Q. Kindly look at picture 7 on page 3. Does this remind you
A. It was more or less similar.
Q. I shall show you one other picture of the photographs of
the gymnastics, picture 18 on page 7.
A. This is even identical, with the difference that these
were religious people with side-curls and beards, as I have
said: the majority of them were like these. On that night
there were many shootings, as I have said: On the following
day, in the morning and the early hours before the
Presiding Judge: Please show the picture to Dr. Servatius.
Witness Beisky: Zone after zone of the town was ordered to
assemble in that square of the marketplace, and I, together
with the members of my family, including my parents, my
sister, two brothers and I myself and a further five aunts
and uncles (we were not all of us together on the same
transport – only with my parents and the nearest family),
and at four o’clock in the afternoon we were taken in a
train that passed by this town at a distance of some twenty
odd kilometres to a nearby town called Miechowitz. In this
town and in the fields outside the village Jews had already
been assembled beforehand and we were also put there.
Attorney General: How many Jews were there?
Witness Beisky: I cannot say, but there were certainly more
than twenty thousand. And we were also not the last.
Q. How were the people brought there?
A. From the neighbouring towns and villages – in carts. From
the more distant town – in trains, and also on foot.
Q. What were the people ordered to do?
A. We waited. We arrived, as I have said, in the evening.
And that night we slept out in the open, twenty thousand or
more. There was one particular detail that I cannot forget:
Next to me, in the same transport was a woman, elderly, Mrs.
Lazar, the wife of Shimon Menachem Lazar, who was previously
the editor of Hazefirah, and the mother of David Lazar of
the newspaper Maariv. She was next to me, together with her
daughter, and there was one other brother, a doctor from
Miechowitz, with all of whom I was on very close terms of
friendship. On the following morning, after sleeping the
whole night, we sought the Lazar family of Miechowitz, and
then, in the distance, we saw two girls who were taken to
that same site, and we heard from the girls, that the
father, who was a doctor, had injected himself and his wife
with poison, and the children were brought to the site the
next morning and remained with us until our departure. It
turned out afterwards that the dose of poison, in the case
of Mrs. Lazar, had not been adequate, and she recovered; and
when I came back a second time to the village, she was in
hospital, for the doctors who were the friends of that Dr.
Moshe Lazar admitted her and hid her. And one day she was
taken out of the hospital and shot near the fence.
Q. By whom was she shot?
A. By the commando unit that was there. The following day,
as I have said, we were a large number of people, we were
ordered to stand in formations of five, and the first row
was commanded to raise its hands. One of the men of the
Sonderkommando passed by each row, and according to the look
of their hands, they were ordered to go to the right or to
Q. What was meant by going to the right or the left?
A. Approximately two thousand people went to the right.
These were the young and the physically strong. To the left
went all the others – the others went away, amongst them all
the members of my family – except for two brothers – and I
never saw them again. My two brothers were with me.
Q. Where were they taken to?
A. We learned after the War that they were taken to Belzec.
The transport of the young people to which I referred, was
moved to a camp near Cracow, called Prokocim. On arrival
there, we were subjected, first of all, to a thorough
search. Naturally, each one had taken with him, to that
presumed place of work, as it had been described, whatever
he could carry of his most valuable possessions.
Q. When you say: a “thorough search,” what are you
A. There were Ukrainian soldiers there. Every one was
ordered to take out his meagre luggage, which was generally
in a knapsack on the back packed in such a way as to be
convenient for travelling. And a search was made on the body
of each person.
Q. Also on the private parts of the body?
A. No, not at that camp. This came later on. At that camp I
spent only a few days in all. Most of the people were
divided up among the labour camps in the vicinity of Cracow.
I together with my two brothers, moved to a camp on
Kobierzyncka Street, which belonged to that same firm of
Richard Strauch. While I was in the camp, I went out every
day to the municipal gas factory in Cracow and from that
time I worked in loading coal at that factory, both during
the period when I was in that small labour camp, and also
during the period thereafter when I had been transferred to
the Plaszow camp. Again a small episode – after we had been
moved to another camp on Zatorska Street. I escaped from
that camp because a rumour had reached the town that more
Jews had returned,who at the time of the first deportation
managed to conceal themselves in the nearby villages. And in
fact it was so. I escaped from that camp, I returned to the
town and again, very briefly – for these things cannot be
expressed otherwise on this occasion – I reached this town
where there was a Polish acquaintance, together with whom I
had worked, before the War. He came and removed utensils
from the house which were then hidden, and afterwards, from
time to time, he helped me and brought me money and food.
Presiding Judge: What kind of work did you do together with
Witness Beisky: Before the War I was a clerk in one of the
business houses in Cracow, and he also worked in the same
office – that Polish Christian who helped us a great deal. I
only regret that he, too, was killed in the course of the
War owing to those activities.
Some weeks later, it was already towards the end of the
autumn of that year….
Attorney General: 1942?
Witness Beisky: Everything we are talking about was still in
1942. One night the town was again surrounded, and this time
people already did not know. Evidently it was difficult to
hide; but a large part of the people had prepared hiding
places in order to hide, if it should happen again. Together
with a group of 15 people, I immediately took shelter in a
particular place which had been prepared for this. We lay
down there. We had some provisions. We lay in that place for
about three days. It was in an attic. On the fourth day we
heard shots in the town all the time – this time people were
no longer hauled to other places but were shot in their
hideouts where they were caught. On the third day we heard
that they were conducting searches near our hiding place and
on that same night, it was decided that we must get out, for
in any case there was no point in our remaining there. It
was snowing. We divided amongst ourselves the little food
that remained, in groups, two by two. I and my companion
Katzengold went out through the Polish Christian cemetery of
the town, and we walked to a neighbouring village. There we
hid. We had the address of a certain farmer. (I would ask
you to point out whether I am being too lengthy on a
Attorney General: I would ask you to come to the camp at
Plaszow. I understand that was where you went to. When did
you leave the camp?
Witness Beisky: I left in the last days of the month of
December 1942, or in the first days of January 1943.
Q. And then you were transferred – where to?
A. This small camp was dismantled and we were transferred to
Q. Where was Plaszow?
A. In one of the suburbs of Cracow. The precise locality
where the camp was situated was the old Jewish cemetery.
There was a new Jewish cemetery, in the centre of the Jewish
district, and this here, was the old Jewish cemetery.
Q. When you arrived there, what was in the camp?
A. The whole camp consisted only of a few huts, but I found
some of those people who had originally been released from
the camp at Prokocim, because we had left as a group of 120
people for the small camp, but some of them, possibly nearly
100 people, were already at that camp at Plaszow, and they
were already engaged in destroying the cemetery, that is to
say, in actually removing the graves.
Q. Who was the commander of the Plaszow camp?
A. At that time the commander was Obersturmfuehrer Mueller.
Q. Of what unit?
A. SS. He was the commander of two camps. On the other side
of the boundary of Plaszow there was “Judenlager 1.” He was
the commander of “Judenlager 1” and of the Plaszow camp. In
this camp there used to be an area of the cemetery on which
there were huts, and it was there they demolished the
cemetery. It was surrounded by a barbed wire fence, not yet
Q. You say “not yet.” Afterwards was an electric current
passed through it?
A. I shall come to that.
Q. Please continue.
A. I continued working with the same group until the middle
of 1943. Several men and I used to go out to that camp in
Cracow. But there were also squads who used to go out to
places of work in localities of so-called essential labour
for the Germans. The rest of the people inside the camp
worked on the erection of huts.
Q. How many people were there in the camp?
A. At the beginning of January there were two thousand.
Those who went outside the camp went under armed guard.
During the first period, the guard was not so heavy, but
there was no great fear that people would escape, for a
simple reason, namely that where in a particular group that
went outside the camp someone escaped, the penalty was the
killing of some or most of the group, I shall quote some
Presiding Judge: How many people were there in the group?
Witness Beisky: In the group to which I belonged it varied.
There were days when we went out in a group of 70-90. It
depended on the work. That same firm, Strauch, had 700-800
men whom it was entitled to divide up amongst the places of
work which it managed in Cracow. The work was from the early
hours and it consisted of loading coal.
Attorney General: What do you mean by “early hours”?
Witness Beisky: Rising time was 4:30 in the morning. Before
we left for work there was a morning roll call. All the
occupants of the hut were lined up on the camp ground, until
the person in charge of the camp, the commander, appeared,
and was given a report on the number of people alive, and
the number of whom had died – if there were deaths – how
many were killed, what was the state of the sick and the
state of the healthy.
Q. Where did they die and where were they killed?
A. In the course of these events, it is difficult for me,
and I am also thinking of the others who were in the same
camp, to remember the days on which people did not die or
were not killed. I now pass to our lot, that is to say the
lot of those who went outside to work. It might be thought
to have been easier, for at least from the moment that we
left the precincts of the camp until the moment when we
returned to it, we were involved in work. Although the work
was hard, it was work. But at the same time the people of
the camp who remained inside were subjected to things which
I later on experienced personally – for I myself had to
They had to set up a camp. Only afterwards did we know the
reason for this. The work went on from the early hours of
the morning until the late hours of the evening, always
under supervision and of course very hard labour. When it
was necessary to lift heavy stones from the tombs they were
not given more people for it than the number who could carry
this out only with supreme efforts. And if something was not
done properly by such groups, then individuals and also
complete groups of 30 to 40 people were executed in various
I said earlier: “It might be thought that our lot was good.”
The food in the camp was bad and scarce, and therefore the
people who went outside could not resist the temptation to
obtain some food from outside for themselves and the members
of their family. And since for a considerable part of the
people this was close to Cracow where they had friends, they
used to buy things. The danger arose daily when they came
back, for on their return they were searched at the gate. If
food was found, it ended – in the best of circumstances –
with whippings, between 25 and 100 lashes on the naked body.
Q. How many did you suffer?
A. I was flogged, not because of this, but for a different
reason. I was whipped twenty-five times. A certain part of
my body, which out of respect for Your Honour I shall not
mention, was crushed, and for weeks I could not walk, but I
had to go out to work, for there was no alternative.
Q. Who administered these beatings?
A. In my case Hauptscharfuehrer Druyewski, the man against
whom I was also invited to give certain evidence a year ago.
Q. An SS man?
A. Yes, an SS man.
Q. Please continue.
A. A group that appeared with food in its possession – and I
shall quote a concrete instance – that was a particular
group of the Ablade-Kommando a unit that was in charge of
the offloading of goods from the railway station – when this
group returned and food was found in its possession, the
camp commander came up (at that time it was
Untersturmfuehrer Amon Goeth) and asked whose food it was.
When no one answered, he took a gun from a guardsmen
standing next to him and shot a young man whose name was
Nachmansohn – his brother lives in Tel Aviv – he shot him.
On the same occasion he shot another man, Disler. And then
someone had a brilliant idea and said that he had brought
the food. Then everyone in the group received 100 lashes. It
was a group of 20 men or more. One of the men is living
today in Tel Aviv – his name is Mandel, who was wounded in
the course of the shooting and remained lying there until
the group was taken to the parade ground and there everyone
received his “deserts.” He himself had to count the blows
and if he made an error in the counting, he had to go back
to the beginning and start all over again. There was an
instance with that group where one of the older men was
beaten and cried out a great deal, and after that had to go
the camp commandant and to inform him that he had received
his punishment and he thanked him for it. When he turned
around, he shot him and he, too, was killed.
Q. Was this an order that one had to go and express thanks?
A. Yes. Every one was obliged to go and do this, to say “I
have received my punishment.” There were cases of collective
punishment, when someone escaped, for example. I can
remember the case of a factory in Bonarku. This was a brick
factory which before the War had belonged to a Jew, who is
also in Israel today, and a group of people worked there.
This group in its entirety – 49 men and one woman – were
killed as they returned to the camp. This was still at the
beginning of March – a man from one of those working parties
which belonged to Strauch, but which were working at another
place, escaped. He came from the town where my parents
lived, and he escaped. This was the first time the new camp
commandant, Amon Goeth, appeared.
Presiding Judge: What was his name?
Witness Beisky: Amon Goeth.
Attorney General: Amon Goeth, Your Honour, was tried before
a Polish court and executed, in 1946. [To witness] Perhaps
you would describe the living conditions in Plaszow?
Witness Beisky: There were various periods. In the first
period there was a little more space. We lived in huts.
There were bunks on three levels. In a regular hut there
were, generally speaking, between 200 and 250 persons,
according to the size of the hut. There was no mattress.
But it is true that each one took with him some kind of
blanket and that was spread out on the bunk. For those who
went outside there was always the danger of being killed on
their return, for someone would always smuggle in something
on reaching the camp. Those who were inside were in a
situation of working always on the run.
Q. What do you mean by “on the run?”
A. The “Vorarbeiter” (workers in charge) and SS men stood
there and kept you running: “Run, do it on the double,
hurry.” And I will give you the example of the two engineers
who owing to the fact that a hut was not erected quickly
enough – it was the late Mrs. Reiter, an engineer from
Cracow, and the engineer Ingber – were shot dead, and killed
because of that fact. And there were also other methods of
punishment – there was the punishment of standing.