The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 73
(Part 7 of 9)

Dr. Servatius: It is also possible to translate it "I think." But these doctors have very soft hearts, and they tend to give these certificates in abundance. Such certificates are not acceptable to a Court, if the other side does not agree to their submission. We need an official confirmation here. Previously, it was said in the first certificate that the witness was unable to travel by plane, and in the second certificate it says that he cannot be examined at all. I should not be deprived of the opportunity of cross-examination, which can then be compared with the cross-examination of some of the witnesses.

I want to add something else, namely, that I have a feeling that this affidavit is very long and constitutes, in my opinion, the combined efforts of several people, which the witness confirmed retrospectively as his own. This, too, will have to be cleared up.

[State Attorney Bach tries to reply.]

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, we cannot convert this into a matter that there should be a right to a further reply. What do you want to raise? Only something very essential.

State Attorney Bach: Just one sentence, in order to show that there is, in fact, no contradiction between the two medical certificates. Defence Counsel wanted to argue as if there were a conflict between them, and I wanted to insist that no such conflict exists. As it says here: "He is certainly unable to travel by air at the present time and testify at a trial." At most, it could be said that it is insufficiently clear whether the expression means that he is not capable of testifying in a trial at all, or whether he is incapable of travel by air in order to testify in a particular trial. For this reason, we have the second certificate, in order to clarify this matter.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 78

We are not prepared to apply Section 15 of the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law 5710-1950, in order to admit the statement of Dr. Imre Reiner, which was made in October 1960, in view of the fact that Defence Counsel will not be able to cross-examine Dr. Reiner. We reject State Attorney Bach's application. Do you have anything further, Mr. Bach?

State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour. Attached to T/1156, there is the affidavit of Dr. Ernoe Boda, of Budapest. Here, Dr. Boda certified that certain pages of the book, which was published in Hungarian, contain a minute of a meeting which had taken place on 31 March 1944, and that these pages corresponded to the original minute which he had written, and that this minute was a correct and faithful copy. At the time, I attached to this affidavit a German translation of that minute, although the affidavit referred to the pages of the book in Hungarian. I notified the Court then that I would submit a further affidavit by the translator, who would attest his German translation; that is to say, that he would certify that the German translation corresponded to the text in the book in Hungarian.

I now wish to submit the affidavit of Police Officer Amram Blum, who is fluent in both languages, and who confirms there the text of the German translation of those pages in Hungarian. Actually, he corrected the style of many expressions in that transcript which I submitted at the time, and since I want to submit a translation which is as exact as possible, I request the Court to accept Mr. Blum's statement with an annex to the exact translation of those pages written in the Hungarian language. Perhaps it would be possible to attach this to the same exhibit T/1156.

Presiding Judge: Do you have any comments, Dr. Servatius?

Dr. Servatius: I have no formal objection. I shall express my views on the value of the document.

Presiding Judge: We shall mark the document T/1156A.

State Attorney Bach: I should like to present some information to the Court. Through our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we approached the Hungarian Government in regard to the record of proceedings which was drawn up at the time, according to the evidence of the witness, Tibor Ferencz, concerning his discussion with the Ministers Endre and Baky, under circumstances which he described. We received a reply that the matter was actually receiving attention, but we have not yet obtained an answer as to whether these records were found. As soon as a reply is received, I shall advise the Court.

There is one further matter. The Court will remember the incident concerning the children of Lidice. There was another document there in the Czech language which confirmed certain details concerning those children. I have examined the document once again and noticed that it contains certain inaccuracies. There is no distinction made between the children who were sent at the time from Lodz to the Generalgouvernement and the children who were then sent to Germany to become "Germanized". In the absence of such a distinction, it is difficult for me to ask the Court to rely on that document.

Presiding Judge: What is the reference number of the document?

State Attorney Bach: The document was not submitted.

Presiding Judge: Was that after Dr. Servatius maintained that these children were well treated? Is that right?

State Attorney Bach: That was not his argument in relation to this particular document. He argued that generally, in the case of those children. He said so when I attempted to submit the evidence of one of these girls, Hanfova, who testified in Germany. In fact, no distinction is drawn there between those children who were sent to Germany and those who were sent to the Generalgouvernement.

We, therefore, approached the Czech Government once again, in order to clarify the matter and to inform us exactly what happened to these children, as far as the Czech Government was aware; on this point, too, we shall advise the Court as soon as we receive a reply.

Presiding Judge: [To Attorney General.] You now have two further witnesses?

Attorney General: Yes. I call Mr. Shalom Cholawski.

[Mr. Cholawski mounts the witness stand.]

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Cholawski: Yes. I should like to make an affirmation.

Presiding Judge: Why?

Witness Cholawski: If I have that right, I should like to exercise it.

Presiding Judge: That is your right as a non-believer, I understand.

Witness Cholawski: I ask to be given this right.

Presiding Judge: But I am obliged to ascertain the reason. There are two reasons...

Witness Cholawski: I should like to be sworn in a manner in which I believe with complete faith.

Presiding Judge: All right.

[The witness makes an affirmation.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Shalom Cholawski.

Presiding Judge: I want to explain to you, right at the beginning of your evidence, that we have allowed you to testify, but that it must be clear that it is quite impossible, within the ambit of your evidence, to unfold in its entirety the episode which, I understand, you are about to describe. This must be clear to you.

Attorney General: Mr. Cholawski, you are a member of Kibbutz Ein Hashofet?

Witness Cholawski: Yes.

Q. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, you lived at home with your parents in Nesvizh in Belorussia?

A. Correct.

Q. In 1942, there was a revolt in the Nesvizh Ghetto?

A. Correct.

Q. When the Germans, with the aid of the Lithuanians and others, intended to execute the Jews?

A. Yes.

Q. Perhaps you would tell us, briefly, how this uprising happened and ended, and what you did subsequently?

A. On 21 July, at night, the Germans surrounded the ghetto and announced that there would be a selection in the ghetto. It was after the Germans had made a selection for the first time on 30 October 1941 and brought four thousand Jews, 85 per cent of the Jews of our town, alongside two large pits near the town. At this order of the Germans, the Jews declared: "We shall not go to the selection!" The Germans burst into the ghetto, firing shots.

Q. What German unit was it?

A. It was a unit of German SS and Lithuanians, a unit which the Germans established to serve them, to help them. They burst in, firing shots, an underground outpost returned the fire, Germans fell. The Jews, upon a signal from the underground, set fire to the ghetto. We set the ghetto alight, and the Jews burst through the barbed-wire fences, through the bunkers; some of them were saved, and others perished in the ghetto. But the Jews did not go to the selection. I was one of those who broke out of the ghetto and reached the forest.

Q. What did you find in the forest?

A. In the forest, I found the survivors of the Jewish townships that had been previously destroyed, parts of Jewish families, only parts, broken up - fathers, mothers, old women, children. They were in the forest, amongst the undergrowth, and were naturally afraid to come out of these hiding places.

Q. What did you set up there?

A. We set up a Jewish fighting detachment; we established family camps for these Jews, which we protected; they were under our protection.

Q. Under whose protection?

A. The protection of the Jewish fighting force, the Jewish partisans.

Q. Those who were called "partisans"?

A. Yes.

Q. What did you do in order to remove other Jews from the ghetto to the forest?

A. We wrote letters to the ghettos in the vicinity. This was in the summer of 1942, when a great holocaust swept through Belorussia and the Ukraine, and the largest ghettos and a few small ones were left only as embers after a fire. We established contact with the nearby ghettos; we wrote letters to them; we sent a special emissary to one of the nearby ghettos, but he fell in the approaches to the ghetto - he did not manage to reach it. Not many Jews came out. One must understand that there were many obstacles, at the time, in the way of Jews wanting to reach the forest. In the first place, the collective responsibility which was most depressing.

Q. What do you mean by "collective responsibility"?

A. That meant - if a number of Jews left the ghetto and disappeared, the entire ghetto was likely to be destroyed, on account of the disappearance of some Jews.

Secondly, there was a lack of weapons - and without arms, it was impossible to exist in the forest or in the vicinity.

Thirdly, there were the closest family ties. Children were not able, and did not want, to leave their parents; mothers with babies were unable to get out, since it was impossible to maintain babies in the forest. The babies would also reveal the hiding places of the Jews.

In the fourth place, where there was a choice between what was in store for a Jew in the ghetto and what he could expect in the forest, the simple Jew preferred to remain in the company of other Jews. The forest filled the Jew with fear. The Jew and the forest were two concepts apart - they were always remote from each other. He did not see before him a chance of existing in the forest, and for these reasons the Jews paid a heavy price. Generally speaking, they did not leave unless they were trying to escape from extermination.

Q. Did you manage to liberate a forced labour camp?

A. Yes.

Q. Which one?

A. In 1943, in January, together with a partisan from my section named Posisodski, I planned the liberation of the forced labour camp at Sverze. There were two hundred and fifty Jews there who were working in a sawmill. This man, disguised in farmer's clothing, went into the sawmill as if he had come to buy wood, made contact with his brother-in- law who was inside the camp, and, in the course of the half day that remained, the whole camp was organized for escape. At night, small units were ready to leave.

The fences which had been put up by the men inside the camp were wooden fences; they had been constructed with nails the heads of which had been removed, so that it would be possible - they knew in advance, they had thought of escape. At night, they opened the fence, and two hundred and fifty Jews left the forced labour camp. One hundred and twenty Jews came to us, and one hundred and thirty Jews fled to another place, another camp.

Q. How did the Jews live in the forest? First of all, how many were there? You moved about in the forests for two years - do you have an estimated number of the Jews who escaped to the forests?

A. I can only make a rough estimate. There were two categories of Jews in the forests: There were Jewish fighters, and there were family camps.

Q. How many fighters were there?

A. I estimate that there were approximately fifteen thousand Jewish fighters in the forests.

Q. Partisans?

A. Partisans. The family camps - it is very difficult to assess how many reached the forest. For very many more fled to the forests - but fewer arrived. And, of course, only a small part got out.

Q. Why did less arrive than the number of those who fled?

A. Because, when the Jews left the ghettos, they were obliged, sometimes, to go through police posts, places where a German army unit was stationed, places where German detectives were patrolling.

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