The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 68
(Part 6 of 9)

Q. Did you encounter at that time or during those weeks, any especially shocking experience?

A. Yes. We were transferred, at the end of March or in April, to a camp called Zeltenlager (tent camp). The conditions there were terrible. The crowding was so great that people preferred to sleep outside, in the mud. Once there was an air raid. Nearby there was a SS camp. One bomb had apparently been dropped a second too early and hence it fell into our camp, inside the Zeltenlager. And the following morning I saw people eating human flesh.

Q. You witnessed cannibalism?

A. Yes.

Q. By prisoners of the camp?

A. Yes.

Q. They ate the flesh of other prisoners?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Did you mean that they ate the flesh of dead prisoners, victims of the bombing?

Witness Bakon: Yes.

Attorney General: After you were liberated, or about that time, you made a number of drawings relating to Auschwitz as it was pictured in your imagination - is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. When did you make these drawings?

A. I made most of my drawings in June. This was immediately after I recovered from typhus which I had contracted right away.

Q. And when you recovered, you made these drawings?

A. Yes, I made the drawings. I sketched crematorium number 2 and the gas chambers.

Q. As you remembered them?

A. Yes. I had seen them several times and I drew them exactly.

Q. I understand that to this day the motif of life at Auschwitz accompanies all you artistic work?

A. To some extent.

Q. [Shows the witness a drawing] What is this picture?

A. This is crematorium No. 2. Here, at the top, were the dwellings.

Presiding Judge: Before the witness gives the details, we should like to see the drawing so that we may be able to follow his explanation.

Attorney General: Perhaps the witness can retain one of the photocopies, and the Court can receive the coloured painting with the rest of the photocopies. [To witness]) Is this what you drew then?

A. Immediately after the liberation, when I was barely able to hold a pencil in my hand, when my temperature went down.

Q. How much did you weigh at the time?

A. 30 kilograms.

Q. Please describe what you drew in the picture?

A. Here was crematorium No. 2, one of the modern crematoria. Nos. 1 and 2 were identical. No. 3 and No. 4 were a slightly older model. Above were the quarters of the members of the Sonderkommando who had to live there.

Presiding Judge: Inside the building?

Witness Bakon: From the end of the autumn of 1944 they had to live inside the crematorium, here on top, and some of them had to live in the gas chambers of crematoria Nos. 3 and 4.

Q. In the attics?

A. That was in crematoria Nos. 1 and 2, and in crematoria Nos. 3 and 4 they lived actually inside the gas chambers in the end.

Q. Did it really have windows as you have sketched them?

A. Below these were the Mansarden (garrets) of prisoners, there were the windows, below, and this was the place where the bodies were burned. And the place where they undressed and the gas chambers were underground in crematoria Nos. 1 and 2. The people would descend several steps and were required to undress. I remember that members of the Sonderkommando - I asked them to tell me everything - perhaps I might get out and tell about them - they described the whole process in detail.

When the transports reached crematoria Nos. 1 and 2, the people had to get off; outside there were signs: "Vertetelnit" - apparently this means "bathhouses" in Hungarian. And "sauna" - in all languages. They were brought to the Entkleidungskammer as it was called (room for undressing). On one side there were benches and clothes- hangers, with numbers; sometimes women entered separately and men separately; sometimes, when there was no time, all of them entered together. They were told to undress and the SS said to them: "Remember well the number of your clothes- hanger, tie your shoes together properly, put your clothes into one heap so that you may receive everything on the other side."

People asked for water, they were thirsty after the long journey in closed freight-cars. They were told: "So hurry up! There is coffee waiting for you in the camp, the coffee will get cold" - and similar things so as to quieten them. After they were naked they had to walk forward on the left side towards the gas chambers.

In crematoria Nos. 1 and 2 there were two rooms of gas chambers; here, inside the Entkleidungskammer, there was yet another structure which they called a Rutschbahn (a chute) for people with artificial legs who could not walk; they transferred them by the chute directly into the rooms for undressing which were very near the gas chambers. In crematoria Nos. 1 and 2 there was a very long hall divided into two. I asked them the reason for this and they explained that sometimes there were not enough people and it was a pity to waste the gas, so the people were put into only one half of the hall.

Presiding Judge: The first drawing will be marked T/1318.

Attorney General: Perhaps, Mr. Bakon, with your help we can make this shorter. Is this another picture that you drew on both sides of the sheet of paper - these are the gas chambers themselves, I understand, and this is the undressing room on the other side?

[The photo is handed to the witness.]

Witness Bakon: Yes.

Q. You went there to warm yourself?

A. There and also in the gas chambers.

Q. And this is the picture of the dressing room?

A. Yes.

Q. This is the undressing cubicle, Yours Honours - there are hooks here. What are these hooks for?

A. Yes, that is what I described before - the numbers and the benches. The pillars were there only in order to support the structure in the undressing cubicles.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1319.

Attorney General: What are you holding in your hand now?

Witness Bakon: This is a view of the gas chambers and also Nos. 1 and 2 which were underground, and what one saw above; they looked like water sprinklers; I was curious and examined them closely; I saw that there were no holes in them, this was just a semblance, at first sight it seemed to be an actual shower-head.

Above there were lights covered with wire, and in each gas chamber there were two pipes leading from the ceiling to the floor, and around them there were four iron columns surrounded by strong wire. When the operation was over and the people were forced inside, the SS opened some device above, like with a drainage pipe, and introduced Zyklon B.

Presiding Judge: Did the gas remain in the middle of the chamber and spread from there?

Witness Bakon: Yes.

Judge Raveh: Is that what we see in the centre of the picture?

A. Yes. There were two of these in each gas chamber in crematoria Nos. 1 and 2 - that is to say, there were 4; their dimensions were 40x40 centimetres; below were the ventilators and also holes for cleaning with water. Afterwards, when they dismantled the crematoria, we saw the ventilators separately.

Presiding Judge: Were these air vents?

Witness Bakon: Yes. There were several openings. One opening was for the purpose of ventilation and one for washing the floor.

Presiding Judge: This drawing of the gas chamber will be marked T/1320.

Attorney General: In order to make it quite clear, Mr. Bakon, what purpose did this ventilation serve?

Witness Bakon: The ventilation made it possible for other people to enter at once.

Q. To ventilate the chamber after the killing?

A. Yes. The bodies were removed from the chamber, there was a lift there - actually it consisted only of boards 2 1/2 x 1 1/2 metres. I saw the lift on which they transferred the bodies to the top floor of that crematorium, from where there were rails of small trains with waggons and they conveyed the bodies to the incinerators. I also saw the incinerators and I remember that members of the Sonderkommando also showed me the crate in which they collected the gold teeth, which were melted down into gold bars.

Q. What do you have before you now, in this picture? [Hands a picture to the witness.]

A. Crematoria 3 and 4 - they were built in a different style - they were older.

Q. Are these the ones you mentioned earlier in your testimony?

A. Yes.

Q. At the end there is a small structure. What is that?

A. Here, there were two gas chambers, on the extreme right- hand side.

Attorney General: I submit this to the Court.

Presiding Judge: What does the arrow signify?

Witness Bakon: The arrow points to the gas chambers, to the small structure containing the gas chambers.

Attorney General: Did the members of the Sonderkommando live there?

Witness Bakon: At the end of 1944 they were forced to live there.

Q. Inside the building?

A. Yes, inside the building.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1321.

Attorney General: You also drew figures of Musselmen as they were called, "The dying men"?

A. Yes.

Q. Are these figures that you drew from your imagination? [Hands the witness two pictures.]

Presiding Judge: What do you mean by "imagination"?

Attorney General: I will ask that immediately. According to what you remember, did the people look like that?

Witness Bakon: These figures were engraved in my memory in this form.

Presiding Judge: Do you have a copy?

Attorney General: We do not have a copy.

Presiding Judge: These will be marked T/1322 and T/1323.

Attorney General: What is this? [Shows the witness a picture].

Witness Bakon: Distribution of soup to children in the Mauthausen camp. On the right we see bodies and a SS man who is on guard.

Q. Were the bodies lying there, outside?

A. Yes, the bodies of those who had died in the meanwhile.

Q. And you have drawn it the way it looked?

A. Yes, in Camp 2 or 3, as they called it.

Presiding Judge: Is there no photocopy of this one, either?

Attorney General: There is no copy.

Presiding Judge: [To witness] Undoubtedly you want to keep these drawings?

Witness Bakon: Yes, Your Honour.

Attorney General: Perhaps we can make photocopies and return it to the witness, if the Court would be good enough to make the exhibit available to us afterwards.

Presiding Judge: Yes. This document will be marked T/1324, but you will replace it with a photocopy.

Attorney General: And this is what the scene of dispatch looked like to you? [Shows the witness a picture.]

A. Yes.

Q. Where to?

A. To crematoria Nos. 1 and 2.

Q. This is how you saw it?

A. Yes, naturally this is an artist's impression. The crematorium were to the side.

Q. Who is this man with a rifle?

A. An SS man.

Q. Is this how you saw the scene?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1325.

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