The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 59
(Part 4 of 6)

Q. Yesterday you explained that you did not want to refer to the large figure of one hundred thousand Jews in the presence of English officers.

A. I assume - I forget - that the reason was - yes, I was afraid of the English. In Budapest we had decided to say as little as possible to the English, not to give them any information, but to the Americans, and I knew what their position was, the White Paper, the certificates every month - I was afraid, I wanted to say as little as possible.

Q. Eichmann's proposal was not to send these Jews to Palestine, but to a neutral country, and he said explicitly to you "not to Palestine," did he not?

A. Yes, that was one of the dilemmas.

Q. I am not asking about the dilemma. Why were you afraid to reveal the proposal to the English? After all, it had nothing to do with the White Paper.

A. The Zionist organization to which I belonged had only one interest - emigration to Palestine; the Germans were interested in extermination. The world was interested in not letting the Jews in. I was stuck in the middle. I turned and twisted, in order not to step on either side's corns.

Q. Mr. Brand, if you were not afraid to reveal to Mr. Sharett, then Shertok, in the presence of English officers, the proposal to release a million Jews, why were you afraid to reveal the detail that, if a positive reply were given, they would start with one hundred thousand?

A. I am convinced that I said that the Germans would take the first step and release Jews. Today I have already said once that in the first months, and to this day...

Q. Mr. Brand, it seems to me that that is not an answer to the question.

A. Your Honour, I must reply. I bargained with myself, as I said today: They will give five thousand, they will give ten thousand, a hundred and twenty-thousand, they will give a hundred thousand; I bargained with myself.

Q. Mr. Brand, did you, in Aleppo, tell Mr. Sharett that, as soon as you brought a positive answer in principle to Budapest, even before the agreement was implemented, Eichmann had promised to blow up the extermination installations?

A. I am convinced that I must have said that.

Q. Did you say that to Mr. Sharett in Aleppo?

A. I cannot swear to it - I am simply convinced, since it was the most important thing in my head, that I must have spoken about it; I do not understand why it is not in the record.

Q. In this connection, there was no reason not to reveal it in the presence of English officers?

A. I cannot remember every particular thought I had at the time. I just cannot imagine my not speaking about it - I cannot imagine not doing so, as I know myself.

Q. On the other hand, yesterday you told the Court that you would rely completely on Mr. Sharett's record?

A. I cannot believe that Mr. Moshe Sharett would have hidden or incorrectly recorded something - I cannot imagine that being the case. Moshe Sharett would definitely have recorded the truth.

Q. Perhaps, Mr. Brand, you feel so deeply about these matters, and so many years have passed since then, perhaps you are mistaken about a particular detail? Think, Mr. Brand, is it not possible that the destruction of the gas chambers by the Nazis was not promised to you as part of what you call the advance?

A. No, when I said "gas chambers" yesterday, I obviously did not use the right term, because Eichmann only spoke of the installations at Auschwitz. I understood that these were the gas chambers. He never spoke of the gas chambers to me.

Q. That is also how I understood it. The question is whether this was promised to you as soon as you would bring a positive reply in principle, or perhaps you are mistaken about this detail?

A. I am convinced that he spoke about this, that we spoke about it for hours in our discussions in the committee in Budapest, that we spoke about it in Constantinople.

Q. Another matter: When the Nazis invaded Hungary, you already knew about the destruction of the Jewish People before that?

A. Certainly, already for years.

Q. And up to then, you had worked successfully with the Wehrmacht Counter-Intelligence Group?

A. They themselves did not do the rescue work. It was with the help of Wehrmacht agents. They brought us money, and that gave us resources for our work. Sometimes, for money, they took money over for us.

Q. In any case, you already knew that in Germany there was a group, about which you heard more later, called the Canaris Group, an anti-Nazi group?

A. The Canaris Group must be divided into two. Up to a certain point, the entire German counter-espionage was called the Canaris Group. The entire counter-espionage service.

Q. But you told us yesterday, I believe, that there was also an intelligence office of the Security Service, Office VI.

A. That is correct. Himmler had set himself up his own counter-intelligence, particularly in the last years and during the War. Schellenberg was one of the heads.

Q. And it was Bandi Grosz who suggested to you that you switch from the Wehrmacht counter-espionage people to the SS counter-espionage?

A. He did not call it the SD Office VI Group. But he was the one who brought Laufer to me, and also Klausnitzer. He was present at the discussion.

Q. But that is what the proposal was about?

A. Yes. And he himself switched from the German counter- intelligence to the Security Service.

Q. And, in addition, he turned the people from the Wehrmacht counter-intelligence over to the people from the SS, and in the end they were executed?

A. No, they are still alive today. But they were arrested. I have every reason to assume that he ensured that they were arrested, but they are still alive today.

Q. And they were arrested in the committee's flat?

A. Some of them - two of them. That is to say, in the getaway flat, Blitz' flat.

Q. Is it true that Bandi Grosz explained to you that the Wehrmacht people had no influence over the destruction of the Jews, and that you should make contact with those in charge of the destruction of the Jews?

A. That the Wehrmacht people could not stop the destruction of the Jews, could not put a halt to it. He said more also. That was the general drift.

Q. And so, if you wanted to see results, it would be better to contact the SS?

A. Your Honour, if I could answer in three or four sentences, I can make my reply intelligible. The SS consisted of various groups. The Jewish Department, the Security Service, the Motorized Department, dozens of different groups. We had got - via the German counter- intelligence, the Wehrmacht Counter-Intelligence Organization - to Wisliceny, Krumey, and then later I got to Eichmann, i.e., the Jewish Department. Now Bandi claimed - at that point, or roughly at that point, Bandi claimed - the German counter-intelligence people can no longer do anything. They cannot help you, they have simply robbed you, and so on. Now only these Security Service people can help you - Laufer, Klages, and so on - to carry this great project through. I hope this has explained things.

Q. In the Rescue Committee report submitted to us, there is a different version from what you have told us.

A. This is not a report of the Rescue Committee of Budapest - or I am not familiar with it.

Q. Perhaps the document can be shown to the witness. This is what I am referring to.

A. It is called "Report of the Jewish Rescue Committee." I was a member of this committee, this report was not submitted to me before it was issued.

Q. Perhaps you would look at pages 33 and 34.

A. Do you mean the second paragraph? On page 33?

Q. And also further down, not just the second paragraph. Perhaps you should continue on to page 34 and look at that page too. In the middle of page 34 - the fifth paragraph - and the last two paragraphs on page 34, particularly the emphasized passage.

A. I consider these assertions to be false.

Q. You should know, should you not?

A. Yes, I consider this to be untrue, what it says here is untrue.

Q. This is not a question of opinions. This is something that happened to you.

A. What happened to me where?

Q. For example, that you excluded the late Dr. Kasztner from all these negotiations and did everything behind his back.

A. That is completely untrue.

Q. Also look at the passage which is emphasized on page 36, in the penultimate paragraph.

A. That is nonsense, he was at Simsi Andor Street, our illegal headquarters, every day - we had hours and hours of discussion every day - the whole committee and he and I and my wife, and whoever else was there. Nonsense.

Q. Who chose you to be sent to Istanbul, Eichmann or the Jews?

A. Both. Eichmann sent for me and asked where I wanted to go.

Q. That you would go and no one else...

A. Eichmann did not say "no one else." Eichmann said I should go, whereupon I said I had to have the confirmation of the committee. The committee selected me, and I said that I would see. All the Zionist parties chose me.

Q. Did the late Dr. Kasztner not suggest someone else?

A. Yes. Dr. Kasztner made various proposals; above all, he wanted his father-in-law to go, Dr. Jozsi Fischer. The committee was against him, because he was not known in our work, he was a Jewish notable, not a Jewish leader.

Q. Why did Dr. Kasztner not go himself?

A. Dr. Kasztner voiced reproaches to me at the end. At the beginning he never suggested himself as a counter-candidate to myself; at the end he reproached me heatedly: "Why did you not arrange things," he would shout at me on the last day or two, "so that instead of Bandi Grosz I come with you?" I could not have done that. I would rather have gone with Kasztner than with Bandi Grosz.

Q. I did not mean instead of Bandi Grosz, but that he should go instead of you.

A. In the discussions, he was there, and he never suggested going himself instead of Joel, he suggested Jozsi Fischer, Dr. Martin Ernoe, and so on.

Q. Did you not see dangers in the transaction proposed by Eichmann?

A. Yes, right from the very beginning.

Q. Did you not think that it might be a trick?

A. We thought of that as well, but we refused, and I refused, to ask ourselves these questions; after all, he did not want anything in advance - nothing, not even the value of this cigarette. He wanted to give an advance, he said: "I will release the Jews." He made a German aircraft available, I was to go abroad. How could I turn down an offer like that?

Q. Perhaps it was too good to be true?

A. Yes, I did think about that, too - "too good." But what was I to do? After all, I could not allow myself to turn down an offer like that.

Q. And this condition, that the lorries be made available not on the Western Front but on the Eastern Front, that must have made it clear to you that, if it was at all meant seriously, the intention was to divide the Allies.

A. I am the worst of politicians. We knew that there were all sorts of underlying aspects - like dividing the Allies, or a separate peace, or good marks for later - I could list a dozen reasons. That was clear to us.

Q. Did Bandi Grosz also tell you that he had a proposal for making separately, not simply peace, but a separate peace with the West.

A. Not until later, but Grosz was not the person I had discussions with. He arranged channels for us, for which I paid money.

Q. In Aleppo you gave Mr. Sharett details about the Hagana, the Jewish self-defence organization, in Hungary. Inter alia you said that there were some one hundred pistols in good condition and two machine guns, and you also said that now Hungarian Jews knew what the meaning of deportation is, they understand that it means extermination. And you continued that, in your opinion, as it says here, "In Joel's opinion, the nucleus of Hagana people can concentrate round it a great many Jews who will be prepared to defend themselves."

You also said, "The Hagana has available to it at the moment two thousand people, including also women." This was all noted by Mr. Sharett, and you said all this in the presence of British officers. Is that correct? Can you confirm this?

A. I have now had a look at the record. In it Mr. Sharett says that he did not take shorthand notes of what I said. The report is some twelve or thirteen pages long, and he says that it covers six hours. I know that it lasted far longer, because during the lunch period - the lunch break was two or three hours - we carried on with the discussion. I cannot remember the exact figures and everything, but I shall give an approximate answer.

Yes, it is true that we had revolvers, whether it was a hundred or... I would just like to comment on one point. I think what I explained was that we had a nucleus of thirty or forty people, halutzim, who could be officers in a self- defence organization (Hagana). When we put them all together, that perhaps we could get up to two thousand. But I definitely did not say that we have an army of two thousand.

Q. Yesterday you said that in Cairo you spoke to many British people, including, I believe, Lord Moyne, about these matters.

A. Yes.

Q. What did Lord Moyne say to you?

A. His last sentence was: "What shall I do with those million Jews? Where shall I put them?" That was his reply.

Q. When did he say that to you?

A. In the late summer of 1944. I do not remember the date.

Q. You said that later you put a hundred and ten questions to Kurt Becher. I gather you did so in writing.

A. In writing and also orally. I had to explain it to him.

Q. Yesterday you also told the Court that Becher had grown rich by plundering the Jews of Hungary.

A. When I knew him, he was an officer. Before that, he was an ordinary official. Now he has a hundred and twenty million.

Q. He could have earned that after the War as well.

A. He could have, but I know what Jewish property got into his hands. I know that he gave back a little, without an inventory. And that other things - I don't know. I know it was in his hands. I know that he suddenly became rich, and he always had the money in his hand.

Q. Did you ask him whether he became wealthy by plundering Hungarian Jews?

A. Yes, yes, in various ways.

Q. Did he answer your question?

A. No, I have already said that, out of my hundred or so questions, he answered ten or twelve. He did not answer this one. He spun me a story that he had received a list of import prices for cereals, and he himself had transacted business, or wanted to, with the Jewish Agency or with Israel.

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