The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 66
(Part 8 of 9)

Presiding Judge: In each such building were there several chambers?

Witness Rosenberg: I have already said that this building had three chambers. Here, there were five on this side and five on that side. Once - and I remember this well - all the gas chambers were operating. Ten thousand people entered all at once, within forty-five minutes. This was a transport of thirteen thousand persons who had arrived on that day.

Q. Was each chamber hermetically sealed?

A. Yes, every chamber was sealed absolutely hermetically.

Q. How?

A. Here, there was a kind of folding door. Before the people went inside, we closed it. This was a door that opened downwards. We extracted the "clins."

Q. What are "clins"?

A. They were pieces of wood that used to hold the doors in place. When the door was folded and fell to the bottom, there were actually two boards there. One was on top of the door and the other at the bottom, and again, with these pieces of wood, these clins, we closed it hermetically and stood to the side. After thirty to forty minutes...

Q. Did you attend to this hermetic closing?

A. Yes, Sir. We closed it from the outside. Before that, the Germans stood on the ramp and watched what was going on inside. When they said "alles schlaeft," we opened it up and stood aside for three minutes until the fumes had dispersed, and then we removed them. We threw them down from this ramp.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Rosenberg, you have concluded your testimony.

Yesterday, a question arose concerning that book from Ramat Gan. What about it?

Attorney General: The man is here, perhaps we may hear him after the next witness, if the Court pleases.

Attorney General: I call the witness Avraham Lindwasser.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Lindwasser: Yes.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Avraham Lindwasser.

Q. How old are you now?

A. Forty-two.

Attorney General: You live in Givatayim, and you are an electrician by profession, is that correct?

Witness Lindwasser: Yes.

Q. You work for the Ministry of Defence - is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. On 28 August 1942, you arrived at Treblinka from Warsaw?

A. Correct.

Q. Was there some notice at the station, in German and Polish?

A. Correct.

Q. What did it say?

A. "Jews, after you have bathed and changed your clothes, the journey will continue to the east, to work."

Q. Did they allow you to alight quietly?

A. No.

Q. What happened?

A. They opened the freight cars, we heard the order:"Get out," there were shouts. We began getting off. They struck us with clubs all the time we were getting off, so that they did not give us an opportunity to understand where we were or what was happening; we were chased straight away to the square, and there we were ordered to hand over our money and jewellery; we were then told to remove our shoes.

Q. Who gave the orders?

A. We heard a voice - who it was, exactly...

Q. No, but who - to what unit did these people belong? Were they Germans or others?

A. Germans, SS men.

Q. And you did what you were ordered to do?

A. Yes.

Q. What happened to you after that?

A. Suddenly, we heard an order to line up. We lined up. We were made to stand there - again, all the time, I want to stress, with blows - they arranged us in rows, in threes. One of them passed through the ranks - later I heard that he was called the Hauptmann with the glasses, and he did wear glasses. He began asking us, one by one, what was his profession. When he reached me, he looked at me - I also wore glasses, in a gold frame. He asked me if that was gold. I said: "Yes." "And do you know what gold is, do you know what silver is, do you know what jewellery is?" I said: "Yes." I received a further blow from a club, and he told me to step forward. Next to me stood a Jew who was an electrical engineer, and he was also ordered to step forward. The two of us left the line. Apart from us, none of the transport stepped forward.

Q. How many people were there in that transport?

A. It is hard for me to say, but more than one thousand.

Q. Please look behind you. Are you able to tell the Court whether you recognize it, whether you can tell what it is?

A. Yes.

Q. What is it?

A. That is the Treblinka camp.

Q. Can you show the Court where, on the photograph, that incident occurred where that man approached you and asked you whether you knew how to distinguish between gold and silver?

A. It was at this spot [points to the photograph].

Q. In front of the huts where the people undressed?

A. Yes.

Q. You may return to your place.

When you came there, did you know what was the place you had arrived at?

A. No. I knew it was Treblinka, but we did not know the purpose.

Q. Had you heard about Treblinka in Warsaw?

A. We had heard about Treblinka.

Q. Did you know that Jews were being exterminated at Treblinka?

A. We did not believe it.

Q. You did not believe it. Why?

A. Why? This would, perhaps, be difficult to answer. Possibly, it is an individual matter for each person. One simply could not grasp that such a thing was possible - actual extermination. Rumours reached Warsaw that the Germans were sending people out to work. And simply, it was better to cling to this idea.

Presiding Judge: What is the distance between Warsaw and Treblinka, approximately?

Witness Lindwasser: About sixty kilometres.

Attorney General: Did you, already on that day, notice corpses?

Witness Lindwasser: Yes, after I was brought into the death camp.

Q. Was that Treblinka 1 or 2?

A. It was 2.

Q. What did you think it was?

A. At the beginning, when I entered the place - I was brought in by a German, also one of the SS - whose name I subsequently learned was Matthias. He took me inside, and we were immediately ordered to take hold of bodies and drag them towards the graves. At first, I thought that the corpses came from the freight cars, people who had died, who were suffocated in the cars, and I was certain that they were undergoing some kind of disinfection here and then buried.

Q. Towards evening, you again came across the Hauptmann with the glasses?

A. Correct.

Q. What did he say to you when he saw that you were dragging bodies?

A. Why was I carrying bodies? After all, I was a dentist.

Q. You were a dentist?

A. Yes. But that was the first time I heard this word "dentist".

Q. What did he do to you?

A. He pulled me by the sleeve, seized me by the hand, by the sleeve, dragged me by force, again with blows - I want to stress this, although I have already stressed it - and he brought me to a well. Next to the well, there were basins with gold teeth and also pairs of forceps for extracting teeth. He ordered me to take a pair of forceps and to extract the teeth from the bodies by the side of the cabins.

Q. This was adjoining the gas chambers?

A. Next to the small gas chambers.

Q. Before the men transferred the bodies to the pit?

A. Before they were taken to the pits.

Q. And you did this?

A. Yes.

Q. And you were doing this work until the outbreak of the revolt in Treblinka?

A. Not exactly. I was occupied in this work for approximately one month, a month and a half, perhaps less, perhaps more, until once I recognized my sister's body.

Q. She was lying there, dead?

A. Yes.

Q. What did you do then?

A. Then, the commander of our group was Dr. Zimmermann; I asked him to take me back to the cabin, I could not continue with this.

Presiding Judge: Who was this Zimmermann?

Witness Lindwasser: Dr. Zimmermann was the Kapo of the dentists.

Q. A Jewish Kapo?

A. A Jewish Kapo, yes, but nevertheless one deserving of commendation.

Q. What did you request of him?

A. That he should take me off teeth extraction and put me on to cleaning the teeth in the cabin, inside the building where we were living.

Q. Teeth were being cleaned there?

A. Teeth were being cleaned there.

Attorney General: And you were transferred there?

Witness Lindwasser: Yes.

Q. How much gold from teeth was sent out of Treblinka each week?

A. Each week two suitcases were sent off, each of them containing about eight to ten kilograms.

Q. Where were they sent to?

A. They were delivered again to this Matthias, who was the chief of our camp - in fact, the chief of our barracks, of the building where we lived - and he told us that they were dispatching them to Berlin.

Q. Were they gold teeth only?

A. Gold teeth and also false teeth, that is to say, they were removed from the artificial frame.

Presiding Judge: They used to remove false teeth as well?

Witness Lindwasser: False teeth as well.

Q. Made of what material?

A. The artificial frame itself...

Q. What was the value of this material?

A. For them, the value was evidently that of the teeth only, for they ordered us to throw the artificial frames into the pits. We used to remove the teeth only, with a flame. We used to heat them, the teeth would come out, and the frames were thrown into the pits.

Q. You removed the gold teeth from the frames?

A. Not only gold - porcelain also.

Attorney General: Rings, wedding rings? Did you handle those?

Witness Lindwasser: There were some, but not many. They hardly reached us. As far as we knew, they removed them already in Camp 1.

Q. How did the Germans describe the transports of Jews? What was the expression?

A. They called these bodies Die Figuren (the figures), and they called the actual transport by all kinds of disreputable expressions.

Q. Such as?

A. "Die Scheisse, die Lumpen" (the shit, the scoundrels), and other such terms.

Q. What did you do on the first night you reached the place?

A. After I knew what my job was to be, I could not stand it. I tried to commit suicide. I was already hanging by my belt, when a bearded Jew - I don't know his name - took me down. He began preaching to me, that while the work in which we were going to be engaged was contemptible and not the kind of thing one ought to do, nevertheless, we should tolerate it and ought to make efforts, so that at least someone should survive who would be able to relate what was happening here, and this would be my duty, since I had light work and would be able to go on living and be of help to others.

Q. Were you working near the gas chambers?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you notice anything at the entrance?

A. The entrance to which chambers? For while we worked at the gas chambers, inside the corridor of the small gas chambers, we also could see the gas chambers at the end. On one occasion, I was even taken - again by that Matthias - to the first camp, in order to fetch pairs of forceps for extracting teeth, since extra men had been added to our group.

We passed by the large chambers and, on the way back, I saw a big curtain at the entrance to the large chambers, a curtain used to cover the Ark containing the Torah Scrolls with the Shield of David on it, and on the curtain there was the inscription: "This is the gate of the Lord, through which the righteous shall enter."

Q. In Hebrew?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Was that a curtain of the Ark from a synagogue?

Witness Lindwasser: It was a curtain for the Ark - whether it was precisely from a synagogue, I do not know. But it was of quite large dimensions - it measured three by four metres, something like that.

Attorney General: Was there normally contact between you and Treblinka 1?

A. Not normally.

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