The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Twenty-Sixth Day: Thursday, 3rd January, 1946
(Part 14 of 15)


Q. During the collection period were these Jews called upon to furnish their own subsistence?

A. I did not understand the question exactly.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Brookhart, does it matter, if they were "brought to the "final solution"" which I suppose means death?

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BROOKHART: Your Honour, this witness will testify that 280,000,000 drachmas were deposited in the Greek National Bank for the subsistence of these people and that this amount was later appropriated by the German Military Administration. That is all I have hoped to prove by this question.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BROOKHART (to the Witness): Is that a correct statement of your testimony?

A. Yes. The cash which the Jews possessed was taken away and put into a common account at the Bank of Greece. After the Jews had been evacuated from Salonika this account was taken over by the German Military Administration. About 280,000,000 drachmas were involved.

Q. When you say the Jews taken to Auschwitz were submitted to the "final solution," what do you mean by that?

A. By that I mean what Eichmann had explained to me under the term "final solution," that is, they were destroyed biologically. As far as I could gather from my conversations with him, this annihilation took place in the gas chambers and the bodies were subsequently destroyed in the crematories.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BROOKHART: If Your Honour pleases, this witness is able to testify as to actions in Hungary, involving approximately 500,000 Jews.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on, then. You must use your own discretion. I cannot present your case for you.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BROOKHART: I have no desire to submit cumulative evidence.

Q. Turning to actions in Hungary, will you briefly outline the actions taken there and your participation?

A. After the entry of the German troops into Hungary, Eichmann went there personally with a large command. By an order signed by the head of the Security Police, I was assigned to Eichmann's Command. Eichmann began his activities in Hungary at the end of March 1944. He contacted members of the then Hungarian Government, especially Secretaries of State Endre and von Baky. The first measures adopted by Eichmann in co-operation with these Hungarian Government officials were the concentration of the Hungarian Jews in special places and special localities. These measures were carried out zone-wise, beginning in Ruthenia and Transylvania. The action was initiated in mid-April 1944.

In Ruthenia over 200,000 Jews were affected by these measures. In consequence, impossible food and housing conditions developed in the small towns and rural communities where the Jews were assembled. On the

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strength of this situation Eichmann suggested to the Hungarians that these Jews be transported to Auschwitz and other camps. He insisted, however, that a request to this effect be submitted to him either by the Hungarian Government or by a member thereof. This request was submitted by Secretary of State von Baky. The evacuation was carried out by the Hungarian Police.

Eichmann appointed me Liaison Officer to Lieutenant-Colonel Ferency, charged by the Hungarian Minister of the Interior with this operation. The evacuation of Jews from Hungary began in May, 1944, and was also carried out zone by zone, first starting in Ruthenia, then in Transylvania, Northern Hungary, Southern, and Western Hungary. Budapest was to be cleared of Jews by the end of June. This evacuation, however, was never carried out, as the Regent, Horthy, would not permit it. This operation affected some 450,000 Jews. A second operation was then...

Q. Before you go into that, please, will you tell the Tribunal what, if anything, was done about organising an Einsatz Group to act in Hungary on the Jewish question?

A. At the beginning of March, 1944, a so-called Einsatzgruppe consisting of Security Police and S.D., was formed at Mauthausen near Linz. Eichmann himself headed a so- called "Sondereinsatz-Kommando" (Execution Squad) to which he detailed everybody who, in his department, had occupied some position or other. This "Sondereinsatz-Kommando" was likewise assembled at Mauthausen. All questions of personnel devolved on the then Standartenfuehrer, Dr. Geschke, Leader of the Einsatzgruppe. In technical matters Eichmann was subordinate only to the Chief of the Security Police and the S.D.

Q. What was the meaning of the designation "Special Action Commando Eichmann" in relation to the movement into Hungary?

A. Eichmann's activities in Hungary comprised all matters connected with the Jewish problem.

Q. Under whose direct supervision was Special-Action Commando Eichmann organised?

A. I have already said that in all matters of personnel and economy Eichmann was subordinate to Standartenfuehrer, Dr. Geschke, Leader of the Einsatzgruppe. In technical matters he could give no orders to Eichmann. Eichmann likewise reported direct to Berlin on all the special operations undertaken by him.

Q. To whom?

A. Either to Gruppenfuehrer Mueller, or, in more important cases, to the Chief of the Security Police and S.D., i.e., to Kaltenbrunner.

Q. During the period in which Hungarian Jews were being collected, what, if any, contact was made by the Joint Distribution Committee for Jewish Affairs with Eichmann's representative?

A. The Joint Distribution Committee made efforts to contact Eichmann and to try to ward off the fate of the Hungarian Jews. I myself established this contact with Eichmann, since I wanted to discover some means of protecting the half million Jews in Hungary from the measures already in force. The Joint Distribution Committee made certain proposals to Eichmann and, in return, requested that the Jews should remain in Hungary. These proposals were particularly of a financial nature. Eichmann felt himself, much against his will, obliged to forward these proposals to

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Himmler. Himmler thereupon entrusted a certain Standartenfuehrer Becher with further negotiations. Standartenfuehrer Becher then continued the negotiations with Dr. Kastner, Delegate of the J.D.C. But Eichmann, from the very first, endeavored to wreck the negotiations. Before any concrete results were obtained he attempted to face us with a fait accompli: in other words, he tried to transport as many Jews as possible to Auschwitz.

THE PRESIDENT: Need we go into all these conferences? Can you take us on to the conclusion of the matter?

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BROOKHART: The witness is inclined to be lengthy in his answers. That has been true in his pre-trial examination I will try...

THE PRESIDENT: You are examining him.


Q. Was there any money involved in the meeting between Dr. Kastner and Eichmann?

A. Yes.

Q. How much?

A. In the first conversation Dr. Kastner gave Eichmann about 3,000,000 pengoes. What the sums mentioned in further conversations amounted to, I do not exactly know.

Q. To whom did Dr. Kastner give this money and what became of it?

A. It was given to Eichmann, who then turned it over to his trustee; the sum was, in turn, handed to the Commander of the Security Police and the S.D. in Hungary.

Q. These actions that you have described involving approximately 450,000 Jews being moved from Hungary -- were there any official communications sent to Berlin concerning these movements?

A. Yes, as each transport left, Berlin was informed by teletype. From time to time Eichmann also dispatched a comprehensive report to the R.S.H.A. and to the Chief of the Security Police.

Q. Now, with reference to the Jews that remained in Budapest, what, if any, action was taken against them?

A. After Szalasi had taken over the Government of Hungary.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Brookhart, we have not yet heard have we, what happened to these Jews from Hungary? If we have, I have missed it.

LIEUTENANT-COOLANT BROOKHART: I will ask that question now, Sir.

Q. What became of the Jews to whom you have already referred -- approximately 450,000?

A. They were, without exception, taken to Auschwitz and brought to the "final solution".

Q. Do you mean they were killed?

A. Yes, with the exception of perhaps 25 to 30 per cent. who were used for labour purposes. I here refer to a previously mentioned conversation on this matter between Hoess and Eichmann in Budapest.

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