The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 57
(Part 2 of 6)

Q. During your journey, when you crossed the border between Turkey and Syria, were you arrested by the British authorities?

A. Yes. After I crossed the Syrian border and we arrived in Aleppo, I was arrested by British military authorities.

Q. Did you see Moshe Sharett in Aleppo?

A. Yes, I saw him.

Q. And did you inform him of your mission?

A. I gave him an account of my mission.

Q. Were you freed from your imprisonment?

A. No.

Q. Where were you subsequently taken?

A. To Cairo.

Q. For how long were you held there?

A. Four and a half months.

Q. And was that the end of your mission?

A. No; unfortunately, for me there was no end.

Q. But you conveyed what you knew and did not return to Hungary.

A. Yes. I conveyed what I knew and was not permitted to return to Hungary.

Attorney General: Until now, I have been questioning the witness. At this juncture, however, I request the Court to accept a number of documents which may possibly have significance for cross-examination by Defence Counsel, as well as for questioning by the Court.

Presiding Judge: Are you certain that questions will be put by the Court?

Attorney General: I said "possibly," I assume that.

Presiding Judge: That is not certain at all.

Attorney General: In any case, at this juncture I must give the Court material which may lead to questions, because if I present it later on, after the witness leaves the witness stand, it may be more difficult.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Brand, you may leave the witness stand in the meantime and wait; you will return afterwards.

Attorney General: I intend to present a report from the Jewish Agency archives which has been authenticated by the Keeper of the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem, Dr. Michael Heymann. It includes the account by Moshe Sharett - formerly Moshe Shertok - concerning his meeting with Joel Brand in Aleppo, and, following the latter, a document or series of documents which have all been authenticated by the Keeper of the Weizmann Archives in Rehovot, Mr. Boris Guriel.

Presiding Judge: The report of Mr. Moshe Sharett, formerly Mr. Shertok, concerning his conversations with...?

Attorney General: Concerning that conversation in Aleppo about which the witness testified.

Presiding Judge: And has that been authenticated?

Attorney General: Yes. It was authenticated by the Keeper of the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem, Dr. Michael Heymann. The document is in the file described by the title "Negotiations with the Germans Regarding the Rescue of the Jews of Hungary - 1944." Since the death of Mr. Boris Guriel, the Keeper of the Weizmann Archives in Rehovot...

Presiding Judge: Why does Mr. Sharett not come to verify this report himself?

Attorney General: If the Court should so request, I have no objection.

Presiding Judge: Would that not be a preferable verification?

Attorney General: I thought it more appropriate to present the material first, during Mr. Brand's testimony, in the event of any questions regarding it. If subsequently any need should arise, Mr. Moshe Sharett has informed me that he is at the Court's disposal, ready to testify at any time. I should like to explain the second document as well.

Presiding Judge: I see that Dr. Servatius wishes to comment about something.

Dr. Servatius: I have a photocopy of this memorandum of a discussion. But it ends with "incomplete" or something similar. The signature is missing, and the report does not appear to include its last part; it would certainly be essential to have the complete report.

Attorney General: What Defence Counsel has been given is the English translation of this document - a translation, I would say, edited in English, which is presently in the Weizmann Archives. In order to avoid presenting it in this incomplete form...

Presiding Judge: Are we already talking of the second document?

Attorney General: No, we are talking of the first document.

Presiding Judge: You mentioned the Weizmann Archives.

Attorney General: What is in the hands of Defence Counsel, and which he refers to as "incomplete," is the first document, namely Moshe Sharett's report of his conversation with Joel Brand. But because I had to give Defence Counsel the document in question in a language comprehensible to him - and this report is in Hebrew - I gave it to him in the English translation of this report which appears in the Weizmann Archives, and, admittedly, at the end of it it says "incomplete." However, the essential part relevant to Brand's testimony is to be found in its entirety here.

Presiding Judge: But is the report from the Central Zionist Archives the full report?

Attorney General: It is complete; therefore, I am presenting the report in Hebrew, and not in its English translation which bears the remark "incomplete." Furthermore, I have requested my colleague, Mr. Bar-Or, to explain to Defence Counsel that part which is missing from the English translation and which has no relevance to the Brand mission. I understand that this has already been done.

Presiding Judge: These are matters which do not bear...

Attorney General: They do not bear directly on the Brand report.

Presiding Judge: But there is no difficulty at all in also translating the remainder?

Attorney General: There is no difficulty at all in translating the remainder. In any event, I intend to present the complete report, not a truncated version.

Presiding Judge: And the second document, Mr. Hausner?

Attorney General: The second authenticated document comprises fifteen documents from the Weizmann Archives in Rehovot.

Presiding Judge: Is that a collection of documents?

Attorney General: Yes, it is a collection of documents dealing with the same subject.

Presiding Judge: What, in brief, is a description of the documents?

Attorney General: These documents are reports which were received in London concerning Brand's mission. At that time, the Jewish Agency was sending material via the British authorities which it was, in any case, intended to disclose to the British authorities. Thus it was that at time Mr. Sharett was apprising Dr. Weizmann of material via the High Commissioner or the Foreign Office in London, if the material was, in any case, destined for subsequent transmission to the British Foreign Office. This was a much more convenient line of communication. There are here documents which were sent at that time in code, internal documents.

Presiding Judge: Was everything sent by Mr. Sharett?

Attorney General: No, but a large part consists of Mr. Sharett's reports afterwards in London, memoranda prepared in London for meetings with senior officials of the British Foreign Office; an account of a meeting with Anthony Eden, and the response of the British regarding the deal. This is important because it will immediately clarify how they viewed the deal, and why it was not carried out.

Presiding Judge: Was Mr. Anthony Eden then the Foreign Secretary?

Attorney General: Yes, he was the British Foreign Secretary then.

Weizmann's demands, and the reports of Shertok about these demands, and the last document - this is an outline prepared for Dr. Weizmann concerning the material needed for his testimony; there was a plan for him to testify before the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. Dr. Weizmann did not testify, but there was a plan of this kind, and this minute is important and instructive.

Presiding Judge: Is it known who was the author of this minute?

Attorney General: I think it was prepared by Dr. Nahum Goldmann and his assistants in the United States. It was brought to the archive by Mr. Meyer Weisgal, but it was confirmed by the late president, Dr. Weizmann. These matters are relevant and important, because we cannot leave matters hanging in mid air. The Accused has had his say concerning this deal. At first glance, matters - according to his own version - speak in his favour: He wanted to evacuate Jews. The Court must be shown the outcome. I think that, in order to complete the picture, I must submit a small part of the material - and indeed, it is but an extremely small part, for there are dozens of documents, and they are all at the disposal of the Court, should it wish to have them. However, there is a minimal framework of documents which have not been published to this day. They were a part of the archive which has not been made public but which, I believe, requires explanation.

Presiding Judge: Does this entire collection of documents pertain to the mission of Mr. Brand?

Attorney General: Completely, to the very end; almost everyone of them mentions the name of Joel Brand, including the conversation with Anthony Eden. Defence Counsel, has, of course, received copies of the documents in due time.

Presiding Judge: What is the response of Dr. Servatius?

Dr. Servatius: I have no objection to the presentation of these documents.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 62

We permit presentation of the report by Mr. Moshe Sharett (Shertok) and of the compilation of documents from the Weizmann Archives, as described by the Attorney General. Defence Counsel offered no objection to the presentation of these documents.

Presiding Judge: Is that Mr. Moshe Sharett's report?

Attorney General: This is the report of Mr. Moshe Sharett, a lengthy document. And the Court will note, after perusing it, that it confirms the matters here testified to by Mr. Brand, although it includes amplification. It contains a report by Mr. Brand about the situation of the Jews of Hungary, about underground activities, about organizing self- defence in Hungary. And those are, in fact, the matters which are not included in the translation which is in the hands of Defence Counsel. However, all the reports concerning Mr. Brand's mission and the complete details of the conversation and the questions which Mr. Sharett asked him - all of these are already in the English translation and are to be found here.

Presiding Judge: I mark this document T/1176. Do you have an additional copy of this?

Attorney General: Yes, Sir, I do.

Presiding Judge: The compilation of documents from the Weizmann Archives is hereby marked T/1177.

Attorney General: Permit me to direct the Court's attention to several passages from the documents appended to T/1177. The first is a notification to Dr. Weizmann of 5 June 1944, from G.H. Hall of the British Foreign Office. "Strictly Personal and Confidential," it states that there is a suggestion reported by the Jewish Agency for the evacuation of Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. It is stated there that a trusted and well-known representative of Hungarian Jewry arrived in Istanbul on 19 May on board a German plane, accompanied by a Hungarian Gestapo agent. The deal is detailed in the body of the letter: The Nazis propose that instead of annihilating the remaining Jews in Romania, Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia, they will make it possible to evacuate the latter to Spain or Portugal, but not to Palestine, in exchange for ten thousand lorries and certain quantities of tea, coffee, cocoa and soap. As an earnest token of good faith, they are prepared to release five to ten thousand Jews before receiving any corresponding consideration. They would also consider exchanging Jews for German prisoners of war.

Presiding Judge: Was that written by someone in the English Foreign Office to Dr. Weizmann, as if Dr. Weizmann knew nothing about it?

Attorney General: As I have explained to the Court, there were communications which the Jewish Agency transmitted via the Foreign Office, namely via the High Commissioner in Jerusalem to the Foreign Office, for the purpose of informing Dr. Weizmann about those matters which the Jewish Agency knew that their contents would, in any case, have to reach the Foreign Office. That was a line of communication more convenient, certain and rapid.

Judge Halevi: The date is not clear to me. Is it 5 June?

Attorney General: Yes.

Judge Halevi: When did the conversation in Aleppo take place?

Attorney General: On 11 June.

Judge Halevi: Did this notification of 5 June precede the conversation?

Attorney General: Yes, it preceded the conversation, because prior to it, Brand had already met with Haim Barlas and other representatives of the Jewish Agency in Istanbul. This notification is based on the first report which reached the Jewish Agency, and the Jewish Agency informed Weizmann about it. This is, in fact, the contents of the statement from the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem which was destined for Weizmann via the British Foreign Office. The Jewish Agency expressed its fear that, if there was no possibility of rescuing the Hungarian, Czech and Romanian Jews promptly, their fate would be sealed. "While fully realizing the overwhelming difficulties, they believe that, if the task is faced with the boldness demanded by such an unprecedented catastrophe, these might not prove insurmountable. Shertok is proposing to proceed to Istanbul as soon as he can obtain a Turkish visa..."

The next day Dr. Weizmann wrote to Anthony Eden. He thanked him for transmitting the information to him and said he had needed a short respite - one day - in order to recover from the shock he had received. And he said: "It is my paramount duty to try and discover the course of action which offers the best hope of saving Jewish lives." He requested two things: an immediate meeting with Eden, and obtaining a Turkish visa for Mr. Shertok.

I shall be returning to the next document later on. It is a proposal for bombing the death camps, which was worked out in London at the beginning of July, and which was transmitted - as the Court will subsequently see - to the British Foreign Office. I shall return to this at the appropriate time.

The next document is a cable from Shertok to the Jewish Agency in London. It was transmitted directly in code, and the Court will observe that, whereas the cable was dispatched on 15 June, it was not received in London until 19 June. Shertok relates that he waited four days in Aleppo until he was able "to see [the] friend who arrived [on] Wednesday, 7 June. [I] interviewed him [...] six hours. [I] found him one hundred per cent reliable; [I] was deeply impressed by his purity [of] character [and] spirit." Thereafter, Mr. Shertok reports that he had a meeting together with the High Commissioner and Ben-Gurion. The High Commissioner contacted London and requested that the gist of the Jewish Agency's evaluation of the situation be transmitted to Weizmann. Mr. Shertok ended his cable with the following: "Agreed line of keeping [the] door open makes friend's return absolutely imperative. Please do utmost [on] your part [to] expedite my journey. Inform Nahum." (A reference to Nahum Goldmann.)

In the document dated 23 June 1944, Mr. Randall, who was in charge -- as I understand it -- of the refugee section in the Foreign Office, writes...

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