Q. Dr. Berman, you were subsequently one of the commanders
of the ghetto revolt?
A. Of the Jewish underground.
Q. We have already heard about this, but I simply did not
want to neglect your share in it. You saw the children who
participated in the ghetto battle?
Q. Did you witness these little heroes?
A. Yes. I wanted to say something about this. When the
disaster came about, our line was one of general
mobilization, mobilization in two directions; first of all
in the direction of the Jewish anti-Nazi fighting
underground. And we did everything possible in order to
organize the youth, the workers, the intelligentsia, into an
armed anti-Nazi underground. I took part in setting up the
first organization of the armed Jewish underground in the
Warsaw Ghetto, within the anti-Fascist bloc created at the
initiative of the Polish Labour Party, the P.P.R., in the
Warsaw Ghetto. Already at that time, youth and older
children were also participating in this bloc.
Q. Perhaps we can come to the revolt. At the time of the
revolt you were in the ghetto?
A. No. At the time of the revolt I was one of the
representatives of the ghetto fighters on the Aryan side to
the Polish underground.
Q. Let us now leave this matter. After the War you went to
visit Treblinka – is that so?
A. That is right.
Q. At this moment I am not asking for evidence about
Treblinka, for we shall present the chapter of the camps to
the Court at the appropriate time. But perhaps you are able
to tell us in general terms what you saw there?
A. When I came there it was some weeks after I had been
liberated by the Soviet army, this was in January 1945. I
saw a scene which I shall never forget: a tremendous
expanse, extending over many kilometers and on this area
there were scattered skulls, bones, in tens of thousands,
and very, very many shoes, amongst them tens of thousands of
shoes of little children.
Q. Did you pick up one such pair which you have retained to
A. Yes, I have brought it here.
Q. You brought it here to show the Court?
A. Yes, I wanted to show it.
A. The pair of shoes of a child, you have retained to this
A. I brought it as something very precious, for I knew that
over a million shoes like these were spread over all the
extermination fields of Europe. These are the shoes. [The
witness shows the Court a pair of children’s shoes.]
A. Thank you very much, Dr. Berman.
Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions to
Dr. Servatius: I do not have any questions.
Judge Raveh: Dr. Berman, when you referred to the number
of 100,000 children, to what ages did you refer, up to what
Witness Berman Up to 14.
Q. And in July 1942 when there was the great “action” you
spoke of, what was the number of children up to the age of
A. Before the commencement of the “action” there were more
than 100,000 children.
Q. This means that there was no change from the beginning of
the War until then?
A. No, at the beginning of the War there were less, but
Q. Less than what?
A. Less than 100,000.
Q. I understood that was the number at the beginning of the
A. No. I would like to explain this. At the beginning of the
War there were about 350,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Q. And of these children up to 14, approximately?
A. One must take into account, I think, about 60-70
thousand. Afterwards there were expulsions from all the
country towns of the district and not only of the district.
Q. Then the number of Jews reached half-a-million?
A. 450,000 to half-a-million.
Q. Of these 100,000 children up to 14?
A. Over 100,000.
Q. You said a number of times “SS men and their
collaborators.” To whom do you refer by “collaborators?”
A. By collaborators I meant, firstly, the gangs of Ukrainian
Fascists who helped them in all the extermination “actions”
and also to our great regret, the Warsaw Ghetto police force
which was also an instrument in the hands of the Nazi
murderers. And we, the Jewish underground, without
distinction of outlook, were against this Jewish police
force, as we were also against the policy of the Judenrat,
of cooperation with the Nazis.
Judge Halevi: Dr. Berman, did you receive any assistance,
did the Jews receive any assistance at the time of the
Witness Berman Yes. I myself was in constant touch with the
Polish underground and with relief institutions for children
in the Aryan quarter, Polish institutions. And I can relate
that also from the point of view of help for the ghetto
fighters, and from the point of view of help for the rescue
of Jews we received a certain measure of assistance. I
cannot say that it was massive help, substantial, moreover
the possibilities, then, for the Polish underground, for the
Armia Ludova, for the P.P.R. – these possibilities were not
so great, but we obtained help. And I am proud of the fact
that the first revolver we received from the Polish anti-
fascists for the Jewish anti-fascist bloc, we received in my
room, in the room of the director-general of “Centos,” in
the same way as I am proud of the fact that amongst the one
thousand workers of “Centos” there were hundreds who were
active in the undergound. Subsequently the ghetto fighters
obtained help, not just on a single occasion, first of all
from the Polish progressive circles, first and foremost from
the Armia Ludova. In the efforts to save children, I also
acted myself to a certain extent. We also had connections
with the Polish institutions for aiding children, and with
the progressive parties, and also with the Catholic groups.
A certain number – I think it is nevertheless possible to
talk about thousands, not many thousands – but thousands of
Jewish children were saved thanks to the help of Polish
progressive as well as Catholic organizations.
Q. How were they saved? By being transferred to the Aryan
A. Yes, by being transferred to the Aryan side, both to
Polish institutions for help to children and also to
families. Many families took in Jewish children from the
Q. did you succeed in sending out news to any territory
outside the Nazi occupation, to the free world?
A. Yes. It was in this way: When I crossed over to the Aryan
quarter, this was on 6 September 1942, on the day of the
beginning of the big “Round-up” the big Umschlag when I was
also aware that this was the last minute, in the Aryan
quarter at the time, thanks to my contacts and those other
members of the Polish underground, we established a Jewish
national underground committee in the Aryan quarter, and
also a coordinating committee between the conspiratorial
Jewish national underground committee in the Aryan quarter
and the Jewish socialist organization, the Bund. We were in
touch with all the Polish undergound organizations. I was
the representative attached to the Polish underground; we
were in contact with the circles connected to the Armia
Ludova with the P.P.R., and also with the circles connected
to the Armia Krajewa. We then decided to do everything
possible to alert the Jewish and the non-Jewish world to
what was happening in the ghetto and in the extermination
camps and to the Jewish people in Poland generally. And we
succeeded. We secured a particular way of transmitting our
cables and our reports – fairly lengthy reports – on all our
activities, our operations for assistance and the struggle
of the ghetto fighters and all the ghettos, to London, to
Washington and also to Moscow.
Presiding Judge: When did this begin?
Witness Berman From 1943. And there was a closer tie from
1944 and until the end. We also received cables from abroad,
from Jewish organizations.
Judge Halevi: What cables, and what did they say?
Witness Berman About rescue operations and about various
activities connected with the tragedy of the Jewish people
in Europe. I would also like to add, that then, in those
days, in the days of the Warsaw Ghetto, in the days of
Treblinka, Auschwitz and Majdanek, we then decided, and I
decided that one of my most important missions would be – a
struggle against this plague which was called Nazism and
Fascism, until its total liquidation.
Presiding Judge: Thank you, Dr. Berman, you have concluded
Attorney General: I call Baruch Duvdevani. I presume that
he, too, will prefer to make an affirmation, although for
reasons other than those of the previous witness.
Presiding Judge: Is this correct, Mr. Duvdevani?
Witness Duvdevani Yes.
[Witness makes an affirmation.]
Presiding Judge: Is your name Baruch Duvdevani?
Attorney General: Do you work in the Immigration Department
of the Jewish Agency?
Witness Duvdevani Yes.
Q. Are you holding a book called The Holy Fire?
Q. A book containing the sermons of Rabbi Kalunimus Kalmish
Q. Tell us how the manuscript of the sermons came to be in
your possession, and how you contributed to the publication
of the book?
A. In the War years the disciples of Rabbi Kalunimus Shapiro
requested that if I should go abroad at the end of the
Holocaust, I should inquire whether he had survived and if
his writings had remained. When I travelled after the War on
a mission for the Jewish Agency to the Camps, I decided to
inquire as to his fate, and I found out what had happened to
him during the years in the ghetto. I didn’t manage to
discover if any of his writings had remained. In 1956, I
went to Poland on a mission for the State [of Israel] and I
continued to inquire as to what had happened to these
writings, if they still existed. Day after day I went to the
ruins in Warsaw, where buildings had been destroyed and new
ones erected; I visited the Jewish Historical Institute and
did not manage to find anything. One day a Pole brought me a
milk jar and in it there were manuscripts which he found in
a ditch in Genzia Street in Warsaw. This was a jar which Dr.
Emanuel Ringelblum had left there. I began to look through
the writings and did not find anything of significance. The
staff of the Jewish Historical Institute helped me but to no
avail. One day, when I had decided to search further,
suddenly they brought me a will which had been found amongst
these documents, of Rabbi Kalunimus Shapiro in favour of his
brother in the Land of Israel, the late Rabbi Yeshayahu
Shapiro and two other disciples who are living today in
Israel. When I noticed the date, which was four months
before the Warsaw Ghetto revolt, I became very excited and
began reading. And I saw that he had put into the jar books
which he had written during the War years. This did not give
me rest, and within a day or two I found, inside this jar,
the manuscript of this book.
Attorney General: I submit the book, and I would request the
Court to allow me to return it to the witness so that he may
read a number of passages from it.
Presiding Judge: Do you want to submit it?
Attorney General: Yes – I submit it.
Presiding Judge: This book will be marked as exhibit T/258.
Attorney General: The late Rabbi asked that his writings
should be published. This was his will?
Witness Duvdevani Yes.
Q. And these are the sermons that he delivered on Sabbath
days and Festivals in his synagogue?
A. In his synagogue and also in the Schultz factory where he
was compelled to work as a tailor. He used to stand together
with the other workers and whisper to them words of the
Torah and words of encouragement.
Q. As you ascertained, he found his death in Trawniki in
Attorney General: I would ask you to read from the book a
number of extracts from the Rabbi’s sermons. Please open
page 112 – at the top of the page from the paragraph “And
who is the man.”
Witness Duvdevani [reads]
“And who is the man who will not be saddened when he sees
the woes of Israel both physically and spiritually, and who
is the man whose heart will not be pained when he beholds
that there are no religious schools, and no Yeshivah, no
place for the Torah, and no group of those learning the
Torah, and not only at this time the Houses of the Lord have
been destroyed, but also in the future it will appear that
young men, students of the Torah, will be lacking, some of
them have perished in awful deaths and in death by
starvation, Heaven forfend, and many of them were compelled
to go out in search of food for themselves, and where will
we find young men to study the Torah if they are not
studying now, and so many of them failed to meet the test
and went out on the Sabbath day to the marketplace to do
business because of hunger – do we think that the boys and
the young men who for years have wandered around the
marketplace and the streets to do business or to beg from
the generous a few breadcrumbs, on weekdays, and on the
Sabbath day, they will return one day to the religious
schools and the Yeshivot as before?”
Attorney General: On page 113 there is a sermon on the
portion of the week and after that there is an annotation at
the end of the page. Please read only the sentences of the
A. Perhaps you would allow me to explain this.
A. This sermon on the portion “Eikev” he delivered in the
year 5701, that is to say, 1941, and there he speaks about
those still studying the Torah and praying and he used to
encourage those studying and praying. In 5703, in 1943, he
wrote the note that I now read to you, as you request:
“The aforegoing words were uttered and written in the
year 5701 when, despite the fact that there were many
and very bitter troubles as some of them appear in the
aforegoing, at any rate one could still lament for them
and describe a small part of it, to worry for those who
remained, to weep about the future, how the religious
schools could be rebuilt, the Yeshivot and the like,
and also to admonish and strengthen those that existed
for Torah and worship. This was not the case at the end
of 5702, where, with almost complete annihilation, holy
congregations had perished, and even the small number
that survived were distressed in their servitude and
their Egyptian slavery, were trampled underfoot and
remained in mortal terror; there are no words with
which we can lament over our troubles, there is no one
to admonish nor is there a heart which can be aroused
to Torah and worship. How much effort does a prayer
need, and how much the observance of the Sabbath, even
for the man who genuinely wishes to observe it?”
Attorney General: Please turn now to page 132 – the sermon
on the Sabbath of Shemini Atzeret. Read the last sentences
at the end of the sermon.
A. Again I must read the preceding sentence, otherwise the
matter will not be clear. When he spoke in 5701-1941, and he
was also a historian by profession, he said that sufferings
such as those of the year 5701 had been experienced in the
destruction of the Temple, at Betar, in the Bar Kochba
rebellion and so forth. But he writes later, in 1943, his
annotation that only the sufferings which were similar to
those inflicted until the end of the year 5702, had already
existed in history. “But the unprecedented calamities and
the evil and unnatural deaths that these awful murderers
invented for us, the House of Israel, at the end of 5702, to
my knowledge in the sayings of our sages of blessed memory,
and in Israel’s history generally, had no parallel at all,
and may the Almighty have mercy on us and save us from their
hands in the twinkling of an eye. Friday, eve of the holy
Sabbath, 18 Kislev 5703 (1943).”