Presiding Judge: First of all, please explain. You say:
“We called it a pogrom.” What happened? What did they
die from? We don’t know what occurred there.
Witness Behrendt: They died because they were killed or
died from starvation.
Q. Who killed them – this is what the Attorney General is
A. I will come to that. Next to us there was a group
which went every day to the ghetto.
Q. A group of whom?
A. Of Jewish workers.
Q. Who went out of the ghetto daily to work?
A. They went out and came back to the ghetto. One day
they returned from the ghetto, back to this place where
we were living, and they were not allowed to come into
the ghetto. Then we asked: What had happened? And they
said it was full of SS men over there – nobody could
enter. All the commandos went back to their place of
work. This went on for three days.
Attorney General: What happened there?
Witness Behrendt: They killed about 30,000 Jews there.
Q. Who killed them?
A. The SS.
Presiding Judge: Where was this?
Witness Behrendt: In Minsk, in our ghetto.
Q. Inside the ghetto?
A. Inside the ghetto. They sealed the ghetto off
hermetically – our side, the Berlin side, of the Berlin
Ghetto, and they killed everybody who was inside. Anyone
who hadn’t gone out to work was killed there.
Q. By shooting?
A. Yes. And also in the ghetto of the Russian Jews.
Attorney General: Do you know the names of the SS
commanders who were there?
Witness Behrendt: I know Hauptsturmfuehrer Ruebe.
Q. Anyone else?
A. I don’t remember.
Q. Do you remember that once three men escaped?
A. Yes. This, too, happened at the beginning.
Q. And then the SD demanded that they hand over to them
300 men in exchange for those three?
Q. And the three were returned, correct?
A. They found them.
Q. What did the SD commander say then to the people of the
A. He said it isn’t worthwhile to escape. For each person
escaping, we shall kill 100 Jews.
Q. What happened to the three who escaped?
A. They caught them – the SS – and they brought them in.
A car full of SS guards arrived, brought them to the
square of the Hamburg Ghetto and shot them there.
Q. Did people die of starvation?
Q. Do you remember your friend Gerhardt Hofmann?
Q. Was he with you at Minsk?
Q. What happened to his father?
A. In this pogrom, amongst the fifty, they also took the
father of my friend. They took him in this operation, for
extermination. On one of the three days there was a
break, and they sent them – there were about fifty of them
– to their homes to visit their families, for a break. He
told his wife that what he had seen on that day and on the
previous day he had never seen before in his lifetime. He
had been a soldier in the German army in the First World
War, but a thing like that he had never seen. Then his
wife implored him not to go back. He didn’t want to do
this on account of the fact that possibly they would take
the family as well. He said he had to go lest they impose
sanctions. Then he went off again and didn’t return any
more. All of them didn’t come back any more.
Q. In the autumn of 1942 several officers came to your
huts – and amongst them was a sergeant whom all of you had
known for some time. Do you remember this?
Q. Who was he?
Q. What did they call him?
A. Even the Germans called him “Judentoeter (killer of
Q. Did he once search you?
Q. What did he find in your possession?
A. A plate, food utensils – these were what he found
amongst my things. Everyone had some possessions, hence
the search. He also came to my belongings and asked:
Where did you get these utensils? I said: I received
them. Then he hit me and gave me quite heavy blows. At
that moment there were sounds of machine gun shooting in
the next hut, an automatic machine gun, an automatic
rifle. They were shooting into the hut. This was in the
evening. After some time they drove off to their place.
We then heard shouts, we went to see what had happened,
and we saw that people had been wounded. All of them were
women. It was a women’s hut. One woman, who received a
bullet in her lungs, died the following morning. Another
woman received a shot in the upper arm, and she was given
some aid – there was a dentist there and he rendered
whatever aid he could – and some weeks later they
amputated her arm. There was no suitable aid on the spot
– there was no aid at all – and we had to send her to the
ghetto. There they amputated her arm.
Q. Up to the end of the winter of 1942-43 you worked as a
Q. How many of your entire group survived until the end?
A. I was the only survivor.
Presiding Judge: How many Jews were there in this group?
Witness Behrendt: Approximately twenty Jews – on one
occasion thirty, on another occasion twenty. They went
away but did not return.
Attorney General: In that summer two Jews from Western
Europe came to your place of work. Do you remember?
Witness Behrendt: Yes, I remember.
Q. What did they tell you?
A. At first we didn’t know exactly what was their country
of origin, but they spoke German to us. We asked them
where they were from. They came on some transport from
Western Europe – I don’t remember the country. They said
that they were working with the SS some tens of kilometres
from Minsk and they arrived with the transport. Other
transports arrived after them and they were shot in lime
pits. Presiding Judge: Who shot them?
Witness Behrendt: The SS.
Attorney General: How many persons?
Witness Behrendt: Transports, only transports. He
didn’t say how many.
Q. On 1 September 1943 your commando was put into the
concentration camp of Minsk?
Q. Did you meet other Jews there?
A. Yes – there were some already.
Q. How many?
A. It is hard to say, the camp was already full.
Q. Roughly how many?
A. About 3,000.
Q. Was this all that remained of the ninety-odd thousand
Jews of Minsk?
A. There were still some in the ghetto.
Q. How many were there in the ghetto at that time?
A. I don’t remember exactly. They told me afterwards that
at this time there are still about 9,000 Jews.
Q. What happened to this group, to the 9,000 and to the
A. We were in that camp ten days and Hauptsturmfuehrer
Ruebe came to the camp and took a transport of single men,
2,000 Jews, and the rest of them remained. A few days
later we travelled to Poland.
Q. Which camp did you go to?
A. First of all to Lublin.
Q. And after that?
A. To Budzyn.
Q. And after that?
A. To Mielec.
Q. And afterwards?
A. Afterwards? Flossenbuerg.
Q. And from there?
A. To Herzebrock and from there back to Flossenbuerg. And
from there we went on foot to Dachau.
Q. All the camps that you mentioned were concentration
A. Yes. At first they were labour camps and afterwards
they were converted into concentration camps.
Q. Until you were released on 24 April 1945 by the
Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, have you any questions?
Dr. Servatius: No, I have no questions.
Judge Halevi: You were in Berlin until November 1941. At
that time was there still any concentration of Jews?
Witness Behrendt: Prior to that there still was.
Q. Were the Jews concentrated or did each one remain where
he had been previously?
A. Each one was in his own apartment. Only in places of
work did we work in groups.
Q. You related that a street of Jews was sent to the east.
A. Some from the street.
Q. They conducted a search on the street and they sent
Q. What did you hear at that time concerning the fate of
these Jews, and where were they sent to?
A. I heard, and I not only heard but I saw, a postcard at
an acquaintance of mine in which it said that they should
send them bread, even stale bread, but quickly. My
friend, with whom I worked, was the one who received this
postcard from acquaintances of his or from his family who
were in Lodz.
Q. What did you understand from that?
A. If it said “Generally we are well, only send bread…”
Q. Did you believe that the Jews who had been sent there
A. It was very strange for us to hear that they were fit,
and, notwithstanding that, that stale bread should be
sent to them. We believed that the situation was not so
good. But, nevertheless, we were unable to understand why
they were asking for bread to be sent from Berlin to
Q. Did you believe that the Jews there had been sent to
their deaths or not?
A. No, not that.
Q. When you went into hiding, when you moved to another
apartment so as not to be sent away, you didn’t know and
didn’t you think that these deportations were to death?
A. No – I didn’t think it was so bad.
Q. What did you think?
A. I thought they were sending people to a concentration
camp and we were afraid they would take us. But I didn’t
think about death.
Q. You told us that three Jews escaped from the ghetto in
Minsk and then the Germans demanded that you hand over
300 to them?
A. 300 people.
Q. Who was supposed to determine which 300 persons?
A. The SS demanded 300 people and we could do this in any
way we liked, or as we thought. But they wanted 300
souls. And, first of all, they took the sick and the
elderly. The young people still remained.
Presiding Judge: Who decided that?
A. The Ghetto Administration.
Judge Halevi: Was that the SS?
Witness Behrendt: No, the Jews.
Q. That is to say, the SS demanded that the Jewish
Administration of the ghetto should hand over 300 persons
Q. And when the three men returned and were shot, as you
described, were the 300 released?
Presiding Judge: Thank you Mr. Behrendt, you have
completed your evidence.
We shall stop now. The following Session will be next
Monday, at 9 o’clock in the morning.