The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/06/02

Q. Was that on 5 May or 5 April?

A. On 5 April.   Jewish lawyers and actors were expelled
from their guilds, public servants had to stop working,
telephones were disconnected, and it was forbidden to keep a
private vehicle.  Bank accounts of Jews were blocked, and
safes kept by Jews were closed.

On 5 April, we received a demand from the Hungarian
authorities in Budapest to hand over 500 Jewish apartments -
in the wake of an air attack by the Allied forces.  In the
course of 24 or 48 hours, we had to supply 500 apartments.
On 6 April, jewellery and articles of gold were confiscated.
On 7 April, radio sets were impounded.  On 14 April, Jewish
pharmacies were requisitioned and handed over to non-Jewish
ownership.  On 16 April, Jews were forbidden to draw more
than one thousand pengoe per month from their blocked
accounts and were not allowed to possess more than 3,000
pengoe in cash.

On 20 April, an order came preventing Jewish doctors from
treating non-Jews and banning the employment of Jewish
officials, in private enterprises as well as in public ones.
On 23 April food supplies to Jews were cut down.  It was
wartime.  Throughout the entire War, foodstuffs were
distributed by means of ration coupons for the whole
population.  On 23 April, they restricted several articles
of food, such as fat, sugar and meat, which Jews could not
get at all. On 26 April, there was a decree forbidding Jews
to reside in locations which did not have at least 10,000
people, and concentrating them in towns, in places set aside
for that purpose.  In actual fact, this was the Hungarian
confirmation of the "ghettoization" which had begun a week
earlier and was implemented by the SS.  I shall later come
back to this.  On 1 May, special food ration cards were
issued for Jews; on the ration card it said "Jew," with
quantities smaller than the normal.  Also with regard to the
foodstuffs which the Jews actually received, the quantities
were smaller.

On 8 May, a body was set up called the Association of
Hungarian Jews, and a provisional executive was appointed
instead of the central executive which had been appointed by
the SS.  On 9 May, there was the requisitioning of the
Jewish hospitals of Budapest.  On 12 May - the closing of
all Jewish stores.  On 25 May - a ban on visiting cafes,
restaurants, etc.  On 26 May - by 31 May houses in Budapest
were to be set aside to which the Jews would move, and their
apartments, including furniture, were to be handed over to
non-Jews.  On 26 May - there came the deportation, the
expulsions which were already in effect throughout the
country, except for Budapest.  On 4 June, the time Jews were
allowed to make their purchases was limited to two hours
daily - foodstuffs between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., other
necessities between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.  From 17 June, the
removal of the Jews to Jewish houses which were marked with
a yellow star was carried out in the course of five days,
until 21 June.  This period of five days was too short, and
in the end it was extended by three more days, until 24
June, up to midnight.

On 25 June, a ban was imposed on leaving homes except
between two and five o'clock in the afternoon.  Also,
bicycles had to be surrendered.  It was forbidden to ride on
the trams, except in a special section.  A non-Jew was
absolutely forbidden to take a Jew into his apartment.  And
on 28 June - this was when approximately eighty per cent of
the Jews of Hungary had already been deported, and here the
Hungarian gendarmerie assisted in the expulsion of the Jews,
and there was great fear because 1,600 gendarmes were
brought to Budapest on 28 June.  Apparently, there was a
plan to deport the Jews of Budapest as well.

Q. Mr. Freudiger, was a law also published determining who
was a Jew according to the laws of Hungary?

A. Yes.  Then it was already decreed that, according to the
racial laws, any man whose grandfathers and grandmothers
were Jewish was a Jew, even if he had in the meantime
changed his religion.

Q. Can you tell the Court something about the publication of
a pronouncedly anti-Semitic newspaper in Budapest?

A. Yes.  They issued a paper in Budapest exactly along the
lines of the Stuermer,and its name was the Harc.  This
followed exactly the pattern of the Stuermer.

Q. You mentioned that regulations had been issued whereby
500 Jewish apartments had to be handed over.  Did this
number remain static or was it raised in the course of time?

A. No.  We again received such an order, and then they
demanded 1,000 apartments.  It was easier to demand 1,000
apartments than 500.

Q. Were all these instructions in fact carried out?

A. Yes,

Q. You told us that, at that first meeting with Krumey and
Wisliceny, there was mention of establishing a kind of
central Jewish committee, a "Zentralrat," I think they
called it.  Was such a committee established?

A. Yes.

Q. How many members were there on this committee?

A. Hofrat Stern, the president, and six other members.

Q. Who were these members?

A. Hofrat Stern was the chairman.  On behalf of the Neologue
community, there were Dr. Boda and Dr. Petoe, who were vice-
presidents of the Neologue community.  Also Dr. Karl Wilhelm
whom I mentioned yesterday.  On behalf of the Orthodox
community, there were the head of the national Orthodox
bureau, Mr. Kahan-Frankl, and myself.  On behalf of the Buda
community, there was Dr. Csobadi, and representing the
Zionists was Dr. Nison Kahan.

Q. Were other persons added to this committee at a later

A. As I said earlier, there came an order on 8 May from the
Hungarian Government to set up a committee, a provisional
executive committee for Jewish affairs.  This provisional
executive replaced the central executive.  From the previous
central executive, there remained Hofrat Stern, as chairman,
Dr. Boda, Dr. Petoe, Dr. Wilhelm and myself.  The remaining
members were not appointed.  In their stead, they appointed
Dr. Joseph Nagy, who was head doctor at the Jewish Hospital,
and Janos Gabor, who was until then liaison officer between
the central executive and the SS, the Sondereinsatzkommando;
Bela Berend, who was rabbi in Szigetvar; Toeroek as a
representative of Jewish converts, and Dr. Stoeckler.

Q. Mr. Freudiger, you said before that the Germans demanded,
from time to time, that you hand over property and various
articles for their use.  Can you tell the Court who demanded
it, how they demanded it, and if their demands were carried

A. Already during the early days they began demanding
housing in which to accommodate their soldiers - and
thereafter equipment for the apartments and workers.  They
demanded workers after the headquarters of the
Sondereinsatzkommando were established at the Hotel
Majestic, to dig a shelter there and all kinds of things.
They simply set up, within the central committee, a
department to comply with their daily demands.

Q. Within the Jewish committee, did they set up a department
whose function was to fulfil German demands?

A. Yes.

Q. Who used to pass on the demands on behalf of the Germans?

A. On one occasion it was simply a sergeant who came to us
and said that he needed "such and such."

Q. A sergeant of the SS?

A. Yes, a sergeant of the SS.  Once we received a telephone
call.  They never gave these instructions in writing.

Q. Did they ever pay you for this work?

A. No.  That was out of the question.

Q. Did they also demand Jewish labour, in order to perform
various tasks for the Germans?

A. Yes.

Q. Who had to pay for these workers?

A. We did.

Q. Now, Mr. Freudiger, did you meet Adolf Eichmann in

A. Yes.

Q. Do you see the Accused here?  Can you identify him?

A. In my mind's eye, Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann appears
in uniform, in high boots, standing with his legs apart and
his hand on the pistol in his belt, and shouting at me from
the heights of the Master Race, but, despite that, I believe
he is the man.

Q. Are you able to tell the Court under what circumstances
you met him?

A. On the first occasion I came across him and did not know
that he was Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann.  I went to the
Schwabenberg.  I wanted to talk either to Wisliceny or
Krumey, and to ask them, after they had requisitioned our
synagogue, to let us have the scrolls of the law which were
inside the synagogue.  An officer met me there - he asked me
what I was doing here?  I told him.  He replied: "Very well,
I will arrange the matter."

Q. Was the matter actually settled?

A. Actually it was settled - we received back all the
scrolls of the law.

Meanwhile, they had sent off approximately 1,500 persons
whom, as I told you yesterday, they seized at the railway
stations - they sent them to Kistarcsa under inhuman
conditions.  I went and wanted to speak to Krumey and to
Wisliceny - that they should leave them alone, and to ask
what was the meaning of this, and to implore them to make
some suitable arrangements.  Again I came across that
officer whom I did not know, whom I did not recognize, and
again he asked me what I was doing there.  I explained the
matter to him.  He said that this was out of the question
and that they had to remain where they were.  I asked him:
"For what reason?  What crime have they committed?  They
were simply travelling on the railway and did not yet know
that this was forbidden."  He replied: "It is out of the
question, this is enough, don't argue with me."  This was no
longer as pleasant as the first meeting had been.

A day or two later, I met with Wisliceny; we again began to
speak about the matter, and I told him that one of their
officers had said to me that this was out of the question
and that I really could not understand why not; that they
had not done any wrong, they were not criminals. He told me:
"You have been talking to Eichmann, and if he said no, then
it is no."

Q. Do you remember the exact words Eichmann used at that
meeting with you?

A. Not altogether.

Presiding Judge: You are talking of the same officer who
returned the scrolls of the law?

Witness Freudiger:  Yes.

State Attorney Bach:  When you made your request to him, did
he say anything in particular to you?

Witness Freudiger:  He said: "This is out of the question,
they must remain where they are."  After that I argued with
him a little.  He began shouting at me: "Ich werde Euch
schon Ordnung lehren.  Ich werde mit Euch schon Schlitten
fahren." I speak German fairly well, but I did not know the
meaning of "Ich werde mit Euch schon Schlitten fahren."
Subsequently, I found out what it meant.

Interpreter "I shall yet teach you all what order means.  I
shall ride on your back as on a sledge."

Presiding Judge: This is not correct.  I already noticed
that in the Attorney General's opening address.  It is
simply a gross expression - "I will show you."  Perhaps we
can find a different translation.  One could say: "I will
yet show you," no more than that.

State Attorney Bach:  But literally...

Judge Halevi:  Words are not all as important in this trial
as deeds.

State Attorney Bach:  Occasionally words indicate a certain
intention behind the deeds.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps this is more of a German than an
Austrian expression.  Is such an expression common in
Austria-Hungary as well?

Witness Freudiger:  I do not remember such an expression.

Presiding Judge: I think it is more of a northern

Attorney General: I must say that when, for my opening
address, I gave it a literal translation, I did not know the
expression, and for that reason I also quoted the expression
in the original.

Presiding Judge: I was thinking of remarking on it already

Dr. Servatius:  Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, may I give
a professional explanation?  This is the language used by
sergeants when talking to recruits.

Presiding Judge: This is also how I understood it.

Attorney General: At all events, I understood that this was
something not very pleasant.

Judge Halevi:  It could be translated by the Hebrew
expression "to put you through the mill" ("leshafshef
etchem" - literally "to give you a rubbing-down").

State Attorney Bach:  Did you come across Eichmann again
after this?

Witness Freudiger:  Yes, but this was already a more
important meeting.  I think that it was on 16 or 23 April.
I think it was 16 April.  We received information to the
effect that they had begun to concentrate Jews in the border
towns.  I came to the central executive, and there I found
my colleagues, together with Dr. Reiner, who was also
liaison officer on the executive on behalf of the Orthodox.
He told me that he had received information that during the
night they had taken all the Jews to a town called
Nyiregyhaza, and had concentrated them all in a particular
place, a small place.  They were all compelled to leave
their houses, their apartments, and to take with them only
thirty kilograms of personal effects.  The gendarmes took
them and gathered them together there.  We did not know what
had happened.  This was a short time after we had paid
220,000 dollars to Krumey, in order to buy the "goodwill" of
the Sondereinsatzkommando.  Perhaps five or six days had
passed since then, and, after that, this had occurred.  We
were simply like "vor den Kopf gestossen" (struck with
bewilderment), and Dr. Reiner, whose family also lived in
Nyiregyhaza - his parents were aged eighty or over -
requested us: "Mr. Freudiger, go to Wisliceny and Krumey and
ask them."  I said: "I cannot go, I have no definite
information on the whole matter.  First we have to get
information."  We discussion this and it was resolved that
the two of us would go together, since he was the one who
had the information.

We went to the Schwabenberg in the morning.  I wanted to
speak to Krumey.  I could speak to him more openly, for he
had received 220,000 in the past week.  We waited for
Krumey.  The secretary would not allow us to wait inside.
We waited outside.  Then Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, whom
I knew by now, came in.  He said: "Was machen da die
Schoenen?" (What are these beauties doing here?)  I told him
that we are waiting for Krumey on such and such a matter.
He said: "Come into my office."  He took us into his office.
The offices were adjoining.  There was a large map of
Hungary on the wall.  He stood in front of the map and said:
"These are the border provinces of Hungary."  Perhaps I may
quote his words in German.  He said: "Ich habe die
Ghettoisierung der Juden in den Grenzgebieten von Ungarn
verfuegt.  Das betrifft 310,000 Juden."  (I have given
instructions to place the Jews living in the border
provinces of Hungary into ghettos.  This affects 310,000
Jews.)  He went on to say that the Russian enemies were on
the other side of the Carpathians, and that obviously it was
impossible to leave 300,000 hostile persons to wander around
freely so close to the border.  And for this reason it had
been necessary to concentrate them into ghettos.  I said to
him: "Is Nyiregyhaza close to the border, 300 kilometres
from the border?"  He replied: "You ask your Hungarians.
All this is the area of Brigade 8 of the Hungarian army, and
that is the region of the border.  Everything in this area
is called 'border'."  I had nothing to say in reply.  Then
he went on, saying: "All right, so they won't have to live
in a ghetto, but we must preserve quiet and order and see
that there are no epidemics."

Judge Halevi:  Who were we"?

Witness Freudiger:  We, the Jews, the Zentralrat.  We had to
make certain that there were no epidemics, to preserve
hygiene.  Dr. Reiner asked him: "How can one preserve
hygiene when we get one square metre per person for living
quarters?"  Then he began shouting - up to this point he had
spoken fairly politely - and said: "Again you are starting
with this horror propaganda?  Who told you that?"  I said:
"I know that this was the space provided for aged parents
also, for the elderly."  Meanwhile Krumey had arrived, and
he came in and joined us.  Afterwards Eichmann said: "Very
well, if you have parents, they can be brought to Budapest."
He told Krumey to have an order issued to bring the families
of the members of the Judenrat, of the central executive,
first-degree members of the family - to bring them to
Budapest.  I asked him: "What is the meaning of 'first-
degree members' of the family?  And he replied: "Don't you
even know this?  It means husband and wife, parents,
children."  And I asked him: "And what about brothers and
sisters?"  He said: "These are second-degree family
members."  In practice, there were brothers whom they
brought back, and many parents whom they did not.

State Attorney Bach:  And with that, the meeting ended?

Witness Freudiger:  Yes.

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