The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 59
(Part 5 of 6)

Q. But you do not actually have any firm basis for these assumptions, as you were not there at that time.

A. What do you mean? I have studied the Nazis for twenty years, I do nothing but that, and I have my views.

Q. Yes, but you were not actually a witness to these matters?

A. No,I did not see him slipping money into his pocket.

Q. And you also did not witness Becher saving any Jews?

A. No.

Q. Today you said: "alle warben um unsere Gunst" (they all courted our favours).

A. Yes, that is true.

Q. Is it not somewhat exaggerating things to put it that way?

A. Possibly. But that is how it was, Your Honour. The Security Service made suggestions to us, called us in for talks. Kasztner went to Wisliceny allegedly on his own, I was called to see Eichmann, there was the counter- intelligence service, everyone wanted something, they suggested our going to Istanbul, two million dollars, this and that and the other, the Germans at that time had only a single card against the Allies, just the few Jews left there, who could be handed over if something was given in return.

Q. But did all these proposals not actually come from one source - from Himmler?

A. Your Honour, Himmler was the Chief of the SS - everyone was subordinate to Himmler; but there was also this kind of internal competitive struggle, you even had one regiment competing with another, or one department with another.

Judge Halevi: Thank you.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Brand, you told the Court - Judge Raveh - today, that when you were in Istanbul you received a telegram or telegrams about the deportations from Hungary?

Witness Brand: Yes.

Q. Who sent these telegrams? How did they reach you?

A. We sent the telegrams by the normal method: We went to the post office, we were still going at that time, we still dared to go to the post office to send telegrams. They arrived, and we sent telegrams from there and they arrived.

Q. Secondly, you said that you pleaded for a certain number of Jews - five thousand, ten thousand. With whom did you plead?

A. My mission was something which people did not believe in. When I reached Constantinople, the first reaction from our own comrades was: "Joel, are the Nazis really murdering as many Jews as you say?" People were not prepared to believe us - perhaps they just could not believe us - I was twisting like an eel to try and make them believe me; after all, I had come in order to save Jews, that was why I had been sent, and that is why I accepted the assignment.

Q. That was not an answer to my question. Did you have to plead with Jews with regard to the number of Jews to be saved?

A. I did not speak to anyone else, I only spoke to Jews. Only in one case did Mr. Barlas bring someone from Poland into the office. I only spoke to Jews, and I only pleaded with Jews.

Q. But what is the meaning of your having to plead about the numbers of Jews? I cannot understand that.

A. For years we had been sending reports, for years they must have known in Istanbul, in Israel, in London, in New York, exactly what was going on in Poland and elsewhere. It is absolutely not true to say that they did not know - they was never ready to believe us, and the people perished. Q. But I still do not understand. I have not read your book. I have only heard your testimony and that of your wife. I repeat my question: Did you have to plead with Jews about the number of Jews to be saved?

A. Your Honour, perhaps I can explain in the shape of a reconstructing a conversation... They will release a hundred thousand - they will hand over ten per cent, with a hundred thousand immediately? Well then, if only five are given, or ten, or twenty, what's your problem? They should be very happy and relieved...and that was how it went, from early in the morning till late at night. Griffel and Klarman and Revisionists and Mapainiks and non-Mapainiks and Shomer Hatzair [names of Zionist parties] - they all wanted something, they all wanted something special, and so it went on. I had no choice but to act as I did.

Q. Are you trying to say that people did not believe you?

A. People believed me and they did not believe me and they half believed me...

Q. But why did you use the expression that "we pleaded for the number of Jews to be saved?"

A. Perhaps I express myself badly. I apologize.

Q. Now that you have referred to the conversation with Lord Moyne, I should like to hear more about this conversation, and not just Lord Moyne's last sentence.

A. I was in a kind of prison in Cairo. Rather, I had a very pleasant, big room, which they kept clean; I got wonderful food, which I could order whenever I wanted, fruit and everything. I was questioned the whole day. From morning to evening. Normally in the form of conversations, but they kept a record; that had to be available. Then, in the evenings, I was frequently invited by the English officers to accompany them to some club or hotel, to eat out with them, sometimes with lots of other people. And the conversations would continue there. I was called for by an officer, and then I was always brought back.

Once I was at an Anglo-Egyptian club, in the garden, and there was a whole crowd of officers there. Time and time again they asked me the same thing, time and again the same question: Do you think the Nazis will let them go? Will they do it? Over and over they asked me, for months and months, hundreds and... They kept asking about the figures. Will they let five thousand go, or two thousand? And that is how it was - there was a whole crowd of officers at a table in the garden, there were some Frenchmen too, I remember. And I sat next to a gentleman in civilian clothes - tall and thin - and I did not know who he was. When you are introduced, you do not hear names properly.

And it was the same conversation: "Will they really let them go? How many?" I could not take it any more. I had already said the same thing hundreds of times. And then there came this answer: "What shall I do with those million Jews?" I was beside myself. Then afterwards I found out, when I left - I said that I was not feeling well and I must go - and as I was leaving, I was told that the person I had spoken to was Lord Moyne. It was a conversation in which at least fifteen or twenty people took part.

Q. Is it not strange that someone you do not know turns to you and addresses you, saying in the first person, "What shall I do?" What is your English like?

A. (In English). My English is quite well. I mean to say, it is not perfect, but quite well.

Q. So, was it not strange?

A. I did not say that he had not been introduced to me. But as I said, when you are presented, you do not hear or understand properly. And I just did not know that it was Lord Moyne.

Q. So he was introduced?

A. Yes, I made a point of saying that. If I might say something, Your Honour. The situation was a special one: After all, I was a prisoner, I did not turn up at the gathering, with or without an invitation. I was taken there. It was all interrogations. The situation I was in was different. I was only treated politely. Because they believed me, because they knew that a crime was being committed. Because every single one of them knew that. So the situation was a special one, and special things resulted from it.

Presiding Judge: Thank you. [To the Attorney General and Dr. Servatius] Do you have any questions subsequent to these questions?

Attorney General: I should like to ask for the certificate about which the witness was questioned, his certificate. [The certificate is handed to him] Mr. Brand, I gather that this certificate is the standard one, as printed by the Budapest Judenrat. Were there any other certificates for Jews which gave them similar privileges?

Witness Brand: I assume (a) that this was the normal certificate of members of the Judenrat - I myself was not a member of the Judenrat. Perhaps they had some other certificate as well.

(b) We were also provided with other kinds of certificates; for example, we demanded and received five or six certificates, in order to be able to visit the camps.

Q. No, I am referring to the possibility of travelling by taxi or by tram. Was that the only certificate which enabled the Jews to do this, or were there other certificates which made that possible?

A. I do not think so. I would not swear to it, but I do not think so.

Q. Then perhaps you would tell us in simple words: If it was desired to give someone the possibility of taking the tram, or a taxi, and so on, were they given a certificate like this?

A. In order to be able to move around freely, one had to be given this certificate. We forged many certificates.

Q. No, I am talking about certificates issued officially - is this one of them?

A. I think so. I do not believe that there were any others. It is possible that there were others.

Q. I come now to the question which His Honour, Judge Halevi, asked you about the Kasztner Report, which you have said was written up by the late Dr. Kasztner only and not by the committee, as I understood you. You were asked for your opinion on a particular passage which seems to be claiming - or at least so you seem to have understood it - that you wished to exclude Kasztner from the talks. Perhaps you would read this passage again. It appears to me that that is not the meaning of what is said in the report. I would refer you to page 34, fifth paragraph, to which Dr. Halevi referred you.

A. This paragraph is substantially correct.

Q. In other words, that Grosz was the person who wished to exclude Kasztner, and not yourself?

A. That he wanted to go with me instead of Kasztner, that he arranged things so that he would go instead of me.

Judge Halevi: Perhaps the Attorney-General would also ask the witness about the continuation of this matter, on page 36 in particular?

Attorney General: Which paragraph is that, Your Honour?

Judge Halevi: The penultimate one, where it says "from 8 to 17 May."

Attorney General: Mr. Brand, would you turn to page 36. It says there: "From 8 May to 17 May, negotiations with the Germans were conducted by Brand on his own." Is it true that for Eichmann you were the only one to appear for talks?

Witness Brand: The dates are incorrect, they are wrong. I was no longer there on 17 May. It started well before 8 May; and in the interim Kasztner was also in touch with Wisliceny and other Germans. I was summoned alone to Eichmann, and I spoke alone, and that started in the middle of April and finished on 15 May.

Q. In that case, the dates are not correct, but the fact is that you alone had the talks with Eichmann, so that here Dr. Kasztner is telling the truth?

A. Your Honour, what Kasztner is saying here is that I alone negotiated with the Germans. That is not correct. I negotiated with Eichmann; he spoke to Wisliceny.

Q. But you were alone in negotiating with Eichmann?

A. Yes. But it is wrong to say "I was excluded." I talked to him every hour.

Q. Is it therefore correct to say that Kasztner had no direct contacts with Eichmann?

A. As long as I was in Budapest, he did not have direct contact with Eichmann.

Q. So that he was excluded?

A. Yes and no. What does "excluded" mean? He did not speak to him directly, but I spoke to him hourly, and we spoke any number of times a day.

Q. Very well, we will leave the matter of interpretation to another occasion. Just one last question: I think this is entirely clear, but I would like to hear it from your own lips, Mr. Brand. The Court has repeatedly asked you whether you had misgivings about the Nazis' intentions; you knew that there were all sorts of intentions and attitudes, but you still agreed to go to Constantinople? May we say that you were prepared to make the trip because you saw it as a possibility of saving Jews, despite the Nazis' hidden intentions?

A. Yes, in every way.

Attorney General: I have no further questions.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius?

Dr. Servatius: I have just one question to the witness. Mr. Brand, you said that in Aleppo you did not mention to Mr. Shertok that the installations were to be blown up.

Witness Brand: I do not think I put it like that. I believe I said that I do not know...but that was why I had come, I cannot imagine that I would not have mentioned it...that is what I said.

Q. But it is not in the report.

A. The report is - I have now looked at it - a short precis of the conversation. It is not a verbatim report.

Q. This is in preparation for my question. You have already explained all of this. In the Kasztner Report, on page 36, where he speaks about the content of the offer, there is also no reference to the fact that this installation is to be blown up. There is no such reference.

A. I am sure...that you will find it in there.

Q. Now my question is as follows: You found it difficult to have your point accepted by the Jewish Agency, they were not prepared to believe you. Did you, on your own initiative, in order to get your offer accepted, on your own initiative, did you add something which Eichmann did not actually say?

A. I think you must have misunderstood me when you say that they did not believe me. What I wanted to say was that the things I talked about - these mass murders, this type of offer, these transactions involving people, and so on - sounded so unbelievable that it was difficult to get it into someone's head...that is the meaning on which I was expressing myself.

Q. Mr. Brand, you can answer yes or no to my question: Did you, in order to succeed in your mission, add something which Eichmann did not say, namely that he had also promised that the installations at Auschwitz would be blown up? Simply, yes or no.

A. No.

Dr. Servatius: I have no further questions.

Presiding Judge: Thank you Mr. Brand; that concludes your testimony.

Judge Halevi: I should like to add something in honour of the witness. I should simply like to point out that Mr. Sharett stresses especially that he found Mr. Brand extremely trustworthy and honest, and that he in no way queried the credibility of his report.

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