The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th February to 11th March, 1946

Sixty-Ninth Day: Wednesday, 27th February, 1946
(Part 5 of 9)

[Page 16]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has been informed that the witness who was referred to yesterday, Wieland, is in a prisoner-of-war camp or in prison near London, England, and he can therefore be brought over here to be examined at short notice. The Tribunal, therefore, wishes the defendants' counsel to make up their minds whether they desire Colonel Westhoff and this man Wieland to be brought here during the prosecution's case for them to cross- examine, or whether they prefer that they should be brought when the defendants are presenting their cases. But, as I have stated with reference to all witnesses, they can only be called once. If they are examined as part of the prosecution's case, then all the defendants must exercise their rights, if they wish to do so, of interrogating the witnesses at that time. If, on the other hand, the defendants' counsel decide that they would prefer that these witnesses should be called during the defence case, then, similarly, the witnesses will only be called once, and the right of examining them must then be exercised.

At the same time, the statement or the report which was presented yesterday, and which the Tribunal ruled to be admissible, will be read in the course of the prosecution's case at such time as the prosecution decide.

DR. NELTE (counsel for defendant Keitel): Mr. President, may I be allowed to make a statement only after discussion with my colleagues. I hope this will be possible in the course of the afternoon.

THE PRESIDENT: I understand you want to consult the other defendants' counsel before you let us know. Very well; you will let us know at your convenience. Go on, Colonel Smirnov.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Mr. President, I would like to proceed with the interrogation of the witness.

(The witness takes the stand.)

THE PRESIDENT: What is your name?

THE WITNESS: Rajzman, Samuel.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me: I hereby swear before God, the Almighty, that I will speak before the Tribunal nothing but the truth, concealing nothing of what is known to me, so help me God, Amen.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.


Q. Witness Rajzman, will you please tell the Tribunal what your occupation was before the war?

A. Before the war I was an accountant in an export firm.

Q. When and under what circumstances did you become an internee of Treblinka Camp No. 2?

A. In August 1942 I was taken away from the Warsaw ghetto.

Q. How long did you stay in Treblinka?

A. I was interned there for a year, until August 1943.

Q. That means you are well acquainted with the rules governing the treatment of the people in this camp?

A. Yes, I am well acquainted with these rules.

[Page 17]

Q. I ask you to describe this camp to the Tribunal.

A. Transports arrived there every day; their number depended on the number of trains arriving, sometimes three, four, or five trains filled with Jews from different countries - Czechoslovakia, Germany, Greece and Poland. Immediately on arrival, the people had to leave the trains in five minutes and line up on the platform. All those who were turned out were divided into groups: men, children and women, all separate. They were all forced to strip immediately, and this procedure continued under the lashes of the German guards' whips. Workers who were employed in this operation immediately picked up all the clothes and carried them away to barracks; then the people were obliged to walk naked through the street to the gas chambers.

Q. I would like you to tell the Tribunal how the Germans called the street to the gas chambers?

A. It was named "Himmelfahrt" Street.

Q. That is to say, the "road to heaven"?

A. Yes. . . . If it interests the court, I can present a plan of the camp of Treblinka, which I drew up when I was there and I can point out to the Tribunal this street on the plan.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think it is necessary to put in a plan of the camp, unless you particularly want to?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Yes, I also agree that it is not really necessary.


Q. Please tell us, witness, how long did a person live after he had arrived in the Treblinka Camp?

A. The whole process of undressing and the walk down to the gas chambers lasted, for the men eight or ten minutes, and for the women some fifteen minutes. The women took fifteen minutes because they had to have their hair cut off before they went to the gas chambers.

Q. Why was their hair cut off?

A. According to the ideas of the authorities this hair was to be used in the manufacture of mattresses for German women.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean that there were only ten minutes between the time when they were taken out of the trucks and the time when they were put into the gas chambers?

THE WITNESS: As far as men were concerned, I am sure it did not last longer than ten minutes.


Q. Including the undressing?

A. Yes, including the undressing.

Q. Please tell us, witness, were the people brought to Treblinka in trucks or in trains?

A. They were brought nearly always in trains, and only the people from neighbouring villages and hamlets were brought in trucks. The trucks bore the sign "Expedition Speer," and came from Vengrova Sokolova.

Q. Please tell us, what was the appearance of the station at Treblinka later on?

A. At first there were no sign-boards whatsoever at the station, but a few months later the commandant of the camp built a first-class railway station with sign-boards. The barracks where the clothing was stored had signs reading "restaurant," "ticket-office", "telegraph," "telephone," etc. There were even train schedules for the departure and the arrival of trains to and from Grodno, Suvalki, Vienna and Berlin.

Q. Did I rightly understand you, witness, that a kind of "make believe" station was built with sign-boards and train schedules, with indications of train departures to Suvalki, etc.?

[Page 18]

A. When the persons came out from the trains, they really had the impression that they were at a very large station from which they could go to Suvalki, Vienna, Grodno or other places.

Q. And what happened later on to these people?

A. These people were taken directly along the Himmelfahrt Strasse to the gas chambers.

Q. And tell us, please, how did the Germans behave while killing their victims in Treblinka?

A. If you mean the actual executions, every German guard had his special job. I shall quote only one example. We had a Scharfuehrer Menz, whose special job was to guard the so- called "lazaret." In this lazaret were exterminated all weak women and little children who had not the strength to go themselves to the gas chambers.

Q. Perhaps, witness, you can describe this lazaret to the Tribunal?

A. This was part of a square which was enclosed by a wooden fence. All women, aged persons, and sick, children were driven there. At the gates of this lazaret, there was a large Red Cross flag. Menz, who specialised in the murder of all persons brought to this lazaret, would not let anybody else do this job. There might have been hundreds of persons who wanted to see and know what was in store for them, but he insisted on carrying out this work by himself. Here is just one example of what was the fate of the children there. A ten-year-old girl was brought to this building from the train with her two-year-old sister. When the elder girl saw that Menz had taken out a revolver to shoot her two-year-old sister, she threw herself upon him crying out and asking, "Why do you want to kill her?" He did not kill the baby, he threw her alive into the oven, and then killed the elder sister.

Another example: They brought an aged woman with her daughter to this building ...

... the latter was in the last stage of pregnancy. She was brought to the lazaret, was put on a grass plot, and several Germans came to watch the delivery. This spectacle lasted two hours. When the child was born, Menz asked the grandmother, that is the mother of this woman, whom she preferred to see killed first. The grandmother begged to be killed instead. But, of course, they did the opposite; the newborn baby was killed first, then the mother, and finally the grandmother.

Q. Please tell us, witness, does the name Kurt Franz mean anything to you?

A. This man was the assistant commandant of the camp, the deputy to Stengel, the biggest murderer in the camp. Kurt Franz was known for having published, in January 1943, a report to the effect that a million Jews had been killed in Treblinka, a report which had procured for him a promotion from the rank of Sturmbannfuehrer to that of Obersturmbannfuehrer.

Q. Witness, will you please tell the Tribunal how Franz killed a woman who claimed to be the sister of Sigmund Freud. Do you remember this incident?

A. A train arrived from Vienna. I was standing on the platform when the people left the cars. An elderly woman came up to Kurt Franz, took out a document and said that she was the sister of Sigmund Freud. She begged him to give her light work in an office. Franz read this document through very seriously and said that there must be a mistake here, he led her up to the train schedule and said that in two hours a train would leave for Vienna. She should leave all her documents and valuables and then go to a bath-house; after the bath she would have her documents and ticket prepared to be sent to Vienna. Of course, the woman went to the bath-house, and never returned.

Q. Please tell us, witness, how was it that you remained alive in Treblinka?

A. I was already undressed, and about, to pass through this Himmelfahrt Strasse to the gas chambers. Some 8,000 Jews had arrived with my transport from Warsaw. At the last minute, before we moved towards the street, an engineer

[Page 19]

Galevski, an old friend of mine whom I had known in Warsaw, caught sight of me. He was overseer of workers among the Jews. He told me that I should turn back from the street, and as they needed an interpreter for Hebrew, French, Russian and Polish into German, he managed to obtain permission to free me.

Q. You were therefore a member of the labour unit of the camp?

A. At first, my work was to load the clothes of the murdered persons onto the trains. When I had been in the camp two days, my mother, my sister, and two brothers were brought there from the town of Vengrova. I had to watch them being led away to the gas chambers. Several days later, when I was loading clothes onto the freight cars, my comrades found the documents and a photograph of my wife and child. That is all I have left of my family, only a photograph.

Q. Tell us, witness, how many persons were brought daily to the Treblinka camp?

A. Between July and December 1942 an average of three transports of sixty wagons each arrived every day. In 1943 the transports arrived less frequently.

Q. Tell us, witness, how many persons were exterminated in the camp on an average daily?

A. On an average, I believe, they killed in Treblinka from 10,000 to 12,000 persons daily.

Q. How many gas chambers were in operation?

A. At first there were only three gas chambers, but then they built ten more. It was planned to increase this number to twenty-five.

Q. But how do you know that? Why do you say, witness, that they planned to increase the number of gas chambers to twenty-five?

A. Because all the building material had been brought and put in the square. I asked, "Why? There are no more Jews." They said, "after you there will be others, and there is still a big job to do. . . ."

Q. What was the other name of Treblinka?

A. When Treblinka became very well known they hung up a huge sign with the inscription "Obermaidanek".

Q. What do you mean by "very well known"?

A. I mean that the persons who arrived in transports soon found out that it was not a fashionable station, but that it was a death trap.

Q. Tell us, witness, why was this make-believe station built?

A. It was done for the sole reason that the people on leaving the trains should not get nervous, should undress calmly, and that there should not be any incidents.

Q. If I understand you correctly, this criminal device had only one purpose, a psychological purpose of reassuring the doomed during the first moments.

A. Yes, exactly this psychological purpose.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I have no further questions to ask this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Do the defendants' counsel wish to ask any questions?

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