Q. Do you remember one specific reaction by the Zionist
Organization in Berlin in those days?
A. It may be worth while to add one more observation, which
also applies to that preceding period. In the early days,
early months there were many cases of suicide amongst German
Jews. From all the towns the stark news was reaching us,
about this lawyer and that physician and such a great
merchant and that other industrialist having put an end to
his life. They had been unable to stand the misery of having
lost their standing, of having lost their honour. They could
not understand what had happened to them, so they chose this
Presiding Judge: Please reply now to the previous question.
Witness Cohn: In Germany, the first impact was very
depressing. But, thank God, I think that the Zionist
Organization, and especially its printed organ Die Juedische
Rundschau did stand up quite well to the test. State
Attorney Bar-Or: You mentioned the Juedische Rundschau.
What was that?
Witness Cohn: The weekly, the official organ of the Zionist
Organization in Germany.
Q. Why do you refer to this weekly paper at this point?
A. Because it was the first newspaper, perhaps even the only
one, among all the numerous German newspapers, that spoke
out against the authorities.
Q. With regard to which event?
A. …with regard to the Jews!
Q. With regard to which event?
A. With regard to what had happened on 1 April.
Q. I am showing you a photostatic reproduction – can you
A. Yes, this is a copy of the Die Juedische Rundschau which
was our “daily bread.”
Q. Could you please tell the Court what you see?
A. I see here the caption “Tragt ihn mit Stolz den gelben
Fleck” (wear it with pride that yellow badge) We
subsequently translated it here when we organized an “appeal
day” in the ‘forties.
Q. Who wrote that article?
A. Robert Weltsch, the editor of Die Juedische Rundschau.
Q. In 1933 he was the editor of the official organ of the
State Attorney Bar-Or: I should like to ask the Court for
permission to submit this reproduction, certified by the
librarian of Yad Vashem to be a true copy together with the
Hebrew translation of three passages.
Presiding Judge: Yes. This will be T/60.
State Attorney Bar-Or: Could you, Mr. Cohn, read out to the
Court two passages which you consider as most typical of
this article and of the attitude of the Zionist Organization
in those days?
Witness Cohn: Yes a few passages – in the German original?
A. Or should I translate?
Presiding Judge: No – it will be translated by the
A. “The fact that the boycott leaders ordered that yellow
patches on black background be affixed to the boycotted
businesses, constitutes a mighty symbol. This was a measure
taken to mark us, to make us despicable; we accept it and
wish to turn it into a badge of honour. Many Jews had a
painful experience on Saturday.” [In Hebrew]:(The paper
appeared on Wednesday.)
“Not as a result of an inner consciousness,
“not because of being faithful to their own community,
“not that they were proud of a magnificent past and
human endeavour, but rather because a red label with a
yellow patch had been stuck on them, were they suddenly
to stand up and be counted as Jews.”
“The troops went from house to house, sticking labels
on shops and on signs and name plates, daubing shop
windows with paint. During twenty one hours German
Jewry was, as it were, put in the pillory. Among other
graffiti one saw, on those shop windows, many a large
Magen David, the Shield of King David. That had been
meant as an abuse. Jews, take it up, that Shield of
David, and carry it with all the honour due to it.”
State Attorney Bar-Or: Please read to the Court the last
Witness Cohn: “Only 30 years ago it was considered bad form,
in an educated society, to speak about the Jewish Question.
Zionists were, at that time, considered as troublemakers who
had an ‘idee fixe.’ Now, however, the Jewish Question is so
very topical that any small child, any schoolboy as well as
the man in the street has no other topic of conversation. On
April the 1st the designation ‘Jew’ was stamped on all the
Jews throughout the whole of Germany. According to the new
instructions issued by the boycott committee, to meet the
eventuality of a renewal of the boycott, all businesses are
to be marked in uniformity, either as ‘German business’ in
the case of Non-Jews or in the case of Jews simply with the
word Jew (Jude). One knows who is a Jew. No more dodging or
hiding. The Jewish reply is obvious. It is the short
sentence spoken by Moses to the Egyptian:’Ivri Anokhi!’ (A
Hebrew am I). The moral meaning of what is happening at
present is the positive reply to the question as to whether
the Jew is prepared to give recognition to his Jewishness.
These times are much too turbulent for us to argue and
reason. Let us hope for more placid times. Let us hope that
a movement that takes pride in being honoured as the
pacemaker of national awakening, does not take pleasure in
dishonouring others, even if it is of the opinion that it
must fight them. But we Jews, we are able to defend our
honour. We remember all those who over the last 5,000 years
have been called Jews, have been stigmatized as Jews; we are
being reminded that we are Jews; we say ‘aye’ and shall
carry our Jewishness with pride.”
State Attorney Bar-Or: During those years, from 1933 until
you left Germany, were you in touch with the authorities in
Witness Cohen Yes.
Q. All the time in fact?
A. Yes, especially with the Ministry for Propaganda
(Reichspropagandaministerium), since I was the deputy
chairman of the Kulturbund der Juden in Deutschland
(Cultural Federation of the Jews in Germany).
Q. I should like to ask you to explain to the Court what
were, from your point of view, the aims and objectives of
the Nazi regime towards the Jews during those weeks in the
spring and summer of 1933? What were they after?
A. That was not clear to us at all. And I know that to this
day historians are still asking themselves – what were the
Nazis’ intentions at that stage? It might be of interest to
quote from the official platform of the Nazi Party in 1922,
one of the paragraphs there addresses itself to the Jewish
question. But I am afraid I do not have that document here
Q. Could you possibly remember the contents, approximately?
A. The aim of the National Socialist movement, it said
there, was to see to it that any non-German who had come to
live in Germany after 2 August 1914 should be made to leave
Germany. But there was a further paragraph, covering what
was eventually carried out literally at Nuremberg. But that
is a separate matter.
Q. Why do you see it necessarily relevant to the Jewish
Question, when the party programme deals with non-Germans
who had migrated to Germany after the 2nd of August 1914?
A. That was evident. Those were the Ostjuden (East European
Jews) notorious in German eyes, the “Polish Jews” whom they
hated. They used to say they had nothing against the German
Jews, they were opposed only to the Ostjuden. That was a
sort of tactic, a trick of theirs.
Q. Do tell me how all these aims came to be expressed after
the boycott day on 1 April 1933?
A. Excuse me, I did not understand the question.
Q. How were these aims expressed after 1 April?
A. Even before April the First, “Aryanization” of shops had
begun. Not by virtue of legislation, but through
Einzelaktionen. Groups of SA would appear (those were the SA
at the time, not SS) SA they were called, they would appear
before the shops, shut down the shops, detain the
shopkeeper, and put him in a concentration camp. Then, when
he came back, he would be ready to sell his belongings, his
shop to the “Aryan” competitor who had been his next-door
neighbour for many years. Now this whole trend of forcing
the Jews out of German economic life gathered momentum and
acquired a new dimension in the weeks and months following
the 1st of April. If I am not mistaken, already in April
1933 a first set of rules was published, to revoke the
licences held by the liberal professions, lawyers and
Q. Was that done by way of legislation, by statute or by way
of ministerial decree?
A. I don’t remember now. Many years have passed since then.
I believe it was done by way of ministerial decree,
“secondary legislation” as it is called here, or…
Presiding Judge: Administrative rules, Sir. Yes?
Witness Cohn: …delegated powers.
State Attorney Bar-Or: Mr. Cohn, I show you here the German
Official Journal (Reichsgesetzblatt03) part 1, number 34, of
7 April 1933. Can you identify it?
Witness Cohn: Yes. Shall I read out the title?
“Die Reichsregierung hat verkuendet…
Q. Please. What is the title of the law?
A. Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums. (A
Bill to re-establish a professional civil service.)
A. Dated 7 April 1933.
State Attorney Bar-Or: If it pleases the Court. There will
be a number of laws published in the Reichsgesetzblatt which
I intend to submit through the witness. Not that the witness
need confirm anything. These are official publications I am
submitting here. These volumes are heavy and may be
considerably burden the Court, however they are, I am told,
required for research. I have prepared photostatic copies of
all the pages to which I would like to draw the attention of
the Court. Could the Court allow me after due consideration
to substitute these photostatic copies certified by Yad
Vashem to be true copies, for the original volumes?
Presiding Judge: Yes, certainly.
State Attorney Bar-Or: Thank you, Your Honour. Please
continue, Mr. Cohn.
Witness Cohn: Authority was derived from the Government of
Germany the Reichsregierung. By virtue of the
Ermaechtigungsgesetz (empowering statute) of 23 March 1933
the German Parliament (Reichstag) had vested all its
legislative powers in the Government (Reichsregierung). Thus
there was no longer any separation of powers.
Q. And from now on these laws are carried out by the
A. By the Government, by virtue of powers delegated to it by
the German Reichstag.
Q. I draw your attention to paragraph three. Please read it.
A. “Beamte, die nicht arischer Abstammung sind, sind in den
Ruhestand zu versetzen. Soweit es sich nicht um Ehrenbeamte
handelt, sind sie aus dem Amtsverhaeltnis zu entlassen.”
Interpreter: “Civil servants who are not of Aryan descent,
are to be retired. Honorary civil servants are to be
released from the service.”
State Attorney Bar-Or: …it deals with a special attitude
towards those who had seen service on the front in the First
World War, does it not?
Witness Cohn: And with those who were civil servants
already on 1 August 1914.
State Attorney Bar-Or: May I now submit the photostatic
Presiding Judge: That will be T/61.
State Attorney Bar-Or: Mr. Cohn, on page 195 of that volume
you can find the regulation “Erste Verordnung zur
Durchfuehrung des Gesetzes zur Wiederherstellung des
Berufsbeamtentums.” What is the name of that regulation?
Witness Cohn: First regulation for the implementation of the
Bill to re-establish a professional civil service.
Q. Perhaps you could read paragraph 3/2 ?
A. “Als nicht arisch gilt wer von nicht-arischen,
insbersondere juedischen Eltern oder Grosseltern abstammt.
Es genuegt, wenn ein Elternteil oder ein Grosselternteil
nicht arisch ist. Dies ist insbesondere dann anzunehmen,
wenn ein Elternteil oder ein Grosselternteil der juedischen
Religion angehoert hat.” (Non-Aryans are considered to be
those persons who have had non-Aryan, especially Jewish
parents or grandparents. It suffices for one parent or one
grandparent not to have been Aryan which is to be assumed in
particular whenever one of the grandparents had belonged to
the Jewish religion.)
Q. Please, before you read on, paragraph two, here again,
deals with a special status for front line soldiers of World
War I, doesn’t it?
A. Yes, and with those who already had been in the civil
service before 1 August 1914.
Q. Correct, and with the evidence required to prove service
on the front. Could you now read paragraph three of article
A. “Ist die arische Abstammung zweifelhaft, so ist ein
Gutachten des beim Reichsministerium des Inneren bestellten
Sachverstaendigen fuer Rasseforschung einzuholen.” (Whenever
there is any doubt as to the Aryan extraction, expert
opinion is to be obtained from the expert on race research,
at the Ministry of the Interior.)
Presiding Judge: That will be T/62.
State Attorney Bar-Or: Mr. Cohn, These were the first laws
and regulations directed against Jews?
Witness Cohn: Yes, Yes, there were other laws or rules
against lawyers and physicians.
Q. You have already mentioned those. You said that those
were actually made as ministerial implementation orders.
A. Yes. The physicians only lost their Sick Fund (health
insurance) affiliation, they remained physicians until 1938.
Q. How did matters develop?
A. In those years matters developed in Germany in a wave
fashion. There would be a thrust, a heavy blow. And then
there would be a period of calm, even with the authorities,
the pressure would quite naturally relax. There were at that
time three periods. I may perhaps be allowed to give my own
view of those three periods; I myself have only witnessed
the first of these periods. It began with the burning of the
Reichstag Building, with regard of the Jewish Question. Only
with regard to the Jewish Question. It lasted till the
middle of 1935. The second period, to my mind, again with
regard to the Jewish Question, there were the Nuremberg
Reichstag, the Nuremberg Laws, the absolute political and
racial segregation of the Jewish People from the German
People. That period ends more or less in 1938. In 1938 there
begins the last of these three pre-war periods. In that
period the Jews have already been completely removed from
the German economy, and their middle class had already been
completely destroyed. Those are the three periods.
Q. May we now go back to 1933. You will undoubtedly remember
the directive on the slaughter of animals. I am showing you
here the Reichsgesetzblatt of that year, page 212.
A. “Order regarding the Slaughtering of Animals of 21 April
1933” signed by the Minister for the Interior Frick.
Q. And what happened to “shehitah”? Before you answer my
question, would you perhaps read the first part of the first
A. “Warmbluetige Tiere sind beim Schlachten vor Beginn der
Blutentfuehrung zu betaeuben.” (Warm-blooded animals are to
be stunned before their blood is drawn, as part of the
Q. Does this have any bearing on kosher shehitah of meat for
A. In my opinion this directive is diametrically opposed to
the Mosaic Law, to Jewish Law.
Q. As from April 1933, what happened then to Jewish ritually
proper (kosher) slaughter (shehitah) in Germany?
A. There was no more kosher shehitah.
Q. There was no longer any possibility to have kosher
shehitah from 1933 onwards?
A. But I must admit I myself was not really closely
Q. That remained the situation until you left Germany?
A. As far as I can remember. I repeat that that was not my
own field of activity.
Presiding Judge: This exhibit will be T/63.
State Attorney Bar-Or: Would you please look at the
Verordnung in the Reichsgesetzblatt dated 21 April, on page
212. This is the directive to implement that law on the
slaughter of animals, isn’t it?
Witness Cohn: Yes.
Presiding Judge: That will be exhibit T/64.
State Attorney Bar-Or: Could you now please turn to
Reichsgesetzblatt no.81, page 479.
Witness Cohn: Which page?
Q. Page 479. Please find on that page the law on the
reversion of property inimical to Nation and State
(“Einziehung volks-und staatsfeindlichen Vermoegens”) dated
14 July; and immediately after that, there is the
publication of a further law, could you read its title?
A. “Gesetz ueber den Widerruf von Einbuergerung und die
Aberkennung von deutscher Staatsangehoerigkeit.” (Law on the
Revocation of Naturalization and the Annulment of German
Citizenship) dated 14 July 1933.
Q. Please read the first sentence of the second paragraph of
the second Law dated 14 July.
A. From the Revocation Law (Widerrufgesetz?)
Q. Yes, please read slowly.
A. “Reichsangeh7rige, die sich im Auslande aufhalten,
koennen der deutschen Staatsangehoerigkeit fuer verlustig
erklaert werden, sofern sie durch ein Verhaltendas gegen die
Pflicht zur Treue gegen Reich und Volk versto267sst, die
deutsche Belaenge geschaedigt haben.” (German subjects may
be declared to have forfeited their German citizenship
insofar as they have harmed the German interests by
behaviour in breach of their duty of loyalty towards state
State Attorney Bar-Or: May I submit this too? As a matter of
fact on the same photostatic copy there are reprints of both
Presiding Judge: Those further copies will be for the
completion of the record if we do not have it all translated
here. Is there much more of it?
State Attorney Bar-Or: There will be a few more. But the
record can be completed if I may with respect suggest, Your
Honour, by using the original books that have remained with
us and that will have been put at the disposal of the