The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/06/07

Dr. Servatius:  Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, I have not
yet seen the document.  I should be grateful if at least
those portions which have been translated into Hebrew were
given to me, in some other language, and if I could be
allowed to peruse the original.

Attorney General: The Polish original was certainly handed
to Defence Counsel together with all the material - that
constituted document No. 1427.  I presume that Dr. Servatius
received it when he received all the material of the
interrogation of the Accused together with our documents.
It is possible that he did not get a precis in German, as we
were in the habit of doing in regard to documents which are
not in a language familiar to him.

Presiding Judge: But he ought to receive it.

Attorney General: Yes, of course.  The original is in the
Court's possession.

Presiding Judge: I can return the original, so that Dr.
Servatius can examine it, and then we can get it back

Dr. Servatius:  Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, I cannot
check now whether it has been handed to me.  I received the
list of documents which were due to be submitted today, and
this document is not mentioned in that list.

Attorney General: It does appear in the list.

Dr. Servatius:  I see that now... [after perusing the
documents in his possession.] Perhaps I can do that later; I
do not wish at present to delay the proceedings.

Presiding Judge: At any rate, if you have not received at
least a precis in German or in any other language with which
you are familiar, you will receive it.

Attorney General: Yes, certainly.

I call Mr. Dov Freiberg.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Freiberg:  Yes.

[The witness is sworn.]

Attorney General: Mr. Freiberg, you live in Ramle, in Shikun
Amami 1b, and your profession is that of production
inspector at a motor engine factory?

Witness Freiberg:  Yes.

Q. When the Second World War broke out, you lived in Lodz?

A. Yes.

Q. Your family was starving and, in the case of your mother,
there began a condition which was familiar in the ghetto, of
swelling up from hunger?

A. That was in the Warsaw Ghetto.  We ran away from Lodz -
after we had been in the Lodz Ghetto for some days, we fled
to the Warsaw Ghetto.  And we were there, I was there, until
1942.  The situation then got much worse, we sold whatever
we possessed, and a stage was reached in the house where we
had nothing to eat.  My grandfather and my grandmother were
confined to bed.  My mother - in order to give us something
to eat - hardly ate, and then the bloated condition began.
And then she urged me, since I was one of the weaker
children, to escape from the Warsaw Ghetto, to flee to the
Lublin district, where relatives of ours lived  - a more
distant family.

Q. And so you escaped to a townlet?

A. Yes.

Q. What was it called?

A. I fled to the townlet of Turobin, in the district of

Q. In May 1942, the Germans surrounded the townlet and began
taking the Jews to the market area - do you remember that?

A. Yes.  In May 1942, I got up one morning - I lived with
one family and spent my time with another family.  I got up
in the morning, and I heard shouts and something unusual
that was taking place.  I tried to go to the other house.
The Germans were leading groups of people from all
directions, together with Polish police, and gathered them
all together at the marketplace.

Q. We shall be brief on this part, Mr. Freiberg, because I
want to come closer to the main point of your evidence.
They took you to a place called Krasnystaw?

A. Yes.  At the time, they transferred the whole district.
It consisted of Sucha, Turobin, Zolkiew - right up to
Krasnystaw - it was a string of villages.

Q. They crowded you into freight cars?

A. After we had slept for one night in Krasnystaw, in some
courtyard, they crowded us into freight cars.  It was
impossible even to stand, it was impossible to breathe -
people were fainting.  In my car, too, two women died in the
course of the journey, which was relatively short; it was a
journey of three to four hours.

Q. And the train arrived at the concentration camp of

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember what was written on the gate of the camp?

A. There was a sign at the entrance to the camp - actually I
did not glance at it then, but subsequently, when I went out
to work outside the camp, I saw it - SS Sonderkommando
Umsiedlungslager - Camp for Resettlement.

Q. When you left the train, what was the sequence of events?

A. From the moment we entered the camp into which they
brought groups of freight cars (the siding there was not a
large one), from the very moment we entered the camp, we
were enveloped by a regime of fear.  Everything happened at
a rapid pace - indeed, there was not even time to think -
there were shouts from SS men, from Ukrainian SS men, "Raus,
raus (Out, out), "Schneller! Schneller!" (faster, faster),
and they forced us to run through the fences to a place
where there was a small gate. "Links, rechts" (left, right).

Q. What was "links, rechts?"

A. In Sobibor, there were no selections for life and for
death.  Everyone who arrived - was exterminated.  This was
temporary - only for a few hours, or minutes.  And "links,
rechts" meant: men separately, and women and children
separately.  Afterwards, in the yard for undressing, there
were separate sections for men, and for women and children.
I stood amongst the men.

Q. Was there a band playing there?

Presiding Judge: Was this immediately after you arrived

Witness Freiberg:  This was immediately after we came there.
It was towards evening.  The women and children went along
the way which we got to know later.  And since, in the early
stages, as compared with a later period, the camp was a
primitive one and operated only during the day and not at
night, we, the men, remained on the spot all night, and the
women and the children went off to the gas chambers.  The
following morning...

Attorney General: I asked you about a band that was playing
somewhere; where was that?

Witness Freiberg:  There was a band there; it was at Lager 1
(Camp 1).  There was a band that was playing.  The night
when we arrived there and spent the night there, despite the
fact that we did not yet know, rumours were already
circulating, but the people did not believe them.  That
night, I had a very strange feeling.

Q. What was it that the people did not believe?

A. That there was any extermination at all.  They knew that
there were killings, we had previously been present at many
situations, but total extermination - this they did not
believe under any circumstances.  Even when they were in the
congested freight cars, the people were glad that they were
not traveling in the direction of Lublin, the location of
the Majdanek camp, which was regarded as a hard labour camp
in those times, but that they were travelling towards the
east.  The "east" in those days meant, as rumour had it,
that they were going to the Ukraine for agricultural work.

Q. When was this?

A. This was in May, 1942.  I remember a case where a Jew
came to this townlet where we were and said to us: "Don't
believe it; people are not being taken to the Ukraine, but
to Belzec, where they are put to death."  I don't remember
what they wanted to do to this Jew, they would not believe
him, they thought this man had come to create panic, and
that what he was saying was not possible.

Judge Halevi:  He came to the townlet?

Witness Freiberg:  Yes, into the townlet.  And inside the
camp, we were already a few hundred metres away from the gas
chambers and, nevertheless, in the course of two weeks, or
perhaps more, the Germans still managed to deceive even us.
They said that in two or three weeks' time we would be
reunited with our families.  But we saw their personal
effects, the following morning we were working with them.
They maintained that they distributed other clothes, and
that from Camp No. 3 trains were departing to the Ukraine.

Attorney General: Were there three camps in Sobibor?

Witness Freiberg:  Yes.

Q. Were people living in Camps 1 and 2?

A. Camps 1 and 2 were, in effect, one camp, but from the
point of view of their operation, of their purpose, Camp 1
was distinct from Camp 2.  Camp 1 was a camp of artisans -
tailors, shoemakers, carpenters and all kinds of craftsmen
who worked in the camp.  In Camp 2, there were people who
dealt with the transports, with all kinds of work.

Q. What was in Camp 3?

A. In Camp 3, there were gas chambers, and, at first, they
used to bury the people in huge pits; they put down layers
of human beings and poured chloride on to them, and so on.

Q. We shall come to the extermination presently.  Please
describe to me your first day in the camp.

A. The Germans came along in the morning and began selecting
artisans, tailors, shoemakers, and so on.  I had the feeling
that something was wrong there.  In particular, I remembered
the case of that Jew who had told his story.  I was alone
there, by chance, without family, and I had no trade.
Afterwards, they selected the young and healthy lads in the
following way: "Du, du!" (You, you!).  I leaped up - we were
sitting down - and stood amongst them.  Approximately half
an hour later, they took all the rest of the transport to
the gas chambers, while we remained for work.

Q. How many of you remained?

A. The number remaining at the time was about a hundred to a
hundred and fifty, something like that.

Q. Was it then that you met for the first time the SS
Unterscharfuehrer Paul?

A. Yes.  On that day, we were at work all day.  We worked in
groups.  I was then working on removing from the courtyard
the personal effects of the people who had undressed there.
After they left the courtyard, we had to take away their
belongings and arrange them in heaps.  That was where I
worked.  Our people worked in all sorts of places, but in
every place, after we returned, the maltreatment by the
Germans was awful.  Right from the first day, people were
killed, shot, set on by a dog called Beri.

Q. Whose dog was it?

A. At first, the dog belonged to an SS man of Camp 3 who was
called "Beider" (bathhouse attendant), because he was in
charge of the bathhouses, the gas chambers.  Afterwards, the
dog was passed on to Unterscharfuehrer Paul, one of the
greatest sadists in the camp.  He used to call the dog and
say: "Beri, my man, grab that dog - Beri, you are acting in
my place."  Generally speaking, very few of the people who
were mauled by the dog remained alive, since the Germans
could not stand injured persons, sick persons.  I was bitten
twice by that dog - I still bear the marks on my body.  By
chance - and everything was a matter of chance - I remained
alive.  There was one other dog, but he was less powerful.
The dog "Beri" I am talking about was the size of a large
calf, and if he got hold of a man, that man was helpless.
The dog would attack him, and he had to submit to it.  There
were latrines there.  After work, people were afraid to sit
there.  The dog was very well trained; if he came to any
place, he would finish off anyone who was there.

Q. Let us get back to your first day in the camp.  So Paul
came there, right?

A. In the evening, after everyone had returned from their
work, they lined us up for an Appell, a roll-call.  Then
Wagner came.  While he was with us, he rose in rank very
rapidly.  At first, he was an Unterscharfuehrer, and, if I
am not mistaken, he ended up as Oberscharfuehrer.  He came
along and told us the tale that people were going to the
Ukraine: "and you, if you work, will do well; if not - you
will be put to death."

After that, Paul came up to us and asked: "Who is sick?  Who
is tired?  Anyone not wanting to work should fall out."
There were several cases of people who stepped out.  Most of
them understood the hint, and the others also understood the
hint, but they were tired of living.  Not all of them
stepped out.  He would come up and say: "You, it's enough
for you, why do you want to work?  You can live well.  Fall
out."  He would choose the people.  There was a long time
when he used to do the same thing every evening, choosing
ten to twelve persons.

There was a Ukrainian SS man by the name of Taras, and he
used to tell him: "Taras, take him to the Lazarette
(military hospital)."  After that, they soon explained to us
what the Lazarette was.  He told us: "Do you know what the
Lazarette is?  It is a place from which anyone who enters
does not return.  He sits there quietly - he does not work
any more.  Well, if there is anyone else willing - please."
This kind of thing continued for a whole month - it was the
same routine every evening.

Q. What happened to the people at the Lazarette?

A. They were immediately shot.  The Lazarette was a place in
the forest, in the direction of two of the gas chambers - it
was closer to the railway siding.  And, at first, when
people arrived, some of those who came were ill or had died
on the way.  Carts were not yet available - we built them
later.  This impeded the progress of the transports.  Then
these people were dragged closer to the site that was called
Lazarette, which contained smaller pits, and were hurled
into the pits, usually together with newly-born infants.  We
only saw this from a distance.

Q. Mr. Freiberg, at night, on your first day in Sobibor,
when you were put into the barn, men who came back told you
how people from the transport that had arrived were shot, is
that correct?

A. Not exactly.  They told us of incidents that happened to
their comrades while at work.  This did not happen to those
from the transport who went off to the gas chambers - but
this they did not see.

Q. Did they describe what happened to their comrades at

A. Yes.  There were people missing everywhere, right from
the start.  Many people were missing.  I can tell you that,
in the course of one month, only fifty people remained out
of one hundred and fifty.

Q. I am talking about your first day - let us stick to the
first day.  How old were you at the time?

A. I was fifteen years old, but I looked like a boy of ten,
since I had been small and very thin already at home.

Q. You were lying there, crying, and a Jew comforted you?

A. I could not picture to myself what was happening in
general.  I was dazed.  They crowded us together.  There
were people there who somehow managed, and I was sitting in
the middle.  One of the Jews said: "My boy, by behaving in
this way you will not last a single day.  Come, rest your
head on mine, and go to sleep."  And so I dozed off, one
could say.

Q. After several days, transports began arriving at Sobibor,
is that correct?

A. Yes.

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