The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Sessions 14
(Part 4 of 7)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Q. How many of them were still alive in 1938, how many of the sons?

A. In 1938 I had two sons and one daughter. One son is here, in this country, and the other one perished, the Germans took his life.

Q. Who was the first-born alive in 1938?

A. I had no first-born, he died at birth.

Q. Who was the eldest?

A. The eldest was a daughter.

Presiding Judge: Who was the elder one of the sons still alive in 1938?

A. There was Mordecai Eliezer...

Q. When was he born, Mordecai Eliezer?

A. 1919. In Hanover.

Q. And the other one?

A. And the other one was born on 21 March 1921.

Q. Also in Hanover?

A. Also in Hanover. All the children were born in Hanover.

Q. What was his name?

A. Hirsch Feivel Grynszpan. In German he was called Hermann.

Q. Mr. Grynszpan, what was your nationality during all those years you lived in Germany?

A. When I came to Germany in 1911, I came as a Russian subject. When Poland became a state of its own, I opted for Poland.

Q. In the year 1938, where was your son Hirsch?

A. In Paris.

Q. When did he come to Paris?

A. He came to Paris in '36, in May.

Q. Now, tell the Court what happened on 27 October 1938.

A. On 27 October 1938 - we didn`t know anything, it was Thursday night, at eight o'clock a policeman came in - "you will come to the 11th precinct - with the passports - you are going to come back straightaway, no need to take anything with you.

Presiding Judge: If you find it difficult to stand or when you are tired, you may sit down.

Witness Grynszpan: No, in deference to this Court I can stand.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Mr. Grynszpan, which members of your family did he order to come to the Revier (precinct)?

Witness Grynszpan: I was the only one, with my family.

Q. With your whole family?

A. My whole family. My son (who is sitting upstairs), my daughter, my wife and myself.

Q. And then what happened?

A. Then we were taken to the Revier. We got to the Revier. There I saw already about a hundred people. Some tore their hair out, some beat themselves, some wept, old people, small children, and someone shouting: "Sign! The deportation order! You are being deported!"

Presiding Judge: Who asked for the deportation orders to be countersigned?

Witness Grynszpan: The police inspector.

State Attorney Bar-Or: What did you do?

Witness Grynszpan: I had to sign, just as everybody had to sign. There was one person who did not sign, his name was Gershom Silber - so he had to stand in the corner for twenty four hours and was not allowed to move from that spot, if he tried to, he got hit over the head. Then they took us to the Concert House, on the bank of the River Leine. There were people there who had been brought in from all the precincts, we were about 600 people.

Q. How long did you remain there?

A. We stayed there until Friday night. Some 24 hours.

Q. And then?

A. And then they loaded us on to the police vans, some twenty people in each van, and we were despatched to the railway station; the streets were black with people - "Out with the Jews! To go Palestine!" We were taken by train to Neubenschen, on the German-Polish border, that was six o'clock in the morning, on the Sabbath.

Q. Who was with you in the train?

A. I was together with everybody. Six hundred people.

Q. With your wife?

A. And the children. Everybody.

Q. How did they deal with you, in the train?

A. When we came to Neubenschen, it was six o'clock in the morning, and trains arrived from Leipzig, Berlin, Hamburg, Koeln, Duesseldorf and so on - Bielefeld, Essen, Bremen - and we were 12,000 all together.

Q. When you got there, what day was it?

A. Saturday, 29 October.

Q. Mr. Grynszpan, did you inform anybody about this deportation?

A. Yes, when we reached the border, each of us was searched, to see whether any of us had any money with him, one could not have more than ten marks, if anybody had more - he had everything taken away. That was the German law, more than ten marks could not be taken out. The Germans said - you didn't bring in more to Germany than that, so that's what you may take out.

Q. And when you reached the frontier, did you inform anybody that you had reached that frontier?

A. With whom could one have got in touch? After all, the SS were keeping us "under their protective custody." They told us we would now walk two kilometres to the Russian, that is to the Polish border. So we were on our way to Poland. When we had been going for two kilometres, the SS started whipping us - over the heads - hitting us, those who fell behind - those unable to walk were dragged on the road - blood was flowing on all sides. The bundles we had in our hands were torn away from us and thrown aside. They acted most barbarically; that was the first time I saw the barbarity of the German people.

Q. Please carry on.

A. Then we got the order "Laufen, laufen, aber schnell laufen!" I myself got a blow from behind; I fell into a ditch; my son caught me by the hand: "Papa, come along, otherwise you are a dead man!"

Then we got to the border, the Polish border. They let us into Poland, first we got to the [free] open border "the green border" it is called. The women had already got across; they started shooting at the women; the Poles did not understand) - so many people. A General with two officers arrived; they looked at our passports, they saw we were indeed Polish citizens - Ausnahmspaesse (special passports) - we had to be allowed in; so they let us in.

We came into a town of six thousand inhabitants; we were twelve thousand. The rain was beating down; people were falling down, fainting, some fell down with heart attacks. People with their clothes torn off were lying about, being dragged hither and thither, old women, old men, small children. The misery was great. We had no food, we had not taken any food since Thursday, we had not wanted to eat German bread any more and we were starving.

Q. And when did you reach the camp?

A. We came to the camp on the same day. Since there was no space, we were put into the military stables where there was a lot of horse manure. That's where we stayed.

Presiding Judge: What camp was that?

A. It was the horse stables of the army.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Mr. Grynszpan, as I asked before, did you write to anybody immediately upon your arrival at the Sbenszyn camp?

A. Not on Saturday. We waited till Sunday. We were hungry, all of us. We had not eaten for two days. On Monday morning there arrived - no it was Sunday morning - a van with bread arrived from Posen.

Q. And when you got the bread? You did get bread on Sunday?

A. The bread arrived. Obviously everybody rushed the van. The driver was at a loss as to what to do, so the bread was tossed over the heads. Those who managed to catch some, to snatch some - got it. Eventually another van came and enough vans came to satisfy everybody's hunger.

Q. Yes, and then?

A. After that I wrote a letter to France, to my son: "Don't write to Germany any more. We are now in Sbenszyn.

Q. And that son was Hirsch Grynszpan?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions to put to this witness?

Dr. Servatius: I have no questions.

Presiding Judge: Thank you very much, Mr. Grynszpan. You have finished your testimony.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bar-Or, who is the next witness?

State Attorney Bar-Or: The next witness, Your Honour, is Mordecai Eliezer Grynszpan.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness M. Grynszpan: I am at a loss for some of the words, but I do speak it.

Presiding Judge: We'll try and see.

[The witness is sworn.]

State Attorney Bar-Or: Mr. Grynszpan, whose son are you?

Witness M. Grynszpan: Son of Zyndel Grynszpan.

Q. Who testified this morning in Court?

A. Yes.

Q. You are not his only son?

A. No.

Q. You knew Hirsch Hermann Grynszpan?

A. Yes.

Q. When did you see him last?

A. I saw him last in 1936, when he left for Frankfurt, in nineteen thirty five, when he left for Frankfurt to go and study in a Yeshiva [Talmudic College].

Q. Yes, and once he had finished his studies in the Yeshiva?

Presiding Judge: Where did he go to Frankfurt from? From Hanover?

Witness M. Grynszpan: From Hanover he moved to Frankfurt.

State Attorney Bar-Or: And from there?

Witness M. Grynszpan: From there I didn't see him again.

Q. You have not seen him since then?

A. Yes, he did come for holidays, once, and then he left from there.

Q. Where to?

A. To France, at the request of my uncle who lived in France.

Q. Do you know where he lived?

A. In Paris

Q. And he went to Paris?

A. He went to Paris.

Q. And you haven't seen him since then?

A. No, I haven't seen him again.

Q. Did you try to find him, during all the years that have passed?

A. We received the last letter...we received it... approximately, that was in Sbenszyn before the War.

Q. He wrote to you from Paris to Sbenszyn?

A. From Paris to Sbenszyn. We moved to Radomsko a fortnight before the War and got no more letters. We wrote to him that we had moved to Radomsko, and then the War started and we immediately left Radomsko. Because when the Germans entered Radomsko they immediately looked for the Grynszpans; they knew very well that we were in Radomsko.

Q. One moment. Those letters you received up to a fortnight before the outbreak of the War, about August, 1939...

A. It was the 1st of August.

Q. ...August 1939, where did they come from?

A. When the Germans came into Poland, we had lots of letters and many documents.

Q. No, no, you did not understand my question. I am asking about letters you received from Hirsch.

A. Yes.

Q. You say you received letters from Hirsch?

Q. What was the address he gave on his letters?

A. Oh, from the prison! I have a letter here...

Q. The prison - where?

A. In Paris. Fresnes. I have a letter here with, with...

Q. Please, show it.

A. And it is written to here, to a cousin of his here, who lived in Israel; here there are three, four letters.

Q. Do you know his handwriting, Hirsch's?

A. Yes.

Q. And are you able to identify the handwriting on this letter?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you understand my question? Are you able to identify the handwriting on this letter?

A. Yes, this is his handwriting.

Q. You are showing me here a letter dated 29 March 1939. Who is Leo?

A. Leo was a cousin who lived here in this country and to whom he also wrote letters. He corresponded with him. I have some four of them here that I have found here.

Q. This, "Hershel," is this the signature of your brother?

A. Yes.

Q. This is his signature?

A. Exactly.

State Attorney Bar-Or: If it please the Court, I should like to submit this as an exhibit.

Presiding Judge: This will be exhibit P. 59

[to Interpreter] Please read. Interpret. Yes.

Interpreter: "Dear Leo, I hope you have received my letter. How is it you have not written to me about Lena? Has she got married yet? I very much enjoyed reading your letter. I should be so glad if you were to send me a picture of yourself. How are you? My life in prison is very monotonous. I hope that French justice will understand me and act accordingly. From your sister I have received a few letters; unfortunately I am unable to reply as I have lost her address; please do let me have it. Nothing else is new. Regards and kisses from your cousin Hershel."

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