The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 67
(Part 6 of 6)

Q. Of all those atrocities which you experienced, is one particular incident engraved in your memory - the one with Klavin, Feiks' assistant?

A. Klavin was Feiks' right-hand man - he came from Latvia - he was one of the sadists, they were all sadists. On one occasion, at night, he brought a few prostitutes to the hut and lay with them in the presence of all the Jews, and there were also a number of children in the hut.

Q. Were there fathers and sons in this hut?

A. Yes, there were still a few children in the hut - that I remember - children eleven, twelve and thirteen years old.

Q. Do you remember the incident with Bauchwitz?

A. That happened after Feiks had already left this labour camp. He left after those of us who had come from Majdanek had been there some two months, more or less. I think he left in July. There was someone deputizing for him - he was the commander or instructor of the Ukrainians, an Oberwachtmeister (first sergeant), I don't remember his name. At any rate, on one of those days, when the Jewish prisoners returned from work, it appeared that one had escaped. At the head of this group, there was a man named Bauchwitz, who was from Stettin, in Germany. His family, as we got to know, had converted to Christianity when he was a boy of six or seven. When this Jew, this prisoner, fled, he - Bauchwitz - did not inform the commandant, since he knew that if he were to inform him, ten others would be killed.

Presiding Judge: I don't understand - about what did he not notify the commandant?

Witness Wdowinski: He did not report that a Jew had escaped, and he took it upon himself, should the matter become known. And, indeed, it became known later on, at a roll-call. And then the commandant decided to hang him, Bauchwitz. And he then said: "I have only one request." The commandant asked: "What is your request?" And he said: "I was a German officer in the First World War, and I fought at Verdun. Of my entire battalion only a few survived. And I was awarded the Iron Cross, first class. For this reason, because this is what I am, I ask that I should be shot and not hanged." To this, the Wachtmeister replied: "Whether you have the Iron Cross, first class, or not, whether you were an officer or not, in my eyes you are a stinking Jew, and you will be hanged."

He then mounted the gallows and asked for permission to address a few words to the assembled Jews in the camp. He was given permission, and then he said: "I was born a Jew, and all that I remember of my Judaism is one prayer - in fact, only the opening words of that prayer, and they are: 'God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,' and that is all I remember. But I want to, and I am going to die as a Jew - and I ask you Jews to say 'Kaddish' for me." And we did.

Attorney General: Do you remember the end of October 1943, when you sensed a lot of preparations in the camp?

Witness Wdowinski: Yes, I remember that.

Attorney General: Perhaps you will allow me to lead you somewhat in my questions, since time is running out. Did they tell you to shut yourselves up in the huts?

Witness Wdowinski: Yes - that was already under another commandant, Obersturmfuehrer Tausche.

Q. And then you were told that there was danger from partisans, and that they might possibly attack the camp. That was an excuse, of course, since there were no partisans in the area?

A. Yes. And we would not have been afraid of the partisans; on the contrary, we would have rejoiced had they come. And he told us: "As from this day, after this roll-call and after this speech, you will sleep under bags of straw, so that you will not be afraid, so that you should not hear the shots, and should not see." And the Germans were going to be on our side in the event of the partisans' attacking.

Q. Did you find out afterwards what the reason was for all these preparations?

A. Yes.

Q. Were the camps from the whole area evacuated and the inmates transferred to Majdanek and shot there?

A. Yes. As I said, Budzyn was a branch of Lublin-Majdanek. Once a week, sometimes once every two weeks, a cart was sent from our camp with a few Jews, together with an Unterscharfuehrer - I think his name was Heidemann - and a few Ukrainians, to fetch groceries and other supplies for our camp.

Q. And you found out from them?

A. We got to know from them. It was on 5 November 1943, that they came from there. First of all, they could still smell the smoke.

Q. Where?

A. In Lublin-Majdanek. Apart from that, they saw a few burned bodies. What they told us was that, on that night, the night of 2 November, the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the remaining members of the Warsaw Jewish community were killed at Majdanek, Lublin-Lipowa, Trawniki, Poniatowa, and some small camps.

Q. Were all the camps in the vicinity liquidated?

A. Yes, all the camps were liquidated. The exception was our camp at Budzyn.

Q. Did you learn later why your camp was spared and passed over?

A. Yes, by chance. It happened in this way. The hospital, the "Revier," was outside the camp, so that we walked from the Revier to the camp and back. Only occasionally, very seldom, did it happen then in this part, outside the camp where there was the Deutsche Siedlung (German settlement), there were Germans who worked at the Heinkel factory - engineers, managers, and others; sometimes they knew that those of us who came to this Revier, were doctors; they exchanged a few words with us, and one of them who saw me said: "You were lucky." I said: "What was the luck?" And he replied: "This is the only camp that has been left standing, since Reichsmarschall Goering gave an order, a command, to leave this camp as an important factory for the war effort, against the wish of the expert, the Jewish specialist" - that is what he said - "Eichmann."

Q. "Against the wish of the expert for Jewish affairs, Eichmann." When did this conversation take place?

A. I cannot tell you exactly when, but it was, perhaps, a week or two after the fifth of November, after those people returned from Majdanek.

Q. Was this the first time you had heard the name of Eichmann?

A. No, that was, in fact, the second time. A few months earlier - I do not remember exactly when it was, but I remember it was after Feiks' departure, so that it could not have been before July - a Jew named Karp came to our camp - he had escaped from Sobibor - and he told us that two senior officers had recently visited Sobibor. In Sobibor - so he told us - there was a kind of gas oven in which they burned the Jews, or killed them. The two senior officers came to inspect whether the oven was functioning properly, and the Ukrainians who were there had told the Jews that these two senior officers were Himmler and Eichmann.

Q. You have told us that you heard the name of Eichmann twice in the course of the War. Did you hear his name again?

A. Yes. I heard it once more.

Presiding Judge: Is this more direct evidence than on the two previous occasions, Mr. Hausner? This again reminds me of the evidence of a previous witness, this part where the name of the Accused was mentioned.

Attorney General: We are approaching the end, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: Yes, surely. I again stress that I am referring to the mention of the Accused's name, not about the evidence.

Attorney General: That is clear to me, Your Honour, but I would ask the Court at the end - I do not want to do so in the middle - to draw a certain conclusion, namely that the Accused's name became a byword everywhere. This could not have been fortuitous here.

Presiding Judge: All right. Please continue.

Witness Wdowinsky: In order to explain how it happened for the third time, I have to give a brief introduction. Our camp, the labour camp at Budzyn, was converted in January 1944 - on 15 Shevat according to the Hebrew date - into a concentration camp. We were moved from this labour camp about two or three kilometres further, to a new place, but this was also called Budzyn. There we already had pyjamas, since in the labour camp we had had civilian clothes, and because of this, it was possible for another Jew to enter the camp from time to time, even if he were not a prisoner. In this new camp, I worked in the building for bathing and disinfection, the official name of which was "Bade- und Entlausungsanstalt." We were twelve Jews in all, amongst them two Warsaw rabbis, one of whom - I believe - now lives in Israel. Often Germans also came to this bathhouse. In 1944, soldiers came even from the Russian front. There were several soldiers there from the front at Tarnopol. They came for a bath and to clean themselves.

On one occasion - it was on 5 May 1944, a Friday - a German civilian entered, whom I had never seen previously, very tall, very powerfully built - they called him Oberwerkschutz (Senior Labour Supervisor) Willi. the name of his commanding officer was Mueller, or Melzer, I don't remember. At any rate, he had been an Oberwerkschutz at the time when the camp was a labour camp. What became of him afterwards, after this camp had been converted into a concentration camp, I do not know.

Q. Mr. Wdowinski, I understand that this Willi entered into a conversation with you and asked you how many Jews there were there?

A. Yes. On that day, I had examined about thirty Jews who underwent treatment against scabies.

Q. Finally, after some provocation on his part, you said that you were proud to be a Jew?

A. Right.

Q. He answered you that only a German was permitted to be proud, and he started hitting you?

A. Yes, he had begun hitting me already before that.

Q. And he said that he had already killed seven hundred Jews?

A. Yes, and he took out a calendar.

Q. He took out a notebook and said that you would be Jew No. 701?

A. Yes, he had a record there of the number of Jews he had already killed.

Q. He pushed you with his rifle?

A. Yes, he struck me with his rifle and broke my bones.

Q. And he forced you towards the place where people were taken out to be killed?

A. Afterwards, he told me to get going, and he placed the barrel of the rifle on my neck. He took me along, together with a big dog, and all the time set the dog on me. The dog was very well trained. When they said to him, "Jude", he would bite. He bit at me all along the way and, at the last minute, about a hundred metres away from the place where he shot and killed Jews - he always killed Jews when he was alone so that there should not be any witnesses - an SS man, Hoffmann, came there with two other men. He was supposed to have been with us at work, but, according to what we heard, they had gone to the village to drink a little and to have a good time.

At all events, he rescued me at the last minute. I was bleeding. He saw the condition I was in. After that, for a day or two, he visited me in the camp. In general, he treated me - out of this large group of murderers, he was the only one to behave more or less in a humane fashion. He was not actually a German, he was not born in Germany, he was born in Hungary or Romania. So he came to visit me, to see how I was getting on, and then he said: "You will certainly survive, since this is the second time you have been saved from death." I said: "Why a second time?" And he said: "The first time was in the labour camp at Budzyn - you were not in my camp, but I knew all about it - we were supposed to kill all of you." Those were more or less the words he used. I do not remember exactly.

He said: "And that was a further occasion on which Reichsmarschall Goering gave the order to leave this camp alone, because the Germans who were employed there said that they would not be able to manage without the Jews, they would have to close down the factory." He added: "This was against the wish and the orders," I don't remember exactly "of a certain senior officer whose name was Adolf Eichmann."

Q. Is that what Hoffmann said?

A. Yes, that is what Hoffman said.

Q. Two final questions. When you were in Budzyn in 1944, on the eve of the Passover Festival, you baked matzot - is that correct?

A. Correct.

Q. How did you manage to do that?

A. We baked matzot; as I have mentioned, we had two rabbis in our group. We baked the matzot in an oven where we were working. We carried the matzot over on our persons. Two of us were caught. By now there was a new commandant - his name was Leopold, an Obersturmfuehrer. He ordered them to be beaten, and he himself beat them. One of them was Rabbi Stockhammer, who was struck on the naked body. The second one was some doctor. On the other side of the barbed-wire fence, there was a barracks of German soldiers who had returned from the front.

Q. Soldiers of the Wehrmacht?

A. Yes. When they saw this going on, they called out to Leopold: "Judenheld, gehen Sie doch besser an die Front!" (You hero with the Jews, you had better go to the front!). A few days after this, there was an incident where his toe had suffered an injury from his revolver. And then they said: "He should really have gone to the front," and the soldiers said to the other Germans across the fence that he had done this deliberately, in order to avoid military service.

Presiding Judge: We must draw a distinction between matters that would be very convincing to everyone except a jurist.

Attorney General: With all due respect, I think that this provides a certain background. I did not always want to interrupt him.

Presiding Judge: Here we have apparently reached the end of the testimony.

Attorney General: This is, indeed, the end of the testimony.

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

Presiding Judge: Dr. Wdowinsky, as I said to a previous witness, my remarks referred to the legal weight of some of the matters you related. I hope that you, too, understood this.

With this, you have concluded your testimony.

The next Session will be at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning.

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