The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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

Presiding Judge: The 100 Crowns will be marked T/706.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Point out 10 and 5 Crowns.

Witness Salzberger: Yes.

Presiding Judge: Do you intend to deposit the whole of the money here?

State Attorney Bar-Or: That will be enough for me.

Presiding Judge: The 10 Crowns will be marked T/707 and the 5 Crowns T/708.

Witness Salzberger: May I perhaps say something in connection with the money?

State Attorney Bar-Or: Please do.

Witness Salzberger: This money had no value at all. One could not buy anything with the money. This was all for external appearances. Already after a few days we found out that this was meaningless paper. The bank issued money, and handed out savings books, and entered the wages, but it was impossible to do anything with this money.

Q. All this was only on paper?

A. Yes. This was typical of Theresienstadt in general.

Q. I have two more questions to you. In April 1945, did you hear about a second transport being organized?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you hear about the first transport that went to Switzerland?

A. Yes.

Q. Did it leave before you entered (the camp)?

A. Yes.

Q. The organization of a second transport was begun, ostensibly to Switzerland; when did you hear about it? In April?

A. In April.

Q. Was it very easy to join this transport?

A. No. It was very difficult.

Q. Everybody wanted to go?

A. Everybody wanted to go and places were limited.

Q. How many places were reserved there?

A. Three hundred.

Q. This was a transport intended for exactly 300 people?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you, your sister and yourself, manage to join the transport?

A. Yes. We received numbers 299 and 300.

Q. Can you see notifications dated 20 April 1945, telling you to get ready for this transport?

A. Yes.

Q. Please identify the photocopies.

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/709 and T/710.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Who organized this transport?

Witness Salzberger: The Dienststelle organized this transport.

Q. What is the "Dienststelle"?

A. The SS.

Q. Was it the SS in Theresienstadt which organized the transport?

A. Yes.

Q. What was the destination of the transport - as you were told? Where was it supposed to go to?

A. To Switzerland.

Q. What happened to this transport in the end, Mrs. Salzberger?

A. This transport did not leave. The reason was the intervention of the Red Cross. That week, or some days before the transport was supposed to leave, the representative of the Red Cross, Mr. Dunot, came into the ghetto. He was conspicuous, he aroused attention, he drove about in a white car. There were already many rumours that negotiations between the SS and the International Red Cross were in progress for handing over the ghetto by the SS to the Red Cross. These negotiations ended, I think, after a week or ten days, and the ghetto was handed over to the Red Cross. In return, all the SS were allowed to get away, and they prepared themselves for that very thoroughly for days. They prepared carriages, whole trains full of luggage and equipment, they burned their archives, and a few days later they disappeared.

Q. How do you know about the burning of the archives?

A. We saw it. The Jews even had to help them with it.

Q. And they made off?

A. They made off. Afterwards information came from the Red Cross for the first time that this would have been the first transport which was destined for extermination. The necessary installations were also found. The plan seems to have been to destroy Theresienstadt. It should also be mentioned here that during the last month, April, many transports from various camps arrived in Theresienstadt, shocking transports.

Q. Where did they come from?

A. They came from Bergen-Belsen and other camps whose names I do not remember, but from very many camps, in shocking, ghastly condition. And in Theresienstadt, where the situation had been very good before, a very serious epidemic broke out. And it turned out that there had been a plan for extermination.

Presiding Judge: What situation was good in Theresienstadt?

Witness Salzberger: For us, who came from another concentration camp, the situation in Theresienstadt was so good, it was laughable. There were 6,000 people with Jewish institutions, a comparatively normal form of life, family life, cultural life, an internal Jewish regime. For us this was laughable. Of course, in reality everything was only pretence. Much was pretence. But for those Jews themselves who had been there all the time, this was, in fact, a kind of existence without real foundation, an unreal reality actually, but for them it was real.

Judge Halevi: How did it become clear to them that a plan to destroy them all existed?

Witness Salzberger: The installations were found. And there was an official announcement from the Red Cross that the population of the ghetto had really been saved from the execution of the extermination plan of the SS. Ten days later the Russians took over the camp.

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

Dr. Servatius: I have no questions to the witness.

Judge Halevi: So, what did you find out? For what purpose were you five women transferred from Ravensbrueck to Theresienstadt under such unusual conditions? What was the purpose?

Witness Salzberger: We do not know, and this riddle has remained a riddle, that at the end of the War they should have treated some individuals in such a strange way. We do not know.

Q. And were you not presented to some outside visitors in Theresienstadt, did they not show you to the Red Cross people or others?

A. Not as individuals. True, there was a visit from the Red Cross, at the end of March, I think, and this visit was a special occasion. There was good food, the whole ghetto was given a special festive appearance, so as to make a good impression. But we were not introduced to the Red Cross people as individuals.

Q. And when you told the members of the Aeltestenrat, and your Dutch friends, in defiance of the prohibition, the truth which you knew - did nobody believe you, or did the majority not believe you?

A. They did not believe it.

Q. Not one?

A. Not one.

Q. Did I understand you correctly to say that the transport to Switzerland was also destined for extermination?

A. The last transport - yes.

Q. How did you come to know about this?

A. There was an official announcement by Dunot, who actually intervened, in order that the transport should not leave Theresienstadt.

Q. Does this mean that they wanted to destroy both the transport and the ghetto?

A. The annihilation of the transport was meant to be the first stage of the annihilation of the ghetto.

Presiding Judge: That is to say, there was no transport at all, and it was to stay where it was?

Witness Salzberger: This was a first group which was intended for extermination. And it should be pointed out that this very group contained what we called "prominent personalities," including the Aeltestenrat. Rabbi Murmelstein was also in this transport and left it at the last moment.

Judge Halevi: Did he remain alive?

Witness Salzberger: Yes.

Q. What is the meaning of "left the transport"?

A. He gave up his right to travel on this transport. But another interesting thing must be mentioned: Anybody who asked to be accepted for this transport - once confirmation had been given - could no longer give up his right. And this was in contrast to the earlier Swiss transport, which had left in the beginning of February that year, if I am not mistaken.

Q. Did the earlier one reach Switzerland?

A. Yes. But at that time people could renounce their right, they could leave the transport before it left.

Q. And when did the Red Cross receive the camp from the SS?

A. That was at the end of April, on 28 April, I think. I do not remember the exact date, but there are documents about it.

Q. Was this before the Russian occupation?

A. Yes.

Q. When did the Russians arrive?

A. The Russians arrived only on 10 May 10th, or 14 May, rather late.

Q. And did you remain there until the Russian occupation?

A. Yes.

Q. Did everybody remain in the camp?

A. Yes.

Q. And at the time of the handing over of the camp, or about that time - was there another visit from the SS?

A. What do you mean?

Q. Did some committee of high SS officers come to visit?

A. The high officers stayed on until the very end, when the ghetto was handed over.

Q. That is, the camp commander, but from outside?

A. I did not see anything, but others said that there were visits.

Q. You did not see the extermination installations with your own eyes?

A. No.

Q. But you learned of this from the Red Cross?

A. No, there were people who were employed on the building of these installations, and they told us later that they worked on them.

Q. Do you mean gas chambers?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you hear this at that time, that they were working on this?

A., I heard it after the ghetto was handed over to the Red Cross. Before this they did not speak about it.

Presiding Judge: You mentioned the word "Sonderbehandlung," still in connection with Ravensbrueck Camp?

Witness Salzberger: Yes.

Q. What was the meaning of this word, as far as you knew?

A. It meant death. This was well-known.

Q. In what way did this become well-known?

A. In different ways.

Q. But did you know the methods for killing?

A. Yes, shooting. Earlier, in the beginning of 1944, it meant being sent to an extermination camp, and later on there were bunkers in Ravensbrueck which served for killing people.

Q. And did you know all this already at that time?

A. Yes. During that period, in June 1944, all the wives of the German officers who had taken part in the revolt (against Hitler) were brought in, and some of them were given Sonderbehandlung.

Q. What was the origin of this term? Where did it come from? Do you know? Was it among the prisoners, or did you hear about it from the guards?

A. This was an official term. It was a term we had known already in Holland, a term used by the SS.

Q. Already in Holland?

A. Yes.

Q. Already in Westerbork?

A. Yes, even in Amsterdam. When somebody broke a law of any kind, for instance, when somebody disobeyed the curfew for Jews, he would be given Sonderbehandlung. This was even written black on white.

Q. And it was known that Sonderbehandlung was death?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember which of these officers, at the time of this interview, used the expression "durch den Schornstein gehen" (to go up through the chimney)?

A. As I remember it, it was the Accused, but I am not absolutely certain.

Presiding Judge: Do Counsel for the parties have any more questions on this?

Dr. Servatius: I have no questions.

State Attorney Bar-Or: None.

Presiding Judge: Thank you, Mrs. Salzberger, you have completed your evidence.

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