The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 53
(Part 3 of 6)

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Margit Reich.

Presiding Judge: Please reply to Mr. Bach.

State Attorney Bach: In 1944 were you in Budapest with your husband?

Witness Reich: Yes, we lived in Budapest.

Q. When was your husband arrested?

A. On 29 June 1944.

Q. How much later did you learn that he had been transferred to the camp in Kistarcsa?

A. I learned about it after we went to the Council.

Q. Did you receive a letter from your husband, from Kistarcsa?

A. I did not receive one from Kistarcsa, only when they seized him and took him away - I received one postcard and one letter from him.

Q. After a certain time a postcard reached you which had the appearance of having been thrown out of a train?

A. It was thrown out. Yes.

Q. Where is the original postcard?

A. The original of that postcard is in Budapest with my children. But if it should be necessary, I can bring it here.

Q. I show you a particular photograph. Perhaps you are able to say whether this is a photostat of that postcard?

A. Of course. Yes, this is my husband's handwriting.

Q. Can you tell the Court what is written on this postcard?

Presiding Judge: Perhaps the interpreter will read the postcard?

State Attorney Bach: I have no objection. Actually I have a translation. I can also read the translation. On the first side, it said: "May the hand sending this postcard be blessed." And after that, it then says on the other side: "My Dear. This is Wednesday afternoon. They have packed us together - we are leaving. May God be with you, my dear family, God be with you. I embrace you - many kisses. Your father." And after that it says there, in a different handwriting: "Thrown out at the Karacsond station, it got wet but is nevertheless forwarded." This is written in a different handwriting on the second side - all of it in Hungarian.

Presiding Judge: [To interprerer] Do you confirm this?

Interpreter: [After perusing the photostat of the postcard] Yes.

State Attorney Bach: I apply to submit this document.

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/1148.

State Attorney Bach: Did you subsequently receive some further sign of life from your husband?

Witness Reich: In addition to this postcard I received one further letter.

Q. On what sort of paper was this letter written?

A. On toilet paper.

Presiding Judge: Do you still have it in your possession?

Witness Reich: Yes. I can produce the letter.

State Attorney Bach: [Shows the witness a copy of a letter] Do you also recognize the handwriting here?

Witness Reich: Yes. I can also read it. I remember that the letter was torn in the way that it is torn here.

Q. And how did this letter reach you?

A. In the mail. And on it was written: "Blessed be the hand which will post this letter."

State Attorney Bach: With the Court's permission, I shall read the translation here.

Presiding Judge: Yes. If she [the witness] wants to, she can read it herself, but I would like to spare her this emotional experience.

Witness Reich: Yes. I understand.

State Attorney Bach: "My dear wife and children. One postcard I have already thrown out of the train. I shall endeavour to write another letter. There is no doubt that we are setting out upon a very long journey. May God help us so that we may meet in joy, for one miracle already happened on the Sabbath. Maybe God will help us again. We were not able to take everything with us. What we have in the railway waggon is a rucksack. The important people are in one waggon, waggon No 60. The destination - Germany. At any rate this is what we know. But, possibly, the German soldiers accompanying us will get off at Kassa. The attitude towards us is tolerable. We are lucky that it is not very hot. If only I knew that no harm would befall you! I shall somehow bear my fate whatever it may be. I do not want to make you sad, but I would want very much to live yet in your midst. May God grant us that we may be allowed to achieve that. My dear children, look after your mother. And you, my dear wife, protect our property. If, with God's help, I should return - I will thank Him for that. If I have an opportunity - I will write. Until then I embrace you from the bottom of my heart, with love, your father. From the freight-car, Thursday, 10.30 approximately."

I would request to submit this document.

Presiding Judge: [To interpreter] Can you confirm that?

Interpreter: Yes, that is the translation.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1149.

What you have previously submitted to us here, contains two letters?

State Attorney Bach: Yes - there is even a third letter which I have not read out, the first letter which is not particularly important.

Perhaps, for the sake of completeness the witness can also identify the first letter which we did not read out.

You said that at the beginning you received a letter from your husband, after he had reached Kistarcsa. Perhaps you are able to identify this letter as well?

Witness Reich: Yes. This is the letter.

Presiding Judge: Is this letter also still in your possession?

Witness Reich: All the letters of which photostat copies have been made, are still in my possession.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1150.

State Attorney Bach: Mrs. Reich, after you received the last two letters, the postcard and this letter on the kind of paper you described, did you hear anything more from your husband?

Witness Reich: I then approached the Jewish Council, and Dr. Reiner told me what had happened - that they had succeeded once in having the transport sent back, and afterwards it had been deported again.

Q. Did you ever hear anything from your husband after that?

A. Only after the liberation did I receive information that he was no longer alive. This information I have from evidence in my possession.

Q. Do you know where your husband was taken to?

A. Yes, I know but it escapes me for the moment...I shall tell you seems to me that it was Kaufering.

Q. Did you ever see your husband again, after the War?

A. No.

Q. How old was your husband?

A. 51 years old.

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

Dr. Servatius: No, I have no questions.

Presiding Judge: Where do you live today, Mrs. Reich?

Witness Reich: In Givatayim.

Presiding Judge: Thank you very much.

State Attorney Bach: The next witness, Your Honours, is Martin Foeldi.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Foeldi: Yes.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Dr. Martin Foeldi.

Presiding Judge: Please reply to Mr. Bach's questions. State Attorney Bach: Dr. Foeldi, you are a lawyer by profession?

Witness Foeldi: Yes.

Q. You practised as a lawyer in Hungary as well?

A. For several months, after the Hungarians entered at the end of 1938. I was in Uzhgorod and I was a lawyer there, in Czechoslovakia. Uzhgorod was then part of Czechoslovakia.

Presiding Judge: In what part of Czechoslovakia was this?

Witness Foeldi: In Carpatho-Russia. From November 1938 until April 1939 I practised as a lawyer under the Hungarians.

State Attorney Bach: On 19 March 1944 were you still in Uzhgorod?

Witness Foeldi: Yes.

Q. Can you tell the Court what was the first thing that happened after the Germans entered Hungary, as far as you experienced it in Uzhgorod?

Presiding Judge: First of all, all the same, let us have some history. When was this region, Carpatho-Russia, transferred to Hungary?

Witness Foeldi: In November 1938 - this was the arbitration award that was made in Vienna, and afterwards, a few days later, the Hungarian army entered.

State Attorney Bach: What occurred after the entry of the Germans into Hungary?

Presiding Judge: Was this arbitration award in Vienna in 1938?

Witness Foeldi: Yes. I was then, actually in the Czech army, when the arbitration took place, and had been discharged from the army.

State Attorney Bach: What happened in your town after the German occupation?

Witness Foeldi: The leaders of the community were assembled by the Germans, and a Council of Elders was established under the leadership of Dr. Lazlo, who had served up to that point as head of the Community Council. A number of other people were also added to this Council.

Q. What happened at the end of March of that year to the local Jews?

A. I remember, for example, an incident where the Council received an order to deliver a bed to the Gestapo. The next day there was a complaint by the Gestapo that the bed was not clean, and within 24 hours the Jews of Uzhgorod had to pay one and a half million pengoe, which at that time was worth 7 million Czech crowns.

Q. When you say "Gestapo" what are you referring to, exactly: Was there an office of the Gestapo there?

A. I was not active in the community there - these matters I came to know only by hearsay. Afterwards, we, members of the large families, received an order from the Council to pay per family; for example, our family paid 100,000 pengoe.

Q. I asked you whether there was an office of the Gestapo - were you referring to the German Gestapo?

A. To the German Gestapo.

Q. Did they have an office, a bureau or a headquarters? What did they have in that town?

A. There was an office there which was in constant touch with the Community, that is to say with the Council.

Q. When did the process of arrests and the locking-up of the Jews in the ghetto commence?

A. Approximately at the beginning of April.

Q. Can you perhaps inform the Court, in your own words, what happened, where the ghetto was and what were the conditions there?

A. The ghetto was in a brick factory some way out of town, some 2-3 kilometres away. They began in a certain district of Uzhgorod - they started detaining people. We even saw through the window how these people walked along the road to the brick factory. This is what they did, district by district, and then the people were put into that place. The turn of our district came and we, too, were subsequently sent there.

Q. How many Jews were in the ghetto at that time?

A. A total of fourteen thousand. This I know because I was a member there of the Ghetto Committee set up at the request of the Council.

Q. In your estimation, what was the number of people for whom there was adequate space?

A. It would have sufficed for a maximum of 2,000 persons - even that with difficulty. But 2,000 people could have managed there.

Q. How long did you remain in this ghetto?

A. We were there for about one month.

Q. Can you tell the Court something of the housing and sanitary conditions?

A. It was beneath anything which could have been regarded as reasonable, for the place was very small and there were no suitable homes to accommodate the people. There was simply a roof without walls.

Q. What about toilets?

A. The toilet was horrible. They gave us an order to construct latrines which were not closed in, and everybody used them.

Q. Completely in the open?

A. In the open, absolutely. And this had a terrible effect, and contributed to the demoralization right from the outset.

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