The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-052-04

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-052-04
Last-Modified: 1999/06/02

State Attorney Bach:  Mr. Freudiger, you told us about the
conversations you had with Krumey on the fate of the Jews
who were deported from Hungary.  Can you tell the Court
about certain postcards which reached Hungarian Jews from
those who were being deported?

Witness Freudiger:  Yes.  Before receiving this report we
may have been aware that they were sending the Jews to
Auschwitz.  But we did not know what Auschwitz meant.  When
I spoke to Krumey, as I have said, he always maintained that
they were being sent to work.  Two weeks after the first
transports were dispatched, possibly by the end of May - the
time passed by, day after day - we obtained through our
liaison officers who went to the Schwabenberg every day -
Gabor, Petoe, they were our liaison officers responsible for
routine duties - they brought a large quantity of postcards,
postcards written by Jews who had been deported.  They were
dated and marked "Waldsee."  It said there: We are at work
here and send our regards.  Things are not bad, we feel
well, we are working here, greetings to this one and to
that.  All the postcards were worded in this style.

Q. And the address was always "Waldsee"?

A. It was marked "Waldsee such-and-such a date."  There was
no address.

Q. Did you endeavour to ascertain where this "Waldsee" was?

A. We went to Krumey and asked him where Waldsee was. At
first he replied "in central Germany"; after that he said:
"in Thueringen."  We searched for it on maps, we found it,
we did not find it.  It may have been a small place.  At any
rate, the deception about Waldsee lasted for a long time,
two weeks, three, four, until they realized it was not
worthwhile to lie, that we knew the truth.

Presiding Judge: Was there a post office stamp on these

Witness Freudiger:  There was no postal stamp.

State Attorney Bach:  And how were they sent?

Witness Freudiger:  They said the cards were brought from
the SS command headquarters, the men who brought all the
mail.  Until a fortnight later, I once came across a
postcard with an erasure.  The postcards were written in
pencil.  I noticed that where "Waldsee" had been written,
there had been an erasure.  Since I was the owner of a
textile factory and I always had a magnifying glass near me,
I examined it and I saw that the letters "ITZ" were still
visible on the postcard.  Someone had made a mistake and had
written "Auschwitz" instead of "Waldsee," as they had been
told to do.  Afterwards he had erased it and had written
"Waldsee."  I took the postcard and, the next morning, I
went to Krumey and said to him: "Our people are in Auschwitz
and not in 'Waldsee'."  He replied: "How can you say such a
thing? And why are you angry at me?"  I took the postcard
and the magnifying glass and said to him: "Please, look."
He looked at it and then said: "Freudiger, I know you to be
a clever man - you do not have to observe everything" (Sie
sollen nicht alles bemerken).  After that no more postcards
came from "Waldsee."  In actual fact, there were no longer
any people who could write.

Q. Was it clear to you that the postcards were written by
people whose handwriting could be recognized by members of
their families?

A. Yes.

Q. That report, that Auschwitz report, which you received
through Rabbi Weissmandel - did you bring its contents to
the notice of others?

Presiding Judge: Was it through Rabbi Weissmandel, or did he
write the report?

State Attorney Bach:  No, I think the report was written by
the two Slovakians who escaped from Auschwitz, and Rabbi
Weissmandel passed on this report to the witness.

And you brought this report to the knowledge of the members
of the Judenrat?

Witness Freudiger:  The next day I took the report with me
and showed it not only to the members of the Judenrat,
because the hands of the Judenrat were more or less tied,
but there were other people who worked alongside the
Judenrat, and we told them everything, and we decided to
publish the report as far as we could, and we sent it to all
the people, to all Hungarian politicians, to ministers of
religion, to the Papal Nuncio, and it even reached Horthy.

Q. Did you also send the report abroad?

A. Yes.

Q. To which countries?

A. It went to Switzerland.  Moshe Krausz sent it to

Presiding Judge: When was that?  When did you distribute the

Witness Freudiger:  In June.

State Attorney Bach:  Mr. Freudiger, do you know anything
from that period about attempts of Jews to escape illegally
from Hungary by crossing the border?

Witness Freudiger:  From the very beginning, and especially
in Budapest, we had no contact with the ghettos in the
provinces.  For we were forbidden to travel, we had no
telephones.  All the contacts were indirect.  But there were
individuals who began to flee, first the Polish and
Slovakian refugees who were in Hungary.  The Slovakian
refugees - some of them returned to Slovakia, and the Polish
refugees began to escape to Romania, despite the fact that a
day or two after the occupation of Hungary a law came out in
Romania that anyone entering Romania illegally was liable to
the death penalty.

Q. Do you know anything about the demand of the
Sondereinsatzkommando of the SS regarding these attempts of
Jews to escape?

A. Wherever they could, they seized the Jews and punished
them, deported them, expelled them.

Q. Do you perhaps know of a particular instance of this kind
that took place?

A. It was rather strange, for I read as if the SS men were
giving people a chance to escape and had told the border
police to shut their eyes to Jews who were escaping.

Presiding Judge: Who said that?

Witness Freudiger:  I read it in Life.

Presiding Judge: There is no need to discuss matters here
which are not before the Court.

State Attorney Bach:  I asked you what you know about this

Witness Freudiger:  I know, for example, about a family that
was related to me, the family of Dr. Solomon Stern and
Joseph Stern.  This was a group of eleven persons - they
were the family of the Rabbi of Srbobran, who had once lived
in Jerusalem.  They wanted to escape into Romania, and SS
men caught them and brought them to the Schwabenberg, to the
headquarters of the SS.  And the next day they were sent
away; since there was no deportation from Budapest and the
Jews of Budapest were not isolated.  They did not punish
them but simply sent them to Komarom, and from there they
were deported together with the Jews there.  And I even
received a postcard from these people, a postcard which they
had thrown out of the railway car, and someone had found it;
it had my address on it, and it was brought to me.  But by
the time I received the postcard with the photograph of the
children - the children were already ashes.

Q. May we see the postcard?

A. Yes, this is it [takes out a postcard and shows it].  It
says here that "they are taking us from Komarom."

Presiding Judge: The children who appear in this picture -
are they the children of that family?

Witness Freudiger:  Yes, and there were two more - there
were four children.

Q. And this is the postcard they threw from the train?

A. Yes.

Q. Who wrote these letters "S.O.S."?

A. One of the people who wrote the postcard.

State Attorney Bach:  I would apply to submit this postcard.

Presiding Judge: [To witness]Are you able to read what is
written on this postcard?

Witness Freudiger:  Yes.

Q. Please read it for the record.

A. (reading) "We are on the train.  We are passing through
Budapest from Komarom."

Q. Where is Komarom?

A. Koma64rom is about 60 to 70 kilometres west of Budapest.
[Continues reading] "We are passing through Budapest from
Koma64rom. S.O.S."  And after that there are the signatures
"Mrs. Strasse, Mrs. Joseph Stern, Mrs. Solomon Stern and the

Q. Was this a family known to you?

A. Somewhat related to us, but distant.  Personal friends.

Q. And how did the postcard reach you?

A. Someone brought it to my home.  The postcard had my
address in Budapest, and I found it in my apartment.  It was
dated 15 June, and I received it a week later.

Q. How did it come into the possession of that person?  You
surely do not know?

A. Either they threw it from the train or they gave it to
someone.  It could have been that somebody found it, or one
of the Hungarian railwaymen passed on the postcard.  There
were still some decent persons.

State Attorney Bach:  Were these people seized at the
border, or before they reached it?

Witness Freudiger:  I think it was in the course of their
escape, while they were escaping.

State Attorney Bach:  Your Honours, if we were to submit a
photocopy of this postcard at a later stage, perhaps the
witness would be able to receive back his postcard?

Presiding Judge: I will not mark it - the witness will get
it back, and you should have a copy made.

[The Session was adjourned at 10.25 because of disturbances
in the courtroom ].

[The Session was reconvened]

Presiding Judge: I want to announce that if, from now on,
there is the slightest disturbance, I shall order the public
to be cleared from the courtroom, with the exception of the
journalists.  I hope there will be no need for that.  Those
who have already caused a disturbance will, of course, not
be permitted to return to the hall.

State Attorney Bach:  Mr. Freudiger, you told us that you
sent a copy of that report you received about the horrors of
Auschwitz, to Horthy, amongst others.  Was any particular
change noticeable at any time in Horthy's attitude to the
deportation of Jews from Hungary?

Witness Freudiger:  At the end of June there was already the
beginning of some resistance in Hungarian political circles
to the deportation of the Jews from Hungary.  Apart from
that, to my knowledge, at the end of July, possibly on 26
June, a very strong ultimatum from Roosevelt and from the
King of Sweden was received by the Swiss minister, Jaeger,
addressed to the Hungarian Government and to Horthy
personally, that they should immediately put an end to the
deportations.  And if they did not stop the deportations -
thus the ultimatum was reported to have stated - Hungary
would be treated in a way that a civilized nation had never
been treated before.  As far as we knew, the ultimatum
expired on 29 or 30 June, and the Hungarian Government did
not give any reply at all.  On 2 July there was a very heavy
air raid on Budapest.  British and American planes began
arriving from early morning; there were roughly 500
casualties amongst the population of Budapest, including
many Jews as well.  Our house, too, was hit by a bomb, and
my cousin, whom I have mentioned, died in our house after
having been struck by the bomb.

Q. Do you know whether after that Horthy gave a particular

A. On the next day, 3 or 4 July, Horthy stated in his reply
to Jaeger that, from 9 July onwards, there would be no more
deportations from Hungary.  In fact, perhaps he did not
know, but he surely must have known, that, apart from
Budapest, the deportation programme had been concluded by
that date.  The last stage was already due to take place
that week.  This was in Western Hungary.

Q. That is to say, the Jews of Budapest actually survived?

A. The Jews of Budapest survived.

Q. How many Jews were there in Budapest then?

A. I think there were approximately 200,000 or 150,000

Q. Mr. Freudiger, perhaps you will now tell the Court about
the episode of the Kistarcsa camp, after this order from

A. Yes.  After Horthy's order to stop the deportations, this
actually involved Budapest, for there was no longer a single
Jew left in the rest of Hungary.  As far as I was aware at
the time, there was already contention between Horthy and
Eichmann as to whether or not to deport from Budapest.
Eichmann insisted strongly on carrying out the Final
Solution to the full and deporting the Jews of Budapest as
well.  As opposed to this stood Horthy's order not to deport
any more.

Presiding Judge: How did you come to know of this

Witness Freudiger:  On the one hand from Horthy's circles,
and on the other hand Wisliceny, who told me this
specifically - that there was a real duel between Eichmann
and Horthy.

Judge Halevi:  Did they tell you this at the time?

Witness Freudiger:  He told me at that time.  There was one
instance near Kistarcsa where there were again about 1,500
Jews near the concentration camp.

State Attorney Bach:  Inside the Kistarcsa concentration

Witness Freudiger:  Yes, there were people there once again,
because there were continuous deportations.  That was the
entire capacity of Kistarcsa, 1,500 persons.  There was an
order to deport the Jews from Kistarcsa.  The members of the
central executive received the news from some people that
they were being prepared for deportation.  Meanwhile, they
were taken in the railway waggons.  Then, immediately, the
members of the central executive, not I myself, found ways
to contact Horthy.

Q. Do you know which member of your executive found the way
to Horthy?

A. I do not remember, now, who it was exactly, Dr. Polgar
and all the others...

Q. Do you know, in a general way, whether Dr. Petoe had
contacts with Horthy?

A. Yes.  Petoe especially was  persona grata with the
Hungarian Government.

Q. Did you and your colleagues manage to pass a message on
to Horthy?

A. Yes, through his son.  He sent his adjutant to the train
and issued an order to return the train to Kistarcsa.

Q. Do you remember what was the date of this?

A. It could have been 7, 9, 12 July, something like that,
11, 12.

Q. That is to say, about two or three days before Horthy's
order, the deportations were to proceed...

A. Definitely before 15 July.  This was between 9 and 15

Q. And the train, which was indeed already on its way, was

A. It was returned to Kistarcsa.  We received a phone call
from the Hungarian officer, a police officer Vasdenyei, who
was one of the good non-Jews, to the effect that they were
bringing back "his" Jews.  There was joy and happiness.

Q. Perhaps you can tell us - what was the actual duty of

A. He was the commander of the Kistarcsa camp.

Q. After the train had returned, you say, this gave rise to
rejoicing amongst yourselves, and generally amongst the Jews
of Budapest?

A. This was our only cause for rejoicing since 19 March,
that for once we had actually succeeded in rescuing 1,500
Jews from the freight cars.

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