Q. Did Mr. Shertok depend solely on you for information, or
do you believe that he also had contacts with the Jewish
Agency and other authorities with whom you spoke? He was
indeed completely isolated if he had to rely solely on your
A. Mr. Shertok was the leader of the Jewish Agency’s
Political Department; you must ask Mr. Shertok from whom he
got additional information.
Q. Thank you. I have no further questions.
Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, please.
Attorney General: I have only two questions. Mr. Brand, when
was it that you met Becher in Bremen and Paris?
Witness Brand: That was in 1954 or 1955. I do not remember
the precise date; I would have to look it up in my old
diaries. Yes, now I know it exactly; I can specify the
date: I met Becher on the same day on which the judgment in
the Gruenewald trial, the judgment of the lower court, was
given. Specifically, that was the day on which I received,
via airmail, the newspaper containing this news.
Q. Now another question. When you met with Mr. Shertok in
Aleppo, do you recall that he posed three questions to you,
namely: What, in your opinion, would happen if you returned
with a positive response, what would happen if you returned
with a negative response, and what would happen if you
failed to return. Is this correct?
A. That is correct.
Q. What was your answer to the question: “What would happen
if you returned with a positive response?”
A. I believe my reply to him was that, if I returned with a
positive response, then a number of Jews would be released
immediately. Perhaps – I don’t know the minutes – because
of the anxiety I felt in the presence of the Englishmen, I
could have said from ten to twenty thousand Jews. I do not
know what number I specified; in any case, it was not an
overly large number, in order to avoid difficulties.
Perhaps it was precisely at this point that I said it.
Q. Thank you.
Presiding Judge: At this stage, we would like some time to
study the documents which were presented today. Afterwards,
we shall see if the judges have questions to the witness.
We request that the witness reappear tomorrow morning at
9:00 a.m., and then it will be clear whether there will be
further examination of the witness.
Attorney General: I have a request at this stage, if we are
continuing. Since the Court has ruled that noon today is
the deadline or time limit for submitting material which may
entail applications for hearing witnesses, I should like to
keep within that time limit and inform the Court that we
have before us another expert opinion by Dr. Franz Guenther-
Serafim of Goettingen University. It was presented to the
court in Ulm on 1 July 1958. I have a certified copy of
that opinion. It is also mentioned on page six of the Ulm
judgment; I have presented a certified copy of it to the
Presiding Judge: Was it presented as a legal authority?
Attorney General: Yes, in the preliminary argument. On page
five infra, six supra, of the judgment, the Court will find
that this opinion is part of the material upon which the
court in Ulm relied. This matter is significant, since Dr.
Hans Guenther-Serafim, a lecturer in history at Goettingen
University, was asked the following question by the court in
Ulm, which also tried persons for offences involving
executions in wartime: “Were rank-and-file SS men, or their
leaders, who were active in purge or extermination
operations, able to refuse to carry out such orders without
suffering bodily harm or endangering their own lives?”
Presiding Judge: In what field is this professor an expert?
Attorney General: He is a professor of history who
specializes in the Nazi period. He collected material,
precedents, which he lists, and on which the court
Presiding Judge: What kind of precedents?
Attorney General: Precedents of cases in which, to his
knowledge, persons refused to execute orders of this kind or
requested to be released from duties which entailed
bloodshed, and what happened to them.
Judge Raveh: Does this mean that he conducted
investigations and took evidence?
Attorney General: He collected historical material, and he
recorded the details of each case.
Judge Raveh: Does this mean that he interrogated
Attorney General: No, he examined documents and people.
But, in the main, he was engaged in historical research
based on documents and on material which was before various
courts, including international tribunals. He collected all
the available material. To the best of our knowledge, this
is perhaps the most exhaustive expert opinion, anyhow within
our knowledge, on this subject. The German court also
required expert opinion in regard to this question, since it
was difficult for it to refer to the evidence which is
spread over a wide field.
Presiding Judge: But there they are much freer in regard to
the acceptance of expert opinions than in our Courts.
Attorney General: I assume so, Sir. In any event, I request
that this expert opinion be accepted as an exhibit. Should
Defence Counsel request that Dr. Hans Guenther-Serafim be
summoned here as a witness – and I stress his first name
here, since there is also another Serafim who is mentioned
in several of our documents – I should have very different
things to say about him than about this man. We have
ascertained whether it is possible to bring him here. The
response we have received is that Dr. Serafim is presently
recuperating from an illness and will not be able to come
here before approximately the middle of next month.
Judge Halevi: The month of June?
Attorney General: June – if by then he will be allowed to do
so. If it will then still be practicable, I shall bring Dr.
Serafim here at the first opportunity. If Defence Counsel
agrees, we can comply with Dr. Serafim’s own request that he
be questioned at his present place of residence in Austria;
he is convalescing in the Tyrol. In any event, should
Defence Counsel so desire, he shall certainly be accorded an
opportunity to question Dr. Serafim. But I request that the
document be admitted at this stage.
Presiding Judge: Again, as to the content of his expert
opinion: He is not going to testify, as far as I can see,
about anything which he himself heard from other SS
personnel, only about his documentary research. Why not
present to us the documents which he researched?
Attorney General: Not all of those are in our hands, Sir.
He has collected them.
Presiding Judge: Really, we are straying far indeed from the
source itself, from the best evidence, which we, after all,
always strive to secure.
Judge Raveh: You said he also took evidence.
Attorney General: He spoke with people.
Judge Raveh: Does he remember the names of the persons
with whom he spoke?
Attorney General: I believe so.
Judge Raveh: Are they living or deceased? Where can they
Attorney General: I must say that, at this stage, I wished
to ask the Court to accept this expert opinion; if Defence
Counsel has any reservations or doubts about this, let us
Presiding Judge: I suggest that our rules of evidence not be
forgotten completely. Not completely.
Attorney General: Your Honour, I shall do my utmost to
follow the guidance of the Court. But I trust that the
Court will also take into consideration the situation of the
Prosecution as well.
Presiding Judge: Quite right.
Attorney General: We are not exactly in the same country in
which primary evidence and the whole material can be found.
However, if we have a concentration of material in a form
which was suitable for a German court, I would request that
an Israeli court accept it as well.
Judge Halevi: Does this perhaps have some affinity with the
question of how to prove a usage, something which was a
usage at a given time under that regime?
Attorney General: Correct. And if a specialist investigated
this matter, it seems to me that it is possible for expert
testimony to be received.
Presiding Judge: All right, let us hear Dr. Servatius,
please, in regard to this question.
Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, the judges have already given
expression to the objections to the acceptance of the
document, and I concur with this view. However, there is an
additional consideration concerning the qualifications of
this specialist. He is described merely as a lecturer; he
is, therefore, not a professor or any type of competent
member of a university. Moreover, this document deals
exclusively with shooting squads, whereas here our concern
is with another matter. The Accused is not being accused of
participation in shooting squads, but rather of being part
of a bureaucratic apparatus, where the issue is entirely
different, within which he was enmeshed with superior
authorities who influenced him. This is very different from
service in shooting squads who only have a junior officer
Presiding Judge: I wish, first of all, to inquire of Dr.
Servatius: What, briefly, in view of what you have just
said, is your position in this matter?
Dr. Servatius: I object to acceptance of the document.
Presiding Judge: Thank you.
Attorney General: Perhaps, before the Court makes a ruling
without studying the document in its entirety, may I request
that the Court consent to look only at the preface, to help
clarify the nature of the problem?
Presiding Judge: I do not think there would be anything
prejudicial, if you presented us with the document as a
whole for us to examine. We shall know how to disregard its
contents, should we decide not to accept it; it will make
matters easier for us.
Attorney General: Certainly; here is the document, with the
decision of the Court pending as to its admission.
Presiding Judge: It will not be marked as evidence for the
Attorney General: I understand that Serafim is a serious
researcher. Obviously, there can be differences of opinion
in regard to this, but I understand that he has received
awards for studies which he has carried out.
Presiding Judge: That will certainly not influence the
decision of the Court.
Attorney General: If, however, a German court turns to him
as an expert, perhaps, all things being considered, this
gives him recognition as an expert in a matter concerning
which he is requested to give an opinion.
Presiding Judge: We shall study this matter and will give a
ruling; you may take the photostat, since we have three
Attorney General: I now ask my colleague, Mr. Bach, to
submit a number of documents.
State Attorney Bach: Your Honours, to begin with, may I
draw the attention of the Court to several excerpts from
documents which have already been submitted, and which have
a bearing on testimony which has been heard to-day. First
of all, I wish to draw the Court’s attention to what is said
in the statement of the Accused, Document T/37, on page
1090. He was there interrogated concerning the proposal in
the same deal that was proposed by him to the witness Joel
Brand, and he was asked who initiated this proposal. And
then he recounts the occasion when he and Becher were
summoned to the Reichsfuehrer, and he states: “I myself
naturally could not accept a responsibility of this kind on
my own. I, therefore, had my instructions, and only Himmler
could give such instructions to me. Today I no longer
remember who actually was the first to think of it, whether
it was I, Becher, or Himmler himself, or whether it
crystallized somehow by itself.”
In the second excerpt, Your Honours, I should like to quote
from the interrogation of Kurt Becher; this is Exhibit
T/689. First of all, on 7 July 1947, on page seven of this
interrogation, Becher recounts how he suggested this deal to
Himmler, and he said that he got to know that the Jews could
deliver goods and money in exchange for the liberation of
Jews from Hungary, and that Himmler asked him: “What will
you be able to get from these people?” and that he said that
he thought he could get a significant quantity of goods.
Then he said that Himmler told him: “Take what you can get;
I am not thinking at all of doing anything against it; in
German: “…etwas dagegen zu tun’ then disappear.” (“Nehmen
Sie was Sie kriegen koennen. Ich denke gar nicht daran was
dagegen zu tun, and dann verschwinden Sie.”
Judge Halevi: Does dagegen mean “in return for”?
State Attorney Bach: That is not altogether clear; there
are two possibilities. Either he was saying: “Take what you
can get; I will not oppose you – and after that, disappear!”
Or it could mean: “I’m not thinking of giving anything in
Judge Halevi: Was this meant to be ambiguous? Himmler
certainly would not speak in an equivocal manner with one of
his subordinates. Apparently there was only one intention:
Not “I shall not oppose,” but rather, he must have been
giving an assurance, namely: “I am not going to give
anything in exchange.”
State Attorney Bach: If it is at all possible to understand
this in two ways, the next excerpt explains the matter in a
form which is completely clear. This is the supplementary
interrogation of Becher, dated 2 March 1948. And here, on
page two, he again recounts the deal in question and says:
“Himmler told me: ‘Take everything you can get from the
Jews; promise them whatever you want. As for what we shall
carry out, that’s an entirely different matter’.”
Afterwards, Your Honours, in the same interrogation, Becher
describes his meeting with Schellenberg, a confidant of
Himmler’s. He says that later on, in January 1945, they
spoke about this deal. The passage appears on the fourth
page of this interrogation dated 2 March 1948. Here
Schellenberg said to him: “Your truck deal is nonsense; I
will make a political deal.” This was in the beginning of
January or February 1945.
Presiding Judge: Was Schellenberg from Counter-Intelligence,
State Attorney Bach: Yes, but he was also very close to
Himmler in the final period. This is also evident from the
testimony; he says that this was at the beginning of 1945.
Becher told him: “Brigadefuehrer, I don’t understand this.”
I was afraid that this deal could fall through, and I asked
him: “What political deal, Brigadefuehrer?” He replied: “I
want to improve or prepare the ground abroad for the
Reichsfuehrer; in a fortnight reports and articles about the
Reichsfuehrer will be published in the eight largest
American newspapers, which will enable him to appear on the
international arena at one stroke.” Becher added: “I told
him: `Brigadefuehrer, I don’t believe it’.” The same
subject reappears in the next interrogation, dated 22 June
1948, on the last page. Here he recounts another
conversation with Schellenberg. Again the latter said: “In
the next fortnight, there will be positive articles about
the Reichsfuehrer, because of my efforts.” He wanted to
create a different atmosphere for Himmler in the
international arena; this was a very serious matter.
As for the intentions of Himmler, and also of Becher, there
is additional confirmation later on in Kasztner’s account,
and also in the meetings of Becher and MacCallan in
Switzerland. But at this point, I wish merely to refer to
these two excerpts and another from Wisliceny’s account, in
which he comments about Kasztner’s account. In the reprint,
this is Exhibit T/1116. He states the following in
reference to Brand: “I requested Brand to get some kind of
result from Istanbul, even if he had to submit a forged
document or had to give a promise which it was impossible to
fulfil.” And he added: “I knew about Eichmann’s intention
to sabotage by means of a fait accompli, i.e., deportations,
the negotiations ordered by Himmler.” This appears on page
nine of our reprint in German, or on page five of the
original; and he said: “How important this game was for
gaining time can be seen in the light of the struggle over
the deportations from Budapest.” I shall be returning to
this when we will deal with the struggle for the Jews of
Presiding Judge: We shall now adjourn; the next Session will
begin at 3:30 this afternoon.