The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 36
(Part 3 of 6)

Q. Did he take anything with him when he went to the Gestapo on that day, 2 September, belongings, clothes?

A. My husband went in the clothes he was wearing, without saying goodbye to me or to the children, because we believed he would return as he had on the previous occasions.

Q. How many children do you have?

A. I have three children.

Q. When did you first learn that your husband was no longer in Norway?

A. On 21 November Inge came to visit me...

Q. Who is Inge?

A. Inge was a neighbour in the house in which we lived. She was one of the leading personalities in the underground. But I had no inkling of this, because the Norwegian underground movement worked so cautiously that no one ever knew who was active.

Q. What is the full name of this Inge?

A. Ingebjorg Sletten Fosstvet.

Q. You said they had to be very cautious. Can you tell us what was the special reason for this caution? Was there a specific order about this?

A. The Norwegian Homefront was active since 9 April 1940, since Norway was at war with Germany. The Norwegians did not surrender, they fought against the Germans.

Q. That was not my question. My question was directed at a different point: What was the punishment for a Norwegian who helped a Jew?

A. All assistance to Jews, substantial or limited, was punishable by death.

Q. And what did you learn about your husband?

A. Inge came and told me: Last night your husband was deported to Germany. I was struggling with myself whether to call you. Perhaps this was the last time that you could have seen him.

Q. Do you also know how your husband was taken to Germany?

A. My husband was deported on the Monte Rosa on 20 November 1942, together with the other eighteen Jewish inmates of Grini.

Q. Mrs. Samuel, you said your husband was arrested on 2 September, together with others, with twelve persons who had been in Nersnes. When were the other Jewish men arrested in Norway?

A. On 26 October 1942, all Jewish men were arrested in a lightning operation.

Presiding Judge: All the Jewish men in the whole of Norway?

Witness Samuel: The operation was meant to apply to the whole of Norway, to all the Jewish men. However, thanks to the Norwegian underground movement, some went into hiding.

State Attorney Bach: Who actually made the arrests, both times, of the Jewish men in Norway?

Witness Samuel: The operation was carried out by the Norwegian police accompanied by the Germans.

Q. Did they also come to your house in order to arrest your husband, who was in fact no longer at home?

A. They came and asked for Rabbi Julius Samuel. They wanted to arrest him. They did not know that he was already in Grini.

Q. Do you know when and on what ship the Norwegian Jewish men who were arrested in October were deported?

A. The men were carried off to Germany together with the women and children who were arrested on 26 November 1942, and were taken straight to the ship Donau, with the men from the Berk camp who were arrested on 26 October.

Presiding Judge: Which women and children were arrested? We have not yet heard of this.

Witness Samuel: On 26 November a lightning operation, similar to that against the men, was carried out in Oslo at 5 o'clock in the morning.

Q. And then women and children were also arrested?

A. In this operation arrests were made especially of women and children.

Q. How many Jews were deported from Norway altogether?

A. Half the Jews of Oslo, about 750, were taken to Auschwitz. Twelve of them survived.

State Attorney Bach: Mrs. Samuel, did you know a man named Kai Feinberg?

Witness Samuel: Kai Feinberg is the son of Elias Feinberg, a son of one of the most respected Jewish families in Oslo.

Q. Did he come back from Auschwitz?

A. He is one of those twelve from Auschwitz who remained alive.

Q. Tell me, Mrs. Samuel, what happened to the other Jews, those who were not deported and who did not hide inside Norway.

A. During the night of 26 to 26 November, the underground tried to warn as many Jewish persons as possible that danger was imminent and that they had to go into hiding.

Q. And what happened to these Jews? How did they manage to escape?

A. Very slowly, with the opening up of trails and with the development of the political conditions, these Jews were saved by the underground movement and taken to Sweden. This was a very dangerous operation because the trails, the borders, were closely watched by German guards who patrolled there.

Q. And what happened to you and the children?

A. During the night of 26 to 26 November, I received a phone call from Inge: "Tonight it is very cold. I advise you to cover the children well." That was enough for me. Telephone conversations were monitored. I understood the language, I understood there was danger. I woke my children and dressed them warmly.

Q. And what happened?

A. Inge came to us an hour later and transferred us, as well as my sister-in-law and her children. My brother-in-law went to hospital for a hernia operation. As I said, my sister-in-law with her two children and I with my three children were transferred by Inge to another neighbour in a house nearby. There, however, we could stay for only one day. There were children in the house, and this Christian family was endangered. The children might tell people: We have Jews living with us. Inge took it upon herself to keep us hidden.

Q. After that day, how long did you remain in Norway?

A. We were housed in an empty villa outside Oslo. My son, ten years old at the time, drew back terrified on entering the house: "We cannot stay here," he said, "there is a radio in the house, Nazis live here." I had to calm him down and explain: "If Inge sent us here, then I am safe." We were five children and two grownups, and a staff organized by Inge kept us supplied with food and clothing. They were all Homefront fighters who worked during the day, followed their professions, and used the nights to fight for the Homefront.

Q. How long were you in that villa, Mrs. Samuel?

A. We stayed only eight days in this villa, as we had priority, because of the children, to be taken across the border as quickly as possible.

Q. When did you cross the border into Sweden, Mrs. Samuel?

A. During the night of 3 to 4 December 1942.

Q. Perhaps you will only say briefly who brought you to the border and how you crossed the border.

A. We were a transport of forty persons in two lorries. The lorries had permission to transport potatoes. We had to behave like potatoes under the tarpaulins; not a word must be spoken. The children were given sleeping pills. And we were warned of the danger if the lorry should stop en route. "Those will be the Germans searching; not a word from you, you are potatoes." The last stretch could not be traversed by the vehicles. We had to cross it on foot with the children, in minus twenty degrees temperature.

Q. How old were your children, Mrs. Samuel?

A. My children were 3, 9 and 10 years old.

Q. Did the whole group reach Sweden safely?

A. Thank God, we managed to cross into Sweden safe and sound.

Q. Do you know how many Jews altogether reached Sweden with the help of the Norwegian underground?

A. About 850 Norwegian Jews were saved by the underground and taken to Sweden.

Q. Mrs. Samuel, did you ever hear from your husband after he had been taken to Germany?

A. In 1943, in January or February, I received an exchange immigration certificate to Palestine, sent to Sweden through my brothers, thanks to the help of the late Chief Rabbi Herzog, of blessed memory. I applied to the Swedish Foreign Ministry, which tried to have my husband sent to an exchange camp. I used to send packages through the Red Cross and once, I believe it was in 1943, confirmation came that Reb Shemuel* {*"Code name" for Rabbi Samuel.} had received the packet.

Q. Did you receive the confirmation via the Red Cross?

A. The confirmation was conveyed to me by the Red Cross.

Q. Did you ever receive a letter from your husband?

A. I never received a letter and never heard a word. From Grini, too, correspondence had been forbidden. I have a document from the Arolsen Archives saying that my husband perished in Auschwitz already on 16 December 1942.

State Attorney Bach: Thank you very much.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions?

Dr. Servatius: I have no questions.

Presiding Judge: Where do you live now, Mrs. Samuel?

Witness Samuel: I now live in Haifa, on the Carmel, in Ilanot Street.

Presiding Judge: Thank you very much. You have completed your evidence.

State Attorney Bach: Our next document is No. 330, a document which was shown to the Accused and was given No. T/37(145), attached to his statement. The document is signed by the Accused and is addressed to the German Foreign Ministry, and in it we find a bitter complaint about the Swedish Government, which was trying to save Norwegian Jews. Several individual cases are mentioned.

I draw your attention especially to the case of the Jewess Leimann, who was taken to Germany, became seriously ill, and died finally at the place of destination "in spite of medical efforts," as the Accused puts it. "If the information about her re-acquisition of Swedish nationality had been received earlier, she would not have been deported."

Then the Accused goes on to denounce the Royal Swedish Consulate General bitterly because recently it has attempted to fill in questionnaires for thirty interned Jews of Norwegian nationality, in order to obtain Swedish passports for them. He also mentions a case to which I wish to draw your particular attention, because other documents also refer to it, the case of a Mrs. Blaauv who is married to an Aryan Norwegian named Blaauv, who obtained Swedish citizenship and applied for emigration to Sweden. We shall return to her later. He asks for a special check to be made. Then he speaks of an Italian named Ghiglino who is married to a Jewess. The Swedes warned the wife that she should not return to Italy with her husband, but should remain in Sweden. We shall later learn from another document who this woman is.

The last paragraph reads: "The above is for your information, and my comment is" - he refers to Jews who have recently received Swedish citizenship - "that it is intended to include Norwegian Jews who are being nationalized by the Swedish Government - in the peculiar manner described above, at the last moment, and in this tendentious form - in the current Jewish measures without regard to that."

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/593.

State Attorney Bach: The statement of the Accused relating to this document begins on page 1870.

The next document is our No. 306, T/37(82). This time the signature is Guenther's. To von Thadden. He also refers to the fate of several Jews, and he mentions Mrs. Blaauv whom we spoke of earlier and says that he cannot, under any circumstances, agree to her leaving with her three children - exclamation mark added after "her three children." It is, therefore, clear that this is the reason - because she has three children. This is the reason why there is no possibility to let her leave. And he says: "The naturalization manoeuvre is, in my view, too transparent for us to accept without objection." He says that only applications submitted some time ago may be taken into consideration, but not those which are submitted now, nor naturalizations which are solely intended to remove Jews from the framework of the anti-Jewish measures.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/594.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is No. 491, a letter to the German Foreign Ministry from the Reich Commissioner for the Occupied Norwegian Areas. Once again, the Swedish attitude at the time of the operation against the Jews in Norway is discussed. There is mention of the Norwegian law obliging the Jews to register, and it says that, with the help of this law, a general registration of the Jews was carried out for the purpose of their expulsion from Norway. And here Ghiglino, the Italian, is mentioned again, and it turns out that this woman, Ghiglino's wife, is a niece of the Jewish writer, Jakob Wasserman, which may explain the special interest taken.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/595.

State Attorney Bach: Now, Your Honours, follow a number of documents relating to the efforts by the Swedish authorities to save two Norwegian children named Klein - Abraham Klein and Cissi Pera Klein. The first document is No. 767, regarding a request received by the German Foreign Ministry from the Swedish legation, asking for information about the fate of the Norwegian children Abraham Klein, born in 1926, and Cissi Pera Klein, born in 1929. According to information received, they were sent by boat to Germany in January 1943, because they belong to the Jewish race.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/596.

State Attorney Bach: The next document, Guenther's reply, is our No. 768. It says that the searches for the whereabouts of the Jewish children Abraham Klein and Cissi Pera Klein have yielded no results. Signed: Guenther.

Presiding Judge: This is marked T/597.

State Attorney Bach: The last document on this point, our No. 796, is von Thadden's reply to the Swedish legation. He says again, with respect to these two children, that Germany cannot take into account the acquisition of the Swedish nationality "when this is a matter of new naturalization of Jews. The decisive consideration lies in the fact that such new naturalizations can only have the object of exempting Jews from the measures imposed on them, which are regarded as absolutely unavoidable from the German point of view." Von Thadden sends a copy of this letter to Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/598.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is No. 307, which was shown to the Accused and marked T/37(84). The Accused signed this letter to Rademacher. Again the subject is the fate of a number of individual Jews. I shall not go into the details, but for all these cases it says that "the above- mentioned all declared, in reply to the question, that they had Norwegian nationality. Their return is therefore not possible." All this by way of reply to requests for the return of certain Jews following Swedish efforts. The statement of the Accused begins on page 1302, and he confirmed it by his signature.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/599.

State Attorney Bach: No. 1420 is a similar letter. This time it is signed by Guenther and concerns the Jewess Schidorsky who was sent from Norway to Germany for work assignment and "her present whereabouts are not known," and the Swedish request for her return to Norway can therefore not be granted.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/600.

State Attorney Bach: I should like to submit two more documents in connection with this subject, the resentment about the Swedish activity: First, Prosecution document No. 887, a letter from Guenther to the German Foreign Ministry about the Jewish influence with the Royal Court in Sweden. He writes about a Jewish charity event in the Stockholm Opera House for the benefit of Jewish children who are to be sent to Palestine; the Chief Rabbi spoke and described the suffering of the Jewish children, and the Royal Court Orchestra played. Signed - Guenther.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/601.

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