison, in the Brno casemates, and some old Ostrava Jews who
had tried to escape from Ostrava to Prague.

Q. How low did the temperature fall in the camp at this

A. To below 40 degrees.

Q. Was such cold unusual in this area or was it usual there?

A. It was an unusually severe winter and the hill had been
chosen so that winds from all directions swept over the

Q. Do you remember the change of detachments in January-
February 1940?

A. Around Christmas time the camp detachment was replaced,
and I wish to state first that the money provided by the
Jewish Community and the Joint for our food supplies was
administered by the SS office in Nisko. This money was
supposed to cover the purchase of our provisions.

Q. When you needed cash, to whom did you apply?

A. The leader, Emil Eisler, to the SS office in Nisko.

Q. Did the camp detachment place provisions at your disposal
at that time?

A. No, we had to buy everything ourselves.

Q. Were you kept under guard at that time, or could you move
about freely?

A. We were constantly under guard.

Q. To which unit did the guard personnel belong?

A. Units [Standarten] of the SD. The procedure for obtaining
money was that a receipt for the amount was signed before
the money was asked for and later the money was paid out to

Q. Did you hear anything about a camp Sosnowiec?

A. Yes.

Q. Were Jews of Czechoslovakia sent there?

A. From Czechoslovakia, and stateless people?

Q. Did you hear anything about the release of Jews from the
camp of Sosnowiec?

A. Yes we received information to the effect that the entire
camp of Sosnowiec had been transferred to Slovakia and that
some of the people emigrated illegally from there to

Q. When you heard about that, what did you, the members of
the leadership of Nisko do?

A. We requested passes for a delegation to Cracow.

Q. Whom did you want to see?

A. The Reichsprotektor of Poland.

Q. His name?

A. Frank. We got the permission. At the same time a
delegation of the Jewish community of Ostrava arrived in
Cracow in order to submit a joint petition to Frank for
permission for transfer of the camp. Like the Sosnowiec
camp, to Slovakia.

Q. What was the result of the delegation to Frank?

A. They returned with a rejection of their request.

Q. Did you receive a telegram on Purim 1940?

A. The Office in Nisko received a telegram to disband the
camp and to carry the remaining prisoners back to Moravska

Q. Did you return to Moravska Ostrava?

A. We left Nisko on 14 April 1940 and returned to Moravska
Ostrava. We had to pay the fare out of our own pockets.

Q. Out of the one thousand with whom you went in October
1939, how many returned?

A. Approximately three hundred returned.

Q. What became of the others?

A. The others were also chased out of the camp when there
was second "Selektion" and before the camp was surrounded by
a barbed wire fence, some of them tried to escape to Russia.
The border was about 28-30 kilometres away, the new border
of occupied Poland.

Q. How long did you remain in Moravska Ostrava?

Presiding Judge: Pardon me, I did not understand that reply.
300 people returned but 1,000 had gone there, so what
happened to the remaining 700? Did all of them cross the
border into Russia? Or else, why did you mention this? What
became of those 700? Did all of them come back?

Witness Burger: They crossed the new border between Poland
and Russia. The Germans caught some of them again in Lemberg
at the beginning of the German-Russian war. Part of them
were deported to Siberia by the Russians. A small number
returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945, with the Czechoslovakia
Brigade of the Russian army of liberation.

State Attorney Bar-Or:  Until what year did you stay in
Moravska Ostrava?

Witness Burger: Until September 1942.

Q. Then you were transferred to Theresienstadt?

A. I was deported to Theresienstadt.

Q. Did you remain in Theresienstadt until the end of the

A. No, in October 1944 I was deported to Auschwitz, together
with my wife.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you wish to question the

Dr. Servatius:  One question please. Witness, you said that
a delegation had gone to Cracow to see Frank.

Witness Burger: Yes.

Dr. Servatius:  Did he see this delegation?

Witness Burger: I cannot tell you whether Frank himself
received them, since I was not a member of this delegation.

Q. Did the delegation report why a negative answer had been

A. No reason was given.

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