The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-032-04

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Last-Modified: 1999/06/01

Q. How did Alois Brunner behave towards the prisoners in the

A. Well, for the first ten, twelve, perhaps fourteen days,
this team of Brunner's, all four of them, but particularly
Brunner himself, Brueckler and Weisel, and to a lesser
extent Koettler (who played a rather unobtrusive role) -
these three sought by all means to terrorize the detainees
and to impress them.

Q. Could you tell us what they did to the detainees?

A. Well, from the very first days, there were beatings. For
example, there was a rather special torture which in the
camps we called "the torture of the spinning top."  There
were abductions in the camp courtyard; there were blows.
One of the amusements of these three SS men was...When they
saw a group of detainees from a fair distance away, they
either fired shots with their revolvers (I think always in
the air, because not a single person was wounded, as far as
I know), or else they picked up stones in the courtyard,
sharp stones, and threw them with all their might into a
group of people, and then I remember that many people were
wounded in their faces, in their hands - in the parts of the
body which are easily hit by a flying object.  Moreover,
there was this: It was a specialty of Brueckler (who was a
very strong, stout man, with a very unpleasant appearance
and small, very nasty eyes, and a fat face with thick lips
which were always moist) - it was his specialty to deal out
blows.  We called him "boxer."  Two or three times a day he
would come down into the basement of the camp where
prisoners were kept - because within the general prison of
the camp, there were special cells for those who were
undergoing punishment - and he would exercise himself on
them.  That is why we called him "boxer."

Q. What was it that you called the "torture of the spinning
top"?  What was the reason for that?

A. It was a torture which was as follows: They placed a rod
not very high - about that height - and then the victims
were forced to touch it with the right hand, with their
heads bent low and their left hand behind their backs, and,
without letting go of the rod with the right hand, they had
to spin around it; only, they had to do it fast and
Brueckler and Weisel, who always walked around with sticks,
hit them on the body in order to force them to spin around
quickly.  I have never undergone this torture myself, but it
seems that it was very difficult to make more than three or
four turns without fainting, because one's head was bent low
and one was forced to spin around fast.  Weisel and
Brueckler were not satisfied unless they succeeded, with
blows of the stick, in forcing the victims to make at least
some ten turns before falling unconscious.

Q. When they played this so-called game of "the spinning
top," where was Brunner at that period?

A. Brunner sometimes sat there watching this "amusement."

Q. Who ordered these tortures to be carried out?

A. I cannot say for sure, but I think...

Q. What are the facts upon which you base your opinion in
this matter?

Presiding Judge: What opinion, Mr. Bach?

State Attorney Bach:  He has not given it yet.

Presiding Judge: He does not know, he cannot know.

State Attorney Bach:  It is hard to know what facts he wants
to speak about, he has not spoken yet.

Presiding Judge: He began saying he did not know.

State Attorney Bach:  That is why I am not asking him to
tell what he thinks, but only the facts that led him to the

Presiding Judge: To a conclusion he does not know?

State Attorney Bach:  He said "I think" but was interrupted
after that.

Presiding Judge: I have the impression he does not know, but
we shall find out immediately.

State Attorney Bach:  We can clarify the matter at once.

Presiding Judge: [ to the witness]  What are the facts in
this episode which are known to you, with regard to the
question who gave the orders for this torture?

Witness Wellers: I cannot with certainty give any precise

State Attorney Bach:  Were you personally interrogated by

Witness Wellers: Yes, I was personally interrogated by
Brunner on several occasions.

Q. For what reason?

A. When Brunner arrived in the camp, his first concern was
to make a kind of card index of the camp, in his own way, so
he created a number of categories, and it was he who put
people in different categories.  If I remember rightly,
there was first of all Category A in which he placed those
who were presumed not to be Jewish, those who were half-Jews
and those who were married to Aryans - "partners of Aryans,"
as they were called at that period.

Q. Did Brunner engage in any special action with regard to
your family?

A. Yes, for his classification he called everyone to an
office where he himself asked the questions through a Jewish
interpreter taken from the camp (he pretended not to
understand French).  The system was as follows: A number of
people were called on such and such a day and such and such
an hour.  One entered the office.  Brunner first asked very
commonplace questions - family name, first name, address and
age, after which he said "Heraus!" (out with you), and the
next group was called in.  Three or four days later one was
again called before Brunner, who asked if one was married,
if one had children, how many children, and once again it
was "Heraus!"  A few days later, there was a third summons,
and that is how his interrogation went on.  This was
obviously done to worry people, because it was always nerve-
wracking to have to go and wait and answer Brunner's
questions.  One never knew what the consequences might be.

Presiding Judge: You asked a question about his wife and
family, did you not?

State Attorney Bach:  Yes.  He is coming to it.  Could you
tell us what the connection was between this questioning by
Brunner and the action he took against your family?

Witness Wellers: On 14 July (I remember the day very well
because it is the French national holiday), on 14 July in
the afternoon...

Presiding Judge: Which year?

Witness Wellers: 1943.  I was called, I think for the third
or fourth time, before Brunner to continue this
interrogation, and he asked me questions about my wife.  As
I said, in 1940 I did not declare my wife as Jewish, and
during all that time - three years had passed since then -
my wife had a document from the Commissariat aux Questions
Juives (Department for Jewish Questions), a creation of the
Vichy Government, which gave her a paper stating that she
was provisionally regarded as a non-Jew, and it was owing to
this paper that I myself was able to remain in the camp
until 1943, classified as the husband of an Aryan.  I
presented myself before him, and he asked me for the details
about my wife, and I showed him this certificate.  Now, the
maiden name of my wife is Rappoport, and then Brunner tore
the paper up in front of me and ordered somebody to go
immediately and fetch my wife and children.  Here I must
give a word of explanation.  From the very day of his
arrival at Drancy, Brunner did something which had never
been known in Drancy before - he chose about ten people who
were in the camp with their families, wives and children,
recruited them, and every day gave each of them two or three
addresses of Jews who lived in Paris, sending them out with
an order to bring these Jews back to the camp.  This office
was called the "emissaries office," and we called those who
did this work the "emissaries."  It was one of these
emissaries, whom I personally knew very well, who left the
office in my presence in order to go and fetch my family.

State Attorney Bach:  Could you in a few words tell the
Court how you succeeded in saving your family?

Witness Wellers: It was owing to an altogether exceptional
combination of circumstances which worked in my favour, as
well as that of my wife.  I had a friend who had been
arrested in 1941 like me, so we had been together in the
camp for two years.  His wife, who was not Jewish, came
every day near the camp of Drancy.  There were houses around
the camp.

Q. Please leave out the details, and confine yourself to
telling us how you succeeded in saving your family.

A. I was able to warn my wife by telephone that they had
gone to get her.  She immediately left with the two
children, and I subsequently learned that she got away a
quarter of an hour before the emissary arrived.

Q. Do you remember that in  September 1943 Brunner
disappeared and left for Nice?

A. Yes, precisely.

Q. In Drancy did you see the consequences, the imprint, so
to speak, of Brunner's activities in the south of France?

A. Yes, indeed.  From the end of September and throughout
the whole of October, groups of Jews arrested in the south
of France began to arrive, principally from the former
Italian-occupied zone, because Italy capitulated at that
time.  It was Brunner who conducted round-ups in this former
zone of Italian occupation.  The victims of these round-ups
were brought to Drancy.

Q. Did you see people in Drancy who said that in Paris or in
the Paris region they had been ordered to undress in order
to show whether they were Jewish?

A. Yes.

Q. Among the detainees, did you see non-Jews arrested for
demonstrating their solidarity with the Jews?

A. Yes, there was a whole group of non-Jews arrested in
Paris on 8 June 1942.  It was the day when all the Jews had
to begin wearing the Jewish star.  A group of young people
particularly, but also older people, wished to manifest
their disapproval and to ridicule this measure which had
terribly shocked French public opinion.  They went out that
day and walked about in the streets of Paris with imitations
of Jewish stars, made up as paper stars with the inscription
"Papou" (Papuan) or "Negre" (Negro), or something of that
sort, in order to ridicule this system.  Some people even
went around with dogs to whom they attached stars, in order
to put this measure to ridicule.  They were arrested and
brought to Drancy.  At Drancy I knew about thirty such
people; they lived like us and wore the yellow star like us,
with a little band above it with the inscription "Friend of
the Jews." They were released on 1 September 1942, after
three months of detention at Drancy.

Q. In the camp, did you also see Unterscharfuehrer

A. Yes, several times.

Q. Is it correct to say that the people you mentioned
earlier - Weisel, Brueckler, Koettler - were Austrians?

A. I believe so, and that was the belief in the camp.

Q. Now, Mr. Wellers, were you not taken out of Drancy at a
certain period and given work in what was called
"Dienststelle Rosenberg," or, more correctly, "Einsatzstab

A. Yes. the official name was Deutsche Dienststelle, and the
address of that place was 43, Quai de la Gare.  We were sent
from Drancy on 30 October 1943.  We were about 250 men, and
two days later there were about 200 women also.  They were
solely half-Jews and persons married to Aryans.  It was
consequently the privileged who were regarded as non-
deportable who were sent to that place.

Q. What type of work did you do with the Deutsche

A. It was a place where every day trucks brought all the
contents of the apartments of the Jews who had been
arrested.  They brought us their entire contents, everything
that was found in the apartments of the arrested Jews.  They
brought us the furniture, the clothes, the linen, the knick-
knacks, the books, the children's toys, the remains of food
- it was all taken to this Dienststelle.  We were instructed
to sort all this out and to put it in order, and a few days
later it was loaded on trains, and it was said that it was
sent to Germany for needy Germans.  In this Deutsche
Dienststelle, the most interesting and precious objects -
for example the objets d'art, pictures, books and vases,
sometimes the furniture - were exhibited as though in a
large store, and nearly every day there came some groups of
highly-placed Germans.  I well remember several generals of
the Wehrmacht with their red lapels on their tunics who,
sometimes accompanied by ladies, chose the objects they
liked which were then sent to them at the addresses they

Q. Mr. Wellers, you say that cars arrived there.  Can you
tell us how many of these cars on an average arrived each
day at the time you were doing this work?

A. It is hard for me to say, but there were certainly
several dozens.  I think that if one says fifty to sixty
cars a day, that was probably the average.  Trucks - they
were trucks, not cars.

Q. Mr. Wellers, how do you know that these possessions were
taken from Jewish apartments?

A. Because among these objects one often found books with
names inscribed in them.  There were several occasions when,
among my comrades in the camp, there were people whose
possessions had been brought back into the camp and they
recognized them as the contents of their own apartments.
Moreover, the workers who came with the trucks did not hide
from us the fact that it was precisely the apartments of the
Jews that they were evacuating for us.

Q. During this period when you worked at the Deutsche
Dienststelle, did you sometimes see Brunner?

A. Yes, a number of times.  He came more or less every day
to look us over, to see how things were going.  I certainly
saw him at least twenty times.

Q. When were you deported to Auschwitz?

A. On 30 June 1944.

Q. How did you arrive there?

A. I arrived in Auschwitz on the 2nd or 3rd of July; I no
longer remember.  There was one small detail, but it was a
very special detail, because I was in a waggon where there
were only men.  There were no women, and I had a group of
friends; there were a dozen of us and we had decided to
escape, to slip away in the course of our journey.  We had
already prepared this; we had sawed away at part of the
waggon.  To our misfortune, at a certain point, not very far
from Paris, the train stopped and the Germans noticed what
we had done.

Q. In what kind of train were you deported?

A. It was a goods train, as was always the case.  Only one
convoy left in a passenger train; the first convoy of 27
March 1942.  All the others always left in goods trains.  We
were seventy and eighty in a waggon, shut in, and,
throughout the whole journey, we were never given anything
to eat.  We were given something to drink once in the course
of the journey.

Presiding Judge: How many days did the journey take?

Witness Wellers: Four days.

State Attorney Bach:  How many people were there in the
train altogether?

Witness Wellers: The convoy consisted of 1,000 people.  If
there were sixty to seventy people in a waggon, that means
there were twenty to twenty-five waggons.

Q. How were you chosen for that particular convoy? Who
decided that?

A. It was Brunner.

Q. When the convoy of 1,000 reached Auschwitz, was there any
sort of selection?

A. Yes, of course.  When the train arrived, the waggons were
opened and everyone on the train had to get off.  We formed
a sort of column, or Indian file, and we had to pass before
two officers in German uniforms who did not ask any
questions.  This happened very quickly.  We hardly slowed
our pace before these two officers, and one of the two
officers made us a sign to go to the left or right.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, you will be bringing special
testimonies with regard to what happened at Auschwitz, will
you not?

State Attorney Bach:  I do not intend to ask this witness
details about Auschwitz, just two or three questions in
connection with himself.

[To the witness] In this selection, how many people out of
the 1,000 have remained alive?

Witness Wellers: In my convoy, I think there are three or
four of us.

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