The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 57
(Part 5 of 6)

Presiding Judge: What was your last question, please, Dr. Servatius?

Dr. Servatius: The witness testified that Steger is now in unfortunate circumstances, and I asked the witness what Steger told him, and he confirmed that he had suffered considerable losses. But I have another question; we are getting off the subject.

Witness Brand: Steger now demands one hundred million dollars from the Jewish Agency; he never had ten thousand dollars in his possession.

Q. May I say, for the sake of clarification, that I have also spoken with Steger. He showed me a letter from the Joint in which fifty thousand dollars were offered to him. However, this is too little for him; he now has greater things in mind, as the witness has testified. But I have another question: Do you believe that, apart from this, Steger is a credible person whose opinion of Becher bears some significance for you?

A. I already said initially that I can no longer take him with complete seriousness, because of the adversity he has suffered. I know his letters by the trunk-load. He is no longer to be taken quite seriously, because of his misfortune, when he demands one hundred million dollars.

Q. Therefore, when Steger says today that Becher gave the appearance of being a rabid SS officer, is it your opinion that this must have been dreamt up by him?

A. I would have to see the complete statement and see what he says there, etc. Then I could form a picture for myself. I know that he is very angry at Becher, since Becher allegedly stole from him; Becher did not give him the money due to him, etc., etc. I know that.

Q. I now come to another topic. You spoke of Bandi Grosz and said that he was a Hungarian Jew. Is that correct?

A. I accepted him as a Jew, despite his having been baptized. I believe that inwardly he always remained a Jew; he was baptized on account of the legislation.

Q. Did he collaborate with the Hungarian secret police?

A. Hungarian counter-intelligence.

Q. Was he often in Istanbul?

A. Yes.

Q. What did he do there?

A. He performed his duties. What he was doing, I do not know. For us he transmitted letters and brought back replies, brought us money from there, as well as instructions, news, etc.

Q. Did I understand you correctly yesterday when you testified that this Bandi Grosz was forced upon you for your journey to Istanbul?

A. He accompanied me and was not forced upon me; I did not object to him.

Q. Were you asked whether he should travel with you, or whether you preferred someone else?

A. Had I been asked, I would have taken along another Zionist.

Q. Mr. Brand, in the report before us, there is something about Bandi Grosz' assignment. It is the report of 27 June 1944, the report of Mr. Shertok; a reference to this journey is on page eight. May I read it out in English?

A. Yes.

Q. "One of the Nazis had asked him, `Would you like Bandi to go with you?' Brand replied that it might be helpful, as he had never been in Istanbul before, while Bandi had and knew the ropes. `You do not insist on Bandi coming with you?' Brand said that he did not insist, but that it would be useful. The whole conversation struck him as rather odd. Later Bandi asked him why he had not insisted and told him that he should insist; he would be very useful to him in Istanbul. At the next meeting Brand accordingly insisted, and Bandi came along." Is that correct?

Attorney General: With the Court's permission, I think that it would only be fair to inform the witness that the word "insisted" appears here in quotation marks. The meaning is, of course, entirely different when the word is enclosed in quotation marks than when it is not.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, what is your question, please, in regard to this quotation?

Dr. Servatius: According to my recollection, the witness stated yesterday that Bandi was sent along with him as a kind of watchdog. Consequently I wished to know whether Bandi had been forced upon him by Eichmann, or whether this was a matter which had its origins elsewhere.

Witness Brand: I am convinced that, if Mr. Moshe Sharett reported it in this way, then I must have said it like that, or at least that is the way he understood it. To the best of my knowledge and recollection, Eichmann told me: "Bandi Grosz will travel with you." I was not at all enraptured by this. It is true it had its advantages: He had often been in Istanbul, he knew the Shlichut* {*Shlichut (Hebrew): Emissaries of the Jewish Agency} there, etc. But that I made a point of seeking him out for the journey - that is out of the question. Moshe Sharett also did not say that.

Q. Did Bandi Grosz say that he was really on a political mission, namely to extend a peace feeler?

A. Yes, but only in the prison in Constantinople.

Q. And who was behind this mission - the German SS or the German Government?

A. The Klages Group; in other words, the SS counter- espionage organization.

Q. Had Bandi previously performed diplomatic actions of this kind?

A. I don't believe that he was a diplomat; he was a courier, and I do not know what was in his courier's pouch.

Q. Do you believe that the English secret service was very well informed about Mr. Bandi Grosz?

A. I would not use the words "very well." They were obviously acquainted with him; after all, he also worked for them.

Q. If Mr. Shertok's report states that he was a Hungarian police agent and openly made purchases on the black market for the Germans, would that not provide a more accurate picture of Grosz?

A. No; I believe my description of Bandi Grosz is correct. I know that Bandi Grosz was a smuggler; but he was smuggling for himself - carpets and other things. He was also punished because of this but got out of it with our help.

Q. If this report states that Bandi Grosz said he was sent by certain officers of the Hungarian General Staff, in order to conduct negotiations, and not that he had come on behalf of the Germans, is that true?

Q. It is impossible that Mr. Moshe Sharett recorded something false in the report. That Bandi Grosz told him that is clear to me. I know, however, that Bandi Grosz was a Hungarian agent, an agent of the SS, and an English agent as well, and he also helped us. He was a multiple agent; he made money.

Q. I come now to another subject: Was the acceptance of a million Jews by the English looked upon by them as a burden?

A. "Burden" is putting it wrongly; they did not want them.

Q. Did the English advocate the view that withdrawing a million Jews from Germany would constitute a relief, an advantage for the Germans?

A. I never argued that it was a relief to the Germans for the Jews to leave. I only argued that it was a relief for us if they were to get out.

Presiding Judge: Did the witness ever discuss this question with an Englishman?

Witness Brand: I never spoke with an Englishman about this being a relief to the Germans.

Q. Did you speak at all with Englishmen about the whole problem?

A. Oh yes, for a period of four and a half months, eight, ten and fourteen hours each day.

Q. With whom?

A. With various English intelligence officers, with many dozens of them, and ultimately with the highest - Lord Moyne. I would like to correct myself. "With many dozens" is perhaps overstating it; with many.

Dr. Servatius: Prior to the occupation of Budapest by the Germans, there were monthly certificates for emigration to Palestine. Is that correct?

Witness Brand: Yes; as a rule, we had at our disposal fifty certificates for children, and for one or two adult escorts.

Q. Did you know that there was an English officer, a colonel I believe, who approached the Jews and demanded that these certificates be put at the disposal of English military personnel interned there, or who were in hiding?

A. Yes, the commander of the "illegals," in other words escaped Allied war prisoners in Hungary; at that time the commander was a certain Lieutenant-Colonel Howie or Howley. He once demanded of me that I see to it that these certificates, in accordance with his instructions, be put at the disposal of English officers, as well as Allied officers, pilots or technicians and the like, who were essential.

Q. When the Germans came, were many English military personnel still in hiding in Hungary?

A. I don't know how many; the commander knew. I know there were some, because we procured false documents and money, and gave help in other ways to many - to those about whom we were told - and this concerned not English, but Allied war prisoners.

Q. Did they form a resistance group, or did they join resistance groups when the Germans came?

A. To my knowledge, no - except for a few young Jews whom we had in our organization.

Q. Were approaches made to the Jews for the purpose of having them form resistance groups?

A. Yes. This lieutenant-colonel wanted me to form resistance groups.

Q. Were you ever informed that an unlimited amount of money was available for the formation of resistance groups?

Presiding Judge: I did not understand the question - money from whom?

Dr. Servatius: I wished to hear from the witness what he knows about this matter; I can cite to him then the passage from his own book.

Witness Brand: Yes, indeed. In that consignment of mail which I received through Eichmann, there was a letter from Switzerland which advised us to form resistance groups with Hungarian Social Democrats and other politicians. Addresses were included which were naturally all false and outdated; we knew them better. And we were to form a resistance group with these people. If we did so, we would get as much money as we wanted.

Q. Here, on page 130 of your book, it says that the money was to come from the Allies. Is that correct?

A. Yes, that is right. Unfortunately, in the excitement, I left my copy downstairs. But when you say so to me, you surely read it out correctly.

Q. It says here: "If we undertake this task which we have just described, money from the Allies would be sent in unlimited amounts."

A. I have already given my reply regarding this after the preceding question.

Q. Mr. Brand, I come now to one final point. Have you seen the reports submitted this morning by the Prosecution?

A. No.

Q. Weren't you in the courtroom? They were submitted.

A. I was not in the courtroom; I had gone out.

Q. But you will surely understand; if necessary, they can be shown to you. I have only one precise question regarding this report. It concerns what you reported in it. Did you always emphasize at the repeated discussions which lasted for hours that ten per cent - that is, one hundred thousand Jews - would be freed immediately if consent would be obtained here? Did you put special emphasis on this point?

A. As far as I recall - better yet, I am quite certain - that these talks were conducted in the presence of English officers. My past experiences made me afraid. I cannot recollect whether I spoke to Moshe Sharett about one hundred thousand or less; I can very easily imagine that I spoke to Moshe Sharett about less. Moshe Sharett, however, must already have had the exact reports about the ten per cent. It is possible that I was apprehensive about naming figures which were too large when talking with the English, since this could give rise to difficulties. After all, I wanted to return, I did not want to be abducted to Cairo.

Q. Didn't you give exhaustive reports to the Jewish Agency and other Jewish circles, with particular reference to this ten per cent?

A. Yes, indeed. In those talks which I had solely in the presence of representatives of the Jewish Agency, the Histadrut* {*[Zionist] General Federation of Labour in Palestine} or the like, both before and afterwards, this was always the main point. With the English I was probably evasive, in order to prevent difficulties.

Q. But wasn't this point the most important of your whole journey, of all the discussions?

A. I would like to rectify another thing here. I am convinced that I told Moshe Sharett: "The Nazis will always make the first move." I perhaps would have gone no further. Certainly, for me the essential thing was first to have the gas chambers in Auschwitz blown up, and the one hundred thousand Jews at the border.

Q. When you were released from English custody, did you again explain to certain authorities, Jewish authorities, what had happened, and again present this entire proposal?

A. I went from door to door, from Jerusalem to Haifa and from Haifa to Tel Aviv, and back and forth in a crescendo of talking and insisting, etc.

Q. Mr. Brand, it is of significance to me whether you spoke about the ten per cent.

A. Yes, always.

Q. I am waiting for your reply.

A. Yes, I said; always, always.

Q. Mr. Brand, what would you say if, according to these reports, including Mr. Shertok's, nothing was ever said about this ten per cent proviso. On the contrary, only five to ten thousand are mentioned, never one hundred thousand. Is that not surprising?

A. To the best of my knowledge, what we are dealing with here are the minutes which were recorded in the presence of English officers, when I was speaking before officers for eight, ten, and even twelve hours at a time. And I can well imagine that I never stated directly - I no longer know precisely - the figure of one hundred thousand. However, even here I would surely have said - although I have not yet read these documents - that the Nazis wanted to make the first move and that ours could follow; whether I said one per cent or two per cent as the first move, I do not know.

Q. That is correct. The minutes state that first, that in advance, delivery would be made; but remarkably, the figure mentioned is only five to ten thousand. But the heart of the matter, which made it convincing, the figure of ten per cent, one hundred thousand, appears nowhere. Is that not strange?

A. If you were familiar with the circumstances at first hand, you would not have asked this question. To us, five thousand, ten thousand, one thousand, two thousand or twenty thousand were all a whole world of people. The English were unwilling to let anybody in; but one tried at least something - five, ten or twenty thousand.

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