The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 59
(Part 3 of 6)

Judge Raveh: Mr. Brand, in the certificate you have given us it says that you are a member of the "Central Committee of Jews" (the Zentralrat). Were you a member of this Central Committee?

Witness Brand: No.

Q. Did other people who were not members also receive similar certificates?

A. Yes. Should I give their names?

Q. Many or just a few?

A. Very few.

Q. What category of people received these certificates?

A. We asked for it, Kasztner and myself. I forget whether it was Kasztner or myself, but it was so that we could get around, so we could travel on the tram, take taxis - we were always in a hurry - and so for several members of our committee we got one of these permits. But before I left, I asked for my wife and also my sisters and my children and my mother to be included as well. Then there were people who got it from Freudiger, some rich Jews who got it through Freudiger, and so on. There was Link's group...

Q. Another minor matter, because the record is not quite clear on that. With reference to the money transferred to you by Eichmann, what sums did you receive?

A. The sum I received from Eichmann?

Q. Yes.

A. It was two hundred and seventy thousand Swiss francs and a further sum of dollars. I cannot quite remember if it was fifty or fifty-three or fifty-seven thousand dollars. But I can find out.

Q. The reason why I am asking is because at one point in the record it says seventy-two thousand Swiss francs, and also seventy-two thousand dollars. Is neither amount correct?

A. Two hundred and seventy thousand Swiss francs and some fifty thousand dollars.

Q. You said that during one of the discussions someone mentioned Himmler's name, and you used the expression, "Man wollte mir ein Kind hereinreden in den Bauch mit dem Himmler" (one wanted to tell me a tall story about Himmler). I should like to know who referred to Himmler and what they said about Himmler.

A. The main speakers were this Laufer, who was not Jewish but had a converted Jewish wife, and possibly also a Jewish mother or grandmother - this man was one of the members of the German counter-espionage service. He maintained that Himmler had never - in no speech could you find anything that Himmler had said against the Jews. I said to him that it was not true. I did not actually have the precise text at the time, but I had heard about a speech he made to SS officers which subsequently became known. I knew that Himmler was the head of the SS and that the SS was the organization which destroyed the Jews.

That's what I meant when I used this phrase "one wanted to tell me a tall story." The other one was Klausnitzer, who was a captain in the River Police. On the day the Germans occupied Hungary he was one of those active in arresting prominent Jews in Budapest, and also prominent Hungarians who were known to be anti-Nazis, and put them in the cellar of the Danube Steamship Company; he, too, was a Security Service man.

Q. But in connection with this "blood for goods, goods for blood" transaction, did no one mention Himmler?

A. No, that was after Eichmann's "goods for blood" offer, that was probably - I cannot be one hundred per cent definite as to whether it was before or after the second conversation with Eichmann, when Eichmann already specified ten thousand trucks and so on. It was about that time, but after Eichmann made the offer. I cannot say whether it was before the first or second or third conversation with Eichmann.

Q. What I wish to know is whether there was any connection between Eichmann's proposal and the reference to Himmler.

A. There was definitely a connection, because they said that the Eichmann offer was the only possibility of saving people. Your Honour, please try and understand our position: The Security Service, the Jewish Affairs Department, the Intelligence Department, the Hungarian Secret Service - they were all more or less after our favours; we weak Jews who had nothing - everyone wanted to play the one off against the other.

We had worked for years and years, primarily with the German intelligence departments. They had blackmailed us, they had robbed us, but they had also brought us money, they had enabled us to save people, and that meant that somehow we were linked to them. Now the situation had changed, the Jewish Department was there, and they were the ones who had rounded up the Jews in Carpatho-Ruthenia, in Transylvania, in the border areas, and rounded them up so horribly, using the Hungarian gendarmerie.

Q. Please understand my question: Did those who mentioned Himmler's name know about Eichmann's proposal? Did they refer to Himmler, in order to show you that the proposal was a serious one? This is what interests me.

A. Yes, the name of Himmler was mentioned. As far as I understood - there were several conversations with Eichmann which are still present in my mind - he was implying that Himmler was the only one who could save the Jews, and Himmler would save the Jews, Himmler was a decent, acceptable man. I had the impression - and I have always maintained this - that Himmler was given the Jews as a kind of baksheesh, a tip, in order to be able to talk about other matters. That was my impression, and I made that clear.

Q. You were arrested in Turkey by the Turks, were you not?

A. Yes. I was first arrested in Turkey by the Turks.

Q. Why? In connection with your visa?

A. In connection with my visa. When I reached Turkey, I had no visa. Then a disembarcation permit was arranged.

Q. How long after your arrival in Constantinople were you arrested?

A. Two or three days, a few days, perhaps four days.

Q. Did you remain in Turkish custody, in prison, until you left for Aleppo?

A. No, I was not in a prison cell at all, I was - the Turks did not quite know what to do with me. They kept me in a large room which the public used to frequent, but there was a policeman at the door, and I could not leave. In the evening they locked the room; we were supposed to remain in this room, and then, on the same evening, there came a policeman. I went with him to a hotel, and then on the next day I was released.

Q. At all events, before you were arrested you gave the Jewish Agency people in Constantinople all the details about the negotiations and everything that was going on in Hungary?

A. I spoke to the Jewish Agency people in Constantinople practically continually from the first half hour after my arrival onwards - to all of them together, or to one or the other party, etc., all along.

Q. Did you tell them all the details?

A. Yes, all the details.

Q. Did you also tell them about the one hundred thousand Jews?

A. Yes. I would say about yesterday's questions: I spoke often about ten thousand, twenty thousand, a real ten per cent in advance. I really dealt with everyone who spoke to me. I begged and I negotiated and I spoke, etc. There was nothing I didn't try. I did what I could. It was the same thing, over and over again.

Q. I want this to be quite clear. Did you tell the Jewish Agency people in Constantinople that, if you returned to Budapest with a positive answer, Eichmann had promised that he would first of all keep back one hundred thousand Jews?

A. Yes, ten per cent.

Q. Ten per cent of what?

A. Of a million Jews.

Q. In other words, it was clear that one hundred thousand Jews were involved?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. Did you also tell them that in that case he had promised to blow up the gas chambers?

A. Yes, Your Honour.

Q. Let us now return to Hungary, to your conversations with Eichmann. You said that he promised that for one to two weeks there would be no further deportations to Auschwitz, but that people would be sent to Austria or Slovakia.

A. I would not state a hundred per cent that he said they would not be sent to Auschwitz. What he said was, "For the moment I shall only..." - no, he did say Auschwitz. "I will not send them to Auschwitz: I shall hold them in Austria or Czechoslovakia until you return, one or two weeks, but you must hurry up," and so on.

Q. Did you tell the Jewish Agency people in Constantinople about that as well?

A. Of course. I had to be back in one to two weeks at the latest. I repeated that hundreds of times, and I begged, and said that twelve thousand were being deported every day.

Q. When did you find out that Eichmann had not kept his promise?

A. In Istanbul. Already during the first days, when I had just arrived, the first telegrams arrived from Budapest, "deportations continuing," and I sent desperate telegrams from there.

Q. When you heard that in Constantinople, did that make any difference to your impression of the seriousness of the Eichmann proposal, that they would not remain in Austria?

A. No, I knew what Eichmann was like. I just hoped that there would be no transports to Auschwitz and no gassings, but I knew that he was deporting people.

Q. My question was: When did you hear that Eichmann did not keep his promise to retain the people in Austria or Czechoslovakia, but that they were being sent on immediately?

A. I did not get a telegram to that effect. I was cabled "deportations continuing." I did not get a telegram to the effect that they were not remaining in Austria or Slovakia.

Q. There has been a misunderstanding. My question was, when did you find out that Eichmann did not keep his promise to retain these people in Austria for a week or two?

A. After I left Istanbul. After Istanbul, not Istanbul, Cairo. And even in Cairo I received notes from people saying, "we have managed to stop matters."

Q. That is to say, that until you were released in Cairo, you did not know that Eichmann had not kept his promise?

A. I did not receive any news, but in my own head it was clear to me that, when I had not returned, and also after my conversation with Hirschmann, the deportations and gassings were continuing.

Q. You have not understood my question. My question was: Until you were released in Cairo, did you not know that Eichmann had not kept his promise to bring people to Austria and Czechoslovakia for a week or two?

A. I did not receive information in that sense. But I knew I had to get back there; if I did not, the trains would continue running. After all, he had told me so. But I did not actually receive information that they kept on running.

Q. The point in question is the first two weeks.

A. At that time I was not yet in Cairo, I was still in Constantinople.

Q. I was trying to find out when you discovered that even during the first two weeks people were sent straight to Auschwitz.

A. A long time after I was released.

Q. Now another point. Did Eichmann say to you that there were two million Jews left in Europe and that, if the Allies or Churchill or Roosevelt wanted them, they should take them and give something in return?

A. Yes, Eichmann said to me that Roosevelt and Churchill and whoever could have them. As for the precise figure, two million or two and a half million Jews - it was something like two million Jews. But that was not important to me, what was always important to me...

Q. In the documents we received yesterday, I read a somewhat different description, not - as you have related - the promise that people would remain in Austria or Slovakia, but there it says that Eichmann said, to the contrary, that the deportations would start in full force, and afterwards - and here Krumey's name is mentioned - that he said he was prepared to promise that no one would be killed until you returned. What can you say about this version?

A. Either that is a typing error, or it must be something else. It was definitely Eichmann who said it to me. When the plane left, Krumey told me he would ensure that the promise was kept. But I am sure that is a typing error, or something else, it was definitely Eichmann, not Krumey.

Judge Halevi: Mr. Brand, perhaps you could answer briefly and to the point, without getting worked up, as far as you can. Remember the example your wife gave, by speaking calmly. I know that these matters are supremely important to you, but this is a court of law. We wish to clarify the facts.

Witness Brand: I am trying, Your Honour, but I get excited.

Q. I understand that these matters are close to your heart, but this is a court. We want to clarify facts. today you said that you were not a member of the Judenrat in Budapest, despite the certificate which states that you were.

A. Yes.

Q. And that others, who were also not members of the Judenrat, received these certificates as well?

A. Yes.

Q. You mentioned Freudiger. Was he not a member of the Judenrat?

A. Freudiger was a member of the Judenrat. For a while there was an argument over who it should be, and he was the one.

Q. Were all the members of the Judenrat exempt from wearing the yellow patch?

A. Yes.

Q. Including yourself and those who held similar certificates?

A. Your Honour, sometimes I did wear my Jewish star - on Jewish streets it was easier to wear it, elsewhere I went without it.

Q. Answer my question briefly: Were you exempt from wearing the yellow patch?

A. Yes.

Q. I have gone through the documents submitted to us yesterday, and I did not find that there you mention the matter of ten per cent. These documents are the record of your conversation on 11 June 1944 with Mr. Sharett, then Shertok, and also the English translation. But if you wish to peruse these documents again, perhaps you can show me where there is a reference to ten per cent.

A. I don't think I can. I also looked through them yesterday afternoon, but I could not find a reference. I also got these copies, and there is no reference to this matter.

Q. Are you saying that you have an explanation for this? I shall return to this later. But there is no mention of ten per cent. Can you confirm this?

A. There is no such mention.

Q. In the two documents to which I have referred, is there a reference to destroying the extermination installations?

A. According to what I have read - there are several documents, there is a reference; in one document there is no reference.

Q. In which document is there mention of this?

A. I saw letters there where the English refused.

Q. I was not referring to documents about destruction by English or American planes, but destruction by the Nazis themselves.

A. I did not see anything about that either.

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