The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 23
(Part 4 of 5)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Judge Halevi: Dr. Wells, you said that when the Nazis entered Russia, there were 150,000 Jews in Lvov.

Witness Wells: Yes.

Q. How many Polish residents were there in Lvov, or local non-Jewish residents?

A. The city counted at this time about 420,000 population.

Q. When you were seeking a hiding place from the extermination, did the Poles give you shelter in their homes?

A. Normally the Poles, not only did not afford us any hiding places, but they took part, and when some of our Death Brigade people escaped into the woods, only a few of us survived, because some of them were killed by Polish partisans in the woods.

Q. I did not understand - the Poles "took part" in what?

A. No, there was a Polish partisan group that was fighting against the Germans, but there was a similar group and at the same time they were anti-Jewish.

Attorney General: Perhaps I may be permitted to ask, Your Honour, the question is a delicate one, there were several forces of Polish partisans - perhaps the witness should be asked to identify which force he is talking of - if I may request this.

Witness Wells: I know about several partisan forces, that for example some of them helped, but some were against. I couldn't identify their political or non-political association because I only know that this group was near Lvov in the woods near Stry, and I know one thing that even among the Polish partisans there was fighting between partisan groups against partisan groups, so it wasn't a clear situation and at this time I couldn't...I found out after the War, that some people were hidden by partisans that belong to a certain political organization, but I couldn't at this time say.

Q. Perhaps the Witness could identify an organization called NST?

A. I know about the name but I have very little connection or knowledge of it.

Q. Armia Krajowa - have you heard the name?

A. I know also about the Armia Krajowa.

Presiding Judge: The witness said that he was then too young to be familiar with all these matters.

Attorney General: Judge Halevi's question concerns a question which we shall dwell upon tomorrow and there will be people here who will be able to inform the Court. I simply wanted the witness, seeing that he had been asked, to say himself that there were various Polish units.

Presiding Judge: He said this - that is clear.

Judge Halevi: I really wasn't referring so much to partisans, but to ordinary citizens. Dr. Wells, do you know how many Jews were rescued from Lvov by Polish citizens?

Witness Wells: By the Lvov inhabitants there were about eight places, eight Polish places that were hiding Jews. About two of them that were hiding over twenty people and the rest were only hiding one or two. But there were only eight places. There was, for example, a very tragic situation that two weeks before the liberation a doctor gave out...

Presiding Judge: Dr. Wells, I'd like you to answer the question.

Judge Halevi: Did you have good chances of finding a hiding place in the town of Lvov or was it dangerous to ask for refuge there, outside the Ghetto?

Witness Wells: It was very dangerous, because we had the whole population against us. It was practically impossible to find some refuge in any place possible.

Attorney General: If I may be permitted merely to clarify the matter, was the majority of the non-Jewish population of Lvov Polish or Ukrainian?

Witness Wells: It was equal. I suppose the Poles were about thirty percent of the people of Lvov.

Presiding Judge: Thirty percent Poles, about thirty percent Ukrainians and thirty-five percent Jews?

Witness Wells: Yes.

Q. You gave us exact dates of various events. How can you remember these dates?

A. I kept an exact diary of the whole War, and one day after the liberation it was given over - the original diary - to Dr. Friedman, at this time the Chairman of the Historical Commission, the first day after the War. It was the complete diary.

Q. And you always carried this diary with you?

A. Yes, yes.

Q. This thing was never discovered by the Germans?

A. It was never discovered. We had even pistols that we got into the Death Brigade. Because none of us ever cared that if he is caught he will be killed. If he believed in something, he did it.

Q. What was the overall area of operation of this Death Brigade which you told us about?

A. It went as far as Stanislawa, which is about 180 kilometres, I believe, from Lvov. All in Eastern Galicia.

Presiding Judge: Thank you, Dr. Wells, with this you have concluded your evidence.

Attorney General: With the Court's permission, at this stage I shall submit a number of documents. The first Prosecution Document No. 1362. This is the report of SS Gruppenfuehrer Katzmann on the extermination of the Jewish community of Galicia. It was submitted to the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.

Presiding Judge: This is document marked T/215.

Attorney General: May I be permitted to draw the Court's attention to a number of lines from this report. Page 392 (these are the pages of volume 37 of the "Blue Series," in German) states: "By means of the terms 'Galician Jew,' Galicia evidently became the one spot on earth that was best known and on everybody's tongue in connection with Jewishness. Here they lived in large compact masses" And at the foot of the page: "The influence of this Galician Jewry, which had already been substantial in the days of the rule of Austria and Poland, expanded almost beyond belief with the occupation of this region by the Soviet Russians in 1939. All key positions in the country were in their hands."

On page 393 it says: "Since repeated attempts of the municipality of Lemberg, for example, to accommodate the Jews in a closed Jewish area failed, this problem, too, was solved in a very short time by the SS and Police Leader with his agents." Afterwards there is reference, at the foot of page 394, to "Umsiedlungen" (resettlement) and there it states: "In this operation, again, thousands of Jews were seized in whose possession were found forged certificates, or who had secured for themselves work permits by all kinds of possible pretexts. These Jews were also transferred for "special treatment."

On page 398 it says: "Despite all these measures for arranging the labour conscription of the Jews, the evacuation of the Jews from the province of Galicia was begun in April 1942, and this was carried out continually. When the Higher SS and Police Leader with his police order to set up residential areas for the Jews, as from 10.11.1942, intervened again in the general Jewish question, 254,989 Jews had already be transferred or deported." On page 401 Katzmann reports on the meeting out of special treatment, deportation and liquidation of 434,329 Jews of Galicia up to 27.6.1943. Subsequently on page 404 on the bottom it states: "There was always a renewed need to overcome the growing revulsion to enter these filthy and contaminated holes (Seuchenloecher) of the Jews. At the time of the searches, leaflets in the Hebrew language were found calling for the cultivation of lice contaminated with typhus, which were intended to cause the annihilation of police units." On page 19, which is your page 26:

"Underground bunkers were discovered, the entrance to which were skilfully camouflaged, and which were in part in houses and in part in the open area as well." Katzmann lists the bunkers, talks of the attempts on the part of the Jews to escape abroad, of the forged papers some of them acquired, of Jewish weapons he managed to confiscate in various places in Lvov and Brody, of the searches and intensive interrogations of the Jews who were caught, and of the fact that "a certain Jew, Horowitz, who dwelt in the forests opposite Brody, organized the transports abroad." And finally he concludes thus: "In view of the fact that alarming reports were continually spreading about the increasing arming of the Jews, it became necessary to adopt the most stringent measures in the last fourteen days of the month of June, simultaneously in all parts of the province of Galicia, for the purpose of destroying the Jewish gangs. Special steps were required at the time of the liquidation of the Jewish residential district in Lemberg, where the bunkers which were already destroyed, had been built." And these are the concluding remarks: "Despite the exceptional difficulty which each member of the SS and the police had to contend with in the course of this operation - the mood and the morale of our people, from the first day until the last, were outstandingly good and praiseworthy. It was only thanks to the awareness of the personal responsibility of each one of the officers and the men that it was possible to get this plague under control in the shortest possible time."
Judge Halevi: What was the end of this Katzmann?

Attorney General: Katzmann died a natural death.

Judge Halevi: During the War or after?

Attorney General: Long after the War.

Judge Halevi: Was he tried?

Attorney General: No, he was not tried.

The following document is No. 843. This is a sworn statement by Paul Blobel, who was in charge of the operation "Removing the Traces."

Presiding Judge: Where was this affidavit?

Attorney General: It is a declaration that was submitted in Trial 9, the Einsatzgruppen case.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/216.

Attorney General: The next document is No. 858, which was also submitted in Trial 9. This is a partial copy of an affidavit by Hoess on the operation of Blobel, the Einsatzkommando 1005. Here it is mentioned by name. Hoess declares that Standartenfuehrer Blobel knew exactly the number of the mass graves in the Eastern regions. He states at the beginning that a short time after the visit of the Reichsfuehrer SS, Standartenfuehrer Blobel came from Eichmann's unit and brought the order of the Reichsfuehrer SS, under which they had to open all the mass graves and burn the bodies.

Presiding Judge: Was this the only unit that dealt with it in the whole of the East?

Attorney General: This was the unit in charge of it. It had branches in all the localities, not only in Eastern Galicia. It operated in all kinds of places, and we shall prove it.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/217.

Attorney General: The following document is No. 1549. This was the official report of Hoess on the operation of Standartenfuehrer Blobel and the journey to Chelmno in September 1942 in connection with the operation "Removing the Traces."

Presiding Judge: This will be T/218.

Attorney General: In this connection may I be permitted to draw the attention of the Court, once again, to T/84, which is the report of Wisliceny of 27 October 1946. I shall read a few sentences from page 18: "Er erwartete den deutschen Zusammenbruch in Kuerze. Zu diesen Tagen bekam er den Besuch von Standartenfuehrer Blobel, der mit dem Kommando 1005 aus Polen zurueckkehrte, und sich bei Eichmann meldete. Eichmann wollte dieses Kommando nach Ungarn, was jedoch von General Winkelmann, dem Hoeheren SS Polizeifuehrer in Ungarn, abgelehnt wurde." There is one word which I omitted to read out, since I was unable to read it. ("He expected the collapse of the German front in a short time. During those days he received a visit from Stanbdartenfuehrer Blobel, who returned together with Kommando 1005 from Poland and reported to Eichmann. Eichmann wanted to send or take Kommando 1005 to Hungary, but General Winkelmann, who was the Higher SS and Police Leader in Hungary, did not allow this.")

Presiding Judge: Whom is he talking about at the beginning of his remarks?

Attorney General: About Eichmann.

Judge Halevi: What was the date of the visit? When did Blobel visit Eichmann?

Attorney General: The reference is to the beginning of September 1944.

Presiding Judge: I notice that in T/218 - your No. 1549 - there is talk of a certain building plan of Blobel. Do you maintain that this was related to the covering up of the traces?

Attorney General: Yes, in Chelmno there was a special plan for building to carry out the covering up of the traces. When we reach the chapter on Concentration Camps, the Court will observe that this conforms exactly to the facts. We shall submit to the Court the chapter on the camps as the final episode. We shall come to the submission of evidence, generally speaking, in accordance with my opening address, and hence the camps will be the last stage. Then the Court will see what was done at Chelmno in this operation to cover up the traces.

Judge Halevi: But in Hungary there was no reason to remove traces?

Attorney General: I wouldn't say that. There were very many people who perished in the camps while waiting for the various transports.

With the Court's permission I shall now submit a number of documents and thereafter I shall produce witnesses bearing on the question of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto - in Lodz. The first document is a letter addressed to Eichmann from a man by the name of Hoeppner. Our number is 1410. The man writes "Lieber Kamerad Eichmann."

Presiding Judge: This will be T/219.

Attorney General: He writes from Posen on 16 July 1941: "Re: Solution of the Jewish Problem. In paragraph 1 he talks of 300,000 Jews of the Warthegau waiting in the camp. In paragraph 4 he talks of the fact that a danger exists that it would no longer be possible to supply food to the Jews, and hence it should be considered whether the most humane solution would not be to liquidate the Jews by some kind of rapid-action measure. At any rate, he says "it would be more pleasant ("waere doch angenehmer") than to watch them dying of starvation."

In paragraph 5 the man seeking the humane solutions suggests that the Jewish women should be sterilized so that in this generation the Jewish Question could be finally solved.

Judge Halevi: Where were these discussions, the discussions in the Office of the Reich Representative (Reichsstatthalterei) - what is that?

Dr. Servatius: I should like to ask where the name Hoeppner comes from? I have not found it in my document.

Presiding Judge: Where does it actually come from?

Attorney General: Your Honour, we think this was so, since he was the man who handled questions of removal of the population on behalf of the Accused, in that region.

Judge Halevi: Where did he reside?

Attorney General: In Poznan. If it was not Hoeppner, we shall be glad to hear from the Accused who it was.

Presiding Judge: We see here "Hoe."

Attorney General: Yes.

Judge Halevi: What is Reichsstatthalterei?

Attorney General: That was the provincial authority in Warthegau.

Dr. Servatius: There is also the name Hoefle which is of some importance.

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