The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 70
(Part 6 of 6)

Q. Once a week, the notorious roll-call by Dr. Mengele took place for you?

A. About once a week. When a rumour reached us that Mengele was coming, there was panic. We stood there, and we had to undress.

Q. You stood there naked?

A. Naked. We pinched our lips, so that somehow we should look healthy.

Q. You mean your cheeks?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Your lips or your cheeks?

Witness Goldstein: The cheeks. And he would select the weak ones or the thin ones.

Attorney General: To be gassed?

Witness Goldstein: Yes.

Q. Did something else happen at the time of that selection? Was there some music?

A. Once a selection took place, it took almost the whole day, and then an orchestra was present. They played for us the whole day. That was when there was a much larger selection.

Q. Was there a woman who assisted Dr. Mengele?

A. Yes. Her name was Brechsler.

Q. Her name has already been mentioned - in the evidence of the doctor yesterday.

A. She also used to make selections.

Q. There were Blockaelteste of various kinds in Auschwitz, I understand. There were good ones and evil ones?

A. Yes, but most of them were good.

Q. Most of them were good?

A. Yes.

Q. How did you live? One thousand women in the block?

A. There were a thousand women in the block - twelve women in one bunk. There was only room to lie on one's side, head and feet protruding, and when one turned over, all the eleven others had to turn over. We received our food in one dish for twelve people, without spoons, without cups, twelve people eating from one dish. We counted the sips, so that one should not drink more than the next.

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

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

Judge Raveh: Were you given a number?

Witness Goldstein: No.

Q. On what date did you arrive?

A. We arrived in May 1944; we were there for three months, and in August we left Auschwitz.

Q. All those who arrived with you did not get numbers?

A. They did not get them. At that time - no.

Presiding Judge: Mrs. Goldstein, you have concluded your testimony. Thank you very much.

We can adjourn now. After the recess, you may show the films. The public will not be permitted to be present, apart from journalists, and, in addition, we have been asked to allow official observers of foreign governments to view this screening, and we shall permit that.

Attorney General: Perhaps I may be permitted to request permission for the attendance of the director of Yad Vashem and a number of researchers, whose names we shall submit to the Court during the reces.

Presiding Judge: How many are there?

Attorney General: A small number.

Presiding Judge: Very well, we shall also allow that. [Recess.]

Attorney General: With the Court's permission, last night we screened the films - which the Court will now see - in the presence of representatives of the Prosecution, and in the presence of Dr. Servatius and nine identification witnesses. They are: Mrs. Salzberger, Mr. Hoch, Mr. Aviel, Mr. Melkman, Mr. Ben-Zvi, Mr. Bakon, Mrs. Kagan, Mr. Chen and Mr. Aharon Hoter-Yishai. As a result of the screening, Defence Counsel agreed that, indeed, each of the witnesses identified a portion of the pictures, and hence, in this way, the entire screening was authenticated. I understand that Defence Counsel does not insist that the oath be administered to these identifying witnesses, but they are present here, at the Court's disposal, should the Court desire further authentication from them or to put additional questions to them.

Presiding Judge: That means there will be no testimony...

Attorney General: There will be no evidence running with the screening. I shall announce before the screening of each section what is being shown. I have a record of proceedings here signed by Mr. Ya'akov Bar-Or, on the identification that took place yesterday. I am ready to submit it to the Court. Defence Counsel has received a copy of it.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, what do you have to observe on this?

Dr. Servatius: I have no comments in regard to the witnesses. The Attorney General will explain what the contents are. These contents have been summarized for me, and I have no objection - but I have some points which I ask the Court to note, and on which my reservations are based. Do I have permission to present them now?

Presiding Judge: First of all, you do not have any objection to the submission of the record of proceedings?

Dr. Servatius: No, I have no objection to the submission of this record of proceedings.

Presiding Judge: I am marking the record of proceedings with my initials, and the letter "A". You spoke about reservations - what kind of reservations will you have at a later stage? I should like to understand the meaning of this word "reservation".

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, I am referring to a possible reservation which I shall present, and the Court will understand it only if it is submitted in advance.

Presiding Judge: That means that the reservation is against the present screening itself, or how am I to understand it?

Dr. Servatius: No, the reservation will not be against the actual screening, but in respect of certain scenes and of the text.

Presiding Judge: Please continue.

Dr. Servatius: Firstly, we see the actions of an operational group - to that I have no objection. But, immediately thereafter, comes a scene of a pile of corpses, a burning pile. I have the feeling that this scene was prepared after the event, and, in this respect, the scene should have been examined. There is also a view there of a wooden wall marked with lines. What their significance is one cannot see, but it has been said here that these are the numbers of the victims who were killed by this unit. I would, therefore, request that the text be examined.

Presiding Judge: With regard to the first scene, are you arguing that the scene has been staged, that it is not a genuine one?

Dr. Servatius: No, it is a genuine scene, but I have the feeling that it was filmed after the liberation, when they continued the process of burning bodies. Subsequently, there is a scene showing decapitated bodies, and the heads in a separate receptacle. I assume that both the scenes of the corpses and those of the heads are genuine. But I have the impression that it was put together for the purpose of reports that were made. Thereafter, we are shown some rectangular objects, and it is said that this was soap made from these bodies. I request that, in this instance, too, the text be examined.

The last aspect to which I want to draw the Court's attention is the concluding scene depicting the disposal of the bodies. I believe that this is more like a photographic report. There, the bodies are collected and gathered together and brought by a bulldozer into a pit. My feeling is that whoever prepared the report aimed less at a factual description than at the impression made, and I ask that this, too, should be examined. I have no further remarks.

Attorney General: As to the number to which Defence Counsel referred, I have no evidence as to the number, and I would ask the Court to disregard any figure of those who were put to death which may appear here. We shall not seek to prove any figure, or total of victims, by means of the figure which appears in the film.

As far as the furnace is concerned, I do not know whether it was found in this condition, when there was still fire in it, or whether the fire was kindled in order to show how it looked when the fire was burning. I cannot give any explanation for it. At any rate, this furnace was identified.

Presiding Judge: Identified? Where was it?

Attorney General: In Auschwitz. Concerning the burying of the bodies, evidence will be brought on the subject, and we shall submit material which, in our opinion, will implicate the Accused in the matter of the skeletons in Strasbourg. We shall submit evidence proving the link between the Accused and that affair, and the pictures which were shown at Nuremberg on the same matter. The scenes that you will see here is needed only to substantiate the material evidence which you will receive tomorrow. If we do not succeed in submitting this material, I shall ask you to disregard these scenes. Incidentally, it is only a brief part of the film, and also not an important one.

And now, with regard to the last film on Bergen-Belsen. The explanation is as follows: Attempts by the liberating forces to have the victims buried by the German population did not keep pace with the large numbers of bodies; in other words, it was impossible to bury the bodies at a sufficient rate.

There were huge piles of bodies and, meanwhile, an epidemic of typhus spread. In order to prevent the spread of the epidemic, the occupying forces brought in bulldozers, which you will see, in order to level the area, and in the course of that, to my regret, graves were opened in this process, and bodies were dragged along.

I am not saying that the Accused, or his subordinates, or in whose name he operated, committed this act. This film was taken after the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. But this is what such a burial looked like. The only justification - if, indeed, I am called upon to justify this - lies in the fact that the epidemic of typhus was prevalent, and the bodies had to be buried hurriedly, in order to prevent the increasing decomposition and the spread of the epidemic.

The first film will be the operation of the Einsatzgruppen, the execution of women and men. According to what we know, this was taken at the actual time.

[The film is shown]

Attorney General: So far, we have had the first section of the films. The second section consists of a number of fragments. Firstly, the train from Westerbork to Auschwitz. The surroundings have been identified as those of Westerbork. The commander of the camp has been identified.

The other scenes appearing in the rest of the film are: a view of Auschwitz, the plan of the camp, the installations, the women's living quarters, the stores, the stores for teeth, hair, women's articles, and items of clothing; a medical committee examining the victims of the experiments. The Court will also observe the barbed wire fences, the watch towers, and the electrified fences.

[The film is shown]

Attorney General: [giving explanations during the screening]

[A view of an SS officer amongst a group of people] This man in the centre has been identified as Gemecke, commander of the camp.

[A scene of a barrel being brought into a freight car from a cart full of barrels] This barrel was given to the prisoners for the purpose of relieving themselves en route.

[A scene of people seated in a large hall, mainly women and children] These pictures were taken immediately after the liberation.

These two below are "Stehbunker" (standing-up cells).

[A scene of people eating, two eating from one plate] These are pictures from the time of arrest.

These are toilets.

This is a wall for executing people in the notorious Block 11.

[People lying in bed] This is a hospital.

[A scene of a room in the clinic and various instruments]

Presiding Judge: What do you know about that?

Attorney General: These are the instruments for medical experiments. These are the interiors of cells. This is the burning of the bodies in the open, when the crematorium could not cope.

[A view of the camp covered in snow, people walking with haversacks and personal possessions] This is after the liberation by the Soviet army.

[A group of people in prisoner's garb pointing to an installation containing a door which opens downwards] This is Block 10, the punishment block.

[Heaps of spectacles, shoes, hair, and the like] This is what was discovered in the stores of Auschwitz after the liberation, false teeth, spectacles and other items.

[Bundles of coarse cloth]

Presiding Judge: What is that?

Attorney General: This is cloth made from hair, but we have no evidence as to its use - that is what the producer of the film surmised.

[An examination of people by a group of doctors] This is the examination of survivors by a medical team.

Attorney General: The next film will show various camps. First of all, the I.G. Farben camp and a visit there by Himmler.

Presiding Judge: The I.G. Farben camp - where?

Attorney General: In Buna, one of the sections of Auschwitz. As a consequence of the Defence Counsel's remarks, I understand that this item has been removed because some comment was made about it. The next scene will be Birkenau. Next, Mauthausen, and after that Strasbourg. This is how people were killed on the electrified barbed wire fences. This is the roll-call in Mauthausen. The people are standing there, naked.

Presiding Judge: Did you say that the last section was filmed in Strasbourg?

Attorney General: There was the matter of the supply of one hundred and fifty skeletons to the Institute for Ancestral Research "Ahnenerbe". We shall prove the link with the Accused. Instead of supplying skeletons, he supplied living people whose skeletons served the institute.

Presiding Judge: Do you have evidence that this was filmed at Strasbourg?

Attorney General: There are pictures closely resembling those which were shown at Nuremberg.

The next section deals with the camps in the American sector. It will show the United States forces entering the camps, General Eisenhower visiting the camps, the surviving remnants of all kinds.

Presiding Judge: At what place was that taken?

Attorney General: At various places. There were scores of these. These are the huts that were set on fire at the time of the German retreat.

These are figures of Muselmenn about whom the Court has already heard. The German citizens were ordered to visit the camps and to see the atrocities with their own eyes.

The next film is about Bergen-Belsen. The Court will see the entry of the British army into the camp. The distribution of food. There is a general view of the camp. Piles of bodies which had not yet been disposed of. SS men and women being brought in by British soldiers. The camp commandant. SS women gathering the bodies under British orders and burying them in a common grave. A burial by the British. SS soldiers collecting the bodies. And, finally, as I have already said, the gathering of the bodies and their internment by means of a bulldozer, in view of the danger of a typhus epidemic.

I regret that it was necessary to subject the Court to such a harrowing experience. That is the end of the screening.

Presiding Judge: We shall adjourn now. The next Session will be at 3.30 this afternoon.

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