The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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

Q. But he was killed at Zamosc in 1944?

A. I don't know if this was at Zamosc. I met him when I came to the town of Grabow. I did not meet him later. At Grabow, I suggested that we get away together. But he said he still had family somewhere, he could not.

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

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

Presiding Judge: In what province in Poland is Chelmno?

Attorney General: Near Poznan, Sir.

Presiding Judge: Is it the same as Kulm?

Attorney General: Kulmhof.

Presiding Judge: In the Warthegau?

Attorney General: Yes.

Presiding Judge: [to witness] Is that so? [to interpreter] Please ask him about that.

A. [Answering the interpreter] Chelmno is in the Warthegau, in the province of Poznan.

Attorney General: I ask to call Mr. Zurawski.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Zurawski : Yiddish.

[Witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your name?

Witness: Mordechai Zurawski.

Attorney General: You live in Gedera?

Witness Zurawski : Yes.

Q. And you are a butcher by profession?

A. Yes.

Q. In the year 1944, you were in Loddz?

A. Yes.

Q. And you remember when the Loddz Ghetto was being evacuated, and Biebow told you that you were going to a labour camp in Leipzig, and everything would be fine there for us?

A. He said we were going to Leipzig, and: "If you Jews work well, all will be well with you."

Q. And they put you into railway carriages?

A. Yes, into freight cars, and we moved in the direction of Kolo.

Q. In the car there was something written in Polish?

A. In the car we found an inscription saying that we were going to our death.

Presiding Judge: An inscription in Yiddish?

Witness Zurawski : No, in Polish.

Q. What was it in Polish?

A. Jedziemy wagonem smierci (We are going in the death car).

Q. Did you believe it?

A. No.

Q. Where did the train arrive at?

A. The train arrived at Kolo.

Q. And from there?

A. From Kolo they transferred us into smaller waggons which went in the direction of Chelmno.

Q. When they took you out of the waggons, a few people were dead already?

A. There were four dead.

Q. When you arrived, did you meet Germans?

A. When we arrived at Chelmno, we met Germans.

Q. From what unit?

A. SS unit with the death's head symbol on their caps.

Q. They made you stand in rows?

A. They placed us in four rows and made us run.

Q. Where to?

A. Into the camp of Chelmno. From the station, it was some one hundred or two hundred metres. I don't remember exactly.

Q. Did they bring you into a palace?

A. No. We were in no palace. They drove us into a closed camp which you could call a gaol.

Q. Did they put something on your legs?

A. They put chains on our legs. I wish to state that they took out of the group which came with me six strong people, and I was one of them.

Q. And what happened to the others?

A. The others were led into a church.

Q. What happened to them later?

A. They spent the night there, and in the morning they led them into the forest.

Q. What happened to them?

A. They were driven in a heavy truck, and out there was a barrack with signs "To the Doctor," "Bathhouse". And each person was given a piece of soap in his hand with a towel, and they believed they were going to have a bath. But they led them away to be gassed.

Q. How do you know they got soap and a towel?

A. We saw everything, from a distance. They kept us at a distance, so that we should not get close to the people and talk to them, but we did see everything from afar.

Q. How many people could go in such a truck?

A. In one truck, between eighty and a hundred people.

Q. And you remained to work at Chelmno?

A. Yes.

Q. At first, they made you work in the Waldkommando (Forest Unit)?

A. Yes.

Q. What did they use you for there? What did you do?

A. In the Waldkommando, at first timber was being cut. We cut timber and heaped it up in measured piles. The timber was taken to the crematorium and was used to cremate the bodies of the people.

Q. How many crematoria were there in the wood?

A. There were two crematoria.

Q. Sometimes you were also working in the Sonderkommando?

A. Yes.

Q. What was done in the Sonderkommando?

A. The Sonderkommando had to throw the corpses out of the gas vans. There were cases where people were still alive when they took them out of the gas vans. There was one, the driver - his name was Hermann Gilow - when he saw a person who was still alive, he would take out a pistol and shoot him.

Q. What happened with the bones of the people after cremation?

A. They took the bones and burned them. Those that were not burned entirely were pounded like flour, and packed into sacks, and the sacks were carried into the water.

Q. How long were you in Chelmno, Mr. Zurawski?

A. I was in Chelmno, I don't remember exactly, some seven or eight months.

Q. Until when?

A. Until 17 January 1945.

Q. During the time you were there, how many people, more or less, were put to death in the gas vans?

A. While I was there, three transports of one thousand persons each came. Before that, some seven thousand persons had arrived. I heard this from the people who were there before me. All these persons were burned.

Q. Where did those people who were killed at Chelmno come from?

A. From Loddz, during the time I was there. But there were people from the vicinity of Loddz, not only from Loddz itself.

Q. Were there also people whom the Germans told to write letters to their families? Do you remember this?

A. Yes. This was when the people came into the doctor's room; a person in a white coat stood there and said: "Write a letter home that you are well here, and that you are going to work to Leipzig."

Q. And they would write the letters?

A. Yes.

Q. And what happened to them, to those people?

A. They would be burned just the same as the others.

Q. In September-October 1944, the SS men began to liquidate the camp. Correct?

A. Yes.

Q. They took apart the barracks?

A. We took them down. There were about a hundred men who remained for this work and to remove all traces. We took apart the crematoria and took apart the places where it said: "Bathhouse" and "To the Doctor." These were taken apart, and all this was carted off to Kolo, and we were taken away. They dressed us so that one could not tell that we were Jews.

Q. What happened to the gas vans?

A. The gas vans were also taken in the direction of Kolo.

Q. Do you remember the names of any SS men in Chelmno?

A. Yes, Obersturmfuehrer Bothmann.

Q. Was he the commander of the camp?

A. Yes. And also Meister Hoefle.

Presiding Judge: What is "Meister"?

Witness Zurawski : This was the man who issued the orders when people were sent to work in the camp.

Attorney General: Was he, too, an SS man?

Witness Zurawski : He was an SS man.

Q. Who was the deputy of Bothmann?

A. His right-hand man was Piller.

Q. What other names do you remember?

A. Lenz, Haase.

Q. Who else?

A. Those are the names I remember.

Q. Who was in charge of sorting the clothes?

A. There was one SS man, but I don't remember his name.

Q. From your people in the Arbeitskommando (Labour Unit), from your team, did they also kill some from time to time?

A. Certainly. Altogether forty-one of us remained. They killed the others. On Sunday there was no work. So they lined us up with bottles on our heads and had their game of target practice. Those whose bottle was hit stayed alive, and those they hit in the head - fell, and the others had to bury them.

Q. In January 1945, they put all of you, all who remained there, to death?

A. Yes. On 17 January, at night, we heard trucks coming in, and two SS men came in. Lenz came in. I recognized him. He came in with a flashlight and took five men outside. When they led out the five men we heard five shots. Then they came in and again called five men outside. This way, they led out three times five, that is fifteen men. Of those fifteen men, there is one who remained alive, Srebrnik, who was lying on top of the dead men.

Q. We shall call Srebrnik, and he will tell his story. After that, they took you out?

A. Yes. When they were coming in for the fourth group of five I was standing with a knife behind the door, and I threw myself upon the SS men who came in. I knocked out the light and swung with the knife right and left and escaped.

Q. And you made it to the forest?

A. I was hit in the leg, but I ran into the forest.

Q. There was a time when you worked with the belongings of the people in Chelmno?

A. Yes, the belongings from the transports.

Q. And were there many valuables to be sorted?

A. Yes, gold and the teeth. All this was taken from the people, and also all kinds of things that were hidden, the rings and the gold teeth, and these were put in a big box.

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

Dr. Servatius: No, I have no question to the witness.

Judge Halevi: You arrived at Chelmno in 1944?

Witness Zurawski : In 1944, approximately in July.

Q. Until then, you were in Loddz?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you see the gas vans in operation?

A. Yes.

Q. Did they function while stationary, or in motion?

A. When they moved away from the place where there were the signs "Bathhouse," "To the Doctor," they drove for about three hundred metres, up to the crematoria, and there they stopped. The bodies were already lifeless. But there were cases when people were still alive there.

Presiding Judge: Was any work done in Chelmno which was not connected with exterminating Jews?

Witness Zurawski : No.

Presiding Judge: Thank you, Mr. Zurawski, you have concluded your testimony.

The next Session will be tomorrow at nine o'clock in the morning.

Attorney General: Perhaps, with the Court's permission, so it should be clear why I shall bring another witness on the same subject: I shall submit the Polish report on Chelmno where it is said that that report was drawn up based on three testimonies by three witnesses, survivors of Chelmno: Podchlewnik on the initial period, and Srebrnik and Zurawski on the second period. There are no other survivors of the extermination camp at Chelmno. All three of them are in this country and, with the Court's permission, I shall summon the third witness for tomorrow.

Presiding Judge: Yes, and then you will also submit that report.

Attorney General: Certainly.

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