The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 25
(Part 8 of 8)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Q. Perhaps you will read the extract in Hebrew - perhaps you could translate one extract into Hebrew. The title of the leaflet was - ?

A. The title of the leaflet was A Voice from the Depths. Part of it says:

"And so, Hitler has not attained his objective. And he shall not be able to attain it. The Jewish people lives! Out of 17 million, over 5 million have been exterminated. But the Jewish people of 12 million fights with greater determination and force for its existence and for its better future. The Jewish masses throughout the world share our tragedy with us; they suffer together with us, and are doing all they can to arouse the whole world concerning our situation and coming to our help. They are fighting with great energy and enthusiasm in order to reestablish Jewish life anew and to bring about an economic and social resurrection.

"Only one, sole historic compensation can be considered after the flood of Jewish blood that has been spilled: an independent, democratic Jewish State in which the tortured Jewish people will have an unrestricted opportunity for development and productive existence."

Q. What was the date of that leaflet?

A. 22 August 1944, on the Aryan side of Warsaw, after the destruction of the masses of the Jewish people in Warsaw.

Presiding Judge: Who wrote this leaflet?

A. I think that Berman worked out the idea. At any rate, we afterwards sat down together and both of us wrote it.

Presiding Judge: Please give me the leaflet. This leaflet will be exhibit T/256.

Attorney General: You knew then that five million Jews had been exterminated?

A. I think that we weren't wrong then.

Q. Then, perhaps, it was only five million. Did you also fight in the Polish rebellion in Warsaw?

A. Yes.

Q. My last question to you - why did the Warsaw Ghetto revolt, why, in your opinion, as you knew the Jewish realities in Poland and other places, why didn't the others revolt? Why only the Warsaw Ghetto, and was it really only the Warsaw Ghetto?

A. I think that is wrong. And I say this from my experience from the period that I was a commander of fighters. It is an error to think that only the Warsaw Ghetto fought and rebelled. In several places the last of the Jews tried to revolt. I cannot accept the idea that my comrades in Czestochowa, who had less arms, less Jews, less fighters, and they fell upon the Germans with their fingernails and fought until the last moment - I cannot accept the idea that they did not fight. I am convinced that they put into this struggle of theirs not less than we in Warsaw, even though they did not achieve the same effect.

Q. And what happened in Bialystok?

A. In Bialystok, too, there was an organized revolt, if I am not mistaken, on 16 August 1943. In Bedzin there was an uprising of Jews, of members of the Jewish fighting force, in the bunkers; in Cracow there was the revolt of the Jewish youth, and the same thing in many other places.

Q. And what about the extermination camps themselves?

A. This is a chapter which, with all its great horror, contained a ray of light, although this was already at the very end. If the last of the Jews, who were there, still had the strength, in Treblinka, in Sobibor, and in Janoska, to carry out underground activity in Hazag, in Peltzri, in Skarzysko, and Radom, in the camp at Piotrkow...

Q. And in Auschwitz?

A. In Auschwitz the Jewish underground was integrated with the general underground. But the very fact that this was possible in Treblinka after the murder of 750,000 Jews, and possibly more than that - in my estimation - the very fact that the last of the Jews were able to revolt, points to the fact that they gave proof of unusual heroism.

Q. This was a reply to my second question; namely that not only the Warsaw Ghetto revolted. But why, in the Warsaw Ghetto, were they capable of the action that took place?

A. I think that the conditions for fighting - and if we are talking of a revolt in the ghettos, it began in Warsaw - well on the eastern border area, which was much nearer to the swamps and the forests, there was a large movement of Jewish partisans, at least 20,000 Jewish youth fought in Byelorussia, in Lituania and in Ukraine. Then it was not only that we were different, the form of fighting was different.

It is true that the Jewish fighting force had a point of view of principle in this matter. It wanted - not only because the forest was far away and it was impossible to get there, it wasn't possible to get near the forest - it was an ideological approach to fight in the ghetto. For we couldn't allow ourselves, we the younger ones, the braver ones, to abandon the masses of the people, the elderly persons, our sick, to leave them in the ghetto so that they could be taken to Treblinka. Therefore we deliberately chose to revolt. And not only in Warsaw.

This was the reason for my journey to Cracow, to go into the ghetto and to organize the ghetto to fight, on the day the order would be given, inside the ghetto, in order to rescue what could be saved. If not life itself - at least our honour. But, in Warsaw, the conditions were much better. In Warsaw there was a larger Polish underground. In Warsaw we could nevertheless do more, but even in Warsaw we were able to obtain arms only after the Germans themselves began selling arms, and they began to do so - German soldiers - after Stalingrad and El Alamein.

And then we were able to prepare for January and April to a small extent.

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

Dr. Servatius: I have no questions.

Judge Raveh: How did you arrive at this figure of five million, which appears in this leaflet?

Witness Zuckerman: At the time we calculated the area of Poland before the first of September 1939, and we reached the conclusion that three million and three hundred thousand Jews at least lived on this land - close to three million five hundred thousand Jews. We imagined that a certain percentage, very small, had managed to flee in the wake of the Red Army to Soviet Russia, and we deducted this. After that we knew about the transport of the Jews of Hungary to Auschwitz, we knew about the execution of the Jews of Slovakia, firstly in Belzec in 1942, the transports that arrived there. We were in touch with other countries. We couldn't assist them, but we knew about it. And in accordance with this, we made the account. And I believe that, at that time, we wrote that we estimated that more than a million were still incarcerated in the concentration camps and were about to be executed.

Judge Halevi: You mentioned that you attacked an officer of the Jewish police, if I understand you correctly; who was he?

Witness Zuckerman: Yes. He was a converted Jew, a colonel in the Polish police before the war, Shaminski who before the War did not have any contact with Jewish life. But because he was a non-Aryan, he was put into the ghetto and placed at the head of the Jewish police. A man who was alien to, and cut off from, Jewish life, like many of his colleagues.

Q. Why did you attack him to kill him?

A. We couldn't execute all the traitors. He was a collaborator - even though he did not carry arms. But the very fact that Jewish policemen who thought that, because of this, they would save their families or their wives, collaborated and used to reveal places where Jews were hiding or where there were any auxiliary units, we deemed it correct to take vengeance on them, and we did so. But he was only the first in a longer list.

Q. The Attorney General submitted to us yesterday an official report of the SS commander in the district of Galicia to his officer Katzmann who was in charge of the whole of Galicia.

A. He became known to me as a result of the Brody episode.

Q. The SS commander writes there: "During the operations there were also other terrible difficulties, since the Jews were planning to avoid the deportations. They tried not only to escape but hid in bunkers. Underground bunkers were discovered which had been skillfully camouflaged. The approaches to the bunkers were concealed in such a way that they could not be found without a knowledge of the place. Here only the participation of a Jew, who had been promised who knows what, availed." He quotes as an example the Stalingrad bunker, which consisted of three large bunkers in the Rogatin Ghetto in Galicia, and there 60 Jews concealed themselves, and that this bunker was revealed by treachery. Do you know of an instance of revealing bunkers?

A. Yes. I know of the revealing of bunkers and other acts by Jewish collaborators. These were people who weren't known in Jewish public life. And evidently, as degradation is of general application, some Jews were also found who, because their life was given to them as ransom, were ready to sacrifice others. I know of cases also at the time of the revolt of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Q. A year after the Warsaw Ghetto revolt, in the pamphlet A Voice from the Depths, you say that you alerted the whole world. How did you alert the world, and when?

A. We did whatever we could. Between us and the outside world there was a censor - there were the Polish authorities in London. At first we passed on news items by the secret radio station, that was at the disposal of the Armia Krajowa. On 20 April they broadcast the news. And we knew that on one of those days, there was something on the radio in London, but not much. At a later stage we transmitted reports constantly by means of airplanes which came to take the mail of the Polish underground, and in this way we also used to report to London.

Q. When?

A. This was at the end of 1943 and also in 1944. The material which reached Palestine, also One Year in Treblinka, the first full evidence of a person who was there a whole year and who was amongst those who revolted, and who came to Warsaw, and we attended to him and ordered him to write down his experiences - this, too, we passed on in Polish to London. And after the War I saw this in a Hebrew translation, in 1945.

Q. When did it reach London?

A. It reached London in 1944.

Judge Halevi: Thank you.

Presiding Judge: Along what route did the aircraft fly? Where did they land? Tell us briefly.

Witness Zuckerman: Even if I wanted to make it longer - I don't know. I was accustomed not to ask questions, which would compromise me afterwards. But I knew from hints of my Polish comrades, that in certain surroundings, in clearings in the forests they used to give signals at night in accordance with London radio - some song, they used to give signs, light fires, when all this area was guarded by men of the underground. And then they would land. On that day we would not receive mail, but somewhere else when it was convenient to land.

Attorney General: Will the Presiding Judge permit me, in the light of the questions of His Honour Judge Dr. Halevi, to ask one question? Was the incidence of informing and betrayal limited only to Jews? Did this also not occur amongst others, when they thought that their lives could be saved - non-Jews?

Witness Zuckerman: Very many. At all events, what people saw on the surface, and I was for a long time on the Aryan side of Warsaw, people did not see the true state of affairs, not the good, not the humble, but the informer and the traitor. They were not the majority, they were not even a large minority. But they existed. And I suppose that the Polish underground suffered a great deal from the collaboration, and, as I got to know afterwards, all the underground movements that were fighting, suffered from traitors, some less, some more.

Presiding Judge: Thank you very much, Mr. Zuckerman. You have completed your evidence. We shall now adjourn.

The Session will be resumed this afternoon at 3.30.

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