The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 52
(Part 8 of 8)

Q. Dr. Brody, who were the first Jews to be arrested, and where were they taken?

A. They began making arrests right from the very beginning. There were two categories of arrests. The first was an operation according to a list, when SS men rounded up about 280 hostages whose names were recorded there from the outset.

Q. And what was the second category of arrests?

A. The second category of arrests was carried out without any selection. First of all, at the railway station, they arrested all the Jews who were trying to leave or as they arrived. Similar arrests were made at the Danube ports, and there, at one of the ports, the first personality to be seized was Janos Vazsonyi, an ex-member of Parliament, the son of Wilmos Vazsonyi, a former Minister of Justice, who had been intending to travel by ship to Bahia.

Q. What camp were they taken to?

A. May I first be permitted to add that, not only at the railway stations but also at the train terminals, they seized people who were travelling to the suburbs, such as Ujpest and Kispest.

Q. Now, perhaps, would you please reply to the previous question?

A. They brought the hostages to the building of the Rabbinical Academy bearing the name of Franz Josef, a building which the Germans had requisitioned for this purpose right from the first day. The remaining prisoners who were arrested at random were brought to a place of detention on Mosonyi Street.

Q. Where were these prisoners taken to ultimately? What was their final destination?

A. When these places became full in the course of a day or two, the prisoners were taken to Kistarcsa, to the concentration camp at Kistarcsa, which was about 17 kilometres from Budapest.

Q. Who had to pay for the accommodation and the necessities of life of these prisoners?

A. The Gestapo men informed the Jewish Council that they would not be responsible for the maintenance of the detainees, but that they were imposing this obligation upon the Jewish Council.

Q. Were you given a particular task in connection with the camp at Kistarcsa?

A. Yes. Samu Stern, who was the head of the Jewish Council at that time, charged me with dealing with the economic problems of the prisoners of Kistarcsa, and the handling of the affairs of the detainees in general.

Q. Perhaps you can tell us what this task implied?

A. From the first moment, we organized the feeding of the inmates of the camps.

Presiding Judge: This Stern - was he Hofrat Stern?

Witness Brody: Yes. He was the past chairman of the Pest community and was then chosen to be chairman of the Jewish Council.

State Attorney Bach: Did you receive a special document which enabled you to travel to Kistarcsa and back?

Witness Brody: Yes. I have with me here the original permit which was signed by Samu Stern, and on it also the permit of the police and the SS Command, together with their signatures. I cannot now determine exactly whose signature appears on this permit, but I believe it is the signature of Krumey.

Q. I see that something has been erased from the top of the document. Can you explain why it was deleted?

A. Yes. The text of the permit was written inside in Hungarian and in German by the Jewish Council. Outside there is the confirmation by the State Police of Budapest, and underneath this there is the confirmation by the SS. At SS headquarters they felt themselves affronted because of this, for the confirmation of the Hungarian police was written above their own confirmation, and they erased it. In this way the Hungarian police were obliged to confirm this again after their confirmation.

State Attorney Bach: With the Court's permission, we have here copies of that document. Perhaps we may submit them to the Court. The Court will be able to compare them with the original and then return the original to the witness.

Presiding Judge: Please hand the document to us, and we shall give it back to him immediately.

State Attorney Bach: This is actually our document No. 1445.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1146.

State Attorney Bach: Dr. Brody, you, in fact, visited Kistarcsa every day?

Witness Brody: Yes. I visited Kistarcsa daily; however, this did not start on 19 March but some time in May. Perhaps I may be allowed to make a comprehensive statement about Kistarcsa.

State Attorney Bach: Perhaps it would be better if he first answered my questions. If he has something to add, he could do so at the end.

Presiding Judge: [to interpreter] He should first answer the questions. If he should want to add something, we shall allow him to do so at the end.

State Attorney Bach: Who was the commandant of Kistarcsa?

Witness Brody: The commandant of Kistarcsa was Istvan Vasdenyei, a chief superintendent of police, which more or less corresponded to the rank of a police major.

Q. What was your relationship with the commandant Vasdenyei?

A. On the first day that I went to Kistarcsa I asked Vasdenyei to be permitted to speak to him alone. I staked everything on one card and asked him whether it was clear to him that the Germans had lost the war. He replied to me: "Why do you ask that?" I answered: "It depends upon this how we shall be able to cooperate."

Q. Perhaps the witness can put it more concisely: Was the relationship with Vasdenyei actually a positive one towards you and the detainees, or was it negative?

A. Vasdenyei's attitude to me, and also to the detainees, was very good, and many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Jews owe their rescue to Vasdenyei.

Q. We shall come to this point. Did you ever see SS men inside the camp?

A. I constantly saw SS men in the camp.

Q. Which of the SS officers did you see in the camp?

A. Amongst the SS officers whom I saw in the camp were Novak, Hunsche, Lemeke. I do not remember the names of the others.

Q. Was it clear to you what was the function of those officers in regard to the Kistarcsa camp?

A. Yes, I remember they had two functions. On the one hand they used to bring in the new detainees; on the other hand they took care of the transport of the detainees from there, for deportation.

Q. When, for any reason, you wanted to procure the release of some Jew - or a Jewish boy - from the camp, who had to give the authorization for that?

A. Only the SS could give permission for that. But Vasdenyei helped us very much.

Q. Dr. Brody, please tell the Court what happened on 12 July 1944?

A. At the beginning of July we received information, according to which the Regent had forbidden all further deportations.

Q. Perhaps, before you continue with your answer, let me ask you: How many deportations were there from the Kistarcsa camp which are known to you?

A. I cannot give you a precise date, but I know that the first train left already in April, and Janos Vazsonyi was also deported on it. After that they always sent trains out when the camp filled up. This became more frequent when they arrested the Jews of the towns surrounding Budapest, from Ujpest and Kispest. I remember this well, since on one of the trains they deported my brother Bela Brody of Ujpest, who had been the inventor of light bulbs filled with krypton gas.

We hoped that at the beginning of July there would be no more deportations. To my great surprise, Vasdenyei notified me on the evening of 12 July, in confidence, that on the 14th of the month the Germans were preparing to take away an additional 1,500 persons from Kistarcsa, and that the Germans had ordered a special train to Kistarcsa.

Q. When you learned about this, what did you do?

A. When I got to know about it, I got in touch, that same evening, with the directors of the Jewish Council, Samu Stern, Ernoe Petoe, Karoly Wilhelm; I told them about it, and I requested action in two directions. My first request was that the Jewish Council should prepare food parcels for 1,500 people, so that these people should not die from starvation during the journey.

Q. Perhaps you can inform us what happened to this train that departed, as a result of Jewish intervention?

A. We gave food to the people, and at the same time the leaders of the Jewish Council sought to make contact with the Regent, in order to foil the plan to take the train out.

Presiding Judge: This is not an answer to the question that was asked. You were asked as follows: What happened, in the end, to this train?

Witness Brody: The Regent gave an order that the train should not proceed. Since the train had already left, the Regent ordered a major of the gendarmerie, Lullay, to halt the train while it was still in Hungarian territory. And Lullay managed to reach the train at the town of Hatvan and gave orders for it to be sent back, and the train arrived back at Kistarcsa in the evening. This was the sole deportation train in the eleven years of Nazi domination, ever to be turned back in its tracks.

State Attorney Bach: These 1,500 people who were sent to Kistarcsa, did all of them remain in Kistarcsa that day, or were they split up amongst various camps?

Witness Brody: Since not all of these 1,500 had previously been in Kistarcsa, but about 300 souls came from Csepel, Horthyliget, and also from Mosonyi Street, it was impossible to send all of them back there.

Q. Hence, where did they place the others?

A. Accordingly, on the next day, Vasdenyei sent about 280 persons to Sarvar, which was an auxiliary camp to that of Kistarcsa.

Q. What was the next thing that happened to these people who travelled on this train and returned to Kistarcsa?

A. We all rejoiced, together with these people, since we believed that their troubles were over and that they had finally been saved.

Q. And so, what happened to them?

A. On 19 July, in the morning, SS men, under the command of Novak, appeared with many cars.

Q. Who else was there that you knew, apart from Novak?

A. Lemeke.

Q. Were you yourself there personally on that day at Kistarcsa?

A. I was there personally, and I was in Vasdenyei's office when Novak and Lemeke came in.

Q. Please tell the Court what happened then.

A. Novak told Vasdenyei that it was forbidden for anyone to leave the office. He forbade the use of the telephone. And he declared that, on Eichmann's orders, he was going to take those 1,500 persons, who had been placed in the railway coaches on 14 July, since Eichmann - allow me to quote this in German as I heard it said - "Eichmann laesst es sich nicht gefallen, dass seine Befehle kontrakariert werden, selbst vom Reichsverweser nicht" (Eichmann will not tolerate his orders to be countermanded, not even by the Regent of the state himself).

Q. What happened after that?

A. After that, an order was issued for everyone to go out into the courtyard, and the SS men began throwing them with great brutality into the trucks. Amongst them were people who walked on crutches and, if I remember correctly, there was one invalid chair and there were sick people; but they were told that they could leave all these things behind, for anyhow they would not be needing them any more.

Q. Who said these things? Who shouted out these words?

A. The SS men who were throwing the people about or who were forcibly loading them on to the trucks; Lemeke told Vasdenyei he should also dispatch Brody, since he, too, was to be deported. And Vasdenyei ordered his secretary, named Istvan Vass, to accompany me to headquarters.

Q. Did he say anything more about you - any personal accusation against you? Did Lemeke add any personal accusation as to why you had to be deported?

A. Yes: "Brody hat uns schon sehr viele Unannehmlichkeiten gemacht (Brody has already caused us a great amount of unpleasantness).

Q. Did he also mention a particular unpleasantness?

A. He attributed to me the fact that he was obliged to bring back the transport of 14 July.

Q. Can you tell us something about the number of people who had to be deported? You said earlier that some of the people were transferred previously to Sarvar. Was there a discussion in regard to that?

A. Yes. Novak stated that he wanted to take those people who had been on the train on 14 July. To this Vasdenyei answered that it was impossible to do so, since 280 persons had already been transferred to Sarvar. To this Novak responded that then he would take 280 others in their stead, but that he insisted on a total of 1,500. Then Vasdenyei began pleading with Novak not to take others as substitutes for those people, and after much persuasion Novak agreed.

Thus only 1,220 souls were then deported, and in this way we rejoiced, together with Vasdenyei, that at least 280 had been saved.

Q. You were telling us earlier how these people were thrown into the trucks. Where were you standing, and where did you see that?

A. I? was possible from the first floor to observe the courtyard where they were being put on to the trucks.

Q. You told us about cripples. What about elderly people?

A. Yes, I even remember old women, eighty years of age, being thrown in this manner on to the trucks. I also remember, in particular, the widow of Sandor Flussig, who had been a member of the Upper House and chairman of the Stock Exchange, a woman of eighty, who was unable to take care of herself and who was sick.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach do you still have many questions?

State Attorney Bach: Not many, but it will still take some time.

Presiding Judge: We shall adjourn at this point. The Session will be resumed at 15.30. The witness must be present in Court.

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