Q. No, altogether.
A. We know that we had paid money several times. First of
all, in order that they would allow us to speak to them at
all, we were compelled to give them a substantial amount,
substantial for us. After that, we were obliged, once
again, to raise some two million…
Q. Two million what?
A. Pengoe, or what it was then. I don’t know what these
sums were each time. My function was to attend to the young
people, and not necessarily the raising of the funds.
Q. How were the people selected who were to board that
train? Did each one pay a certain amount?
A. No. First of all, the halutzim who wanted to leave or
whose movement had to send them with this group, they
obviously went along without payment. Parents of halutzim
who were in Palestine, or who were close to the Zionist
movement, those who were active in the Zionist Organization,
the elite of Hungarian Jewry, whom we were able to get hold
of and who were ready to join [the group] – not all of them
were ready to join – all those and rabbis; we sent people
specially to search for rabbis, for we regarded it as
important that they should come with this group. Only after
this group was formed were the guidelines more or less
clear, but obviously the extent was not sufficient. One of
our members was there. There were people to deal with the
question of raising the money – they took it from the Jews
who were not Zionists.
State Attorney Bach: Thank you very much.
Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions?
Dr. Servatius: You mentioned the name of Becher, that same
Obersturmbannfuehrer who also came into contact with you on
Witness Rosenberg: I did not say that he came into contact
Presiding Judge: He said that he did not have any contact
with the Germans.
Witness Rosenberg: I know that he put sixteen people on the
train to travel on it, for money. I don’t know how much
Dr. Servatius: Then I did not understand the witness
properly. Did you then hear any details of Becher’s
Witness Rosenberg: I pointed out earlier that I had heard
about his activity at the beginning of the occupation, and
then I heard about this activity of his again later. Later
still, when we were already in Switzerland, I heard from Dr.
Kasztner about this operation.
Q. Did you hear, in regard to the transports that had
already been permitted, that he put up the price and pressed
A. No, but in this case I want to point out: At the moment
when the Bergen-Belsen train was en route from Belsen to
Switzerland, it was halted for a number of hours on the
German-Swiss border. Krumey and Kasztner were present
there, and on the other side Saly Mayer, and they conducted
the “cattle-deal” over our fate. And I know that after
these exhausting negotiations they allowed Kasztner to board
the train, and he told us that during these hours we had
been in the hands of Krumey, Eichmann, or someone else, who
could have decided to send us back to Bergen-Belsen. We did
not hear the name of Becher.
Q. Was the Jewish Council already aware at that stage that
exterminations were being carried out at Auschwitz?
A. I have to say that already in 1943 we knew what was going
on at Auschwitz, and the Judenrat – I don’t know if in
Budapest they called it Judenrat – the Jewish Council knew
what was happening. I don’t think there were many Jews who
did not know what was going on – I don’t think so. We, at
any rate, did everything in our power in order to warn every
Jew of this and of what was happening in the camps
Q. Was Dr. Reiner a member of the Jewish Council?
A. I know Dr. Reiner personally, but I don’t know whether he
was a member. He was a representative of the Orthodox
community generally – that was his function all the time –
but whether he was a member of the Judenrat, I cannot say.
Q. Was he aware of the fact that exterminations were being
carried out at Auschwitz?
A. I have no doubt about that, since Mr. Freudiger, who was
chairman of the Orthodox community in Budapest, kept in
constant contact with us, and he knew, and of course Dr.
Reiner was also aware of it.
Q. Witness, may I be permitted to read to you from document
No. 347 which has not yet been submitted here. It is a
declaration by Dr. Reiner. On page 28 he says, “because the
Central Jewish Council did not, indeed, know then about
killings by gas.”
Presiding Judge: What is the meaning of `then’? Does it
refer to 1944?
Dr. Servatius: It evidently concerned events at the time in
question. It says here “5 July.” If so, it should have
been in 1944.
Witness Rosenberg: I do not wish to deny here what Dr.
Reiner said in his evidence. I merely want to say that in
the summer of 1944 it was well known to all of us, to all
who were then present at the Jewish Community Council. Once
a Jew came in by the name of Dr. Borgo. He was a dentist
and had a discussion with us as to whether we were
adequately explaining to the community what was going on.
This Jew came into the Jewish community building, into a
very large hall full of people, where the representatives of
Jews were sitting, and began shouting bitterly for a whole
hour: “What are you doing, sitting here? What do you think
you are doing by coming together and talking? All of us
have to commit suicide – there is no way of getting out of
here. And in order to prove the truth of what I am saying,
I shall go away from here and commit suicide, together with
my wife.” And this is what he did. It cannot be that in
1944, in the month of July, Dr. Reiner did not know that it
was a matter of gassing. We spoke about Auschwitz and about
gas chambers in the same way as one talks today about the
Q. Witness, regarding the Jewish Councils in the provincial
towns, were these councils supposed to remain in the
provincial towns or to come to Budapest as soon as possible?
A. If they had managed in any way in the provincial towns to
set up Jewish Councils instead of the community councils – I
don’t know whether they were supposed to come. In my
opinion, nearly all of them remained with their communities.
Here and there, for example from Nagyvarad, the head of the
community would make his way to Budapest – they came from
Kolozsvar as well – but it was not systematic.
Presiding Judge: Did you instruct them in this matter, what
to do, whether to move to Budapest or to stay where they
Witness Rosenberg: To those who were given instructions or
advice, it was only to come with false papers.
Q. To come where?
A. To come to Budapest or to cross the border. There was no
other possibility. The intention was clear – in Budapest
there were not yet any concentrations.
Dr. Servatius: In Dr. Reiner’s declaration it says here:
“We thought it important that the instruction that the
leaders of the councils in the provincial towns should come
to Budapest should be implemented.” Do you know of such an
Witness Rosenberg: I know of no such instruction.
Q. Then may I inform you what it says here, in addition:
“For this reason, we passed on this instruction immediately,
without delay, to provincial councils of the Jews.”
A. I must say, as I pointed out previously, that I was in
charge of the Department for Provincial Towns on behalf of
the Jewish Council. It is true that I dealt with rescuing
the Jews from the provincial towns, and not with
instructions. But I never heard of this – it must certainly
have been done behind my back.
Dr. Servatius: It goes on to say here: “But rumours reached
us that Gestapo commanders in the provincial towns were not
carrying out this order, and that they were also loading all
the members of the Jewish Councils on to the trains.” I
skip a section, and then further: “This was intended only as
an act of grace towards those members of the council who
cooperated and who helped.” Did council members actually
come to Budapest?
A. I do not know of such an order, nor of such persons who
co-operated, nor of such persons who came to Budapest
because of this. I know by chance of Dr. Reiner and his
family, who are relatives of mine, I know that they also
seized his father and his mother in one of the provincial
towns, and that afterwards, if I am not mistaken, they
brought his father or some other relative to Budapest. But
concerning members of Jewish Councils who came there – of
this I am not aware.
Dr. Servatius: I have no further questions.
Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach?
State Attorney Bach: I have no questions.
Judge Raveh: Mr. Rosenberg, that train in which you
travelled – when did it leave Budapest?
Witness Rosenberg: On 29 June 1944 we assembled, and the
train departed from Klenfeld – I think it was a night or a
day after that. At any rate, I entered the camp on 29June.
Q. And until then you were a member of the Rescue Committee?
Q. I must say that I have not properly understood how the
activity was organized, that is to say, the operation of
persuading people to come to Budapest and live underground
there, and on the other hand the operation of persuading
people to cross the border. How was this activity
organized? You said that you sent young men from Budapest
also clandestinely – this was forbidden, as you said – you
sent them to the provincial towns. What were they supposed
to do? In what way were they to find the right people?
A. Perhaps I could illustrate this by an example of one
town, one person and one case? There was a young man called
Efrat Teichmann who now lives in Israel. He was then a man
in his twenties, was dressed in the uniform of a railway
official, and he travelled, in the course of his duty, to a
town which was almost the furthermost on the border of
Carpatho-Russia, Munkacs. He went there with the task of
finding a way to enter the ghetto. They were there in a
brick factory. He was supposed to go in there and look for
a man named Berger. I remember this name because he was
involved in Zionist activity. We sent him on this mission.
We gave him money, I don’t remember the amount, and we said
to him: “You have to make contact with Berger and try to
persuade him and the others whom you can reach, persuade
them to leave the camp and find a way for themselves. Pass
on these papers to them, give them the money and try to
guide them how to come.” This Jew did not come.
Q. That is to say, you gave this emissary the name of the
man he was supposed to reach.
A. Yes, that was his task, to pass it on.
Q. And this relates to both aspects – both in regard to
moving to Budapest, and also in regard to crossing the
border? You gave him the name and said, “Find a man called
A. No. This we did only in regard to transferring people to
Budapest. For in Budapest we could make arrangements for
them. If they did not have suitable papers they could not
board a train and travel, for there were searches.
Q. This was the method by which you operated only in respect
of those who were supposed to come to Budapest?
A. Yes. We dressed the man in railway uniform only for the
purpose of reaching Budapest by train, and for passing
inspection. This Jew did not come. Crossing the borders
meant a completely different technique.
Q. Let us still remain on this subject of the transfer to
Budapest. And my next question is: This name of the man who
was supposed to come to Budapest – how did you select the
name, or how did his name come to you?
A. We know that this man was one of the best-known Zionists
in Munkacs; after all, we knew all the Jews with whom we
were in contact as Zionists, and we sent this man to him.
Q. That is to say, this was an operation limited to a circle
of people whom you knew?
A. Yes. We sent someone to them, in order to transfer them.
This Berger did not even want to escape from the furnace.
Q. That was in regard to those who were supposed to come to
Budapest. Now, concerning those who were supposed to cross
the border – in their case, I gather, you did not supply
A. Here, there was a different technique.
Q. And what was that technique?
A. Here I have to go into a personal matter. In 1942, I
managed to get my mother-in-law out of Germany, a few days
before she was to leave for Poland. And I succeeded in
doing so with the aid of an SS officer, for full payment. I
managed to bring her over, and she is now with us here.
That SS officer, for money…
Q. I merely want you to understand my question. I am not
interested in knowing how people did this technically. I am
interested in knowing to what category of people this
suggestion or idea was conveyed.
A. First of all, it concerned young halutzim.
Q. Did your emissaries select the people to whom they
A. The entire movement of young people – they, in fact,
chose the people whom they wanted to smuggle out or to
provide with papers or to put into bunkers. They did all
this by themselves. We acted only in regard to those Jews
who were not organized, to enable them to find some way. A
suggestion like this, for example, I sent to my brother –
that they should bring him.
Q. That is to say, you people had no influence on the
selection of those who were to cross the border?
A. No influence. I did not know them.
Judge Halevi: From the time of the Nazi occupation until
the time you left Hungary – from 19 March 1944, until the
end of June 1944 – how many people did your department
succeed in bringing to Budapest by this means?
Witness Rosenberg: From the provincial towns?
A. Fifty people at most that I know of.
Q. And what did these fifty people do in Budapest?
A. Some of them afterwards got onto this train, others
remained in Budapest with papers, and yet others
subsequently went into these houses, these protected houses,
Schutzhaeuser. But they are all alive.
Q. How many did your department succeed in smuggling across
the borders into other countries? Do you know that?
A. Those were hundreds. I must again return to the example
which I referred to. In the case of my brother, who was in
a provincial town, I did not succeed in persuading him to
move. It was all the more difficult to persuade strangers
with whom we had no direct contact.
Q. Did you, in your Provincial Towns Department, have any
telephone contact with the provincial towns?
A. From our office we were unable to telephone to the
provincial towns. The general executive committee could,
perhaps. I could not phone.
Q. Who was the general executive committee?
A. I was in this department. There were Samu Stern,
Freudinger, Petoe – I don’t remember all the names today,
for it was a large administrative body.
Q. Of the community?
A. Of the community, of the congregations that by then were
Q. Your department – the Department of Provincial Towns –
was it part of the Community Council?
A. The department operated within the Jewish Community
Council and was part of the Jewish Community Council. It
operated in the same building. I received money from them,
but we had no telephone available to us.
Q. You also said that groups came to Budapest from
Kolozsvar, Nagyvarad and Debrecen – not by the way you spoke
A. No. They came by this way from Kolozsvar and afterwards
joined the transport, but it was otherwise with those from
Debrecen. From Miskolc and from Nagyvarad came those people
whom we brought.