The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 29
(Part 3 of 8)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Witness Karstadt : Of the first transports, almost all came to the ghetto. That was until the "action" in the ghetto was over. Thereafter, only very few out of a transport would arrive in the ghetto. They selected some skilled craftsmen. They brought some two or three into the ghetto, and shot all the others.

Q. And how many were in such a transport?

A. I suppose about one thousand people.

Attorney General: What did you do in the men's ghetto?

Witness Karstadt : We went out every day to work in various German units. The ration was small. But as long as we were sent to work in the town, we somehow had opportunities to get nourishment for ourselves.

Q. In what places did you work?

A. I was working at the German Schutzpolizei.

Q. What work did you do?

A. Carrying wood, moving furniture, odd jobs.

Q. Did you move freely to work and back?

A. There was no freedom of movement.

Q. Were you taken there under guard?

A. Under guard.

Q. Were you paid for your work?

A. No.

Q. Who provided you with food?

A. There were shops in the ghetto, where we received rations.

Q. And was the ration?

A. 120 grams of bread per day, once a week 25 grams margarine, once a month 120 grams meat.

Q. Were you able to sustain yourself on this?

A. No, not on this ration. But as I said, as long as we were in Riga, we could get bread and other things for money or gold.

Q. Were there any people of the German transports you talked with?

A. Yes.

Q. What did the German Jews do in the ghetto of the Reich deportees?

A. They would go out to work just as we did. But their situation was much worse than ours. First of all, they were strangers who didn't understand the language; and almost everything they brought with them had been taken away. They came into the ghetto without any of their belongings.

Q. Do you remember Rabbi Joseph Carlebach who was deported to Riga?

A. No, I did not hear anything about him.

Q. There was a small concentration camp for German Jews not far from Riga, where the commander was an SD man. Do you remember his name?

A. His name was Sauer.

Q. Who was Lange?

A. Lange was the commander of SD Latvia. But Lange shot many Jews himself, in an SD camp not far from Riga, Salaspils.

Q. You said that German Jews were also being executed. Do you remember when they were executed?

A. The first German group was executed in February or in January, 1942.

Q. How many were executed? Hundreds? Thousands?

A. Two thousand.

Q. So this was how you lived until November 1942?

A. This was how we lived until November 1942.

Q. What happened in November 1942?

A. In November 1942 the SD conducted an "action" against the Jewish Police, and they shot forty young men charged with contacts with Communists, and after that our ghettos were combined. Until then, the commander of the German ghetto was an SD man, Krause, but we were not subject to his authority. From the day he assumed power over us as well, our situation began to deteriorate considerably. We were forbidden to have money. We were forbidden to bring any food whatsoever into the ghetto, and whoever was caught with any was hanged. So thus it was every Saturday that they would hang one, or two, or three persons.

Q. And the Jewish Police, did the population approve of them? Were you on good terms with the Jewish Police or did you hate them?

A. No, we were on good terms with them.

Q. There was a case when 300 people were killed all at once, because the Germans found that they had weapons. Is this true?

A. Yes.

Q. Did an internal movement begin to be organized?

A. Yes. An underground movement of sorts was there with us all the time, and little by little weapons would be brought in. I don't know how or by whom, but the SD got to know of it. Searches began, in April 1943, maybe when it started in the Warsaw Ghetto - it was at the same time. The uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto was in April 1943. They found the weapons and, unfortunately, they also found a list of all members of the underground. They arrested 300 Jews, and all of them were killed.

Q. You did not belong to the underground?

A. Yes, I did belong, but I wasn't on that list.

Q. When were those 300 put to death?

A. In April or in May, 1943.

Q. And after that you were transferred to Kaiserwald?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Where is Kaiserwald?

Witness Karstadt : Not far from Riga.

Q. Is that a forest or a place?

A. It was a nice place close to Riga.

Following the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto the SD Riga decided, as it seems, to liquidate the ghetto, and they established a concentration camp not far from Riga, under the name of Kaiserwald. Not only Jews from Riga were taken there, but also from Vilna and from Kovno, from Shavli and from the entire Ghetto of Riga. At the same time, when they closed the Riga Ghetto in October 1943, some 3,000 Jews, or more, were transported to Auschwitz and gassed there.

Attorney General: And what happened in the ghetto to the German Jews who had been deported from the Reich?

Witness Karstadt : They were taken to Kaiserwald as well, just as we were, and among the 3,000 people there were some from the German ghetto, too.

Q. Among the 3,000 sent to Auschwitz?

A. Yes. There were also German Jews.

Q. Who were the commanders of Kaiserwald?

A. All the commanders at Kaiserwald were commanders of Sachsenhausen, all of them well-known SS men, and the notorious Eiserne Gustav (Iron Gustav) who has just been sentenced in Germany.

Q. What was life like in Kaiserwald?

A. Life was very hard there. That was the first concentration camp. Roll call at five in the morning. After work you had to work again in Kaiserwald. One had to go again to work maybe at ten o'clock at night. Very many perished there, very many died. This was a camp. The result of that camp was that, of the 14,000 as we were at Kaiserwald, only maybe 8,000 of us Jews reached Germany in August 1944. And besides, people would be taken from there to the so-called Sonderkommando. They had to dig up the graves where the Jews had been buried and to burn the corpses.

Q. Did anyone of those who had to obliterate the traces and to burn the corpses return?

A. No, no one from Riga returned.

Q. How did you know they were taken to that work?

A. We heard about it.

Q. How? From whom?

A. We heard this from the Latvians.

Q. Jewish women came to Kaiserwald in the summer of 1944, right?

A. Yes, in the summer of 1944 Hungarian women from Auschwitz came to Kaiserwald, and we heard then for the first time of such a camp as Auschwitz, and that people were burned there, and all those other atrocities.

Q. What did these women from Auschwitz look like?

A. They all wore KZ (concentration camp) clothing, their hair had been cut - and they were dressed very differently from us.

Q. Mr. Karstadt, how many Jews out of the forty thousand who lived in Riga when the Germans entered survived, as far as you know? And how many of all Latvia?

Presiding Judge: Forty thousand Jews in all of Latvia?

Witness Karstadt : No, there were one hundred thousand. In Riga alone there were forty thousand.

Attorney General: So how many survived?

Witness Karstadt : I believe eight hundred.

Presiding Judge: Of all the Jews of Latvia?

Witness Karstadt : Yes.

Q. You said that 8,000 had been brought to Germany. Those were not only Latvian Jews then?

A. No.

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

Dr. Servatius: Yes, I have a short question. Do you remember the occupation of Kurland by German troops in the First World War?

Witness Karstadt : The Jews were sent out of Kurland by the Czar in the First World War.

Q. One moment, I believe you did not understand my question. Do you remember that occupation? How old were you at that time?

A. I was at that time maybe one year old. The Jews were removed from Kurland by the Russian authorities, by the Czar.

Q. If you were one year old, you cannot answer my question.

Presiding Judge: What year were you born?

Witness Karstadt : In 1914.

Judge Raveh: Could you perhaps explain: Those 8,000 people who were brought to Germany, where from, from what different parts did they first come to Riga?

Witness Karstadt : Those were Latvian Jews, German Jews, Viennese Jews.

Q. How many of each of these? From each country, if you are able to tell us?

A. I suppose, some 2,500 Jews came from Germany, maybe another 1,000 from Vilna, of other Lithuanian Jews another 1,000. When we came to Germany we were 2,500 from Latvia.

Q. So therefore, if I understand you correctly, of the 2,400 Latvian Jews some perished in the various camps in Germany, so that finally only about 800 Latvian Jews survived. Is this what you meant?

A. Yes. Thus we were in Bochum some 500 Latvian Jews, and in April 1945 almost all perished, only 20 survived.

Presiding Judge: Thank you, Mr. Karstadt. You have completed your testimony.

Attorney General: At this stage I shall submit two documents. Our document No. 844 is a sworn statement of Walter Blume which was submitted in Trial No. 9. Blume says that he took part in a meeting in the months May-June 1942, when Heydrich and Streckenbach gave instructions to the officers of the Einsatzgruppen and the Commandos. I shall read, in German, a sentence in paragraph 3: "Zu dieser Zeit wurden wir bereits ueber die Aufgaben der Judenvernichtung unterrichtet" (At that time we were already informed about the tasks of exterminating the Jews).

"Es wurde ausgefuehrt, dass das Ostjudentum das intellektuelle Reservoir des Bolschewismus sei und deshalb nach Ansicht des Fuehrers vernichtet werden muss." (It was explained that East European Jewry provided the intellectual reservoir for Bolshevism, and accordingly, in the opinion of the Fuehrer, it had to be destroyed.)

Presiding Judge: Are you going to quote much of this?

Attorney General: One more sentence - but perhaps I shall translate it myself.

Presiding Judge: I believe we have already decided to use Hebrew with these documents.

Attorney General: Yes, but here they are so decisive, remarkable and simple.

Presiding Judge: But there is so much of it, Mr. Hausner.

Attorney General: "This address was delivered to a small circle only, but I presume that the order was passed on to all the officers of the Einsatzgruppen and the Commandos. The speech of Heydrich was made in the Prince Albert Palace where we received the instruction."

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