The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 65
(Part 2 of 6)

Q. In the casino you were engaged in cleaning, cooking and serving?

A. Yes. I was engaged in cleaning, cooking and serving. I also had a special uniform, and I used to change it twice daily, and I also took a shower before serving.

Q. On the day the plane arrived, did the Jews go out to work?

A. No. Again, they did not go out to work. We prepared special food, and I remember that they ate horse-flesh - that was something "special".

Presiding Judge: Was this prepared for the officers?

Witness Bahir: No, for the Jews, a festive meal. On that day - the day of Himmler's second visit - the Jews did not go out to work.

Judge Halevi: On the second occasion was it without Himmler?

Witness Bahir: Himmler was there also.

Q. Exactly the same officers?

A. Not exactly the same officers. On the first occasion, I saw Himmler, Eichmann; the three civilians were not present on the second occasion. They were escorted on the second occasion by officers armed with guns. I did not notice any guards on the first visit. This was apparently Himmler's personal guard.

Presiding Judge: How much time elapsed between the two visits?

Witness Bahir: About seven months, from July 1942 to February 1943.

Q. Did these officers, Himmler and the others, go into the casino?

A. On the first occasion, they did not enter the casino.

Q. And when you worked in the casino?

A. Yes. On the day of that visit, when he had already returned from Camp 3. He visited only Camp 3, accompanied by Franz Reichleitner, who was camp commander at that time.

Q. Where did you see them?

A. My immediate superior in the casino, Paul Breidorf, heard from Unterscharfuehrer Beckmann, who had returned from Camp 3, that the visitors were soon coming back from there. He was not even aware that the plane had already landed; as soon as he heard this, he sent me hurriedly to the camp with my friend, Joseph Pines. When I arrived there, the gate was locked, and by the time the Ukrainian guard opened the gate they had already come quite near, two or three metres away, and then I recognized them.

Attorney General: Mr. Bahir, at what intervals did the transports arrive at Sobibor - roughly, as far as you are able to remember? Did a train arrive every day?

Witness Bahir: I remember certain periods. I remember a period when there were fewer trains; during the first period, when I was selected for work, fewer transports arrived - two transports came daily; perhaps there had been an instruction not to send so many.

Q. I am not asking you about instructions. My question is: What did you see? Who arrived?

A. Later on, there was a time when many transports arrived - two each day, sometimes three. One at night, which had to wait until morning, and two more during the day. There were several such periods. The peak period which I can remember was from May to July, August 1942. The second period was from October 1942 to the beginning of January 1943, when there were again many transports, two, and sometimes three, daily.

Q. May I have exhibit T/1294, the photograph which the previous witness identified?

[Shows it to the witness.] Can you identify the man in this picture?

A. Yes. He was called "Hauptmann" - I remember him well. He was the first commandant, before Franz Reichleitner.

Q. What was his name?

A. I don't remember his name exactly - Waran or Wirren; They called him Hauptmann, he was always riding on horseback with a long cape in the direction of Camp 3. Wiron, or something like that. I don't remember his name.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions?

Dr. Servatius: Witness, you said you recognized Eichmann in a photograph that was shown to you in Lublin. In which office was that? Perhaps it would be possible to obtain the photograph some time today?

Witness Bahir: Certainly. I saw the picture at the Institute of Documentation in Lublin and a second time about one and a half or nearly two years afterwards. A book was published in Poland in three languages. The title of the book was We Shall Never Forget - both in English and French. It consists of photographs only, and amongst them there is one on which I recognized Eichmann.

Q. Would that be a photograph from the camp at Sobibor?

A. No.

Q. You said that a luxury train arrived - approximately how many officers alighted from that train?

A. I don't remember the exact number, perhaps eleven or twelve, together with civilians, I mean.

Q. What kind of uniform were the military men amongst them wearing - black or green?

A. The army men wore green SS uniforms. Himmler wore a long leather coat over his uniform. The civilians were wearing Bavarian caps with feathers.

Q. Did the man whom you thought was Eichmann wear spectacles?

A. I do not remember.

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

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, do you have any further questions to put to the witness?

Attorney General: I have nothing more to ask.

Judge Raveh: I believe you said that in Lublin you identified four or five men. Did you say that?

Witness Bahir: Correct.

Q. Whom did you identify?

A. From the second visit, in February 1943, I identified in the photograph Himmler, Eichmann and Kaltenbrunner. I don't remember the name of the fourth man. That was on the second visit.

Q. That means that both Himmler and Kaltenbrunner, as well as Eichmann, took part in the second visit?

A. Yes, but there were also others.

Q. And of the men who took part in the first visit you identified only Himmler and Eichmann, or was there anyone else?

A. Only Himmler and Eichmann.

Judge Halevi: You were asked by Defence Counsel whether you saw that photograph again - the one in which you recognized or identified them in 1945.

Witness Bahir: I do not understand the question.

Q. I only want you to understand this properly. You identified Eichmann only after the event, in Lublin, in the year...?

A. In 1945.

Q. You were asked: You saw it in an album, in a set of photographs - did you see the same picture, the same photograph, the photograph in the album, another time, at any time, again? I understood you to say "yes". Did it appear in some collection?

A. Yes. It appeared in a book entitled We Shall Never Forget, which was published in three languages.

Q. Where is the book to be found?

A. Here, in Israel.

Q. Can you produce it here?

A. Yes. There is a copy in the library of the Gymnasium "Ohel Shem" in Ramat Gan. A neighbour of mine was a pupil there a year or eighteen months ago, and he was the one who brought me the book from the school library.

Q. Are you prepared - should anyone make such a request - to bring the book here?

A. Definitely.

Q. Is that a copy of the same photograph which you saw in Lublin in 1945?

A. Yes. It was the same photograph I saw in Lublin in 1945.

Q. And you then identified Eichmann according to it?

A. Yes. By means of this photograph, I identified both Eichmann and Himmler.

Q. You said it was a photograph which shows four officers, if I understood you correctly.

A. No. The photograph showed more, but I identified the four officers in it. There are more in the photograph.

Q. That means you identified Eichmann there as one of a group?

A. Yes.

Q. In other words, it was not a photograph of one individual?

A. The photograph I saw at the Institute of Documentation was not taken at Sobibor. In this photograph I saw some of the officers who visited Sobibor.

Q. did you see anyone else in this picture of those who were on that visit - apart from Eichmann?

A. Yes, I identified Himmler, Kaltenbrunner, Eichmann, and I don't remember the name of the fourth. That was in February 1943.

Q. They were there?

A. Yes.

Q. And they are in the photograph which is at Ramat Gan?

A. Yes.

Attorney General: I believe this is the book - if the witness is able to identify it.

Witness Bahir: Yes - that is the book.

Judge Halevi: Please look at it and see whether you can find the photograph.

Attorney General: I am not sure that this is the same edition.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bahir, have you found it?

Witness Bahir: Yes. This is the photgraph, but not the complete one. Perhaps there is another one.

Presiding Judge: Please sit on that chair next to the wall. Keep looking for the photograph until you find it. Meanwhile, let us continue with another testimony.

Attorney General: I call Mr. Biskowitz.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Ya'akov Biskowitz.

Q. You are a policeman?

A. I am a constable employed at the National Headquarters of the Israel Police. My number is 8877.

Presiding Judge: Please answer Mr. Hausner's questions.

Attorney General: Mr. Biskowitz, at the beginning of June 1942, you were taken with your family from Hrubieszow to the Sobibor camp?

Witness Biskowitz: Correct.

Q. What was the distance from Hrubieszow to Sobibor?

A. The distance from Hrubieszow to Sobibor was about sixty kilometres.

Presiding Judge: How old were you at that time?

Witness Biskowitz: Fifteen and a half.

Attorney General: How long did the journey take?

Witness Biskowitz: Perhaps I was wrong, and the distance was slightly longer. The journey continued all night, but we were also kept in the freight cars for a whole day. The train also halted at times on the way. When we arrived at Sobibor - and we were not yet aware of that - we travelled back and forth, until we came right into the camp.

Q. When you got there, you met a number of SS men. Do you remember their names?

A. More or less, but not all of them. There I came across - this I learned afterwards - Tomella, Wagner, Fraenzel, Paul Grott and others - Gerchow, Hermann Mueller.

Q. You were asked if there were any carpenters amongst the arrivals - is that so?

A. Yes. As it happened, they selected carpenters from our transport.

Q. And your father and you stated that you were carpenters?

A. It was not exactly like that. They chose my father who was a carpenter. I, who was a young boy, was taken along by my father. Out of that transport, they took about twelve men, three carpenters, three builders, and also a number of men for other tasks.

Q. What happened to all the others?

A. As for the others, I saw that the women were sent to the right-hand side, and the men to the left. I saw the women being taken rapidly, urged on by blows, in the direction of Camp 3. Two hours later, more or less, the same thing happened to the men.

Q. What kind of work did you do at Sobibor?

A. At the outset, from the first day, I worked together with everybody else. We were engaged in constructing the camp, putting up barbed-wire fences; we dragged branches from a distance of about three kilometres at the double. There were eighty men, and almost all of them worked on this. They selected two hundred men from the transports which arrived. And when the men from the transport had finished the job, they were all exterminated; they were taken to the Lazarette - which means a hospital - in a small forest, and there they were put them to death by shooting, so that they fell into the pits.

Q. Was it really a hospital?

A. No, they gave it the name of Lazarette.

Judge Halevi: What was Camp 3?

Witness Biskowitz: Camp 3 was a camp which contained dead men only. About eighty men, who had been selected from my transport, worked there; they worked there for approximately eight months. There was not a living soul there, apart from the eighty men who were working.

Attorney General: Were the gas chambers there?

Witness Biskowitz: Precisely.

Judge Halevi: And what did these eighty men do?

Witness Biskowitz: These eighty men who had been chosen from the transport, were transferred to Camp 3 and worked with the bodies which fell out of the gas chambers; they burned them.

Attorney General: Were you also engaged in this work for some time?

Witness Biskowitz: No, I worked at Camp 3.

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