The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 58
(Part 5 of 5)

Q. Would you please tell the Court what was discussed and what was said.

A. The Mufti was referred to when we demanded that this ship go direct from Constantsa to Palestine, and then we were told that that was quite impossible, since he was on friendly terms with the Mufti, and it was not in his interest to quarrel with the Mufti, so that he would have to send the people to some other, neutral place, but certainly not to Palestine.

Q. When it became clear to you that your husband was not coming back, and that apparently the mission had not succeeded, did you speak about this with Eichmann?

A. I do not remember whether I spoke first to Eichmann or to Klages. Obviously we had to talk about it.

Q. How did the Accused react to this development?

A. As far as the fact was concerned that my husband had not returned, he was very angry and upset. But the reason was not that he had not carried out the mission assigned to him, but because yet another Jew had escaped him. He was - I can say quite confidently that he was very pleased. He was very pleased that this transaction had not come off.

Presiding Judge: Mrs. Brand, that was your understanding of what he said, but can you tell us what he said?

State Attorney Bach: On what do you base your conclusion?

Witness Hansi Brand: Very, very pleased that he has a free hand - he does not need to take the transaction into consideration, he can quite happily dispatch them, no one can make any reproaches to him. If I might add something - it is difficult in such short sentences. Not only he was there, Krumey was there as well, for example, and you could see the difference...

Presiding Judge: You were only asked about Eichmann.

State Attorney Bach: I was going to ask you if others behaved differently.

Witness Hansi Brand: Krumey - I won't say that he was desperate, but Krumey was always trying to put pressure on us to force the pace, we were to write, to send telegrams, we should do everything possible to implement the matter.

Q. Are you saying that he acted in this manner in the presence of Eichmann, or that he acted separately?

A. I cannot say that.

Q. Mrs. Brand, during the period we normally call "the lull," from the end of the deportations in July and until the coup on 15 October, what form did your activities take, that is, the committee's activities, mainly in Budapest?

A. First and foremost, we had no money. We did try again - and I must explain here that, at that time, we were already working under the protection of the Red Cross. an International Red Cross Section A was set up under the directorship of Otto Komoly.

This was the period when all the Jews were rounded up - what started was not ghettoization, but Jewish houses were designated, so that all the Jews were collected in various houses which were called "Jewish Houses," and on these houses the yellow star was placed, and the doors were locked, and the Jews were only allowed to leave them between - I no longer remember - four and five o'clock, or three and five o'clock - in other words, precisely when the food shops were either closed or had run out of everything. And we had a new problem - obtaining money, obtaining food, and then there were always minor incidents which intervened because, although there was relative calm, people were still seized - a whole group of halutzim from Bendzin or Sosnowiec were thrown into prison.

Q. At that time, did you think that the danger had passed, the danger for Jews in Budapest?

A. We could not believe that because, although officially it appeared that the SS had left Budapest, one group left on one side, while two were brought in from the other side, and Eichmann himself stayed in Hungary.

Q. Mrs. Brand, do you remember the period after the Szalasi coup on 15 October 1944?

A. I remember this period - the Szalasi period - very well. That was when I had no direct contact with Eichmann.

Q. During this period, do you remember the foot march, the Fussmarsch?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. What were your activities in this connection, and what did you see of it?

A. I believe a great deal has already been said about this here, and unfortunately my vocabulary is too poor to describe what took place then in the streets of Budapest.

Q. Perhaps you could nevertheless describe it?

A. Briefly, people were driven out of their flats into the courtyards - it was a rainy day, it was pouring in Budapest, and women, men, children, the old, the young had to wait in the courtyards until groups of SS came to herd them together, and they were driven into the streets, I don't know how many in a line, but the main street of Budapest looked as if it were full of ants.

Q. How many persons took part in the foot march?

A. Thousands upon thousands.

Q. How old were they?

A. They were of all ages - children, old people - it is hard to say what age. The whole street was black with people, they included children standing next to their mothers or fathers and grandmothers.

Q. What was the weather like?

A. Pouring rain.

Q. How did the Hungarian public react?

A. Some just stared at them dully - they were the better ones; the others were pleased that those who had been bombed out were going to have nice Jewish flats.

Q. Did you and Dr. Kasztner do anything about it?

A. We took the children. Eichmann's official promise was that he needed I don't know how many thousands - fifty or sixty thousand people - to build field works. And since he had no transport available, he had to send the people on foot.

Presiding Judge: Did you hear that from Eichmann himself, what you have stated now?

Witness Hansi Brand: No, I only heard that from Kasztner.

State Attorney Bach: Did you go up and see the Accused in this connection?

Witness Hansi Brand: Kasztner went up to see Eichmann.

Q. Where were you at the time?

A. I waited outside in a taxi, and he went to see Eichmann, in order to tell him that he had seen not only men capable of working, who could build field works, but that there were also children and women, and very old people. And the reply he was given was: "What can I do, the Jews of Budapest have been hiding, so I have to take what I have."

Q. Did you only see these people in the Budapest area?

A. Yes.

Q. Another point, Mrs. Brand. In this last conversation you had with Eichmann, did he express any willingness to talk about other deals to save Jews?

A. He had often had a lot to drink, so that you could smell the brandy from a long way off. And then he would be very chatty and wanted to show us that he understood the Jewish business very well. And then he mentioned the transfer he had made - for good German marks he had sent toilet paper to Palestine. He was very happy that he had been sufficiently efficient to be able to send toilet paper to Palestine for good German marks.

Q. I did not mean that, I meant other types of deals. When you talked about the failure of your husband's mission, and he expressed his satisfaction, as you have explained, did he express any willingness to conclude other deals to save Jews, or to avoid Jews being sent to Auschwitz, for money?

A. A great deal was discussed on another basis, but nothing came of that. When we heard about all of this from Istanbul, we also received a telegram saying that interim agreements had been concluded. We then made an offer that, until everything was completed, we would try to come up with something in Hungary as well, so that we kept negotiating with him all the time, not on the old basis of lorries, but we in Hungary would ourselves, like in Slovakia, obtain some goods, even though we really needed everything very badly.

Q. That was what you proposed. Did he agree to these proposals?

A. I do not know whether he or Becher accepted them, but in any case the negotiations continued, and the deliveries of goods reached Becher in part and were in part promised, and on that basis negotiations continued with Eichmann to release Jews.

Q. Mrs. Brand, you were in fact in Budapest until the Russian occupation, were you not?

A. Until 1946.

State Attorney Bach: Thank you very much.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius.

Dr. Servatius: Mrs. Brand, you have spoken about the foot march. Did the Hungarian gendarmerie take part in the herding together of the Jews?

Witness Hansi Brand: I myself did not see any gendarmerie in Budapest at that time.

Q. Even if I draw your attention to the fact that there is a report from a Swedish and mixed diplomatic commission, which refers extensively to the Hungarian gendarmerie, do you maintain your statement?

A. In my statement I emphasized that I only saw part of the foot march in a particular part of Budapest, and I myself did not see them.

Q. You said that, to some extent, Eichmann kept you, so to speak, as a hostage when your husband left for Constantinople on a mission?

A. Yes.

Q. Did he say to you that he wanted you to report, so that your husband would come back and you would not depart after him, so that the whole thing would burst like a soap bubble, and that is why you had to report?

A. I do not remember that.

Q. When you suggested the children should be sent along on the Bergen-Belsen train, did he say "The children must stay here as well," because otherwise, if the children left and you were on your own, he would be concerned that you too would vanish?

A. I can only repeat what I have said - that he said that the children were not allowed to leave.

Q. Did your husband tell you of the proposal that initially ten per cent of the Jews could leave, even if no firm proposal had been made, but just when negotiations started?

A. Yes.

Q. Was he pleased about that.

A. We were happy about any chance which we hoped might save Jews.

Q. You said that Eichmann did not keep his word. Were the conditions he had stipulated for honouring his promise fulfilled?

A. Yes, that was the point - he had promised to take six hundred people from the provincial towns and to send them to a neutral foreign country.

Q. Was that not earlier, and did he not increase this figure from six to eight hundred on his own initiative?

A. But only in words.

Q. You mentioned the name Becher: Was Obersturmbannfuehrer Becher the person who dealt with the money matters?

A. I cannot give a precise answer as to how the hierarchy was set up, because I myself did not negotiate with Becher.

Q. Did Dr. Kasztner not tell you that Becher was pushing and wanted to have more, more than Eichmann even?

A. Possibly, but I do not remember, I cannot confirm that with one hundred per cent certainty.

Q. Your husband has testified that after the War he discussed various matters with Becher. Did Dr. Kasztner also go to see Becher?

A. After the War?

Q. Yes.

A. No. As far as I know - although I cannot be one hundred per cent sure - as far as I know, Kasztner talked to Becher after the War in Nuremberg.

Q. Did he not meet him again later, when Becher was again freed?

A. I know nothing of that.

Q. Did Kasztner not tell you that he owed much gratitude to Becher?

A. I cannot reply about our being grateful to Becher for what he did, because it was already...

Presiding Judge: Mrs. Brand, you must reply to each question as it is put to you.

Witness Hansi Brand: I cannot reply.

Presiding Judge: Why not?

Witness Hansi Brand: I do not know.

Presiding Judge: The question was whether Kasztner told you that he owed gratitude to Becher?

Witness Hansi Brand: I do not remember.

Dr. Servatius: I have no further questions to the witness.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, do you have any questions?

State Attorney Bach: No, Your Honour, thank you.

Presiding Judge: Mrs. Brand, you will continue with your testimony tomorrow morning at nine o'clock. We shall first conclude Mrs. Brand's testimony, and then, if necessary, we shall continue with Mr. Brand's testimony.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.