Session No. 38
26 Iyar 5721 (12 May 1961)
Presiding Judge: I declare the thirty-eighth Session of the
trial open. Mr. Bar-Or, if you please.
State Attorney Bar-Or: With the Court’s permission, I call
Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?
Witness Ansbacher: Yes.
[Witness makes an affirmation.]
Presiding Judge: What is your full name?
Witness: Mordechai Ansbacher.
Presiding Judge: Where do you live, Mr. Ansbacher?
Witness Ansbacher: I live in Jerusalem.
State Attorney Bar-Or: Does Your Honour want the address in
Presiding Judge: This is sufficient.
State Attorney Bar-Or: Mr. Ansbacher, you are now working
at Yad Vashem?
Witness Ansbacher: That is correct.
Q. You were born in Wuerzburg in 1927?
A. On 11 January 1927.
Q. Did you go to school in Wuerzburg?
Q. Jewish, or non-Jewish?
A. To a Jewish school.
Q. When you began going to school in Wuerzburg, did you hear
the name Hitler?
A. When I went to school, we already heard the name Hitler
and also already felt it.
Q. Was this in 1932 or 1933?
A. In 1933.
Q. You remained in Wuerzburg until January 1939?
A. I remained in Wuerzburg until January 1939.
Q. What happened then?
A. In January 1939, I was sent to Belgium with a transport
of Jewish children organized at that time by the
Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland in other words
immediately after the “action” of November 1938.
Q. Did you stay with relatives in Brussels?
Q. You remained there until the occupation of Belgium by the
Q. What happened after the occupation?
A. After the occupation, all German Jewish refugees were
sent to Gurs, which is in the South of France. I remained in
Brussels for a day or two and escaped with most of the Jews
of Belgium via Dunkirk and St. Omer to Calais.
Judge Halevi: Who sent the refugees to Calais?
Witness Ansbacher: The Belgian gendarmerie.
State Attorney Bar-Or: What happened in Calais?
Witness Ansbacher: We tried to escape to England but we did
not succeed, because that was the time the English were
retreating and the Germans advancing at great speed, the
Blitzkrieg. The Germans caught us in the basement where we
were hiding, shouted “Raus” (get out!) and sent us back.
Q. Where did they send you back to?
A. We were returned, for the time being, to a camp near
Calais, a small concentration camp, where there were
reasonably good conditions. Afterwards they sent us back,
with the aid of the Belgian Red Cross, to Belgium, to
Q. Until when did you remain there?
A. I remained there until January 1941.
Q. In January 1941 you were returned to Wuerzburg?
Q. How did that happen?
A. My parents, who lived in Wuerzburg, re-established postal
communication which had been interrupted owing to the
invasion, and made an application, since they knew that the
economic situation in Belgium was very critical, terrible
hunger prevailed there at the time, and they saw that there
was no chance of saving me – they applied for me to return
Q. Who was at home then?
A. Only my parents.
Q. Brothers and sisters?
A. My brother, because of special problems, which perhaps I
shall describe later, was sent to Neuendorf – a sort of
agricultural training centre which was under the control of
the Gestapo of Berlin.
Q. And, at the end of 1941, he was still at Neuendorf?
A. Yes, he was still at Neuendorf, and he was there until
1943, until he was sent to Auschwitz.
Q. Who organized your journey from Belgium to Wuerzburg?
A. My journey to Wuerzburg was organized by the Oberkommando
der Wehrmacht. At that time there were not yet any special
Referenten for Jewish affairs. The Germans were still
trying to ensure that there would be no contact between the
invading Germans and the local Jews.
Q. Did you travel with an escort or without?
A. We travelled with an escort.
Q. You reached Wuerzburg?
A. I arrived at Wuerzburg together with another boy who had
been sent with me in 1939 from Wuerzburg to Belgium –
Manfried Krieger. He was also sent back with me to
Q. Was he also a native of Wuerzburg?
A. He, too, was born in Wuerzburg.
Q. When did you reach Wuerzburg?
A. We reached Wuerzburg at the end of January 1941.
Q. Did you find your parents?
Q. Where were they living?
A. They lived in one of the buildings where Jews were
concentrated – all the Jews were then concentrated in
certain buildings. They lived in a building called the
“Wohnheim Bibrastrasse” (the Bibra Street Home). All the
Jews lived in one building, and they conducted the
administration of this building jointly – there was a
central kitchen, all economic matters were conducted in
Q. Was this by the community council – or how was it done?
A. By order of the Gestapo, these Jews had to be
concentrated in the buildings. Everyone had a particular
task there, everyone worked. The younger ones went outside
to work; they had to report in the morning, in order to
receive work instructions, and the older ones, including my
father, had duties inside the house.
Q. What were your father’s duties? What was he engaged in
during that year?
A. He attended to the religious affairs of the community.
He was given the task of conducting prayers, and he also
gave lessons in the Gemara and in the Mishna.
Q. When you returned to Wuerzburg, you continued going to
A. When I got back, I went to school. “School” – perhaps it
would be an exaggeration to call it such. The school was
inside that same building on Bibra Street, and it had a room
containing several grades together. The Bibra building once
served as a dormitory for students of the Jewish Teachers’
Q. Was that the Jewish Seminary for Teachers of Wuerzburg
Q. When you returned to Wuerzburg, was it still in
A. No. Already in 1938 they had destroyed the Seminar,
which had not been at that place. The new Seminar was also
in Seelberg Street.
Q. What do you mean by “destroyed”?
A. They burned the archives and arrested all the students.
Community life continued in Wuerzburg, for it possessed
cultural and spiritual forces of the highest standard, first
and foremost the students of the seminary, some of whom
remained in Wuerzburg as teachers.
Q. They organized classes of Jewish children for regular
A. Yes, for regular tuition.
Q. During 1941-1942?
A. Yes, in 1941.
Q. Until when did the regular lessons continue?
A. In spring 1941, this school had to be closed down. It
was not an official order, but they said that the small
schools should be closed and be concentrated in much larger
centres. At first this was also the situation regarding the
villages and country towns. In this way, all the children
of the surrounding area were already concentrated in
Wuerzburg before 1938, where there was a central school, and
the schools in the country towns and the villages were
closed at that time. This was also the position in 1941.
We were no longer able to study. They then tried to
transfer me to Munich. In Munich a school still existed
until a later date – I do not remember until when.
Q. And for this reason your parents made an application to
transfer you to Munich?
A. Not only for this reason. When I returned to Wuerzburg
from Belgium, my brother – as I have said – was not there.
I asked my mother what the explanation was for this, for my
brother had been together with our parents all the time.
She explained to me that he had been one of the few youths
who had remained in the town, and because of the compulsory
labour, they had taken him, too, to do exceedingly difficult
work. They had to build railway lines, roads, and most of
the workers there were already elderly, and he was the only
young one amongst them. Thus the all the German overseers
exploited him, and he received terrible beatings from them.
On one occasion he came home bleeding and said that he would
not be able to bear this any more, and that he would die at
work under such conditions. The Gestapo in Wuerzburg – this
I heard from my mother – especially wanted to retain him,
for he was one of the younger labour force, and they took
advantage of him to the limit of his strength, and they knew
that he could no longer succeed in escaping abroad from
there. But application was made to the Reichsvereinigung in
Berlin, and then they managed to transfer him, through the
Gestapo and under its supervision, to Neuendorf.
Q. And what happened to you?
A. My mother feared that they would take me, too, to forced
labour of this kind, and I was transferred to Munich.
Q. When did you reach Munich?
A. I reached Munich in the spring of 1941.
Q. You travelled by train?
Q. Was this a simple matter?
Q. What were you obliged to obtain?
A. Every Jew travelling by train in those days had to submit
an application for special authorization. This
authorization was given only very seldom and in urgent
Q. By whom was the authority given?
A. By the Gestapo in Wuerzburg.
Q. When did you arrive in Munich?
A. In the spring of 1941.
Q. What was your work there?
A. In Munich they attached me to the “Werkstaetten.” These
were trade schools for vocational training, and we studied
for half a day. It was only for a short period. Thereafter
we could not study at all, and we were obliged to work all
the time, and we had to undertake special duties as
Q. How old were you then?
A. 14 years old.
Q. And you commenced working?
A. Yes. At the beginning we worked for the Jewish
community. We had to do all kinds of work, sometimes for
the Gestapo as well. We had to erect installations for
them. Thereafter, we were required – they did not release
anyone from it – to assist in constructing the camp for
assembling Jews before they were deported to the East.
Q. The Sammellager?
A. Yes, the Sammellager in Milbertshofen, a suburb of
Q. How long did you work there?
A. For a few months. First in construction work, and later
helping with the transports.
Q. How many transports left from Munich?
A. I personally helped with two or three.
Q. How many people were included in such a transport?
A. I cannot actually say, approximately one thousand.
Q. Did the people, or you, know where the transport was
being sent to?
A. We did not know. They merely told us it was going to the
East. The people for the transports were of completely
different categories – there were old people, sick people,
and there were also younger people.
Q. What was the sort of help you were required to give?
A. We were required to bring food to the camp, and
sometimes, at a later stage, to those who were being
deported. We were required to help the weak and the sick
when they were taken to the trains. Generally speaking, the
trains left at night, and those were frightful days and
nights; the departures were carried out under projectors.
Generally speaking, these were sick and feeble people,
because most of the people then in Munich were aged and
sick, for in the main there were no longer any young people
left in Germany at that time. They were transferred under
terrible conditions. I am ready to describe them.
Q. Please do so, but briefly.
A. They usually transferred the people from the
concentration camp at Milbertshofen a day or two before the
transport left. In Munich, too, there were centralized
dwellings. Some of them were located in the community
council building. There was one on Trippet Street where I
lived, and there was one in the place where there was the