The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-068-08

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

Q. How did you know?

A. His name was already well-known, I knew who Eichmann was
already in Theresienstadt.

Q. And you did not wonder why she suddenly mentioned
Eichmann's name?

A. I was not surprised, for I was aware that Edelstein knew
all these people well.

Q. And Eichmann too?

A. Yes.  And she said it, in this kind of tone "Here, even
this man has promised me" - and if that is the case, it will
come true.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any further
examination relating to the questions which have just been

Dr. Servatius:  I have no questions.

Presiding Judge: Thank you, Mr. Bakon, you have concluded
your testimony.


[This testimony of Alfred Oppenheimer was inadvertently
omitted from the end of Session No. 68, Vol. III, p. 1254]

Attorney General: I wish to call Mr. Alfred Oppenheimer. The
witness will testify in German.

Presiding Judge: I gather that you speak German?

Witness Oppenheimer:   Yes.

[The witness is sworn]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Alfred Oppenheimer.

Attorney General: Do you live in Luxembourg?

Witness Oppenheimer:   Yes.

Q.  And you have lived there since 1926?

A.  Yes.

Attorney General: Just by way of explanation, Your Honour.
Most of the witness's testimony will focus on the
concentration camps. But since we have had no testimony
about Luxembourg, I will allow myself to go through this
matter briefly with him, in order to complete the picture.

Presiding Judge: We did have something about Luxembourg.

Attorney General: Only documents. But we have a witness, and
I would wish briefly to take advantage of this opportunity
in order to present several matters.

[To the Witness ]When did the Germans enter Luxembourg?

Witness Oppenheimer:   On 10 May 1940.

Q.  Tell the Court briefly about the operations of the
Germans, after their arrival, against the Jewish population.

A.  On 10 May, when the Germans entered Luxembourg, they
confiscated above all the contents of the drawing rooms,
studies, other furniture and so on. After that radio sets,
and then there were various operations, handing things over
- everything one had, one was only allowed to keep a pair of
shoes - one had to hand over all one's bed linen, personal
linen - one was only allowed to keep one shirt and one pair
of drawers and one vest, one had to hand everything over, so
that it was practically impossible to change one's
underclothes. Then we were - we were rounded up, together
with refugees, in a monastery - that had space for some 30-
35 people, all of Luxembourg's Jews, little by little, and
from there the transports left for Auschwitz, for
Theresienstadt, for Poland...

Q.  What happened to the Jewish community?

A.  Most of the Jewish community left on 10 May, and at
first, till civil government and the civil administration
took over - that was in July or August 1940 - things were
still relatively peaceful for the Jews and a good proportion
of the community was able to leave the country somehow.

Q.  How many Jews were there in Luxembourg up to the
outbreak of the War?

A.  There were around 2,000-2,500 local Jews, and there were
in addition somewhere between 800 and 2,000 refugees.

Q.  If I might, Your Honour, digress slightly, I should like
to say here that Luxembourg was one of the few countries -
the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and her Government, unlike
other countries, opened their doors wide and gave all Jews -
all refugees a temporary entry visa, in order to allow them
to look in their own time for another home. Luxembourg thus
saved the lives of many tens of thousands of Jews, and I
should like to make this point here.

Presiding Judge: Very well.

Attorney General: The Jewish Consistoire, which ran Jewish
life, was disbanded and the Gestapo imposed the task of
handling matters and representing the Jews on one Jewish
man. Is that correct?

Witness Oppenheimer:   Yes. The olf Consistoire which still
existed of the President and the Community Secretary who
were required to deal with the various community affairs,
and act as liaison between the Gestapo and us, or between
the civil administration and the Jewish community, and on
one or two occasions they were summoned to Eichmann in

Q.  You also carried out a duty which was imposed upon you
by the Gestapo?

A.  I was a member of the community's Consistoire, and after
the first transports to Litzmannstadt, of 324 people, the
Consistoire was moved to Litzmannstadt. Other members of the
community and the Consistoire were permitted to emigrate,
with the approval of the civil administration and the
Gestapo and then,  following the orders of the State Police,
as a member of the Consistoire, I was then appointed as
liaison between the Gestapo and the community.

Q.  Between 19 October 1941 and 28 September 1943, 674 Jews
were deported from Luxembourg, correct?

A.  Yes.

Q.  And of those 36 survived?

A.  Yes.

Q.  You were first sent to Theresienstadt and from there you
were sent to Birkenau-Auschwitz?

A.  I was first deported to Theresienstadt, where my wife
died, and then I was deported from Theresienstadt to

Q.  How long did the journey take?

A.  I do not know exactly. It was an absolutely horrible
journey, it lasted several days.

Q.  Tell the Court what was horrible about the journey.

A.  When we boarded the train in Theresienstadt for
Birkenau, we did not at the time know where we were going.
We only knew that we were being deported. I was particularly
adroit, I swung myself into the train through the window, I
managed to get a place by the window and... There were two
Czechs sitting opposite me, a German, and next to me there
were also two people, there were three of us on the bench
seat. Before we were loaded into the train, we were told
that we were strictly prohibited from opening a window and
throwing anything out. And opposite me, the Czech, after
about 20 minutes, opened up his food parcel for the journey,
a package, and at a certain moment he wanted to open the
window, to throw something out. As usual there was an SS man
standing in each carriage to supervise things. And then he
said, "Which of you opened the window?" Stony silence. Then
he said to the old man, the one opposite me, again, "Who
opened the window?" And then without waiting for a reply, he
took his pistol and put a bullet through the man's head and
another through the neck of the man sitting next to him, who
had nothing at all to do with it.

Presiding Judge: Where was the SS man standing?

Witness Oppenheim  He was standing behind me, I sat with my
back to the engine, and he stood behind me.

Judge Halevi:  These three men, the two Czechs and the
German, were not Jewish?

Witness Oppenheim  They were Jews. They were from
Theresienstadt. There were only Jews there.

Presiding Judge: Did you wish to explain something?

Witness Oppenheimer:   I sat with my back to the SS man and
of the two who had been shot, one died immediately, and the
other one lived a little longer, and we were not allowed to
help him, we could not do anything for him; he sat there
with open, astonished eyes and we had to tie him down so
that he didn't fall off, and the other one, who lived for
about a quarter of an hour, whimpered in pain and bled and
the SS man forbade us to help him.

Attorney General: And that is how you arrived at Auschwitz-
Birkenau, with these two dead men?

Witness Oppenheimer:   All the way to Birkenau. We were not
allowed to open a window, and it was very hot so that the
bodies started to decay, during the 30 or so hours of the
transport we were not allowed to answer the call of nature,
because there was a terrible stench in the carriage, because
of the corpses, sweat and so on, and the SS man took over
the toilet and opened the window there and so we couldn't
get in there. It was absolutely dreadful.

Q.  When did you arrive in Auschwitz?

A.  About two days later, on 5 or 6 October 1944.

Q.  How many people were in that transport with you?

A.  There was a transport in two trains, one had about 1,250
and after that there was another one with about 1,250
people. They all had the same transport number.

Q.  You got off the train and then you were met by a Jew and
you gave him your watch?

A.  Yes, we had to get off in a tremendous hurry, we were
cursed, had to line up in rows of four, and then a prisoner
came up to me and asked if I had money or a watch. We came
from Theresienstadt and still had some possessions on us. I
also happened to have my watch and without thinking much
about it I gave it to him. He said to me: if they ask you,
say you are a metalworker or a technician or a mechanic, and
if they ask you how old you are, in any case make yourself
at least five years younger, and if they ask if you are
healthy, say yes, here you must not be sick. I asked him:
where in the world are we, and he said: in Auschwitz-

Q.  And then you went through the Auschwitz-Birkenau

A.  Yes. The selection actually took place a little later.
In the barracks there was a corner, a table, and we had to
stand in line and go up there and an SS man asked each of us
about our profession, age and so on. There was a man in
front of me, an old acquaintance, with whom I had become
friends in Theresienstadt, he was a lawyer, he was about 1.8
metres tall, and he was a champion skier from
Czechoslovakia. When asked his profession the man replied
"lawyer." And then immediately he pointed to the right. And
then it was my turn, and he asked me "profession?" and I
replied "precision mechanic." "Age?" - 38 years: at the time
I was already 43. And health? - excellent. And then he
looked me up and down. I was covered in blood from the man
opposite me, who had been shot in the train. I had had
nothing to eat or to drink. And then he pointed to the left
and I went to the left. And after we were divided up, there
were 210 or 240 left out of the 1,200, and the others were
taken to be gassed. The second transport went directly to
the gas chamber.

Q.  What did they do with you, Mr. Oppenheimer after that?

A.  After that we had to take our clothes off and we were
taken to the showers. There they showered us, all our hair
was shaved off from our bodies. And then, while they shouted
at us and beat us, we were crammed into a barracks, which
reminded me more of a stable for horses. That is where we
remained for our first days in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The first days were rather upsetting, it was already
October, it was fairly cold. At four o'clock in the morning,
we were driven out of the barracks, we had nothing to cover
ourselves with, we lay on the concrete floor and we were
grateful that we were allowed to get up. In the night it
would happen that someone had to get up, and of course he
did not manage to find his place again, because we lay so
close to one another. And it was always so crammed and there
were blows because we were packed in so tightly. And then in
the morning we were driven out.

Q.  Did you also receive clothing?

A.  Yes, prisoner's clothing, striped pyjamas. Mine were not
made of flannel, they were thin. Like these trousers, that
is how my clothing was.

Presiding Judge: I do not know whether it is desirable in
respect of the witness who appeared this morning for us to
accept this clothing as an exhibit.

Attorney General: He [the witness Dinur who collapsed in the
Court] said that he wishes to submit this to the Court.
Because I cannot submit this through him, I shall do so
through his friend.

Presiding Judge: These clothes will be marked T/1328.

Attorney General: Please describe to the Court how the roll-
call was held in Auschwitz.

Witness Oppenheimer:   We would stand there, and then they
would shout: "Attention, at ease! Attention, at ease! Caps
off, caps on! Caps off, caps on!" and if, God forbid, anyone
was late in obeying - then the whole group received blows,
and we had to act like frogs for half an hour - in other
words, kneel on all fours on the ground and hop like a frog,
in the rain, in a storm, in the mud, in all conditions. And
then there were roll-calls every day, morning and afternoon.
If someone developed pimples on his face, he was picked out
in the selection, if during the gymnastics someone
absolutely had to relieve himself - because we all had bad
diarrhoea - because of what we ate or didn't eat, and we
were all ill, that was immediately written down and
announced in the afternoon or the morning and put in the
record - he was immediately selected and finished up in the

Q.  What happened to you, Mr. Oppenheimer?

Q.  At the concentration camp, the KZ, I had indicated that
I was a precision engineer. Every day SS men came from the
neighbouring camps, looking for workers: 15 metalworkers for
Gross-Rosen, a tailor for Vienna and two cobblers for
Gleiwitz. And if they asked for a cobbler, immediately our
whole barracks of 500 men - they were all cobblers and they
all jumped up. If they were looking for a metalworker, then
500 metalworkers volunteered - they all wanted to get out of
Birkenau, they knew that was hell and they knew very well
that no one could last here in Birkenau. We knew that there
could not be anywhere worse than Birkenau. After all
somewhere or other we would die. But we wanted it not to be
in Birkenau. One fine day a man came looking for three
precision engineers for Gleiwitz. And then I, too,
volunteered. Of course - as always.

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