The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 57
(Part 3 of 6)

Presiding Judge: What post did Mr. Hall hold?

Attorney General: Mr. Hall was the Undersecretary.

Mr. Randall writes to Weizmann that it is "unthinkable that retaining Brandt [sic] in Cairo should be held to indicate that His Majesty's Government are not giving earnest attention to any practicable scheme for assisting Jews now suffering under German threats; but whether the particular scheme brought by Brandt [sic] has any right to consideration is a question on which we may obtain more light during Mr. Shertok's forthcoming visit."

The next document is a personal account submitted by Mr. Shertok as soon as he arrived in London; it is dated 27 June 1944. The Court will see that he arrived at 1:00 p.m. that day, and at 6:00 p.m. the same day he dictated the account. It contains the details of his attempts to secure a visa to Ankara and of his decision to make the journey without a visa; the notification from Ankara not to come without a visa; the assurance of a high-ranking British officer that there would be no difficulty in regard to Mr. Brand's return.

That was an explicit assurance, on the basis of which Mr. Brand left Turkey and went to Aleppo. And again, a report concerning the conversation with Mr. Brand which was already referred to in the previous document. Thereafter, Sharett writes that he returned to Jerusalem, met with Ben-Gurion, and together they went to the High Commissioner and presented the demands which are detailed on page 13, viz.: Brand was to return; Sharett was to travel to London; a meeting to discuss the release of Jews was to be arranged immediately; the Germans had to be given some sort of indication of the other side's desire to conduct talks.

There are suggestions here as to who was to make contact with the Germans - the War Refugee Board of the United States, the Inter-Governmental Committee, or the Red Cross. On page 14, we are told that the High Commissioner communicated to Mr. Ben-Gurion and Mr. Sharett the details of Weizmann's conversation with Eden, in which the latter said that he would do his utmost "to avoid anything that might look like slamming the door." On page 15 Mr. Sharett writes that the High Commissioner was not impressed by his arguments about the need for Mr. Brand to return. And subsequently, on the same page, Mr. Sharett says: "I then said that Brand...would not have left Turkey for Syria were it not for..." The High Commissioner here interrupted me rather sharply: "I know what you're going to say: you're going to say that this was a breach of faith. Don't go on. The answer is simple: This is war!"

Presiding Judge: Who was the High Commissioner at that time?

Attorney General: In the year 1944 MacMichael was High Commissioner. Next we are told about the connections with the American consulate, about the connections with Ira Hirschmann, about the notification to Mr. Stettinius, the American Secretary of State at that time. It states here that Hirschmann was impressed by Brand's integrity and character.

Mr. Sharett concludes with the statement that he returned to Cairo and departed for London the same evening. On 30 June, Mr. Sharett sent a statement to Mr. Ben-Gurion in Jerusalem: He reports about the interview which Professor Weizmann had with Undersecretary Hall. Again the demand to inform the other side immediately about the readiness to initiate talks, in order to rescue as many Jews as possible, and that Brand should return, so that a reply could be transmitted through him to the effect that the matter was being acted upon. At the end of the cable it says that "Hall stated [the] matter is before [the] War Cabinet [and] our suggestions will be transmitted immediately [and] decision will be reached as soon as possible in conjunction with [the] American Government." This is followed by a discussion of immigration matters, the suggestion of Mr. Gruenbaum; it ends with a request that a warning be given to Hungarian railway men "that whoever operates deportation trains will be considered [a] war criminal."

The next document is a report concerning a meeting which took place with Foreign Secretary Eden on 6 July. We have an account of the same conversation in an additional document, the "Note of Interview with the Right Honourable Anthony Eden, Foreign Office, Thursday, 6 July 1944, at 3:15 p.m." It is a memorandum prepared on the same day, the 6th of July, and as the Court will see, it was presented to Mr. Eden. Dr. Weizmann says that when he saw Eden previously, "They thought that time might still be gained. Now the catastrophe was right on them." Dr. Weizmann relates what had occurred in the meantime. Permission was being requested for Mr. Menachem Bader, now in Istanbul, to travel to Budapest. It was hoped that Mr. Brand would be permitted to return. The requests which had been made at the meeting with Mr. Hall, which I have already mentioned, were repeated.

Mr. Eden "expressed his profound sympathy. He added that they had to be extremely careful. The enemy was obviously playing a devilish game. When he (Eden) made his proposal to the Cabinet, the feeling was that he (Eden) had gone too far. Moreover, they had to carry America and Russia along with them. They had been acting in unison with America throughout on this problem, but they had also to have the agreement of the Soviet Government [...] They (the Cabinet) had cabled to Moscow and were waiting for a reply." Mr. Sharett adds that the proposal to send Bader was "still alive"; he believes that the Germans are prepared to "strike a bargain." Mr. Sharett adds that he thinks a ransom must be paid in order to rescue Jewish lives. Mr. Eden "doubted whether that was a possible course." As for Mr. Bader's journey - that was questionable. Mr. Sharett said "that the question was what would Brand take with him if he went back." At this point Dr. Weizmann briefly outlines the details of the aide-memoire, which is not connected with Brand's mission.

And here I return to the aide-memoire: The following are the demands concerning the rescue of the Jews of Hungary which Dr. Weizmann presented in the previous document; they are in paragraph 3:

"(a) an intimation should be given to Germany that some sappropriate body is ready to meet for discussing the rescue of Jews.

(b) a representative of the American War Refugee Board, if necessary seconded by a British official, should be ready to meet at Istanbul a member of the Nazi group in Budapest to explore possibilities..."

It is assumed that the Gestapo has "ulterior motives - avowed or hidden." Nevertheless, it would be intolerable not to make the maximum effort possible to rescue Jews, be they many or few. If it all boils down to a question of money - it has to be paid. Apart from Brand's mission, the "Allies should publish a declaration expressing their readiness to admit Jewish fugitives to all their territories, and stating that they have in this the support of neutrals (Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, and possibly Turkey), who are prepared to give temporary shelter to Jewish refugees from massacres." The Swiss Government should be asked to notify the authorities in Hungary that it is ready to issue certificates of asylum to "the largest possible number of people." A "stern warning" should be issued to Hungarian officials, railwaymen and the population in general that "anyone convicted of having taken part in the rounding-up, deportation and extermination of Jews will be considered to be a war criminal and treated accordingly." An appeal should be made to Marshall Stalin that he too should issue a similar warning on the part of the USSR. The "railway line leading from Budapest to Birkenau, and the death camps at Birkenau and other places, should be bombed..."

Such were the demands which Dr. Weizmann presented at the 6 July meeting. Mr. Eden's reply (I am now returning to the transcript of the meeting) was as follows: The matter has to be considered. As for the bombing, it has to be gone into with the Air Ministry. He had already got into touch with them about bombing the death camps at the request of the Jewish Agency, and he will now get into touch about bombing the railway. Dr. Weizmann concludes on the note that they must meet again to create a state of things in which a tragedy of this kind will no longer be possible.

At this point, I am returning to the document dated 11 July, which I previously skipped, which was submitted by representatives of the Jewish Agency at their conversations in London. It deals with the possibilities for bombing, stating arguments both pro and con. It reaches the conclusion that this bombing is essential, because it would have a deterrent effect in any event. It would also "convince the German circles still hopeful of Allied mercy of the genuineness of Allied condemnation of the murder of Jews and could possibly result in internal pressure against the continuation of the massacres." And finally, in order to convince the Allies further that this was worthwhile, they add that the Auschwitz camp also included German armament works operating for Siemens and Krupp.

Presiding Judge: Was that drawn up here, in Jerusalem?

Attorney General: No, it was drawn up in London on 11 July 1944, by the Jewish Agency. On the same day on which the meeting occurred, Mr. Sharett also reported to Mr. Ben- Gurion, as well as to Mr. Nahum Goldmann, about the meeting with Eden in a cable, a copy of which is before you. Mr. Sharett emphasized therein that the time for discussions had passed: "Stage of temporizing thus over and definite steps imperative, if remote chance of saving remnants is not to be missed. We realize our proposals are unorthodox and unprecedented, but they are warranted by tragedy which is without parallel or precedent."

On 12 July Mr. Sharett met with Mr. Randall in the Foreign Office. The Brand mission was again discussed. It was again requested that Bader be sent to Budapest. An alternative proposal was to send Kullmann of the Inter- Governmental Committee. Perhaps he would be the one to convince the Germans that the Allies were really prepared to conduct negotiations. On page four, further on, Mr. Sharett proposes that an announcement be transmitted proclaiming all Jews in countries conquered by the Nazis to be under the protection of the British or the Anglo-Americans. Mr. Randall immediately replied that this had already been discussed and had been rejected. On 15 July Mr. Randall informed Mr. Shertok that the proposal to bomb the death camps was under consideration, that the Soviet Government was being addressed in this matter, and a personal appeal was being made by Mr. Eden to Mr. Molotov; he requested that Dr. Weizmann be informed accordingly.

The debate apparently must have continued from 6 July to 1 September, since Richard Law, Permanent Undersecretary of the Foreign Office at that time, if I am not mistaken, wrote the following to Dr. Weizmann:

"You will remember that on the 6th of July you discussed with the Foreign Secretary the camp at Birkenau in Upper Silesia, and the atrocities that were being committed there by the Germans against Hungarian and other Jews. You enquired whether any steps could be taken to put a stop to, or even to mitigate, these massacres, and you suggested that something might be achieved by bombing the camps, and also, if it was possible, the railway lines leading to them.

"As he promised, Mr. Eden immediately put the proposal to the Secretary of State for Air. The matter received the most careful consideration of the Air Staff, but I am sorry to have to tell you that, in view of the very great technical difficulties involved, we have no option but to refrain from pursuing the proposal in present circumstances.

"I realize that this decision will prove a disappointment to you, but you may feel fully assured that the matter was most thoroughly investigated."

Judge Halevi: What were these "technical difficulties"?

Attorney General: Perhaps they were known to the writer of this letter; I do not know, Sir. As for myself, I do not think they existed.

Judge Halevi: Is there no additional document which could help to clarify this question?

Attorney General: Not directly; perhaps a later memorandum will clarify it. At this point, I shall merely mention a letter from J.F. Martin, the British Prime Minister's secretary, to Dr. Weizmann.

Judge Halevi: Where is this document?

Attorney General: You have it; it is dated 30 October 1944. If not, I am prepared to submit another copy immediately. It is certainly among the photostats, with the original document. It is the next to last document.

Presiding Judge: Yes, it is here. Do you have an additional copy?

Attorney General: Yes, but with a brief addendum: Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister.

Now, when the meeting was taking place in Moscow at that time, Weizmann turned to them. Mr. Martin states: We have dealt with this matter and have also discussed it with the Soviets.

The next document is an aide-memoire which was prepared for possible testimony by Dr. Weizmann before the International Military Tribunal. It is dated November 1945 and states the following:

"In the beginning of 1944, when there were over seven hundred thousand Jews alive in Hungary, the Jewish Agency had put up a scheme to the British authorities which involved the dropping of hundreds of Palestinian Jews by parachute into Hungary and which, in the considered view of high British military authorities, would have been advantageous to the Allies militarily, and would have been helpful in preventing the massacre of many of the Hungarian Jews alive then. When this scheme was approved by all military authorities concerned and arrangements were initiated to carry out the scheme, the foreign colonial office interfered and, for political considerations, instructed the military authorities to drop it."
These were the documents which I wished to bring to the Court's attention; should the Court desire any additional document, or also any copy thereof, all the relevant documents are at the Court's disposal.

Presiding Judge: All right; we now ask Mr. Brand to return to the witness stand. Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions to the witness?

Dr. Servatius: Yes. Mr. Brand, you said that deportations from Hungary occurred in the year 1941. Who carried out these deportations?

Witness Brand: I know that the pressure of the Nazi authorities upon the Hungarian authorities continually increased from the time the Nazis entered Hungary.

Presiding Judge: That was not an answer to the question of Dr. Servatius. Please reply very briefly to the question: Who carried out these deportations?

Witness Brand: The Hungarians - at the instigation of the Germans.

Dr. Servatius: Therefore, if I understand you correctly, the Hungarians did it.

Witness Brand: At the instigation of the Nazis.

Q. Who instigated the deportations would be a second question; the first answer would have to be - the Hungarians. You have said that Eichmann caused you to be arrested when the Germans marched into Budapest.

A. No, I do not believe that I...

Q. You did not say that?

A. Not in that way. I said that agents of the German intelligence organization told me that I was on Eichmann's arrest list, and that consequently they were taking me into protective custody.

Q. Do you know who drew up that list?

A. No.

Q. You were soon released from custody; do you know who brought about this termination of custody?

A. The same persons, the counter-espionage agents, who took me with them; I was, in fact, held in the apartment of one of the agents, Rudolf Schmidt. They told me: "The worst is now over, and you can go now." During my detention I could also telephone my committee and my wife from there, from this so-called protective custody.

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