The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-058-04

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

Witness Hansi Brand:   Krumey.  I do not know who else was
there, as I was not present myself.  I only know about it
from my husband and from Kasztner; I did not witness this

State Attorney Bach:  But you talked to Krumey and Eichmann?

Witness Hansi Brand:   I frequently talked to Krumey -
either we were summoned, or we went to see him ourselves,
and we thought we would meet Eichmann but we found Krumey,
or we thought it would be Krumey and it was Eichmann.

Q. Did you talk to Krumey and then afterwards to Eichmann?
Did Eichmann know of your previous conversation with Krumey?

A. Of course?

Q. When did you receive your first communication or news
from your husband?

A. I must state that I am not prepared to swear to either
the date or to figures, and since it is all so long ago, the
whole business is almost buried, and it is difficult for me
to drag it up and to reconstruct what happened when, but, in
any case, the first telegrams arrived which informed us that
negotiations had been opened.

Q. Did you inform Eichmann of the contents of these

A. Of course - as soon as the telegrams came, the first
thing I did was to go to the Sondereinsatzkommando, so that
they could see that the matter was being dealt with.
However, he was not satisfied with the speed at which it was
dealt with, which meant that there was always a convenient
excuse, so that by claiming that for the moment we had
nothing positive to show him, he could keep postponing what
he had promised.  But he kept stressing that what a German
officer promises, he will always honour.  But he did not
honour anything.

Q. Do you remember a particular request you made with regard
to your two children?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. Please tell the Court about it.

A. I have to leave out what is in fact a rather important
period.  Things had reached a stage where we were seriously
engaged in setting up the group of six hundred, and
obviously it would have been easier and quieter for me to
remain in Budapest, if I had been sure that my two children
were safe.  So I went to Eichmann and asked him to authorize
my two children to leave on this transport.  I came up
against extremely marked, pronounced resistance.

May I add something else?  Eichmann told me very abruptly
that it was quite out of the question.  At that time I took
it very hard, but when I left, I thought it over, and it
struck me: My goodness, it must be something really serious,
if he is so decidedly against the children going along; so
perhaps it is actually true that these people will be
reaching a neutral foreign country.  And so, even though I
took it very much to heart, it nevertheless comforted me
somewhat to think that people whom we had tried to help to
board this train would really reach freedom.

Q. Perhaps you would tell the Court something of the
problems, and talk about your task in trying to persuade
people to take the train.

A. People did not believe us - they did not seriously
believe that the transport would really reach a neutral
foreign country.  After everything that had happened and all
the rumours for years, it had never happened that Jews
reached a neutral foreign country.  It had never happened.
At that time it was not widely known that the entire Weiss
family was already safe in Portugal.  That was not general
knowledge in Budapest.  People were very sceptical, very
mistrustful.  Even the refugees, who were already living
illegally, said no, we will remain in our bunkers, we will
not go to Columbus, because we do not see any guarantee that
it really is true that people will reach a neutral foreign
country.  They were simply afraid.

Q. And you actually wanted your children to leave on this

Presiding Judge: That is quite clear already from what she
has said, and Eichmann did not agree.

Witness Hansi Brand:   Today I am sure it sounds quite
improbable, but nevertheless I brought my children to the
camp, so that it would become known that the Brand children
were also going along, so that people would gain confidence;
if Mrs. Brand was putting her children in it, after all, she
would not sacrifice her own children.

Presiding Judge: Mrs. Brand, this is very important, but
please allow Mr. Bach to tell you what is important to us in
these proceedings, and what is not.

State Attorney Bach:  Mrs. Brand, I would like you to
explain the following to the Court.  Given what everyone
knew, including yourself, did you believe that this train
would leave for a neutral country?

Presiding Judge: She has already spoken about that, Mr.
Bach, she said before that, because Eichmann told her it was
"out of the question to send your children," she believed
that the whole thing was serious.

State Attorney Bach:  What I wanted to ask her was whether
there was any other reason why she thought this.

Presiding Judge: I do not consider any of this to be
important.  It is important, as I have said, but we shall
never get to the end.

State Attorney Bach:  Perhaps just this question, if the
witness can reply to it.
Witness Hansi Brand:   I would never have asked for
permission to send my children with the transport, if I had
not known first that my husband was abroad.  In other words,
this gave me the feeling of security - the fact that he had
been sent to negotiate - because then he obviously would not
want to liquidate us before the end of these negotiations.

Q. You have told us that the money which was handed over to
Klages finished up with Becher.  Did you yourself know Kurt

A. I myself knew him, but I did not negotiate with him.  I
met him once, and after that I had nothing to do with him.

Q. Do you know who actually set the sums which had to be
paid for the release of these people?

A. In that respect, it was a real jungle.  Everyone set an
amount - both Eichmann and Becher.

Q. So you did not know who decided in the end?

A. No, I myself did not know.

Q. Did you know how many people were deported every day?
Were you told?

A. Eichmann himself said so quite openly - that every day
twelve thousand people were sent off.

Q. Did you know where to?

A. Once he said quite openly and clearly, "You are perfectly
free to telegraph your husband that I am letting the mill
run" (dass ich die Muehle laufen lasse).

Q. Perhaps you could tell the Court in what context that was
said, and what you understood?  In what context, and what
was being talked about at that time?

A. I cannot completely remember what exactly was then being
talked about, but it was said that he had made various
promises, that fifteen thousand were to be kept on ice, and
this was to be done, and that was to be done, and then
suddenly, when we came, nothing had been kept, and what were
we to report abroad?  Then he said: "You are perfectly free
to telegraph your husband that I am letting the mill run -
no one should think that I am afraid".

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, I see that Mr. Brand is in the
courtroom.  I do not know if he has already finished his
testimony.  Let us ask him to leave until the end of his
testimony.  [To Mr. Brand] You have not yet finished your
testimony; in any case, it is not definite that you have
finished it.  Please wait outside.

State Attorney Bach:  Mrs. Brand, when he said, "Ich lasse
die Muehle laufen," did you know which Muehle he meant

Witness Hansi Brand:   Yes, of course.  When he made this
offer, we already knew whom we were talking to, so that when
he offered to sell a million Jews for goods, we did not need
to speculate and try to work out what it meant "to run the
mill."  Of course, that meant the gas chambers.

Q. Did you, in fact, inform people abroad of this?

A. Yes.

Q. You spoke of the people who were to be transferred to
Austria, "auf Eis gelegt" (kept on ice).  Can you give the
Court details about the talk you had with Eichmann about
this subject, which people were to be sent, which people
were not to be sent, and where they were to be sent.

A. We always spoke for everyone who was still alive.  And
then we were always forced into making compromises, even in
the negotiations.  And that was how, in the end, he promised
that he would finally send the fifteen thousand to Austria,
without selection.

Q. Who were the fifteen thousand in question?

A. They were supposed to be the Jews who right from the
beginning he said were "kept on ice."

Q. So what did he say?  Which people did he wish to choose
for this?

A. He was always interested only in those who could work,
but it is exactly on this point that we had negotiations and
discussions, because we wanted to save entire families.  And
he promised that he would - I cannot now remember where
these people were collected from.  I must add here that
during the negotiations more and more areas were emptied of
Jews.  I must also add that, in the end, the trains were
exchanged, and individuals, some fifteen or sixteen
thousand, reached Strasshof.

Q. Do you remember that in connection with the Jews who were
to be sent to Strasshof, there was a conversation about
positive or negative biological material?  Could you give
the Court any details in this respect?

A. He was not interested in Jews from Carpatho-Russia, for
example, because they were "positive Jews."

Q. What is meant by "positive Jews?"

A. They are Jews in body and soul.  I must say in this
context that, at that time, there was a very assimilated
Jewish community, with very many mixed marriages.

Q. What was he interested in?

A. He wanted to keep ethnically valuable Jews.

Q. He wanted to preserve these Jews?  Did he want to keep
them or not?

A. He did not wish to continue keeping them.

Q. I do not understand your reply.  Did he wish to save
them, or did he not wish to save them?  Did he wish to keep
them or not?

Judge Halevi:  What do you mean by "keep" (behalten)?

Witness Hansi Brand:   He did not wish to let them live.

State Attorney Bach:  In other words, he did not wish people
with great ethnic value to be allowed to live.  Have I
understood properly?

A. He did not wish them to.

Q. Who, in fact, were the Jews who were sent to Strasshof?
Do you know where they were taken from?

A. If I am not mistaken, they were from Debrecen and the
surrounding areas.  This is a purely Hungarian area.

Q. Do you remember a conversation you had with the Accused
about bringing children to Budapest?

A. Yes.

Q. Please tell the Court about it.

A. Yes.  I must first say something about it, so as to make
it intelligible.  Everything we did, all our work, was like
a daily, laborious tilting at windmills.  What we had
established on one day and that we hoped we had achieved,
the next day was found to be nothing at all.  We always kept
our demands limited, in order to be able to achieve some
results; so I only insisted on the children - at least the
children should not be sent to Auschwitz, at least the
children should remain in Hungary, and we would ensure that
they were looked after by us.  Of course, I had a negative
reply to that as well, and I can no longer remember the
precise details of the exchange.  However, I do remember one
sentence.  I only said to him, "You probably do not have any
children, and that is why you have no pity on them."
Whereupon he shouted at me: "You are taking a great liberty,
Mrs. Brand; if you speak to me like that, I advise you to
stop coming to see me."

Q. Did you actually obtain anything in respect of the

A. Nothing at all.

Q. Those Jews to whom you have referred in Strasshof - who
had to pay for their keep?

A. We sent the actual food.  We sent three large waggons
with all sorts of food with them, and we also sent some

Q. The camp to which you have referred, the Columbus camp,
who was in charge of it, who looked after it, who controlled

A. At the beginning the Germans provided a guard and they
stood at the gate, so no one could enter without permission.

Q. You said that was at the beginning?

A. Yes.

Q. And then?

A. I do not wish to go into domestic politics, but there was
an agreement reached between the Germans and the Hungarians,
and the Germans officially handed over the camps in Hungary,
in the presence of Krumey and Ferenczy, and from that day on
the camps were totally unguarded.

Q. Mrs. Brand, do you remember a conversation with Eichmann
in which reference was made to the Mufti of Jerusalem?

A. Yes.

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