Presiding Judge: So we have reached exhibit T/65 –
revocation of naturalization as well as confiscation of
State Attorney Bar-Or: I am now showing the witness the
volume of the Reichstagsgesetzblatt for 1934. May I draw
your attention to just one law of that whole year. It is
published on page 213. Please look at it and read the title
of that law.
Witness Cohn: “Gesetz ueber die Reichsverweisungen (Law
regarding Exclusion from the Reich) dated 23 March 1934,
signed Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler, Der Reichsminister des
Inneren (Minister of the Interior) Frick, Der Reichsminister
der Justiz (Minister of Justice) Dr. Kuertner.
Q. Please read article 1.
A. “Verweisung eines Auslaenders aus dem Reichsgebiet.”
(Exclusion from the territory comprises the order to leave
and the ban from re-entering the national territory.)
Q. In article 2 you find 11 headings under which an alien
may be deported from German territory. Isn’t that correct?
Presiding Judge: That will be exhibit T/66.
State Attorney Bar-Or: We now come to the year 1935. Would
you like to dwell on some particular development up to
Witness Cohn: I should only like to add another word about
the previous period, about Jews being evicted from cultural
life. I was connected with that field of activity. Among
other activities I was active in the “Reichsverband
juedischer Kulturbuende” (Reich Association of Jewish
Cultural Union) which was a public body sanctioned by the
government. All the Jewish artists in Germany were banned
from joining the national Chamber of Culture
(“Reichskulturkammer”) which was the official body of the
new German culture. Anybody not admitted to that Chamber of
Culture was prohibited from being active in the cultural
field of the German people. Priot to this was the expulsion
of many famous composers and of many Jewish poets and
writers. It is well known that the notorious “Burning of the
Books” took place in May 1933. The Jews had thus been
excluded from German cultural life. Amongst them were
distinguished writers whose fame was world-wide, and I do
not wish to go into details. So we felt it as a duty
incumbent upon us to offer the Jews who had remained in
Germany some sort of a substitute. And on that issue we
found a sympathetic readiness for co-operation . One of the
senior officials of the German Ministry for Propaganda, Hans
Hinkel, who was (and I wouldn’t know how to render that in
Hebrew) Reichskulturwalter (Trustee for National Culture) in
charge, that is, of culture, was also in charge of Jewish
activities within the cultural union (Reichskulturbund)
which we set up for the Jewish artists to join and thus to
be able to appear in concerts. One day we were summoned to
the Ministry of Propaganda, to be told that we were no
longer allowed to play music of German composers, such as
Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Haydn or Mozart.
Q. You were undoubtedly allowed to continue playing
A. Yes, undoubtedly.
Q. Does any particular event stand out in your memory in
connection with cultural life in those days?
A. Perhaps the “Burning of the Books”?
Q. Please describe it.
A. By pure accident I saw the torchlight procession near the
Brandenburg Gate. Young people marching in the direction of
the Imperial Palace. Next day the newspapers reported in
large bold letters on the events of the previous evening.
Goebbels had been master of ceremonies. The books of the
most famous Jewish authors were hurled into the bonfire to
the sound of shrieks and applause by the students who were
present. And there is one aspect that I kept remembering for
many years. Goebbels’ speech ended on a peroration which to
us was full of irony. “German youth,”‘ that is how it went,
more or less, “can be proud to have lived to see this day”
(something like that). “O century, o science! What bliss to
Q. Could we now address ourselves to 1935?
A. That year saw the beginning of a recrudescence of
persecutions. This time the persecutions passed from the
field of economics to the political and racial field. We had
known for some time before that, about Nazi circles getting
ready to formally expel the Jews from among the German
people – which had already been implemented de facto.
Q. You will certainly remember the meeting of the Reichstag
in Nuremberg on 15 September 1935. I am showing you here two
laws in the Reichstagsgesetzblatt for 1935. They are to be
found on pages 1146 and 1147. Could you tell the Court what
the titles of those two laws were and what they dealt with?
A. The first of those laws bears the title
Reichsbuergergesetz (German Citizenship Law) and is dated 15
Q. And what is its significance?
A. Its significance is a differentiation between a German
subject and a citizen of the German realm (deutscher
Q. Could a Jew be a “citizen of the German realm”
A. Only citizens who had German or kindred blood were
citizens of the realm.
Q. What is the second law of that same date (15.9.1935)?
A. “Gesetz zum Schutz des deutschen Blutes und der deutschen
Ehre.” (A Law to protect German Blood and German Honour.)
Q. Where were these two laws signed?
A. The first of the two was signed by…
Q. Not by whom, but where?
A. Oh, I see! Well, then, in Nuremberg, on 15 September
1935, at the National Party convention of Liberty
(Reichsparteitag der Freiheit).
Q. And the second Law?
A. Same date, same place.
Q. Please read the preamble to the second Law.
A. I could give an approximate translation.
Presiding Judge: Let’s leave that to the interpreters.
Witness Cohn: “Durchdrungen von der Erkenntnis, dass die
Reinheit des deutschen Blutes die Voraussetzung fuer den
Fortbestand des deutschen Volkes ist, und bewegt von dem
unbeugsamen Willen, die deutsche Nation fuer alle Zukunft zu
sichern, hat der Reichstag einstimmig das folgende Gesetz
beschlossen, das hiermit verkuendet wird.”(Firmly convinced
that the purity of German blood is a condition for the
continued existence of the German people, and impelled by
the indomitable will to secure the German nation for ever,
the Legislature has unanimously decided on the following Law
which is hereby promulgated.)
State Attorney Bar-Or: What is the meaning of this second
Witness Cohn: Its meaning – first, an absolute ban on
intermarriage between Aryan Germans and Jews; secondly, an
absolute ban on any extra-marital sexual relations between
Jews and Germans; and thirdly, a ban on German women under
the age of 45 serving or being employed in Jewish
Presiding Judge: This exhibit is marked T/67.
State Attorney Bar-Or: I now draw your attention to page
1333 of the Reichsgesetzblatt. Can you see the “first decree
to implement the Law on Citizenship of the German Realm?”
(erste Verordnung zum Reichsbuergergesetz) What is the date
of the decree?
A. 14 November 1935.
Q. Signed by whom?
A. Signed by the Fuerer and Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler, by
the Minister of the Interior Frick and by the Deputy of the
Fuerer, R. Hoess, Minister without Portfolio.
Q. Please read a few passages of the decree, to begin with,
article 4, para. 1.
A. “Ein Jude kann nicht Reichsbuerger sein. Ihm steht ein
Stimmrecht in politischen Angelegenheiten nicht zu. Er kann
ein oeffentliches Amt nicht bekleiden.” (A Jew cannot be a
citizen of the realm. He is not entitled to vote on
political matters. He may not hold public office.)
Presiding Judge: Thank you. That should be enough.
State Attorney Bar-Or: Will you please read the whole of
the fifth paragraph of that regulation.
Witness Cohn: “Jude ist wer von mindestens drei der Rasse
nach volljuedischen Grosseltern abstammt. Als Jude gilt auch
der von zwei volljuedischen Grosseltern abstammende
Mischling – (a) der beim Erlass des Gesetzes der juedischen
Religionsgemeinschaft angehoert hat oder auch dannach in sie
(b) der beim Erlass des Gesetzes mit einem Juden verheiratet
war oder sich danach mit solchen verheiratet;
(c) der aus einer Ehe mit einem Juden im Sinne des Absatzes
1 stammt, die nach dem Inkrafttreten des Gesetzes zum
Schutze des deutschen Blutes und der deutschen Ehre am
15.September 1935 geschlossen ist;
(d) der aus dem ausserehelichen Verkehr mit einem Juden im
Sinne des Absatzes 1 stammt, und nach dem 31. Juli 1936
ausserehelich geboren wird.”
(A Jew is a person who is descended from at least three
grandfathers fully Jewish by race. Article 2, paragraph 2,
applies. A Jew is considered also a half-breed descended
from two grandfathers fully Jewish by race.
(a) who belonged to the Jewish religious community at the
time of the promulgation of this law or who joined
(b) who was married to a Jew at the time of the promulgation
of this law, or married a Jew thereafter;
(c) who is the offspring of a marriage with a Jew within the
meaning of paragraph 1, concluded after the entry into force
of the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German
Honour of 15 September 1935.)
Presiding Judge: That will be T/68.
State Attorney Bar-Or: When approximately would that Law
have been according to the Jewish calendar? 15 September
Witness Cohn: I have not checked that – but approximately:
shortly before the Jewish New Year.
Q. Does my question remind you of a special event connected
with those days after the promulgation of the Nuremberg
A. This elicited reactions. I remember, the very same
evening, there was a Zionist meeting. The late Eliezer
Kaplan was our guest at the Zionist Organization. I chaired
that meeting. And all the speakers, Kaplan, Prinz and the
others – we all spoke against what had happened. It was from
the day before and we all protested strongly against these
measures. That was the first reaction.
Presiding Judge: “Protested” – to whom?
Witness Cohn: An internal protest in the presence of Jews in
our closed Zionist circle.
State Attorney Bar-Or: Was anybody else present there?
Witness Cohn: Yes. Two Gestapo officials.
Q. Was that a routine matter, to have Gestapo officials at
A. Yes. Usually. We had to seek permission or to report any
meeting planned. Mostly the Gestapo sent somebody along.
Q. Was that for public meetings or for executive committee
sessions? Or what was it about?
A. Originally we were obliged to report plans for public
meetings only. But as the years went on, in 1937 or 1938, as
the situation became worse, it was extended to any Session
of any Jewish society: the executive of the Zionist
Organization, the Reichsvertretung, the Council of the
Reichsvertretung, and the like. And the Gestapo official
would appear and sit with us at the table.
Q. How were the Jewish communities organized in the
situation prevailing in 1935, how were they represented
A. The whole of Jewry was at that time represented by the
“Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland.” (The Reich
Representation of the Jews of Germany). All the Jewish
organizations, Zionists and non-Zionists, Liberals and
others, decided in that difficult hour to join together and
to set up this representative body called “Reichvertretung
der Juden in Deutschland” which was appointed to be the
address for all Jewish matters in those years.
Q. Who was at the head of this association, this
A. The late Rabbi Dr. Leo Baeck was the President, and the
late Dr. Otto Hirsch was the director.
Q. Do you remember an event of those days, in September
1935, when those two names were linked together – Baeck and
A. I remember something which was not widely known because
of the danger involved. With the Day of Atonement
approaching in 1935, Tishri of 1935, shortly after the
Nuremberg Laws had been passed, the director of the
Reichsvertretung Otto Hirsch sent out the text of a prayer
to all the Rabbis in Germany.
Q. Who wrote that prayer?
A. Leo Baeck was the author. And the suggestion was for this
prayer to be read out on the evening of Kol Nidre, on the
holiest of all evenings in our Jewish calendar, from the
pulpits in all the synagogues.
Q. What happened?
A. To our great regret the letters sent out by post were
intercepted and confiscated. Baeck and Hirsch were arrested
and taken to the Berlin detention centre of the SS –
Columbia House. Baeck was released after a few days. Hirsch
was kept in detention for a longer time, I do not know
exactly for how long. He had a difficult time. I was there
when he was released; and he told us about his experiences
during all those weeks of anguish.
Presiding Judge: What were the contents of this prayer?
State Attorney Bar-Or: Could you read this prayer as it was
Witness Cohn: I shall read it as it appears in this little
book by Professor Ernst Simon Aufbau im Untergang (Building
up whilst perishing). Since this is a prayer, I must cover
In this hour, all Israel stand before their God, the
God of Justice and Forgiveness. Standing before Him we
are to examine our ways, what we have done and what we
have left undone, whither we have turned and whence we
have turned away; where we find ourselves wanting, we
will freely state “We have sinned,” and with the
firmest resolution for repentance, we shall offer up
prayers to God and ask Him: “Forgive us!”
We stand before our God. With the same fortitude with
which we confessed our sins, the transgressions of the
individual and the transgressions of the community, do
we proclaim with a feeling of abhorrence at those lies
proclaimed against us, that wanton calumny brought
against our religion. We stand by our Faith and by our
Who was it that announced to the world the mystery of
the Eternal, of the One God?
Who was it that aroused the world to a sense of purity
in conduct, of purity of family life?
Who was it that endowed the world with respect for man
created in the image of God?
Who was it that voiced the precepts of justice and
The spirit of the prophets of Israel, the manifestation
of God to His people Israel, brought about all this.
It is in Judaism that all this came to be and does
still grow. These steadfast facts repulse and will fend
off any injurious assault.
We stand before our God, in whom we will take refuge.
In Him lie the truth and the honour of our ability to
survive throughout the ages and our steadfastness when
we were in dire straights.
Our history is a history of moral greatness, of
spiritual dignity. It is to our history that we turn,
when assault and aggravation close in on us, when
misery and suffering press all around us. God has led
our forefathers from generation to generation; and He
will also see us and our children through these days.
We stand before our God. His command which we heed,
gives us strength. Before Him do we bow. Before men we
stand upright. Him do we serve, remaining firm in the
whirlpool of change. Humbly in Him we trust and our
path lies clearly ahead.
All Israel stand in this hour before their God. Our
prayers, our confidence, our declaration – is that of
all the Jews on earth. We look at one another and we
are confident of each other. We look up to our God and
we know: Lo, he neither sleeps nor slumbers, He who
guards Israel. He who maketh peace in His heights will
make peace for us and for all Israel.
B. Cohn (I am sorry, I am a little hoarse…)
Now the last passage.
Our hearts are full with mourning, with pain.
Our soul is full to the brim. We shall give expression
to all this by our silence, by our moments of silence
before our God, by that silence that must speak out in
silent prayer more loudly than any uttered words could
Presiding Judge: That will be T/69.
Mr. Bar-Or, could we break at this point?
State Attorney Bar-Or: Yes, Your Honour.
Presiding Judge: The Court will take a recess now. We shall
convene again at 3.30.