The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 53
(Part 1 of 6)

Session No. 53

10 Sivan, 5721 (25 May 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the fifty-third Session of the trial open. Dr. Brody, you are still giving evidence under oath.

Witness Brody: Certainly.

State Attorney Bach: Dr. Brody, you said, this morning, that on that particular day Lemeke gave an order to arrest you as well, and you wanted to tell the Court something about the order which the camp commandant, Vasdenyei, gave concerning yourself. Would you please tell the Court what happened in the course of that day?

Witness Brody: When Vasdenyei gave the order to his clerk Istvan Vass he nodded his head as a sign that I should be taken out into the courtyard, but he accompanied me, not to the courtyard, but to Vasdenyei's official apartment. Consequently Lemeke imagined that I, too, was put into one of the trucks and taken away. I can attribute the fact of my presence here to Vasdenyei.

Q. So you came out of the camp safely?

A. Without harm. What is more, I ran to the tram in order to inform the Jewish Council that people had again been seized.

Q. Can you tell the Court approximately at what time this happened?

A. When I reached Pest, it was in the early hours of the afternoon. I was astonished at the fact that at No 12 Sip Street, instead of finding the Jewish Council in session, I did not find any of the members of the Council.

Q. Were you told where they were?

A. Yes. Officials, who were there, told me that Eichmann, some time before, in the early hours of the morning, had ordered all the members of the Jewish Council to come to his office in the Schwabenberg.

Q. When did you eventually manage to establish contact with the members of the Jewish Council?

A. Only at night was I able, if my memory serves me correctly, to contact Samu Stern and Ernoe Petoe, and they told me that they had spent the entire day in the office - they were watched and were not even given an opportunity to use the telephone. They were allowed to go leave in the evening, almost certainly after the receipt of a telephone call to the effect that the train had left.

Q. Dr. Brody, do you know the man in this photograph?

A. This is SS Major Novak.

Q. Is that the same Novak you have been speaking about?

A. Yes.

State Attorney Bach: I apply to submit the photograph.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1147.

State Attorney Bach: Dr. Brody, in previous deportations from Kistarcsa, each time a transport was to leave - who determined the list of people who were to be deported from Hungary?

Witness Brody: The SS did not determine the list of names of the deportees - except in the case of this last transport. They only fixed the number of deportees, that such-and-such a number had to be taken, but not one of the hostages was taken.

Q. Perhaps you would explain to the Court who were these hostages who were not taken?

A. Those 280 persons whom the SS arrested on that first day when they went from address to address in accordance with a list that had been drawn up in advance in Germany; these people were placed in a special building which was given the name "Pavillion B."

Q. Can you tell us how many transports you, yourself, saw leaving Kistarcsa?

A. I cannot give you an exact figure, but at least 15 to 20 - I cannot give a precise number.

Q. How many were deported each time?

A. I would add that, after each deportation, I drew up a list of the deportees and I submitted it to the Jewish Council. These lists remained there.

Q. From whom did you obtain these lists?

A. In part Vasdenyei allowed me to draw them up, at my request. There was also a detective-inspector by the name of Vasarhey. Not only did they give me the list of deportees, but they also gave me the lists of those people who were brought there each day. These were the lists I submitted to the Jewish Council and this enabled them to notify the relatives of those who had been detained.

Q. You said, earlier that the SS determined the number of deportees. How did you know that?

A. From the fact that in each case they stated how many freight-cars were needed. The cars had to be ordered in advance. From time to time they notified Vasdenyei that he had to order twenty cars to be brought to the Kistarcsa station.

Apart from the hostages the SS men regarded the prisoners as if they were chattels, and when the "stores" filled up they were emptied out and new ones brought in.

Q. Dr. Brody, you told us this morning that you were glad that those 280 Jews who had arrived at Sarvar were saved. Can you tell the Court what eventually happened to those Jews?

A. We got to know that our joy was premature, since two or three days later they, too, were deported together with the other prisoners who were there - by the order of Hunsche. That was the last transport under the regime of the Regent Horthy.

Q. Dr. Brody, after 15 October 1944, were you arrested again - or were you arrested at all?

A. After 15 October 1944, men of the "Arrow Cross" seized me and on 18 October - they established units in an area which was used for horse races - and they brought me to Nagyteteny to dig anti-tank traps and trenches.

Q. What happened to most of the people who were engaged in this work?

A. The vast majority, most of them, perished there; the remainder were taken to Hegyeshalom. On the journey there, elderly people in particular, those who could not endure the march, were shot in the course of the march by the men of the "Arrow Cross."

Q. You said that there were thousands of people who walked to Hegyeshalom. What happened to them there?

A. They were led onwards, and the majority of them died in the village in the neighbourhood of Sopron. I escaped from my unit.

Q. How did you succeed in escaping? With whose help?

A. They led us to the island of Csepel - from Nagyteteny to Budafok and later to Csepel and there they loaded us on to a truck in order to take us to Pest. I concealed myself in this truck, I jumped off the truck and I walked to my apartment.

Q. Were you previously a member of the Hungarian Parliament?

A. I was elected in 1947, on the platform of the Social Democratic Party.

Q. You mentioned earlier that your brother was also deported on one of the transports. Can you tell us what happened to your brother and to other members of your family?

A. I rescued my brother. I went to Obuda, to a brick factory, and there I came across an officer of the "Todt" organization, who released him together with his children, for a sum of 3,000 pengoe. I subsequently accompanied them to a building which was under Portuguese protection, a building of which I was in charge, and I concealed them there. Twenty-eight members of my family were lost.

May I be permitted to point out that I secured this Portuguese protection through a Mr. Sebestyen,* {*Pal Sebestyen - legal expert in the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.} Minister and Plenipotentiary, who served in the Foreign Ministry, who, notwithstanding the fact that he did not know me, gave me a letter of recommendation to the effect that, as a token of appreciation for my activities in rescue work, I should be given a Portuguese protective passport, and this was done.

State Attorney Bach: I have no further questions.

Dr. Servatius: I have one question to the witness. If I understood correctly, both the commandant Vasdenyei and the Regent Horthy were helpful to the Jews.

Witness Brody: Yes Sir, you understood me correctly. Vasdenyei helped us right from the first moment, from the time I was released. Thanks to him, children up to the age of 14 were entrusted to me. Thanks to him, the establishment of a hospital, in Bethlen Square, was made possible for the sick people who were entrusted to my care. The important role of the Regent Horthy lay in the fact that, as from the month of July, he forbade all further deportations.

Q. Were the Hungarian gendarmerie and the Hungarian Gestapo also helpful to the Jews?

A. I am not in a position to reply that question, since there were in Kistarcsa neither personnel of the gendarmerie nor members of the Hungarian secret police. The policemen on duty there behaved very well.

Presiding Judge: Did you not have any experience beyond the Kistarcsa camp?

Witness Brody: Only through hearsay, and I want to testify only as to facts.

Presiding Judge: Quite right.

Dr. Servatius: Was it for that reason that you did not say anything unfavourable to the Hungarians in your testimony which you first gave in writing on 23 January 1961, and that there you only spoke well of them?

Witness Brody: I wrote only the truth in my testimony, and only what I had personally witnessed, and now, too, I am only speaking the truth. I have taken an oath on all this. Hence I am unable to say anything on the basis of hearsay.

Dr. Servatius: The witness has not, in fact, answered my question, but I have no further questions.

Presiding Judge: I am not sure whether there has not been a misunderstanding here. Was there anything in this written statement about the Hungarian gendarmerie?

Dr. Servatius: In his written testimony, he only spoke favourably about Vasdenyei and about Horthy, and he does not mention others. I asked him if he did not know of a more negative attitude on the part of the Hungarian gendarmerie and of the Gestapo, and he replied that he had no personal knowledge of this; consequently I do not have any more questions.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, do you have any questions to the witness?

State Attorney Bach: I do not wish to re-examine.

Judge Halevi: You said that there were transports, deportations, from Kistarcsa before July 1944. My question relates to those deportations which were prior to July 1944, and I want to know who took the Jews from your camp and loaded them on the freight-cars?

Witness Brody: SS men.

Q. Not merely the SS commander, but also SS soldiers?

A. Yes.

Judge Halevi: Thank you.

Presiding Judge: Thank you very much, Dr. Brody, you have completed your testimony.

State Attorney Bach: The next witness is Mrs. Elisheva Szenes.

Presiding Judge: Madam, do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Szenes: Not too well.

Presiding Judge: What language do you wish to speak?

Witness Szenes: Hungarian.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Erzsi Elisheva Szenes.

State Attorney Bach: Mrs. Szenes, you were born in Slovakia, were you not?

Witness Szenes: Yes.

Q. Did you study journalism as a profession?

A. Yes.

Q. And, in fact, you worked for a Hungarian newspaper?

A. Yes.

Q. Perhaps you would tell the Court, when the deportations from Slovakia began, how you succeeded in escaping to Hungary? Please describe, in a general way, the manner of your escape.

A. In Slovakia, in Michalovce, they first of all arrested the young girls. This severely shocked the families, since they had not believed that they would actually take the girls, the young women and the single women, first. I was also among them. During those days I still managed to escape and to hide. But later on, I nevertheless fell into their hands and I was included in one transport which had already been deported, but at the very last minute I succeeded in getting away from there as well. I should say that, on 5 May, as far as I know, about 3,000 Jews were deported from Michalovce.

Q. In what year?

A. This was in the month of May 1942. The Jews were deported from Michalovce and later on they sent postcards saying that they had been deported to Lublin. On the postcards it said: "Almost all of them are already in the Hradok." This was the name of the cemetery in Michalovce. It also said: "We have not yet met Wiesner." Wiesner was the baker, hence this meant that they had hardly eaten any bread.

Q. Perhaps you would tell us how you managed to reach Hungary?

A. The Hungarian writers sent a cabled application on my behalf to Tiso, the President of the State, requesting that I should not be deported, but they received a negative reply. Thereafter I received advice from the well-known writer Sandor Marai, that I should try to escape to Hungary. I also want to add that the deportations from Slovakia were carried out with absolute brutality. They hurled the girls who were half-fainting on to buses and from there to freight- cars.

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