Q. Were you deported together with your family?
A. Together with my family and all the members of my community.
Q. All the members of your community?
Q. How many of you were in one railway waggon?
A. We were more than one hundred persons in the waggon.
Q. How do you remember that?
A. I remember it because our community numbered 103 souls,
and all the members of our community were in that waggon. It
was clear to me that there were more than one hundred souls
Q. Were you given any food during the journey?
A. No – neither food nor water.
Q. Did you have water inside the railway waggon?
A. We were not given any. I can well remember a case where
we – the young people – tried to prepare some supply of
water. We took buckets, went to the nearest pump, although
there were no taps there, we went to the nearest pump, and
when we carried the water to the waggon, SS men came and
poured it out. We were left without any water. If I may be
permitted to describe the terrible conditions that prevailed
in that waggon in the course of this journey to
Presiding Judge: Yes.
Witness Sapir: First of all, there were more than one
hundred people, as I mentioned previously. There was not
even room to stand. Towards evening the train began its
journey. We did not know where it was bound for. When
morning came, we saw that it was making its way to the east.
We passed small railway stations, forests, mountains, we did
not know where we were. We wanted to read the signs on the
stations, but we knew that it was forbidden to be too
inquisitive, for the sentry standing on the roof above us
was likely to make use of his arms. We knew – there had also
been an instruction to this effect – that it was forbidden
to peer outside. With regard to the state of affairs inside
the waggon – I have no words to describe them: Women were
fainting; in one corner of the truck people were shouting
“Wasser” (water), but there was no water – we could not
provide water for there was none. In another corner of the
truck a mother was comforting her child; I remember the
words well: “Schlof, mein kind” (Go to sleep, my child). But
the child could not fall asleep, for it was hungry, it was
very hungry. It had not had any food for two days already,
since our departure from the town.
State Attorney Bach: Mr. Sapir, did you ultimately reach
some place in this train?
Witness Sapir: In the end, after three full days, the train
was shunted into a siding, but we did not know where we
were, what was the name of the place.
Q. When did you find out where you were?
A. After the train had stopped there for three hours, with
us sitting inside, we got off and then we saw the fiery
chimneys, and we noticed a very strange smell. We asked
prisoners who had been there for some time: What is this
smell? And they said: Here they are burning all sorts of
“Lumpen”(rags). But afterwards we found out; for the ritual
slaughterer of the community – suddenly I heard his voice,
saying: “Alas, I have forgotten my prayer-shawl and
phylacteries in the waggon.” A prisoner said to him there:
“What do you need these for – soon you will be going, and he
pointed to the chimney, soon you will be going there.”
Judge Halevi: Who said that to him?
Witness Sapir: One of the prisoners.
State Attorney Bach: In that same place?
Witness Sapir: Yes.
Q. So perhaps tell the Court what was that place?
A. This place was Auschwitz. Then we at last knew what was
in store for us, what our fate was, where we were.
Q. You were there together with your parents?
A. Yes, I arrived there together with my parents.
Q. Did you also have brothers and sister?
A. I arrived together with my four brothers and one sister.
Q. How old were your brothers?
A. One brother was born in 1929 – he was then 15; another
brother was born in 1933 – he was then 11; my sister was
born in 1936 – she was then 8; another brother was born in
1938 – he was then 6; and there was a little baby brother
who was born in 1941 – he was then 3.
Q. What happened to your parents and to all your brothers
and your sister whom you have mentioned?
A. After the selection had been made…the selection was
very simple. A doctor stood there and merely with a slight
movement of his hand, people were to go to the right or to
the left. My parents went to the right. I did not have time
to take leave of them. I was amongst those who, for some
reason, were destined to live: I went to the left.
Q. And your brothers and sister?
A. All of them went with my parents.
Q. Did you see them again, after this?
A. No I did not see them at all, after this.
Q. Of all the members of this community, how many remained
A. Eighteen survived. But I must add that, of these
eighteen, six were in the Hungarian labour camp; that is to
say, of all those who went to Auschwitz, exactly 10
Q. Where else where you, after Auschwitz?
A. I was in Auschwitz for two days.
A. And after that?
A. After that I was transferred to the Jaworzno labour camp,
near Auschwitz. In that camp, if I may describe the life…
Q. No – perhaps, you would only tell us this: In the end,
did you reach the camp at Gleiwitz?
A. Yes. This was on 16 January 1945. When we returned from
the mine…I was working in a coal mine, Dachsgrube it was
called, it was in Upper Silesia, I was working then on the
day shift at the time. Generally we worked in shifts, a day
shift, one at night and one in the morning – that is to say,
day, night and noontime. But at that time I was working on
the morning shift. We got back in the evening. They did not
even allow us to wash, nor eat – nothing – there was an
order to move, to line up and to move. Where to – we did not
know. We left, the entire camp numbering 3,000 people, and
went along an unknown road. We walked for 24 hours. It was
cold, there was snow, there was no food. On the way people
reached total exhaustion and were unable to go on. Those who
could not continue were shot, of course. Their bodies
remained strewn along the road.
Q. How many were you at the start?
A. Three thousand.
Q. How many survived?
A. After walking for 24 hours we came to a town called
Beuthen, in Upper Silesia. It was already evening and they
sat us down at the side of the road, in the snow, and told
us to wait. We waited about two hours and after that the
commanding officer came to us – it was either the commanding
officer or his deputy, I cannot be positively sure about
this now – and announced: “Whoever is unable to continue
will remain here, and he will be transferred by truck.”
I was amongst those who remained, for I knew that if I went
on with this march it would end in my death, I could not
carry on with it. And this I knew…although I did not do
much thinking then. We remained, about two hundred persons.
And we stayed there until morning in that place, at the side
of the road, in the snow, the cold, without food. In the
morning they came to take us. They put us in some kind of
dining room, where the mineworkers of that place used to
eat, and we were told to wait. We waited. And after that,
they came and took us all out.
Here I should like to mention something.
Q. Perhaps you would first tell us what was the ultimate
fate of those two hundred?
A. They came and took us out of the town, a short distance
from this dining room – about five kilometres if I estimate
it correctly, and they gave us working tools, spades pick-
axes, hoes, and implements of this sort, and told us to dig
pits. We could not do so. We were absolutely at the end of
our strength. Our oppressors stood over us, with whips, and
Q. How many of those two hundred remained alive?
A. When we were digging the pits, we still numbered almost
the full contingent.
Q. But would you, perhaps, tell us how many of these two
hundred remained in the end?
A. In the end a total of eleven persons remained. We dug
these holes for the whole day, until the evening. We all
believed that this would be the end of us. But, towards
evening, they came and took us back to that place from which
we had set out in the morning. We did not know what was
happening there. In the morning an SS man named Lausmann
come in. I actually remember his name very well. He said:
“Yes, I know that you are so hungry.” It was, in fact,
already three days that no food had passed our lips. Then he
said: “I know, you are so hungry, but soon the mineworkers
who are working the night shift will come here. Something
will surely be left over, and this we will divide amongst
you.” We felt some kind of more humane tone, that here was
But disappointment was not slow in coming. Straightaway, as
he finished these words, a pot was brought into the room,
and we all thought that there was food inside the pot. But
he took us, one by one, bent each down into the pot and shot
him in the back of the neck. He continued shooting in this
way, and shooting and shooting without end, until he got to
somebody and in the middle some other officer came in and
said something to him. What he said I do not know. He
stopped. I was amongst those who remained alive out of all
those two hundred. In addition there was a young man there
who, in the middle of it all, while Lausmann was firing,
when this was going on, began making a speech in German – I
do not remember that speech but I remember well that he said
to him, in his concluding sentence: “The German people will
answer to history for this.” This sentence I remember well.
But this young man was shot immediately – he did not remain
Q. Please tell us how, in the end, you escaped from these SS
men. Please tell us that in one sentence only.
A. Since there were only eleven of us who remained, and
those who were killed were taken out to those graves that we
had dug the previous day, we did not participate in their
burial – apparently the others did so. There were more
prisoners there – there were other “Haeftlinge” as they
called them. Haeftlinge is a very common name.
Presiding Judge: Please reply to the question you were
asked. I understand that this is very painful for you, but
we have to come to the end of this evidence. Please say how
you, personally, escaped.
State Attorney Bach: I am prepared to waive the question.
Presiding Judge: If you can finish the evidence now, let us
do so. Otherwise – we shall continue tomorrow morning.
State Attorney Bach: In fact, I am ready to waive this
Presiding Judge: If you, Dr. Servatius, have a question, we
shall stop now. Otherwise let us end this evidence now.
Dr. Servatius: I have no questions.
Presiding Judge: Are you in a position to reply to one
further question? The last question was: How did you
ultimately escape from all this? You may sit down, if you
Witness Sapir: It is easier for me to answer standing up.
After the eleven of us remained alive, we were transferred
to the Gleiwitz camp. In that camp there were then, as I
heard, 14,000 people. We, the eleven of us, were placed
there into a cellar containing frozen potatoes. We ate these
potatoes for we had not eaten anything for four days. That
was in the evening. We were there the whole night. They took
us outside in the morning. I was amongst those who
approached the gate.
Presiding Judge: Mr. Sapir, it would be much easier to
complete your evidence, if you would reply to the question
you were asked.
State Attorney Bach: I know that you have much to relate –
it is simply impossible to ask you about those matters.
Therefore tell us only about the final stage of your escape.
Witness Sapir: We were in Gleiwitz. Here I do not know
exactly what was the intention of the Germans, what they
were thinking. But they put us into open railway waggons and
we began our journey. We travelled for half a day, and the
waggons came to a halt at midday. No one knew why they had
stopped. In the afternoon we were taken off the waggons and
they took us to a German village called Stein. Near this
village was a forest. They took us into this forest and
there they began to shoot the people. I fled from that
place. Obviously, since I am here, this is a sign that the
bullet did not strike me. And in this way I wandered around
in that forest for two more days. After that, the Russian
army arrived, and in this way I was liberated.
Q. I have one last question: When you came to Auschwitz,
what was the number that you were given and which appears on
A. A3,800 [Witness shows the tattooed inscription on his
Q. Do you know the significance of the letter “A”? When was
the series A started?
A. There is nothing authentic that I can say.
State Attorney Bach: Thank you very much.
Judge Halevi: You said that they brought a pot and everyone
bent down and was shot in the back of the neck. How many
people were shot in the neck?
Witness Sapir: If I subtract 11 from 200, the result is
Q. How many SS men were there?
A. There were many of them. As assistants to them there were
those in black uniforms – I do not know if it was exactly
like that – but they called them “Volksdeutsche.” There were
also several in green uniforms and they took part in this
Q. What is your present profession?
A. My profession: I am working with Youth Aliyah as a youth
leader and teacher.
Judge Halevi: Thank you.
Presiding Judge: Thank you, Mr. Sapir, you have concluded
The next Session will be tomorrow morning, at 9 o’clock.