The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-037-04

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-037-04
Last-Modified: 1999/06/01

State Attorney Bar-Or:  Was there any possibility to avoid
joining the deportation transport?

Witness Henschel Only suicide.

Q. What can you tell the Court about suicide attempts?

A. The suicides began immediately before the first transport
to Litzmannstadt and increased very rapidly.  People took
Veronal, in part also cyanide, but more Veronal, because
cyanide was much more difficult to get hold of.

Q. Cases of suicide came to your notice, didn't they?

A. Yes.

Q. Was every case of suicide taken to the Jewish hospital?

A. Yes.

Q. And the matter had to be investigated from the medical
point of view?

A. Yes.  The suicide cases were being treated.  There were
very strict instructions at what intervals they had to be
given injections of Coramin, and if they did not die but
were cured, they were deported more rapidly.

Q. Mrs. Henschel, I think you remember an approximate figure
of suicide cases between October 1941 and the beginning of
1942, January and February 1942?

A. There were about 1,200.

Q. And this was among the Jews of Berlin alone?

A. Yes.

Q. Were these individual cases, or whole families, or entire

A. It varied.  There were few cases of families, because
people did not have the courage, after all, to take the
children with them.  Most suicides were of old people, and
also quite a number of persons - also employees of the
Community - whose spouses had already been killed and who
did not want to survive any longer, since they knew that
they, too, would be evacuated.

Q. How many persons were in each transport which came to the
assembly camp?

A. 1,000, sometimes 1,200.

Q. What can you tell the Court about objects which had to
pass through the "Schleuse" (sluice)?

A. The Schleuse was the point where anything people had in
their luggage, for which the Gestapo officials had a liking,
was taken away.  There was, for example, a Commissar Stubs
in the Burgstrasse, whose speciality it was to pick out all
bottles of Eau de Cologne, toilet water, and alcoholic
perfumes, and to drink the contents on the spot.

Q. Was there a guard unit at the place?

A. Yes, there were Jewish orderlies who kept order, and
there were also policemen and Gestapo officials.

Q. When the transport was ready - where was it taken?

A. This we did not know.

Q. Within Berlin - where were you taken?

A. the first transports started from the Grunewald railway
station.  And the later ones - ours as well - left from the
goods station at Puttlitzstrasse.

Q. Were there escort units?

A. Yes, always with riding crops.

Q. Were these whips used?

A. Not during the first transports, only in February 1943.

Q. And in 1943, the Kultusgemeinde, or rather the
Hilfsverein, still occupied itself with efforts at

A. Yes.

Q. Who were the persons who could still be considered for
emigration at all at that time?

A. People who had everything ready, and who were over 60, or
very young children.

Presiding Judge: What does "who had everything ready" mean?

Witness Henschel: Who had their visa, whose luggage had been
checked, and who had all their papers.

State Attorney Bar-Or:  And were grown-ups under the age of
60 allowed to emigrate?

Witness Henschel I cannot say exactly, but there was a limit
which had to do with the age of 60.

Q. Mrs. Henschel, do you remember the last general transport
which left for Lisbon?

Witness Henschel Yes.  It left about 24 hours before the
first transport to Litzmannstadt.

Q. When the United States entered the war against Germany -
was there any emigration after that?

A. No.

Q. Do you remember the transports in November 1943?

A. Yes.

Q. What were they told?

A. They were told that three or four transports would go to
Riga, and there an organization similar to the kibbutz in
Palestine would be established.

Q. Did three or four such transports really leave in the

A. Yes, but the Community found out that these were false
pretences.  It did provide these transports with supplies,
but not of the kind that would have been required for a
kibbutz-like organization.

Q. Did you try to remain in postal contact with the

A. The postal connection with Litzmannstadt functioned
during the first few weeks.  It was also possible to send
small amounts of money, but very soon the postal orders, for
instance, were returned, marked "moved to unknown address."

Q. Were you, in those years, in connection, perhaps secret
connection, with the railway employees?

A. My husband was.

Q. Did you sometimes hear from them about the destination of
the trains which carried these transports?

A. Yes. For instance the transport to Minsk, about which we
never heard that it reached its destination.

Q. Let us now return to the question of the transports in
Berlin itself.  How were the people for each transport
chosen, how was the transport organized?  You had a card
index of the Jews of Berlin, didn't you?

A. Yes, the so-called Community Register.

Q. Was this kept only at the Kultusgemeinde or also at the
Gestapo, or only at the Gestapo?  Where was it?

A. We knew that the Gestapo had an identical card index, a
corresponding card index.

Q. When you speak of the Gestapo, do you mean the
Gestapoleitstelle Berlin?

A. Yes.

Q. Were there objections to the selection of people for the

A. There were even reasoned objections, since many of those
intended for transport were still on work assignments - in
munitions factories, in parachute sewing workshops, in ball-
bearing factories, i.e., in war-important establishments,
and these were extremely satisfied with the work of the
Jews, so that more and more objections began to come in.

Q. Was this attitude taken by these places of employment
helpful at first?

A. It was effective until an agreement between the military
authorities and the Gestapo was reached, and the military
authorities agreed to give up their claim to the Jews.

Q. You said that you worked in the Jewish hospital at that
time.  What do you know about patients being abducted to
these transports?

A. Patients in the Jewish hospital were summoned to the
assembly camp exactly like all the others.

Q. Let us assume that a woman was in the last months of
pregnancy and that she received a summons - was it possible
to save her from deportation?

A. Yes.  If it was likely that the delivery would begin
during the journey, yes, then they allowed the child to be
born, and after six weeks it was evacuated together with the

Q. In January 1942 there were again rumours about

A. Yes, there were transports all the time.

Q. Perhaps you remember 13 January, it was a Sunday, I
think.  It was freezing cold.  Do you remember it?

A. Yes, I remember it exactly, because I took earwarmers for
my husband to his office, as he had to go to the station.
It was unusually cold for Berlin, and the Jewish Community
did what it could in order to provide the people at the
station with food, with hot drinks, with all kinds of
things.  But the people were loaded onto the train, partly
into open goods carriages, partly into closed ones.  Thus
several people fell seriously ill, and two employees of the
Community, who had been busy at the station for a long time,
died as a result.

Q. You did not go to the station with your husband?

A. No, that was forbidden.

Q. Mrs. Henschel, when did the first train leave for

A. At the beginning of June, 1942.

Q. Who was deported at that time?

A. Disabled soldiers, men who had been awarded the Iron
Cross, First Class, and very old ordinary citizens.

Q. The number of transports increased in the course of time?

A. Yes.

Q. And at the same time, the large-scale transports to the
East continued?

A. Yes.

Q. Can you tell the Court something about special conditions
in connection with the property of persons who were to be
deported to Theresienstadt?

A. Yes.  For deportation to Theresienstadt, there was later
a different assembly camp in the Grosse Hamburgerstrasse.
There were offices there which dealt with the property of
people who were about to be deported.  One had to sign two
forms there, if I am not mistaken.  One form - a purchase
agreement for a home.  After a person had taken this step,
he was given a second form in which he was notified that all
his property was confiscated.  And this he also had to
acknowledge by signing the document.

Q. Do you remember what it said?  What was the purpose of
the purchase agreement?

A. In this home purchase agreement, the Theresienstadt camp
was described as a home for the elderly, an old age home.
In order to acquire the right to live there in one's old
age, one had to pay, to make over a certain sum, the rest of
one's property, to the State.

Q. Do you remember that a comprehensive declaration had to
be given about the property of every individual?

A. Of course, in great detail, with bank statements.

Q. Do you remember approximately within what time these
declarations had to be given, approximately when this was?

A. I went through this in connection with my own
deportation, and it was used as from the first
Theresienstadt transport.

Q. I now show you a document entitled "Vermoegenserklaerung"
(Property Declaration).  Please look at it and tell the
Court whether you can identify it.

A. Yes, we all had to fill this in, but already some time

Q. In all its details?

A. In all its details.

Q. How many coats, how many dresses, how many napkins,
everything that is printed here?

A. That is correct.

Q. In each column?

A. Yes.

Q. What happened after that?  What happened to all the
things mentioned here?

A. When people were evacuated, they were allowed to take
with them only 30 kg. of luggage.  All the rest was left
behind in the house.  The jewellery one had declared was
handed over at the pawnbroker's in Jaegerstrasse, in March

Presiding Judge: The property declaration form will be
marked T/650.

State Attorney Bar-Or:  Your husband was ordered to appear
at Burgstrasse on 19 October 1942, wasn't he?  Again before
the same Pruefer?

Witness Henschel: Yes.

Q. Did he leave anything on his desk?

A. Yes.  Since it was dangerous to talk about such things on
the telephone, he used to leave his watch, his wedding ring,
his wallet, and any important documents behind on his desk,
even when he was only called to Kurfuerstenstrasse.  It was
enough for the secretary to say that he had been gone for
several hours, and all his things were on the desk - and I
knew he had taken into account that he might not return.

Q. When you say "Kurfuerstenstrasse" - which office do you

A. I mean Eichmann's office, Kurfuerstenstrasse 116.

Q. Do you remember the roll call of the employees of the
Jewish Community on 20 October 1942?

A. Yes.  My husband was told to assemble all the staff of
the Community in one room, if possible and to present them
to Mr. - I do not remember his title - Guenther.  This
could, of course, not be done fully, as it was not possible
to leave a hospital without nurses or medical personnel.
Therefore, everywhere in the Community, in all offices,
emergency services were left behind.  Each head of unit
presented the members of his staff and mentioned their
names.  And the officials, the Gestapo officials, did the
selecting: This way, that way.

Q. What does 'this way, that way' mean?

A. One side was deported, the other side could still remain.

Q. Were these Gestapo officials?

A. This is hard to remember because...

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.