The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-068-04

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-068-04
Last-Modified: 1999/06/08

Q. How did you know?

A. Exactly six months after the transport previous to ours
had arrived, we were separated from that transport and it
was transferred to the quarantine camp, Camp A, although
they were told that they were going to work, and in order to
deceive them, the sick and the injured, and their doctors
were deliberately left behind.

In January 1944 we were all made to write postcards bearing
the date of March 25.

Q. In January 1944 you wrote postcards with the date March
25.  To whom were these postcards addressed?

A. The postcards were addressed to the people at

Q. And what were you required to write on these postcards?

A. We were allowed to write on the cards in the first person
or the second person, and only about good things, that is to
say, that we were well.

Q. Did they tell you the purpose of these postcards?

A. They did not tell us.

Q. But you understood?

A. Yes.  We understood that they wanted us to write to the
people at Theresienstadt so that they should know that we
were well.

A. To reassure them?

A. Yes.  That was the whole purpose of our camp.

Q. Did you write these postcards willingly?

A. We had to write them.

Q. You were required to write?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you told what to write?

A. Yes.

Q. I did not understand your remark: "That was the whole
purpose or our camp." You people, of your own free will,
wanted to reassure the people of Theresienstadt?

A. No.  The SS wanted us, from this camp, to reassure the
people at Theresienstadt.

Q. Did you find any way of circumventing this order?

A. Yes.  I organized a small group of children and we wrote
to the same address the words: "And with this, dear Moti."
We wrote the postcards in German, but using the words "And
with this, dear Moti" - "und mit diesem, lieber Moti werde
ich enden" (and with this, dear Moti, I shall end."*
{*"Moti" - in Hebrew "My death."}

Q. In other words you wrote in Latin characters in order
that the people in Theresienstadt would know that you were
talking there of death?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Did you know Hebrew?

Witness Bakon:   Yes.  I knew Hebrew.  That was in January,
and then a rumour spread in the camp that somebody was
visiting it.  Dr. Janowitz, who was from the previous
transport, told us that Eichmann had arrived on a visit and
this did not mean good tidings.  After the visit we had to
write the postcards and in addition, Mrs. Edelstein...

Attorney General: Was Mrs. Edelstein together with you?

Witness Bakon:   Yes.

Q. Who was Mrs. Edelstein?

A. The wife of the Jewish elder, Jacob Edelstein, of

Q. Where was he?

A. Jacob Edelstein and his family were in Theresienstadt,
and in 1943 were sent together with us to Auschwitz.

Q. Were you friendly with their son?

A. Yes.  I got to know the son in 1939 and also became
friendly with him in Theresienstadt.
Q. What happened to them?

A. Mr. Edelstein was not with us, and we learned that he was
under arrest in a bunker in Auschwitz.  But Mrs. Edelstein
and her son, Arye, were with us in Camp B2.

Q. You mentioned a "bunker" the nickname for place of

A. Yes, it was the nickname for a place of detention.

Q. And then, one day, Mrs. Edelstein came back and you heard
her say something?

A. They called her to the gate, and when she returned, she
told us that she had been promised by Eichmann that she
would see her husband again, and in fact, some time later...

Presiding Judge: Was it promised directly to her?

Witness Bakon:   This I do not know - it was promised to her
by Eichmann.

Q. That means it could have been directly or through her

A. By someone else.

Q. For example, through her husband.

A. Through another officer.

Attorney General: He does not know whether Eichmann made the
promise, or someone else on behalf of Eichmann.

Presiding Judge: At any rate, it was made to Mrs. Edelstein?

Witness Bakon:   Yes.

Q. I thought that perhaps it was given to Mr. Edelstein so
that he should notify her.

A. Mr. Edelstein was not with us.

Q. I understand, but perhaps he wrote to her - maybe he was
allowed to write?

A. Some time after she told us this, it was about 20 June,
she, her son and a number of other people were summoned and
were taken out of the camp.  An SS car came and took them
out of the camp.  Mrs. Edelstein had been ill and in those
days she was lying in the sick block, but nevertheless they
took her away.  They did not return.

Attorney General: Do you know whether she met her husband,
as had been promised to her, according to what she said?

Witness Bakon:   Yes.  Later on, at the end of July 1944, I
was talking in the Maennerlager (men's camp) to a member of
the Sonderkommando - I even remember his name, Kalman
Furman, and his number, 80810, and he told me.

Q. Where did she meet her husband?

A. At crematorium number 3, where executions were carried

Q. And so they met at the entrance to the gas chambers?

A. It was not exactly the gas chambers - it was a separate
place for executions.

Presiding Judge: Execution by what means?

Witness Bakon:   By shooting.

Attorney General: And there she met her husband?

Witness Bakon:   The member of the Sonderkommando, Israel
Zuckerman, told me that he himself had burned the bodies.

Q. Whose bodies?

A. Of these people, Jacob Edelstein, Mrs. Edelstein and
Arye, their son.

Q. [Shows the witness some photographs]  Are these pictures
of Mrs. Edelstein and her son, your friend?

A. Yes, of Mrs. Edelstein and Arye.

Judge Halevi:  Were they all put to death - she as well?

Attorney General: [To witness] Was Mrs. Edelstein also put
to death?

Witness Bakon:   All of them were killed.  They also had to
undress themselves, they did not cry, that's what he told
me, they were only sad, and they were executed by shooting,
one after the other.

Judge Halevi:  And the son, your friend?

Witness Bakon:   The son, also.

Presiding Judge: The photograph will be marked T/1317. You
may take this original photograph back.

Witness Bakon:   Thank you.

Attorney General: Who was Dr. Janowitz, who said that this
visit did not mean good tidings?

Witness Bakon:   Dr. Janowitz was one of the organizers of
the Theresienstadt Ghetto.  He was also brought in September
1943 with the transport of Fredy Hirsch to the Family Camp

Q. In May 1944 were further tranports brought from

A. In May 1944, seven thousand five hundred people arrived,
in three transports.

Q. What happened to them?

A. They waited with us.  That is to say, we were awaiting
the date when the six months were due to end, on 20th June.
And we were waiting for the day they would remove us to the
gas chambers, as they had done with previous transports.
And 20th June passed, and apart from the incident involving
Mrs. Edelstein, her son and some other people, nothing

After a certain time the SS Schwarzhuber and Dr. Mengele
arrived and they made selections.  They sorted out the
people who were suitable for work, roughly between the ages
of eighteen and forty.  And two transports left - with about
fifteen hundred men and two thousand women.

Q. Where did they go?

A. To work.  We knew that the Kapo of the Bekleidungskammer
(clothes store) knew whether the people were on their way to
the gas chambers or to work, for he had to prepare the
clothes.  And we, too, saw afterwards the freight-cars
leaving the camp.

Q. So, then, these people were off to work.  How many

A. Seven thousand remained, approximately, and I was one of

Q. Were most of them elderly?

A. Most of them were elderly, and also women and children,
for there was a rule in Auschwitz that a mother and child
did not go to work.  Their fate was death.

Q. Including the child?

A. Yes.

Q. So what happened to all those thousands who remained?

A. During the last days, there were no more roll-calls.  We
all knew that we were destined for the gas chambers, and the
camp was in a state of complete chaos.  Once Dr. Mengele and
Dr. Schwartzhuber arrived and set to one side children
between the ages of twelve and sixteen.  From amongst them,
they removed 89 children and I was one of them.  During the
last days I had remained with my father, and he was
naturally aware of what was awaiting us.  I remember that he
took out his gold teeth which no longer fitted him so well,
and he wanted me to exchange them for bread.  Naturally I
refused to do so.  Later on we - the 89 children - were
summoned to the gate.  Each one of us took leave of his
family.  We tried to present a cheerful face and said that
we would surely meet again, that they should not worry about
us, for we were alert and would look after ourselves, even
though we knew exactly what was in store for us.

Presiding Judge: How old were you then, Mr. Bakon?

Witness Bakon:   About fourteen and a half.

Attorney General: What happened to all those who remained in
the family camp?

Witness Bakon:   They remained there a few more days.  We,
the children, were transferred to the Gypsy camp.

Q. And what happened to them?

A. To whom?

Q. To those who remained?

A. On 10 and 11 July there was a Blocksperre for the block
at night and all the seven thousand people, including the
mothers and the children, went to the gas chambers.

Q. Was your father also amongst them?

A. Yes.  We saw them through the small window, we saw how
they were being taken.  And the following morning members of
the Sonderkommando brought us photographs, and all kinds of
little articles by which we could identify our relatives.

Q. And all of you children were transferred to the men's
camp, the Maennerlager?

A. We underwent disinfection in the Gypsy camp, the
Zigeunerlager, before entering the Maennerlager.  There was
a small disinfection station there.  And I can remember the
Gypsy children who were laughing, they mocked us, and
pointed to the gas chambers - a few hundred metres away
there were the gas chambers - and said to us: "There is a
jam factory - soon they are going to put you in there and
make jam out of you."

Q. Was that at Birkenau?

A. Yes.  All this was at Birkenau.  We came to the
Maennerlager in Block 13.  Blocks 9, 11 and 13 were the more
isolated blocks in the Maennerlager, since in Blocks 9 and
11 dwelt the men of the Sonderkommando who, at their
maximum, when the transports arrived from Hungary, numbered
1,200 men.  In Block 13 there was the Strafkommando (the
penal detachment).  We were brought there because hygienic
conditions were better there and so that we should be
isolated from the rest of the prisoners.  At the first
stage, for some reason, we enjoyed somewhat better treatment
than the other prisoners; they still left us with our hair
uncut and gave us better clothing.

Q. By "us" are you referring to the children who were
transferred from the family camp at Theresienstadt?

A. Yes.

Q. How many were there of you, did you say?

A. About eighty-nine.

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