The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 42
(Part 4 of 6)

Q. When you arrived, were your possessions taken away?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you have a receipt from Ravensbrueck Camp for certain items handed over?

A. Yes.

Q. This is again in your sister's name, is it not?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/701.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Did you hold on to this receipt during all the time of your stay there?

Witness Salzberger: No. The receipt was returned to us when we were released from Ravensbrueck.

Q. You stayed in Ravensbrueck, all three of you, till...?

A. Till February 1945.

Q. Did the three of you live together?

A. Most of the time, but not during the last few months.

Q. Mrs. Salzberger, please describe to the Court the living conditions, the work conditions, and everything connected with this, in Ravensbrueck Camp; whom did you see there, who was together with you, the types of prisoners, if you can remember, etc.

A. The Women's Concentration Camp Ravensbrueck was a concentration camp along the lines of the classic German model. It was actually called "Schwesterlager" (sister camp) of Buchenwald and Dachau and had been in existence since the early thirties. When we arrived, there were 60,000 women, and no Jews at all. The population consisted of completely different and strange groups. There was a very large contingent of "politicals," women who had been active in the various underground movements in the occupied countries, and also in Germany. There were well-known women bearing famous names, such as Jeanette (Genevieve) de Gaulle; there was Odette Churchill, there was the sister of the then mayor of New York, LaGuardia, and other very well- known women in the various underground movements.

Then there was another large group which was completely different: The serious criminals from Germany. The German prisons (Zuchthaeuser) were emptied, and these women were transferred to Ravensbrueck. A third group was called "the Antisocials," mainly prostitutes or women who were not regarded as fit to live in normal society under the German regime. Then there were smaller groups, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses. Each group wore a very clear identification mark: The political women wore a red triangle; the German criminal women a green triangle; the Bibelforscher an orange or pink triangle - I do not remember exactly. And there was another small group, the Mischlinge (of mixed parentage) who had been transferred to Ravensbrueck from Auschwitz; they were children of mixed marriages who had been sent to Auschwitz and from there to Ravensbrueck.

Q. Did they also wear a special marking?

A. Yes.

Q. I see here a sign bearing the number 28081. Do you see it?

A. Yes.

Q. Whose is it?

A. This is my number.

Q. This is the number you were given in Ravensbrueck?

A. This is the number we wore on our camp clothes.

Q. And you brought it out from the camp in the end?

A. Yes. This was the mark we wore.

Q. The Court will find this mark on the same sheet which shows the Jewish Star from Holland. Underneath it there is a badge composed of two triangles. Is this a photograph, in the album, of the badge you were given in Ravensbrueck?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it a red triangle on top of a yellow one?

A. Yes. The yellow means "Jew" and the red "political."

Q. Is this the badge you wore in Ravensbrueck?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Why the addition "political" in your case?

Witness Salzberger: We were active in the Dutch underground, and we do not know to what extent the Germans knew this, but our whole transport received this badge.

Q. Were there Jews who had only the yellow triangle?

A. No, not from our transport. Later on, yes. But when we arrived, there were no other Jews at all.

State Attorney Bar-Or: What was the everyday routine during the first months after you arrived there?

Witness Salzberger: There was a regime of suffering, of slavery and hunger, the conditions were inhuman, and personal relations were extremely bad. There was a lot of tension between the various groups which the camp management exploited. For example, we were put into a hut of Ukrainians, women from the Ukraine who were very anti- Semitic, and we suffered from this in particular.

The daily routine was as follows: We got up at 3 o'clock in the morning and had to appear for Appell (roll- call) from 4 to 6. At 6 we were taken to work, twelve hours of work at least.

Q. Where did you work?

A. During the first two months I did various jobs, what was called unskilled labour. We were "verfuegbar" (available). We were taken to roadbuilding, to all kinds of extremely hard jobs. After two months they took us away from there and assigned us to the Siemens-Halske factory, which was next to the camp and was staffed by the prisoners.

Q. The whole factory?

A. Yes.

Q. There were no other workers there?

A. There were German civilian workers who supervised the work.

Q. But the real work was done by the women prisoners?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: What was produced in this factory?

Witness Salzberger: The factory produced electrical parts which were needed for the German war machine. In the hall in which we worked resistors for aeroplanes were produced.

Judge Halevi: The supervision was in the hands of German civilians and not in the hands of the SS?

Witness Salzberger: There was parallel supervision. The supervision over the work was in the hands of German civilians, the control over our conduct, that we should not come into personal contact with the German civilians, was the responsibility of the SS personnel. This control was extremely strict.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Was the control in Ravensbrueck itself carried out by SS personnel?

Witness Salzberger: Yes. This was a camp which trained SS women for their tasks in all the various camps. It was actually a training camp.

Q. For?

A. For SS women soldiers, for all kinds of duties. From there they were sent to various other camps.

Q. Was there a punishment regime in the camp?

A. A very strict one.

Q. Who imposed it? By whom was it carried out?

A. Commandant Suhren, the commandant of the camp. He was actually responsible for the regime. But there was also a director - her name was Binz, and she, too, was an extremely sadistic person.

Q. Were corporal punishments imposed?

A. Very severe ones.

Q. When you say "severe" - what does it mean?

A. People were made to stand for twelve hours in cold and heat, people were beaten to death. There was a very large hut for women on whose bodies various experiments were carried out, and they used all the means already known to the Court.

Q. What were the crimes for which such punishments were imposed?

A. The crimes - according to German concepts - were not defined at all. It could be that someone was not standing properly at roll-call, or that someone was not walking properly on the camp road. It depended on chance.

Q. On 25 September 1944, a letter was sent to you to Ravensbrueck by the Palestine Office in Geneva. Can you find this letter here?

A. Yes.

Q. You have it before you. Will you please identify the photocopy.

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/702.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Tell me, please, was it possible to receive, and send, mail to and from Ravensbrueck?

Witness Salzberger: Yes. According to the camp regulations, it was permitted to receive letters once a month, and also write once a month. I have here a copy of the camp regulations concerning outgoing mail. These letters were delivered. After the War we received letters which we had sent to Holland from Ravensbrueck.

Q. Was this permitted to all prisoners without distinction of category?

A. Up to a certain time, until the middle of 1944.

Q. Until the middle of 1944, and what happened after that?

A. At that time the entire Ravensbrueck regime changed or collapsed, because other camps were evacuated near the Eastern front and also near the Western front. From Holland, for instance, a transport of women evacuated from Vught arrived in June 1944. Vught was a concentration camp for Netherlanders who were active in the underground. They were evacuated from this camp before the eyes of the British soldiers. This was at the time of the British invasion.

Q. And they were transferred to Ravensbrueck?

A. They were transferred to Ravensbrueck and arrived there in fairly high spirits, because they thought that this was already the end of the War.

Q. Did transports from the East also come to Ravensbrueck later on?

A. During the second half of 1944, transports arrived in Ravensbrueck all the time.

Q. Where did they come from?

A. They came from Auschwitz, they came from Birkenau, they came from Mauthausen, they came from all the camps vacated before the Russian occupation in the East, and before the Anglo-American occupation in the West.

Q. Did you come into contact with these women prisoners? They were women prisoners, were they not, and not men?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you have contact both with those from the West and those from the East?

A. Yes. Jews also began to arrive, many Jews from Hungary who had gone through Auschwitz and were evacuated from there to the centre of Germany and arrived in Ravensbrueck. It was a situation in which Ravensbrueck Camp could not absorb these people who were in a dreadful state, not even in the open air. Very many of them were hardly alive any more, but they sent them on. Many transports were not accepted and were sent on.

Q. Did you speak to these women who came in transports from the East?

A. Yes.

Q. What did you learn from them?

A. I received a full picture of all the extermination operations.

Q. Both in Auschwitz and in Birkenau?

A. There were people who came from Theresienstadt and who reached Ravensbrueck via Auschwitz.

Q. Were there people who came to Ravensbrueck after they were in Theresienstadt, from there to Auschwitz and back to Ravensbrueck?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you hear what happened to them, both in Theresienstadt and in Auschwitz?

A. Yes.

Q. You said that because of these transports from the East and from the West to Ravensbrueck the regime changed; in what way?

A. The camp regime changed. Before, the Germans had been very pedantic, so to speak, cleanliness, order, conduct, about the whole exterior form of the camp. It was a very small camp, perhaps of a square area from here to Keren Kayemet Street. It held 60,000 women. To preserve order of any kind, they really had to be extremely strict. When these transports arrived, and they were no longer able to maintain this regime, they began also to exterminate the women, to build extermination installations there, gas installations.

Q. When did they begin to build these installations?

A. At the end of 1943.

Q. End - that means December? 1944?

A. I do not know exactly.

Q. 1943 or 1944?

A. 1944.

Q. Did you see these things?

A. No. The management of Siemens-Halske, which was interested in keeping its work force fit, built, next to the big camp, a small separate camp which housed the worker- prisoners who worked in the factory, and we were transferred there. And we were separated, my sister and I, from my mother, in November 1944.

Q. The two sisters went to the small camp to work at Siemens- Halske, and your mother remained at Ravensbrueck Camp?

A. Yes.

Q. When did she die and where?

A. She died on 8 January 1945, in the big camp at Ravensbrueck.

Q. And how old was she then?

A. 52.

Q. Did you see her during her last days?

A. Yes.

Q. What state was she in?

A. In a state that resulted from these terrible conditions.

Q. Hunger?

A. Hunger and typhoid. There was a very serious typhoid epidemic at that time.

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