The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-049-04

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-049-04
Last-Modified: 1999/06/02

State Attorney Bach:  How many Jews were transported in
October 1942?

Witness Abeles:  Some 60,000-65,000 Jews were transported in
the first deportations.

Q. Do you know about a special transport on the Day of

A. As a result of our various interventions with the help of
Wisliceny, with the help of a Slovak senior official, the
deportations were temporarily halted.  It was therefore
quiet until the autumn.  According to what Wisliceny told
us, he was subjected to great pressure by various persons,
particularly engineer Karmasin, to continue with the
deportations, and therefore in the autumn another two or
three transports left, one of them on Yom Kippur.

Q. Did you sometimes receive mail from the deportees?

A. We would always receive several hundred postcards at
once, which were sent to the UZ for distribution.  They came
from Auschwitz, Birkenau and the expulsion sites in Poland:
Majdanek, Opole, Sobibor.
Q. What did these postcards say?

A. They all said almost the same thing: "We are working, we
are well."

Q. Did you yourself once receive such a postcard?

A. I once received a postcard from Majdanek from Dr. Lustig
(he was a doctor who was deported in a transport of single
people), and then from Eduard Blumenkranz, who was deported
with his wife and small child.  Neither returned.

Q. Do you remember that in 1942, 1943, an article appeared
in the Grenzbote by a journalist called Fiala about the
conditions of the deported Jews?

A. Fiala published an article on Auschwitz, in which he
wrote that he had himself spoken to several deported Jews,
and he listed names as well, people who could be identified,
and he said that they were well, and he also published a
photograph in the newspaper showing some Jewish girls in
pretty white dresses and with white bandeaux.  Some of these
girls could also be identified.

Q. When did you first find out about the extermination in
the extermination camps?

A. We were visited by German and Slovak businessmen who had
transacted business with Poles and told us of the horrors
and the hunger, and also brought letters for us, and said
that, in return for very minor expenses, they were prepared
to take with them jewellery, money and other items for the
deportees.  What they said proved in part to be true.  They
also brought back some of these things, because in the
meanwhile the deportees had died.  They told us that the
people there were suffering dreadfully from hunger, had to
sell their remaining possessions to the Poles for food, and
that many had vanished, no one knew where to.

Q. Could you please tell the Court what was the plan known
as the "Europe Plan"?

A. As part of the negotiations with Wisliceny, Rabbi
Weissmandel and Andrej Steiner, who later conducted these
negotiations, suggested to Wisliceny that in return for an
enormous sum of money, the deportations be halted from all
over Europe.  At that time Wisliceny went to Germany,
returned and said that in principle there was such a
possibility, except for Poland.  Poland was definitively
lost to the Jews, but for an amount of two or three million
dollars, payable in instalments and in goods, in monthly
instalments - not in money but in goods - the matter could
be negotiated.

Presiding Judge: When was that?

Witness Abeles:  That was probably at the end of 1943.

State Attorney Bach:  You said earlier that you were able to
smuggle several hundred children to Hungary.  What was the
fate of these children?

Witness Abeles:  When the deportations began in Hungary, the
first to be seized were the stateless Jews, who could be
identified.  These children could easily be identified,
because they were all legally registered.  The parents were
mainly still in Slovakia and offered everything to bring
them back, because at that time there was relative quiet in
Slovakia for persons who had protective identity papers.  No
intervention, including even the personal intervention of
the Slovak envoy in Budapest, was effective, since it was
alleged that these children had to be deported in accordance
with German orders.

Q. Did you yourself take steps in connection with the

A. Yes, in the Slovak Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Q. And there you were told that the children had to be
deported on the basis of the German order?

And now would you please tell the Court what was the fate of
the Jews when the revolution broke out in Slovakia in the
summer of 1944.

A. In August 1944 there was an uprising among the Slovak
population.  The result was that the country was occupied by
the German army and the SS.  Immediately all protective
identity papers were declared invalid, and a wild hunting
down of the Jews began.  The whole of the Vyhne camp and
many of our young people had joined the insurgents and
fought against the Germans in the mountains.  The uprising
was put down, the people found in the mountains, the Jews,
were shot on the spot, and hardly anyone survived from the
entire Vyhne camp.

Q. Do you know how many of those who took part in the
uprising perished?

A. I cannot say exactly, but it was a large number, because
several times I had before me the list of those who died.

Q. What happened to the children and the women?

A. If they were found in the mountains, they were
immediately butchered.

Q. What happened to the Jewish Central Office?

A. The Jewish Central Office was of course closed down, and
the Jews - except for Mrs. Gisi Fleischmann and Dr. Kovacs -
went into hiding.  These two remained in their office, in
order to look after the interim supply arrangements for the

Q. What happened to the Sered camp?

A. The Sered camp was destroyed in the course of the
uprising.  After the uprising - after the uprising was put
down - the Sered camp was set up as a concentration camp for
all Jews and was a temporary camp prior to deportation.

Q. Who was the head of this concentration camp?

A. I don't know nor remember the names of the first
commanders.  Later on it was Hauptsturmfuehrer Alois

Q. What happened to you?

A. I was in hiding in a cellar with a group of 22 persons.
We stayed there until 1 January 1945, when we were given
away by someone informing on us.  Eight or ten German SS
forced their way inside, brandishing their weapons, and
immediately started maltreating us.  We were sent to a
temporary camp in Bratislava, to the ex-UZ central office,
and from there, a few days later, we were sent to Sered.

Q. When did you first meet Alois Brunner?

A. I originally met him in the Pressburg camp - transit
camp; there I proposed to him that in return for several
million Swiss francs, the few - the very few - left in
Slovakia be left alone.  I said to him: "The Jews are in any
case tired of Europe, after the War no one will remain here,
he should just leave them here now until the end of the
War."  Brunner said to me...

Q. Did he then introduce himself as Brunner?

A. "My name is Mueller," he said.  But I knew him.  He said
to me: "I like what you say very much, `tired of Europe,'
yes, this is a nice phrase.  I like it, and you will go to

Q. At that time, did he also want to find out something from

A. He wanted to find out from me the whereabouts of Dr.
Kovacs who in the meanwhile had gone into hiding, and he
said, "If you give me Kovacs' address, you will be released
immediately."  In addition, he also wanted to get from me
the pass I had received from Hauptsturmfuehrer Gryson, so I
could move about freely and obtain goods for the German

Q. For whom?  Would you please explain to the Court what
happened when Gryson came to you?  On what occasion and for
what purpose did Gryson come to see you?

A. At that time the negotiations were already underway in
Hungary about buying off further deportations by providing
supplies.  Dr. Kasztner came to see us on numerous occasions
with Gryson, who was an assistant of Becher's and apparently
a very benevolent person, and asked us for help.  Rabbi
Weissmandel naturally promised to help, and we got involved
in this operation, but with very little success.

Q. Now, it was from Gryson that you had received this pass
allowing you freedom of movement?

A. At that time Gryson drew up a list of people, amongst
them also persons not involved in the work.  We gave names
at random of people who wanted such papers.  He went to
Budapest and brought back a considerable number of these
papers from the Eastern Special Staff of the Waffen-SS.

Q. When did you receive these papers?

A. Around 1944, in the main before the beginning of the
Slovak uprising.  At that time we were in fact - in
principle - still able to help.

Q. Did Brunner want you to hand in these papers?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you give him these papers?

A. No.  It was quite clear to me that he wanted them in
order to harm Gryson or someone else.

Q. Did Brunner also talk to you about it being possible to
halt the transports in return for payment?

A. He said to me: "One cannot believe you Jews.  Not a word
of what you are saying is the truth.  But we shall talk
about this in Sered.  Report to me as soon as you get to

Q. Do you know anything about Brunner's promise to the Red
Cross representative, Dunant, about Jews of foreign
nationality in Marianske?

A. There was a large number of Jews with foreign passports,
who until then were of course protected.  There were many
South American states, and also passports of convenience.
Dunant came to Bratislava as the representative of the Red
Cross in Geneva.  He negotiated with Brunner for these
foreigners to be allowed to leave for Switzerland.  Brunner
promised to allow this, subject to the condition that of
course they would first have to be concentrated, in order to
organize transport.  Whereupon all of these people in hiding
went voluntarily to an abandoned castle, Marianske, and from
there they went to Auschwitz.  Not one of these came back.

Q. You and your family were in Sered?

A. I went to Sered together with my elderly mother, my wife,
and my two young children.  I immediately reported to
Brunner, but he refused to see me.

Q. Can you tell the Court what happened to your mother in

A. In Sered, before the transport left, Brunner carried out
the selection, using a cane.  The able-bodied men
separately, the able-bodied women separately, old people and
women with small children separately.  Unlike the other old
people, Brunner put my mother in the transport for able-
bodied women, although my mother and my wife begged him...
My mother said, "But I am Dr. Abeles' mother," whereupon he
said to her, "Even if you were the mother of the emperor of
China, you are not going to Theresienstadt."  She went to
Ravensbrueeck, and shortly afterwards she died there.

Q. How old was your mother?

A. 78.

Q. Were you yourself present during this exchange?

A. I watched from some distance away.

Q. Do you know anything about what happened to Mrs. Gisi
Fleischmann in 1944?

A. She was deported with a transport to Auschwitz.  Later,
after the War, others from the transport who survived told
me that, immediately after the train reached Auschwitz, the
call went out, "Gisi Fleischmann, Gisi Fleischmann."  She
identified herself, waved "Farewell, Jewish children," and
after that no one ever heard anything more of her.

Q. What happened to Rabbi Weissmandel?

A.  Rabbi Weissmandel was deported on another transport with
his wife and eight children.  On the urging of others in the
carriage, he said he was prepared to jump out of the
carriage if his youngest child would be handed down to him.
He did in fact jump, but in order to make it easier for him
to escape, the others did not hand the child to him.  He
managed to reach Pressburg, and later he reached Switzerland
on a transport with a Gestapo or SS escort which Dr.
Kasztner organized for Jews in hiding in Pressburg.

My wife and my young daughter were sent to Theresienstadt.
I and my son, who was then fourteen years old, were sent as
forced labourers to Sachsenhausen, and from there we went to
a branch camp in Lichtenrade.  When we were deported, we
were 400 Jews; of this number, without gassing, just from
labour and starvation, 200 died within a short time; of the
400, 200 survived.

Q. Do you perhaps know how many persons were deported from
Slovakia still in 1944?

A. I cannot say, but I believe over 10,000.

Q. And you were liberated from Sachsenhausen?

A. I was saved from Sachsenhausen.

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

Dr. Servatius No, I have no questions for the witness.

Judge Raveh:   I do not know whether I understood you
correctly, but when you spoke at the beginning of your
testimony about the "relocation," what did you mean by this?

Witness Abeles:  Relocation was to be carried out under the
motto of making "Bratislava free of Jews."  Jews were
"relocated" or displaced to provincial towns; this was
before the deportations - they were not allowed to continue
living in Bratislava.

Q. How many Jews were sent in this way to the provincial

A. Out of 20,000 Jews, some 7,000-8,000 Jews must have been

Q. And were these Jews also deported later?

A. They were the easiest to round up for deportation,
because they had no protection whatsoever.

Q. What does "they had no protection" mean?  What do you
mean by that?

A. Jews who had a work permit were initially protected
against deportation, but those who were "relocated"
obviously could not have any work permits, and they lost
their jobs.

Q. Was Wisliceny the person who initiated these

A. I do not know; in any case, it happened during
Wisliceny's period in office.

Q. And he carried it out?

A. Yes.

Q. You testified about your conversation with an SS officer
who told you that you would not have any time to think it
over.  What did you understand by that?

A. I understood that I would be killed.

Q. That is to say, you did not understand that it had
anything to do with a transport or deportation?

A. Either on the spot - that did not require much there - or
by deportation.

Q. You told us of this proposal - I do not know whether one
can call it a proposal - about two to three million dollars,
which Wisliceny made.  Did you take it seriously?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you take any action?

A. We sent calls for help to the whole world.  When we saw
the first two live witnesses from Auschwitz, two Slovak
youngsters who had escaped and who told us for the first
time about gas chambers, about dogs, we - and in particular
Rabbi Weissmandel - sent reports out to the whole world.
And in fact they reached their destinations throughout the
whole world.  And we called for money.

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