The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-062-04

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-062-04
Last-Modified: 1999/06/07

Q. Is that how it happened?

A. Yes.  Within the framework of the rescue of Polish
refugees, we set up groups, mainly of young people, on the
Romanian and Yugoslav borders.  For example, there was the
Mohacs group.  It was a very well-known group which
maintained contact with the Yugoslav partisans.  There was
another group on the Romanian border.

At my last meeting with Kasztner and Brand, I presented them
with this plan to rescue as many people as possible.  I
remember this dramatic meeting in a hotel, at which Brand
and Kasztner were present, as well as Kasztner's wife.  I
then explained the rescue plan to them, which was based on
the fact that the political situation in Romania was still
such that there was a Polish consulate - as yet free - and
it was under the control of the Polish government-in-exile
in London, in the same way as the consulate in Budapest was
until March 1944.  I kept in touch with the consulate, which
was also in contact with the Polish underground.  I promised
them that all those who managed to leave Hungary, both Poles
and Hungarians - it did not matter which, there were also
Polish Christians - would receive from the consulate in
Bucharest (the consul was Sibarski) documents of Aryan
Christians, and also certain assistance.  We carried out
this plan, I myself, together with three other friends,
again from all the youth defence movements, and one of them
was Ya'akov Gurfein, who has testified here.

Presiding Judge: Pardon me, Mr. Hausner, it will be easier
for me to follow this evidence, if you would tell me in a
couple of words what is its purpose.

Attorney General: It aims at concluding the evidence.  I
want the witness to tell us how he left Hungary and crossed
to Romania.

Witness Zimmerman:   We went by way of Kolozsvar and through
Turda, and afterwards we arrived a Bucharest.

Q. There you met Dr. Filderman and Dr. Zissu?

A. Yes.  There I met Dr. Filderman and Zissu, and I
presented them with memoranda on the situation.  I met with
the members of the Palestine Office and, in conjunction with
the Rescue Committee in Istanbul, we continued with our
rescue activities.

Q. You left Romania in 1944?

A. Yes, on the ship "Kazbek," this time as Jews, for
Christians were no longer allowed to depart.

Q. Were other ships, which then sailed from Romania to
Palestine, or in the direction of Palestine, attacked by

A. Yes.

Q. By whom?

A. The ship on which I sailed, the "Kazbek"...

Q. I am asking about other ships.

A. Other ships - these were the "Marina" and two others -
were attacked by forces which came from the Bulgarian
border, where there were forces...

Q. And they were sunk?

A. Yes, they were sunk.

Presiding Judge: Attacked by whom?

Witness Zimmerman:   By forces which set out from the
Bulgarian border.  These were almost certainly either
torpedo boats or other warships.

Q. German or others?

A. German.

Q. Do you know that personally?

A. In Bulgaria, we knew that in Varna and in other places on
the Bulgarian shore, there were bases of German warships.

Q. Were these other ships - on which the witness was not a

Attorney General: He was not a passenger, for otherwise he
would not have been standing here today.

Witness Zimmerman:   But I know about them.

Presiding Judge: It happens sometimes that a ship is
attacked and the passengers survive.

Attorney General: None of these, to my regret, Your Honour,
were saved.

Witness Zimmerman:   I know about this from a tragic
experience.  For, on the ship on which I came, I saved a
little girl whom I brought along.  We took her in a sack.
We smuggled her aboard, for they did not lightly allow
children on the ship.  The mother of the girl - the name of
the child was Susika Spiegler, aged three - was on the
second ship which was attacked - the "Marina" - she was
drowned in this other ship and never arrived here.  The
child remained an orphan, she is in this country, but I do
not know where she is now.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, have you any questions to
the witness?

Dr. Servatius:  I have no questions to the witness.

Judge Raveh:   When you spoke of people who were making a
pretence, whom did you mean?

Witness Zimmerman:   I said that many of the men in charge
of the ghetto, or some of them, and later those in charge of
the forced labour camps - amongst those whom I encountered
and at whose hands I suffered - were also those who, after
carrying out some atrocity, felt the need, on occasion, to
prove that they also had human feelings.

Q. Were these the ones who provided you, at the time, with

A. They spoke later, both they, and also those who were in
charge, on behalf of the Jews.

Q. What interests me is whether these were the people who
gave you the information?

A. The men who gave the information were the members of the
Gestapo whose names I mentioned, and others.

Q. And did they speak out of pretence or not?

A. I don't suppose it was only a pretence.  Perhaps there
was a certain need for them to unburden themselves.  The
matter of pretence referred to the few humane acts which
they performed.

Q. And you believe that it was possible to rely on what they

A. They used to discuss these matters in an entirely natural
way.  They never thought that we would succeed in getting
out and relating these matters.

Judge Halevi:  In what year was this?

Witness Zimmerman:   At the end of 1942, 1943.

Q. Apart from the fact that they were members of the
Gestapo, what was their duty there?

A. Kunde and Heinrich were actually the men in charge of the
ghetto, and for a long time, until the large "actions", they
determined the fate of everyone in the ghetto, who was to
live, and who would die.  They were responsible for the
liquidation of centres of underground resistance existing in
the ghetto.  As experts on these questions, they had powers
of decision, and their superiors made them take part in
consultations, and took counsel with them on all these

Q. Did they travel to Germany, or what kind of consultations
were these?

A. I am talking of the men who were also in charge locally.
Their superior was Hase.  He was an officer of senior rank.
He used to come to the ghetto only on rare occasions.

Q. Generally speaking, the information that you received
through them, in what direction did it point to, generally,
as regards responsibility?

A. It pointed to the fact that there was a certain plan.  At
first they tried to tell us that it was a plan for making
the Jews more productive, and that it was a plan for which
the people at Headquarters in Berlin were responsible, and
they themselves acted according to instructions.  Naturally,
they used to implement them brutally and with enthusiasm.
This was already their own effort.  But the whole plan, the
processes and the methods of implementation, were according
to a plan that was worked out and passed on to them by that
department responsible for solving the Jewish problem.

They also told us, at first, that Lublin was going to be the
place of concentration for Jews.  They linked this with the
stories about Madagascar.  And since because of the war this
could not be carried out, they wanted to concentrate the
Jews in ghettos.  As this, too, was difficult, they wanted
to assemble many Jews in one place in Lublin.  Possibly
because this was something sensational, they allowed three
men to go out to see the place.  They gave them a travel

Q. Why did they give you the permit?

A. They wanted us to see that these Jews were still alive,
and, indeed, they were then still alive.  There were not
many who were willing to go.  We took advantage of this and
allowed our members to go.
Presiding Judge: Mr. Zimmerman, I want to say to you, now
that you have ended your testimony, that I should not like
you to leave here with bad feelings.  There was no intention
to belittle the importance of your activities and of those
of the others.  Whatever remarks I made, I first of all made
as expressing my personal opinion, and they referred to the
legal weight of certain statements in this evidence.  I hope
this is clear to you as a jurist.

You have now completed your testimony.

Attorney General: I call Mr. Leslie Gordon.  He was deported
from Budapest to Poland.  He was one of the 1941 deportees
to Kamenets-Podolski, of whom we have heard; subsequently,
he returned to Budapest and saw the Accused.  The witness at
present resides in Canada.  He will testify in English.*
{*No grammatical corrections have been made in the evidence
given by the witness}

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Leslie Gordon.

Attorney General: Mr. Gordon, do you now live in Canada?

Witness Gordon:   I live in Canada, in Montreal.

Q. You were born in Budapest?

A. Yes.

Q. Your parents had come from Poland?

A. My father was born in Poland.

Q. Hence you were regarded as Polish citizens?

A. According to the Hungarian laws, we were Polish citizens.

Q. What happened to you in June 1941?

A. In June 1941, when the Nazi hordes overran Poland, we
heard rumours that the Polish citizens will be taken out of

Q. When you say the Germans occupied Poland, which part of
Poland do you mean?

A. That was the east part of Poland.

Q. If I may lead you with a few questions, Mr. Gordon.  You
were interned by the Hungarian authorities?

A. Yes, we were interned by the Hungarian authorities.

Q. You were brought to the then Polish border?

A. Yes, we were taken first to the Budapest synagogue.
There we have been told that orders came from the Germans,
since the Hungarians had no authority over the German
occupied territory, and these orders came strictly from

Q. What happened then?

A. We were taken from the synagogue next morning, to the
Hungarian rail station, where we have been placed in
passenger cars, and we have been taken to the border of

Q. And to whom were you handed over at the border?

A. At Koeroesmezoe, we were handed over to the Hungarian
gendarmerie until overnight.  But next morning, we were
loaded up on German trucks - clearly visible German licence
plates on them.

Q. Who drove these trucks, and who were the guards?

A. We could not see the drivers until we arrived to the
place where we have been taken, but then they turned out to
be Germans.

Q. What Germans?

A. SS.

Q. How did you recognize them as being SS men?

A. From the skeleton (skull) on their caps - `Totenkopf'.

Q. Where did the Germans take you to?

A. We were passing close by several small villages, and then
we were passing through Kolomea until we came to about two
or three miles - or kilometres - outside of Kolomea, where
we had been told: "Schweine-Juden, herunter!" (Jewish Pigs,
get down).

Q. So you got off?

A. Yes.

Q. Where did you go?

A. We got down.  Some of our luggage was left in the trucks
- which we were not allowed to take down - so the fifty
kilogrammes which was allowed by the Hungarian authorities
to take with us - some of them left in the truck which the
Germans have stolen from us.

Q. So where did you go?

A. Once we got down from the trucks, they put up two machine-
guns each side of the road and told us: "Go eastwards. Don't
come back or don't even look back."  Some of the people had
to do their hygienic doings on the side, and they were shot
right on the spot.

Q. By whom?

A. By the SS.

Q. What did you do? Tell us just what you yourself did.

A. Well, we were together.  My father was 58, my mother -
she was 43.  My brother was 22, I was 21, my sister was 19,
my brother was 16, another brother was 14, a sister was
eight, and my little brother was five.  We were trying to
keep together and go along on the road - as has been told by
the "brave" SS.

Q. Who, of all those members of your family, remained alive?

A. Only myself.  One of my sisters, she got exempted from
the deportation because she was married to a Hungarian
citizen, and she is in Canada with me.

Q. But of those who were sent on their way there, you are
the only survivor?

A. As far as I know, yes.

Judge Halevi:  Are you referring to the members of your
family or to the whole transport?

Attorney General: We shall still come to the whole
transport.  How many people were there in that transport,
together with you yourself?

Witness Gordon:   In this group, we were about three to four
hundred, approximately.  I cannot say the exact figures, but
it was three to four hundred.  I remember we occupied about
eight trains, eight cars, and on each from forty to sixty
people were in, most of them children.  Like our family - we
were seven children.  Other families had eight or nine
children; it consisted of two-thirds children under fourteen
years of age.

Q. How many people, of those who were with you in the group,

A. As far as I know, all by myself.

Q. So I understand, you went northwards from Kolomea to a
town called Tluste?

A. That's right.

Q. How did you live on the way?

A. On the way, we have been exchanging our clothes and
little remaining jewellery.  My mother took off her ring, my
father took off his ring and his watch, and we exchanged
clothes with the people of the district.

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