Session No. 69
23 Sivan 5721 (7 June 1961)
[The first part of the Session – testimonies on
sterilization – was heard in camera.]
Attorney General: I call Dr. Aharon Beilin.
Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?
Witness Beilin Yes.
[The witness is sworn.]
Presiding Judge: What is your full name?
Witness: Dr. Aharon Beilin.
Attorney General: Dr. Beilin, you live in Tel Aviv, at 33
Louis Marshall Street?
Witness Beilin Yes.
Q. You are a doctor?
Q. In February 1943 you were deported from Bialystok, which
at that time was incorporated into the Third Reich, to
Q. How many people were there in this transport, together
A. About five thousand. I should like to point out that
there were two transports, one following the other. There
were ten thousand people at the assembly place; on one train
there were five thousand of us, and the next day, the other
five thousand arrived on the second train. And they were
added to the block where we were, in Auschwitz – in
Q. Were they all Jews?
A. They were all Jews from the ghetto.
Q. Did you try to hide yourself at the time of the round up?
A. A child’s crying revealed our hiding-place.
Q. And then you were caught, together with your mother?
A. Yes. My wife went to another bunker since we were afraid
that if many of us were together the danger would be
greater, so we decided to separate. I remained with my
mother, and my wife went to another bunker.
Q. Did your wife and your mother survive?
Q. You reached Auschwitz and underwent a selection?. A. Yes.
The doctor who conducted the selection was Dr. Rohde.
Q. What unit did he belong to?
A. He was an SS doctor, with the Death’s Head symbol on his
cap, and Schwartzhuber – both of them. Perhaps it would be
of interest to point out that while the selection was going
on, he had a dog at his side, and he whistled the aria from
“Rigoletto” – “La Donna e mobile.” About one hundred and
fifty men and one hundred and fifty women were selected from
the first rows. The remainder were sent off in a group
without undergoing selection. Large trucks came to take them
away – amongst them my mother as well.
Q. Where were they sent to?
A. They were sent along the road which as I subsequently
learned when I was in Auschwitz, led to Birkenau, which was
the road leading to the crematorium – but I had a better
sign. Three or four hours after I entered the camp, I saw
these trucks through the barbed-wire fence – we were then
still on the other side of the barbed-wire fence, we had not
yet gone inside the camp – I saw these trucks returning with
coats, and I saw my mother’s coat. I then understood that
she was no longer alive.
There is one other matter I want to mention here. When I was
with my mother, she said to me – she was an observant Jewess
– she said that she would pray for my survival, but, she
told me, I would have to promise to take an oath, that was
how she put it to me – she said it in Russian so that the SS
men should not understand, because there were some of them
who understood a little Yiddish – that if I should remain
alive, I should go to Palestine. And I promised her, and I
kept my promise, I fulfilled this obligation. And I think I
owe this observation to all the mothers who were taken
before their time and to all the children who were snatched
from their mothers for destruction, for annihilation.
Q. What happened to those who were left alive?
A. All of us, the one hundred and fifty men – and I amongst
them – waited three to four hours in front of the barbed-
wire fence. After that we entered the camp and waited there
until the evening. We had actually arrived in the morning,
and there was frost – it was at the height of winter, in
February 1943. And they made us do the famous gymnastics of
Auschwitz, the “knee-bend” and “roll.” And the guard who
accompanied us remained with us until the commander of this
division came and said: “I have brought 150 figures from the
transport of the RSHA from Bialystok.”
Q. You heard that with your own ears?
A. I heard it with my own ears. And I asked the old-timers
who were around there what this RSHA stood for – I had heard
these initial letters for the first time. One of them told
me they stood for Reichsicherheitshauptamt.
Q. Can you tell us how it was said in German?
A. Yes. “150 Figuren aus dem RSHA-Abtransport Bialystok.”
The block into which we were placed was supposedly a
quarantine block. There we came across people who had
arrived on another transport from Plonsk and Mlawa. Since at
the time of our arrival there were no Jews there from
Eastern Europe, only from Western Europe, and since Plonsk,
Mlawa and Bialystok had been annexed to the Reich, they
brought us there as “Reichsdeutsche Jews.” I took advantage
of this, later, and I was the only one also who wrote a
postcard to the ghetto in Bialystok, and the postcard was
Q. We shall come to the episode of the postcard later. You
wrote it to your wife, I understand?
A. Yes, I wrote it to my wife.
Q. We shall come to that. You were transferred to a certain
block and there you were divided up according to
A. They had a standard list there, in which as a rule all
the prominent functions – as they were called in Auschwitz –
were in the hands of “S. Ver. und B. Ver.,” that is to say,
the Berufsverbrecher und Schwerverbrecher (professional
criminals and men guilty of serious crimes). They were
Germans who had been in gaol, who had been sentenced to
imprisonment, and who had been released for concentration
camp duties. They had a prepared list, and classified the
new arrivals (der frische Zugang) according to this list
into members of the liberal professions, on the one hand,
and criminal elements arriving there, on the other hand.
Those who were not members of the liberal professions and
who were not criminals were divided equally into two groups.
Those who were criminals and were able to prove that they
had spent some time in prison, who, for example, had broken
into safes or stolen, were given these duties. What were
these duties? Distributors of food, room-attendants
(Stubendienst) and so on. I did not know about that and I
said that I was a doctor – this served to my disadvantage,
together with the whole group of teachers, of writers, and
actors; apparently there was a whole standard list and we
always received the worst tasks, hard labour, for example,
cleaning the toilets or carrying food. Carrying food in
Birkenau involved mortal danger, for there was no meal where
the Essen-Kommando (the unit for bringing food) reported to
the kitchen and where its Rapportfuehrer (the man in
charge), whose name was Schillinger, did not kill two or
three people with a huge wooden spoon used to stir the food
in the pots; he would pull it out and strike people on the
head. This work was given to us.
Q. How long did you remain in this block?
A. Four weeks.
Q. What were your living quarters like?
A. It was terribly overcrowded, sixteen of us lay on a ledge
which was intended, more or less, for six people. We could
only lie on our side, for, if one of us wanted to turn over,
everyone had to turn over. If someone got down during the
night in order to relieve himself, he could not come back,
and had to lie down on the concrete floor of the block.
Presiding Judge: Why could he not come back?
Witness Beilin Since it was too crowded, and he would annoy
all the others because he would be disturbing their sleep. I
remember a case where – since it was winter and the block
was not heated, it was cold – a man got down and froze. This
crowded condition also had an advantage – we kept each other
warm. That man lay the whole night on the concrete – he had
diarrhoea. I must point out that seventy per cent of the
people in this block died in the course of these four weeks.
Q. Dr. Beilin, are you a physician?
Q. And you were a physician at that time?
A. Yes. I completed my university studies in 1934.
After the cold shower we were given, and after we were made
to run naked, both in order to be tattooed and be
registered, and thereafter in order to receive clothing,
naked all the time, it was obvious that pneumonia and all
other kinds of sicknesses arising out of exposure to cold
developed rapidly. In the course of four weeks seventy per
Attorney General: Was it a procedure in this block that
anyone whose temperature rose above a certain degree was
taken away from there?
Witness Beilin Yes. That was the famous temperature-taking;
in every block there were groups of medical orderlies under
the control of the “SDGH” – he was an SS lance-sergeant, the
assistant of the SS doctor, and it was under his supervision
that temperatures were taken. He himself checked the
thermometer reading and supervised the registration, and if
anyone had a temperature of over 37.5, and it did not matter
whether the temperature was due to a cold or to a throat
infection, he was considered as a potential carrier of germs
and was put to death the next day by being loaded, together
with all those who had been recorded for this the previous
day, on to the trucks, naked and wrapped in blankets. And
for us this was a sign that they were on their way to the
Q. When you came to Auschwitz did you encounter people from
A. Yes. As I said earlier, these were Jews from Western and
Central Europe. There were no Jews from Eastern Europe.
These Jews were from Czechoslovakia, Holland, from France –
all had foreign, not French citizenship, that is to say they
were Polish and Romanian Jews who had been brought from
France; later on there were Jews from Belgium and from
Luxembourg, and amongst them also one German Aryan who said
that he was from Luxembourg and that he was a political
Q. Did you also see people from Greece?
A. Yes, they began arriving in March-April 1943. When the
Greek Jews arrived, I saw yellow cheques in their hands; at
that time I did not know the value of the drachma, but they
came to the veterans – we were the old-timers, as it were –
and asked when they would be receiving their money from the
bank, for “we deposited our drachmas over there and were
given these cheques to be redeemed at the Polish banks to
enable us to live here.” Obviously our answer was: Nil. This
I remember, I remember what the cheques looked like; they
were yellow and it said in German: “The Jewish bearer
deposited such-and-such a number of drachmas in the bank.”
And the amount was written both in figures and in words.
Q. Were there also Jews from Zagreb?
A. Yes, there were Jews from Zagreb. I know this from the
fact that on this transport a doctor arrived whose name was
Bier; he possessed two diplomas – in medicine and in
chemistry. One fine day Dr. Bier was taken away as a
chemist, and rumour had it – the rumour reached the camp in
some way or other – that the chemists were taken to forge
Q. Were there also Soviet prisoners?
A. Yes, there were twelve thousand Soviet prisoners,
including privates, but there were also officers amongst
them, some officers with academic training, despite the fact
that in Auschwitz, until the Gypsies were gathered together
and exterminated in the gas chambers, Aryans were not
generally brought to be gassed, but they died a so-called
natural death, from diseases. Of these twelve thousand
Russians, many – the majority – died of tuberculosis.
Q. Which they contracted in Auschwitz?
A. In Auschwitz, for most of them were from rural and not
from urban populations, and apparently for this reason,
owing to the crowding and the starvation, tuberculosis
spread amongst them with greater intensity than in the case
of an urban population.
Q. Were there Germans in charge of the clinic on behalf of
Q. Who were they?
A. I remember three doctors in the clinic – apart from those
who used to come for short periods and then disappear. I
remember Dr. Rohde – he was the first to make the selection,
also when I reached the camp. There was Dr. Helmersen –
again, as it was rumoured, Dr. Helmersen was the son of the
police commander of Berlin.
Q. Let us talk of facts, not rumours.
A. Afterwards, of course, there was Dr. Mengele, who used to
come there – he was one of the last – and I had already got
to know him in the Gypsies’ camp.
Q. What was the fate of the Jewish doctors, including your
A. Generally speaking, in Auschwitz, in Birkenau, we were
not doctors. Our official title was “Pfleger” – male nurses.
They said of us: “A Jew is not a doctor, a Jew performs
abortions and is a pharmacist, thirsty for poison.” We were
the Pfleger – and these male nurses did not only administer
medical treatment, which was virtually useless since we had
neither medicines nor bandages; the bandaging material which
we received was made of paper only. Hence if we applied this
kind of bandage in the clinic, both because of the discharge
from the wound and also for the reason that if, for example,
the bandage was on the foot, the patient would immediately
put on this shoe and the bandage would disintegrate.
Presiding Judge: What kind of shoes were they?
Witness Beilin I also received a pair; they were wooden
clogs which were called “Holz-Pantinen.” But we were obliged
to perform all the work, that is to say, moving the
mattresses and distributing the Muselmannn, the under-