Q. You noticed that the Germans were walking behind you
with cocked automatic rifles?
A. Not behind us, but in a semicircle, spread out.
Q. You reached the open pit?
Q. What happened then?
A. I was in the first row. I saw that Magel was
approaching from the side, together with someone whom the
trees concealed, I did not see him properly, and he took
out a small revolver and fired a shot. At the same time
we heard a cry: “Comrades, run!”
Q. In what language?
A. In Yiddish. One of our comrades shouted it. I jumped
into the pit, afterwards I jumped out of it, I fell, I
jumped once again and went over the fence, and I began
running with all my strength.
Q. Were you wounded?
A. Yes, suddenly I was hit several times.
Q. And you were wounded?
A. Yes, I was wounded.
Q. Do you, to this day, have a scar of this injury? A.
Yes, here (in the shoulder) I received a bullet. Q. In the
end you crawled towards the Soviet lines?
A. Yes, during the course of nine days. On the first
night I had another comrade with me, we walked all night.
Towards morning we saw a light, we approached the light
very slowly, and this turned out to be once again the
place from which we had set out. The fire was burning.
We lay on the ground all day and, on the following day, at
night, we began walking through the forests in an easterly
direction. In the course of nine days, with all kinds of
adventures, we crossed the border. My comrade was killed
and I was taken to a Soviet hospital.
Presiding Judge: Killed by whom?
Witness Karasik: We do not know – this was at night, on
the last night.
Attorney General: You were drafted into the Soviet army,
and you also took part in battles in Czechoslovakia?
Witness Karasik: Yes, thanks to an acquaintance, the
director of the hospital where I was.
Q. At the end of 1945 you were released from the Soviet
army and in 1947 you immigrated to Palestine, you were
exiled to Cyprus, and in 1949 you immigrated to the State
of Israel? A. Correct.
Presiding Judge: Dr Servatius, do you have any questions?
Dr Servatius I have no questions.
Presiding Judge: Thank you very much, Mr Karasik, you have
completed your evidence.
Attorney General: I shall now submit a number of documents
relating to matters concerning Bialystok. The first is
our document No. 192. The date is 16 December 1942. This
is an instruction mentioning 45,000 Jews. The date of
dispatch is 11 November 1943. 30,000 of them were from
the district of Bialystok and the rest from other
districts. At the end of the cable it is stated that,
owing to practical considerations the general guidelines
would apply to these Jews, during their classification on
their arrival at Auschwitz, and at least 10,000-15,000
would have to be a labour force. The cable was sent from
Department IVB4 and signed by Mueller.
Judge Halevi: What did you say about Auschwitz?
Attorney General: This was a transport to Auschwitz and a
classification for work. It refers to the deportations
Presiding Judge: This document will be T/292.
Attorney General: Our next document is No. 1505. This is
the evidence of Fritz Friedel, written in his own
handwriting in the prison of Bialystok in the year 1949.
He describes the liquidation of the ghetto. He refers to
the Jewish resistance and speaks of the visit of Guenther
of Eichmann’s Department. He does not say this. I am
adding this. Guenther was Eichmann’s man.
Presiding Judge: Was he his deputy?
Attorney General: Yes. In February 1943, and in
consequence of this visit 10,000 Jews were deported from
there. On page 4 it says that “the evacuation did not
pass off quietly. There was shooting on both sides and
both sides sustained killed and wounded. I also know that
Globocnik brought in an armoured car in order to break the
Jewish resistance.” On page 21 of the original, it says:
“Approximately in the second half of October, 1942, an
additional order of the R.S.H.A. came into effect in the
form of a ‘secret Reich matter’ – I have not read this
order either – which ordered the evacuation of the Jews
from the district of Bialystok.”
There is a reference to Guenther on page 22: “At the
beginning of February 1943, Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther of
the R.S.H.A. called on Dr Altenloh. Guenther explained
that he had instructions from the R.S.H.A. to carry out an
investigation in the Bialystok Ghetto in order to discover
a sabotage organization, and also an organization for
counterfeiting money and an organization for the forging
of passports. Nothing at all concerning organizations of
such a kind was known to the Bialystok command.
Undoubtedly their aim was to obtain in this way a partial
evacuation of the Jews and found it necessary to disengage
Dr Altenloh from that, because of his stand in favour of
the maintenance of the ghetto. I know nothing about the
success of Guenther’s investigation. He arrested and
deported, on his own, about 10,000 Jews and nobody knew
where to. In the ghetto there was great unrest.”
On page 16 Friedel writes, in the upper part of the page,
that in February 1943:
“Ob aus Bialystok im Februar 1943 durch den
Guenther Juden nach Treblinka geschickt worden sind, weiss
ich nicht, da Guenther die Transporte selbst abgefertigt
hat. Die Moeglichkeit besteht aber.” (I do not know
whether in February 1943 Jews were sent from Bialystok to
Treblinka by Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther, since Guenther
himself was dealing with the transports. However, that is
Presiding Judge: This will be T/293.
Attorney General: And now, I shall submit a number of
documents relating to another subject, before we hear the
following witness, who will give evidence about the Kovno
Ghetto. The first document is our No. 1193. These are
the minutes of a meeting on 10 October 1941.
Participating in it were Heydrich and other SS officers,
amongst them Eichmann and Guenther. The subject was –
the solution of the Jewish question.
Presiding Judge: Where did this meeting take place?
Attorney General: In Prague. We shall come back to this
document when we talk about Theresienstadt, for this is a
basic document. But for purposes of the matters which are
about to be produced now, I would draw the Court’s
attention to what is stated on page 3: “Now, during the
coming weeks, we must evacuate the 5000 Jews from Prague,
SS Brigadefuehrer Nebe and Rasch are ready to absorb Jews
also into the camps for communist prisoners in the
operational area. They have already started this
operation, according to the report of SS Sturmbannfuehrer
Nebe and Rasch were the commanders of the Einsatzgruppen
3B and C which were engaged at that time in killing Jews.
And Eichmann, as we contend, when he proposed at that
meeting to send Jews to Nebe and Rasch, knew very well
that he was sending them to certain death at the hands of
Presiding Judge: This will be T/294.
Attorney General: Now I shall call the witness Dr. Aharon
[The witness is sworn.]
Presiding Judge: What is your name?
Witness: Aharon Peretz.
Presiding Judge: Doctor?
Witness Peretz: Dr. Aharon Peretz.
Attorney General: Do you live in Haifa, at 14 Rehov Netiv
Witness Peretz: Yes.
Q. Do you work at the Rambam Hospital where you are the
head of the Gynaecology Department?
Q. When the German-Soviet Russian war broke out, you were
A. That is right.
Q. In August 1941 you were put to work both as a forced
manual labourer as well as a doctor?
A. That is right.
Q. You were there until the liquidation of the ghetto in
1944, when you were transferred to the Stutthof camp?
A. That is right.
Q. What were the first weeks of the German occupation
like, from the point of view of the Jews?
A. The Germans entered Kovno on 24 August 1941. Already
in the early days they began something which we called
pogroms. There was a reason for that. These small
operations in those days were different from the “actions”
which came afterwards, in their ferocity and their
spontaneity. Then came the notorious pogroms in Slobodka,
which was a suburb of Kovno, where there was the well-
known Yeshivah. And then, in one night about one thousand
people – Yeshivah students and heads of the Yeshivah –
were killed. The civilians jumped from the Vilna bridge,
and the Germans learned how to shoot at a target floating
on the river. There they had to dig their own graves.
This was the first pogrom.
Q. When was that?
A. Three to four days after the occupation. That is to
say, on 26 or 29 June and at the beginning of July. After
that there was a pogrom in the streets of Kovno, where
they assembled the Jews in a garage; they placed hose
pipes into their mouths, and they burst from the water.
There were 40 victims there. Thereafter they collected
Jews at the cemetery and killed them there. Of course, at
the time the Jews hid themselves in their houses. They
removed them from their houses. At the beginning of July
they collected the Jews from those streets; family by
family, and took the men to the Seventh Fort.
Q. What was this Seventh Fort?
A. Kovno was a fortified city from the times of the First
World War. There were fortifications there, which were
stone buildings with large courtyards. And the Fourth
Fort, the Seventh Fort and the notorious Ninth Fort became
a place of mass slaughter, not only for the Jews of
Lithuania, but also for Jews from other countries. In the
Seventh Fort they collected Jews, men only, who had to lie
on the sand in the burning sun for several days. And then
they removed group after group, they themselves dug pits,
jumped into them and were shot. Only a few survived that
place, and they later recounted the shocking events to us.
Q. How many people were killed?
A. In the Seventh Fort 7,000 were put to death.
Q. At once, in the early days?
A. At once, in the early days.
Q. How many Jews were there in Kovno?
A. There were more than 40,000 Jews in Kovno. When we
entered the ghetto the number was already only 32,000.
Q. When did you enter the ghetto?
A. On 15 August 1941 we completed the fence and the ghetto
was closed off.
Presiding Judge: You yourselves?
Witness Peretz: The Jews built the fence themselves, and
they built the bridge that linked the small ghetto with
the large ghetto. And on 15 August they closed the gate.
This decree to go into the ghetto then appeared to us as
some sort of rescue, for the Jews wanted to shut
themselves off into some closed space in order to free
themselves of the daily atrocities, from the daily
beatings. But evidently even this fence did not save us.
Several days before the closing off of the ghetto, when
the Jews were proceeding in convoys, on foot and in carts,
dragging their personal effects with them, on a Thursday –
it was also known amongst us as “the black Thursday” –
more than 1,000 persons were taken away from among us and
disappeared. This was several days before the closing of
the ghetto. A number of days after the closing of the
ghetto, when we were hoping that there, within the fence,
we would get some rest, to breathe, already in those early
days the Aeltestenrat, the Council of Elders, received a
request to gather people of the intelligentsia in order to
sort out the archives in the city. They requested
specially that these people should be young, intelligent,
with an academic education, welldressed. Naturally it did
not occur to us that we were being cheated, and we
assembled the best people in the city. There were many
such people who volunteered, since they thought that this
would be interesting work, suitable to their training.
More than 500 persons, 530 persons, left the ghetto, left
their families, their wives – most of them were married.
We waited for their return. We waited a day or two, but
they did not come back. Afterwards we learned that they
were taken out of the city of Kovno, and there all of them
were shot. This was already the first blow, after the
fence had been put up..
Q. And then you realized that this fence would not protect
A. Yes. After this “action” of the intelligentsia – and
each “action” had its own wretched name – many women were
left in a miserable state, alone with their children, and
theirs was all the time a difficult fate.
Q. Was there food?
A. During the early stages when we were shut in the
ghetto, the situation was very bad. First of all, we were
stunned, every day a fresh blow descended on our heads,
and we lacked orientation and the ability to adapt
ourselves – which later turned out to be an outstanding
ability to adjust to lack of livelihood and to hunger, to
finding and discovering ways, finding sources of
livelihood and sources of food – this strength we did not
have at first. For the restrictive regulations kept
coming, and the searches, and the plunder, and the units
that came into the ghetto and caused havoc all this gave
the Jews no opportunity to think of food, and in the early
months and in the first half-year the hunger was severe.
Q. Do you recall a case of girls who went out to dig for
A. Yes. In the early stage the ghetto was a part of the
township of Slobodka, and they crowded us more and more
into a small area. But within this area there were
gardens where there were potatoes and vegetables. The
women, at times of hunger, used to go out and try to find
potatoes and vegetables in those gardens. Then they were
shot at by the guards behind the fence. The shots were of
dumdum bullets I treated them in the hospital – these were
bullets which exploded inside the body, tearing the body
apart. These shootings happened close to each other, at
the beginning of the existence of the ghetto, and each day
another victim was brought to us in the hospital. Once it
was the case of a rabbi who passed by and failed to raise
his hat on meeting a German; once it was a doctor, a
friend of mine, who did not notice the SS man in time and
did not raise his hat; he got a bullet in the kidney and
died a day later. Naturally, shootings such as these
caused alarm. Later on searches began, and the robbery,
in organized fashion, and then, of course, there were
victims every day in order to frighten us, to induce the
Jews to hand over whatever they possessed. Special orders
were issued concerning the handing over of valuables, gold
and silver, as in all the ghettos. We received orders to
hand over everything, and in order to reinforce this order
they used to fire at people from time to time. They would
search, they would undress the women naked.