State Attorney Bar-Or: Yes, it does, it comes to us from a
third-hand source. I do not insist on my request. If the
Court feels that this document has not much value, then I am
prepared to do without it.
Judge Halevi: Only one preliminary question: The German Red
Cross – were these German citizens?
State Attorney Bar-Or: They were German citizens. This is
what I wanted to add to the reasons for my request, although
perhaps the real value of the document is limited because of
the remoteness of the source. Your Honour, the Presiding
Judge, we shall prove, still in the course of today, that an
official visit of the International Red Cross, as distinct
from the German Red Cross, took place in June 1944. It is
clear that the information which reached Geneva from the
German Red Cross is important (a) in order to appreciate the
need for the International Red Cross to arrange its visit,
and (b) in order to understand the special preparations made
by the offices of the Accused, in order to prepare and, what
is more important, to permit this visit to Theresienstadt,
which was of course an unusual event. I should actually be
content if the Court were to permit me to prove the first
passage, which speaks of the impression of Theresienstadt
gained by the representatives of the German Red Cross after
a visit of 48 hours there. This is actually the part I wish
Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, it is an
expression of feelings, a mood is being passed on, from hand
to hand; furthermore, it is of such a general nature that it
can be said to have no value at all, since it contains no
facts of any kind. It is well-known, is it not, that the
German Red Cross belonged to the International Red Cross
also during the War, so that it may be assumed that there
exist direct reports where certain matters are mentioned.
Little can be done with a simple conclusion that one was
deeply impressed. I think that every person would be deeply
impressed on coming from a peaceful home to visit, for the
first time, any camp and spend 48 hours there. And he would
probably be taken aback on seeing what goes on in the camp
when he has not yet experienced such a thing.
Presiding Judge: Mr. Bar-Or, did you say in the end that you
wish to submit only the first passage?
State Attorney Bar-Or: I shall base my argument on the
first passage only. But I would ask you to permit me to
submit the document as a whole.
Presiding Judge: If you are not going to base yourself on
the remaining passages, this means that they are of no
State Attorney Bar-Or: In the opinion of the Prosecution,
the other parts are of no importance, and it will not refer
Presiding Judge: What do you call “the first passage”?
State Attorney Bar-Or: From the beginning until the words
“in Beruehrung gekommen sind” (came into contact).
Judge Halevi: But the details follow only after this.
State Attorney Bar-Or: For the details we have no need of
this document. We have far more exact details in documents
which I have submitted and in other sources. I do not have
to learn from the German Red Cross that there were 43,000
Jews in Theresienstadt. I know this from Seidl.
Judge Halevi: If that is so, are you interested only in the
impressions gained by the people of the Red Cross?
State Attorney Bar-Or: I am interested in the impressions
gained by the people of the German Red Cross.
Presiding Judge: There will be an intermission for twenty
minutes, and our Decision will be given after the interval.
Decision No. 37
We accept Mr. Riegner’s notes only as proof of the fact
that, on the day mentioned, there was a visit of
representatives of the German Red Cross in Theresienstadt.
What is said about the general impressions gained by them
has no probative value at all, in our opinion. This is
signed by Judge Raveh and by me.
Judge Halevi: In my opinion, the impressions gained by the
representatives of the German Red Cross on their first visit
in Theresienstadt have also prima facie probative value, and
I am of the opinion that the document should be accepted as
proof of these impressions.
Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/853.
State Attorney Bar-Or: I shall still submit the document
bearing Prosecution Number 1598. This is a Heimkaufvertrag
(Homestead Purchase Contract) form, about which you have
heard oral evidence. It was issued in Berlin and is
numbered 371/B. It is the form typically used for this
Presiding Judge: This will be Exhibit T/854.
State Attorney Bar-Or: I shall now call as witness Mr.
Ernst Recht. I should like to explain why he is being
called: He will give evidence about the Treuhandstelle
(Trusteeship Office) attached to the Council of Elders in
Prague. We do not have systematic proof from many places
about what happened to the property of the Jews. In Prague,
this was administered most punctiliously, and some documents
were preserved as well, which I have also submitted. I
shall therefore ask the witness to testify about this
matter, about what he remembers of it. I understand that
the witness will want to testify in German.
The witness is sworn.
Presiding Judge: What is your full name?
Witness: Ernst Recht.
Presiding Judge: Tell him that he may sit down.
Witness Recht: I do not feel well, but I will remain
Presiding Judge: As you wish.
Witness Recht: I came out of hospital two hours ago.
Presiding Judge: Please be seated, there is no need to
State Attorney Bar-Or: I will ask you in Hebrew. If you
understand my questions, reply directly in German. If you
do not understand the question, wait for the translation.
Witness Recht: I request to be asked in German.
Q. Where do you live?
A. In Herzlia.
Q. Where were you born?
A. I was born in Pilsen.
Q. How old are you today?
Q. Where were you at the outbreak of the Second World War in
A. In Prague.
Q. What did you do in Prague?
A. I was director of the big printing house “Haase,” and at
the same time director of two paper factories – the Lukavitz
and Wolfsdorf paper factories.
Q. Were you married in 1939?
Q. You were cohabiting in a mixed marriage, were you not?
Q. Until when did you remain in Prague?
A. The whole time, the entire period of the occupation.
Q. When Prague was liberated by the Russian army – were you
Q. Until when did you continue to work in this printing
house and in these factories?
A. As a Jew who was important for the economy, I was
employed in the Haase printing house until 30 December 1941.
The two paper factories were in the so-called Sudeten
District, and in 1938-39 they were declared as no longer
belonging to us.
Q. Who were the owners of these factories, Jews or non-Jews?
A. The owners of the paper factories were Jews. The owners
of the printing house were Aryans until 1930. In that year,
I was given the task of reorganizing the printing house.
After I consolidated these factories in 1935, the Haase
printing house became, in fact, a Jewish enterprise.
Because of this, a German trustee was appointed in 1939.
Q. Were such trustees introduced into every Jewish
A. Not only were trustees appointed, but in enterprises
where trustees had been appointed, the Jews were partly
still working. There was also a large number of enterprises
which had been Jewish, where the owners, the managers, had
been removed, and which were declared purely German
Q. You told the Court that you continued directing these
enterprises until December 1941?
A. This is not quite exact; not these enterprises, but one
Q. My question is: Which of the regulations concerning the
Jews enacted by the government of the Protectorate affected
you, if any?
A. Until that moment – everything that affected the Jews.
Q. Can you give details in brief?
A. The first regulation against the Jews was the earliest
possible seizure of their homes. Not only this, but my
home, which was in a villa, was taken away from me and given
to Dr. Ruehe, Professor at the German University in Prague,
and I still had to prepare it for those people, to whitewash
and to decorate it. The second thing happened on Yom Kippur
1939, when the radio receivers had to be handed over. Then
people were forced to have all valuables, gold and precious
stones valued, and to deliver them at certain banks, against
receipt. Most Jews lost their sources of income, most
officials in the various enterprises lost their jobs.
Luckily, I was found to be essential in the enterprise where
I worked; Mr. Holub, at that time the trustee of the
enterprise, stated to the Ministry of Labour and to its
director, Mr. Fischer, that I was indispensible to the
enterprise, despite the intervention by some of our
employees who disliked the fact that I was still working
Q. In November 1941, you joined the staff of the Jewish
Community, did you not?
A. It was not like that, I still continued to work secretly
for the Haase firm, on instructions from the trustee Holub,
and I used to go to the factory in the afternoon.
Q. And in the morning?
A. In the morning I was officially unemployed, and as
officially unemployed, I was forced to join the work effort,
the mobilization for work, that is to say, I was then taken
to the Community in Prague to do administrative work.
Q. Did you regard this as punishment?
A. It was punishment and it was not. If I regard it as
punishment, I can say that it worked to my advantage,
because in this way I was protected.
Q. So, was it a punishment?
A. No, to be honest, it was different. After five or six
transports had already been sent to Lodz, the Central Office
for the Settlement of the Jewish Question, Prague, charged
Mr. Kramer with the job of seizing the valuables left behind
in the Jewish homes.
Q. Who was Kramer?
A. Salo Kramer from Maehrisch-Ostrau. He was the first so-
called Head of the Trusteeship Office at the Council of
Elders in Prague.
Q. I should like you, please, to explain to the Court the
meaning of this term “Trusteeship Office at the Council of
Elders in Prague.”
A. I cannot explain what that was. Guenther ordered this
institution to be set up and to be called the “Trusteeship
Q. When you joined this institution, if I can call it that,
at the end of 1941 – was Guenther there?
Q. You did not know him before that?
A. I did not know him before that, and I did not get to know
him for a long time after that. Only after the deportation
of all the full Jews (Volljuden) from Prague, and after
engineer Blitz, who was a full Jew, was appointed Head of
the Trusteeship Office in the summer of 1944, it was only
after that that I met Guenther.
Q. What I wanted you to explain to the Court was not the
reason for the name, but the tasks, the functions, of the
Trusteeship Office, what had to be done there?
A. During the last months of 1945, I removed various things
from the Trusteeship Office.
Q. Mr. Recht, my question was what had to be done at that
office. Please reply to my question. My question was
simple: When you joined the Religious Community, or the
Council of Elders, at the end of 1941 or the beginning of
1942, what did you find there, what was Kramer’s job, and
what was he authorized to do?
A. The Jews who were to be deported were concentrated in a
certain place in Prague, in the Exhibition Hall. There the
keys to their homes, which were now empty, were taken from
them. These keys were brought to the Central Office, and
from there to the Trusteeship Office, which was then called
“Kramer’s Operation.” There, there was first of all the key
department. The key department would give an order to the
so-called “stocktakers.” These were sent to the empty
homes, wrote everything down and brought the lists back.
After this stocktaking, the lists were transferred to a
department which packed the various objects in suitable form
and prepared them for dispatch. From there, the files went
to the Transport Department. The Transport Department
ordered from the Holland Transport Firm in Prague often
twenty lorries per day which made four to six transports per
lorry. This is where I worked at first as a labourer, and
the Transport Department carried all these articles away.
Most of the time, SS officers and SS N.C.O.’s were present
at this operation. Sometimes twenty lorries a day would be
ordered, and since the Holland Transport Firm did not have
that many lorries, it had to borrow lorries from other
firms, often lorries for 80 to 100 transports were ordered
for one day. This is how the property from the Jewish homes
was taken to the different warehouses (Lager).