State Attorney Bach: In Budapest when did you first come
into contact with the leaders of Slovakian Jewry, Gisi
Fleischmann, Rabbi Weissmandel, in connection with rescue
operations for the Jews?
Witness Freudiger: I myself was already in contact with
them at the end of 1941, since they were my personal
friends, and I knew them all. My wife is from Bratislava –
she was the daughter of the late Rabbi of Bratislava – I
knew them all personally. But in 1942, when the restrictive
decrees began in Slovakia, in the summer of 1942, Dr. Abeles
and the late Gisi Fleischmann came as a delegation to
Budapest to seek funds for the labour camp there – I think
this was in Sered and a few other places. They asked for
money, since they did not have any. It would have cost a
large amount in order to supply them with food and other
necessities at the labour camp. They did not meet with much
success in Budapest, since official Jewry could not – I do
not want to say that it was unwilling – but it was unable to
help them, for as I have said, there was a strict law
Presiding Judge: What do you mean by “official Jewry”?
Witness Freudiger: The leaders of the community, the heads
of the Union of Communities, the Zionist Organization, for
example, who had funds and were unable to hand them over. I
gave them, from the funds of my congregation, the Orthodox
congregation, 100,000 pengoe. This is what they received
after their first visit.
Q. How much was 100,000 pengoe?
A. Then it was worth 40,000 Swiss francs. I remember that,
since at the time we made the calculation.
State Attorney Bach: Were you also in contact with Dr.
Witness Freudiger: Yes. He was my guest for the Sabbath.
I can still remember that he told me that they were building
bunkers in Bratislava. I simply could not understand it. I
asked, “What is a bunker, and why do you have to make one?”
Subsequently, in September 1942, we already had the
Q. When did you first know about the negotiations with
A. Then, in September 1942.
Q. Who informed you about it?
A. Rabbi Weissmandel informed me. He asked us for money and
said that they had made a promise to him. I do not remember
any more if the amount discussed was 40,000 dollars.
Q. To whom did they promise?
A. To Wisliceny.
Q. For what?
A. To stop the deportations. They had already deported
58,000. But there were another 1,000-3,000 Jews awaiting
deportation. They had made a deal with Wisliceny to the
effect that, if they gave him 40,000 to 50,000 dollars, he
would stop the deportation.
Q. At that stage had you already heard of the name Adolf
A. Yes. I heard at that time that Adolf Eichmann had come
to Bratislava and had given instructions to Wisliceny; he
had remained there with Wisliceny to carry out the
deportation of the Jews and had spent two or three days
there in Bratislava, and that he had left thereafter.
Q. And now, Mr. Freudiger, please tell the Court what
happened on 19 March 1944, as far as your experience went.
A. On 19 March 1944 I received a personal telephone call at
six in the morning – it was a notification which came from
one of the senior officials of the Hungarian police. He had
phoned my cousin with the information that the German army
had crossed the Hungarian border during the night. He
phoned my cousin, and my cousin phoned me. I simply did not
want to believe him, and I said: “What are the Germans doing
in Hungary? And did the Hungarians allow the Germans to
come in?” In the afternoon I wanted to go to the offices of
our community, the Orthodox congregation. At the bottom of
the stairs I saw a German army car with machine guns. I did
not go up – I went to another congregation. I saw the same
thing there. The next morning we received a message that we
had to come to the office of the Neologue community – that
was the largest community in Budapest – all the community
heads of Budapest had to assemble there, together with the
rabbis and the community leaders. As far as the Orthodox
community was concerned, I did not want our rabbis to go.
So two of us went, Dr. Emil Deutsch and I.
Q. Where did you go to?
A. To the office of the Neologue community.
Q. Did you know what was the purpose of this meeting?
A. They told us that we would meet the Germans there. I
know that Hofrat Stern had telephoned from the office of the
Neologue community to the Ministry of Religions, which was
in charge of all the communities, in order to enquire: “We
have received the order – what are we to do?” They said
they were unable to give an answer. They telephoned to the
Prime Minister’s office, where they were told that we would
receive a reply the following morning through the police.
The next morning, Monday, 20 March, they telephoned the
police. The reply was: “Whatever the Germans say – do.” We
understood that they were going to hand us over to the
Q. Did they hand you over?
A. When they replied that we should do whatever the Germans
told us to do, and that the Hungarians did not want to
intervene, this meant that they were handing us over.
Q. You say that you, together with another person,
represented the Orthodox community. How many Jews
altogether appeared at that meeting?
A. I think about fifteen. The whole executive of the
Neologue community and of the Buda community. There were
two rabbis from the Neologue community – about fifteen men.
Q. This meeting took place on 20 March?
A. On 20 March, at 10:00-10:30 in the morning.
Q. What did you fear would actually happen to you?
A. We were not afraid.
Q. Did some of the Jewish representatives come along with
suitcases? Do you remember anything about that?
Q. Who represented the Germans at that meeting?
A. Three officers came, one man in mufti, and a girl typist.
There was one soldier with an automatic pistol. They sat
along one side of the table. One of the officers opened by
“You ought to know that, as from this moment, all the
affairs of Hungarian Jewry, of the Jews, have been
transferred to the authority of the SS.”
Presiding Judge: Were these army officers or SS?
Witness Freudiger: I did not know at the time. Later on I
got to know that he was from the SS – I did not know the
German army then.
State Attorney Bach: Who was the person who said that?
Witness Freudiger: Krumey. In a conversation he said there
would certainly be some economic regulations, but everything
would be fine. It would be possible to proceed with
cultural and religious life. We should ensure that people
remained quiet and maintained order, and everything would be
fine – apart from certain things that would occur, for it
had to be understood that there was a war on, and that in
war sacrifices had to be made. After that he demanded to be
given the structure of all the communities; he wanted a
profile of all the communities, who their leaders were. We
were to send it to him. Hofrat Stern, who was at the
meeting, agreed. I sat by his side – I did not even know
with whom we were talking. I asked: “May I be permitted to
ask to whom this must be sent.” Then he said:
“Obersturmbannfuehrer Krumey.” I then asked: “Where should
it be sent to?” And he replied: “To the Astoria Hotel.”
This was one of the best hotels in Budapest. I asked:
“Perhaps we may also be permitted to know who the other
officers are?” One of them said: “Hauptsturmfuehrer
Wisliceny” – the other did not give his name, but I know who
he was, he was Hauptsturmfuehrer Hunsche – I met him
Q. The soldier who held the automatic pistol – where did he
point it during the meeting?
A. He pointed it at us.
Q. For the whole duration of that meeting?
A. All the time.
Q. Were you seated or standing at the meeting?
A. We were seated.
Q. How long did this meeting last?
A. Half an hour at the most.
Q. I gather from your remarks that the general tone was
A. Yes, definitely.
Q. Did it also have an effect on you people?
A. On us? I do not know how to answer that. I can say how
it affected me.
Q. How did it affect you? Was it possible also to sense how
it influenced the others?
A. No, no, these are two different matters – for as soon as
I heard Wisliceny’s name, my approach to the whole affair
Q. If that is so, what was your attitude?
A. My attitude was that, after what had happened in
Slovakia, where Wisliceny expelled all the Jews from
Slovakia, now he had come here, to Hungary – they had not
sent him for a sight-seeing tour of Budapest. On the other
hand, I knew that he had ultimately received the money I had
sent to Slovakia. I knew that we had to find a way to
enable us to establish contact with Wisliceny. I informed
Dr. Karl Wilhelm, one of the intelligent people of the
Neologue community, of this fact – he was a clever lawyer.
Q. At this meeting, were further meetings arranged?
A. Yes. That was on Monday. At the end of the meeting
Krumey told us to arrange a larger meeting, with more
participants, for Tuesday afternoon at 4:00-4:30, and to
invite all the leaders of the Jewish institutions of
Budapest – possibly 40-50 people – for he wanted to meet
Q. Was anything arranged at that meeting about the setting
up of a central Jewish committee?
A. Not at that meeting, as far as I remember. I do not know
any more whether it was at the first or the second meeting
when they told us that all the community institutions would
be abolished. They wanted to have a centralized address, a
responsible one, with which they could be in contact.
Q. It is not important, for the moment, whether this
happened at the first meeting or the following one, but how
many people, how many representatives were supposed to be on
that committee which was to be responsible to the Germans?
A. They said there ought to be four or five persons. They
did not call it a “Judenrat.” They wanted to reassure us,
for we knew what a Judenrat meant. They called it the
“Central Committee” – the Central Committee of the Jewish
Community. In the end, on the following day, the Central
Committee was appointed (let me also use this term),
consisting of seven persons. At the head of this committee
was Hofrat Stern. There were seven of us, and I was one of
Q. Were you one of the members?
A. There were two representatives of the Orthodox community,
and I was one of them.
Q. When were the first Jews arrested by the Germans?
A. They began making arrests already on the night of the
first day they came. But, as far as I recall, on that first
day the action was not against Jews. Anti-Nazi politicians
were seized, Social-Democratic leaders, certain journalists
– they began with them. On the second and the third nights,
they commenced detaining hundreds of prominent,
distinguished Jews in all spheres – industrialists,
financiers, anyone who was well-known in the Jewish
community of Budapest – they arrested almost all of them.
Q. Do you know anything about searches and arrests conducted
and carried out at the railway stations?
A. Yes. They had entered on 19 March, and forthwith – I was
informed of this on the following day – all the Jews who
were found at the railway station that night – the night of
19 March – and thereafter on the Monday morning – all of
them were arrested and sent, first of all, to the police
station. At the police station there was a temporary gaol.
Later on, a day or two later, they were sent to Kistarcsa.
They numbered about 1,500. My brother-in-law was also
amongst those seized. He was arrested simply because he had
with him a Slovakian Jew whom he was accompanying to the
railway station, and whom he thought he could smuggle out to
Oradea. The Slovakian Jew was in the forests together with
non-Jews – he left, but my brother-in-law was arrested.
Q. Mr. Freudiger, you wanted to say something about your
brother. When did they arrest him?
A. On Tuesday morning, they wanted to arrest my cousin –
they came to him at night but did not find him. They came
to our factory where they found my brother, Shmuel
Freudiger; they seized him and took him to the Rabbinical
Seminary, which they had converted into a temporary gaol.
It was a very large building, and it also had a dormitory –
which could be turned into a prison building. This actually
brought me to the beginning of my contact with Wisliceny.
Q. This is really my next question: When, and under what
circumstances, did you have your first private conversation
A. This was on the Tuesday when my brother was arrested at
the factory. I was also at the factory, but they did not
Q. Mr. Freudiger, perhaps you can tell us briefly, when did
you go to Wisliceny, and what was the object of your
A. I went to Wisliceny because I wanted to do something for
the sake of my brother. I said to myself that I would go to
Q. Where did you go to?
A. I went to the Hotel Astoria. An SS soldier was standing
outside and asked me – I was wearing a beard, which was
still red then, and not white, and he could see I was Jewish
– he asked me: “What do you want here?” I told him that I
wanted to speak to Hauptsturmfuehrer Wisliceny. He allowed
me to enter. I came up to him and said that I wished to
speak to Hauptsturmfuehrer von Wisliceny, to Baron von
Presiding Judge: Baron von Wisliceny?
Witness Freudiger: He knew that we had written about him in
letters from Slovakia in a code, either as “Baron” or
“Willi” – that was his cover name.
State Attorney Bach: Was he actually a Baron?
Witness Freudiger: I do not know – I think he was Dieter von
Wisliceny. Later on, after he had looked at me, he said:
“Didn’t I see you yesterday at the meeting?” I told him I
had been there, my name was Philipp von Freudiger, I had
come to tell him that I would not be able to come to the
meeting in the afternoon, as they had arrested my brother.
My brother had left a note for me to the effect that I, too,
had to come to the Rabbinical Seminary, and if I failed to
come, he did not know what they would do to him. He had
written this at the demand of the SS which had taken him
into custody, and they had demanded that he should leave a
note for me that I should also come. I informed Wisliceny
that I could not come to the meeting in the afternoon, since
I had to go to the Rabbinical Seminary. Then Wisliceny said
to me: “They will not do anything to your brother – I am the
commander there. Come to the meeting this afternoon, and I
want to speak to you after the meeting.”
Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, is this evidence going to
State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour, it is still going to
Presiding Judge: We shall adjourn the Session now. The next
Session will be tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock. The witness
must also be present.