The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-058-02

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-058-02
Last-Modified: 1999/06/04

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Hansi Brand.

Presiding Judge: Would you now please reply to Mr. Bach's
questions - try to remain calm and not get worked up.

Don't take it to heart - just speak slowly.

State Attorney Bach:  Let us start with prosaic matters,
Mrs. Brand.  You were born in Budapest?

Witness Hansi Brand:   Yes.

Q. And you went to school in Budapest?

A. Yes.

Q. When you were still at school, you joined the Zionist

A. Yes.

Q. Did you also participate in hachshara?

A. Yes.

Q. And it was in fact when you were on hachshara that you
met your husband, Joel Brand?

A. Yes.

Q. When did you get married?

A. In 1935.

Q. After that you set up a workshop and worked in the
workshop together with your husband?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: What kind of a workshop?

Witness Hansi Brand:   For knitwear, knitted goods.

State Attorney Bach:  Mrs. Brand, you were active on the
committee called "The Relief and Rescue Committee" in

Witness Hansi Brand:   Yes.

Q. And were you also active on that committee before the
Germans entered Hungary on 19 March 1944?

A. Yes.

Q. Can you tell the Court what was the task of this
committee and what was your task?

A. As shown by the name, the task of our committee was to
act as a "Relief and Rescue Committee."

Presiding Judge: Please speak German, you will feel more

Witness Hansi Brand:   The task of the committee at that
time was to ensure that the stream of refugees who entered
Hungary from the various countries occupied by the Germans
were given support, in order to find shelter.  There were
various possibilities at that time of accommodating these
refugees, and it was my task to look after these people, who
did not speak Hungarian, so that they would be clothed,
would look decent, and also to get the necessary papers for
them, so that they could show their identity, and also get
housing for them.  That is what I helped them with.

State Attorney Bach:  Which countries did the refugees  whom
you looked after before March 1944 come from?

Witness Hansi Brand:   The first ones came from Germany,
then they came from Austria, and then from Poland and
Slovakia, and some groups even came from Yugoslavia.

Q. Was your committee recognized by law, or was it a
committee which worked underground?

A. All of our work was illegal.  Under the law it was
forbidden to have any contact at all with the refugees, so
all of our work was illegal.

Q. What was the task of your husband within the context of
this committee?

A. My husband was one of the first who set up the Va'ada,
the committee, together with Otto Komoly, Rezsoe Kasztner,
Samos Springmann and himself.

Q. The chairman of the committee was Otto Komoly?

A. Yes.

Q. What was your husband's special task on the committee,
particularly after Springmann left Hungary?

A. After Springmann left Hungary, my husband, together with
Rezsoe Kasztner became responsible for the various
connections with the different couriers who brought us
letters and money from abroad.  Also, if I am to give
details, there were specific duties with regard to looking
after the refugees, and my husband was the person who
organized the tiyulim.

Presiding Judge: What were these?

Witness Hansi Brand:   Tiyul (in Hebrew) or excursion was
the name used by the committee for escape.

State Attorney Bach:  Mrs. Brand, you have told us that you
looked after the refugees who reached Hungary.  After 19
March 1944, were any new tasks assigned to you by the

Witness Hansi Brand:   After March 19, a totally different
situation confronted our Va'ada.  Earlier we had tried, with
our Jewish hearts, to help the refugees who entered Hungary
and to collect the necessary money which was needed for them
to survive.  Once the Germans occupied Hungary, we had
another problem, since all these refugees were now doubly in
danger, and the Hungarian Jews were also in a very dangerous
situation.  We had found out by experience that at a certain
point people who had Christian papers were helped at least
for a while, so we decided that I should arrange for this,
that is to say, that various Christian papers should be
obtained not only for the refugees, but in great quantities,
so that Hungarian Jews could have them as well, in order to
try to submerge with these Aryan papers.

Q. Who helped you in this work?

A. That was possibly even worse - the refugees who had got
used to the whole thing over the years dealt with filling
out and putting stamps on the necessary papers.  I simply
ordered the papers from the printer and collected them from

Q. Was there a particular specialist who helped you get the

A. I did not have a specialist.  The husband of a classmate
of mine had a printing shop with which we were in touch all
the time - after he had an idea of what had happened to the
Jews in Poland and Slovakia, he said that he was prepared to
print these papers for us.

Q. Was he Jewish?

A. Yes, he was Jewish.

Q. Did you live in your own flat all the time, or did you
change your dwelling?

A. We had our own flat where we lived with the children and
the whole family - we spent all those years there - but then
it became known, because of the various dealings we had with
the police, and so, because we were frightened, we always
had alternative dwellings, so that precisely when the
Germans entered Hungary, we were not living in our own flat
but were on the Schwabenberg, in the same flat, the same
house, where I saw Eichmann for the first time in my life.

Q. Where did you look after the refugees?  Where would they
come to?

A. Most of the refugees used to come to our flat or our

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, are all these details necessary?
My comment usually comes at the end, that I know already.

State Attorney Bach:  Your Honour, they are of particular
importance.  I also wished to give the witness an
opportunity to get used to the Court procedure.

Presiding Judge: We shall do that together.

State Attorney Bach:  Mrs. Brand, I am sure you heard
reports from your husband about his initial conversations
with Eichmann.

Witness Hansi Brand:   Yes, indeed.

Q. Can you tell me when you saw Eichmann for the first time?

A. The first time I saw him was, I think the day before my
husband left for Istanbul.

Q. What was the purpose of your visit to Eichmann?

A. In official terms, the idea was that, as long as my
husband was abroad, I should stay in touch with Eichmann and
be sure to tell him when I received news from Istanbul.  But
during the conversation, I realized that some eighty per
cent was in order to tell me personally that I, together
with the children and the family, had to remain in Budapest
as hostages.

Q. Where did this conversation take place?

A. On the Schwabenberg, in the Jewish Department.

Q. Apart from the three of you, who else was present?

A. I do not remember anyone else.

Q. Do you remember roughly how long the conversation lasted?

A. It took about half an hour, three quarters of an hour.  I
had to listen to all the details, and actually he kept
asking if I was aware why he was making the trip and what
his assignment was, and he told me everything in great
detail.  And then he told me that I should pay attention to
everything, that it was a Reich secret, and that no one
should find out about it, because then the consequences
would be indescribable.  That fact was stressed repeatedly -
that it was a Reich secret.

Q. Mrs. Brand, you said previously that the purpose was, or
that you understood the purpose of the conversation to be,
to inform you that you and the children were hostages.  From
what did you gather this?  From something the Accused said?

A. It was very obvious, although it was not actually said in
so many words, "you will remain behind as hostages."  I
cannot recall that precisely.  But I was told that I was not
allowed to leave Budapest with the children, and that I had
to report every day.  By then we had had so much experience
with our illegal work that it was not necessary to give any
further explanations.  What it means is obvious, if someone
is told that he may not leave Budapest, and I have to report
every day.

Q. You spoke of a Reich secret.  Can you say whether
Eichmann went into this Reich secret and told you in detail
what the actual proposal was?

A. Yes, of course, the whole matter was explained to me,
that he had offered a million Jews for ten thousand lorries,
and that he had given my husband a passport, so that he
should notify the free world of this and arrange the whole

Q. In the conversation, was mention also made of the fate of
a certain group of six hundred Jews?  Do you remember that?

A. In the same discussion, of course, just as the other side
put forward its position, so the Jewish side also repeated
its demand that, as long as negotiations continued, there
should be no deportations to Auschwitz, and since there had
already been negotiations for six hundred certificates,
which were ready with a transport ship waiting in Constantsa
to take them off, there was talk about this, and the point
was stressed that there should be some show of good will,
and they were ready to help us, so that these six hundred
people - that was one of the demands - that the six hundred
people could leave Hungary for neutral countries.

Q. Mrs. Brand, you see the Accused before you - can you
identify him as the man with whom you talked?

A. One hundred per cent.

Q. Do you remember if there was a signboard on the door of
the office which you entered?  I mean the office of the
Accused.  What did it say?

A. Sondereinsatzkommando - IVB - Jewish Department.

Q. How would you define the way in which the Accused behaved
and spoke that day, in your first joint meeting?

A. My impression was that he was trying to create an
atmosphere as if it was purely a business deal, a straight-
forward transaction, and that we were business partners.

Q. And then, after that meeting, the day after, your husband
left, and in fact you did not meet him again until after the

A. Yes.

Q. After your husband left, when did you first hear about
deportations of Jews from Hungary?

A. To our horror we found out the next day that people were
being crammed in large numbers into railway cars, forced in,
ninety or a hundred to a car, whereas he had promised in my
presence that people would be sent to Austria or somewhere
else to wait for the outcome of the negotiations, and then
all of a sudden they...I did not know where my husband was
at that point, but he had already left, and then we found
out that people were being loaded ninety and a hundred into
one car.

Q. When you heard this information, what did you decide to

A. I decided that it was not for a woman to bear such
responsibility, so I went to Kasztner, and we resolved that
Kasztner should go up and see him the same day, to introduce
himself and see him with me about the matter.

Q. See whom?

A. Eichmann.
Q. Until then Dr. Kasztner had not met Eichmann?

A. No.

Q. Did he agree to come with you?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you actually go to see Eichmann together?

A. Yes.

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.