The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 35
(Part 3 of 4)

State Attorney Bach: The next document is No. 614, T/37(191). This is the document which decided the fate of the Sephardic Jews in Holland. It is a telegram signed by Kaltenbrunner; it was sent to Naumann by Kaltenbrunner, but we can see that it was drafted in IVB4.
"From the current reports, it transpires that the so- called Sephardic Jews have not been included in the evacuation measures. The reason for this deferment is said to be expert opinions submitted to the Reich Commissioner for the Occupied Netherlands reportedly trying to prove that the Sephardic Jews are not Jews in the real sense, or that a special arrangement is indicated for them. I cannot agree with this opinion since, also from the racial point of view, the Sephardic Jews are no doubt Jews. Even the Jews maintain explicitly that the 'Sephardim' are Jews from Spain and Portugal who, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, were scattered over North Africa, Latin America and the Orient. But, by contrast to their brothers-in-race, a typically Southern type is prevalent with them. I therefore request to include the Sephardic Jews immediately in the evacuation measures in accordance with the guidelines given, and to report about the measures taken. Kaltenbrunner."
Presiding Judge: T/569.

State Attorney Bach: No. 338 is a document signed by Bene, a kind of inclusive report about the action taken so far. It says that up to now 108,000 Jews have left. Bene says that the Dutch population still does not take a sympathetic attitude towards the expulsion and that there are still Jews who manage to hide. But what is important here is mainly what is said under the heading Mischehen: That there are still about 8,000 Jews cohabiting in mixed marriages and that, of these, 2,252 were released from the obligation to wear the star, including 922 male Jews (mostly after sterilization by operation) and 1,330 Jewesses (mostly because of sterility due to age). This is actually the only proof we have concerning the number of men of whom the majority underwent this operation in Holland.

Presiding Judge: T/570.

State Attorney Bach: The next document, No. 1439, is a report by Seyss-Inquart himself, addressed to "Lieber Parteigenosse Bormann" (Dear Party Comrade Bormann), whom he informs that the Jewish question in the Netherlands has largely been settled.

Presiding Judge: This is late, February 1944.

State Attorney Bach: This is already February 1944. He mentions the number of Jews in hiding and that, little by little, they are seized and sent to the East, some 500-600 a week. The Jewish property has been seized and is being liquidated. Then he refers to the problems of mixed marriages. He says that until now it was the practice to take away what he calls the "juedische Partner" (Jewish partner) from mixed marriages, simply to take him away from his family and deport him; and then he says: Sooner or later we shall have to deal in the same way with the children of these marriages "...die Kinder dieser Gemeinschaft denselben Weg gehen lassen..." (to make the children of this union follow the same way). He also says that a considerable number of Jews agree to sterilization, that they accept the situation.

Presiding Judge: Why does he write this specifically to Bormann? What were Bormann's functions?

State Attorney Bach: Bormann was at that time the Fuehrer's deputy, and he frequently intervened also in the Jewish question. He had no defined functions in this matter, but from time to time we find that he is interested, that he makes decisions and that he receives reports.

Presiding Judge: T/571.

State Attorney Bach: I should now like to submit to you document No. 328, a report from the Netherlands government: "Statement of the Netherlands Government in View of the Prosecution and Punishment of the German Major War Criminals, Deportation of Jewish Netherlanders to Poland." This is an exhibit which was also submitted in Nuremberg and was published in IMG, Volume 27, pages 502 and 531-538. Here we have a detailed account of the measures against the Jews and of the anti-Jewish legislation, complete with the dates of each regulation, of the establishment of camps, Westerbork and others.

Following your Decision No. 12, I should again like to ask you to accept this report as evidence about the fate of the Dutch Jews during the period of the Second World War.

Presiding Judge: Has Dr. Servatius any comment to make?

Dr. Servatius: No, I have nothing to say.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 20

We accept the official Netherlands Report as evidence in accordance with what was stated in Decision No. 12 - T/572.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 304, also T/37(80). Here Guenther decides again, in reply to von Thadden, that, in view of the envisaged Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe, the emigration of the relatives of the Jewess Loewenstein cannot be permitted. This appears on page 1287 of the statement.

Presiding Judge: T/573.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is No. 611, T/37(211). IVB4 in Berlin is informed that the Netherlands counter-espionage office has seized some documents - letters containing South American passports intended for Jews. The question is what to do with them. The passports were confiscated, and now instructions are requested because there are already inquiries from Switzerland asking what happened to these letters which did not reach their destination. The problem is also that damages may have to be paid to the Swiss postal administration. This appears on page 2460 of the statement.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/574.

State Attorney Bach: And here is the reply from Guenther, our No. 612: "In case of complaints about registered letters retained by you, the Reich Post Office is to be told that the consignment was lost through enemy action."

Presiding Judge: The Post Office of the Reich or the Swiss Post Office?

State Attorney Bach: First of all the Reich Post Office, and they will pass it on, but the Reich Post Office has to be informed that "the consignment was lost through enemy action. Return of the letters or payment of damages is out of the question."

Judge Raveh: That was during the period when Eichmann was not in Berlin, was it not?

State Attorney Bach: It was during the period when he was not in Berlin; we shall prove, however, that during this time also he remained, in fact, responsible for the Office and for the guidelines issued.

Judge Raveh: Do you remember the date when he left Berlin?

State Attorney Bach: He arrived in Budapest on 19 March 1944. Before that he went to Mauthausen for a few days, and from there to Budapest. He may have left 12 on March.

Judge Raveh: And the head of the Office in his place was Guenther during that time?

State Attorney Bach: Guenther was in charge, but in fact, according to our argument, he was not appointed head of the Section, and proof of this is the fact that dozens of letters which we have already submitted and shall still submit are addressed to Eichmann or to his deputy. I do not want to say more about the evidence which we shall produce on this point.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/575.

State Attorney Bach: Another document which was shown to the Accused, our No. 303, T/37(79). Guenther reports about the transfer of a certain Jew to Theresienstadt.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/576.

State Attorney Bach: The last document, Your Honours, is our 1353. This is definitely the final, summing-up report by Bene: "The Jewish question may be considered solved for the Netherlands after the overwhelming majority of the Jews have been deported from the country." It states that about 113,000 were deported; those remaining in the country include 8,600 in mixed marriages, 11 Argentinian Jews who live in freedom, about 9,000 who are in hiding. That is to say 113,000 out of 140,000 have been deported.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/577.

State Attorney Bach: I should like to pass now to the subject of Denmark, and to begin with I shall bring the evidence of Mr. David Melchior.

The witness is sworn.

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Werner David Melchior.

State Attorney Bach: Mr. Melchior, since when have you been in this country?

Witness Melchior: I arrived for the first time in January, 1946.

Q. You spent your childhood in Copenhagen, Denmark?

A. For the most part, yes.

Q. Your parents also lived with you there?

A. Yes. For some years we lived in Germany when my father was Rabbi in Beuthen for a number of years.

Q. Your father has, actually, been serving as Chief Rabbi to the Jews of Denmark since 1947?

A. Yes.

Q. And what was your father's position in 1943?

A. In 1943 my father was a Rabbi, but the Chief Rabbi was his predecessor, the late Dr. Friediger, and my father had various duties in the community. After Dr. Friediger was arrested, together with his son, on 29 August 1943, my father became the acting Chief Rabbi.

Q. When the Germans entered Denmark on 9 April 1940, were you there?

A. Yes.

Q. Was your family also in Denmark?

A. Yes.

Q. How many Jews, in all, were there then in Denmark?

A. There were then close to 7,700 Jews, of whom there were about 1,400 refugees from Central Europe, and of them, again, there were about 500 members of the Hachshara, Hehalutz and Aliyat Hanoar (those undergoing agricultural training, the pioneer youth movement, and Youth Aliya).

Q. What was the relationship between these Jews and the local residents?

A. We were on an absolutely equal footing with the rest of the population, and there was contact in all aspects of life.

Q. During the first stage after the entry of the Germans, did the appearance of the Germans make itself felt in the attitude to the Jews in any way?

A. Not separately in relation to the Jews. Of course, within at least some Jewish circles, there was a greater nervousness; and again, especially at a certain level, naturally, amongst the refugees, and more so amongst the families who had arrived in Denmark from Eastern Europe in the first decade of this century, and practically not at all in the case of the families established locally for a long time.

Q. What was the attitude of the Germans towards the Danish Government and towards the King at the first stage?

A. Although there was no concrete information, it was understood by everyone that there was an agreement, or an agreed modus vivendi between the Danish authorities and the Germans, that the latter would not interfere in the internal affairs of Denmark. It was upon this assumption that the Jews based their estimation that there would be no change at all in regard to their situation, as compared with the situation of the population as a whole.

Q. Would it be correct to say that, until August 1943 nothing, in fact, happened to the Jews of Denmark?

A. That is correct, but, naturally, there were various manifestations which, under different conditions, would not have been taken for granted.

Q. Such as?

A. There was a substantial increase in anti-Semitic propaganda.

Presiding Judge: On the part of whom?

Witness Melchior: Mainly on the part of the Nazi press in Denmark, both in their own daily newspaper and also when there began to appear a weekly which, in its style, was a sort of Danish edition of the Stuermer. There were cases of violence on certain occasions, especially in regard to the synagogue building. In particular, there was a sort of an upsurge after Denmark joined the anti-Comintern Pact.

State Attorney Bach: You referred here to a certain action against the synagogue. What was the consequence of this action for those who carried it out?

Witness Melchior: There were a few incidents. In one case an attempt was made to set the synagogue on fire. The Danish police caught the person responsible; he was brought to trial and was sentenced to imprisonment, I think, of three years and three weeks.

Q. You mentioned an anti-Semitic paper that was issued along the lines of the Stuermer. Was anything done in this matter by the Danish authorities?

A. Yes. This paper, in an attempt to bring about a lessening of what in its view was the Jewish influence on businesses in Denmark, began making all sorts of libellous accusations. In a particular instance, there was reference to one of two brothers who owned one of the largest department stores in Copenhagen and his Jewish secretary.

An action of libel was instituted, and the District Court in Copenhagen in the first instance sentenced one accused, a man, to imprisonment for 100 days, and the second accused, a woman, to 80 days, and each one to pay a fine of 3,000 Danish Kroner. They appealed.

Q. And what happened on appeal?

A. The Supreme Court increased the punishment. They received, as I remember, 160 days of actual imprisonment and a larger fine. Furthermore, the woman, who was the publisher, benefitted at the time from an arrangement existing in Denmark, to the effect that writers were able to receive annual support from the state budget. This support was now cancelled by parliament, on the recommendation of the government.

Presiding Judge: Was this done following the appeal by the accused?

Witness Melchior: Yes.

State Attorney Bach: And what about the protection of the synagogue?

Witness Melchior: During 1942, there was at least one attempt to set the synagogue on fire. Furthermore, on various occasions, swastikas were painted on the outer protective walls of a number of synagogues. And then, at the end of 1942, a guard was mounted - in coordination with the Danish police - over all these synagogues from six in the evening to six in the morning. This was a guard of Jewish volunteers who were given armbands of the auxiliary police, batons, and steel helmets. Similarly, special arrangements were made for sounding an alarm. In the watchman's room in the Old Age Home, which was in the synagogue courtyard, an alarm bell was installed connected directly to the nearest police station, and this arrangement continued to be in force until 23 August 1943, when the military regime took over.

Q. Please tell the Court what was the change that came about on 29 August 1943?

A. The Germans, I think it was on 28 August - it was a Sabbath - presented the Danish Government with a number of demands, as a result of the mounting general tension. As the Danes understood it, this arose from the increase in underground activity - there were acts of sabotage and explosions in Copenhagen every day. Likewise, we had the feeling that the Germans were afraid that the remnants of the Danish army still in existence, would attack them in the rear in the event of there being an Allied invasion in the West. At any rate, the Germans evidently saw the need for a tighter control over the state of affairs, and they insisted on a military regime; they demanded the seizure of Danish military equipment and handed over a long list of demands to which the Danish Government did not respond. But they forcibly imposed them. The Danes scuttled ships of the Danish navy in the harbour of Copenhagen, in order to prevent their being seized. Military rule was set up, there were curfews and shots at night without warning, and similar acts. The Danish Government submitted its resignation to the King, but, in view of the fact that the royal guard had also been abolished, the King declared himself to be a prisoner of war who was unable to take any constitutional step, and a vacuum was created. The government resigned, but in effect did not resign. Thereafter, all government activities were carried out by the directors of the ministries in Denmark, until the end of the War.

Presiding Judge: That is to say - the officials?

Witness Melchior: Yes.

State Attorney Bach: Who was in charge of Jewish affairs in Denmark?

Witness Melchior: At that time it was Dr. Werner Best.

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