Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-058-04 Last-Modified: 1999/06/04 Witness Hansi Brand: Krumey. I do not know who else was there, as I was not present myself. I only know about it from my husband and from Kasztner; I did not witness this myself. State Attorney Bach: But you talked to Krumey and Eichmann? Witness Hansi Brand: I frequently talked to Krumey - either we were summoned, or we went to see him ourselves, and we thought we would meet Eichmann but we found Krumey, or we thought it would be Krumey and it was Eichmann. Q. Did you talk to Krumey and then afterwards to Eichmann? Did Eichmann know of your previous conversation with Krumey? A. Of course? Q. When did you receive your first communication or news from your husband? A. I must state that I am not prepared to swear to either the date or to figures, and since it is all so long ago, the whole business is almost buried, and it is difficult for me to drag it up and to reconstruct what happened when, but, in any case, the first telegrams arrived which informed us that negotiations had been opened. Q. Did you inform Eichmann of the contents of these telegrams? A. Of course - as soon as the telegrams came, the first thing I did was to go to the Sondereinsatzkommando, so that they could see that the matter was being dealt with. However, he was not satisfied with the speed at which it was dealt with, which meant that there was always a convenient excuse, so that by claiming that for the moment we had nothing positive to show him, he could keep postponing what he had promised. But he kept stressing that what a German officer promises, he will always honour. But he did not honour anything. Q. Do you remember a particular request you made with regard to your two children? A. Yes, of course. Q. Please tell the Court about it. A. I have to leave out what is in fact a rather important period. Things had reached a stage where we were seriously engaged in setting up the group of six hundred, and obviously it would have been easier and quieter for me to remain in Budapest, if I had been sure that my two children were safe. So I went to Eichmann and asked him to authorize my two children to leave on this transport. I came up against extremely marked, pronounced resistance. May I add something else? Eichmann told me very abruptly that it was quite out of the question. At that time I took it very hard, but when I left, I thought it over, and it struck me: My goodness, it must be something really serious, if he is so decidedly against the children going along; so perhaps it is actually true that these people will be reaching a neutral foreign country. And so, even though I took it very much to heart, it nevertheless comforted me somewhat to think that people whom we had tried to help to board this train would really reach freedom. Q. Perhaps you would tell the Court something of the problems, and talk about your task in trying to persuade people to take the train. A. People did not believe us - they did not seriously believe that the transport would really reach a neutral foreign country. After everything that had happened and all the rumours for years, it had never happened that Jews reached a neutral foreign country. It had never happened. At that time it was not widely known that the entire Weiss family was already safe in Portugal. That was not general knowledge in Budapest. People were very sceptical, very mistrustful. Even the refugees, who were already living illegally, said no, we will remain in our bunkers, we will not go to Columbus, because we do not see any guarantee that it really is true that people will reach a neutral foreign country. They were simply afraid. Q. And you actually wanted your children to leave on this train? Presiding Judge: That is quite clear already from what she has said, and Eichmann did not agree. Witness Hansi Brand: Today I am sure it sounds quite improbable, but nevertheless I brought my children to the camp, so that it would become known that the Brand children were also going along, so that people would gain confidence; if Mrs. Brand was putting her children in it, after all, she would not sacrifice her own children. Presiding Judge: Mrs. Brand, this is very important, but please allow Mr. Bach to tell you what is important to us in these proceedings, and what is not. State Attorney Bach: Mrs. Brand, I would like you to explain the following to the Court. Given what everyone knew, including yourself, did you believe that this train would leave for a neutral country? Presiding Judge: She has already spoken about that, Mr. Bach, she said before that, because Eichmann told her it was "out of the question to send your children," she believed that the whole thing was serious. State Attorney Bach: What I wanted to ask her was whether there was any other reason why she thought this. Presiding Judge: I do not consider any of this to be important. It is important, as I have said, but we shall never get to the end. State Attorney Bach: Perhaps just this question, if the witness can reply to it. Witness Hansi Brand: I would never have asked for permission to send my children with the transport, if I had not known first that my husband was abroad. In other words, this gave me the feeling of security - the fact that he had been sent to negotiate - because then he obviously would not want to liquidate us before the end of these negotiations. Q. You have told us that the money which was handed over to Klages finished up with Becher. Did you yourself know Kurt Becher? A. I myself knew him, but I did not negotiate with him. I met him once, and after that I had nothing to do with him. Q. Do you know who actually set the sums which had to be paid for the release of these people? A. In that respect, it was a real jungle. Everyone set an amount - both Eichmann and Becher. Q. So you did not know who decided in the end? A. No, I myself did not know. Q. Did you know how many people were deported every day? Were you told? A. Eichmann himself said so quite openly - that every day twelve thousand people were sent off. Q. Did you know where to? A. Once he said quite openly and clearly, "You are perfectly free to telegraph your husband that I am letting the mill run" (dass ich die Muehle laufen lasse). Q. Perhaps you could tell the Court in what context that was said, and what you understood? In what context, and what was being talked about at that time? A. I cannot completely remember what exactly was then being talked about, but it was said that he had made various promises, that fifteen thousand were to be kept on ice, and this was to be done, and that was to be done, and then suddenly, when we came, nothing had been kept, and what were we to report abroad? Then he said: "You are perfectly free to telegraph your husband that I am letting the mill run - no one should think that I am afraid". Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, I see that Mr. Brand is in the courtroom. I do not know if he has already finished his testimony. Let us ask him to leave until the end of his testimony. [To Mr. Brand] You have not yet finished your testimony; in any case, it is not definite that you have finished it. Please wait outside. State Attorney Bach: Mrs. Brand, when he said, "Ich lasse die Muehle laufen," did you know which Muehle he meant where? Witness Hansi Brand: Yes, of course. When he made this offer, we already knew whom we were talking to, so that when he offered to sell a million Jews for goods, we did not need to speculate and try to work out what it meant "to run the mill." Of course, that meant the gas chambers. Q. Did you, in fact, inform people abroad of this? A. Yes. Q. You spoke of the people who were to be transferred to Austria, "auf Eis gelegt" (kept on ice). Can you give the Court details about the talk you had with Eichmann about this subject, which people were to be sent, which people were not to be sent, and where they were to be sent. A. We always spoke for everyone who was still alive. And then we were always forced into making compromises, even in the negotiations. And that was how, in the end, he promised that he would finally send the fifteen thousand to Austria, without selection. Q. Who were the fifteen thousand in question? A. They were supposed to be the Jews who right from the beginning he said were "kept on ice." Q. So what did he say? Which people did he wish to choose for this? A. He was always interested only in those who could work, but it is exactly on this point that we had negotiations and discussions, because we wanted to save entire families. And he promised that he would - I cannot now remember where these people were collected from. I must add here that during the negotiations more and more areas were emptied of Jews. I must also add that, in the end, the trains were exchanged, and individuals, some fifteen or sixteen thousand, reached Strasshof. Q. Do you remember that in connection with the Jews who were to be sent to Strasshof, there was a conversation about positive or negative biological material? Could you give the Court any details in this respect? A. He was not interested in Jews from Carpatho-Russia, for example, because they were "positive Jews." Q. What is meant by "positive Jews?" A. They are Jews in body and soul. I must say in this context that, at that time, there was a very assimilated Jewish community, with very many mixed marriages. Q. What was he interested in? A. He wanted to keep ethnically valuable Jews. Q. He wanted to preserve these Jews? Did he want to keep them or not? A. He did not wish to continue keeping them. Q. I do not understand your reply. Did he wish to save them, or did he not wish to save them? Did he wish to keep them or not? Judge Halevi: What do you mean by "keep" (behalten)? Witness Hansi Brand: He did not wish to let them live. State Attorney Bach: In other words, he did not wish people with great ethnic value to be allowed to live. Have I understood properly? A. He did not wish them to. Q. Who, in fact, were the Jews who were sent to Strasshof? Do you know where they were taken from? A. If I am not mistaken, they were from Debrecen and the surrounding areas. This is a purely Hungarian area. Q. Do you remember a conversation you had with the Accused about bringing children to Budapest? A. Yes. Q. Please tell the Court about it. A. Yes. I must first say something about it, so as to make it intelligible. Everything we did, all our work, was like a daily, laborious tilting at windmills. What we had established on one day and that we hoped we had achieved, the next day was found to be nothing at all. We always kept our demands limited, in order to be able to achieve some results; so I only insisted on the children - at least the children should not be sent to Auschwitz, at least the children should remain in Hungary, and we would ensure that they were looked after by us. Of course, I had a negative reply to that as well, and I can no longer remember the precise details of the exchange. However, I do remember one sentence. I only said to him, "You probably do not have any children, and that is why you have no pity on them." Whereupon he shouted at me: "You are taking a great liberty, Mrs. Brand; if you speak to me like that, I advise you to stop coming to see me." Q. Did you actually obtain anything in respect of the children? A. Nothing at all. Q. Those Jews to whom you have referred in Strasshof - who had to pay for their keep? A. We sent the actual food. We sent three large waggons with all sorts of food with them, and we also sent some afterwards. Q. The camp to which you have referred, the Columbus camp, who was in charge of it, who looked after it, who controlled it? A. At the beginning the Germans provided a guard and they stood at the gate, so no one could enter without permission. Q. You said that was at the beginning? A. Yes. Q. And then? A. I do not wish to go into domestic politics, but there was an agreement reached between the Germans and the Hungarians, and the Germans officially handed over the camps in Hungary, in the presence of Krumey and Ferenczy, and from that day on the camps were totally unguarded. Q. Mrs. Brand, do you remember a conversation with Eichmann in which reference was made to the Mufti of Jerusalem? A. Yes.
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