The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 68
(Part 1 of 9)

Session No. 68

23 Sivan 5721 (7 June 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the sixty-eighth Session of the trial open.

Decision No. 72

We confirm the request of the Attorney General and will permit the exhibition of films to illustrate the evidence of the Prosecution witnesses, on condition that the films will be sufficiently authenticated.

For reasons of security, because of the blacking-out of the hall during the screening, the public, with the exception of journalists, will not be permitted to be in the Courtroom at the time of the screening.

Attorney General: I would ask Mr. Dinur to mount the witness stand.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Dinur: Yes.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Yehiel Dinur.

Attorney General: Mr. Dinur, you live in Tel Aviv, at 78 Rehov Meggido, and you are a writer?

Witness Dinur: Yes.

Q. You were born in Poland?

A. Y

es. Q. And you were the author of the books Salamandra, The House of Dolls, The Clock Above the Head and They called Him Piepel?

A. Yes.

Q. What was the reason that you hid your identity behind the pseudonym "K. Zetnik," Mr. Dinur?

A. It was not a pen name. I do not regard myself as a writer and a composer of literary material. This is a chronicle of the planet of Auschwitz. I was there for about two years. Time there was not like it is here on earth. Every fraction of a minute there passed on a different scale of time. And the inhabitants of this planet had no names, they had no parents nor did they have children. There they did not dress in the way we dress here; they were not born there and they did not give birth; they breathed according to different laws of nature; they did not live - nor did they die - according to the laws of this world. Their name was the number "Kazetnik".* {*23Kazett=Konzentrationslager - Katzetnik: inmate of a concentration camp} They were clad there, how would you call it...

Q. Yes. Is this what you wore there? [Shows the witness the prison garb of Auschwitz.]

A. This is the garb of the planet called Auschwitz. And I believe with perfect faith that I have to continue to bear this name so long as the world has not been aroused after this crucifixion of a nation, to wipe out this evil, in the same way as humanity was aroused after the crucifixion of one man. I believe with perfect faith that, just as in astrology the stars influence our destiny, so does this planet of the ashes, Auschwitz, stand in opposition to our planet earth, and influences it.

If I am able to stand before you today and relate the events within that planet, if I, a fall-out of that planet, am able to be here at this time, then I believe with perfect faith that this is due to the oath I sworn to them there. They gave me this strength. This oath was the armour with which I acquired the supernatural power, so that I should be able, after time - the time of Auschwitz - the two years when I was a Musselman, to overcome it. For they left me, they always left me, they were parted from me, and this oath always appeared in the look of their eyes.

For close on two years they kept on taking leave of me and they always left me behind. I see them, they are staring at me, I see them, I saw them standing in the queue...

Q. Perhaps you will allow me, Mr. Dinur, to put a number of questions to you, if you will agree?

A. [Tries to continue] I remember...

Presiding Judge: Mr. Dinur, kindly listen to what the Attorney General has to say.

[Witness Dinur rises from his place, descends from the witness stand, and collapses on the platform. The witness fainted.]

Presiding Judge: I think we shall have to adjourn the session. I do not think that we can continue.

Attorney General: I did not anticipate this.

Presiding Judge: [After some time] I do not think that it is possible to go on. We shall adjourn the Session now, and please, Mr. Hausner, inform us of the condition of the witness and whether he will at all be able to give his testimony today. And I would ask you to do so soon.

[The Session was resumed.]

Attorney General: With the Court's permission, in view of the unfortunate incident that has taken place, I shall have to arrange the evidence on Auschwitz differently. It was intended that Mr. Dinur should give us a general description, so that the other witnesses could supplement it on various partial aspects. I ask the Court's indulgence if the picture now will not be presented in the manner in which we originally planned. The witness Dinur will not be able to continue his evidence, I understand. He has been taken away from this building and his state of health will not permit him to continue.

I call Joseph Zalman Kleinman.

[The witness makes an affirmation.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Joseph Zalman Kleinman.

Attorney General: You live in Jerusalem, at 76 Shuk Beit Yisrael?

Witness Kleinman: That is my place of work.

Q. What is your home address?

A. 14 Rehov Hayeshiva.

Q. You were born on 30 January 1930?

A. Yes.

Q. And when you were 14 you were taken to Auschwitz?

A. Yes.

Q. You were there together with your father, your mother and your little sister?

A. Yes.

Q. Where were you taken from?

A. From the town Zeliz (Zeliezovce) in the Carpatho-Russian district.

Q. Where were you separated from the members of your family?

A. At the railway station at Auschwitz.

Q. Who separated you?

A. A group of officers stood there. I was supporting my father - my father was week due to the fact that there was no water on the train. My brother, aged fifteen, walked ahead of me. He was sent off along with those who went to work. They separated me, too, from my father. They sent my father to one side, and my brother and I were sent with the adults to work.

Q. Did you ever see any of the members of your family again, after this?

A. I never saw any of them.

Q. What happened to them?

A. They were taken to the gas chambers.

Q. They were taken to the gas chambers at Auschwitz?

A. Yes.

Q. What camp were you brought to?

A. To Camp A. That was the first camp, overlooking the town of Auschwitz.

Q. And, later on, they took away all the boys under sixteen?

A. Yes.

Q. And where were they taken to?

A. The youngest among them were fourteen. Thirteen year olds were hardly ever put into the camp, but they were sent off with their mothers to the gas chambers. They removed all the youths between the ages of fourteen and sixteen from the huts of the adults. Altogether they gathered five hundred youths, and another five hundred such boys were also taken from another camp, and they transferred us to Camp D. Afterwards I learned that there had been a general instruction not to allow boys under the age of sixteen to leave the Auschwitz camp and to be sent to camps set up as labour camps.

Q. Was this, now, still at Auschwitz or at Birkenau?

A. All this took place at Birkenau.

Q. Where were the crematoria and the gas chambers - at Birkenau or at Auschwitz?

A. At Birkenau. The first two crematoria were at the two ends of the railway station - one was near the camp of Gypsies at the end of the Krankenbau (sick wards) camp - Camp F.

Q. Were you forbidden to leave the place?

A. Yes. That was in Camp D. They housed us in two huts - Hut 27 and Hut 25. I was in Hut 26. Since this was a labour camp, the Auschwitz main camp, they were all old- timers, all of them with numbers on their arms, and we, the young ones, were new and without numbers. I do not know for what purpose they brought us there and shut us in...

Q. Did some of the youths manage to steal out from time to time?

A. Yes.

Q. For what purpose?

A. They used to go to the Sonderkommando, those who were working at the gas chambers, who were in a separate camp. Their two barracks were enclosed by walls, and their parade ground was also surrounded by a wall, so that there could be no contact with the rest of the people. And since all of them went out to work, leaving behind only us, the boys, one thousand boys and the night shift of the Sonderkommando remained behind in the camp, we sometimes went secretly, through the rear gate to the Sonderkommando. They had all kinds of good things in the barracks. We stole in there to get food and prayer-books.

Q. Did you also sneak in there?

A. Yes. Three times I succeeded in doing so.

Q. Did you come into contact with the Sonderkommando?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know what their work was?

A. Yes. They were employed in burning people and in removing them from the gas chambers.

Q. Were they all Jews?

A. They were all Jews. We always used to sneak in there, but we did not say much to them. Silence always prevailed there. It was never possible to see a smile there, despite the fact that they had very good conditions in their hut - not like the rest of the people in the camp.

Q. Did they feed them well?

A. Yes. The people who emptied the gas chambers had excellent conditions in the two huts.

Q. After that, did you see any member of the Sonderkommando alive?

A. I did not see any of them. They were transferred from there - we were very green.

Q. Do you remember an instance when a boy was flogged?

A. Yes.

Q. Tell us about it.

A. When we were in Camp B in Hut 25, I once saw the assistant of the barracks commander walking with a rubber hose to flog one of the boys. I got off my bunk (we were not working and we sat on the bunks all day) and I wanted to see who was going to be flogged. I saw him approaching one of the bunks and ordering one of the youths, about fourteen years old, to get off his bunk and he began flogging him. We stood there - a number of youths - and watched the scene.

A sight such a this could be seen frequently in the hut, but this time something special occurred; this boy did not shout, he did not cry, not even a sigh escaped his lips. We stood around him and counted the blows together with the man administering them. We counted twenty, we counted thirty blows, and all of us were astonished. We had never seen anything like it - he did not shout, he did not utter a whisper. After the fortieth blow the deputy commander of the barracks turned him over on the floor and continued flogging him on his face, on his legs, on his back, and he did not utter a sound - just as if it were not he who was being hit. He finished after striking the fiftieth blow and went out, leaving him.

Several of us youths went up to him and helped him get up from the floor. We asked him: "What did you do? Why were you flogged?" He answered: "It was worthwhile. I brought my companions a number of prayer-books that they could use for praying."

Q. Later on there was an outbreak of scarlet fever?

A. I want to mention here that we had half a set of phylacteries in the hut, the part that is worn on the arm, and it was constantly being handed around from morning to evening.

Q. You passed it to one another?

A. Yes.

Q. So that each one could wear it?

A. Yes - it was half a set of phylacteries - only the part for the arm.

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