Q. What happened to the woman?
A. She was sent off immediately on the transport to Sobibor.
Q. Did she return?
A. She did not return, but the child remained with us.
Q. Where is this child today?
A. This child happens to be in Israel now. He is studying
in the Overseas Youth Leaders’ Institute and will be
returning later on to Holland in order to be an instructor
in the Hashomer Hatzair movement.
Q. Dr. Melkman, you said that you were transported in a
waggon of a goods train to Westerbork?
Q. How long were you in Westerbork?
A. I was there for eight months – until 15 February 1944,
and then I left on the transport for Bergen-Belsen.
Q. How many people were there generally at Westerbork, at
that time or perhaps at various periods?
A. It is hard to say. When we arrived, large transports of
Jews came from Amsterdam – thousands – and then the largest
trainloads consisting of 2,000-3,000 left on each transport
for Eastern Europe. And, thereafter, in September, the last
of the Jews of Amsterdam came, and then the camp was again
heavily populated. But it was not constant all the time.
The number of people in Westerbork varied from week to week.
Q. Who was the Commandant of Westerbork?
Q. Was he a German?
Q. Were SS men there?
Q. Which SS men were there? Do you remember the names of the
SS men? The name of any one of them?
A. No. Our contacts were with the Jewish administration,
and I do not remember the names of the SS men.
Q. Incidentally, did you ever see the person Slottke there?
A. Once, when we wanted to be registered for an exchange
transport to Palestine, she came to register us. I asked
about it. I wanted to join my mother-in-law who was already
on one of the first lists. Mrs. Slottke was there but did
not say anything at all. But Commandant Gemmeker said: “If
you want to be together with your family, you will go to
work in the East” (zu Arbeitseinsatz nach dem Osten).
Q. Did you know the function of this Mrs. Slottke?
A. We knew that she attended to the lists of the Jews.
Q. On whose behalf did she deal with them?
A. I only heard it afterwards – at the time I did not know
Presiding Judge: We heard a name.
State Attorney Bach: If the witness did not know then, I do
not want to ask him about it.
Judge Halevi: Did he hear it afterwards?
State Attorney Bach: Perhaps as a result of your research
you know who this woman was?
Witness Melkman: She dealt with the registration of Jews on
behalf of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt.
Presiding Judge: On whose behalf?
State Attorney Bach: She was, in practice, the official who
conducted the registration.
Presiding Judge: But at that time you did not know?
Witness Melkman: We did not know at the time – we got to
know later. We knew only that she was dealing with it.
Presiding Judge: She was a non-Jewess?
Judge Halevi: Was she Dutch or German?
Witness Melkman: Not a Jewess, a German.
State Attorney Bach: I shall prove this afterwards in some
other way. Apart from Westerbork, which other camp existed
in Holland – camps where Jews were detained?
Witness Melkman: There was a large camp in the south which
the Germans called Hertogenbosch. We called it Vught. It
was a small village. It was intended that Jews could be
brought there from the country towns, nearly all of whom
were subsequently transferred to Westerbork, and also people
who worked in the large factory of Phillips. There was also
a camp by the name of Ellerkom. It was in existence for a
short time only. It was a training camp for the SS. There
they experimented with tortures on the Jews.
Q. This was a training camp of the SS?
A. Training how to be cruel.
Q. Whom did they instruct there, German SS men or others?
A. Dutchmen, as far as I knew. The people who were there
suffered terribly. They were transferred subsequently to
Westerbork. It was forbidden to come near them. Only
members of the Jewish administration at Westerbork came to
them and attended to them, but they were in a terrible
state. Q. In what sense?
A. They suffered horrible injuries, they had been beaten and
had undergone other tortures, starvation. They were
skeletons – they were no longer human beings. I believe
that almost all of them were sent afterwards to Auschwitz.
I do not think that any of them remained alive.
Q. They were sent, subsequently, from Ellerkom to Westerbork
and from there onwards?
Q. Please tell the Court in what manner the deportations to
the East were organized. How was it determined? How did
you know? How were the people selected? When did a person
know that he or she was destined for deportation, and so on?
A. The commandant advised the Jewish administration of
Westerbork that on the following day – this was always a
Tuesday – a certain number had to be sent, 1,000 or 2,000 or
3,000, and the Jewish administration was required to provide
lists, the names of the people who were to be sent, slightly
more than the quota, for there was the obvious possibility
that some of them would die en route, and the number
reaching Auschwitz always had to be exact. If they had to
supply 1,000, they used to send 1,020. They started dealing
with these lists already on Friday and Saturday. Sometimes
people were included in the lists who were in possession of
documents which provided them with so-called protection
against being deported, and if there was a lack of human
material, this immunity was cancelled. This was already
known by Saturday. And then, the closer it was to Tuesday,
the greater the tension. And on Tuesday night, at three
State Attorney Bach: Are you referring to Tuesday morning,
on the night between Monday and Tuesday?
Witness Melkman: Yes – on the night between Monday and
Tuesday. At three in the morning they closed the hut in
which we were staying, they sealed it hermetically, it was
forbidden to leave or come in. And then the hut-leader read
out the names of the people who were condemned to
deportation – an alphabetical list. And I must say that all
the terrible things that I saw even afterwards, in the
camps, or murderous beatings and more than that, the most
powerful impression that remained with me, and also with
others, was of that night, three o’clock on Tuesday morning,
when there was absolute silence and darkness, and they
called out as if they were pronouncing a death sentence
every night on those about to be deported. Sometimes you
yourself could have been amongst them, and if not you
yourself – then relatives, friends, acquaintances. But
every single week there would be a certain number of death
sentences at that hour. This made such a horrifying
impression on us, on all of us, on all those who also wrote
about it, that we still feel some trepidations about a
Tuesday, which was the day of the death sentences for the
Jews of Holland.
Presiding Judge: Did you know then that it meant death?
Witness Melkman: We did not know that this meant certain
death. I can tell you: At the beginning of 1943 I saw some
official survey for the Judenrat, for the Jewish Council,
and it said there that there were fewer Jews in Poland than
there had been previously, and we knew, already at that
time, that many Jews had been sent to Poland, but we simply
did not know what had happened to them. It is quite
possible that even if we had known, we would not have been
able to believe that such a thing had occurred. I myself
only heard about it when I was in Bergen-Belsen, when the
first transports of women who had been in the women’s camp
at Auschwitz arrived; I spoke then to those who had returned
from Auschwitz and I heard about the gas chambers.
State Attorney Bach: These people who were on the list of
Tuesday morning – when did they depart?
Witness Melkman: The following morning, all of them had to
come to the main road where a train was waiting, and they
had to board it. The train usually left…
Q. Did the train actually enter the camp?
A. Yes, it came into the camp. It was able to pass through
the camp, because there were railway lines there. The train
arrived; members of the German police put the people inside
and closed the freight cars. A particular group of members
of the German police always came along specially, and then
the people were sent off. The train departed about 11
o’clock in the morning.
Q. What kind of a train was it usually? A freight train or
a passenger train?
A. A freight train. At first I had heard that they were
passenger trains, but all the time I saw them – during
these eight months – they were always freight trains.
Q. Do you know how many people there were in each waggon?
A. It varied. We knew the number of people that was
required, 2,000 or 3,000 at the time of the large
deportations, sometimes 1,000; we only got to know the exact
number after the war, but this was roughly the position.
Q. Dr. Melkman, within your own family, what persons were in
Westerbork and what happened to them?
A. Nearly all the members of my family were in Westerbork.
My father died five days after we arrived there, since he
was a heart case. My mother was deported on 13 July, as we
subsequently ascertained, to Sobibor. And as was known,
people hardly ever came back from Sobibor. Out of 33,000
people, only 19 returned, that is to say, a life expectancy
of half a person per one thousand individuals. My sister
was deported, on 25 January, to Auschwitz.
Presiding Judge: Was this in January 1944?
Witness Melkman: Yes, in 1944. She was seized because she
had hidden herself, and since she had hidden herself, this
was already a case for punishment. And despite the fact
that she was a doctor, we did not manage to find a place for
her in a hospital, for they did not allow people who were
subject to punishment to work there…she was sent to
Auschwitz and apparently also perished there. My brother-in-
law was also deported in August 1943, and he died in
Mauthausen in February 1945. Apart from this, all my uncles
and aunts, together with their sons and daughters – with the
exception of those children who were concealed amongst
Gentiles, including my sister’s three children, are now all
State Attorney Bach: Dr. Melkman, you stated that there
were people who hid themselves and were caught. Are you
able to say something, from the emotional point of view,
about the effects on such people who hid themselves, or on
children who hid themselves and were caught – how they
Witness Melkman: The conditions in a hide-out are somewhat
known to the world through the diary of Anna Frank. But,
perhaps, in order to give some impression of what it means
to be in a hide-out I shall describe one child whom I saw.
My wife and I worked in the children’s home in Westerbork.
They always brought to this place children who were seized
by the Germans, children who did not have parents, who did
not actually have parents, or whose parents had hidden
themselves or who had already been deported. In practice
they were orphans, and we attended to them, but of course,
for a very short time, for they had no protection, and
accordingly were deported, almost invariably, straight away.
I remember one case of a child whose name was van Dam – his
first name I do not recall. He was ten years old. He had
been cooped up for a whole year in a narrow room, he was not
allowed to talk in a normal voice – and I do not mean
talking loudly. He was not allowed to walk as a child would
walk, lest the neighbours should hear him. When he came to
Westerbork, he came to the children’s home and also began
speaking in whispers. When we told him that there was no
need to do so and he understood that everything was
permitted here, he began running round the grounds of the
children’s home all the time, he could not stop himself, and
he shouted very loudly, for he had been forbidden for a
whole year to speak and to walk.
Thus, the sort of life in a hide-out, especially for
children who had no understanding at all of their position,
was terrible, and we often asked ourselves, when we were in
the camp and we saw that as long as the children in the camp
were able to live like children – perhaps it was better than
living in hiding. Of course, when it became clear to us,
later on, what the fate was of those who were sent to Poland
and what was the fate of those who were hidden in Holland,
the position of the Jews of Holland was, nevertheless,
better, for many of them were saved by the Righteous
Gentiles – about 4,000 children were saved. But it is hard
to describe the mental agony of a child who was obliged to
live through a long time such as this – for two years and
Q. What happened to the child you were describing?
A. He was sent, three days later, to Auschwitz.
Q. Please tell the Court what you know about the
A. Apeldoornbos was a hospital for Jewish mental patients.
It was a Jewish institution in one of the country towns.
This institution had been in existence for a long time.
Presiding Judge: What was the name of the town?
Witness Melkman: The name of the town was Apeldoorn. “Bos”
is a forest near Apeldoorn, and the institution was named
after this forest. One day, on 22 January 1943, the German
police arrived unexpectedly. Captain Aus der Fuenten
himself came there, to Apeldoorn, and they removed all the
inmates who were there in the hospital. They put them into
freight cars. Men and women attendants were also there.
There was one case of a woman, who was the daughter of the
Chief Rabbi of The Hague, and she was one of the attendants
– she was a nurse. She went inside only for a moment in
order to hand over something, but as she entered, they
closed the door and she, too, was deported, although she was
not supposed to be deported. We were very upset by this
incident, but afterwards we understood that it had made no
difference – all the Jews were destined to die. It made no
difference whether they took them to one place or another.
This transport was dispatched straight away to the East. It
did not pass through Westerbork – this we heard afterwards
from Jews who were to come to Westerbork. There was some
kind of service, a Jewish service, of young people who had
to help at Westerbork with putting the people into these
Q. What was this service called?
Q. And they were required to help in loading those people on
to the train?
Q. Are you aware, from your research and from reports of the
Red Cross, what was the fate of these patients?
A. Not one of them remained alive.
Q. Where were they put to death?
A. In Auschwitz.
Q. Do you know how they were dressed when they were put into
A. I don’t know.
State Attorney Bach: Please tell me, Dr. Melkman, what was
the number of Jews in Holland at the time of the German
Witness Melkman: According to the census carried out by
order of the Germans, there were 140,000 Jews.
Q. How many Jews were deported from Holland?
Q. How many of these survived?