The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 45
(Part 2 of 6)

State Attorney Bar-Or: This report was published in Geneva in June 1946. It says, starting on page 99:
"On 5 April I went to Prague, in order to contact the authorities of the security services of this town, and to inspect the Theresienstadt Ghetto.

"On 6 April we visited the Theresienstadt Ghetto, where we were to hold important talks with Dr. Weimann, Chief of the Security Service of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and with Oberfuehrer (as he is called here) Eichmann, the specialist for all Jewish questions. The latter had come from Berlin to Prague, in order to examine various questions concerning the Jews with the representatives of the Committee of the International Red Cross. Oberfuehrer Eichmann had played a prominent role in the concentration camps of Lublin and Auschwitz. As he also informed me, he was the direct plenipotentiary of the Reichsfuehrer-SS for all Jewish questions."

After this, there is mention of a reception in Prague, which was held in the Hradcany (Castle). He says that the Committee of the International Red Cross was not so much interested in the living conditions and installations of the Theresienstadt Ghetto, but rather in finding out whether this ghetto served only as a transit camp for the Jews, and to what extent deportations to the East (Auschwitz) had taken place. "In accordance with what I was able to find out in Theresienstadt, the Jewish Elder, Dr. Eppstein, the foreman of the camp, had also been deported to Auschwitz."

Then there is mention of 10,000 Jews who had been put to work for the enlargement of the camp in Auschwitz, and who were employed in administrative work, for the most part.

Towards the end of the page and at the beginning of page 100, we read:

"In the course of the evening Eichmann expressed his theories concerning the Jewish Question. In his opinion, the Jews of Theresienstadt were in a much better state than many Germans, insofar as food and medical assistance were concerned. He said that Theresienstadt was a creation of Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler, who wanted to enable the Jews to organize a communal life under Jewish management in the ghetto of this camp, where they would enjoy almost complete autonomy. It was intended to engender a sense of racial community. Later on the Jews of Theresienstadt were to be deported to a district where they would live completely apart, separated from the body of the German population. As for the Jewish Question in general, Eichmann felt that Himmler was at that moment about to consider humane methods. Eichmann personally did not entirely approve of these methods, but as a good soldier, he was, of course, blindly following the orders of the Reichsfuehrer."
At the end, there is mention of the request of the representative of the International Red Cross to visit not only Theresienstadt, but also Bergen-Belsen, and Eichmann, to whom this request is addressed, promises to visit the camp together with him in the next few days. "This visit did not come about, because it was impossible for me to reach Eichmann in Berlin any more."

"On the basis of this promise by Oberfuehrer Eichmann, and Dr. Weimann's word of honour that no more Jews would be deported from Theresienstadt, I parted from my interlocutors." This is how he ends his report.

Presiding Judge: In the Hebrew translation of the Red Cross report, the name Paul Dunant is mentioned. In the German I do not see this name at all.

State Attorney Bar-Or: The name does not appear. The reports of the Red Cross are published anonymously. We know who the people were, not from the report which I have produced, but from witnesses and other documents which I shall produce. The report itself is anonymous, like all the reports of the Red Cross. This is one of the explanations for the refusal of this organization to help by summoning witnesses who would give evidence.

Meanwhile, the document has arrived, and I conclude the Theresienstadt chapter by submitting Prosecution document No. 1197. It is a card containing the list of those invited to the meeting on 6 April 1945, mentioned in the Red Cross report. Here we meet "good friends" with whom we are already acquainted: SS Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther from Prague, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann. I also mention Counsellor of Legation von Thadden and some others.

Presiding Judge: This document is not complete.

State Attorney Bar-Or: This is one page, marked 69, from a diary. Many such notes go into one diary and are marked from No. 1 on.

Presiding Judge: Whose diary, Mr. Bar-Or?

State Attorney Bar-Or: The diary of the Central Office in Prague; maybe this comes from the BdS in Prague; this document comes from Guenther's offices in Prague; it was sent to us from Prague. We have received several documents of this kind, which were seized immediately after the liberation, through the intermediary of the Czech Government. This document refers, of course, to the report from which I have just quoted.

Presiding Judge: This will be Exhibit T/866.

Judge Halevi: If you are about to complete the submission of documents on Theresienstadt...

State Attorney Bar-Or: I have completed it.

Judge Halevi: I wanted to ask: Perhaps the Prosecution would like to submit something from the publication by Rabbi Baeck about Theresienstadt; his name is frequently mentioned as a leader of the Jews of Germany who went to Theresienstadt.

State Attorney Bar-Or: I did not omit this important personality. In fact, I quoted from his writings at the very beginning of the trial.

Judge Halevi: I do not think he published anything specifically about Theresienstadt.

State Attorney Bar-Or: It think he published something in London about his experiences there. To tell the truth, there is, for instance, the well-known book by Dr. John Adler, which the Court is aware from his written declaration we submitted this morning. This is the outstanding book about Theresienstadt, and it is called Theresienstadt.

Judge Halevi: Was he there?

State Attorney Bar-Or: He himself was in Theresienstadt. I simply hesitate to burden the Court with material. This is an excellent, authentic book. It is based on impeccable sources. It is a thick volume, and it is at the disposal of the Court. I simply hesitate to submit it. Much has been written about Theresienstadt. I try to submit material which refers to the Accused, without impairing the general picture. We are faced with the difficult problem that one has somehow to compromise and to select, otherwise there is no end to it.

With your permission, we shall now hear two more witnesses, before I go on to the three Balkan countries - Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Greece. We shall hear two more witnesses about what happened during the final days in Theresienstadt. The first witness is Mr. Viteslav Diamant.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew? What language do you speak?

Witness: German.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your name?

Witness: Diamant.

Presiding Judge: What is your first name?

Witness: Viteslav.

State Attorney Bar-Or: You were born in 1901?

Witness Diamant: Yes.

Q. You were born in Czechoslovakia?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you in Prague in 1939 at the outbreak of the War?

A. Yes.

Q. On 14 December 1941, you were sent from Prague to Theresienstadt on one of the first transports?

A. Yes.

Q. What was your trade before you came to Theresienstadt?

A. Electrician.

Q. Were you also employed in this trade in the camp?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you remain in Theresienstadt until its liberation by the Red Cross?

A. Yes. And later the Soviets came.

Q. Where was your place of work in Theresienstadt?

A. Where the Council of Elders was, in the barracks, and all around were the workshops.

Q. Do you remember your friend Pollak?

A. Certainly.

Q. What can you tell the Court about what happened between the two of you in connection with certain documents?

A. I worked there as an electrical technician, where the Council of Elders was. It was a barracks of the dragoons before, and it had a lock-up for soldiers. I turned the lock-up into a workshop for myself, and in the Registry I had a friend who wrote down everything, all orders which came from the Commandant's office, people who were sent on, people who died, and the copies, which were of course kept secret, he gave to me, and I kept them in my workshop in a certain inaccessible place. Before the end of the War, he came to me and saidthat it may well be that they will be discovered, and that I should give them up. They were hidden in the dragoon barracks behind a rafter, so that after the War this friend was able to hand over the copies to the Czech Government.

Q. In connection with what you have just told us, do you perhaps know how many persons were in Theresienstadt camp in the autumn of 1944?

A. About 35,000.

Q. In September-October 1944, something happened in Theresienstadt and you had a part in it. Perhaps you will tell the Court about it?

A. In the autumn, a day or two before Rosh Hashana 1944, an order came, and it was said that Eichmann had also arrived, and he made all of us who were there stand at attention, as we had been taught at school to stand before the teacher. There were several other SS men, people from the administration were also present, and they ordered us to appear, each of us was given a slip, and we had to stand in line.

Q. Did you know the Head of the SS in the camp?

A. Yes. Rahm?

Q. That is the answer. Do you remember the SS man who spoke to you about this?

A. At that time, the SS chose a barracks for themselves, which was turned into a drawing-and-dining-room, a building for the SS. I worked there as an electrician, and I had an assistant, a Mr. Aschenbrenner, an elderly man who helped me with the more difficult work.

Q. He helped you with the electro-technical jobs?

A. Yes.

Q. And what happened?

A. Every day I went to work at 6 o'clock in the morning, and we worked till late at night. One day I came and found a slip of paper on the table in the workshop where I was, saying that I should appear before Eichmann the next day like all the others. So I thought to myself: Well, if I work there, that's alright. So I went to work again at 6 o'clock. There was a SS man guarding us who was an Austrian; I reported the matter to him, and he said to me "you will not go anywhere, you have to work." So I did not go anywhere, I continued to work, and late in the evening I came home.

Q. You did not appear as ordered on the slip?

A. I was a soldier, wasn't I, and the last order given was an order for me, and he also was an officer, and thus I stayed at work. In the evening, I came home, and the ghetto guard told me: "They will hang you, the SS is looking for you.". So I said: "Well, so they'll hang me; I won't be the last." I did not attach much importance to this, and I went to work again, because that officer had said to me: "You are not to listen to anyone, only to me, this must get finished." So I went to work again in the morning.

At about 9 o'clock, an SS man appeared with another ghetto guard looking for "the pig, the stinking Jew No. M 534," and I was to go with him at once. That is what I was for those gentlemen. And so I went, and the one who guarded us on behalf of the SS came along. At the door the man who had come to fetch me stood to attention and reported: "Stinking Jew-pig M 534" and also the other name, I do not know any more now what number he had - that he had brought us in - well...

Q. Before how many persons did you appear?

A. I cannot say this with certainty, I think there were about ten people there.

Q. Did you see anybody whom you recognized immediately?

A. Yes, there was Rahm, he was the Camp Commandant, and there was one from the technical administration, a certain Mr. Sever, an engineer, a Jew from Prague. He was also there.

Q. Was Sever one of the Jewish Elders in the ghetto?

A. Yes.

Q. Who was sitting in the middle?

A. I was told one of them was Eichmann.

Q. Who told you that?

A. Sever.

Presiding Judge: When were you told?

Witness Diamant: Later, when we came home.

State Attorney Bar-Or: How many hours later?

Witness Diamant: At about 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

Q. When you returned from there?

A. No. I asked for permission to go home earlier, because I wanted to know what had been decided.

Q. Where did you go?

A. To Sever. The same day. And Sever said to me: "You will live, and my brothers will not live." I said: "How do you know?" He told me: "Did you not see that they wrote a zero?'

Q. You have told us that you were made to stand in front of a row of people. You recognized Rahm, and you told us that you knew Sever. I asked who was in the middle. You said that Sever told you that this was Eichmann?

A. Yes.

Q. Who spoke? Did anybody speak to you there?

A. Yes. I was asked: "Where were you? Why did you not come?" I did not reply. But the SS man who was my superior said that he ordered me not to go, that I should go to work, and that therefore I did not come.

Q. Did he answer in your place, that SS man?

A. Yes.

Q. Who chaired the meeting?

A. At the time it was said that it was Eichmann.

Q. Who said that?

A. Sever, and others as well, also the people of the Council of Elders.

Q. On what day were you told that this was Eichmann?

A. On that same day, because I was very curious after all, I went to ask.

Q. When this SS man, who told you to work and not to go, when he had given his reply to the question, what happened?

A. I went back to work with him.

Q. Did anybody write down anything? Did you see any notes?

A. I looked at the table, and there were such papers, the size of those on this table; there were all the names and numbers, they were read out, and then either a little cross was added, or something like a zero.

Q. When you were standing before the commission, when you were being discussed by the commission, did you know whether notes were taken and what was noted down? Did you see anybody write at that moment?

A. I saw there that these signs were added.

Q. Who wrote these signs?

A. Either Eichmann or Rahm, I do not know this for certain.

Q. You said that you then went to your friend Sever from the Council of Elders. Why did you go there?

A. I wanted to know what was going to happen to me, whether he knew anything.

Q. Did you know why you were made to appear before the commission?

A. Of course I knew.

Q. What did you know? What was the reason?

A. The purpose was to deport the people from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz, because immediately after everybody had been registered, they were all taken into a barracks and then immediately sent on in (railway) carriages.

Q. Was this the first time that this happened?

A. Yes, the first time. Many transports had left before, but not one in this manner.

Q. What did Sever tell you, that he knew what had been written down concerning you?

A. He told me: "You will go on living," and his two brothers were with me and they were sent to Auschwitz. "And my brothers will not live." I asked him: "'How do you know this?," and he replied: "You have a round sign and my brothers have a cross."

Q. Are you quite certain that Sever was present at the commission?

A. Quite certain.

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