The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Sessions 91
(Part 3 of 5)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Presiding Judge: Who was Sir Robert Stafford?

Witness Meretz: He was in charge of the British loans. From the loan which Britain gave to Czechoslovakia as compensation for Munich, we received half a million pounds in order to finance immigration to Palestine in general. In order to reach Trieste, an Italian visa was required, and the Italians said: No, since in the "Durchlassungsschein" it said: "No return to the Protectorate." And we did not have a visa for Palestine, and consequently it was quite impossible to enter Italy. We asked Chaim Barlas in Geneva to do all he could to help. He went to Ciano in Rome. It was of no avail. In the end Ciano said that he would only agree if they brought an assurance that if the visa could not be obtained, it would be possible to return to the Protectorate.

Presiding Judge: Ciano - was he the Italian Foreign Minister?

Witness Meretz: Yes. Ya'akov Edelstein went to the Gestapo and impressed on them that no Jew would return; if he does not get the Palestine visa, he will do anything, but he will not return to the Protectorate. Then Eichmann issued a directive to give us, on the "Durchlassschein" the semblance of an assurance, so that the Italians could give us the visa. On the strength of that we secured the Italian visa and on the strength of that we were able to depart.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Who approached Eichmann in this matter?

Witness Meretz: Ya'akov Edelstein, on behalf of the Transfer Committee. He was our liaison with the Gestapo. He was also, subsequently, the "Judenaeltester" in Theresienstadt.

Presiding Judge: I am certain that you still have much on which to testify.

Witness Meretz: Finally, I only want to add that Franz Kahn, Edelstein, Zucker and my brother and his children - all of them were put to death; they died in October 1944, at the last moment.

Presiding Judge: Thank you Dr. Meretz, you have concluded your testimony.

State Attorney Bar-Or: With the Court's permission I call Mrs. Walli Zimet. The Prosecution Document relating to this evidence is No. 793.

Presiding Judge: Are you going to submit it during this testimony which is about to be given?

State Attorney Bar-Or: No. This witness will not testify in Hebrew and I want to bring to the attention of the translators the particular document we will be referring to. Perhaps the Court will allow me to submit, now, the three translations of Dr. Loewenherz' report which I have just received.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/157. Mrs. Zimet do you speak Hebr

ew? Witness Zimet: I speak Hebrew, but perhaps I will not understand everything.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

A. Walli Malka Zimet.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Madam, in 1939, before the German entry into Czechoslovakia, you were living in Prague?

Witness Zimet: Yes, I lived in Prague.

Q. What was the nature of your work, at that time, on the eve of the entry of the Germans?

A. Before the entry of the Germans, I worked with HIAS.

Q. As a clerk, a typist?

A. Yes.

Q. And what happened after the Germans entered?

A. They closed the HIAS office.

Q. Who closed it?

A. The Germans who entered closed the office.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps you would explain the meaning of HIAS?

Witness Zimet: It was an office which helped anyone desirous of emigrating, to do so.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Was it a Jewish organization? Who did this office belong to?

Witness Zimet: I don't know.

Q. Who worked there - Jews or others?

A. Jews.

Q. Was it a Jewish office?

A. A Jewish office.

Q. You told the Court that, immediately upon the entry of the Germans into Czechoslovakia, they closed the offices and also those...

A. Also those who worked there. Mrs. Steiner.

Q. Who was your superior?

A. Avraham Fiksler. He worked with me in HIAS.

Q. What happened to you afterwards?

A. Afterwards they opened the community council, or rather they made the community council office larger than what it had been and opened the "Zentralstelle fuer Auswanderung" in Prague.

Q. What do you mean by "they made the community office larger than what it had been?"

A. They employed more people.

Q. Why - what was the need?

A. Because they wanted to help with emigration.

Q. Jewish emigration from Czechoslovakia?

A. Yes.

Q. And then, what happened to you?

A. Avraham Fiksler was taken to work at Stresovice.

Q. When was that?

A. In July 1939.

Q. What was at Stresovice?

A. The Zentralstelle fuer juedische Auswanderung was there.

Q. By whom was it run?

A. By Eichmann.

Q. Who else was there?

A. Working there were Guenther, who was his assistant, his right-hand man, Burger, Rahm and Zein and several others.

Q. Was Eichmann there?

A. He came from time to time.

Q. Do you remember the times he appeared?

A. That I do not remember. But he was there several times after July 1939.

Q. In those months, after July 1939?

A. After July, 1939.

Q. Was Guenther there all the time?

A. Guenther was there all the time.

Q. And where did you work?

A. I worked in the room of the Community Council in the Zentralstelle.

Q. Where was that - upstairs or downstairs?

A. It was in the basement, and it moved a year later to the ground floor.

Q. Where was Guenther's office?

A. Guenther's office was on the second floor, upstairs.

Q. What were your duties in the Zentralstelle?

A. People came there with "Auswanderungsmappen" (Emigration Kits).

Q. What was that?

A. It contained all kinds of documents for Income Tax about the effects that each one would be taking with him when he left the country.

Q. Where did they prepare this?

A. The kits were prepared, if it was for a place other than Palestine, in the community council office, and if it was for Palestine, in the Palestine Office.

Q. Did they come to you with these kits?

A. Yes, we prepared kits, and our job was to check them in order that these people should not encounter difficulties.

Q. What were the possible difficulties?

A. The difficulties were at the entrance to the building; if there was an SS man there who was not in a good mood, he beat people up, shouted at them.

Q. What did the people do upon entering the building?

A. After that the people went into the Jews' room. There we checked them and quietened them down and they entered the rooms further on.

Q. Who were in the next rooms?

A. Czech officials were there - from the police, from Income Tax, from the Ministry of Finance. SS men sat in the last room.

Q. What were the names of the SS men or the SS man?

A. Lederer and Hahn were there, in the last room.

Q. Were they the Gestapo representatives there?

A. They were the Gestapo representatives.

Q. When one had passed by all these rooms and reached the rooms of the Gestapo, what happened?

A. The people went home, and either they were called a second time if something was not in order, or they subsequently received their exit permit (Durchlassschein). But, before that, they had to sign that they were handing over all their property, and that they had nothing left - a sort of emigration tax. If a person left, he did so without all his possessions except for a few kilograms.

Q. What happened to their apartments?

A. The apartments also had to be handed over.

Q. Do you remember Eichmann's name in some special connection with your work there?

A. I remember an occasion when there were already no more people for emigration...

Q. When was that, approximately?

A. In 1940. And a group of persons had to appear there every day.

Q. Do you remember the size of the normal group that had to appear?

A. I don't know, but I do know that when it was known that Eichmann was about to come, there was fear throughout the building. There were no longer any people there who had visas for any country, and then Guenther made an urgent request to the community officials that, for this day when Eichmann was coming, they should bring along a large number of people, even with empty kits, so as to show that some kind of activity was in progress there. And then several hundred persons lined up before the Zentralstelle and Eichmann appeared and was most satisfied to see people there, even though they only had blank papers in their kits. This he did not check.

Q. That is to say - they were there just for show?

A. Yes.

Q. And you continued working there until...?

A. I worked there until I was deported, in 1943.

Q. What do you mean by "deported"? Where to?

A. I came to Theresienstadt, and from there to Auschwitz.

Q. When did you reach Auschwitz?

A. In October 1944.

Q. And from there?

A. Ultimately from there to Lanzing, near Mauthausen, from where I was liberated.

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

Presiding Judge: Thank you. You have concluded your testimony.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I shall call now Mr. Max Burger.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew, Sir?

Witness Burger: I ask for permission to speak German.

The witness is sworn.

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Max Burger.

State Attorney Bar-Or: You were born in Moravska Ostrava?

Witness Burger: Yes.

Q. And you lived there until 1939 when the Germans marched in?

A. Yes.

Q. You were an insurance broker?

A. Yes.

Q. What were the main changes you witnessed yourself, immediately after the Germans marched into Moravska Ostrova?

A. At the beginning there were no major changes. What happened were arrests of individuals, prohibitions to enter places open to the general public, to visit parks, we had to do our shopping at fixed times. Some time later, in May 1939 approximately, synagogues were set on fire. Major changes came with the outbreak of War on the 1st of September, 1939.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Just a minute, Mr. Burger, what was your function in the Jewish community of Moravska Ostrava in those days?

Witness Burger: Voluntary worker in the Community. On the 1 September 1939, the day the War broke out, Jews were arrested at random on the streets, some of them imprisoned and some loaded on trucks and deported in the direction of the Polish front; towards the middle of September all the Jews of Ostrava were ordered to report to the Gestapo in alphabetical order, and there they were registered.

Q. Do you remember who was in charge of this Gestapo office?

A. Klein.

Q. Which unit did he belong to?

A. The Department for Jews.

Q. Did he work in plain clothes or in uniform?

A. Mostly in plain clothes.

Q. When he appeared in uniform which one did he wear?

A. The grey one of the SD. At the time of registration we were made to hand over wireless sets, jewellery, and, in addition, Klein, at his own estimate, imposed a money contribution on everyone. Early in October, or towards the end of September, we were summoned to the Gestapo, i.e. the head of the Community, Salo Kramer, together with two or three office-holders, one of whom was Professor Emil Eisner, if I remember rightly. At first we were informed there that the Accused had come to Ostrova with orders concerning us.

Q. When did you hear of the Accused for the first time?

A. In September 1939, when we were told that Eichmann, whose headquarters were in Vienna, was the plenipotentiary for the so-called Buerckellaender.* {*Buerckel was the Reich Commissar for Reunion (of Austria with Germany)}

Thereupon a correction was made, saying it was not the Accused.

Dr. Servatius: I wish to explain that this was the Gauleiter of Vienna to the best of my knowledge.

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