The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-062-03

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-062-03
Last-Modified: 1999/06/07

Q. Did you establish an underground organization by the name
of "Ha-Sneh"?* {*Hebrew: "The Bush," referring to the
Burning Bush in Exodus 3:2}

A. Correct.  Actually, this organization took over the name
"Ha-sneh" - previously that was an underground organization
whose nucleus was the Jewish intelligentsia, especially the
pupils and students of the Jagiellonien University.  We
maintained contact with our colleagues of the Polish student
organization.  There was  also contact with some of the
professors of the Jagiellonien University.  Some of them
were also exiled and subsequently killed by the Germans.  It
became clear to us, later on, from some of the professors,
that centres of resistance existed there around the Jewish
Polish intelligentsia, most of whom, of course, were
graduates of the Jagiellonien University.  Within this
underground, there was a political underground, because it
was believed at the time that the War would not last long.
We wanted to take part in this war, for which the citizens
of Poland, both Polish and Jewish, had prepared, each
according to his ability, in order that we could make our
contribution to the struggle against Nazi domination.  To
the extent that the limitations of time will permit, I can
also mention names of outstanding persons.

Presiding Judge: The limitation of time will not permit this
- of that there is no doubt.

Attorney General: This organization included various Zionist
bodies, Zionist youth of various circles?

Witness Zimmerman:   Yes.  In the main, the core of the
groups were from the Zionist youth movements.

Q. I only wanted to know whether this was a roof
organization common to the various bodies.

A. Yes, of all the youth movements.

Q. And you had an important function in this underground?

A. Yes, I was one of the leaders of this underground, and I
was also the special liaison with the well-known group in
the Cracow Ghetto of the "Fighting Halutz," with Dolek
Liebeskind, who was also a friend of mine.  Inside the
Cracow Ghetto, naturally, we tried to prepare hide-outs,
arms caches, and false Aryan papers and certificates, and we
also maintained contact with the outside world.

Q. Rumours were spread in the ghetto of concentrations in
the Lublin district?

A. Yes.

Q. And you attempted to go there and to see what was going

A. Yes.  In March 1942, there was - as they called it - the
first big "Aktion".  Throughout, from time to time, they had
been removing people by night from their homes and their
places of work, according to lists.

Presiding Judge: I thought that this evidence was being led
for a certain purpose.

Attorney General: We are just coming to it.

Presiding Judge: We have already heard a description of the
Cracow Ghetto in general terms from Judge Beisky and...

Attorney General: From Mrs. Kuper.

Presiding Judge: Yes.
Attorney General: I am now asking not about the Cracow
Ghetto, but what the witness saw in the concentrations in
the Lublin district, which is an introduction to the chapter
on extermination camps, which were, in fact, concentrated in
that area.

Witness Zimmerman:   I am grateful to the Court for helping
me and making it unnecessary to tell of the things that were
described here and of the horrors we underwent - it is not
an easy matter for someone who went through the experience.
And I should try to confine myself...

Presiding Judge: Mr. Zimmerman, I know that you are a
lawyer.  Therefore, please answer the questions put to you
by the Attorney General.  You do not need any explanations
from the Court.

Witness Zimmerman:   In March, 1942, there was the first
large "Aktion", in which several thousand people were taken
and transported to the east by train.  It was the first
large "Aktion" that we had ever heard of, and hence we were
very apprehensive to know what had happened.  We tried, also
by means of our influence with the underground
organizations, to find out what had happened to the people
and where they were sent.  Members of the Polish
underground, particularly those who worked on the railways,
told us that the train travelled to the east, in the
direction of Lublin.

After many efforts through the organization, which was, in
fact, a branch of the Joint in Poland - it was known by the
name of J.T.S. (Jewish Social Self-Help) - it became
possible to send a delegation to Lublin, a delegation
consisting of three people, with the consent of the Nazi
authorities in Cracow.  I was one of the three.

Attorney General: What did you find when you reached the
vicinity of Lublin?

Witness Zimmerman:   We arrived in Lublin, and there we were
told that those who had been deported from Cracow were in
four or five locations - Hrubieszow, Dubienka, Uchanie, if I
am not mistaken in the name, and Belzec.  We visited these
places and, indeed, in the forests we found the deportees
and the refugees who had been taken from Cracow by force, in
a terrible condition.  In Belzec, we also heard from the
populace that excavation works and other mysterious feverish
activities were being carried out.  But we still did not
know what was being planned there, and what they were
preparing in Belzec.  At any rate, there were various
rumours, terrifying rumours.

When we returned from this delegation - we were not certain
that we would manage to get back, and also in the ghetto it
was not believed that we would return - we delivered a
report on what had happened to these Jews.  Naturally, we
tried to explain to our comrades that there was a grave
danger to the physical existence of the Jews, although we
did not yet believe that it was a matter of general
extermination; this became clear to us only later on, at the
end of 1942, when there was a very extensive "Aktion" with
great cruelty, and thousands of people were again taken to
Lublin, because they would not allow us to send help to them
- even though the delegation went out for that purpose -
they would not let us provide aid, they would not let us
maintain any contact with these people.  At first, postcards
actually arrived from there by some complex, mysterious
route.  Later on this stopped, and a death-like silence
prevailed as far as all those people were concerned who were
sent to the east.

Q. Did you have any contact with those people in charge of
the Cracow Ghetto on behalf of the Gestapo?

A. We were interested in knowing everything that was
happening and whatever they were preparing to do, and our
comrades were working in all kinds of places, as officials
and as stenotypists, and we tried to gather information and
to listen.

Q. Were you also one of them?

A. I was also one of them, from time to time.

Q. From which Gestapo members in Cracow did you obtain

A. Especially those in charge of the ghetto used to come to
the Cracow Ghetto, particularly Kunde and Heinrich, and
others.  These two made more visits than the others.  They
used to oversee the liquidation operations, but from time to
time they felt the need to prove that they were also human
beings and that they, too, had feelings.  I do not know who
were worse - those who wanted to prove such feelings from
time to time, or those who were brutal all the time.  At any
rate, possibly this was merely a facade, almost certainly
this was just a pretence, a kind of policy of deceiving us.
They would pretend that they regretted what was taking place
- it was not their fault - they were implementing a plan in
charge of which there were special persons, there was a
special department and special people in charge.  And again,
in their conversation they would mention this expert, whom,
they boasted, knew Hebrew and Yiddish, had lived in
Palestine, and sometimes also mixed with Jews who were
afraid to do anything because they were afraid of him.

Presiding Judge: What unit did these two belong to?

Witness Zimmerman:   These two were Gestapo men.

Q. Uniformed?

A. In uniform.

Q. In what uniform?

A. I believe it was the Sicherheitspolizei or the
Sicherheitsdienst  - at any rate, they were from that
department which dealt with Jewish affairs.

Attorney General: Mr. Zimmerman, the Judge asked you what

Witness Zimmerman:   An olive green colour.

Judge Halevi:  Did they mention the man's name or simply
describe him?

Witness Zimmerman:   Later on, we again heard stories about
this man.  In particular, one man who was in charge of the
exit gate from the ghetto told us a lot about him.  His name
was Busko - he was of Austrian origin.  It turned out
subsequently that he was one of the Righteous Gentiles; he
tried to help us and also kept in touch with the Jewish
underground.  Afterwards, he was executed by the Nazis.  He
used to warn us and extend help to us to the best of his
ability.  And he, too, told us that there was a special
department, headed by an expert, and they had studied this
problem, and that there was a plan for the total destruction
of the Jews - he warned us.  I am almost certain that he
mentioned the man's name, although I cannot say with
absolute certainty that I heard the name from him.  But
there is one thing I can say with certainty, even before I
reached Hungary - that is to say, in 1943: We, the survivors
who had been in the forced labour camps knew, we had heard
the name Eichmann.

Attorney General: What did you hear from Busko concerning

Witness Zimmerman:   That the person in charge was a man who
had been in Palestine, and that he knew Hebrew and Yiddish.

Q. You heard his name?

A. I am almost certain that I heard it, but after a long
time, it is difficult, nevertheless, to be sure when and
where we heard the name for the first time.

Q. Did Kunde and Heinrich say anything about Frank's powers
in relation to the extermination programme?

A. Yes.  When we spoke to them and tried to influence them
to soften their attitude and to do something or change
something, and there were also plans to exert influence
through the higher Polish Christian clergy in Cracow, they
told us there were no chances and there was no point in
trying, that even Frank himself could not help to any extent
in these matters...

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, the value of this evidence is,
shall we say, next to nothing.  I believe you will agree
with me.  I did not want, by any means, to shock the
witness; I am referring to this sentence, to these words
that the witness heard from people who were apparently
fairly junior Gestapo men.  This is, in fact, gossip about
Frank and, as we may assume, about the Accused.

Attorney General: Your Honour, I did not want to make
comments in the middle of the testimony, but if I compare
this with Frank's diary, and if I compare it with the
Wannsee records, then it has some weight.

Presiding Judge: We have the actual diary of Frank.

Attorney General: But in this way, there is support, from a
living witness, for the words that not only Frank wanted to
cast [responsibility] on someone, but also persons on the

Presiding Judge: But who knows through how many mouths this
passed on the way?  All of us here happen to be jurists.  No
one knows where he heard this; at any rate, I have not heard
it - it was a general rumour.

Attorney General: I shall ask the witness right away, Your

[To witness] Did you personally hear this from Kunde and

Witness Zimmerman:   I heard it from them, when they were
telling this to people with whom they were in contact, and I
was present as an official.

Presiding Judge: Yes, this I understood.  The question is:
From whom did they hear it?

Witness Zimmerman:   This was a general rumour.

Presiding Judge: Well, there you are.

Judge Halevi:  Perhaps it was inside information.

Witness Zimmerman:   In this context, perhaps I may be
permitted to make a comment?

Presiding Judge: If it will add weight to the evidence,
please do so.

Witness Zimmerman:   It seems to me that there are certain
facts which would add substance to this matter.  These facts
are that, if there happened to be people in the ghetto - and
if according to the racial laws there was some doubt as to
their being Aryans or not - all these problems were
forwarded from the ghetto to the central headquarters by the
experts there, and one had to await decisions from elsewhere
- not from the Gestapo in Cracow.

Attorney General: In the end, you escaped from Poland and
crossed into Hungary in 1943, did you not?

Witness Zimmerman:   Upon the liquidation of the Cracow
Ghetto in 1943, I was transferred to Plaszow and its
notorious branches, the forced-labour camp and afterwards
the concentration camp, and in October 1943, I escaped from
there.  I worked as a forced labourer, I could listen to the
conversations of those in charge of the work and also of the
Gestapo men in charge, and they all talked about the same
subject.  And there is an interesting fact that I think
ought to be pointed out - many of them used to say that they
were performing these tasks for the reason that they did not
want to go to the front, otherwise they would have to go to
the front.  And there were instances where Gestapo men in
charge of the camps did not want to carry on with this work
- and were transferred to the front.  At all events, they
were removed from the concentration camps.

Q. Do you know this from personal knowledge?

A. This I know from my personal knowledge.  These things
were well known.  Most of them spoke about it.  A large part
of them performed this work willingly, and another part did
so out of the clear knowledge that by this means they were
being spared from going to the front.  That was known also
to the man in charge of the Plaszow camp, Amon Goeth, who
was hanged at the end of the War.  He, too, had not served
at the front; he did not want to go to the front and hence
specialized in these questions.

Judge Halevi:  In what did he specialize?

Witness Zimmerman:   In exterminating the Jews.  He came to
the Plaszow Ghetto from Lublin.  He underwent training with
Globocnik.  This was a special detachment which specialized,
which saw in it both a duty and a mission.

Attorney General: I understand that later you were in
Budapest, and you lived there with Aryan papers?

Witness Zimmerman:   Yes.

Q. There you also established contact with Kasztner and the
Rescue Committee?

A. Yes.  At the end of 1943, when I fled from this camp -
this is not relevant for the present, it is a story of its
own - I was in the forests, and, through Slovakia, I reached
Hungary.  There, I represented the Polish refugees at the
Polish consulate.  And since I had previously been in
contact  with the Polish underground, the consul in
Budapest, Slavik, knew about me, got to know me.  By this
means, I was able to help a great deal in the work of
rescuing refugees, and through me they obtained thousands of
Christian papers, to the effect that they were Roman
Catholics or others.

This was the situation until March 1944, when the Germans
took control of Hungary.  I was in contact with members of
the Rescue Committee.  I met with Brand, Kasztner, the late
Komoly, Krausz, Freudiger and Stern.  I told them of
everything I had been through - I was in touch with the
underground Zionist youth movements.  Naturally, we
organized units for rescue and defence, bunkers and arms.
We were able to help much more in this matter, since, as
Polish Christians, we also had strong links with the
Hungarians.  In the vicinity of Budapest, there was a large
ammunition factory, where there were Polish officers, and
through them we used to obtain weapons and organize the
resistance movement.

Q. Mr. Zimmerman, I want to confine the evidence to the
central points for which it is intended.  Afterwards you
escaped to Romania?

A. Yes.  This was, in fact, to some extent, also with the
aid of the Rescue Committee.

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