The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 50
(Part 7 of 7)

State Attorney Bach: This is our document No. 281. Mr. Steiner first tells us that Wisliceny described his talks with Eichmann, why Palestine cannot be considered as the destination for emigration: "When I asked him why, he laughed and asked whether I had never heard of the Grand Mufti Husseini. He explained that the Mufti has very close contact and cooperation with Eichmann, and therefore Germany cannot agree to Palestine being the final destination, as this would be a blow to Germany's prestige in the Mufti's eyes."

Then he goes on: "At this further conversation Wisliceny gave me more details about the cooperation between Eichmann and the Mufti. The Mufti is a sworn enemy of the Jews and has always fought for the idea of annihilating the Jews. He sticks to this idea always, also in his talks with Eichmann" - and here we have one of the points about which Wisliceny has reservations - "who, as you know, is a German who was born in Palestine. The Mufti is one of the originators of the systematic destruction of European Jewry by the Germans, and he has become a permanent colleague, partner and adviser to Eichmann and Himmler in the implementation of this programme."

Here Wisliceny adds: "I have read these descriptions and find them correct, except for this, that Eichmann was born in Palestine, and that the Mufti was a permanent partner of Himmler's; this is not what I said."

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1117.

State Attorney Bach: Dr. Steiner, as part of your efforts and work on documentation, did you also make an album containing photographs and documents?

Witness Steiner: Yes.

Q. Are you holding that album in your hand?

A. Yes, on the catastrophe of Slovak Jewry.

Q. Were you the editor of that album?

A. Of the documentary part of it, yes.

Q. Where did you get these photographs from?

A. As I said, our institution's task was to document, to collect material on the catastrophe of Slovak Jewry, and to issue publications concerning it.

Q. And this album contains the reproductions of documents and photographs that you obtained?

A. Yes.

Q. I am requesting the Court's permission to submit this album in evidence. I will then question the witness about several photographs and exhibits contained in the album.

Presiding Judge: Very well. This will be marked T/1118.

State Attorney Bach: Dr. Steiner, please open the album at page 41. What are these photographs?

Witness Steiner: These are photographs taken during the 1942 deportations. In the top picture one can see that the people have numbers; this was the serial number they were given. In the bottom picture they are going to the train. This may well be how they went to Zilina.

Q. Please open page 50. Can you identify the persons in the top pictures?

A. Yes, they are Dieter Wisliceny and Ludin.

Q. Open page 52, please. Can you also identify those?

A. Yes, I can identify Wisliceny and Mach together, and on the right Vasek, and on the bottom Koso and all the others, as it says there.

Q. Please open pages 54-55.

A. Page 54 shows a picture of the labour camp in Novaky, and page 55, in Sered.

Q. And pages 64-65?

A. The photographs on all these pages I received from the Jewish communities - the pictures shown on page 64 I obtained after the War from Nove Mesto nad Vahom, the town where I was born.

Q. And on page 65?

A. That is Spisska Nova Ves.

Q. Yes, but what do they show?

A. The vandalism, what they did to the places of worship during the War.

Q. To the synagogues?

A. Yes, to the synagogues.

Q. What does the picture on page 66 show?

A. That is from Spisska Nova Ves, these are also synagogues, these pictures show the same thing.

Q. But the picture at the bottom?

Presiding Judge: That is clear. These are tombstones that have been destroyed.

State Attorney Bach: And page 83?

Witness Steiner: On page 83, at the top, one sees Zilina at the time of the 1942 deportations. At the top - I really don't remember - that may very likely be in the vicinity of Svidinik and Stropkov, in Slovakia.

Q. And pages 84 and 86?

A. Page 84 is a continuation of the same pictures, and page 86 also belongs to the deportation.

Q. Page 96 contains certain statistics.

A. Yes. That diagram shows where the transports came from and where they went. But I should add that these figures also include parts of Slovakia that then belonged to Hungary.

Q. Which were later incorporated into Hungary?

A. Yes.

Q. And that is the deportation to Hungary?

A. Yes.

Q. The section from page 98 to page 111, are these pictures from Auschwitz?

A. Yes, these are pictures from Auschwitz.

Q. How did they come into your possession?

A. When we decided to publish this book, I went to the museum in Prague, the "Jewish Museum," and the museum director - Soyka I think his name was - told me that he had original photographs of Auschwitz. These are the photographs. I asked him where these pictures had come from, and he said that they had come from Bodenbach on the Elbe; an SS man who had been living there had fled, and his apartment was handed over to another person - a man or a woman, that I do not remember - and that person had given the photographs to the Jewish Museum.

Q. And that is how you got these pictures?

A. Yes.

Q. On pages 112 and 113 one can see mass graves of naked women.

A. In 1947 we held an exhibition - I think it was that year - and I received these pictures from the "Vojensky Museum," the military museum, in Zizkov, Prague.

Q. Page 116 contains the photograph of a certain newspaper article. Can you tell the Court what article that is?

A. This is an article by Fritz Fiala, who was the Chef- Redakteur (editor-in-chief) of the Grenzbote. In it he describes his visit to Auschwitz, and tells about the Slovak Jews and what they were doing there.

Q. I have had a Hebrew translation of the article prepared. With the Court's permission, I wish to submit to the Court this translation of the article. Of course some parts of the article we could not see, these parts being obscured by the picture on the lower section of the page.

Presiding Judge: Which page are you referring to?

State Attorney Bach: To page 116 of the album. I wish to draw the Court's attention mainly to two passages. Relating to Sosnowiec and describing the Jewish dwellings, Fiala states:

"Inside the Jewish apartments it is less appetizing. The Jewish women apparently use water only on the tip of their nose and leave the rest of their face covered by a thick layer of kohl and rouge."
About Auschwitz he says the following:
"When I tell the Jewesses that the enemy's atrocity propaganda claims that the German authorities are mistreating them, they start laughing, as though they had just heard a good joke. Aranka Singer, an 18-year old girl, warns me that there are no men at all in the women's quarters, and Roosevelt ought to know that it was the Germans who introduced legislation for the protection of the race. Food supplies are based on precisely the same rations as in the Reich. Those who do hard work, or very hard work, receive extra rations.

All the Jews declare that they are being treated justly and humanely in every respect, and if they regard anything as being unjust, it is the fact that all the Jews of Europe are not yet here. One of the Jews with whom I spoke told me: 'I have to tell you, in all frankness, that it is quite easy for us to reconcile ourselves to our life here; as one who was previously in Palestine, I can definitely say that here we are better off, far away from the vicious struggle for survival which I saw there'."

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1119.

State Attorney Bach: Dr. Steiner, at the top of page 122 the Court will see a picture with Abba Kovner, who appeared as a witness in this trial. We did not know of the existence of this picture. One can see on it partisans and soldiers.

Presiding Judge: What page are you referring to?

State Attorney Bach: I am referring to page 122. In the middle of the upper row you will see Abba Kovner.

Judge Halevi: Mr. Bach, perhaps the witness can explain about the article on page 116; there is a photograph shown, alleged to be a photograph of nurses.

State Attorney Bach: Dr. Abeles gave evidence on that, because that appeared with the original article.

Judge Halevi: What does it say below that picture? Perhaps the witness can translate it for us.

State Attorney Bach: On the copy that I handed to the Court, the caption below the picture reads as follows: "Jewesses of Slovakia in their new settlement." Dr. Steiner, on page 127, the lower part, there is a document.

Witness Steiner: Yes.

Q. Did you at the time see the original document?

A. Yes, I did. I received it and handed it back. I think it appears also in the trial of Dr. Vasek.

Q. Finally, on page 130, what is the list shown there?

A. As I have said, after the War 150 mass graves were discovered in Slovakia. One of them was in Kremnica, near Banska Bystrica, where 372 bodies were found; this is a list of the persons who were buried in that mass grave. It gives name, nationality, religion, date of birth, by whom the people were delivered to the firing squad, and the date they were shot, and finally, the length of time spent by that person in the camp.

Q. The date shown here is the date of execution?

A. Yes.

Q. Please look at No. 18 on the list. What does it say after the name?

A. It says 17 months. The name given is Goldenerova Noemi.

Q. Who was 17 months old?

A. Yes. The name may be that of her mother.

Q. The last point, Dr. Steiner. Do you know what the sign "DA" on a transport means?

A. Yes, it means "David." The transports had that sign.

Q. What did it mean when a transport bore that sign?

A. That it was a transport of Jews.

Q. That is a transport in which Jews were deported?

A. Yes, a transport of deported Slovak Jews.

State Attorney Bach: Thank you.

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

Dr. Servatius: Yes. Witness, how many times did you talk to Wisliceny after he had been convicted?

Witness Steiner: I never spoke to him.

Q. In that case, I did not quite understand. Were these reports, these documents, handed over to you by the prosecution after Wisliceny had been convicted?

A. No, before that. Wisliceny was convicted in May 1948. All his statements, the evidence he gave, all his reports were made before that and were delivered to us only in 1946 or 1947.

Dr. Servatius: In that case, I have no other question for the witness.

Judge Halevi: When you posed the questions to Wisliceny, did you do that in writing and never talked to him?

Witness Steiner: Yes, I put them in writing.

Q. Did you then give them to the prosecutor, so that he put the questions to him?

A. Yes.

Q. And you did not speak to him at all?

A. I never spoke to him.

Q. You mention the plunder and looting of the Jewish property in Slovakia. Perhaps you could look at one of the Wisliceny documents submitted to us, look only at the amounts and the estimates; is that correct? I am showing the witness Exhibit T/1085. This includes only movable assets. Do you have any comment on the contents of this document?

A. As regards the sum of 150-200 million, that I would say refers to "Mobilbesitz," that is to say "Kapitalbesitz" (capital assets). It does not include the rest.

Q. That is about one twentieth of the sum that you mentioned.

A. Yes. I can tell you how much that was. What I said referred to the gross amount. Of that, the part in capital is 1,444 million, that is 1.4 billion; and that, I believe, was approximately the amount that the Jews had in the banks.

Q. Tell me, in general terms, who received all the Jewish property? Who took the Jewish property? To whom was this stolen property delivered, to the Germans or to the Slovaks?

A. To the Slovaks and to the Germans, depending on the population. There were two different things: There was the liquidation, and then there was "Aryanization." Liquidation meant that the business was dissolved. Aryanization was applied only to large businesses. I have seen documents showing that businesses were taken over by Germans. It all depended on the region, if there were Germans there...

Q. What Germans? German nationals?

A. It means residents of Slovakia, local residents. For example, in the town where I was born, Nove Mesto nad Vahom, there was a Jew by the name of Reiss, who had a factory; that factory was taken over by Germans who were local residents.

Q. This was sold cheaply, was it?

A. Yes, this was in the Aryanization stage.

Q. In case of confiscation by the state, in the name of which state was property confiscated, was it the Slovak state?

A. Yes, by the Slovak state.

Q. To the Germans, as a state, no property was handed over?

A. I do not think so.

Presiding Judge: Thank you, Dr. Steiner, you have finished your testimony.

We shall now adjourn the session. The next Session is at 15.30.

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