The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 111
(Part 4 of 5)

And in the same manner the operation was also transferred to the West. Dr. Wellers gave evidence about the round-ups in France, about the compulsory registration, about the acts of violence aimed at the Jewish intelligentsia, about their being concentrated together and cut off from the outside world, to the extent that a man was not even allowed to receive a letter from his wife. The same stratagems of cheating and deceit were applied. Dannecker, Roethke and Brunner, members of Eichmann's Section, dealt with these people. Jewish children arrived at the assembly camps. These were the children who, according to Eichmann's orders to Dannecker, would soon be able to move towards Auschwitz. And, meanwhile, his emissaries, as already mentioned, dealt with them. And what did they do, as Dr. Wellers recounted?
"...There were infants two, three, four years old who did not even know what their names were. When trying to identify them, we sometimes asked a sister, an older brother - sometimes we simply asked other children if they knew them, in order to find out what they were called... These children arrived at Drancy after having been completely neglected for two or three weeks at Beaune-la-Rolande and Pithiviers - they arrived in dirty, torn clothes in a very bad condition... In one of these rooms, when we entered this room, right next to the door stood a little boy - I think he must have been seven or eight years old; he was remarkably handsome, with a face which was very intelligent, very lively. He wore clothes which must have been of very good quality...he wore only one shoe and had a torn jacket... Rene Blum was a very large man, thin but very tall...he spoke to the boy and asked him how old he was... He asked him what his parents did. The child answered: My father goes to the office and Mummy plays the piano. She plays very well, he added... The boy turned to both of us and asked if he would soon be leaving to join his parents.

I should tell you that we told these children that they would be leaving the camp of Drancy in order to rejoin their parents. We knew very well that it wasn't true, not because we knew what happened to Jewish children at Auschwitz - not at all - but we had seen in what circumstances they had been brought to Drancy and in what condition they left, and we were sure that they would never rejoin their parents at their place of arrival. So I answered this boy: Don't worry, in two or three days you'll rejoin your mother. He had a little jacket with little pockets, and from one pocket he took out a little half-eaten biscuit in the shape of a soldier which had been given to him. And he told us: `Look, I'm bringing this to Mummy.' Rene Blum...bent over the boy, who looked very happy, very engaging. He took his face in his hands and wanted to stroke his head, and at that moment the child, who only a moment ago had been so happy, burst into tears, and we left... They were all deported in the second half of August and the beginning of convoys consisting of one thousand children and five hundred adults taken from Drancy..."

Dr. Wellers spoke of those selections performed by Eichmann's emissaries there, of their decisions as to who would be deported, and who would go to the East. Brunner and Roethke dealt with that, while Dannecker would intervene from time to time in order to add more to the list. We also heard about premeditated violence against Jewish children from other witnesses - from Dr. Dworzecki of Vilna and Dr. Peretz of Kovno, from all regions of this inferno - about the Jewish child, the future of the nation, the "biological material" - to use Eichmann's expression - that was destined for immediate annihilation. The tortures and the atrocities were part of the general programme in the West as well. Brunner, whom Wisliceny described as one of Eichmann's favourites, occupied himself with that especially. And here is an account, taken from the evidence of Dr. Wellers:
"...They placed a rod not very high - about that height - and then the victims were forced to touch it with the right hand, with their heads bent low and their left hand behind their backs, and, without letting go of the rod with the right hand, they had to spin around it; only, they had to do it fast Brunner and Weisel, who always walked around the courtyard and the camp with sticks in their hands, hit them on the body, in order to force them to spin around quickly... It was very difficult to make more than three or four turns around the rod while being whipped, since one's head was bent low over the body. But these two were not satisfied with three or four turns but forced the victims to make at least ten turns, before falling unconscious.... This was wanton torture, a special form of amusement for these SS officers... This Brunner was a very strong, stout man, with a very unpleasant appearance and nasty eyes, his lips were thick and moist, and it was his specialty to deal out blows - hence we called him 'boxer.'

"He used to go down into the cellar. In the cellar there were special detention cells, a prison within a prison, and they used to reserve the tortures here for special persons. There he would exercise himself on them.

"...After Brunner arrived at the camp, he organized it on the lines of a typical German camp, with his typical German methods, which were intended to mislead and deceive us... After the arrival of Brunner at the camp, who organized everything in his own manner and on the model which I subsequently saw at Auschwitz, Buchenwald and other concentration camps - a special team was set up of Jews, inmates of the camp, who were given the task of conducting searches on other Jews arriving at the camp..."

So much for Dr. Weller.

The idea to use the Jews themselves as instruments in the hands of the Gestapo against their brethren - one of the most satanic devices in this entire plan - which we got to know of for the first time when Eichmann cajoled Loewenherz, by a slap in the face here and smooth talk there, to comply with his orders in Vienna - was employed later on as standard practice throughout the occupied lands. Eichmann admitted that the same system was applied in Poland, and thereafter also in Hungary. It facilitated the matter and "simplified" it. Eichmann knew how to streamline the process.

And in the same way that they explained in Warsaw that Jews were being transferred to the East, so they stamped Haim Behrendt's ticket in Berlin "evakuiert nach Minsk" (evacuated to Minsk), and as they promised the Jews of Holland after each round-up that there would be no more deportations, as Dr. Melkman testified, the same misleading and false story was heard by the witness Gurfein in Sanok, in western Poland.

The practices of that terrible camp Janowska, in Lvov, which was described by Leon Wells, were the same practices that were subsequently applied in the camps of horror. This is what Wells had to say:

"...The men were frozen to death. They were finished, they were one with the ice. A week later SS Untersturmfuehrer Wilhaus joined the concentration camp. At this time a shooting competition was begun between Gebauer and Wilhaus; the two of them would stand at their windows, and while the prisoners were marching to and fro carrying stones, they chose as a target the tip of a nose here or a finger there and fired. In the evening they would walk around the camp and pick out what they called "damaged" people (kaput), since injured and wounded people were no longer fit for work, and would finish them off with a last shot.

"Gebauer had a reputation of enjoying strangling people. There was the case of a man who was looking aside, he did not seem to be as busy as he should have appeared to be. Gebauer came along and with his bare hands choked him to death. And Wilhaus, whom we knew to be the brother-in-law of SS General Katzman, came once or twice a week following his arrival at the camp, to visit him there. His hobby was not strangling but shooting, or what they called sniping..."

And here, too, the band played as the people went out to work and returned, as in the death camps of which we heard from witnesses.

Rudolf Hoess begins his chapter on the extermination of the Jews in his book Commander of Auschwitz (T/90) with the following passage:

"In the summer of 1941 - at the moment I cannot state the exact time - I was ordered to appear before the Reichsfuehrer-SS in Berlin... Contrary to his usual practice, he confided to me, in the absence of his adjutant, roughly the following: `The Fuehrer has ordered the Final Solution of the Jewish Question; we, the SS, must carry out this order. The extermination camps existing in the East are incapable of implementing the planned extensive operations. Consequently, I have made Auschwitz my objective for this purpose, firstly because of the convenient transportation situation, and secondly because it would be easy to close off and camouflage... This is hard work, demanding of a man his entire self, without taking into account the difficulties... You will hear more precise details from SS Sturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, of the Head Office for Reich Security, who will come to you shortly'."
And, as we know from Wisliceny, Eichmann devoted special attention from that time, 1941, to the annihilation operation in the East.

Let us now follow this operation of his - his collaboration with the Einsatzgruppen, and the extermination camps.

There were a number of aspects to direct collaboration with the Einsatzgruppen, and a variety of evidence was given about it.

Schellenberg told Justice Musmanno that Eichmann was in control of the Einsatzgruppen in everything related to the extermination of the Jews, that he was present when they received their orders - and Schellenberg saw him there - that he visited them during the course of a killing operation. Eichmann acknowledged - he did the same here - that he was present at a large meeting before the commencement of the top-secret Barbarossa campaign, at which, as he said in his police interrogation, the organizational preparations were reviewed. He sought to convince the Court that at that time only the appointments of the commanders of the Operations Units were announced, and that for this purpose he himself, his deputy, and others had been troubled to attend, only in order to inform them of matters which were not their concern, over which they had no authority, and which were closely guarded state secrets.

But what really happened at the meeting at the Prince Albert Palace - this we know from the statement of Walter Blume (T/306). We know that there Heydrich and Streckenbach reviewed the orders to destroy the Jews. Wisliceny relates that when the Commissars' Order was extended so as to apply to the destruction of all Jews, Eichmann saw in that a way of liquidating other Jewish groups. We know that his Section received the reports - this, too, he admits; and from Noske's declaration - which I have already mentioned - we know that the reports on Jewish affairs were, according to special orders, to be sent specially to Eichmann's Section. Defence witness von dem Bach-Zelewski testified that, if indeed Eichmann's Section received the reports of the Einsatzgruppen, that would emphasize its importance.

In his cross-examination Eichmann made an important admission, namely that he had arranged reception centres for deportees from the Reich in the camps of the Einsatzgruppen commanders Nebe and Rasch (Session 98, Vol. IV, p. xxxx), that he had been in communication with them by telegram, and after the number of deportees from the Reich for these camps was determined, his Section dealt with their transportation to those camps. Here, there was clearly collaboration between them, and they acted on a common design. In the end he admitted, after his usual evasions under cross- examination, that when he dispatched the Jews of the Reich to them, he knew what lay in store for them.

The instructions to the commanders of the Einsatzgruppen also went out from his Section. Since documents of the Foreign Ministry have been preserved, there is again written evidence about Jews who were foreign nationals. And again, after pressure and questioning, the Accused acknowledged that his Section sent out those instructions.

He also confirmed that he had personally witnessed the Operations Units in action near Minsk and Lvov. How were the Jews of the Reich deported there? This we have heard from several witnesses who were survivors. Liona Neumann told us about the expulsion from Vienna in sealed rail-cars, in which they travelled for eight days. A report on the deportation from Duesseldorf was sent to Eichmann. We produced and submitted to the Court a report verifying the horrors of the deportation.

Presiding Judge: Did that go to the Operations Units?

Attorney General: It went to Riga, to Operations Unit `A'.

Liona Neumann described how the deported persons were housed in the homes of Jews who had been executed earlier, how they were ordered there to patch the clothing of persons who had previously been murdered, so that the clothes might be sent to the Reich. And in the course of this work, she recalled, some man would cry out bitterly from time to time, while holding in his hands a coat drenched in the blood of his little daughter who had been shot.

She spoke about the executions five days after their arrival; only about three hundred were left of the one thousand deportees from Vienna. And these, too, were gradually destroyed.

We recall the report of the commander of Einsatzgruppe `A,' about those Jews arriving from the Reich with naive hopes concerning their future, for they had been told before their expulsion that they were leaving for an agricultural enterprise in the East. The apparatus of deception functioned well.

Haim Behrendt also heard, in Minsk, that in order to receive the deportees from the Reich there, 28,000 of the local Jews had been shot a few days before.

So this was the arrangement: Corresponding with the pace at which Nebe and Rasch managed to liquidate the Jews of Soviet Russia, Eichmann sent them Jews from the Reich. And then the direct murders began, and, out of the huge concentration of about one hundred thousand Jews in the Minsk district, only some tens remained.

Avraham Aviel described the lust for life that took hold of those marked out to be murdered. Their main thought was "ueberleben" (to come through alive). And he spoke about the town of the "Hafetz Haim,"* {* Rabbi Israel Meir Hacohen of Radun (Lithuania), a famous rabbinical authority} how they marched to their death reciting "Shema Yisrael";** {** "Hear O Israel," the prayer to the Almighty recited on the verge of death} how a Jew tried to produce his "certificate," his work permit, and the German stuck his revolver into him and shot him in the nape of his neck; about the groups numbering one hundred men each who marched to the pits, and all of them were shot, to the last man.

There appeared here before you Rivka Yoselewska, who dressed her little girl in Sabbath clothes before they set out on their way, and who witnessed with her own eyes the murder of her father and mother, her sister and her daughter. It appears that it was an act of mercy to be killed right away, for the drunken murderers used to wound their victims, forcing them down into the grave, throwing a second layer of bodies over them, and letting them expire slowly over a period of hours and days.

Rivka Yoselewska embodies in her person, all that was perpetrated, all that happened to this people. She was shot. She was already amongst the dead in the funeral pit. Everything drew her downwards, to death. Wounded and wretched, with unbelievable strength she arose out of the grave. Her physical wounds healed, but her heart was torn asunder and broken forever. She found asylum in our country, established her home here and built her life anew. She overcame the evil design. They wanted to kill her, but she lives - they wanted to blot out her memory, but she has brought forth new children. The dry bones have been given sinews, flesh has grown upon them and they have taken on skin; they have been infused with the spirit of life. Rivka Yoselewska symbolizes the entire Jewish People.

But murder in this manner did not appear to be elegant. Eichmann said that such actions educated people towards sadism. That is what he told us. Accordingly they explored other methods. Hoess confirmed, in his writings and in his evidence, the role of Eichmann in the decision to use the Zyklon B gas. This appears in his autobiography, in the chapter on the Final Solution. He states that, as a result of Eichmann's search for a suitable gas, and on the occasion of Eichmann's second visit to Auschwitz, the decision was taken. Eichmann wanted a gas that was easily obtainable, and which would not necessitate special installations. It was planned exactly how the extermination would be effected, where the various buildings were to be constructed, and where the bodies were to be buried.

During Eichmann's following visit, as already mentioned, he was told about the experiments with Cyclon 'B,' and the two of them - Eichmann and Hoess - decided there and then to use this gas from then on.

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