The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 29
(Part 2 of 8)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Judge Halevi: This appears under the heading "The purge of the area and inauguration of self-purging operations."

Attorney General: As to who this gentleman, Stahlecker, was - this we have already heard from Eichmann. On page 121 of his statement, Eichmann identifies him as his close friend and acquaintance from boyhood.

Before calling the next witness, I would ask the Court to admit one more document - No. 1092. This is a report on Lithuania and Latvia of 5 January 1942.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/305.

Attorney General: On page 14 of the original it relates that all the Jews in the Generalkommissar's District of Lithuania and Latvia had already been placed in ghettos. The Jews of the Riga Ghetto, who were used by the Wehrmacht and the civilian authorities as labour forces, were not allowed to walk freely to their places of work, but had to proceed in an organized way. And, further:

"Everything has been prepared for the reception of transports of Jews coming from the Reich in Minsk as well as in Riga".
This appears on the same page: "Fuer die Aufnahme der aus dem Reich ankommenden Judentransporte ist sowohl in Minsk als auch in Riga alles vorbereitet."

The first transport that reached Minsk consisted of Jews from Hamburg. It arrived on 10 November 1941. Accommodation was provided for Jews inside the ghetto on the same day. It turned out that many of the Jews had conjured up for themselves a totally false picture of their future. For example, they regarded themselves as pioneers who would be employed here for the purpose of colonizing the East. The fact that this was false emerges at the bottom of the page: The Higher SS and Police Leader in Riga, SS Obergruppenfuehrer Jeckeln, began meanwhile with executions by shooting and, on the first day, 30 November 1941, exterminated about 4,000 Jews of the Riga Ghetto and of a transport of persons deported from the Reich. This operation was to have been carried out by the Higher SS and Police Leader with his own forces, but a few hours later, 20 men of E.K.2 who were detailed for security duties, were also brought into action.

Judge Raveh: What is E.K.2?

Attorney General: I don't know.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps it is Einsatzkommando?

Attorney General: Possibly. This is the end of the documents.

Dr. Servatius: The Accused points out to me that in the passage from his interrogation, on page 131 or somewhere there, he is alleged to have said that Stahlecker was his deputy. He says that must be a mistake.

Presiding Judge: That is page 121. Where does the Accused talk about Stahlecker?

Attorney General: I shall show it to you immediately.

Presiding Judge: There is evidently an error in the translation. Not "Vertreter" but his boyhood friend - that is what the Attorney General said.

Attorney General: The words are "Mit Dr. Stahlecker hatte ich ein persoenlich ordentliches Verhaeltnis, das ueber das Dienstliche hinaus auch in die private Sphaere ging. Wir trafen uns privat." ("With Dr. Stahlecker I had a personal proper relationship which went beyond matters of our duties also into the personal sphere. We used to meet privately.")

Presiding Judge: You did not maintain that he deputized for him. Possibly there was an error here in the translation.

Attorney General: No, I rely on what he says concerning the friendly relationship between them, which went above and beyond professional collaboration.

I call the next witness, Mr. Eliezer Karstadt.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your name?

Witness: Karstadt.

Presiding Judge: And your first name?

Witness Karstadt: : Eliezer.

Attorney General: Mr. Karstadt, you live at Professor Schorr Street No. 27?

Witness Karstadt: Yes.

Q. And you are an industrialist?

A. Yes.

Q. You were born in Latvia?

A. Yes.

Q. Where were you at the time of the German occupation of Latvia, in 1941?

A. I was in Riga.

Q. How long did you stay there?

A. Until August 1944.

Q. And then you were transferred. Where to?

A. To Stutthof.

Q. And from there?

A. To Buchenwald.

Q. And thence?

A. From Buchenwald I was sent to Bochum?

Q. And then?

A. Back to Buchenwald, and on 23 April I was liberated by the Americans.

Q. When did the Germans march into Riga? What language would you prefer to speak?

A. I understand Hebrew, but it is easier for me to speak German.

Q. When did the Germans march into Riga?

A. The Germans occupied Riga on 1 July 1941.

Q. What happened on the next day, on the morrow of the occupation?

A. Five thousand Jews, mostly men, were taken out of various Jewish homes and arrested. But at the same time there were also many smaller arrests, in the streets, for no reason.

Presiding Judge: Were you born in Riga?

Witness Karstadt: No, I was born in Talsen, not too far from Riga. Talsen in Kurland.

Attorney General: But you lived in Riga since 1930, is this right?

Witness Karstadt: Yes.

Q. How many Jews were there in Riga when the Germans came?

A. Forty thousand Jews.

Q. And sometime later, a young man by the name of Schneider returned - from among those who had been deported?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. And did he tell what happened to the 5,000 arrested following the occupation?

A. He said that all those Jews were brought to a place beyond Riga and were shot. He managed to get away from that group, and later returned to Riga and related the story.

Q. You said just now that there were arrests in the streets almost daily. Where were those arrested taken to?

A. They took them to the central prison in Riga, and from there they would be taken away every day or every other day and be shot. Before the ghetto was established, only small [sic] mass murders had been carried out.

Q. When was the ghetto established?

A. On 23 October 1941.

Q. And how many Jews were left in Riga then?

A. About 32,000 Jews remained in Riga at that time, and another 300 in Ghetto Libau, and also 300 in Dvinsk Duenaburg, but all other Jews from the smaller towns had already been murdered in their masses in August 1941.

Q. What did the Jews in the ghetto do, after being brought there?

A. As a matter of fact, the ghetto existed for only one month, from October 23 until the end of November.

Q. What happened then?

A. Then, at the end of that month, came the great "action." On 30 October, one third of the Jews were taken out of the ghetto and shot. On the same day, a small ghetto was set up, to which all the craftsmen were transferred. Then there was a break of one week. Rumours were circulating that there would be no further "actions." And on a Sunday, 7 December, a new "action" began, and lasted until the ninth at noon. The small ghetto, which was supposed to be a protected ghetto for craftsmen, did not in fact serve as such, for on Tuesday, the same morning, the Labour Office summoned all the various craftsmen, including those who had reported voluntarily, and all of them were taken in this "action." This "action," like all the other "actions" in the small towns, was not conducted only by Germans, for they gave the right of conducting them to a certain group of Letts. Their leader is living at present in Brazil. His name is Herbert Zukos. I saw myself how on Tuesday, 9 December, he shot women and children in the ghetto. He claims now - just as do all those who took part in the "actions" against Jews - that he had never been in the ghetto, had never murdered a Jew, but had always helped Jews.

Q. What was the name of that Lettish group who collaborated with the Germans?

A. "Donnerkreuz" (Thunder Cross), in Lettish, it was Perkonkruzt. We in Riga didn't believe that the Jews were taken away and shot - until two women, who came out alive, returned and told us the following story: Both of them went with the last group in the transport on Monday. When they arrived it was already dark there. The "action" was carried out like this: A German with a machine gun stood there and was shooting. Large pits were dug up. The men and women who arrived there took off their clothes and walked to the pit. Those who were lucky got a bullet, the unlucky ones fell into the pit and suffocated there. She was in the uppermost group, and no bullet hit her, so when night fell, she got out, put on her clothes and later returned to the ghetto. The name of that woman was Hamburger.

Q. The famous Jewish historian, Shim'on Dubnov was in Riga?

A. Yes.

Q. What happened to him?

A. He too perished in the "action" in Riga. At that same time, before the "action" was completed, maybe on Monday, there were already German transports with German Jews at the railway station in Riga. And these came into the ghetto immediately after the end of the "action."

Q. And you remained in the small ghetto?

A. Yes.

Q. And until November, 1942, there were no more "actions"?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, would you tell us about life in the ghetto between that "action" and November 1942?

A. There were 4,000 of us Jews in the ghetto, and about 300 women. These 300 women lived apart and we lived apart. And there were, in addition, some 10,000 or 14,000 German Jews.

Presiding Judge: Why did the women live apart?

Witness Karstadt: It is difficult to say why, they were living in one house. Three ghettos were established.

Q. Was this by order of the Germans, or by your own wish?

A. The Germans did it.

Attorney General: Did they separate the women from the men?

Witness Karstadt: Yes. In the large ghetto this was not so.

Q. Who were the people in the large ghetto? You say there were three ghettos, the one for Riga men, the other for women, and the ghetto for German Jews. How did the German Jews live?

A. They lived together, with their women and children. They were divided by towns. Hannover people apart, and Hamburg apart, and other towns.

Q. Do you remember from what German towns the Jews came?

A. Yes. From Hamburg, Hannover, Bochum, Gelsenkirchen, Koeln, Kassel, Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden, Vienna, Prague, and some others.

Q. How many transports of Jews from the Reich arrived at Riga?

A. There were very many transports. Very few people out of these reached the ghetto. Transports arrived perhaps even up to the end of 1942.

Presiding Judge: What happened to the others, those who did not reach the ghetto?

Witness Karstad: It often happened that out of a transport that arrived at Riga one or two were brought into the ghetto, and the others were shot.

Q. Where was this, also in the vicinity of Riga?

A. Also somewhere around Riga.

Judge Halevi: What do mean "one or two," one or two persons or one or two transports?

Witness Karstadt: Out of a transport only one or two Jews.

Presiding Judge: A transport of one or two Jews came?

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