The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 68
(Part 7 of 9)

Attorney General: This is the photograph of your class at Moravska Ostrova, before you were deported to Theresienstadt. Where are you in it - in the first row? Is that correct? [Shows the witness a photograph.]

A. The third from the left.

Q. Is that how you looked?

A. Yes.

Q. What happened to all these children appearing in this photograph - how many are there here?

A. About forty-five.

Q. What happened to them?

A. They all came to Theresienstadt and afterwards to Auschwitz. From among the boys I am the only survivor, and there is also one girl who came to Auschwitz at a later stage and she is also alive, today - in London.

Q. Only two survivors out of the whole of this class?

A. Yes. There is one girl who remained in Theresienstadt all the time and she is also alive.

Q. She hid herself. That is to say, three of you survived.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1326.

Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions?

Dr. Servatius: Witness, you said that in June 1944 Mrs. Edelstein said that Eichmann promised her that she would meet her husband again. I understood that to mean that nothing would happen to the two of them. Is that correct?

Witness Bakon: That is what Mrs. Edelstein also understood.

Q. Is that such an important event that you retained it in your memory, or perhaps did you get to know of it now from the stories of others?

A. I had known the Edelstein family from 1939. I got to know Arye Edelstein, Mrs. Edelstein and Jacob Edelstein very well in Theresienstadt. I used to spend all the day with Arye, and he was my best friend there. We played together all the time. In Birkenau and in the Czech Family Camp we were together all the time, and naturally, anything connected with him is well preserved in my memory.

Presiding Judge: And so, what is your answer to the question you were asked?

Witness Bakon: I beg your pardon?

Q. Do you remember the question you were asked?

A. Yes.

Q. What is your reply?

A. My answer is clear. I knew them well and it is not only now that I have remembered.

Dr. Servatius: Witness, you have already been questioned twice, on 22 February and on 22 March 1959, and then you did not mention this, despite the fact - as you say - that it was important. How do you explain that?

Witness Bakon: When I gave evidence for the first time in 1959, I was asked questions and I merely replied to the questions.

Presiding Judge: Was that on both occasions? I hear now that you gave evidence twice?

Witness Bakon: I am talking of my evidence at Yad Vashem.

Q. But you appeared there twice?

A. Yes.

Q. And does this reply cover both occasions? On both occasions did they ask you questions?

A. They were interested in certain matters.

Q. You did not tell it in narrative form, but you were questioned?

A. More or less.

Dr. Servatius: Isn't this a more detailed testimony of about 73 pages, a very detailed statement?

Witness Bakon: It was still not sufficiently detailed, in my opinion.

Presiding Judge: But it is a fact that you did not mention there the case of the Edelstein family?

Witness Bakon: I mentioned the case of the Edelstein family being executed, but I did not mention the details.

Q. The promise.

A. I mentioned that she was summoned and that they met at the crematorium, since this matter was more important at the time. After all, this took place two years ago.

Dr. Servatius: It is a fact that you said that Mr. Edelstein and his wife and son were shot, but you did not say that Eichmann had previously made a promise that nothing would happen to them?

Witness Bakon: I only said that Mrs. Edelstein returned from the gate of the camp and said that she had been promised - by Eichmann, obviously she wanted to see her husband - that they would soon meet again.

Presiding Judge: Did you say that at Yad Vashem?

Witness Bakon: No, I said that here.

Q. He is examining you on your testimony at Yad Vashem. There you did not mention Eichmann's promise?

A. No - there I only mentioned that they were executed.

Dr. Servatius: Witness, would you insist on that, if I were also to tell you that Eichmann was then in Hungary, in July 1944?

Witness Bakon: I can only repeat what I heard from Mrs. Edelstein, that she had been promised by Eichmann - whether it was some other officer who spoke in his name, I do not know. I only know what Mrs. Edelstein told us.

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

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

Attorney General: I only want to submit the testimony, if a doubt has arisen. Is this the evidence that you gave at Yad Vashem?

Witness Bakon: Yes.

Presiding Judge: On what page does this appear, Mr. Hausner?

Attorney General: It appears on page 21 at the top, Your Honour. It refers to the same date precisely.

"I think it was 14 July 1944. Once a car with SS men came and took Mrs. Edelstein, her mother Mrs. Ohlendorf, Arye and some other prominent persons, but Mrs. Edelstein was then confined to bed, seriously ill, with measles. The doctor said that it was impossible to move her in that condition, since she was ill, but they nevertheless took her. What happened to her and where they took her to - this I found out only afterwards, as I was informed by members of the Sonderkommando; we called these members the Sonderkommando, Israel Zuckermann and his brother Katriel Zuckermann. And that is the continuation of the story of Mr. Edelstein and his family. Jacob Edelstein was brought specially from Auschwitz and they were brought together, he with his wife and the son, at the crematorium. Jacob Edelstein was kept apart in Auschwitz 1."
Judge Halevi: Has he already identified this?

Attorney General: I believe so.

Presiding Judge: Have you already seen it?

Witness Bakon: Yes.

Q. Is this your evidence at Yad Vashem?

A. Yes.

Attorney General: And you did not give any other evidence in connection with this Trial? You did not make a statement to Bureau 06?

Witness Bakon: Perhaps I made a short statement.

Q. You submitted pictures, but no evidence?

A. Also written evidence at the beginning.

Q. That was already here, to the Prosecution, not during the investigations?

A. At the beginning, when everybody was asked if he knew anything, I referred to the matter of Edelstein and I reported the same facts which I have mentioned here.

Attorney General: That we must find out, for I do not have it with me. Perhaps the witness will remain and I will meanwhile search for this document. I did not know of its existence.

Presiding Judge: The evidence of the witness at Yad Vashem will be marked T/1327.

You said towards the beginning that you knew that you were doomed to die within six months. Did you get to know that from the records of the card-index?

Witness Bakon: Yes.

Q. Did any of you have access to the card-index?

A. There were prisoners who worked in the Politische Abteilung in the Political Department, and they had access to those cards. And they told us that they had seen our cards and on them it said "SB nach 6 Monaten" (SB after six months).

Q. What was the Political Department?

A. There was a political department of the Gestapo...

Q. I understand political prisoners?

A. No. There were prisoners who also worked in that department.

Q. The department was called the Political Department?

A. Yes.

Q. And that is where the card-index was?

A. The card-index was there, and they also gave us some numbers.

Q. Jews?

A. Jews and Poles.

Q. And was there any explanation for the fact that six months later you nevertheless remained alive?

A. I heard many explanations. The first explanation was that we were a group, the only camp that was organized, and they were afraid that we would avenge ourselves, which in fact is what we wanted to do.

Q. At any rate, these are only conjectures - you do not know it for certain?

A. I do not know it for certain.

Presiding Judge: Thank you Mr. Bakon. Please remain here a little longer, for the Attorney General wishes to try and locate your second statement.

Mr. Hausner, have you clarified anything in regard to this statement?

Attorney General: Yes. We have the statement of Mr. Yehuda Bakon which was already submitted here on 25 May 1961, when he handed over the drawings, and where he indeed mentioned the fact that he had spoken of his sworn statement. We do not have any other evidence. Therefore, I should like to ask the witness whether he remembers the statement made to Bureau 06, or whether he gave any evidence at all, for this does not appear in the file.

Witness Bakon: I gave evidence at the Russian Compound* {*police headquarters in Jerusalem} when all the people who knew anything about Eichmann were asked to submit their facts - I did so on two pages.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps these are they?

Attorney General: No, this was given at the Beth Ha'am* {*Location of the Eichmann Trial} in Jerusalem on 25 May 1961.

Presiding Judge: Have you found it?

Attorney General: The statement to which the witness refers - made at the Russian Compound - this we have not found.

Judge Halevi: In your evidence at the Russian Compound, which we do not have here, did you mention the matter concerning Eichmann?

Witness Bakon: Yes.

Presiding Judge: Did you mention, there, the name of Eichmann?

Witness Bakon: Yes.

Judge Halevi: When did you give it?

Witness Bakon: A few months ago, when an announcement was published that all those who had something to relate in connection with Eichmann should relate it.

Attorney General: This should have been in the file, but I have not found it. Possibly, since the witness made a very long statement at Yad Vashem, Bureau 06 did not file this evidence. We shall endeavour to check this.

Judge Halevi: Did Mrs. Edelstein report it to you in German - do you remember?

A. Yes, in German.

Q. Perhaps you can repeat her words in German?

A. "Es wurde mir versprochen, dass ich bald meinen Mann sehen werde und dass ich ihm bald werde schreiben koennen" (I was promised that I would be able to see my husband soon, and that I would soon be able to write to him).

Q. But now you did not mention Eichmann?

A. But she said that it had been promised to her by Eichmann.

Q. Please say it in the way she expressed it in German.

A. "05Es wurde mir durch Eichmann versprochen" oder "Eichmann liess mir sagen, dass ich bald meinen Mann sehen werde..." ("I was promised by Eichmann," or "Eichmann asked that I should be informed - that I would soon be able to see my husband...").

Q. Did she say whom she met at the gate?

A. No, she did not say that.

Q. Did you know at the time who Eichmann was?

A. Yes.

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