The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 20
(Part 2 of 7)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Attorney General: So much for the affidavits, Your Honour.

And now, my colleague Mr. Bar-Or will continue with the submission of his evidence.

State Attorney Bar-Or: With the Court's permission and in continuation of yesterday's proceedings, I now wish to submit to the Court nine reports or, as they are called "Wochenberichte" (Weekly Reports) of the Jewish Community in Prague. These reports, which we have for the years 1939- 1942, have been bound together. They constitute two volumes of original copies. These copies are originals which the Community submitted during those years to the Zentralstelle fuer Juedische Auswanderung in Prague.

Authentication of these original copies was submitted to this Court by Mr. Bar Shalom by means of the affidavit of Dr. Joseph Kermish (T/22). I shall not refer this morning to all these weekly reports. In these two volumes I have marked nine of them, and I shall draw the Court's attention, with the utmost brevity, to the passages relating to the issue, and shall submit the marked volumes.

I have, here, nine reports. They relate to Prosecution documents Nos. 1323, 1324, 1325, 1326, 1327, 1328, 1329 and 1330.

Presiding Judge: The two volumes will be marked T/162 and T/163.

State Attorney Bar-Or: The first document, Prosecution No. 123, is the report marked No. 1, for the period from 23.7.1939 to 29. 7. 1939.

Presiding Judge: Do you have copies of it?

State Attorney Bar-Or: We have copies and, with the Court's permission, I shall submit them.

I would draw the Court's attention to page 2 of the original, under the heading: "Emigration." It says here that, upon the instruction of SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Eichmann, the secretary of the Community was in Vienna on 20 July 1939, and on the strength of the experience he acquired there, he will set up the local bureau for emigration.

I pass on to report No. 4 for the period 13 August to 19 August 1939. This appears on page 10. I would draw the Court's attention to paragraph "B" on page 10, under the heading "Situation Report." Here it says that in accordance with the instruction of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Prague, the Community notified the members of all the other communities that the Jews were obliged to move their place of residence to Prague.

And now weekly report No. 5 for the week 20 August 1939 to 25 August 1939. I would refer the Court to paragraph "C" about emigration activities. It says here that Mr. Storfer of Vienna had notified them that by order of SS- Hauptsturmfuehrer Eichmann, he would carry out the centralization of all the mass transports (der Massentransporte).

I go on to weekly report No. 6 for the week beginning 17 August 1939 until 1 September 1939. Here I draw the Court's attention to page 22 of the volume, paragraph "C", dealing with the establishment of the bureau for the collection of expenses for the promotion of emigration.

I pass to weekly report No. 8 for the week 9 September 1939 to 15 September.

Presiding Judge: Was all this submitted to the Centre for Emigration?

State Attorney Bar-Or: The original of the report was kept by, or had to be delivered to the Zentralstelle. The copy remained in the community office. You have before you the copies brought from the office of the Prague community and handed over to Yad Vashem.

Here I would draw the Court's attention to page 35 of the volume, dealing with the situation. It says here that the Jewish Community during the course of the week informed the Zentralstelle of the identity of the Polish citizens or stateless persons, or former Polish citizens, who were known to the Community and who had been traced by the Community. These persons were arrested and the whole question of the arrest of the Poles and stateless persons had aroused much anxiety amongst the Jews of Prague.

I pass on to weekly report No. 15 - that was the week from 28 October 1939 to 2 November 1939. The Court will find on page 93, a remark in connection with bank accounts. It says here that bank accounts still in existence in the Zivno Bank and in the Landesbank would be closed and would be transferred to the Centre for Jewish Emigration in Prague.

And now to the 17th weekly report, for the period commencing 10 November 1939 until 16 November 1939. Under paragraph III there is a situation report. It mentions here a summons of the leaders of the Jewish Community and the Palestine Office to Eichmann. That is on page 111. On 10 November 1939, the members of the Jewish Community and the Palestine Office were summoned to Eichmann. The question was whether it was possible to increase the daily quota of emigrants applying to the Zentralstelle. Here, there is an implied threat in the report that if the quota were not increased - the office would be closed down. The leaders of the Community and the Palestine Office travelled the same week to Vienna in order to consult with their colleagues in Vienna about the possibility of increasing emigration.

Now I come to the weekly report in Volume Two. We have already reached the year 1940. This is Report No. 4 for the week between 20th and 26th of January, 1940. This is the last report I wish to refer to. It says here - on page 52 - that at the end of the week, the Head of the Palestine Office would be leaving for Vienna (we know who he was - he was the same man of whom we have heard from witnesses here) in order to be received by Eichmann in Vienna.

I shall permit myself in the course of the trial, to revert to these reports in the context of matters which will then be discussed.

With the Court's permission I shall now call the witness Dr. Hugo Ya'akov Kratky.

Presiding Judge: [to witness] Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Kratky: Yes.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Dr. Ya'akov Hugo Kratky.

Presiding Judge: Please answer Mr. Bar-Or's questions.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Are you a doctor by profession?

Witness Kratky: Yes, I am a doctor.

Q. You were engaged in the practice of medicine in Maehrisch- Ostrau (Moravska Ostrava)?

A. Yes.

Q. You continued your medical work until October 1939?

A. I continued until October 1939.

Q. Then what happened?

A. In October 1939, I travelled with a thousand people from Moravska Ostrava. I should like to say, before that, what that transport was about. We heard, at the end of the summer, that there was some kind of plan - we received a notice about it and some information.

Presiding Judge: We have heard about this transport from one of the witnesses, from Mr. Burger.

Witness Kratky: I went on this transport, which you have heard about, in the direction of Poland, to Galicia.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Did you have a special duty on this transport?

Witness Kratky: I was one of the doctors on the transport. I think there were seventeen doctors. I had no special duty on this transport.

Q. Do you remember what this train in which you travelled from Maehrish-Ostrau consisted of?

A. Yes, the train was very long.

Q. Were there only passenger cars there?

A. There were also all kinds of boards and wood.

Q. Building material?

A. Building material.

Q. Where did you go?

A. We went via Cracow to Nisko on the San River.

Q. Do you remember being told anything when you arrived and boarded the train? Were you told anything about the quality of the water?

A. We heard throughout the train that we were not allowed to drink the water - that the water was infected with typhus. By chance my passenger carriage was standing near the water tap at the railway station. As a doctor I was not too ready to believe this. Nevertheless I already felt that the treatment we were receiving was not so good. I did not want to believe that. A doctor always thinks about hygiene in such cases. I went up to this tap. There was a young man standing near the tap, a Pole. I know the Czech language perfectly. I said to him: Do you drink this water? Your family also? He said: Yes, we drink this water. I asked: Is the water infected with typhus? Is there typhus here? He said: No.

At that moment some other person from the station passed by. I was certain that he was employed there. I also asked him the same question. I wanted to be certain that the water was not infected.

Q. Was he a Pole?

A. He also told me that he did not know anything about typhus.

Q. Were they local residents?

A. Yes, he worked on the railway. I was the first to drink the water.

Q. You yourself drank the water?

A. Yes. We had heard the order: Don't drink. But it was not because of fear that we did not drink. There was an order not to drink. But, nevertheless, we wanted to drink. Indeed we had not drunk water for a long time.

Q. But you yourself heard the order how to behave with the water and what to do with it?

A. That spread all over the train.

Q. Where you given orders after you reached Nisko?

A. That was later. After that we walked for about seven or eight kilometres.

Q. From the railway station?

A. On foot, from the railway station. The suitcases were on small carts. We walked for approximately eight kilometres. It was already afternoon.

Q. What did you have in your hands? Did you walk with empty hands?

A. We only had small haversacks on our backs. We reached a place where there were a number of houses - I think there was a stable or something like that - several trees, and nearby there was a hill. It was already afternoon and moreover the weather was not too good. We were waiting to see what would happen. In the afternoon - it could have been about five o'clock, or even later than that - we received orders, the doctors, the engineers and also those who had some duty on the transport, we were told to go to the top of the hill. There was a group of SS there. We stood near them, perhaps five, six metres away, and one of the SS spoke.

Q. What did he say? What did he talk about?

A. I want to repeat it in German.

Q. Do you remember the German words?

A. I remember the words which have remained in my memory all this time.

"Sie bauen hier ein Lager."
(I don't remember whether it was "Konzentrationslager" or simply "Lager")
"Waffenbewachung SS. Hier wird ein Maschinengewehr stehen, ringsherum Stacheldraht, bis morgen Nachmittags muessen zwei Baracken stehen. Wasser gibt's kein. Wasser hier vergiftet mit Typhus. Wenn Ihr Wasser trinken wollt, muesst Ihr einen Brunnen graben, aber vom Gipfel, von hier."
("You are going to build a camp here. The guard is from the SS." He pointed to the place with his hand: "Here a machine gun will be set up. Surrounding it will be barbed wire. By tomorrow afternoon two huts have to stand here. There is no water. The water here is infected with typhus. If you want to drink water, you will have to dig a well, but from the top of the hill, from here").
Over the years I repeated these words so often to myself that I never forgot them.

Q. How long did you remain in the camp?

A. We were there all night. It rained all night, and in the morning, at 7.30 a.m., we received orders that 200 men out of the group of one thousand would have to leave the place at approximately 9.30 a.m. with their suitcases which were fairly heavy, about 50 kilos each, for every one had taken fom home everything he could carry, since he was the last to remove things from his home. Under the guard of SS men we walked in an easterly direction. We went with two doctors. I happened to be one of the doctors to go along with this group. We walked for a kilometre or two and we asked the SS men how long we would have to walk, for the suitcases were heavy and it was impossible to carry them any longer. They laughed at us and said: "Throw the suitcases away." We walked for a further kilometre, and after that we saw that there was no end to it, and all of us threw the suitcases away. Only those who had small packages took them along.

Q. How many were there of you?

A. Two hundred.

Q. Where did the rest remain?

A. In the camp. And I don't know what happened to them. At the fifth or sixth kilometre...

Q. After five or six kilometres?

A. Yes, they left us and said: Now you may walk only in an easterly direction, and whoever walks back will receive a bullet. Not only back towards the camp, but back generally in a westerly direction. We didn't know what to do. We had nothing - only the small suitcases. We stood there. A small group of five of us decided to walk to the nearest town where there were many Jews, and perhaps something could be done. The people split up into many groups.

Q. Small ones?

A. Yes.

Q. You went off with a group of how many?

A. Of five people. I remember only three of them. I don't remember the names of the others. One was Dr. Tasker, from Moravska Ostrava, who is here to this day. He is a doctor, a good friend of mine.

Q. Where did you go?

A. We walked through the forests towards Lublin. It was about 120-150 kilometres.

Q. From there to Lublin?

A. Yes. We spent the night in the house of some peasant - he gave us food, and we walked on and reached Lublin.

Q. How long did the walk to Lublin take?

A. Two and a half days.

Q. How did you fend for yourselves along the road?

A. We had a little money, we had obtained money for the journey. We received zlotys.

Q. Where were you given the zlotys in exchange?

A. In Cracow.

Q. So after two and a half days you reached Lublin?

A. Yes.

Q. What did you do there?

A. In Lublin, we didn't know what to do. We were afraid, for we saw many German soldiers there - everywhere.

Q. Was that the end of October 1939?

A. Yes. We came there and saw many Jews. We asked where the ghetto was - not the ghetto, but where was the quarter of the town where the Jews lived. That was in Levertovska Street, in Lublin. We knocked at the first door on the way and we went into a house in which there was a couple - very nice young people.

Q. How long did you remain in Lublin?

A. They gave us food and everything and also...

Q. How long did you remain in Lublin?

A. Three days.

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