The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-026-04
Last-Modified: 1999/05/31

Attorney General: Please read from page 140 at the bottom -
the Sabbath day of Hanukka.

A. "As we know from the Rabbi - may his righteous and holy
memory be blessed" (this was evidently his father) "that
therefore even the lowly man in Israel is ready to sacrifice
himself to the Almighty at a time of trial." And afterwards,
at the end, he writes: "Therefore, even if everyone had paid
heed, that it was not because we had robbed or committed
evil to any man that we were being persecuted, only because
we were the sons of Israel, closely attached to our Heavenly
Father and to His Law for which He is to be blessed and it
is not enough for them, our adversaries merely to quench the
Divine spark that is in our midst, they wish to destroy both
the body and the soul of the Jewish individual - then on the
contrary, verily, our faith and our dedication to Him and
His Law would be strengthened."

Attorney General: Please turn to page 169, that is to the
portion of the law "Zkhor" -  "Remember that which Amalek
did unto you." Please read what is written there in large

Witness Duvdevani [reads]

     "And behold it is an exceedingly difficult matter that
     when the tribulations are too hard to bear, the Lord
     will have mercy. But at a time when members of the
     Jewish community are burned alive for the Lord's sake
     and are killed and slaughtered just because they are
     Jews, we also should in all circumstances stand up to
     this trial and with this absolute devotion strengthen
     ourselves and hold on to the Almighty."

Attorney General: On page 185 at the bottom, a sermon on the
portion "Hukkat."

Witness Duvdevani [reads]

     "Israel's eternity in this world also depends only upon
     her sons. Therefore, it was the babes of Israel that
     the first hater of Israel, Pharaoh, attacked. 'Every
     son that is born ye shall cast into the river.' And
     thus it was always with the cruelty of the enemies of
     Israel, they have been especially cruel towards the
     children of Israel, whether - Heaven forbid - in
     killing them or forcing them to renounce God, as is
     known from the evil decrees hundreds of years ago,
     Heaven forfend - and as we now see also, to our deep
     sorrow, that far in excess of all the acts of cruelty
     and the terrible murders that were perpetrated upon us,
     the House of Israel, were the murders and the acts of
     cruelty perpetrated on our sons, daughters and the
     little ones. Woe to us for what happened to us."

Attorney General: Please read the last passage on the
following page, the part that is written in large letters.

Witness Duvdevani [reads]

      "And verily it is wondrous how the world stood aside
     after so many such cries. Concerning the ten martyrs it
     is said that when the angels cried out: 'This is the
     Torah, and this is the reward' a voice answered from
     Heaven 'If I hear another sound I shall turn the world
     into water.' And now innocent children, pure angels,
     also older ones, the martyrs of Israel, are being
     killed and slaughtered simply because they are Jews,
     who are greater than angels, who fill the entire
     universe with their cries and the world does not turn
     into water, it merely stands there as if it is of no
     concern to them, Heaven forbid."
Attorney General: Thank you very much.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions to
the witness?

Dr. Servatius:  I have no questions.

Presiding Judge: Thank you, Mr. Duvdevani.

Attorney General: I call Mrs. Rivka Kuper.

Presiding Judge: [to the witness] Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Kuper: Yes.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Rivka Kuper

Attorney General: You are a member of Kibbutz Maayan Zvi?

Witness Kuper: Yes.

Q. Your previous name was Liebeskind, you were the wife of
Adolf Liebeskind, known as Dolek Liebeskind?

A. Correct.

Q. He was the leader of the Hebrew underground in Cracow?

A. Yes, the organizer of the underground.

Q. The Second World War found you in Cracow?

A. Yes, I went through all the stages of ghettoization in

Q. Tell us in short, for the Court has already heard this
from other sources, what the change-over to the ghetto
seemed like in Cracow, the capital of the

A. It took place in stages. The first stage was when all of
us were still in our places and apartments which we had
before the War, and then began the searches, acts of
persecution, the marking of the apartments and the marking
of Jewish enterprises, the wearing of the Jewish badge, the
blue shield of David on a white background. Thereafter came
instructions that only some of the Jews would receive
permits ("Ausweis") and would be able to remain in Cracow;
the others would have to leave. And then began the first
deportations of the Jews of Cracow towards the East and
towards Lublin.  We still received some sort of news about
the first groups, naturally tragic news, since they had been
sent to desolate places, crowded together, lacking
everything: they were plundered on the way and they lacked a
livelihood and the ability to maintain themselves. But they
were still alive. The second stage commenced with the
decision to establish a ghetto in Cracow.

Q. when was this?

A. This was at the beginning of 1941. It had already begun
at the end of 1940, but the entry into the ghetto was in
March 1941, and then there remained a total of 13 thousand
out of 60 thousand Jews in Cracow and out of the 80 thousand
who were there at the beginning of the War. Natuarlly the
ghetto was very crowded.

Q. In what neighbourhood was the ghetto set up?

A. In the neighbourhood beyond the Vistula river, Podgorze,
which always belonged to the poor quarters, and the streets
that were selected were the streets of old and ramshackle
houses, wooden houses or ruined houses about to collapse.
Three or four families were put into tiny flats of a room
and a kitchen. Naturally, under such conditions, diseases
spread very rapidly, particularly amongst the children. It
was also difficult to maintain sanitary conditions, with all
the goodwill and efforts exerted by the doctors, by social
welfare and by social workers.

Q. Did the youth movements establish underground
organizations? Were you a member of a Jewish-Zionist youth

A. Yes. From the moment when Jewish youth were not allowed
to attend school and to study, our purpose was to keep the
youth together and look after them. Firstly we continued
with our studies in small groups, we organized them into
Hadarim.* {*(Lit. "rooms") Traditional elementary schools
for religious instruction in Judaism.}

The teachers were from Hebrew schools, and they were many in
Cracow, for the community was very well organized and rich
in all kinds of general social institutions - and at the
beginning the teachers were closely involved in the work.
Very quickly the teachers disappeared, for they were
deported, one in this direction and another in the other
direction. Thereafter the older ones taught the younger
ones. We also continued with the activities of our movement
and all the movements continued their activities in general,
that is to say they met for Sabbath eves, for Festivals,
they continued with their Bible lessons, they continued with
their lessons in Jewish history. We tried to get the
children to ignore what was happening in the street - for it
was simply impossible to go outside without seriously
endangering oneself. There were seizures of people,
kidnappings for work - naturally into unknown directions;
they would kidnap a Jew on the street when they found him,
and, after he had received some blows, would throw him into
some vehicle, transporting him for a whole day.  He would
either come back after a night or several nights, or he
didn't come back at all.

If he came back - he usually came back in such a state that
he was in need of serious hospital treatment. In addition to
this, there were attacks, and also breaking into private
houses, robbery and plunder of everything of any value.
There were assaults on the streets. Religious life of the
Jews was almost totally stopped right from the beginning -
all the synagogues were seized.

Q. You nevertheless maintained Divine worship in the

A. Yes, in every second house there was a room in which they
concealed a Scroll of the Law, prayer groups used to
assemble, with a guard outside.

Q. Why a guard? If they were caught, what would happen?

A. Not if they were caught - they were caught quite often.

Q. When they were caught, what would happen?

A. There were scenes of atrocity that are difficult to
describe. Jews possessing beards were, of course, in danger
of their lives, they used to shave them or pluck out their
hair together with the skin. They used to hit them until
they drew blood. When someone fell down and could no longer
rise again - they would trample on him. Despite all this,
they observed...

Q. They observed the Sabbaths and the Festivals, and

A. They observed the Sabbaths, the Festivals, the prayers
and the holidays.

Q. And the reading of the Book of Esther on Purim?

A. Everything - we didn't omit any Festival. On the
contrary, it was our ambition to preserve this as we would a
dying ember. And we preserved this not only in the ghetto -
we did so in prison, we did so later on in the extermination
camps - even in Auschwitz.

A. You were in Auschwitz - I see the number on your arm?

A. Yes, I was in Auschwitz, after I was arrested by the

Q. There, too, you continued to observe the Holidays, the
Festivals and the Sabbath?

A. If I may be permitted, I can describe the first instance
which moved me personally despite the fact that for me it
was clear that wherever I would find myself I would preserve
the Hebrew tradition.

Presiding Judge: Very well, please tell us.

Witness Kuper: We were brought to Auschwitz on a Wednesday.
After they had left us for an entire day in a hut...

Q. When did you arrive at Auschwitz?

A. On 18 January 1943. They put us into the blocks at
Birkenau - these were formerly horses' stables. We received
wooden planks on which we were supposed to sleep, to lie
down. One of the first things we did, I and my friends who
arrived with me, was to find acquaintances amongst those who
survived, amongst the prisoners who were there in Auschwitz.
And we found them. One of the first things we asked them for
were two candle-stubs. On the Sabbath eve we assembled on
the top shelf in our block. We were then some 10 to 12
girls. We didn't stay there long, in total darkness we
kindled the lights - at that time there was no electricity
at all in Auschwitz, there was no floor and there were no
sanitary facilities - these were ultimately put in. We
kindled the candles and began quietly to sing Sabbath songs.
We didn't know, since we were blinded by the light of the
candles, we didn't know what was happening around us. After
a short interval we heard the sound of stifled crying around
us, on all the bunks surrounding us. First of all the crying
terrified us, but it also moved us. It emerged that from all
the places, and it was possible to move from bunk to bunk,
Jewish women, who had been there for months and even for
years, collected together around us on the nearby bunks and
listened to the singing. Among them were some who came down
and asked us to allow them to say the blessing over the

Q. What youth movement did you belong to?

A. The Hebrew youth movement Akiva, a general Zionist youth

This was the first moving incident. Afterwards, those of us
who were in the bloc became accustmoned to the fact that
every Friday night we lit candles. We didn't have bread,
sometimes there was nothing to drink, but we somehow
procured the candles. And the same on all the Festivals. We
fasted on Yom Kippur in Auschwitz. We did not eat bread on
Passover. From the non-Polish women prisoners we collected -
during the week we gave them part of our food rations and in
this way ensured for ourselves some potatoes so that we
might be able to fulfill the precept: Thou shalt not eat
unleavened bread on Passover.

Attorney General: Let us come back to Cracow. The youth
movements organized an underground under the command of your
husband Dolek Liebeskind?

Witness Kuper: Yes. At a very early stage the situation
became clear to us. From the first deportations the first
rumours reached us about the destination of the deporations,
of the deportation trains, particularly to Belzec. And then
the resolution took shape that we could not go like cattle
to the slaughter, that we could not stand with our hands
down and watch how every time parents, children, brothers
and sisters were taken away, without being able to react,
without being able to do anything. Of course it is easy to
relate this today; it was very hard to carry out. The first
thing we did after the matter became known to us was to
carry out warning operations among all the Jews. This was
not only in the place where I was, but our girls, all those
who owing to their not-so-Jewish, Aryan, appearance could
leave the ghetto, used to go out and make contact with other
ghettos. I also did this. We came to the ghettos, got in
touch, first of all, natuarally, with people we knew, for
there was a risk: in time of war to approach a strange
person was not at all safe. But through them we advised
everyone it was possible to inform, what was the destination
of the deportation trains, and that there were no chances of
rescue for Jews freely reporting for deportation.

Q. Allow me to direct you somewhat by means of questions. I
believe that you also organized an underground network
throughout the area in Western Galicia?

A. We set up central points in Bochnia, Czestochowa, Tarnow,
Rudnik, Radom, Tomaszow Mazowiecki. In some of these we
worked from Cracow, and in others we also had messengers who
journeyed between Warsaw and Cracow.

Q. Did you attempt to supply forged documents?

A. Yes, we dealt with the preparation of forged documents,
firstly those which would enable people to leave the
ghettos. Secondly, so that they could move around. And we
arranged papers that enabled people to travel on trains; and
in this way, from the moment it became known that a
deportation was expected in Cracow, for example, we used to
supply papers to people so that they could travel, get out
and enter the Ghetto of Boleckow or Bochnia, and the moment
it became known that there was danger of deportation from
Bochnia or Boleckow, one of the girls - and on most
occasions they were girls, although there were also some
boys - would travel there and transfer papers in order to
enable the people to escape from there to Cracow or to other

Q. Did you have contact with the Warsaw Ghetto by means of
these girl runners?

A. Yes.

Q. Was it mainly the girl courier Hela Schipper?

A. Yes, she is here now, Hela Rufeisen, she was the link
between Dolek and the Warsaw Ghetto.

Q. Do you know the book Justina's Diary by Gusta Dawidson?

A. Both the book and the writer.

Q. Who wrote this book?

A. Gusta Dawidson-Draenger, one of the leaders of our

Q. Where did she write it?

A. She wrote it in the prison at Montelupich on toilet paper
that all her friends, imprisoned together with her, stole
for her.

A. Did she remain alive?

A. No.

Presiding Judge: "That they stole it for her?"

Witness Kuper: Yes, for it was also difficult to obtain
toilet paper. It was also difficult to write. There they
used to organize a complete underground, they used to
conceal her at the time she was writing, since one had to
beware of the spyhole in the prison door.

Q. How was it subsequently discovered and how was it

A. The papers were found by one of our comrades after the
War. Some of the girls were executed, and some were
dispatched in one of the transports to Auschwitz, a few
remained alive and are now in Israel. The girls, before
leaving the prison - and incidentally Justina escaped from
the prison, organized an escape from the prison together
with all the girls who were taken out to the transport which
was supposed to carry them to extermination. She then
succeeded in fleeing and operated afterwards until the end
of 1943. On the same day our boys also organized a break-out
from the men's prison. And her husband, Szymszon Draenger,
one of the leaders of the underground, also succeeded in
escaping. Subsequently they met and operated in the Wisnicz
forests. They published a newspaper calling for revolt, both
to Poles and Jews. The name of the paper was The Fighting
Pioneer, and the last issue appeared in November 1944, if I
am not mistaken. They were afterwards captured and, of
course, put to death.

Q. Both of them?

A. Both of them.

Q. She was the Polish Anna Frank. I shall submit it.

A. The papers were discovered by one of our members - the
papers were hidden in the doorpost of the cell, behind the
wooden frame. It was smuggled out. Not everything was found.
There was another hiding place in the oven, but nothing was
found there. Consequently a number of chapters are missing;
particularly the story of the greatest and most serious
operation in December 1942.

Presiding Judge: This will be exhibit T/259.

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