The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 51
(Part 1 of 6)

Session No. 51

9 Sivan 5721 (24 May 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the fifty-first Session of the trial open.

State Attorney Bach: Your Honour, I submit a small number of additional documents. The first document is our No. 513. Here Veesenmayer advises that the Slovakian Government is still taking an interest in those Slovakian Jews who are in Hungary, and in particular in those orphan children who, at the time, had crossed into Hungary. The Court will recall that we had some evidence here in this matter. It was to the effect that these Jews had crossed over at the time illegally. Veesenmayer tries to persuade the Slovakian Government to cease taking an interest in this matter - a step which would facilitate the operation in Hungary.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1120.

State Attorney Bach: The following document is our No. 902. Here Ludin notifies the Foreign Office that he is ready to meet Veesenmayer, but that a renewal of the repressive measures against the Jews here - that is to say in Pressburg - would only be possible with the active participation of Wisliceny on the spot.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked /1121.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 903. This is a report dated 11 August 1944. The German Minister Ludin submits a comprehensive review to the Foreign Office of the position of the Jews in Slovakia. The review contains an expose of the anti-Jewish operations, statistical data, and an account of the relationship between the German embassy and the Slovakian Government. At that stage, out of a total of 89,000 Jews in Slovakia, 15,300 were still registered. On page 4 Ludin remarks that the Jews were assisted by Slovakian church circles, who supported their cause by the publication of a pastoral letter. Later on, he again repeats his demand that Wisliceny should come immediately because of his vast experience, and considering all the circumstances. He says that his absence, which had been caused by the fact that he had been sent to Greece and Hungary, had facilitated a relaxation in the application of the anti-Jewish regulations. He also mentions that Wisliceny had told him that thousands of Jews had recently fled from Hungary to Slovakia. In other words, this was a flight in reverse from Hungary to Slovakia in 1944.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1122.

State Attorney Bach: The following document is No. 638, which has also been shown to the Accused and which has been numbered T/37(192). Here news came "that on 24 May certain transports crossed from Hungary on their way to the east through Slovakia, and that the Germans put Jews to death there by shooting, and compelled Jews, under threat of being shot, to hand over to them jewellery and other valuables such as watches, rings, fountain pens, and even cash." It was established that the German escorts were drunk and were singing. It says further, "that the Jews threw various articles of value out of the train, and even money, and that this act had aroused the feelings of the Slovakian public, and that the German name had been harmed. He requests an immediate clarification from Eichmann's unit." The letter is signed by Wagner, of the Foreign Office.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1123.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 639. Here Veesenmayer, in reply to this telegram, advises that, according to the statement of Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, it was reasonable to suppose that this Slovakian report could be true, and that the men who accompanied the transports were no longer experienced SD men, but rather young SS men and Volksdeutsche from Baoska and from Banat. A further report is promised.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1124.

State Attorney Bach: In document No. 640 in the same context, Grell,* {*Horst Theodor Paul Grell, Legationsrat and SS Hauptsturmfuehrer} of the German embassy in Budapest, also makes a report of the same episode. Here it appears that there is a dispute between the various units in Budapest as to who is responsible there. He says there that Eichmann's operational unit has authority solely for the technical implementation, and consequently the report ought to come from the Commander of the Security Police and SD. At any rate, he says that killing by shooting was necessary for the purpose of maintaining discipline within the transport.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1125.

State Attorney Bach: Despite the fact that, on the face of it, the Accused's Section was, so to say, not responsible, we notice in the following document, No. 641, that Guenther, in his letter to von Thadden, definitely justifies the action. He says that the tales of detrimental behaviour are totally false. He says that it was necessary to fire on the Jews of the transport of 29 May owing to their unruly conduct. He says that these Jews, in the course of the journey, threw money and other articles from the train carriages, despite this having been prohibited. In view of the fact that such rebellious behaviour on the part of the Jews caused public unrest, which was also confirmed in the report, it became necessary to adopt deterrent measures on the spot.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1126.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is No. 895. Here Ludin advises the Foreign Office that he had been approached by Tiso, who was afraid of difficulties with the Vatican and with Switzerland if Jews should again be deported. This referred to October 1944. Ludin says that he told Tiso that he should simply say that the Reich demanded a vigorous solution from the Slovakian state, and that in such a case "we are ready to bear the responsibility for the measures against the Jews that were taken here."

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, with regard to this document No. 895, I am not sure whether I heard the correct translation. There is an important sentence there which the envoy writes to the Foreign Office, about this vigorous solution "that we are ready in this instance to accept for ourselves the responsibility for the actions against the Jews."

State Attorney Bach: Evidently when the word "we" is used here, the reference is not to "we, the Foreign Office," but to "we, the Germans," as distinct from the Slovakians. Of course, the Foreign Office is the department that has to represent this position.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1127.

State Attorney Bach: The following document is No. 896. This letter from Ludin reached the Foreign Office, and von Thadden considers that Ludin's suggestion is not practical, for towards the outside world, it openly places the responsibility upon Germany. He thinks it is desirable to make use of the uprising in Slovakia as an excuse, and he states: "We must exploit this fact and advise the Slovakians to answer to any possible intervention, that the large participation of the Jews in the uprisings and the partisan movements rendered a drastic solution of the Jewish Question unavoidably necessary."

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1128.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is No. 371, which was submitted to the Accused and which was numbered T/37(140). This was an enquiry through the Foreign Office concerning the whereabouts of a number of Jews who once possessed Slovakian citizenship. Kryschak, of the Accused's office, writes that the investigations failed to produce any results, and "we abstained from further investigations, because we had to devote ourselves to the performance of duties essential to the war effort." And he adds: "Since we do not any longer have to take into account the return of the Jews to Slovakia, it is possible to settle this problem, and there should no longer be any need to deal with it."

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1129.

State Attorney Bach: The following document is No. 833. This is a document that appears in the album which Dr. Steiner submitted this morning, and he testified that he had seen the original and had himself made a photocopy. It contains confirmation of the arrest of 9,600 Jews - the report is dated 9 December 1944 - and of the transfer of close to 9,000 Jews to a concentration camp in Germany.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1130.

State Attorney Bach: I should merely like to draw the attention of the Court to the word "special treatment" which appears in this document, relating to 2,200 people. We do not have here an exact explanation of its meaning. This is a general number of the people who received this treatment.

The following document is No. 898. Here von Thadden writes to Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann that Tiso had received a letter from the Archbishop of Uppsala, in Sweden, in which the Archbishop intervenes on behalf of his "unfortunate Jewish brethren" and requests Slovakia to enable the Jews to leave for neutral territory, since "it is no longer possible to guarantee them humane treatment." He adds that Tiso showed him the letter, together with the comment: "What do some people imagine to themselves!"

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1131.

State Attorney Bach: And now, Your Honours, the final document, our No. 217. It was also submitted to the Accused and was given the number T/37(74). This is a letter from von Thadden to Eichmann, and he mentions here that Dunand of the Red Cross applied to the German embassy for permission to be given to the Jews to set up a shelter, and he says that his proposal was limited to a shelter required only for Jewish children. And Dunand received an explanation from the German embassy that "bearing in mind the participation of the Jews in the Slovakian uprising, we cannot agree to this request, for any shelter is likely to develop forthwith into an additional nucleus of Jewish resistance."

Presiding Judge: This document is numbered T/1132.

State Attorney Bach: I now notice that I overlooked one document, Prosecution document No. 524. There is reference here to a Jewess named Brody, who up to that time was believed to be a Slovakian citizen "but what we did not know" - says Guenther - was "that she is apparently a Hungarian citizen whom, for security and police considerations, we are unable to return."

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/1133.

State Attorney Bach: I would now ask to call our next witness, Mr. Adolf Rosenberg.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Rosenberg: Yes.

[The witness is sworn]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Adolf Rosenberg.

State Attorney Bach: Mr. Rosenberg, were you born in Slovakia?

Witness Rosenberg: Yes.

Q. And you were, in fact, the owner of a carpentry shop?

A. Yes.

Q. In which town?

A. Nove Mesto nad Vahom.

Q. When were you required to hand over your carpentry shop to an "Aryanizer"?

A. That was in 1941.

Q. After you handed over your shop to the "Aryanizer," did you continue working there?

A. Yes.

Q. In what capacity?

A. As a technical adviser - this was the full title according to the permit of the Ministry of the Interior, Section 14, which issued the licence.

Q. Did you also work in the Novaky camp?

A. Yes.

Q. When did you work there?

A. In November 1941.

Q. What did you have to do there?

A. They took us - about 100 persons - from my town, up to the ages of 40-45, and told us that we had to begin working on the construction of the buildings which would be ours in the future.

Q. Who was this "Aryanizer"?

A. He was the commander of the "Hlinka Guard."

Q. The commander of what district?

A. Of my town - of Nove Mesto nad Vahom.

Q. Why did he allow you to work in this shop?

A. He told me that he needed me, he had never before managed commercial enterprises.

Q. When were your parents taken to a concentration camp?

A. They were taken to a concentration camp in April 1942, during the week of the Passover festival; they took them to the concentration camp at Zilina.

Q. Did you succeed in bringing them back from there?

A. Yes.

Q. How?

A. I asked the "Aryanizer" that, if he took my parents, he should also take me - I wanted to live together with them. He told me that he needed me, and that I would only depart on the last transport.

Q. And then you lived with them, in fact, in Slovakia until 1944?

A. Yes.

Q. In your apartment?

A. Yes. He merely set one condition - that my parents should not return to our apartment, since they were elderly people; it was in the same building as the business, and he wanted to use our apartment as a storeroom. His condition was that I should take them to live with me.

Q. While you were still in your apartment, from the point of view of your freedom of movement - what were the restrictions?

A. At first we were completely forbidden to go out into the street after six o'clock. As far as I was concerned, possibly because I worked for the commander of the "Hlinka Guard," while I did not have permission, I nevertheless walked around after six o'clock as well, without a special permit.

Q. Were you obliged to wear the yellow badge?

A. Yes, from the beginning.

Q. Do you still possess the yellow badge?

A. Yes [shows it to the Court]. This was the first.

Q. Perhaps you would explain to the Court what were the various signs?

A. [Displays them to the Court] This was the first one I received, on Rosh Hashana in 1940. Subsequently, when I received the yellow certificate, as it was called, from Section 14 of the Ministry of the Interior, denoting that I was a Jew who was important for the economy, I was given the Slovakian sign "A.J." ("Jew indispensable to the economy"). This was the sign which I possessed when I worked as an essential labourer.

Q. And what was the third sign?

A. That was the sign I received in the camp.

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