The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 26
(Part 3 of 6)

eichmann, eichmann trial, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Q. Dr. Berman, you were subsequently one of the commanders of the ghetto revolt?

A. Of the Jewish underground.

Q. We have already heard about this, but I simply did not want to neglect your share in it. You saw the children who participated in the ghetto battle?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you witness these little heroes?

A. Yes. I wanted to say something about this. When the disaster came about, our line was one of general mobilization, mobilization in two directions; first of all in the direction of the Jewish anti-Nazi fighting underground. And we did everything possible in order to organize the youth, the workers, the intelligentsia, into an armed anti-Nazi underground. I took part in setting up the first organization of the armed Jewish underground in the Warsaw Ghetto, within the anti-Fascist bloc created at the initiative of the Polish Labour Party, the P.P.R., in the Warsaw Ghetto. Already at that time, youth and older children were also participating in this bloc.

Q. Perhaps we can come to the revolt. At the time of the revolt you were in the ghetto?

A. No. At the time of the revolt I was one of the representatives of the ghetto fighters on the Aryan side to the Polish underground.

Q. Let us now leave this matter. After the War you went to visit Treblinka - is that so?

A. That is right.

Q. At this moment I am not asking for evidence about Treblinka, for we shall present the chapter of the camps to the Court at the appropriate time. But perhaps you are able to tell us in general terms what you saw there?

A. When I came there it was some weeks after I had been liberated by the Soviet army, this was in January 1945. I saw a scene which I shall never forget: a tremendous expanse, extending over many kilometers and on this area there were scattered skulls, bones, in tens of thousands, and very, very many shoes, amongst them tens of thousands of shoes of little children.

Q. Did you pick up one such pair which you have retained to this day?

A. Yes, I have brought it here.

Q. You brought it here to show the Court?

A. Yes, I wanted to show it.

A. The pair of shoes of a child, you have retained to this day?

A. I brought it as something very precious, for I knew that over a million shoes like these were spread over all the extermination fields of Europe. These are the shoes. [The witness shows the Court a pair of children's shoes.]

A. Thank you very much, Dr. Berman.

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

Dr. Servatius: I do not have any questions.

Judge Raveh: Dr. Berman, when you referred to the number of 100,000 children, to what ages did you refer, up to what age?

Witness Berman: Up to 14.

Q. And in July 1942 when there was the great "action" you spoke of, what was the number of children up to the age of 14?

A. Before the commencement of the "action" there were more than 100,000 children.

Q. This means that there was no change from the beginning of the War until then?

A. No, at the beginning of the War there were less, but afterwards...

Q. Less than what?

A. Less than 100,000.

Q. I understood that was the number at the beginning of the War.

A. No. I would like to explain this. At the beginning of the War there were about 350,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Q. And of these children up to 14, approximately?

A. One must take into account, I think, about 60-70 thousand. Afterwards there were expulsions from all the country towns of the district and not only of the district.

Q. Then the number of Jews reached half-a-million?

A. 450,000 to half-a-million.

Q. Of these 100,000 children up to 14?

A. Over 100,000.

Q. You said a number of times "SS men and their collaborators." To whom do you refer by "collaborators?"

A. By collaborators I meant, firstly, the gangs of Ukrainian Fascists who helped them in all the extermination "actions" and also to our great regret, the Warsaw Ghetto police force which was also an instrument in the hands of the Nazi murderers. And we, the Jewish underground, without distinction of outlook, were against this Jewish police force, as we were also against the policy of the Judenrat, of cooperation with the Nazis.

Judge Halevi: Dr. Berman, did you receive any assistance, did the Jews receive any assistance at the time of the Holocaust?

Witness Berman: Yes. I myself was in constant touch with the Polish underground and with relief institutions for children in the Aryan quarter, Polish institutions. And I can relate that also from the point of view of help for the ghetto fighters, and from the point of view of help for the rescue of Jews we received a certain measure of assistance. I cannot say that it was massive help, substantial, moreover the possibilities, then, for the Polish underground, for the Armia Ludova, for the P.P.R. - these possibilities were not so great, but we obtained help.

And I am proud of the fact that the first revolver we received from the Polish anti- fascists for the Jewish anti-fascist bloc, we received in my room, in the room of the director-general of "Centos," in the same way as I am proud of the fact that amongst the one thousand workers of "Centos" there were hundreds who were active in the undergound. Subsequently the ghetto fighters obtained help, not just on a single occasion, first of all from the Polish progressive circles, first and foremost from the Armia Ludova. In the efforts to save children, I also acted myself to a certain extent. We also had connections with the Polish institutions for aiding children, and with the progressive parties, and also with the Catholic groups. A certain number - I think it is nevertheless possible to talk about thousands, not many thousands - but thousands of Jewish children were saved thanks to the help of Polish progressive as well as Catholic organizations.

Q. How were they saved? By being transferred to the Aryan side?

A. Yes, by being transferred to the Aryan side, both to Polish institutions for help to children and also to families. Many families took in Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Q. Did you succeed in sending out news to any territory outside the Nazi occupation, to the free world?

A. Yes. It was in this way: When I crossed over to the Aryan quarter, this was on 6 September 1942, on the day of the beginning of the big "Round-up" the big Umschlag when I was also aware that this was the last minute, in the Aryan quarter at the time, thanks to my contacts and those other members of the Polish underground, we established a Jewish national underground committee in the Aryan quarter, and also a coordinating committee between the conspiratorial Jewish national underground committee in the Aryan quarter and the Jewish socialist organization, the Bund.

We were in touch with all the Polish undergound organizations. I was the representative attached to the Polish underground; we were in contact with the circles connected to the Armia Ludova with the P.P.R., and also with the circles connected to the Armia Krajewa. We then decided to do everything possible to alert the Jewish and the non-Jewish world to what was happening in the ghetto and in the extermination camps and to the Jewish people in Poland generally.

And we succeeded. We secured a particular way of transmitting our cables and our reports - fairly lengthy reports - on all our activities, our operations for assistance and the struggle of the ghetto fighters and all the ghettos, to London, to Washington and also to Moscow.

Presiding Judge: When did this begin?

Witness Berman: From 1943. And there was a closer tie from 1944 and until the end. We also received cables from abroad, from Jewish organizations.

Judge Halevi: What cables, and what did they say?

Witness Berman: About rescue operations and about various activities connected with the tragedy of the Jewish people in Europe. I would also like to add, that then, in those days, in the days of the Warsaw Ghetto, in the days of Treblinka, Auschwitz and Majdanek, we then decided, and I decided that one of my most important missions would be - a struggle against this plague which was called Nazism and Fascism, until its total liquidation.

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

Attorney General: I call Baruch Duvdevani. I presume that he, too, will prefer to make an affirmation, although for reasons other than those of the previous witness.

Presiding Judge: Is this correct, Mr. Duvdevani?

Witness Duvdevani: Yes.

[Witness makes an affirmation.]

Presiding Judge: Is your name Baruch Duvdevani?

Witness: Yes.

Attorney General: Do you work in the Immigration Department of the Jewish Agency?

Witness Duvdevani: Yes.

Q. Are you holding a book called The Holy Fire?

A. Yes.

Q. A book containing the sermons of Rabbi Kalunimus Kalmish Shapiro?

A. Yes.

Q. Tell us how the manuscript of the sermons came to be in your possession, and how you contributed to the publication of the book?

A. In the War years the disciples of Rabbi Kalunimus Shapiro requested that if I should go abroad at the end of the Holocaust, I should inquire whether he had survived and if his writings had remained. When I travelled after the War on a mission for the Jewish Agency to the Camps, I decided to inquire as to his fate, and I found out what had happened to him during the years in the ghetto. I didn't manage to discover if any of his writings had remained. In 1956, I went to Poland on a mission for the State [of Israel] and I continued to inquire as to what had happened to these writings, if they still existed.

Day after day I went to the ruins in Warsaw, where buildings had been destroyed and new ones erected; I visited the Jewish Historical Institute and did not manage to find anything. One day a Pole brought me a milk jar and in it there were manuscripts which he found in a ditch in Genzia Street in Warsaw. This was a jar which Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum had left there. I began to look through the writings and did not find anything of significance.

The staff of the Jewish Historical Institute helped me but to no avail. One day, when I had decided to search further, suddenly they brought me a will which had been found amongst these documents, of Rabbi Kalunimus Shapiro in favour of his brother in the Land of Israel, the late Rabbi Yeshayahu Shapiro and two other disciples who are living today in Israel. When I noticed the date, which was four months before the Warsaw Ghetto revolt, I became very excited and began reading. And I saw that he had put into the jar books which he had written during the War years. This did not give me rest, and within a day or two I found, inside this jar, the manuscript of this book.

Attorney General: I submit the book, and I would request the Court to allow me to return it to the witness so that he may read a number of passages from it.

Presiding Judge: Do you want to submit it?

Attorney General: Yes - I submit it.

Presiding Judge: This book will be marked as exhibit T/258.

Attorney General: The late Rabbi asked that his writings should be published. This was his will?

Witness Duvdevani: Yes.

Q. And these are the sermons that he delivered on Sabbath days and Festivals in his synagogue?

A. In his synagogue and also in the Schultz factory where he was compelled to work as a tailor. He used to stand together with the other workers and whisper to them words of the Torah and words of encouragement.

Q. As you ascertained, he found his death in Trawniki in Lublin?

A. Yes.

Attorney General: I would ask you to read from the book a number of extracts from the Rabbi's sermons. Please open page 112 - at the top of the page from the paragraph "And who is the man."

Witness Duvdevani [reads]

"And who is the man who will not be saddened when he sees the woes of Israel both physically and spiritually, and who is the man whose heart will not be pained when he beholds that there are no religious schools, and no Yeshivah, no place for the Torah, and no group of those learning the Torah, and not only at this time the Houses of the Lord have been destroyed, but also in the future it will appear that young men, students of the Torah, will be lacking, some of them have perished in awful deaths and in death by starvation, Heaven forfend, and many of them were compelled to go out in search of food for themselves, and where will we find young men to study the Torah if they are not studying now, and so many of them failed to meet the test and went out on the Sabbath day to the marketplace to do business because of hunger - do we think that the boys and the young men who for years have wandered around the marketplace and the streets to do business or to beg from the generous a few breadcrumbs, on weekdays, and on the Sabbath day, they will return one day to the religious schools and the Yeshivot as before?"

Attorney General: On page 113 there is a sermon on the portion of the week and after that there is an annotation at the end of the page. Please read only the sentences of the annotation.

A. Perhaps you would allow me to explain this.

Q. Certainly.

A. This sermon on the portion "Eikev" he delivered in the year 5701, that is to say, 1941, and there he speaks about those still studying the Torah and praying and he used to encourage those studying and praying. In 5703, in 1943, he wrote the note that I now read to you, as you request:

"The aforegoing words were uttered and written in the year 5701 when, despite the fact that there were many and very bitter troubles as some of them appear in the aforegoing, at any rate one could still lament for them and describe a small part of it, to worry for those who remained, to weep about the future, how the religious schools could be rebuilt, the Yeshivot and the like, and also to admonish and strengthen those that existed for Torah and worship. This was not the case at the end of 5702, where, with almost complete annihilation, holy congregations had perished, and even the small number that survived were distressed in their servitude and their Egyptian slavery, were trampled underfoot and remained in mortal terror; there are no words with which we can lament over our troubles, there is no one to admonish nor is there a heart which can be aroused to Torah and worship. How much effort does a prayer need, and how much the observance of the Sabbath, even for the man who genuinely wishes to observe it?"
Attorney General: Please turn now to page 132 - the sermon on the Sabbath of Shemini Atzeret. Read the last sentences at the end of the sermon.

A. Again I must read the preceding sentence, otherwise the matter will not be clear. When he spoke in 5701-1941, and he was also a historian by profession, he said that sufferings such as those of the year 5701 had been experienced in the destruction of the Temple, at Betar, in the Bar Kochba rebellion and so forth. But he writes later, in 1943, his annotation that only the sufferings which were similar to those inflicted until the end of the year 5702, had already existed in history.

"But the unprecedented calamities and the evil and unnatural deaths that these awful murderers invented for us, the House of Israel, at the end of 5702, to my knowledge in the sayings of our sages of blessed memory, and in Israel's history generally, had no parallel at all, and may the Almighty have mercy on us and save us from their hands in the twinkling of an eye. Friday, eve of the holy Sabbath, 18 Kislev 5703 (1943)."

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