The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-048-05

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-048-05
Last-Modified: 1999/06/02

Presiding Judge: The way it was asked, at any rate, it could
be something else, let us hear it.

State Attorney Bach:  I am entitled to ask this witness also
in his capacity as a researcher also about conclusions, in
particular as they are not his conclusions alone.  It seems
that both the literature and other researchers have reached
the same results.

Presiding Judge: I would suggest, at any rate, to keep this
as brief as possible.

Judge Halevi:  In what year was this pogrom?

Witness Loewenstein:  At the end of January 1941.

State Attorney Bach:  How did Richter's influence, or
Richter's arrival, make itself felt in practice?  What was
the change which you felt?

Witness Loewenstein:  First of all, after the revolt of the
Iron Guard, there came a new wave of laws against the Jews.
Previously there had been no laws; now laws appeared, all
kinds of laws, against the professions, against Jewish
tradesmen, against Jewish officials, full Aryanization in
all fields of economic and public life.  Apart from this,
the Jewish Centre.  Richter appeared there openly, and he
was all the time in contact with the secretary general of
the Centre. Q. Dr. Loewenstein, before we continue
describing the functions of the Jewish Centre, what can you
tell us about the physical measures taken against the Jews
in Romania in the broad sense, including the districts of
Bessarabia, Bukovina, etc.?
A. After the pogrom in Bucharest in January 1941, there was
the pogrom in Jassy following the outbreak of the War.  Over
ten thousand people were killed.  We know this also from the
trials of the war criminals held after the War.  The
murderers were units of the German army, together with
Romanian soldiers.  But it must be assumed that the men of
Einsatzgruppe D were also involved.  This is where they
crossed into Bessarabia.

Q. In addition to the pogrom in Jassy?

A. During the course of the conquest of Bessarabia and
Northern Bukovina, an almost complete extermination took
place.  Only from Bessarabia do we have the reports of the
Romanian local constabulary: From the beginning of June 1941
until September 1941, 160,000 persons were killed in
Bessarabia.  Then there followed a second wave in Bukovina.

Q. What was the nature of this second wave?

A. Those who remained alive were deported to Transnistria.

Q. Do you know about an operation in Czernowitz?

A. We know that in Czernowitz large-scale slaughter took
place from the moment the Germans entered, and after that -
the deportation.

Q. The deportation to Transnistria?

A. Yes, the deportation to Transnistria.

Q. What can you tell us about the deportation to
Transnistria and about the life of the Jews in this district
of Transnistria after the deportation?

A. Transnistria was Auschwitz for us, it was the grave of
the Jews of Romania.  Almost all the deportees, that is to
say the majority of the deportees, were liquidated.  I do
not know how many local Jews there were, but there were
Ukrainian Jews, too.  Conditions were the very worst.  There
were camps, extermination camps, forced labour camps, and
then there were camps such as Bogdanovka.

Q. Where was the Bogdanovka camp?

A. In Transnistria.  In Bogdanovka animal fodder peas were
given out as food, and all the people became paralysed.
That was in the German sphere of influence.  There were
Germans, SS men, also on the other side of the Bug, the
border.  And we have reports from the constabulary - I know
this also from witnesses who told me - that the Germans
crossed the Bug, seized Jews and killed them.  Many of the
Jews were sent to the other side of the Bug to forced
labour.  They knew that there would be no choice, only
death.  Hardly anybody returned from the other side of the

Q. What were the living conditions of the Jews in
Transnistria and the sanitary conditions?

A. There were epidemics all the time, there was no food, and
only during the later period were the Jewish institutions
able to send help, both medicines and money.

Presiding Judge: When was that?

Witness Loewenstein:  In 1943, 1944.

Q. Where was this sent from, from Romania?

A. From Romania, yes.

State Attorney Bach:  Dr. Loewenstein, I know that it is
very difficult to talk of exact figures where such things
are concerned, but can you give us an approximate estimate
of the extent of the extermination of this Jewish community
during that period, how many perished according to the
estimates you have?

Witness Loewenstein:  There are various estimates, but I can
state that almost half the Jews of Romania perished during
that period.

Q. What does this mean in figures - approximately?

A. Almost 300,000, not counting Northern Transylvania.

Q. Without Transylvania?

A. The part that was under Romanian rule.  But these figures
do not include the local Ukrainian Jews in Transnistria.

Q. As far as you know, were there many Jews who managed to
escape to USSR territory at the time of the deportation, for
instance from Bessarabia?

A. There was no time.  The deportation was carried out so
fast that there was no time.  And we know that there were
those who returned.  There were some thousands who returned
from the other side of the Bug, from the other side of the
Dniester, to Romania, to Bessarabia. The Germans caught

Q. Let us now return to the subject of the Jewish Centre.
When was it actually established?

A. In January 1942.

Q. Who ordered it to be created, how was it set up, at whose

A. At the initiative of Radu Lecca.  There was also a law
which appeared in the official government gazette.

Q. Who was at the head of this Centre, and did you have any
function within it?

A. At first Streitman, a well-known journalist, headed the
Central Board, and later on the secretary-general was Dr.

Q. Did you have any function in the Central Board of the

A. I held the post of director of the Department for
Education and Culture, in accordance with a decision by the
Zionist leadership in Romania, the Zionist Organization.

Q. Were you an active member of the Zionist movement in

A. Yes, I was also a member of the Zionist executive.

Q. Were you also on the executive of the Zionist movement in

A. Yes.

Q. And, in accordance with a decision by the executive, you
were given this post on the Central Board of the Jews?

A. Yes.

Q. What was the nature of your function on the Central

A. There were difficult problems at that time, because all
Jewish students, from elementary school to university level,
including the students at the university, were expelled from
the official schools.  So there was, first of all, the
problem of organization.  Then there was another important
matter: In the course of time the Jewish population
dwindled, and there were also fewer children.  We also dealt
with assistance to the pupils; at that time we founded the
Mother and Child Centre, which, after the War, became OSE in
Romania, with soup kitchens, canteens, also a hostel for
Jews, and all kinds of aid, such as clothing, etc.

Q. Did the Zionist movement also organize emigration to
Palestine during that period?

A. Yes, and now I should like to tell you about all the
activities of the Zionist Organization.

Q. Perhaps you will first answer the question I asked you:
Did the movement actually deal with emigration to Palestine,
and how?  Perhaps you can say something about this in brief?

A. We sent about fifteen or eighteen ships.  The interesting
and important thing was that the Romanian government
insisted on this policy of Aliyah from beginning to end.
And finally, in 1944, the chairman of the Aliyah Committee
also received official confirmation from the government.
Furthermore, at that time there was the most difficult
problem of refugees from Poland and from Hungary.  In May
1944 a law was promulgated by Ion Antonescu, the dictator
Antonescu - the death penalty for every refugee from Poland
or Hungary.  It was then that the chairman of the Aliyah
Committee obtained the official confirmation from Mihai
Antonescu.  That same month he took part in two meetings of
the government and was given permission to provide the
refugees with identity papers from the Aliyah Committee, the
Palestine Office, as it was called then.

Q. Do you know how Richter reacted to this matter of the
Zionist movement and the emigration to Palestine, and what
he did about it?

A. We always felt the involvement of Richter and of Lecca.
In 1944 Lecca almost agreed, and there was some kind of
consent that he should be given fifty per cent of the money
received for the voyage.  He said that this was for
charitable works of Mrs. Antonescu.

Presiding Judge: I do not understand: What expenses for the
voyage are you now talking about?

Witness Loewenstein:  Not expenses for the voyage.

Q. This is what you said.

A. I made a mistake.  I meant the receipts for the voyage.
Everybody had to pay for his place...

Q. To whom?

A. To the Aliyah Committee.

State Attorney Bach:  Did every Jew who wanted to leave the
country pay?

Witness Loewenstein:  Not every Jew, only those who had

Q. Did they pay this to the Aliyah Committee?

A. To the account of the Aliyah Committee.

Q. And Lecca demanded fifty per cent of these sums?

A. Yes.

Q. You said that Richter's influence made itself felt.  What
was this influence which you felt, with regard to the
Zionist movement in general, to the Zionist office in
general, and especially with regard to Aliyah?

A. First of all, in the spring of 1941 Richter officially
invited representatives of the Zionist Organization to the
German embassy.  Those who went were the chairman of the
Zionist Organization, Advocate Misu Benvenisti, and Dr.
Yancu Coronel, the chairman of Keren Hayessod in Romania and
chairman of "Tarbut" (Cultural) Association for the Hebrew
language.  At the German embassy Richter told them
expressly: "The German Reich is opposed to emigration to
Palestine, and we are also against the activities of the
Zionist Organization in Romania."

Following this, the Bukarester Tageblatt, the official organ
of the German embassy, began to attack the Zionist
Organization. I have it here [shows the paper].

And in August 1942 the Zionist Organization was dissolved.
The Romanian Government dissolved the Zionist Organization.

Q. Did you think at that time that the liquidation of the
Zionist Organization was initiated by the Romanian

A. No.  We read the German papers, and we knew what
Richter's position was.  He told us, the Jewish
representatives, quite explicitly.

Q. What was the Bukarester Tageblatt?

A. The Bukarester Tageblatt was the daily newspaper of the
German embassy.  In it there appeared certain articles in
1941, and especially in the summer and autumn of 1942.
There is one article here about the programme.

Q. Please look at this newspaper and tell us whether you can
identify it.

A. There is an article here, dated 8 August 1942: "Rumaenien
wird judenrein" (Romania is being cleansed of Jews).  It
contains the complete programme of the deportation.  One
month later we came to feel it.

Q. In September 1942 you actually felt it.  Just one more
question about the Bukarester Tageblatt: What was the
meaning for you of an article which appeared in the
Bukarester Tageblatt, any article, not this one in

A. We knew, when an article appeared in the Bukarester
Tageblatt, we knew that unpleasant things would happen to

Q. I did not quite understand: When something was written in
the Bukarester Tageblatt, when it said that something would
happen, you knew that this particular thing was likely to
happen to you?

A. Yes.  This was 1942, when the Germans had not yet reached

Q. How were these articles signed in the paper?

A. There was only the initial "R," but everyone in Romania
said that this was Gustav Richter personally.  Once there
also appeared an article signed "Gustav Richter."

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1040.

State Attorney Bach:  Dr. Loewenstein, you have told us
about an article of August 1942 in the Bukarester Tageblatt
which spoke of the deportation abroad of the Romanian Jews.
By the way, did it say in that article where the Jews were
going to be sent?

Witness Loewenstein:  I don't quite remember now - but to

Q. Were you actually aware of an intention to expel the
Romanian Jews at that time or shortly thereafter?

A. Yes.  In September, or at the end of August, we received
several indications: Benvenisti, the chairman of the Zionist
Organization, happened to be at a meeting with Radu Lecca
when he overheard a telephone conversation about the
deportation.  After this Dr. Filderman also received some
information and, in addition, a Jewish engineer who worked
for the Romanian railways saw the detailed plans, stating
that the deportation was to begin in western Romania in the
towns of Timisoara, Arad and Turda.

Q. That is to say, southern Transylvania?

A. Southern Transylvania.  (The information) reached the
Jewish leaders, and steps against the deportation began

Q. Steps taken by whom?

A. By the Jewish leaders.  Dr. Safran...

Q. Who is Dr. Safran?

A. Dr. Safran was the Chief Rabbi of Romania.  He approached
the Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignor Cassulo, and the
Metropolitan of Transylvania, Nicolae Balan, that is the
highest-ranking Romanian clergy.  Nicolae Balan was an anti-
Semite himself, but nevertheless he extended his help at
that time.

Q. We shall perhaps submit further proof of this.  So what
you said is that Dr. Safran took active steps.

A. And also Dr. Filderman.

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