The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/05/31

Session No. 25
17 Iyar 5721 (3 May 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the twenty-fifth Session of the
trial open. The Court will give its decision No. 14
Decision No. 14

Defence Counsel has applied to summon three witnesses for
the defence; they are: Professor Dr. Alfred Six, Advocate
Dr. Max Merten and Hermann Krumey. With regard to a fourth
witness, Eberhard von Thadden, he wishes to strike out von
Thadden's two affidavits - exhibits T/160 and T/161, which
were submitted as evidence by the prosecution, unless this
witness is brought before this Court.

Alternatively he makes application to take the evidence of
the four witnesses before a court in West Germany, where the
witnesses reside. In our decision No. 11 we said that, as a
matter of principle, it is preferable to have the witnesses
appear before this Court. But the Attorney General has
informed us that each of the aforegoing witnesses will be
arrested and charged for offence under the Nazi and Nazi
Collaborators (Punishment) Law 5710-1950, if they come to
the  State of Israel. Having regard to this statement
Defence Counsel agreed that it would not be practical to
continue examining the question whether these witnesses
could appear in this Court. Accordingly, we must take the
alternative step, which we indicated in our Decision No. 11,
namely the examination of the witnesses before a West German
court, in accordance with the arrangement for mutual legal
aid existing between the State of Israel and West Germany.

We have, therefore, decided to request a court in West
Germany (the German Federal Republic) to take the evidence
of the aforementioned four witnesses. The witnesses will be
questioned there on the subjects referred to in the
aforementioned written application of Defence Counsel to
this Court, and in the questionnaires attached to these
applications, and also on the subjects and according to the
questionnaires which are to be submitted to us by the
Attorney General. This material on behalf of the Attorney
General must be handed to us by Friday, 5 May 1961, at 12
noon. The German court will also be requested to permit the
lawyers of the parties to ask the witnesses additional
questions, viva voce, which arise from the replies of the
witnesses at their aforementioned examination.

If it should appear at any time, until the end of taking the
evidence of the witnesses in this trial, that it is possible
for any one of the aforementioned witnesses to appear here
in order to testify before us, we shall always be ready to
hear his evidence in this Court, notwithstanding the present

We reject the application of Defence Counsel to strike out
exhibits T/160 and T/161, since there is no basis for the
application after these exhibits were accepted as evidence
by us on the grounds of our Decision No. 11.

Dr. Servatius, you still have to supply us, at an early
date, with the address of von Thadden, as was mentioned

Dr. Servatius:  I believe that by the 5th of the month I
shall be able to give the required address.

Presiding Judge: A second matter: We request the
representatives of both parties, as far as lies within their
power, to request the German Court, when the time for that
comes, to accelerate as much as possible the process of
collecting evidence. We have not included this in the
decision, but we ask you to help in this.

Attorney General: From our point of view, Your Honour, the
application will be dispatched to Germany by special

Dr. Servatius:  I presume that, for our part, the
application will be made through the Foreign Office, and the
Ministry of Justice, and thereafter, the Ministries of
Justice of the Federal States, so that there will be three

Presiding Judge: It would be important if you could assist
there in speeding this up, since we are limited in time, as
we mentioned in our Decision No. 11.

Dr. Servatius:  I shall do everything I can to speed up the

Attorney General: I now call, as a witness, Zivia Lubetkin.

Presiding Judge: What aspect are we going into now?

Attorney General: We are going over to the events in the
Warsaw Ghetto and the revolt.

Presiding Judge: One moment, Mrs. Lubetkin, please be
seated. I noticed yesterday that witnesses are,
nevertheless, present in the courtroom before the time for
their testimony. I would ask, if there are witnesses here
who still have to testify, they should leave the courtroom,
and that, in future, you see to it that what we have said
should be complied with.

Attorney General: Yes, certainly.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, I suppose it is not necessary
to remind you of what you yourself said about these events
in your opening address. I should like to quote some part of
your remarks.

Attorney General: I remember this well, and, therefore, the
entire story of the revolt will not be unfolded. But I think
I am obliged to bring to the notice of the Court how the
Jewish underground movement in Warsaw grew and, against the
background of the charges in this trial was put down by the
"Waffen SS." This appertains to the general picture which,
we think, we have to reveal in this trial. But we shall
expose it in outline only.

Presiding Judge: This is a very delicate matter, Mr.
Hausner. I know that. But I do not have to tell you that we
are not presenting a picture here. If the picture is
portrayed incidentally in the course of the trial - well and
good; but we have an indictment and this indictment
constitutes a framework for the trial. I am sure that this
is clear to you, no less than it is to me, and it is along
these lines that the witnesses, too, must be questioned.

Attorney General: We shall do so.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Zivia Lubetkin-Zuckerman.

Attorney General: You are the wife of Yitzhak Zuckerman?

Witness Lubetkin: Yes.

Q. You are a member of Kibbutz Lohamei Ha-Gettaot?

A. Yes.

Q. In the summer of 1939 you went to the Zionist Congress in
Geneva, and at the beginning of September 1939 you returned
to Warsaw?

A. Yes.

Q. You then worked at Hehalutz in Warsaw?

A. Yes, in the headquarters of Hehalutz in Warsaw.

Q. Afterwards you left Warsaw, you crossed the Russo-German
border at the beginning of January 1940, and you returned to
Warsaw, when?

A. At the beginning of January 1940.

Q. What did you see when you returned to Warsaw?

A. When I came to Warsaw, I found many restrictive laws that
had already been proclaimed by the Germans against the Jews;
the order for wearing the badge or a Shield of David, the
marking of the shops with the Shield of David, a ban on
possessing foreign currency or property in excess of two
thousand zlotys, a ban on purchasing working tools, a ban on
medical aid Jewish doctors could give to non-Jews and vice

Q. What about the possibility of changing one's place of

A. A change of residence was forbidden.

Q. And what about curfew?

A. The curfew, which was a general one also for the Polish
population, was advanced by two hours for the Jews.

Q. Did the Jews feel, at that time, that they enjoyed the
protection of the law of any ruling authority?

A. It may be said that, already in the first days of my
reaching Warsaw, I felt, and other Jews in the ghetto felt,
that in essence we had been placed beyond any law, and that
any German could do whatever he pleased. However, apart from
these restrictive regulations, many other decrees were
issued within a short time, business establishments were
taken from Jews, homes were taken from Jews, they were
forbidden to ride in the electric trams, they were forbidden
to travel on the trains, they were forbidden to trade. But
apart from the legal prohibitions, from the first days we
became outlaws in matters of life and death, and, as I have
said, any German could do with us as he pleased. I will give
you an example. In the early days of the ghetto a Polish
policeman was looking for a certain Jew to take vengeance
upon him, to arrest him. The Jew drew a pistol and killed
the Polish policeman. As retribution for this, the Germans,
the following morning, entered the courtyard of Nalewski 9,
removed 50 Jews from among those living in this courtyard
and from those who happened to be there by chance. They were
taken away, and didn't return to their families. This was
done for deterrence. Hence in the early days there prevailed
this fear of being collectively responsible for the acts of
each individual Jew, and if anyone lifted a finger, or it
would be even sufficient if any German or Pole mentioned
that any Jew spoke out against the Germans, hundreds of Jews
paid for this with their lives, as I have said, for the sake
of deterrance.

I remember another instance. One of our friends from before
the War, a cultured Jew, an important engineer, had an
Ukrainian friend, who related that this Jew had reported a
German. They came to him at night, removed him from his bed
without saying a word to his family; only half a year later
word reached his wife that her husband had been taken away,
and if she would pay, she would be able to get the ashes.
Q. What about the Jewish intelligentsia?

A. Immediately upon the occupation of Poland by the Germans,
the Polish intelligentsia were arrested, and, in a special
action, the Jewish intelligentsia, leading public workers,
doctors, engineers, according to lists prepared beforehand,
were seized at night and taken to an unknown destination,
and even notice of their death did not reach their families.

Q. What happened to synagogues, prayer services, ritual?

A. I have already mentioned the economic prohibitions, all
of which, together, were not only economic, but were aimed
at degrading and depressing us, and I have to mention the
restrictions in the field of cultural and social life. Right
at the beginning they issued a ban on the opening of
schools. Only primary school up to four grades was
permitted. A prohibition was issued on the holding of
prayers in the synagogue, a prohibition was issued on the
maintenance of public bodies, Jewish political parties. A
decree was issued dealing with the closing of libraries, and
first and foremost the well-known institute of Jewish
Studies at Tlomackie 5.

Q. We shall hear of the cultural activity and the cultural
problems from another witness, Mrs. Lubetkin. But from you I
want to hear about the legal framework of the restrictions.
Were there riots against the Jews?

A. I have already said previously that in fact we became the
objects of anarchy. And if there had only been these laws
and these restrictions, which, as we saw, were intended to
depress us, to degrade us, to bring us to the ignominy of
starvation, we thought that, nevertheless, in spite of this,
the Jews would somehow have been capable of circumventing
the restrictions and carrying on with their lives. But life
did not turn out this way, since, as I have already said, we
had been placed beyond the law. There were many instances. I
recall a day when I went out in the morning to attend to
matters, and the streets were full of Jews hastening to
their work, to seek a source of livelihood. Suddenly a
column  of Germans passed by in a hurry, and without any
reason they fired in all directions, without distinction,
and we were left lying prone on that day, at that hour, as I
saw it, scores of people, women and children and men,
without knowing for what or why. When this thing happened
day after day, we realized that this was a means of
frightening us, of terrorizing us, so that we should be
afraid. And, indeed, the Jews feared they would pay with
their lives.

The second method, also beyond the scope of any law, was the
kidnapping for forced labour. A person would leave his house
in the morning and would never know when he would return,
and if he would return. And moreover, here, various
formations of Germans were able to come in by day, in the
morning, or towards evening, to close a street, and with
screams of such a nature that it would be difficult today to
describe them as actually being human voices, they would
first of all collect people by shooting, and without taking
note of age or sex, seize people and take them off to work.
Some of them, on their return, related that they had never
engaged in any work; there were those who simply carried
stones from place to place; there were those who dug holes
and filled them in again. Again it was clear that this was a
method of torture, of terror, of making our lives worthless.

Q. How many Jews were there in Warsaw at that time?

A. In general, the number of Jews in the city of Warsaw
until the outbreak of the Second World War was estimated at
approximately 350,000. It is difficult for me to assess the
number of Jews at that time. Some of the Jews moved to the
east, and in addition, a number of the Jews were killed in
the bombings in the war between Poland and Germany.

Q. In German documents there is reference to half-a-million
Jews in Warsaw - do you know anything about this number?

A. Certainly this number is known to me. I believe that at
the beginning of the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, there
were about half-a-million Jews there. Where did they come
from? A stream of refugees to the city of Warsaw began
immediately - from the first days. Already at the time of my
coming to Warsaw in January, I found a flow of refugees who
had arrived, some of them through deportation from the
Warthegau, and some them because of the chaos that was wide-
spread at the commencement of the War. The Jews from the
smaller towns and villages were naturally attracted to the
larger city, so that during the times of the Holocaust -
which everybody knew was coming closer to realization - they
could be together with Jews. Furthermore - and this was at a
later period, a time when a ghetto in Warsaw was already in
existence - the Germans brought a number of Jews from the
nearby villages, estimated at the time to be about 100,000,
into the ghetto which was already crowded, as it was, and in
this way, ultimately the number of Jews was estimated to be

Q. Let us go back a little. What happened to Warsaw on the
Day of Atonement, 1940?

A. On the Day of Atonement 1940 we heard an announcement on
the radio that there had been a declaration of the
establishment of a "Jewish quarter." The order stated that,
because disease had spread amongst the Jews, they must be
put into a section of the city, for the sake of preserving
the health of the Aryans. And, secondly, the lives of the
Jews had, up to now, been devoid of any protection - had not
been organized and not well ordered, from now on, in this
way, Jews would concentrated in special streets, in a
special quarter, where they would be able to live their
lives in greater tranquility, enjoying cultural and social

Q. Thus it stated in the order?

A. It was stated thus in the order, in the announcement.
Within a few days, the Jews were obliged to leave their
homes, their places of residence, and to move to the quarter
designated for them.

Q. What did the movement of hundreds of thousands look like?

A. First of all, the Jews were placed in an area which with
difficulty was adequate for about 150,000 persons, over
300,000 were put there. And in the course of a few days one
could see scenes in the streets, of Jews with their
families, with their possessions, on hand-carts, abandoning
their houses and their apartments, endeavouring to take with
them the property they had accumulated during tens of years,
passing by and moving in the direction of the quarter
without knowing where to find shelter and what would be done
with them. And so, for whole days, by day and night, Jewish
families stood in the streets with nowhere to go to. Having
no alternative, the Jews crowded together. It was estimated
at the time, that in every room there dwelt eight persons on
an average. And this was still before the flood of refugees
from the country towns. In fact one may say that the entire
City of Warsaw became converted into a city of refugees.

Q. At first there was still contact between the ghetto and
the outside world. When was the ghetto sealed off?

A. Out of the blue, without prior notice - at the beginning
of November, if I am not mistaken - the Jews got up in the
morning and everyone hurried to his work and his source of
livelihood, and suddenly was confronted with the fact that
the ghetto was closed, closed with gates, and the German and
Polish guards were standing at the gates. This happened
suddenly. If, up to that time, the refugees who had come
from other centres, from the Warthegau, and also those who
had been uprooted from their homes and had not been able to
take all their possessions, suffered from starvation, at
least they were nevertheless able to go out to the Aryan
side and to work and to trade - now suddenly all this was
over. And, in fact, the ghetto, with its hundreds of
thousands of Jews became converted into one huge prison, a
prison in which each person, throughout the months and
years, received 125 grams of bread, a kilogram of jam per
month, a little soap substitute and some kilograms of coal-
waste for cooking and heating the rooms.

But in prisons too, there are certain rules. In this prison,
in the ghetto, there were no rules. Despite the announcement
that the ghetto would be a place where Jews would be able to
live in greater tranquillity, they would be able, to a
greater extent, to put their lives in order, the misdeeds of
the Germans, instead of stopping, increased - the Germans
who, I had no doubt about it, not then and not today, had a
single aim, to torture us, to degrade us, to crush us.

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