The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 54
(Part 6 of 9)

State Attorney Bach: We shall immediately submit it. I thought that it had been submitted. It states here: "Eichmann summoned the Jewish Council to come to him at the Schwabenberg, to the Majestic Hotel and he laid before them the pro memoria plan. Those present were Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann and Krumey, Hauptsturmbannfuehrer Wisliceny and another German officer. Representing the Jews: The President Samu Stern, the Vice- President Dr. Ernoe Boda, Dr. Ernoe Petoe and the counsel, Dr. Janos Gabor.

At the outset President Stern presented certain requests. Following this, Eichmann began his address, and spoke first of all about the Jewish star. He said that the Jewish Council would have to provide the star. There was some discussion on this matter and thereafter he said that as from 5 o'clock all Jews would have to wear the yellow star which would be exchanged afterwards by the one which the Jewish Council had to supply. He said that the Jewish Council would have to provide about three million stars. He also demanded that the stars should be uniform throughout the country.

Afterwards he passed on to questions regarding housing. He said that in the case of a change of address, they had to notify him about it and receive permission from him. He said he would also deal with matters concerning Kistarcsa - he could not say when this would be. This was in reply to a request that he release those who were detained in Kistarcsa when the Germans first arrived. He said they could apply to him in this connection, but he warned them not to deceive him. He expressed his opinion that the most important objective was to increase industrial productivity that was so essential to the war effort.

To this end he had created a labour force, and this was comprised of Jewish workers specifically. If the Jews behaved properly, nothing would happen to them, and they would be treated as all other workers, and this applied to work productivity. After that he added that these people would enjoy fair treatment and would receive the same wages as other workers. We said that, for this purpose, we would have to obtain a mandate. To this he retorted that we should have to abandon such liberal attitudes, and that we should not ask but command.

"At a later stage in the minutes Eichmann mentioned that he was taking a very great interest in Jewish artistic works and in Jewish libraries. Since 1934 he had been dealing with Jewish affairs and that he knew Hebrew better than we did. We told him that we had a Jewish museum in which antiquities and libraries were kept. He said he would visit it. Thereafter he issued various instructions regarding the supply of goods to the Germans and concerning the submission of lists of Jewish organizations. Later on he stressed that these orders would be valid only for the duration of the War (that is to say the orders by the Germans) and that, afterwards, the Jews would be free and would be able to do as they pleased. Everything that was happening in regard to Jewish affairs was only for the duration of the War. When the War was over, the Germans would again be pleasant towards people, as they had been in the past (or, as he expressed it in German: 'Die Deutschen werden wieder gemuetlich sein').

"He would prefer this to be carried out without violence. Only in case of resistance would there be need of force. If the Jews went over to partisan operations - he would kill them off without mercy. The Jews had to understand that nothing was being demanded of them except discipline and order. If there would be discipline and order then not only would Jewry have nothing to fear, but he would defend Jewry and it would live under the same good conditions as regards payment and treatment, like all the other workers. He would especially appreciate it if they would make his views public amongst all sections of Jewry. He also stated that he would prevent all plunder of Jewish possessions and that he would punish those seeking to enrich themselves from Jewish property.

"After that there came a moment of excitement. Dr. Janos Gabor rose and said that he was very unhappy because of the wearing of the Jewish star. His father had served in the World War as a mililtary judge, with the rank of major. His grandfather had been a 'Honved'* {*Popular name for a member of the Hungarian armed forces.} in the 1848 revolution. The wearing of the star would incite the riff-raff to shame the Jews in the street and to attack them. To this Eichmann replied that he would not permit anyone to suffer because of the star and if such incidents were to occur - he should be notified and he would attend to them."

The Court will take note that Dr. Boda, in fact, confirms that his minutes are contained in a certain book, and they were printed there in Hungarian. What we have submitted to the Court is a translation of those minutes into German. We shall submit to you, later on, confirmation that this German translation is a correct translation from the Hungarian book which we are also prepared to place at the Court's disposal.

Presiding Judge: Does not Dr. Boda himself confirm it?

State Attorney Bach: He does not confirm the translation and hence it is still necessary for us to compare the translation with the book.

There is another affidavit by Dr. Ernoe Petoe who also took part in that meeting. He is now living in Brazil. He is also about 79 1/2 or 80 and in a delicate state of health. He actually confirms two matters. Firstly he participated in that meeting and he, for his part, confirms the same details which I have already brought before you, and therein, naturally, there is additional corroboration, and I should like to bring this to your notice. Apart from that he was the man who at the time established contact with the Regent Horthy and achieved the return of a train for the first time, that train which set out from Kistarcsa. This we have learned from other witnesses who heard it from him. He confirms that he found a way of approach to Horthy's son and managed to secure the return of the train, and hence there is the additional weight of his evidence also on this point. He made a sworn affidavit about these matters before our consul in Brazil and I request the Court's permission to submit his affidavit. The number of our document is 1300.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, what do you have to say?

Dr. Servatius: I have received the contents of this affidavit, for my information. It exists only in the Hungarian language. I have no objection to its submission, but I would ask to be given a German translation.

Presiding Judge: [To State Attorney Bach] Will you see to that?

State Attorney Bach: Yes, of course. I have asked someone to read this document to Defence Counsel in German, but we shall also supply to Dr. Servatius a full translation of the document into German.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 56

We permit the submission of the affidavit of Dr. Ernoe Petoe.

State Attorney Bach: To my regret, here too I shall only be able to produce the original affidavit during the recess. We have been given only photocopies of that affidavit.

Presiding Judge: The document will be marked T/1157.

State Attorney Bach: Incidentally, he also mentions an interesting fact that the son of the witness, the son of Dr. Petoe, was in the company of Raoul Wallenberg in a student hostel in Switzerland in the summer of 1920. This later helped in the joint activity of the witness and Raoul Wallenberg about whom we shall still hear, who extended outstanding aid to the Jewish community, mainly in Budapest.

After that he describes this meeting. Here he only adds one point, that with regard to those goods and articles that Eichmann demanded to hand over to the Germans, Eichmann had at the time promised to make payment to the Jews, and that it never reached the stage of payment. This is on page three of the Hebrew reprint, on page two of the original.

After that there is an account of the meeting. I do not want to go over that again. Then comes the chapter on Kistarcsa. Here he again relates the whole story, including what happened at the Schwabenberg. He too, together with the Witness Freudiger: was at the Schwabenberg and he gives a first hand account of what happened there and what they learned later, in the evening, from Dr. Brody when the latter returned from Kistarcsa. He also mentions that the operation at Kistarcsa was carried out by Novak.

At the end he describes a certain change of attitude on the part of the Hungarian gendarmerie and about his contact with Ferenczy who told him that at first he did not believe that they were really exterminating the Jews in the east, but in view of the behaviour of the Accused, who would not allow them to go there personally to ascertain the facts, he began to believe that this was truly the fate of the Jews. It is on page 6 of the translation.

"In Ferenczy's presence Captain Lullay delivered a 'Philippic' address to us, lasting hours, against the Gestapo and, in particular against Eichmann and his men, in which he said that they were now conducting a campaign of life and death against those who had now become a cause of danger to them as well. They wanted us to clarify to them what the truth was about Auschwitz, for they had asked Eichmann in vain to permit them to go there and personally to ascertain the facts. From this they came to the conclusion that the rumours about the incinerators for the destruction of Jews who were not capable of working, were correct. I pointed out to them the nature of the military situation according to which the defeat of the Germans was a fact."

"The outcome of this discussion was that Ferenczy offered his assistance in thwarting Eichmann's plans to carry out deportations."

And here these are several particulars about the negotiations with Ferenczy.
"On 17 August I was taken to Eichmann's headquarters and from there I was put into a German prison. I was released on 21 August on the intervention of the Regent. On 23 August, Ferenczy appeared before Eichmann and informed him that, on the orders of the Regent, they would prevent the deportation, even by force of arms. Meanwhile Ferenczy showed me the deportation schedule prepared by Eichmann, and which was to be carried out between 26 August and 18 September, from the brick industry zone in Csillaghegyi. The first transport was to include the members and officials of the Jewish Council, together with their families. In view of this opposition, Eichmann was prevented from carrying out his plans, and he said that he would fly to Berlin and seek aid from Himmler. I later received a message for Dr. Wilhelm Karolyi from Mor, a Counsellor in the Hungarian Foreign Office, to the effect that Himmler had agreed to defer the deportations. In this way Eichmann's plan to deport the Jews of Budapest failed. As a consequence of the change in the military situation, Eichmann was no longer capable of carrying out the deportation without the help of the gendarmerie. Thus Budapest Jewry was saved from deportation."
Attorney General: With the Court's permission, may I be permitted briefly to interrupt the submission of evidence on the question of Hungary, and to request the directives and the guidance of the Court in a matter which is to take place next week?

It is our intention to exhibit in Court a number of documentary films in order to illustrate certain events about which evidence had already been led, and other events on which evidence will be produced next week. Naturally we will ensure suitable authentication of the incidents contained in these films. We shall produce witnesses who will be asked to testify under oath that this is how matters looked in fact.

It seems to me that we have the right to present these films, but in view of the fact that it is not a daily or normal occurrence for films to be shown in a court-room, I thought it would be proper to ask the Court's guidance in this matter.

Presiding Judge: Is there a precedence for that?

Attorney General: Yes, Your Honour. Films were also exhibited at Nuremberg on several occasions. This was also the case in the Bergen-Belsen trial. These are two instances which I can recall at the moment, concerning this type of evidence. We sometimes make use of a film for another purpose, in order to identify a place, and so on. But this is not our purpose. Here the intention is to illustrate the events.

Presiding Judge: Were decisions given there - or was the matter simply taken for granted?

Attorney General: I believe that there was some objection, and it was decided that it had probative value and, on several occasions, the showing of films was allowed.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps you could show us where this appears in the reports.

Attorney General: Certainly. I think that it appears already in the early volumes.

Judge Halevi: What do the films contain?

Attorney General: One film is about Auschwitz after the liberation - showing the appearance of the survivors. One film which we will also show if we can manage to convert it from 35 mm to 16 mm, concerns the Warsaw Ghetto. I say "if we can manage" for there is a technical problem in bringing a 35 mm projector to the Court. If we cannot manage, we shall be obliged to forego the film because of this difficulty. There is one film dealing with the transport of Jews to Ravensbrueck. There is another one showing scenes of the Mauthausen camp.

Judge Halevi: Was the film of Mauthausen taken after the liberation or before?

Attorney General: There are scenes which were photographed at the time of the event. There is one scene, really apocalyptic, of thousands of people standing at a roll-call, naked, which was certainly shot at the precise moment when it took place. And there will be a witness who will testify that this is indeed what it looked like.

Judge Halevi: Where do these films come from?

Attorney General: From various sources. There are documentary films which were made by various institutions, immediately after the War. The film on Auschwitz has a Czech commentary. We will remove the sound - we do not need the Czech commentaries, but apparently this film is of Czech origin. There are films which were filmed jointly by Eastern and Western bodies, French and Polish, but these were private organizations, not official bodies. These films were taken immediately after the War.

Judge Halevi: The transport of Jews to Ravensbrueck, for example, that was filmed at the time of the event?

Attorney General: We are not aware of the origin. I cannot tell the Court with certainty who photographed it. We have our assumptions, but I do not want to deal with assumptions. At any rate we shall not exhibit anything which cannot be substantiated by witnesses.

Presiding Judge: Are there amongst these films such as have already been shown in those trials?

Attorney General: This, too, is not clear to us. According to the record of proceedings at Nuremberg, there was some authentication on behalf of the Allied military authorities at the beginning of the film. This authentication does not appear in the films in our possession, and hence we shall require a different method of authentication. There is also a film which the German television prepared towards this trial. It was shown in Germany and called "In the steps of the Hangman." It was featured on West German television on the occasion of the opening of this trial.

It is a film which we do not propose showing to the Court in its entirety, because it adopts a moralizing tone in order to arrive at certain conclusions and clearly it would not be proper for us to ask the Court to view all of it. But it contains sections on the operations of the Einsatzgruppen, which were apparently filmed at the time they were taking place, and these, too, will be verified by witnesses. We shall extract this portion only and show it to the Court.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, before I can take a stand on this, I should have been shown the films, in order to enable me to evaluate them. And a further observation relating to the inclusion of the films in the Court record. I would ask the Court to determine the procedure in this matter, for obviously the films are not going to be annexed to the records of the trial. Therefore, the Prosecution, in my opinion, should have submitted a precis of the contents of the films.

Attorney General: QWe are ready to comply with both requests of Defence Counsel. We shall show him the films before we apply to exhibit them. We shall also prepare a precis for the Court's use.

Presiding Judge: So when will we be able to obtain Defence Counsel's reaction - after he has seen the films? In other words, when will you be able to show him the films?

Attorney General: Not before the end of next week, but we wanted a decision in principle before we start expending the sums of money involved in converting the 35mm film to 16mm. It is not a simple matter.

Presiding Judge: This is a sort of vicious circle.

Attorney General: Yes, to a certain extent, but, if I understand in general from the Court that subject to appropriate authentication, there will be no objection to this form of submitting evidence, we shall nevertheless undertake this expense.

Judge Raveh: But is the rest of the material ready?

Attorney General: Yes.

Judge Raveh: If that is so, it is possible to show it to Defence Counsel immediately.

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