The testimonies of Eva Galer(nee Vogel)

Eva was born on January 1, 1924, in Oleszyce, Poland, a small community where over half of the people were Jews. She had 7 siblings and she was the oldest.Her father, was a wealthy merchant and head of the Oleszyce Jewish community. He had an international business that distributed religious articles including Torahs and tefillin to France, Belgium, England, the US and other countries across the world. While being deported to the Belzec Extermination Camp, she escaped by jumping out the train window with her brother and sister. Her siblings were shot and killed as they fell out the train, but Eva managed to escape by landing in a deep hole.

Below are 2 of her testimonies so there will be a lot to read, but I believe her words are very important. They are not only a warning from the past, but also a warning for the present and the future.

source

https://www.holocaustsurvivors.org/survivor-stories/Eva-Galler/#prettyPhoto

“The last thing my father told me as he pushed me from the train was ‘You run. I know you will stay alive, you have the Belzer Rebbe’s
blessing.’ He was very religious and he believed this.
I was born in a little city in Poland named Oleszyce. Our community consisted of 7,000 families, half of them were Jews. My father, Israel Vogel, was the head of the Jewish community, the head of the Kehillah.

In our part of Poland there was a famous Rabbi, the Belzer Rebbe. When I was born there was a big fire in the Rebbe’s house. He had many invitations to stay with people while his house in Belz was being rebuilt. His personal secretary, his Gabbai, went to look at all these places and chose ours. Our house was big enough to accommodate the Rebbe’s household. This was a great honor. He lived with us for three years.

At this time I was an infant in the cradle. My mother had lost four children. We were supposed to go live in a house we owned next door. My mother refused to move me out of our main house until the Belzer Rabbi blessed me. It was said that he gave me a Special Blessing
. The whole city knew about this.

My father had a business of distributing religious articles. The occupation of a majority of the older Jews in our community was to make these articles, like Torahs and tefillin. I was interested in how they were made. They would stretch animal skins on a frame to make the parchment. The parchment would be cut into sheets. Sofers or scribes would then write the letters on the parchment. It took a scribe an entire year to write a Torah. They sewed the parchment sheets together into the scrolls with threads made of animal sinews. My father could recognize the handwriting of all of his scribes. Every week they brought their work to my father to get paid. He would then distribute the religious articles to buyers in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania and later, after my brother emigrated, to the United States.

My mother, Ita Prince, was an orphan. The family she lived with was too poor to afford a dowry, and in those days it was hard to get married without one. My father was a widower with six children. My mother was 18 and my father was 34. They matched my mother up with my father because he was rich and because he promised to take in all her sisters and provide dowries for them. She did not want to marry him, but she had no choice. Her foster family said, “If you do not marry him you will have to provide for yourself and your three sisters.” It was a business proposition. My mother had eight children. I was the oldest child. I felt sorry for my mother because she was always pregnant.

At that time it was considered unimportant for a girl to have an education. The government gave you only a basic education, and after that you had to pay. My father educated the boys. After I completed seventh grade my father did not think I should go to high school. I went on a hunger strike. I did not eat and I locked myself in the room until my father agreed that I could go to high school. I had also gone to cheder to get a religious education.

In our city everybody was observant. Everyone went to synagogue and everyone ate kosher. On Shabbos the men wore streimels.

When it was time to go to synagogue on Friday night, the shammes would holler in the street or knock on the doors.

The Jews and the non-Jews in our town did not mix socially, only in business. The anti-Semitism was very strong; we felt it all over. The gentile children did not want to associate with us, and they called us names. The Jewish children were not permitted to take part in school plays. The Christians were told that the Jews killed Christ. On Easter they would throw stones at us. However, there were no pogroms at this time, before the Germans came into Poland.

We were aware of the Nazis and events in Germany from the newspapers. I remember the incident at Zbaszyn when the Polish citizens were expelled from Germany and were forced to return to Poland. This led up to Kristallnacht, which happened in Germany. I remember that one refugee family did not have a place to live, and my father gave them a room.

Somehow we did not believe Hitler would come to Poland. Until the last minute people did not believe that the Germans would invade us. The Polish soldiers used to sing patriotic songs. They would not give up an inch of our Polish soil to the last drop of their blood. They sang songs about fighting for the port of Danzig.

People did not believe that the Germans would come until they saw the airplanes. It was so sudden. In a couple of days the Germans occupied the whole of Poland. Then there was not anything one could do. It was too late. The Germans and the Russians had a treaty, the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, which divided Poland at the River San. Because our town was on the Russian side, the Germans occupied our part of Poland for just two weeks. Then, according to the Treaty, the Russians came in. Until 1941 the Russians were in charge.

I still had a year left to finish high school. But my father could not continue his business because the Russians did not permit the practice of religion. As the oldest child I had to take a job to support the family. Jobs were hard to get. The Russians gave the first jobs to poor people and to working people. Because my father was considered a rich businessman, he was called a capitalist. As the daughter of a “capitalist” I could not get a job. So I wrote a letter to Stalin. I wrote him that we were a large family and my father was too old to work. I received a reply from his office, and I was given a job. They wrote it up in the local newspaper. I started out as a secretary and advanced to assistant assessor in the local internal revenue office.

We did not expect anything to happen. One Saturday evening in June 1941 we went to sleep. About 6 o’clock Sunday morning we heard gunshots and went out to see what was happening. German motorcycles were going down the main street. Soldiers were shooting right and left. Whoever was on the street was killed right away. This is when our problems began.

The Jews were not permitted to keep a job. People started to trade their belongings with the farmers for food. Potatoes and flour were more important than money. If someone had savings in the bank, all the money was confiscated. If someone had cash at the house, it did not last too long. Best off were the people who had stores and who could hide the merchandise.

The first thing they did was to make a Judenrat. A few Jews became responsible for the entire Jewish community. To these people they gave orders which they had to pass on to us. Every day there was a different decree. We had to put on armbands so we would be recognized as Jews. Our armbands were white with blue Stars of David sewn on. Every day orders came for people to go to work at hard labor or to do work like cleaning toilets. The Judenrat had to deliver the number of people they required.

Already it was a fight for survival. We had to do what they wanted. If we did not, we would be killed immediately. We did not have a newspaper or a radio so we did not know what was going on in the outside world. We just hoped to stay alive and that the war would end before they would do something to us.

We were not allowed to walk down the sidewalks, but had to walk down the middle of the street. The street in our town was not paved. When it rained it became a street of mud. Once my mother forgot and walked on the sidewalk. A young walked by, a Ukrainian man who was a teacher. He had helped my brothers with their homework and had come to our house. He went and hit my mother when he saw her walking on the sidewalk. My mother came in and cried. She said, “If a German had done it, I would have said nothing. But this man should have been an intelligent person: he came into my house and I fed him.”

Even your friends could turn against you. It was as if anyone could pick on the underdog. I did not understand. I felt degraded. There were times when I envied a dog. A dog has his master who takes care of him and feeds him. We were outside the law. Anyone could do with us as they wanted.

I was luckier than most people under the Germans. I understood the tax books. For almost a year I was sitting in city hall with the armband working on the tax books. I worked for them until they could train somebody else. I did not receive any pay. I got bread, which was better than getting money. When I brought the bread home, I gave everyone a piece. My little brother looked for crumbs on the floor because he was hungry and wanted more, but nobody could have more. Now I feel so guilty. I hit him because he took the crumbs from the dirty floor.

In those days the way they delivered messages was by a city drummer. He beat his drum calling out “Ja wam tu oglaszam”” I have an announcement for you.” In our town the drummer’s name was Pan Czurlewicz. He wore a uniform like a policeman. He came to our street drumming and calling until everyone came out of their houses. “All the Jews must assemble in the city square,” he said, “If they find someone missing they will be shot.”

When we arrived at the city square, we saw a fire in the middle of it. The whole inventory from the synagogue was burning, the prayer books, the torah scrolls, everything was burning. The German soldiers pushed the young girls up to the old men and made them dance around the bonfire. When we looked up we saw that each of our town’s three synagogues was on fire.

All around us our neighbors and friends were watching and laughing at us like they were at a show. This hurt us more that what the Germans did. After the fire burned down they told us to line up and parade through the whole town so everyone could see us. This I will never forget.

We were living in conditions of hunger and fear, but we were still in our own homes. People made hiding places in their houses to hide from the Germans. Our hiding place was in the attic behind a double wall. Whenever we saw the Germans, we would run to the attic and hide. Even the little children understood that if they made noise it was a matter of life and death.

This continued until September 1942. One day the drummer came. He announced that all the Jews had to take what they could carry and walk the seven kilometers to the next town of Lubaczow. There was a ghetto there.

All the Jews of Oleszyce and the neighboring villages were moved to the ghetto in Lubaczow. The ghetto was the size of one city block for 7,000 people. We slept 28 people in a room that was about 12 by 15 feet. It was like a sardine box. People lived in attics, in basements, in the streets–all over. We were lucky to have a roof over our heads; not everyone did.

It was cold. In one corner there was a little iron stove but no fuel. We were not given enough to eat. The children looked through the garbage for food. There was not enough water to drink. There was one well in the backyard, but it would not produce enough water for everybody. To be sure to get water you had to get up in the middle of the night. Once I had a little water to wash myself, and my sister later washed herself in the same water. Some people started to eat grass. They would swell up and die. Because of the unsanitary conditions people got lice and typhus. My brother Pinchas got night blindness from lack of vitamins. Every day a lot of people died. It was a terrible situation. People were depressed. There was nothing to do. They waited and hoped and prayed.

Then, beginning on January 4, 1943, the Gestapo and the Polish and Ukranian police started to chase all the Jews out from their houses. The deportation took several days. People ran and hid. The Jewish police helped to find the people in hiding. They had been promised that they would stay alive if they cooperated.

We knew where we were going. A boy from our town had been deported to Belzec camp. He escaped and came back to our town. He told us that Belzec had a crematorium. Deportation trains from other cities had passed by our city and people had thrown out notes. These notes were picked up by the men forced to work there. The notes said, ‘Don’t take anything with you, just water.’

They took us to a cattle train. People started to run away from the train, but they were shot. Once on the train we had to stand because there was no room to sit down. A boy tore the barbed wires from the train window. The young people started to jump out of the window. Many jumped. The SS on the rooftop of the train shot at them with rifles. My father told us, the oldest three, “Run, run–maybe you will stay alive. We will stay here with the small children because even if they get out, they will not be able to survive.” To me he said, “You run, I know you will stay alive. You have the Belzer Rebbe’s blessing.” He was very religious and he believed this.

My brother Berele jumped out, then my sister Hannah, and then I jumped out. The SS men shot at us. I landed in a snowbank. The bullets did not hit me. When I did not hear anything anymore, I went back to find my brother and my sister. I found them dead. My brother Berele was 15. My sister Hannah was 16. I was 17.

I took off my star and I promised myself that never again would I ever wear a star. I ran back to the city where we lived. We had a Gentile friend there, a lady to whom we gave a lot of our belongings. She was scared to keep me. Gentile families who were found to be hiding Jews would be killed. She hid me behind a cedar-robe in the corner. I was standing there listening to people come in. They were discussing how they were killing the Jews, how the Jews were running away, who had been shot. It was a small city. They felt sorry for the Jews. It was a sensation, a thing to talk about. They felt sorry but they forgot right away.

In the evening when it became dark she gave me half a loaf of bread and 25 Polish zlotys. She told me to go. I went to another family’s house that I knew who lived close to the woods. He was a forester. When I worked with the taxes, I had helped them. They were afraid to let me in. It was already dark. I could not walk. It was freezing cold. There was snow. I was not well dressed. I went in the barn where they had a newborn calf, and I lay down with it to keep me warm. About twelve o’clock the wife came to look at the calf. She saw me and felt sorry for me. She let me come and sleep in the house, but in the morning she told me to go.

I wanted to go to the train station, but I was afraid to go in our city because everybody knew me. So I went to the woods and walked to the next station 32 kilometers away. At that time it was thought that there were partisans
in the woods. People were afraid to go in the woods, but I was not afraid. I was walking in the deep snow, and in the evening I came to the station in Jaroslaw.

At the Jaroslaw station I bought a ticket for Cracow. I figured that Cracow was a big city with a big Jewish community. Maybe the ghetto would still be there. In the train station I saw the person who took over my job at the internal revenue. I was frightened that she might recognize me. I kept walking around the block until the train came. Then I got on the train. This was another situation. I did not have any documents. The lady that gave me the bread had given me some papers from her daughter, but they were not good enough. There were identification checks on the train. Every station I would move to another wagon.

In Cracow I spent two days and two nights living in the train station. There was a curfew at night because of the war. People who came into the city late had to stay in the train station until morning, so there were always a lot of people there. I moved around a lot so people would not recognize me, from one bench to another, from one room to another. It was a big station. But I did not have any money, and I did not have any bread. I had never been to Cracow before. I did not know where the ghetto was. I did not see anybody with an armband, and I was scared to ask someone where the ghetto was.

I walked and walked. I was hungry. I figured the only thing to do was to jump in the river. I came to a market place, a farmers’ market. I could hear running. They closed up the market place and took all the young people aside. I could hear the girls and boys talking. They were catching boys and girls and sending them to work in Germany. Nobody would go work freely in Germany; they had to use force. This was how they rounded up the people. I was very glad that I was caught with those people. I was caught as a Gentile and not as a Jew.

They took us to an old school at Number 4 Wolska street. First they sent us to take baths, and they disinfected our clothes. A lady inspected our hair; because I had been in the ghetto, I had lice. She cut my hair short and put something in it. Next they sent us to doctors. If you had certain kinds of sicknesses, you would be relieved.

I prayed to God that they should not find anything wrong with me–after such a long time in the ghetto, after the malnutrition. Thank God, I passed the physical. If I had been a boy, I could not have passed. None of the Polish boys were circumcised, but the Jewish boys were. A Jewish boy would have been recognized by the doctors right away. I assumed the identity of a Polish girl, Katarzyna Czuchowska, a name I made up. I took a different birthday, May 12th.

We were put on a train and taken from Cracow to Vienna. They sent us to a place where the German farmers came to pick up workers. It was something like a slave market. One family liked me and took me to their farm, which was on the border with Czechoslovakia in the Sudetenland. The farm was a bad place because the husband was at home and he was a very mean person. The neighbors said that he avoided the draft by bribing someone. He made anti-Semitic remarks, even though he did not know I was Jewish.

After a year I got sick. They transferred me to a smaller farm where there were nice people. There were no males there, and I had to carry sacks of grain. At Christmas, when the husband came home on leave, they made homemade wine from their vineyards. The husband got drunk and he began to curse Hitler, “Hitler, you so-and-so! If it were not for Hitler, I would be home with my family.” I was scared someone would hear him, so I closed the door so nobody would come into the house.

I was scared that they would find out I was Jewish. I was not afraid of the Germans because I was not different looking from anyone else. But I was afraid of my friends, the Poles. I was scared that one of them would recognize me. They were country girls, and I was afraid that they would figure out how much more educated I was.

I was the letter writer for everybody. If someone needed to write a love letter, they came to me. The Poles got letters from their families and packages of clothes. My letters were returned. I made up the excuse that my family was resettled and they did not know where I was. After a time when I saw that nobody recognized me, I felt secure.

Then a terrible thing happened. Before Easter, Marie, the farm lady I worked for, told me that I had to go to confession. I was a religious Jewish girl, and I did not know what Catholic girls did at confession. I lay awake nights worrying what I would do until I came up with a solution.

My Polish friends did not speak German, which I had picked up easily because I knew Yiddish. My friends were going to go to confession at the Slovakian church, where they spoke a language close to Polish. I asked Marie to let me take confession at her church in the German language. She showed me the prayer book where I had to confess my sins. I figured if I did not say the words exactly right, the German priest would not be suspicious because I was just a Polish girl. So I made up some sins and went to confession. My heart was pounding; I was so scared. I saw what other people were doing, and I imitated them. I went up to the German priest, and he put something on my tongue. Somehow I blacked out; it must have been the fear. When I came to, Marie asked me why I was so pale. I made up the excuse that I was weak from fasting. Later on everything went smoothly.

The worst part was when I tried to go to sleep. In the daytime I did not have time to think. I got up at five o’clock in the morning, milked ten cows, then went into the fields. But at night I was afraid to sleep. I dreamed about my family and my friends. I had horrible nightmares: I dreamed I saw my whole family with the Germans running after us. I hid but I could not escape from them. I wondered if my family were dead or alive. I dreamed I saw my dead sister and brother on the cattle train to Belzec. I woke up shaking in a cold sweat. At that time I prayed to God. I promised myself, “If I will survive, I will return to the religion of my parents. I will observe.” And that’s how I survived.

They brought sixty Jews to a big farm to work. There were guarded by the SS. One day I passed three of them, and I felt such an urge to talk to them. I saw that other boys and girls were talking to them, but I was scared that if I talked to them, I would get emotional or reveal something, and they would recognize me. I do not know what happened to those people.

In May 1945 the Germans started to draw back, and one day the Russians came in. I was still scared to tell anyone I was Jewish. I looked at the Russian soldiers to see if I could recognize anyone who was Jewish, but I didn’t.

Now came the time that I could help my people, the German farmers. The Russians started to rape the German women. When they came to our door, I spoke to them in Russian. They stationed a Russian captain in our house. He saw to it that nothing happened to our family.

I wanted to go back to Poland. I figured that maybe I would still find somebody alive. It was a long journey back to Poland. The mail started up. I had a brother and sister from my father’s first marriage who were alive. He had immigrated to the United States in 1933, and she had gone to Russia. He wired her and she came and got me and took me to Breslau (Wroclaw). We could not go back to our city because Russia had taken that part of Poland. I had written to a friend and not one Jew went back to our city. I learned later that from my whole city of about 3,000 Jewish families, just 12 people survived.

The Red Cross had lists of people who had survived, but we could not find anybody from our family. My half-brother attempted to get me a visa to the United States, but there were quotas. I got a transit visa to Sweden. Meanwhile, from the Red Cross lists I found a friend from Oleszyce who had been in Auschwitz. She was the only other person who jumped from the same train as I did and lived. Her fiancee had met my future husband at the train station in Cracow. My husband was in the Polish army. He and I were childhood friends from Oleszyce. Her fiancee invited my husband to come to their wedding, which was two weeks before I was supposed to go to Sweden, but they did not tell me anything about him.

At the wedding Henry walked in–He did not know that I had survived–I did not know that he had survived. I almost dropped from the chair. I thought I was seeing a ghost. Henry right away asked me to marry him. I said, “No, Henry, I have to wait; I am going to Sweden.” Henry went with me to Warsaw to catch the first airplane that was going from Warsaw to Stockholm after the war. Henry said, “I will come to Sweden.” Four weeks later Henry came illegally on a coal boat to Sweden. He paid a sailor who smuggled him onto the boat.

At that time most of the survivors were single. People married people that they did not know just to get somebody, just to have a family. When Henry and I were young children in school, he would come to our house under my window and talk to me. We were friends. Not boyfriend and girlfriend. I was too young. But we were attracted to one another.

When the Swedes let Henry out of quarantine, he asked for political asylum. He did not want to be in Poland, a communist country, in a communist army. A Rabbi married us three weeks later on Christmas Eve. I did not even have a coat. I had to borrow a coat from the girl next door to go to Synagogue. We took a furnished room and went to work in a restaurant. We were dishwashers. Henry washed the big pots and I washed the glasses. We lived on one salary and with the other we bought things that we would need for the house.

After three months I got a job in a factory making blouses, and Henry got a job in a tailoring factory. No one gave us anything; we started out from nothing. We worked our way up with our ten fingers. Henry learned tailoring in no time. They sent him to a school to learn to be a foreman. He got a high school degree; he took correspondence courses; he learned English. After three years my eldest daughter was born.

We came to the United States on May 2, 1954, when our quota came. After eight years in Sweden it was difficult to adjust to life in New York City. It was difficult for me not knowing the language. When I came to the United States I spoke Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, German, and Swedish, but not English. I was pregnant and stayed at home. My oldest daughter came home with her school books–”See Dick run.” I learned English by helping my daughter with her homework. I tested her on spelling, and she tested me. As soon as I learned the English language, I adjusted. After seven years in New York, we thought we would like it better in a smaller community. We came to New Orleans in 1962. Eventually, my husband started his own tailoring business. I had two other children, both girls.

There are times when I ask myself, “Where was God when my parents were taken away from me? When my youngest brother shouted, which I still hear him screaming, I want to live too!”’ When they took us away, he shouted, “I want to live, I want to live!” This picture will never, never in my life disappear from my eyes. A lot of times when I lie down, I still hear that voice. He was 3 years old. Even though they were that small, the little children knew what was happening to them. And I ask myself a lot of times, “Where was God? Where is God?” I don’t try to search any deeper because I think without religion it would be harder for me to live.

If you lose your parents at any age, it hurts. To lose your parents in that way, at that age, and to be alone in the world… If you cannot grieve right away, it stays with you for your whole life. You need compassion to be able to talk out your grief. Time is the best doctor. As the days and weeks and years go, it grows weaker and weaker. But you never forget. I tell my students that they should cherish their parents and obey them. A parent is always at your side.

In Poland, after the war I was sick emotionally and physically. I had to go to a doctor to get shots to gain weight. In Sweden I went to a psychiatrist because I could not get over those terrible nightmares. Today I see that when there is a disaster, they send people to a psychiatrist or a psychologist. We had to work out our own problems. As parents we were overprotective to our children. My eldest daughter was accepted at an Ivy League college, but I was afraid to let her go away from home to school. We were afraid to let our children know too much about our past.

I taught Hebrew and prepared children for their Bar Mitzvahs. A friend encouraged me to go to college. In 1985 I graduated from the University of New Orleans. It was my children that made me talk. In the beginning I did not talk to anybody. I did not tell anything. My daughter had to write a paper for school, and she got me to talk. Now, Henry and I go to schools to talk with students about the Holocaust. That is how life goes on.

source

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The following interview was conducted by the Institute’s Holocaust Education Specialist, Plater Robinson.

“EG I was born in Poland in 1924. My name is Eva G.

PR And you were born in what town in Poland?

EG Oleszyce.

PR Your husband has showed me where on the map Oleszyce is, and when I go to Poland I will go there, and it’s very important for me to understand the way of life that existed before the war in Oleszyce, and so if I can begin by asking you simply to imagine if the two of us left your house early one morning, and walked down the street, what would our eyes see before us?

EG It is very difficult to talk about it because it left so many bad and good memories. Good that we lived together with the family, and bad because I have to leave under those circumstances. Well, the life wasn’t so exciting. It was a little town, and you could imagine when I left my city it was 1942, and at that time that little city didn’t even have running water, or electricity.

PR And the streets were not paved.

EG No paved streets. They were wooden sidewalks, and the water we had to carry from pumps. People had like wells in the backyard in pumps. Some people still had those draw wells that they draw with buckets the water from the wells. The light was lamps, they called, from kerosene lamps, that’s what we used. But the life was quiet. Nobody knew anything better so we were happy. We lived like in the country. But it was not a modern country like they have now. Probably in Poland it changed too. Because that was many years ago. We went out like every Polish city had a plan that every city small big where you came it was built with a square. It was in the middle a square and a big house and around the square was stores, and every week, by us it was a Wednesday. It was day of like market. So all farmers from around came with vegetables and fruits and they were standing in the markets with their carriages and sold and people went to go and they were vendors who came in with different articles. It was fun for us children, Wednesday, to go in the market and to look whatever the people they came. Magicians, and to show tricks. Everything happened on Wednesday. It was a nice day. But if it was raining it was bad. Because the whole city was mud.

PR But if it was not raining. It was a very colorful sight.

EG Yeah, it was colorful. We enjoyed that. Everybody looked forward to Wednesday. And that city, we had one public school that everyone went to that school. It was eight grades, because the whole city where we lived had about ten thousand people. It wasn’t big. So one school was enough, and that was a time compulsory to go eight years to the school. Now, if somebody wanted to continue to high school or gymnasium, like they taught by us, we had to go to a different, a larger city. Some people commuted, and some people lived with friends or relatives in a bigger city to continue the schooling.

PR And what was the percentage of Jewish people who lived in Oleszyce?

EG It was about thirty or forty percent Jewish people in that town.

PR And in your grammar school, obviously you attended school with Poles as well.

EG Poles and Ukrainian. We lived, many Ukrainians lived. It’s a big percentage of Ukrainians. It was probably about a third Jews, a third Ukrainians, and a third Poles, and we went all together but the discrimination was big. You knew right away who was Jewish and Jewish people weren’t too good accepted.

PR Did the Jews and the Ukrainians and the Poles mix at all or were there very obvious lines drawn?

EG They were separated. We weren’t separated by the line. But socially everybody stuck to their own. The Ukrainians stuck to their own, the Poles to their own, Jews to their own. Jews weren’t accepted. We were in the school, we were friends. But outside the school nobody associated.

PR How is that?

EG I don’t know why. It was always the anti-Semitism and the Jews felt inferior. We were always inferior and we were very lucky and happy that somebody wanted to associate in the school. It was like this. I don’t know, we accepted it. I had very good friends in the school, and in the school I used to help them or we used to…somehow, somehow, the Jewish students were always the brighter. I don’t know why. And we helped friends and everything and they were happy in school, but outside the school they didn’t mix with us.

PR And did the Poles dislike the Ukrainians as much as the Poles disliked the Jews?

EG They disliked Ukrainians but not as much as the Jews.

PR And the relationship between the Ukrainians and the Jews also was bad?

EG Bad. Bad. Ukrainians didn’t like us either.

PR In your family, what business were they in?

EG My father had a religious, the Jewish religious paraphernalia.

PR And Oleszyce was renown for its Jewish paraphernalia.

EG It was like the manufacturing. Everybody did it in that city. My father exported this in Poland to big cities where they didn’t have that, and to all Europe. And all the countries. Mainly he traded with Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary. It was the biggest market for it because they had a lot of Jewish people.

PR And what precisely do we mean when we say “Jewish paraphernalia?”

EG Used for prayers. The Torah that is used for the services in the synagogues. The Jewish prayer shawls. The Jewish, what they called the mezuza. Everything they used in the prayer services.

PR And I assume that you spoke Polish as well as Yiddish.

EG Yes. We spoke Yiddish in the house, and we spoke Polish in the school and with our friends. And everything you have to use the Polish language. We spoke a little Ukrainian too because a big percentage of the Ukrainians like from the fourth grade on was like a second language.

PR And did Jewish people have a strong presence in the businesses in your town?

EG They had mainly businesses, but small businesses. They had small businesses and trades. Because the Jews weren’t permitted, I never knew a Jew that should be in some position like in city hall or some-place or even a teacher. I never had in the school a Jewish teacher because the Jews weren’t permitted to advance socially. That’s why they stuck mostly to trades and small business. Somehow it is a myth that the Jews were rich. I didn’t know any rich Jewish people. They made a living. That meant they were rich. They had, everybody had a small business, they were in trades like tailoring, shoe making, those kinds of trades, and they were very, very poor.

PR And those that did not have trades, there was a large percentage of Jews particularly in eastern Poland who were completely impoverished, and who traveled from town to town begging.

EG Yes. There were a lot of beggars. In carriages they came from town to town, to beg for money. They couldn’t find jobs mainly because you were small, you had small tradesmen, they didn’t, there weren’t factories, but small tradesmen, they employed two, three people and that was the limit. People couldn’t, and if they went in a small business they sold something, they hardly made a living. Especially, I don’t know how Poles, it was sad because my father traveled to the other countries. We never went abroad. We were so close to the other countries. But my father in his business he was taken to those other countries. And he said in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, in Germany, that the Jews lived much better than in Poland.

PR I assume that there was a synagogue in Oleszyce, perhaps there was more than one?

EG Three synagogues. We had three synagogues. In that time, everybody was Orthodox, and everybody attended the services. The synagogues were never empty. That was the only place to socialize. In such a small city we didn’t have a movie. We had a traveling movie that came once a week to the city, and showed the movie, and then they left. So everybody went to that movie once, but everything was around the synagogue. So everybody, all the news, everything that somebody wanted to hear they went to the synagogue.

PR So Friday night was a festive occasion in Olesyzce.

EG Yes, everybody observed the holiday and it was very much observed. The people were friendly. Everybody associated with everybody. It was a holiday, and the same thing Saturday after people came from the synagogue. They went Saturday morning to the synagogue. They had their lunch and they associated. Went to visit friends and relatives because everybody lived together. And all the young people got together and talked and were singing. I remember singing songs and we told stories and read books, then we went for a walk. There were many orchards, many woods around, which was nice. We went for a walk. We weren’t afraid, one thing like here, to go out. We occasionally we were, some Polish boy or some Ukrainian boy threw a stone at us, but besides that, they were not incidents of murder or rape or something else. So the young people were free. That was the only thing, the only enjoyment, to go out for a walk, to go swimming. We had a little river. It wasn’t any ocean, but we had a little river, swimming. We got together a youth organization, just to get together in one room, by one family, and we had a little library, their own, and people took books. People read a lot. I think people, young people even in those times were. It was maybe, we had the only radio in the city maybe, and no television, and nothing to know, just the newspaper. People were more educated and they knew more than the young people now. They had such a broad education, and they participated. They traveled. We read more. Everybody read a lot.

PR It was one of the few pleasures open to you.

EG Right. Right. Everybody read a lot. Even those people who didn’t continue the higher education just went those eight years, they knew a lot. Read, they were self-educated, and read very good books, not trash. We didn’t have trash at that time. We read classics, we read literature, when we met, people discussed those books like reviews. That was how we lived.

PR That was the Old World.

EG Yes.

PR Was there a bathhouse in Oleszyce?

EG Yes. There was a bathhouse because people didn’t have running water. They washed themselves, you know you have to warm water at home in big pots and everybody had like a tin bathtub where you took the bath. But most people went to the bathhouse.

PR You mentioned earlier that sometimes you would be walking about and a Polish boy or a Ukrainian boy would throw a rock at you. You leave me with the impression that anti-Semitism didn’t express itself except for occasionally.

` EG It expressed itself but not in a violent way. It was, they could scream after us, “Jews to Palestine! Jews to Palestine!” In a different way. It wasn’t expressed yet in violence, and violence it started to express right before the war when the Germans, when Hitler was already in power.

PR After the death of Pilsudski?

EG That was the time when there started the Hitlerism in Germany. It started, they called Edekism in Poland.

PR National Democrats.

EG Right. It started in Poland, that’s when it really started.

PR You would view the Endeks as the Polish equivalent of the Nazis.

EG Right. Right. They opened Polish stores and boycotted the Jewish business. They didn’t come to buy. Occasionally they beat up the Jewish students in the university. You had the university had a percentage. They had only, I don’t remember exactly, one or two percent of Jews. Jews could, but if any Jew who was very, very smart, was accepted to the university, not one, he was beaten up very often. Jewish students. By the Polish students.

PR And of course there were the “ghetto benches” in the universities as well.

EG Well, we had in school as well Jewish students were sitting on one side and the non-Jews on the other side. We were sitting, we knew where was Jewish side to sit down right away in school.

PR Your grammar school?

EG Yes.

PR So when you walked into the classroom…

EG Yes. I sat automatically on the side where the Jews were sitting. We couldn’t participate in any school plays. We never participated in a school play. We were so envious. We went to the plays, they had always on every holiday school plays. On every national holiday school plays. Not one Jewish student participated in those.

PR And do you remember in the latter part of the thirties when the Warsaw government attempted to decree that cows could not be slaughtered…

EG Yes, I remember. It was a time that they couldn’t kill according to Jewish religious law. They made believe that it is the cruelty of animals.

PR Did that ever become law?

EG I don’t remember. I was very young at that time. I don’t remember. I remember the decree how people were worried. Because everybody ate kosher, but I don’t think, I don’t remember that it should be a shortage in, if people were able to afford wasn’t a shortage in kosher meat.

PR As a little girl before the war, did you ever witness a parade by the Edeks in your town?

EG No. Not in my city. We had during the German occupation but not…

PR No, no. I’m talking about a parade of Endeks.

EG No, no.

PR Was there the presence of the Endek party in Oleszyce?

EG It was, but they weren’t…you see, they weren’t so much organized. In the bigger cities, they were organized. In the small cities, you didn’t feel it so much.

PR I don’t want to ask any uncomfortable questions, so stop me if I do. But do you remember the first of September, 1939?

EG Very, very, very much so. We remember. I remember it very good. First of all, before the first of September, we had an influx of Jewish people that Hitler expelled. Polish citizens that Hitler expelled from Germany, and we had a lot of those refugees who lived, you see, they came by trains and by wagons and dispersed through the whole Poland, and mainly they stopped in the small cities they had more place to come. But then September the first, started to fly the German airplanes and threw bombs. We were running out of the houses because the bombs were coming. It didn’t take a few days. The Germans came in. First came the motorcycles, and they were starting to shoot without discrimination. Poles, Jews, or not Jews, who was on the street. Right, left, right, left, to shot. And many people were killed right away, the first day when they came.

PR They came in shooting to establish the presence of terror.

EG I assume like this, otherwise why would they shot right away when they came in? (drinks water)

PR Back to the first of September, which was a Friday. Was it early in the morning that those planes came over?

EG The planes came over in the morning, and in the evening the whole day. They were a few days, because the whole war was a blitzkrieg. In a few days, it didn’t take three or four days they were there already. Somehow we believed, because the Poles claimed that they were prepared and they were singing songs: “We swear that we won’t give not one inch of our soil to the Germans.” Somehow, we trusted the Polish government. We didn’t believe that the Germans will be in right away. We were a little farther from the German border, so it took a few days, but they were in Poland already on the second day of the war. Somehow the Polish soldiers even they claimed they were prepared and it didn’t work out.

PR The Polish government was arrogant, and the German government was arrogant and powerful.

EG That’s probably what happened.

PR You know what I find extraordinary, Mrs. G., is that your town, which was a small town off the beaten track, was still bombed by the Germans as if it were of military importance.

EG They bombed every inch of Poland. They bombed every inch. Wherever. They had so many airplanes that they were able to go wherever. In front, before they came in, they bombed every inch.

PR In Warsaw, which was besieged for three weeks, Poles and Jews fought together at the barricades. There are some wonderful photographs of rabbis helping to build the line of defense. I wonder, was there any sense of common ground between Poles and Jews in September of 1939.

EG No, no, no. It worsened, because the Germans came in and the real anti-Semitism began. The Ukrainians collaborated with the Germans, the Poles didn’t stick too much up for us, they were I guess afraid for their own lives because right away there decrees in Poland who will help the Jews they will kill their families. I mean, the Gentile families, the Polish families. So they didn’t too much stick up for us and the gap even widened between the Poles and the Jews.

PR Your friends who you went to school with, there was a complete separation.

EG Complete separation. Complete separation. Even my, I had one brother who had a real good Ukrainian friend and we had a Ukrainian teacher who came in because older brothers they didn’t go away to school to another city so my father took a private tutor, and he lived in our street. He was an unemployed Ukrainian teacher, and he taught my brothers. And came into our house, and was like a friend. My mother fed him, and the other brother had Ukrainian friend because he learned the trait, he wanted to be a tailor, he learned tailoring. That Ukrainian boy worked together with him, and they became very good friends, but the minute the Germans came in, they turned to enemies. One even, that teacher, slapped my mother on the street. Because there was a decree that Jews couldn’t walk on the sidewalk. Only the mud. And my mother forgot, and went on the sidewalk. And that teacher passed by, and even though my mother was so much older than him, he struck my mother. And mother came in and cried so much. She said, she wouldn’t be so much insulted in a German would do to her, or a stranger, but a person whom she served food and fed and came in to our house, and he beat her.

PR The Germans quickly established a government. I can’t imagine the Germans could staff the administration of a small little town like yours with pure ethnic Germans.

EG No, they had Ukrainian collaborators. Ukrainian became the police. Ukrainians, they helped. Not the Poles.

PR And Volksdeutsche?

EG Those who proclaimed themselves Volksdeutsche, they had some German grandfather or something, those helped too.

PR And the decrees came flying down.

EG Day after day, so quickly, so quickly. The way how the decrees (slight laugh) were, that is interesting, how the decree were proclaimed in a small city. You didn’t have a radio. You didn’t have the loud speakers or something. It was one man who went with a drum, to every street. He came with drum, drum, drum, drum, the whole street, and everybody came out. Soon you heard the drum, people came out from the houses because they knew it has to be something told. Even in Polish times it was the same thing, about tax collection, or about painting, or about cleaning. All the decrees came through that drum, so people came out rushing from the houses to listen what they have to say. And that’s how we had to know everyday by the Germans the new laws with that drum.

PR And was there a strong German military presence in Oleszyce? Or was it German police?

EG It was German police, not military, but still they were enough to scare everybody off. Besides people, nobody was armed. From the civilians, nobody before the war owned a gun, or a rifle. You didn’t have that, like here.

PR I’ve seen the terrible photographs of religious Jews who had their beards cut by the Germans.

EG Yes. Yes. They come out, whoever they found on the street with a beard, they cut the beards. Yes.

PR The Polish population, which itself was threatened, remained impassive.

EG Right. They didn’t help. You see, they, the Polish population were under the occupation, but they weren’t persecuted. They had their political, like they were oppressed politically, let’s say. It wasn’t their country. They had to do as the Germans did. But they weren’t threatened with death unless they found somebody was involved in politics. They had many political prisoners, the Germans took political prisoners, but if somebody sat quiet they didn’t have what to fear. But the Jews no matter what, just because they were Jews they were persecuted.

PR Elie Wiesel has said, “Not every victim was a Jew, but every Jew was a victim.”

EG Right. That’s true.

PR When was the ghetto established?

EG By us it was established right away. In some places later. By us it was established in 1941. We belonged after the treaty Germany had with Russia, they divided our city, came under the Russians, and we were, first the Germans came in, we were a couple of months under the German occupation, then they withdrew back, and they gave a part of Poland, which we belonged to, to the Russians, so we were almost two years under the Russian occupation. And the Germans came back in 1941. The Russian wasn’t a really, it was a suffering like the Poles. We weren’t singled out. We were equal to everybody else under the Russians. You suffered economically, you suffered politically, but you didn’t suffer because you were a Jew. I wasn’t afraid if I will go out on the street, I should be caught and sent to the concentration camp or killed. That was the difference. So I would have rather stayed with the Russian than with the German. You see, it was bearable.

PR So when the Germans attacked Russia in June 1941, they established the ghetto.

EG We were on the border, exactly on the border, because our city was the last one that was on the Russian side. It was a little river, San. And San was the border, and we were near the San. So that’s why, we didn’t even know that the German will attack. We went to sleep Saturday night, the Russians were there on the street, and we woke up six o’clock in the morning, and we heard a noise, and we saw the Germans on the street.

PR And life changed once again.

EG Oh, immediately. Immediately. For the worse. Right away. They were so organized it didn’t take them a day, right the next day we knew that we are Jews.

PR I’m interested in Polish-Jewish relations, and I keep looking for a little bit of light there. Do you know of any examples when Poles did assist the Jews?

EG Maybe it was a small percentage, but not by us, not that I knew about that. Not by us. By us I don’t know why, even it was a small city, people knew one another. They knew everybody but somehow I don’t know, is it for fear? Or is it for greed? Because one instance I had got to know. We had one drugstore in the city. Because it wasn’t a drugstore like here. It was Apothecary. Only prescriptions. And they had a maid the whole life. They raised that maid. It was a Polish maid. They raised her as a child. They married her off, and she worked for them the whole life, so the Apothecary’s children were like sisters and brothers to her, so it was a young man, the Apothecary’s son, that she hid during the war, and people who lived in the city knew, three days before the war finished, she exposed him, told the Germans that he is here, and they killed him.

PR Three days before…

EG Before, because she was afraid if he will survive she will have to give back everything. All their belongings that she has hidden.

PR When the Jews in Oleszyce were put into the ghetto, what happened to your homes?

EG Who knows what happened? We went to another city. Gentiles moved in right away. Before we left, because we could take only what we were able to carry with us, the rest remained. Before even we left the house there were already neighbors who took out everything from the house.

PR You saw this with your own eyes?

EG Yes.

PR Neighbors?

EG Neighbors. Of course. And then somebody moved in. I don’t know up till now what happened. Somebody lives there if the house still survives.

PR Do you have bitter feelings towards the Poles in general?

EG I don’t have bitter feelings towards anybody because I know what a war is. A war demoralizes people, people get drawn in. I see what happens in Israel, people were moral, the highest moral standards, and now when they have to fight for their life, they’re changing. I don’t keep even a grudge against the Germans.

PR You know what I find interesting in a tragic way, is that many Polish Jews that I have spoken to dislike the Poles more than they do the Germans.

EG Well, the Germans followed the order. They followed. They were hypnotized by Hitler. Poles were able to be a little more, I don’t know, it was, they were anti-Semites. Many just, some anti-Semitism was instigated by the Polish clergy. The Polish clergy was different. Because I remember we lived across from the church, across. When Easter or Christmas, when Easter, they went out from the church, they were so, especially the young people, “Christ killer, Christ killer,” you just heard “Christ killer, Christ killer.” Because the sermons that the priests preached on those holidays were full of hate. The Jews killed Christ and what happened two thousand years ago we are responsible now, that one Jew killed another. Didn’t even kill. Pontius Pilate gave the decree. But that was fight between one Jew and another. It was inflated, it was terrible. That was the same thing in Russia. Mostly the anti-Semitism was on a religious basis. This was in one way. The other way somehow it was a jealousy that, I don’t know what kind of jealousy because Poland, you didn’t have such rich Jews to be jealous, but maybe they always, the Jewish family pushed for more education, that the Jew was always more educated. Even the Jew couldn’t be in a high position, but he was always more educated than the Pole.

PR And there was resentment.

EG Yes. That’s what I think.

PR Having interviewed many Polish Jews, and having been overwhelmed by their hatred of Poles today, and at the same time having interviewed many Righteous Gentiles in Warsaw last summer, I’m confused because the Righteous Gentiles leave me with the impression that there were many people who helped, and the Polish Jews that I have interviewed leave me with the impression that there was no one that helped. So I have a question about this.

EG They were some that helped, but percent wise it wasn’t enough. They were very, very few people who helped. But I didn’t encounter. Just what I heard and read about it. But I didn’t encounter anybody who helped me.

PR Did anyone look at you with sympathy?

EG No. No. I didn’t, and besides later I lived under an assumed name as a Pole and I heard the talking and I had to quench in me not to say anything. The remarks, and I didn’t encounter who would talk about the Jews. As a matter of fact, I have still many Polish friends.

EG I liked them very much. They are not the Poles from before the war, but they were Poles before the war, some were very nice too, I assume because there were some people who helped, but not between the specially poor Poles, the farmers who always blamed like Hitler did, the Jew was the scapegoat. If was a economic recession or depression, the Jew was the scapegoat because it is because of the Jew. And they believed it. Especially those people because you had many illiterate people, especially among the illiterate people who listened just to the sermons what the priest had to say. Although there were I heard monasteries that saved some Jewish children, but I didn’t encounter it. There are some probably.

PR There was that vicious rumor that was typical of pre-war and post-war eastern Europe that Christian children were taken at Passover.

EG This you have to be stupid to believe it, but still you read what was the book about…

PR The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

EG It is not just the Protocols but you had another book written about Russian Jew named what was his name I forgot who was also because of that rumor they were pogroms in Russia. But who could believe such things. Only people who were illiterate. How could you believe such a thing? And there were many rumors of those.

PR But back to the point I was making earlier about this gulf of difference between those who saved and those who did not, and the confusion I have, I placed this question to Leo Schrer when I interviewed him, if I was being deported somewhere and I jumped from the train and ran, always my thought would be, how will I make it? Who will help me? I asked him what would my chances be if I jumped from the train and ran…

EG That’s what I did, I jumped from the train and I ran, and nobody helped me. I run from I jumped from the train and my sister and brother jumped from the train and they were killed right away. I ran, and I went back to my city to some farmers who were friends of ours whom we entrusted some belongings, and I came in and they were afraid to give me shelter, they were afraid for their own life. I wouldn’t say that they were so mean. But they were afraid that they will kill their family. One family gave me shelter for a few hours, until it got evening, because I came, they put me behind a chiferobe you that they have in the corner, and I was standing there the whole day, crying, and heard when neighbors came in and told them, “Oh, they are taking the Jews away and they shot this person, they shot that person, because they knew everybody.” And I was standing and listening to it. Then in the evening she gave me a few zlotys (Polish money), and she gave me a half a bread, and told me to go. And I came in, and that was January the seventh, the coldest time in Poland, with the snows and the freezes. Came to another farmer inn, that we knew too. She didn’t even want to let me in. So I went to the stable and they had a stable, they had cows. I went to the stables and stables was open and there was a little cow, a little calf, the cow gave birth to the calf so I hold that little calf, I just squeezed it to keep myself warm, and then before that lady went to sleep, she went to check the calf and saw me in the stable, so she was, she felt sorry and let me into the house to sleep until it got light, twilight, in the morning, and she told me to go, nobody helped me.

PR How old were you?

EG I was seventeen. Nobody helped me. They were afraid for their own life. In a way I don’t blame them, and I don’t hate them for that, because they, I don’t know how I would have acted if I had been in their shoes. So I can’t blame them really.

PR Then you made your way to Krakow.

EG I made my way to Krakow and by chance, it was just luck, they caught that time Polish boys and girls for work for Germany because nobody wanted to go, and I was caught among those people. They didn’t have their papers, because they were on the street, went out, and they took us to work, to Germany, that’s how I ended up with a farmer the whole time during the war. And under assumed papers, I went with them to church, I went to confession, they were Catholics, so I was a Catholic too.

PR Where did you get the papers?

EG No, they later gave me when they caught us, they registered everybody, and we had to go to, you see, they had to check us, the doctors if we are healthy because they didn’t want sick people to bring there, so everybody was registered, and they gave me a paper, so when I came to Germany then in Germany they gave us German passports.

PR It’s such an irony to me that you would be safer in Germany of all places.

EG Even my Polish friends, I acquired them because they were every farmer depends on the size of the amount of the land, they got people to help them work, because their husbands or sons were in the war, so on Sunday we had half day off, so all the Poles and there were Russians and they were from Czechoslovakia people, we became friendly, all the maids, we were maids, so I associated with the Polish, so I don’t know if all my friends if they would have known I’m Jewish if they wouldn’t have exposed me. My own friends there.

PR What led you to suspect that they might expose you?

EG Because I heard the way how they spoke about Jews.

PR And how did they speak about Jews?

EG With hatred. With hatred, and I didn’t want to defend because I thought they will suspect me, so I didn’t answer, but I heard their expressions, and their jokes and their everything, they didn’t show any like pity. It was one big farmer and they had a little camp that was not really a concentration camp but a camp of Hungarian Jews and they led them everyday to work to the farm and they saw, people knew that they were Jews, because, “Oh they are leading the Jews.” We went to the fields and I saw my friends and they shout, Oh, look, the Jews are going already, they are taking them already to work. You know, never said, “Oh, poor people, look how they treat them”, or something. Never.

PR Did they show appreciation for what the Germans were doing?

EG No, they didn’t show appreciation.

PR The fact that the Germans were ridding Poland of the Jews.

EG Well, they, it didn’t come to it. I don’t think it was ever we ever spoke about it, but the Germans by themselves where I worked, they didn’t know what they are doing to Jews. They didn’t know that they are killing the Jews. They thought they take them out to work. You see, these Germans, actually, they weren’t Germans, they were Austrians because I was on the Austrian-Czechoslovakian border, they were Germans but they considered themselves as more Austrians because they lived in Austria. They never said that they are killing Jews. They didn’t know.

PR How did you know how to handle yourself as a Catholic? How did you know the prayers?

EG I didn’t know and I was very afraid. When I came to the church, I did what they are doing. They didn’t see, but the worst thing was the first time before Easter, the farmer lady, they had three daughters, said, “Well, you are going to confession and to the communion,” and then I thought, here could be something. I didn’t sleep at nights, but then it came to me. We were on the border, and my friends didn’t know how to speak German. I learned very quickly how to speak German because by us the languages go very, very easily, and so my friends, you see, even we were Poles working there, so we had to have, if somebody wanted to go from one village to another, you have to have a permit. So they wanted to go to Czechoslovakia to the church, because Czechoslovakian is close to Polish language, so they will go to confession and say it in Czechoslovakian. So I said to the girl, to the daughter, I don’t want to go to Snid for confession, give me your prayer book, and show me what to say, so I will go to the German here, here to the priest for confession. She opened the prayer book and showed me what to say. So I figured, if I will go to that German priest, he will think, That’s a Polish girl, she doesn’t know it as good. So I went to confession and it went good, and then I went to communion and did what everybody did. Put out my thumb, kneeled, and just when the first time it was hard, but later it wasn’t any problem.

PR You were lucky not only to be able to pick up German so quickly, but to have been able to speak Polish so well.

EG Well, Polish, I lived in Poland, it is just like living here in the United States. Well, I was, I came here, but I have accent, but children born here speak English. That’s the same way. It’s no big deal. I lived in Poland, so I spoke Polish.

PR But there were many Jews who lived in Poland who did not speak Polish.

EG They spoke Polish but they had a very bad accent.

PR And they gave themselves away.

EG Right. They could recognize it.

PR Was there ever a time when you were working for the Germans that you feared you might be exposed by the Poles?

EG Yes. I felt the first few months, but as time passed on, I became more secure.

PR After the war, you returned to Poland.

EG Well, you see, where we were, it belonged, Czechoslovakia took over, so they told all the Poles to leave. They didn’t want nobody to stay. So I went with my friends, and when we returned to Poland and I told already one of my friends that I’m Jewish, and I have written, and I remembered I have a half-brother in the United States. I went with her to her house because I didn’t go back, I was scared to go back to my own city. I knew nobody’s there. I have written a card, when the mail started functioning, to my brother and I got back a telegram and he sent me papers, but he sent me papers, couldn’t come to the United States, because it was the quota. He send me a transit visa to Sweden. So I went to Sweden. Henry came to Sweden.

PR But this Polish friend, when you told her that you were Jewish, her face must have shown quite a bit of surprise.

EG Yes, she was surprised by knowing me so long, so she was very fond of me, and we became good friends so at that time it didn’t matter.

PR But had she expressed anti-Semitic views before?

EG Well, she spoke about Jews, but you see, you don’t like other Jews but one is always good.

PR I find it an interesting case study here that she spoke about the Jews in an ugly way and at the same time she was friends with someone who in fact was Jewish and later she discovered that and realized that a Jew was just a regular person.

EG Well, you can’t, people, they are conditioned at home. With many people, you hear talk the whole life so bad, but always said, Between the Jews there is one good one. You have always like the kings. They expelled the Jews in the old times, but still they had one living with them who was good.

PR Is there something that I haven’t asked that you would like to tell me?

EG I think you approximately covered everything. And if one day you think about something and you will be here you could call me if you will think about something.

PR So, now I go to Oleszyce.

EG Well, it is a small town so maybe you will find it. It is not far from Jaroslaw, Lubachow. We have seven kilometres from Lubachow. In Lubachow we had the ghetto, our ghetto was in Lubachow.

PR When they were marching you to the ghetto down this road, were the Poles and Ukrainians watching?

EG Yes. One incident I will tell you and then I will finish because it’s too tiresome. When the Germans came in, that was the second, at 1941, after a few days, they told like the decree, the man came with the drum and said all the Jews have to assemble in the market place. All the Jews. If one wouldn’t come, he will be shot. Everyone has to come, from big to old. So they took us end, and they told to go in force, and they made like a parade. They let us go like in a parade, and all the Poles and all the Ukrainians were watching like you would watch here a Mardi Gras parade. All the Jews, and they were putting the old Jews with young girls, you see, old religious Jews, and walked through the whole city. Then they brought us back to the market place, and they had put everything from synagogues, took out all the books, all the prayer books, they made a bonfire, and they told everybody should dance around, and our neighbors stood and watched and laughed. That was a bigger hurt than the degrading that they did. At that time they took out everything, I mean the prayer books, everything took out from the synagogues, and put the synagogues on fire. They burned the synagogues, and we had to dance around the bonfire.

PR And you’re telling me that the Poles and Ukrainians stood there.

EG Yes. Yes. I have now like in front of my eyes I see them.

PR And they stood there and they did what?

EG Watched like you would watch a Mardi Gras parade.

PR Did you tell me that they laughed?

EG Yes. Many of them.

PR Well, Mrs. G., I know this is an uncomfortable thing for you.

EG Yes.

PR And I appreciate you speaking to me.

EG Yeah, OK.”

sources

https://www.holocaustsurvivors.org/survivor-stories/Eva-Galler/#prettyPhoto

Jerry Himmelfarb-“What a Jewish G.I. Thinks About Aid to Europe’s Needy”

Jerry Himmelfarb was a GI from Buffalo, New York. He wrote this letter to his Rabbi, about his experiences. It os one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever read

Jerry, serving with the U.S. Army in Germany, wrote to Rev. Harry H. Kaufman, Cantor of Temple Beth El, telling of what the J.D.C. is accomplishing in alleviating the desperate plight of his Jewish brethren in Europe. The letter, in full,below.

May 15, 1945

Dear Cantor:

You’re going to find this a strange letter. I think, perhaps, you will not understand why I write such a letter – until after you have read it. I have written my parents a similar story. Now I write you – for a little different reason. You’ll see what I mean some pages from here.

The Seventh Army has authorised us to write – has allowed us to say – that we’re in Munich. I’m there now. Munich – Hitler’s cradle-city. It’s damaged and quiet. We’re near Berchtesgarten, but I haven’t been there.

We’re also near Dachau – remember Dachau? It’s Jan Valtin’s Dachau – Jan Valtin of “Out of the Night”. Remember? Dachau – an early mystery place of Nazism. But there remains no aura of mystery today. No, it’s all clear – so very clear.

I met a Polish Jew the other day. He had been liberated from Dachau. He was twenty-four years old – and looked fifty. His face looked fifty – his body was about as healthy looking as a normal patient at Harrisburg, Pa. He had no teeth – but they hadn’t fallen out. Hitler’s S.S. were the dentists. He was just one of the lucky ones. There were other unfortunates.

I haven’t seen Dachau – but all I say is true – I swear it on my own life. Disbelieve me – call me a liar – if you dare! There were found some fifty, fully-loaded boxcars – loaded with bodies. I saw a picture of one – it was overflowing. We buried – with bulldozers – some 4,000. They were from the railroad cars and from rooms in the camp where they were stacked like cordwood covered with lime. We spoke to a Pole who had been forced to throw his parents into the incinerator. And how would you like to hear about these incinerators – it makes for nauseous reading. There was a plaque in front of each one saying something about “ashes to ashes” being better than “dust to dust”. Some compensation for the victims, eh! And they were run in a very businesslike fashion. It was necessary to burn 250 bodies each day to keep the furnaces in good working order. How was the quota met? Easy. They always had at least 150 on a list. But the rest were gotten like this.

  • 2 –

These prisoners were divided into groups of sixteen. These sixteen slept on four shelves, approximately six by six, with six inches clearance between shelves. Any infraction by one of the sixteen resulted in the death of all of them. And infractions were easy. Under the S.S. – the trained beasts – the quota was always met. And how were they Killed? No outright death for them – oh, no! They walked or were pushed, through a door when they fell through a four by four hole in the floor to the cement floor some fifteen feet below. There a noose was thrown about their throats and they were hung on hooks on the wall to meet their God. If any still lived after a reasonable length of time – a “man” with a heavy mallet crushed their skulls. The room – hooks on the wall – accommodated fifteen. Then the furnaces. The heat generated was not wasted, by the way. It was piped to the S.S. barracks for warmth – the barracks, where the S.S. troopers celebrated their 10,000th killing by drinking toasts from the scoured skulls of their victims. A lovely people – the Germans!

And don’t let me forget to tell you about the wife of the Commandant of one of these camps – not Dachau, another one, – there were plenty in Germany. She loved beautiful knick-knacks in her home. So any prisoner who bore tattooing on his or her body was stripped and taken before this woman for her O.K. Then death – next skinning, and curing the skin – and a new lampshade or book cover adorned the lovely lady’s home. What’s wrong – don’t you believe me? Take my word for it – you have to believe me – those who were tattooed can’t tell you!

And that isn’t all. We have some 5,000 people in hospitals here. We’ve lowered the death rate to seventy-five a day. And we have statistics to prove that of these seventy-five – some forty-five are Jews. And even though only 8,000 of the 38,000 prisoners of one camp were Jews – the deaths were some 40% or 50% Jewish. The chaplain told us that the other day – after his return from services conducted over that common grave of 4,000 – there were bound to be some Jews in it – we didn’t know how many. Which brings me to the point of this letter.

The chaplain told us about the American Joint Distribution Committee’s borrowing $10,000,000 on their name – and about setting a goal of $46,000,000 for this year. He asked us to contribute what we could. And he asked us to write our families a letter. I did, but I write to you, too, because you can reach more people. He didn’t suggest a letter like this – I guess it was the farthest thing from his mind. I just decided it was the best kind. Eloquent pleas are swell things – but pictures are better. Maybe this wasn’t a very pretty picture – I didn’t want it to be. I tried to make it as disgusting, as revolting as nauseous as possible without leaving the bounds of conventional decency – without distorting the truth. Believe me I have done neither. Every word is true. I swear that before God.

I know of some people who say, “that money goes into the pockets of the black-coated, pie-hatted men with beards. “I thought so once, too – until I learned this. While the chaplain was reciting the services over that common grave I spoke of before, a convoy of Swiss Red Cross trucks came in. He spoke to the man in charge. The convoy was leaving some fifty tons of food, medicines, clothing etc. – all loaded and paid for by A.J.D.C. – black-coated men, indeed! The stuff comes here.

  • 3 –

Don’t let anyone believe otherwise. It came here. You can supply more statistics on how many Jews still live in Europe and on what remains for us to do – now that it is too late to save the many. That’s not in my line. Neither is putting in a good old-fashioned touch in my line – but I’m doing it. Here it is. You’ve read it. You can see what I’m getting at. Cantor, I beg you – tell this to the well-fed, well-clothed members of your congregation. Read them what I’ve written. Maybe they’ve seen some of these facts in their papers. I don’t know. So, in case they haven’t, read them this first-hand dope. I know you’re going to mention the J.D.C.’s drive – you always do. I know you’ll have your own plea to make. But consolidate mine into yours, will you please. Jolt them right off their seats. Tell them to do something about the cocodile tears they shed and have been shedding for the past ten years. Tell them to stop that, “how awful, tsch, tsch” talk and start some real talk. Money talks. Don’t give them a chance to say, “But -”. It’s too late for “buts” now. Talk is O.K. in its place. The place isn’t here.

We must do something to help these people over here.

We’re not giving only to Jews – I know that. Every poor dog is aided over here. Tell them that, too. If you must get down on your knees and beg them to give, Cantor – do it – for God’s sake – do it! There can be no degradation to surpass what I have seen and heard of. And if the complacent doubts why we won this war – while 4,000,000 died – then read them the 94th Psalm. It was news to me – maybe it will be news to them. Maybe that will let the moths out of their purses.

Yours, Jerry Himmelfarb

source

https://www.testifyingtothetruth.co.uk/viewer/metadata/106545/1/

Testimony of Barbara Stimler Holocaust survivor.

A picture tells a thousand words, but never the full story. There is nothing more powerful then the words of those who survived the darkest era of mankind.

Stimler was born in Poland, in the town of Aleksandrow Kujawski, close to the German border.

She was 12 years old when the Nazis invaded Poland , the only daughter of Sarah and Jakob, who owned a small textile shop. She was, she says, “the apple of my father’s eye”. After the invasion, the family moved from town to town in increasing desperation. Her father was arrested, her mother beaten up, she was molested by SS guards.

Below are some of Barbara’s experiences in her own words.

When we got to Auschwitz, which I didn’t know it was Auschwitz, I didn’t know nothing about it; I did not know about concentration camps, I did not know what was going on at all. When we got there they told us, ‘Raus, raus, raus!’ They didn’t let us take the clothes at all, they started separating women from men. Cries. It was just terrible. The husbands were from wives, the mothers from sons, it was just a nightmare. I started to get diarrhoea, I was sick and diarrhoea, suddenly. We started going through the… through the gate; the SS men were on both sides. And the girls, young people that could see what state I was in, they had a bit of sugar and they started putting sugar in my mouth to revive me. And when they were going through the gates, they were just holding me up, and was left and right, left and right. I went to the right, they told me to go to the right, the SS men. And we had to be…. we were…. they formed us like fifths, five, five, five, we had to stay in five, five girls. And it was dark; it was dark, and they are starting to march us. And can you imagine the screams, the…. the mother was going to the left, the daughter was going to the right, the babies going to the left, the mothers going to the right, or the mothers went together with the babies… Oy oy! I cannot explain to you the cries and the screams, and tearing their hair off. Can you imagine?”

“When it was getting lighter I could see there are like blocks, and a girl comes out from a block, she has no shoes, she has no hair, her dress is far above the knee. I thought, maybe this block maybe some children, girls got mad and they’re keeping them together in a mad house, not thinking that in a couple of hours I would look exactly the same. And we are marching, and they are counting us, and marching, and counting us, and marching and counting us, non-stop counting. Till we got to a big room, a big big room there, one of the blocks, full of SS men, and with the beds. ‘Undress!’ in German. And there are also men, Jewish men, working, with the striped… they looked like striped pyjamas. Of course they had to do what they were told to do. And in one second we have been all undressed like God bore us, and beating, and doing this, and doing that. We had to go all round, single, all round this room, going round and round and round, and they were still picking up girls and women, sorting out. All the time sorting, sorting, sorting. Who knew what they were doing? They were sorting to put in the gas chambers, but who knew it? I still was very ignorant, I still did not know what was waiting. And eventually they put us in another place where they start shaving us everywhere, the hair, washing us, in showers, and giving us dresses, just dresses nothing else. And I know why the dresses were getting shorter and shorter, because when you went to the toilet it didn’t have no paper so we were tearing the dresses off, to wipe ourselves.”

She was born in Alexsandrow, Poland in 1927
She survived the camp in Kutno, Lodz/Litzmannstadt ghetto, Auschwitz in 1943, work camp at Pirshkow. Death march to Odra.

Her parents were both murdered, but where is not really known.

sources

https://blogs.bl.uk/sound-and-vision/2018/05/trauma-narrative-theatre.html

https://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/voices/testimonies/camps/campslanding.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/jan/13/secondworldwar.poland4

Rudolph Höss- The words of an evil man.

Below is the the testimony of Rudolf Höss, taken on Monday, April 15, 1946,during the Nuremberg Trials.

Morning Session

DR. KAUFFMANN: With the agreement of the Tribunal, I now call the witness Hoess.

[The witness Hoess took the stand.]

THE PRESIDENT: Stand up. Will you state your name?

RUDOLF FRANZ FERDINAND HOESS (Witness): Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Hoess.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me: “I swear by God,the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth,and will withhold and add nothing.

[The witness repeated the oath in German.]

THE PRESIDENT: Will you sit down?

DR. KAUFFMANN: Witness, your statements will have far-reaching significance. You are perhaps the only one who can throw some light upon certain hidden aspects, and who can tell which people gave the orders for the destruction of European Jewry, and can further state how this order was carried out and to what degree the execution was kept a secret.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kauffmann, will you kindly put questions to the witness.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Yes.

[Turning to the witness.] From 1940 to 1943, you were the Commander of the camp at Auschwitz. Is that true?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: And during that time, hundreds of thousands of human beings were sent to their death there. Is that correct?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUTFFMANN: Is it true that you, yourself, have made no exact notes regarding the figures of the number of those victims because you were forbidden to make them?

HOESS: Yes, that is correct.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Is it furthermore correct that exclusively one man by the name of Eichmann had notes about this, the man who had the task of organizing and assembling these people?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Is it furthermore true that Eichmann stated to you that in Auschwitz a total sum of more than 2 million Jews had been destroyed?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Men, women, and children?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: You were a participant in the World War?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: And then in 1922, you entered the Party?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Were you a member of the SS?

HOESS: Since 1934.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Is it true that you, in the year 1924, were sentenced to a lengthy term of hard labor because you participated in a so-called political murder?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: And then at the end of 1934, you went to the concentration camp of Dachau?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: What task did you receive?

HOESS: At first, I was the leader of a block of prisoners and then I became clerk and finally, the administrator of the property of prisoners.

DR. KAUFFMANN: And how long did you stay there?

HOESS: Until 1938.

DR. KAUFFMANN: What job did you have from 1938 on and where were you then?

HOESS: In 1938 I went to the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen where, to begin with, I was adjutant to the commander and later on I became the head of the protective custody camp.

DR. KAUFFMANN: When were you commander at Auschwitz?

HOESS: I was commander at Auschwitz from May 1940 until December 1943.

DR. KAUFFMANN: What was the highest number of human beings, prisoners, ever held at one time at Auschwitz?

HOESS: The highest number of internees held at one time at Auschwitz, was about 140,000 men and women.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Is it true that in 1941 you were ordered to Berlin to see Himmler? Please state briefly what was discussed.

HOESS: Yes. In the summer of 1941 1 was summoned to Berlin to Reichsfáhrer SS Himmler to receive personal orders. He told me something to the effect–I do not remember the exact words–that the Fáffrer had given the order for a final solution of the Jewish question. We, the SS, must carry out that order. If it is not carried out now then the Jews will later on destroy the German people. He had chosen Auschwitz on account of its easy access by rail and also because the extensive site offered space for measures ensuring isolation.

DR. KAUFFMANN: During that conference did Himmler tell you that this planned action had to be treated as a secret Reich matter?

HOESS: Yes. He stressed that point. He told me that I was not even allowed to say anything about it to my immediate superior Gruppenfáhrer Glácks. This conference concerned the two of us only and I was to observe the strictest secrecy.

DR. KAUFFMANN: What was the position held by Glácks whom you have just mentioned?

HOESS: Gruppenfáhrer Glácks was, so to speak, the inspector of concentration camps at that time and he was immediately subordinate to the Reichsfáhrer.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Does the expression “secret Reich matter” mean that no one was permitted to make even the slightest allusion to outsiders without endangering his own life?

HOESS: Yes, “secret Reich matter” means that no one was allowed to speak about these matters with any person and that everyone promised upon his life to keep the utmost secrecy.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you happen to break that promise?

HOESS: No, not until the end of 1942.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Why do you mention that date? Did you talk to outsiders after that date?

HOESS: At the end of 1942 my wife’s curiosity was aroused by remarks made by the then Gauleiter of Upper Silesia, regarding happenings in my camp. She asked me whether this was the truth and I admitted that it was. That was my only breach of the promise I had given to the Reichsfáhrer. Otherwise I have never talked about it to anyone else.

DR. KAUFFMANN: When did you meet Eichmann?

HOESS: I met Eichmann about 4 weeks after having received that order from the Reichsfáhrer. He came to Auschwitz to discuss the details with me on the carrying out of the given order. As the Reichsfáhrer had told me during our discussion, he had instructed Eichmann to discuss the carrying out of the order with me and I was to receive all further instructions from him.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Will you briefly tell whether it is correct that the camp of Auschwitz was completely isolated, describing the measures taken to insure as far as possible the secrecy of carrying out of the task given to you.

HOESS: The Auschwitz camp as such was about 3 kilometers away from the town. About 20,000 acres of the surrounding country had been cleared of all former inhabitants, and the entire area could be entered only by SS men or civilian employees who had special passes. The actual compound called “Birkenau,” where later on the extermination camp was constructed, was situated 2 kilometers from the Auschwitz camp. The camp installations themselves, that is to say, the provisional installations used at first were deep in the woods and could from nowhere be detected by the eye. In addition to that, this area had been declared a prohibited area and even members of the SS who did not have a special pass could not enter it. Thus, as far as one could judge, it was impossible for anyone except authorized persons to enter that area.

DR. KAUFFMANN: And then the railway transports arrived. During what period did these transports arrive and about how many people, roughly, were in such a transport?

HOESS: During the whole period up until 1944 certain operations were carried out at irregular intervals in the different countries, so that one cannot speak of a continuous flow of incoming transports. It was always a matter of 4 to 6 weeks. During those 4 to 6 weeks two to three trains, containing about 2,000 persons each, arrived daily. These trains were first of all shunted to a siding in the Birkenau region and the locomotives then went back. The guards who had accompanied the transport had to leave the area at once and the persons who had been brought in were taken over by guards belonging to the camp.

They were there examined by two SS medical officers as to their fitness for work. The internees capable of work at once marched to Auschwitz or to the camp at Birkenau and those incapable of work were at first taken to the provisional installations, then later to the newly constructed crematoria.

DR. KAUFFMANN: During an interrogation I had with you the other day you told me that about 60 men were designated to receive these transports, and that these 60 persons, too, had been bound to the same secrecy described before. Do you still maintain that today?

HOESS: Yes, these 60 men were always on hand to take the internees not capable of work to these provisional installations and later on to the other ones. This group, consisting of about ten leaders and subleaders, as well as doctors and medical personnel, had repeatedly been told, both in writing and verbally, that they were bound to the strictest secrecy as to all that went on in the camps.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Were there any signs that might show an outsider who saw these transports arrive, that they would be destroyed or was that possibility so small because there was in Auschwitz an unusually large number of incoming transports, shipments of goods and so forth?

HOESS: Yes, an observer who did not make special notes for that purpose could obtain no idea about that because to begin with not only transports arrived which were destined to be destroyed but also other transports. arrived continuously, containing new internees who were needed in the camp. Furthermore, transports likewise left the camp in sufficiently large numbers with internees fit for work or exchanged prisoners.

The trains themselves were closed, that is to say, the doors of the freight cars were closed so that it was not possible, from the outside, to get a glimpse of the people inside. In addition to that, up to 100 cars of materials, rations, et cetera, were daily rolled into the camp or continuously left the workshops of the camp in which war material was being made.

DR. KAUFFMANN: And after the arrival of the transports were the victims stripped of everything they had? Did they have to undress completely; did they have to surrender their valuables? Is that true?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: And then they immediately went to their death?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: I ask you, according to your knowledge, did these people know what was in store for them?

HOESS: The majority of them did not, for steps were taken to keep them in doubt about it and suspicion would not arise that they were to go to their death. For instance, all doors and all walls bore inscriptions to the effect that they were going to undergo a delousing operation or take a shower. This was made known in several languages to the internees by other internees who had come in with earlier transports and who were being used as auxiliary crews during the whole action.

DR. KAUFFMANN: And then, you told me the other day, that death by gassing set in within a period of 3 to 15 minutes. Is that correct?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: You also told me that even before death finally set in, the victims fell into a state of unconsciousness?

HOESS: Yes. From what I was able to find out myself or from what was told me by medical officers, the time necessary for reaching unconsciousness or death varied according to the temperature and the number of people present in the chambers. Loss of consciousness took place within a few seconds or a few minutes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you yourself ever feel pity with the victims, thinking of your own family and children?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: How was it possible for you to carry out these actions in spite of this?

HOESS: In view of all these doubts which I had, the only one and decisive argument was the strict order and the reason given for it by the Reichsfáhrer Himmler.

DR. KAUFFMANN: I ask you whether Himmler inspected the camp and convinced himself, too, of the process of annihilation?

HOESS: Yes. Himmler visited the camp in 1942 and he watched in detail one processing from beginning to end.

DR. KAUFMANN: Does the same apply to Eichmann?

HOESS: Eichmann came repeatedly to Auschwitz and was intimately acquainted with the proceedings.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Did the Defendant Kaltenbrunner ever inspect the camp?

HOESS: No.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you ever talk with Kaltenbrunner with reference to your task?

HOESS: No, never. I was with Obergruppenfáhrer Kaltenbrunner on only one single occasion.

DR. KAUFFMANN: When was that?

HOESS: That was one day after his birthday in the year 1944.

DR. KAUFFMANN: And what was the subject of that conference which you have just mentioned?

HOESS: It concerned a report from the camp at Mauthausen on the so-called nameless internees and their engagement in armament industry. Obergruppenfáhrer Kaltenbrunner was to make a decision on the matter. For that reason I came to him with the report from the commander at Mauthausen but he did not make a decision telling me he would do so later.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Regarding the location of Mauthausen, will you please state in which district Mauthausen is situated. Is that Upper Silesia or is it the Government General?

HOESS: Mauthausen . . .

DR. KAUFFMANN: Auschwitz, I beg your pardon, I made a mistake. I mean Auschwitz.

HOESS: Auschwitz is situated in the former state of Poland. Later, after 1939, it was incorporated in the province of Upper Silesia.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Is it right for me to assume that administration and feeding of concentration camps were exclusively under the control of the Main Economic and Administrative Office?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: A department which is completely separated from the RSHA?

HOESS: Quite correct.

DR. KAUFFMANN: And then from 1943 until the end of the war, you were one of the chiefs in the Inspectorate of the Main Economic and Administrative Office?

HOESS: Yes, that is correctly stated.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Do you mean by that, that you are particularly well informed on everything occurring in concentration camps regarding the treatment and the methods applied?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. KAUFFMANN: I ask you, therefore, first of all, whether you have any knowledge regarding the treatment of internees, whether certain methods became known to you according to which they were tortured and cruelly treated? Please formulate your statement according to periods, up to 1939 and after 1939.

HOESS: Until the outbreak of war in 1939, the situation in the camps regarding feeding, accommodations, and treatment of internees, was the same as in any other prison or penitentiary in the Reich. The internees were treated severely, but methodical beatings or ill-treatments were out of the question. The Reichsfáhrer gave frequent orders that every SS man who laid violent hands on an internee would be punished; and several times SS men who did ill-treat internees were punished.

Feeding and billeting at that time were on the same basis as those of other prisoners under legal administration.

The accommodations in the camps during those years were still normal because the mass influxes at the outbreak of the war and during the war had not yet taken place. When the war started and when mass deliveries of political internees arrived, and, later on, when prisoners who were members of the resistance movements arrived from the occupied territories, the construction of buildings and the extensions of the camps could no longer keep pace with the number of incoming internees. During the first years of the war this problem could still be overcome by improvising measures; but later, due to the exigencies of the war, this was no longer possible ‘ since there were practically no building materials any more at our disposal. And, furthermore, rations for the internees were again and again severely curtailed by the provincial economic administration offices.

This then led to a situation where internees in the camps no longer had the staying power to resist the now gradually growing epidemics.

The main reason why the prisoners were in such bad condition towards the end of the war, why so many thousands of them were found sick and emaciated in the camps, was that every, internee had to be employed in the armament industry to the extreme limit of his forces. The Reichsfáhrer constantly and on every occasion kept this goal before our eyes, and also proclaimed it through the Chief of the Main Economic and Administrative Office, Obergruppenfáhrer Pohl, to the concentration camp, commanders and administrative leaders during the so-called commanders’ meetings.

Every commander was told to make every effort to achieve this. The aim was not to have as many dead as possible or to destroy as many internees as possible; the Reichsfáhrer was constantly concerned with being able to engage all forces available in the armament industry.

DR. KAUFFMANN: There is no doubt that the longer the war lasted, the larger became the number of the ill-treated and tortured inmates. Whenever you inspected the concentration camps did you not learn something of this state of affairs through complaints, et cetera, or do you consider that the conditions which have been described are more or less due to excesses?

HOESS: These so-called ill-treatments and this torturing in concentration camps, stories of which were spread everywhere among the people, and later by the prisoners that were liberated by the occupying armies, were not, as assumed, inflicted methodically, but were excesses committed by individual leaders, subleaders, and men who laid violent hands on internees.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Do you mean you never took cognizance of these matters?

HOESS: If in any way such a case came to be known, then the perpetrator was, of course, immediately relieved of his post or transferred somewhere else. So that, even if he were not punished f or lack of evidence to prove his guilt, even then, he was taken away from the internees and given another position.

DR. KAUFFMANN: To what do you attribute the particularly bad and shameful conditions, which were ascertained by the entering Allied troops, and which to a certain extent were photographed and filmed?

HOESS: The catastrophic situation. at the end of the war was due to the fact that, as a result of the destruction of the railway network and of the continuous bombing of the industrial plants, care for these masses–I am thinking of Auschwitz with its 140,000 internees–could no longer be assured. Improvised measures, truck columns, and everything else tried by the commanders to improve the situation were of little or no avail; it was no longer possible. The number of the sick became immense. There were next to no medical supplies; epidemics raged everywhere. Internees who were capable of work were used over and over again. By order of the Reichsfáhrer, even half-sick people had to be used wherever possible in industry. As a result every bit of space in the concentration. camps which could possibly be used for lodging was overcrowded with sick and dying prisoners.

DR. KAUFFMANN: I am now asking you to look at the map which is mounted behind you. The red dots represent concentration camps. I will first ask you how many concentration camps as such existed at the end of the war?

HOESS: At the end of the war there were still 13 concentration camps. All the other points which are marked here on the map mean so-called labor camps attached to the armament industry situated there. The concentration camps, of which there are 13 as I have already said, were the, center and the central point of some district, such as the camp at Dachau in Bavaria, or the camp of Mauthausen in Austria; and all the labor camps in that district were under the control of the concentration camp. That camp had then to supply these outside camps, that is to say, they had to supply them with workers, exchange the sick inmates and furnish clothing; the guards, too, were supplied by the concentration camp.

From 1944 on, the supplying of food was almost exclusively a matter of the individual armament industries in order to give the prisoners the benefit of the wartime supplementary rations.

DR. KAUFFMANN: What became known to you about so-called medical experiments on living internees?

HOESS: Medical experiments were carried out in several camps. For instance, in Auschwitz there were experiments on sterilization carried out by Professor Klaubert and Dr. Schumann; also experiments on twins by SS medical officer Dr. Mengele.

The Csengeri twins survived the Holocaust

sources

DR. KAUFFMANN: Do you know the medical officer Dr. Rascher?

HOESS: In Dachau he was a medical officer of the Luftwaffe who carried out experiments, on internees who had been sentenced to death, about the resistance of the human body to cold and in high pressure chambers.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Can you tell whether such experiments carried out within the camp were known to a large circle?

HOESS: Such experiments, just like all other matters, were, of course, called “secret Reich matters.” However, it could not be avoided that the experiments became known since they were carried out in a large camp and must have been seen in some way by the inmates. I cannot say, however, to what extent the outside world learned about these experiments.

DR. KAUFFMANN: You explained to me that orders for executions were received in the camp at Auschwitz, and you told me that until the outbreak of war such orders were few, but that later on they became more numerous. Is that correct?

HOESS: Yes. There were hardly any executions until the beginning of the war–only in particularly serious cases. I remember one case in Buchenwald where an SS man had been attacked and beaten to death by internees, and the internees were later hanged.

DR. KAUFFMANN: But during the war–and that you will admit–the number of executions increased, and not inconsiderably.

HOESS: That had already started with the beginning of the war.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Was the basis for these execution orders in many cases a legal sentence of German courts?

HOESS: No. Orders for the executions carried out in the camps came from the RSHA.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Who signed the orders for executions which you received? Is it correct that occasionally you received orders for executions which bore the signature “Kaltenbrunner,” and that these were not the originals but were teleprints; which therefore had the signature in typewritten letters?

HOESS: It is correct. The originals of execution orders never came to the camps. The original of these orders either arrived at the Inspectorate of the Concentration Camps, from where they were transmitted by teletype to the camps concerned, or, in urgent cases, the RSHA sent the orders directly to the camps concerned, and the Inspectorate was then only informed, so that the signatures in the camps were always only in teletype.

DR. KAUFFMANN: So as to again determine the signatures, will you tell the Tribunal whether the overwhelming majority of all execution orders either bore the signature of Himmler or that of Máller in the years before the war and until the end of the war.

HOESS: Only very few teletypes which I have ever seen came from the Reichsfáhrer and still fewer from the Defendant Kaltenbrunner. Most of them, I could say practically all, were signed “Signed Máller.”

DR. KAUFFMANN: Is that the Máller with whom you repeatedly talked about such matters as you stated earlier?

HOESS: Gruppenfáhrer Máller was the Chief of Department IV in the RSHA. He had to negotiate with the Inspectorate about all matters connected with concentration camps.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Would you say that you went to see the Gestapo Chief Máller because you, on the strength of your experience, were of the opinion that this man because of his years of activities was acting almost independently?

HOESS: That is quite right. I had to negotiate all matters regarding concentration camps with Gruppenfáhrer Máller. He was informed on all these matters, and in most cases he would make an immediate decision.

DR., KAUFFMANN: Well, so as to have a clear picture, did you ever negotiate these matters with the defendant?

HOESS: No.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Did you learn that towards the end of the war concentration camps were evacuated? And, if so, who gave the orders?

HOESS: Let me explain. Originally there was an order from the Reichsfáhrer, according to which camps, in the event of the approach of the enemy or in case of air attacks, were to be surrendered to the enemy. Later on, due to the case of Buchenwald, which had been reported to the Fáhrer, there was–no, at the beginning of 1945, when various camps came within the operational sphere of the enemy, this order was withdrawn. The Reichsfáhrer ordered the Higher SS and Police Leaders, who in an emergency case were responsible for the security and safety of the camps, to decide themselves whether an evacuation or a surrender was appropriate.

Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen were evacuated. Buchenwald was also to be evacuated, but then the order from the Reichsfáhrer came through to the effect that on principle no more camps were to be evacuated. Only prominent inmates and inmates who were not to fall into Allied hands under any circumstances were to be taken away to other camps. This also happened in the case of Buchenwald. After Buchenwald had been occupied, it was reported to the Fáhrer that internees had armed themselves and were carrying out plunderings in the town of Weimar. This caused the Fáhrer to give the strictest order to Himmler to the effect that in the future no more camps were to fall into the hands of the enemy, and that no internees capable of marching would be left behind in any camp.

This was shortly before the end of the war, and shortly before northern and southern Germany were cut. I shall speak about the Sachsenhausen camp. The Gestapo chief, Gruppenfáhrer Máller, called me in the evening and told me that the Reichsfáhrer had ordered that the camp at Sachsenhausen was to be evacuated at once. I pointed out to Gruppenfáhrer Máller what that would mean. Sachsenhausen could no longer fall back on any other camp except perhaps on a few labor camps attached to the armament works that were almost filled up anyway. Most of the internees would have to be sheltered in the woods somewhere. This would mean countless thousands of deaths and, above all it would be impossible to feed these masses of people. He promised me that he would again discuss these measures with the Reichsfáhrer He called me back and told me that the Reichsfáhrer had refused and was demanding that the commanders carry out his orders immediately.

At the same time Ravensbráck was also to be evacuated in the same manner but it could no longer be done. I do not know to what extent camps in southern Germany were cleared, since we, the Inspectorate, no longer had any connections with southern Germany.

DR. KAUFFMANN: It has been maintained here–and this is my last question–that the Defendant Kaltenbrunner gave the order that Dachau and two auxiliary camps were to be destroyed by bombing or with poison. I ask you, did you hear anything about this; if not, would you consider such an order possible?

HOESS: I have never heard anything about this, and I do not know anything either about an order to evacuate any camps in southern Germany, as I have already mentioned. Apart from that, I consider it quite impossible that a camp could be destroyed by this method.

DR. KAUFFMANN: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendants’ counsel want to ask any questions?

DR. MERKEL: Witness, did the State Police, as an authority of the Reich, have anything to do with the destruction of Jews in Auschwitz?

HOESS: Yes, insofar as I received all my orders as to the carrying out of that action from the Obersturmfáhrer Eichmann.

DR. MERKEL: Was the administration of concentration camps under the control of the Main Economic and Administrative Office?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. MERKEL: You said already that you had nothing to do with the RSHA.

HOESS: No.

DR. MERKEL: Please, will you emphasize, therefore, that the Gestapo as such had nothing to do with the administration of the camps or the accommodation, feeding, and treatment of the internees, but that this was exclusively a matter for the Main Economic and Administrative Office?

HOESS: Yes, that is quite correct.

DR. MERKEL: How do you explain it then that you, nevertheless, discussed different questions concerning concentration camps with Máller?

HOESS: The RSHA, or rather Amt IV, had the executive power for the directing of all internees into camps, classification into the camp grades 1, 2, 3, and furthermore, the punishments which were to be carried out on the part of the RSHA. Executions, the accommodation, of special internees, and all question which might ensue therefrom were also taken care of by the RSHA or Amt IV.

DR. MERKEL: When was this Main Economic and Administrative Office created?

HOESS: The Main Economic and Administrative Office existed since 1933 under various names. The Inspectorate of Concentration Camps was, however, subordinated only to this Main Economic and Administrative Office since the year 1941.

DR. MERKEL: Then these concentration camps were from the very beginning under the control of this Main Economic and Administrative Office, that is to say the SS and not the State Police.

HOESS: Yes.

DR. MERKEL: You mentioned the name of Dr. Rascher a while ago. Do you know this doctor personally?

HOESS: Yes.

DR. MERKEL: Do you know that Dr. Rascher before beginning his work at Dachau had become a member of the SS?

HOESS: No, I know nothing about that. I only know that later he–I still saw him in the uniform of an Air Force medical officer. Later he was supposed to have been taken over into the SS, but I did not see him again.

DR. MERKEL: I have no further questions. Thank you very much.

HERR LUDWIG BABEL (Counsel for SS): Witness, at the beginning of your examination you stated that when you were ordered to the Reichsfáhrer SS Himmler, he told you that the carrying out of this order of the Fáhrer was to be left to the SS and that the SS had been ordered to do it. What is to be understood under this general title SS?

HOESS: According to the explanations of the Reichsfáhrer, this could only mean the men guarding the concentration camps. According to the nature of the order only concentration camp crews and not the Waffen?SS could be concerned with the carrying out of this task.

HERR BABEL: How many members of the SS were assigned to concentration camps, and which units did they belong to?

HOESS: Toward the end of the war there were approximately 35,000 SS men and in my estimation approximately 10,000 men from the Army, Air Force, and the Navy detailed to the labor camps for guard duties.

HERR BABEL: What were the tasks of these guards? As far as I know, the duties varied. First, there was the actual guarding and then there was a certain amount of administrative work within the camp.

HOESS: Yes, that is correct.

HERR BABEL: How many guards were there within the camps for, let us say, 1,000 internees?

HOESS: You cannot estimate it in that way. According to my observations about 10 percent of the total number of guarding personnel were used for internal duties, that is to say, administration and supervision of internees within the camp, including the medical personnel of the camp.

HERR BABEL: So that 90 percent were therefore used far the exterior guarding, that is to say, for watching the camp from watch towers and for escorting the internees on work assignments.

HOESS: Yes.

HERR BABEL: Did you make any observations as to whether there was any ill-treatment of prisoners to a greater or lesser degree on the part of those guards, or whether the ill-treatment was mainly to be traced back to the so-called Kapos?

HOESS: If any ill-treatment of prisoners by guards occurred-I myself have never observed any–then this was possible only to a very small degree since all offices in charge of the camps took care that as few SS men as possible had direct contact with the inmates, because in the course of the years the guard personnel had deteriorated to such an extent that the standards formerly demanded could no longer be maintained.

We had thousands of guards who could hardly speak German, who came from all lands as volunteers and joined these, units, or we had older men, between 50 and 60, who lacked all interest in their work, so that a camp commander had to watch constantly that these men fulfilled even the lowest requirements of their duties. It is obvious that there were elements among them who would ill-treat internees, but this ill-treatment was never tolerated.

Besides, it was impossible to have these masses of people directed at work or when in the camp by SS men only; therefore, inmates had to be assigned everywhere to direct the other prisoners and set them to work. The internal administration of the camp was almost completely in their hands. Of course a great deal of ill-treatment occurred which could not be avoided because at night there were hardly any members of the SS in the camps. Only in specific cases were SS men allowed to enter the camp, so that the internees were more or less exposed to these Kapos.

HERR BABEL: You have already mentioned regulations which existed for the guards, but there was also a standing order in each camp. In this camp order certainly punishment was provided for internees who violated the camp rules. What punishment was provided?

HOESS: First of all, transfer to a penal company (Strafkompanie), that is to say, harder work and restricted accommodations; next, detention in the cell block, detention in a dark cell; and in very serious cases, chaining or strapping. Punishment by strapping was prohibited in the year 1942 or 1943–I cannot say exactly when–by the Reichsfáhrer. Then there was the punishment of standing at the camp gate over a rather long period, and finally corporal punishment.

However, no commander could decree this corporal punishment on his own authority. He could only apply for it. In the case of men, the decision came from the Inspector of Concentration Camps Gruppenfáhrer Schmidt, and where women were concerned, the Reichsfáhrer reserved the decision exclusively for himself.

HERR BABEL: It may also be known to you that for members of the SS, too, there were two penal camps which sometimes were called concentration camps, namely, Dachau and Danzig-Matzkau.

HOESS: That is right.

HERR BABEL: Were the existing camp regulations and the treatment of members of the SS who were put in such camps different from the regulations applying to the other concentration camps?

HOESS: Yes, these two detention camps were not under the Inspectorate for Concentration Camps, but they were under an SS and Police court. I myself have neither inspected nor seen these two camps.

HERR BABEL: So that you know nothing about the standing orders relating to those camps?

HOESS: I know nothing about them.

HERR BABEL: I have no further questions to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn for 10 minutes.

[A recess was taken.]

DR. HAENSEL: I have a question that I would like to ask the High Tribunal. A second defense counsel has been requested for the SS. Is it permitted that several questions be put for the second defense counsel?

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal ruled a long time ago that only one counsel could be heard.

DR. HAENSEL: Yes.

FLOTTENRICHTER OTTO KRANZBàHLER (Counsel for Defendant D’nitz): Witness, you just mentioned that members of the Navy were detailed to guard concentration camps.

HOESS: Yes.

FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBàHLER: Were these concentration camps, or were they labor camps?

HOESS: They were labor camps.

FLOTTENRICHM KRANZBàHLER: Are labor camps barracks camps of the armament industries?

HOESS: Yes, if they were not accommodated in the actual factories themselves.

FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBàHLER: I have been informed that soldiers who were to be assigned for guard duty at labor camps were given over to the SS.

HOESS: That is only partially correct. A part of these men-I do not recall the figures–was taken over into the SS. A part was returned to the original unit, or exchanged. Exchanges were continually taking place.

FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBàHLER: Thank you.

COL. AMEN: If the Tribunal please, first I would like to submit, on behalf of our British Allies, a series of exhibits pertaining to the Waffen-SS, without reading them. It is merely statistical information with respect to the number of Waffen-SS guards used at the concentration camps.

I ask that the witness be shown Documents D-745 (a-b), D-746 (a-b),’ D-747, D-748, D-749 (b), and D-750, one of them being a statement of this witness.

[The documents were submitted to the witness.]

Witness, you made the statement, D-749 (b), which has been handed to you?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: And you are familiar with the content of the others?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: And you testify that those figures are true and correct?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: Very good. Those will become Exhibit Number USA-810.

Witness, from time to time did any high Nazi officials or functionaries visit the camp at Mauthausen or Dachau while you were there?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: Will you state the names of such persons to the Tribunal please?

HOESS: I remember that in 1935 all the Gauleiter inspected Dachau guided by Reichsfáhrer Himmler. I do not remember them individually.

COL. AMEN: Do you recall any of the ministers having visited either of those camps while you were there?

HOESS: Do you mean by this the inspection tour of 1935?

COL. AMEN: At any time while you were at either of those concentration camps.

HOESS: In 1938 Minister Frick was at Sachsenhausen.

COL. AMEN: Do you recall any other ministers who were there at any time?

HOESS: Not at Sachsenhausen, but at Auschwitz, the Minister of Justice.

COL. AMEN: Who was he?

HOESS: Thierack.

COL. AMEN: And who else? Do you recall any others?

HOESS: Yes, but, I do not remember the name for the moment.

COL. AMEN: Well, who?

HOESS: I have already stated that in the record, but at the moment I cannot recall the name.

COL. AMEN: All right. You have testified that many of the execution orders were signed by Máller. Is that correct?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: Is it not a fact that all of those execution orders to which you testified were signed by . . .

DR. STEINBAUER: Pardon me, Mr. President, documents have been submitted and the witness is being questioned about the contents. The Defense is not in a position to follow the Prosecution because we do not know the contents of these documents. I request that we receive copies of them.

THE PRESIDENT: Haven’t copies of these documents been handed to the defendants?

COL. AMEN: Yes, so I understood. We have copies here. However, five German copies have been distributed.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the matter can be looked into.

COL. AMEN: Witness, I was asking you about these execution orders which you testify were signed by Máller. Do you understand?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: Is it not a fact that all of these execution orders which you testify were signed by Máller were also signed by order of, or as representative of, the Chief of the RSHA, Kaltenbrunner?

HOESS: Yes. That was on the copies that I had in the originals. Afterwards, when I was employed at Oranienburg, it said underneath, “I. V. Máller”?”in Vertretung Máller” (as representative, Máller).

COL. AMEN: In other words Máller was merely signing as the representative of the Chief of the RSHA, Kaltenbrunner? Is that not correct?

HOESS: I must assume so.

COL. AMEN: And, of course, you know that Máller was a subordinate of the Chief of the RSHA, Kaltenbrunner.

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: Witness, you made an affidavit, did you not, at the request of the Prosecution?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: I ask that the witness be shown Document 3868-PS, which will become Exhibit USA-819.

[The document was submitted to the witness.]

COL. AMEN: You signed that affidavit voluntarily, Witness?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: And the affidavit is true in all respects?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: This, if the Tribunal please, we have in four languages.

[Turning to the witness.] Some of the matters covered in this affidavit you have already told us about in part, so I will omit some parts of the affidavit. If you will follow along with me as I read, please. Do you have a copy of the affidavit before you?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: I will omit the first paragraph and start with Paragraph 2:

“I have been constantly associated with the administration of concentration camps since 1934, serving at Dachau until 1938; then as Adjutant in Sachsenhausen from 1938 to 1 May 1940, when I was appointed Commandant of Auschwitz.. I commanded Auschwitz until 1 December 1943, and estimate that at least 2,500,000 victims were executed and exterminated there by gassing and burning, and at least another half million succumbed to starvation and disease making a total dead of about 3,000,000. This?figure represents about 70 or 80 percent of all persons sent to Auschwitz as prisoners, the remainder having been selected and used for slave labor in the concentration camp industries; included among the executed and burned were approximately 20,000 Russian prisoners of war (previously screened out of prisoner-of-war cages by the Gestapo) who were delivered at Auschwitz in Wehrmacht transports operated by regular Wehrmacht officers and men. The remainder of the total number of victims included about 100,000 German Jews, and great numbers of citizens, mostly Jewish, from Holland, France, Belgium, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Greece, or other countries. We executed about 400,000 Hungarian Jews alone at Auschwitz in the summer of 1944.”

That is all true, Witness?

HOESS: Yes, it is.

COL. AMEN: Now I omit the first few lines of Paragraph 3 and start in the middle of Paragraph 3:

“. . . prior to establishment of the RSHA, the Secret State Police Office (Gestapo) and the Reich Office of Criminal Police were responsible for arrests, commitments to concentration camps, punishments and executions therein. After organization of the RSHA all of these functions were carried on as before, but pursuant to orders signed by Heydrich as Chief of the RSHA. While Kaltenbrunner was Chief of RSHA orders for protective custody, commitments, punishment, and individual executions were signed by Kaltenbrunner or by Máller, Chief of the Gestapo, as Kaltenbrunner’s deputy.”

THE PRESIDENT: Just for the sake of accuracy, the last date in Paragraph 2, is that 1943 or 1944?

COL. AMEN: 1944, I believe. Is that date correct, Witness, at the close of Paragraph 2, namely, that the 400,000 Hungarian Jews alone at Auschwitz in the summer of 1944 were executed? is that 1944 or 1943?

HOESS: 1944. Part of that figure also goes back to 1943; only a part. I cannot give the exact figure; the end was 1944, autumn of 1944.

COL. AMEN: Right.

“4. Mass executions by gassing commenced during the summer of 1941 and continued until fall 1944. 1 personally supervised executions at Auschwitz until first of December 1943 and know by reason of my continued duties in the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps, WVHA, that these mass executions continued as stated above. All mass executions by gassing took place under the direct order, supervision, and responsibility of RSHA. I received all orders for carrying out these mass executions directly from RSHA.” Are those statements true and correct, Witness?

HOESS: Yes, they are.

COL. AMEN: “5. On 1 December 1943 1 became Chief of Amt 1 in Amt Group D of the WVHA, and in that office was responsible for co-ordinating all matters arising between RSHA and concentration camps under the administration of WVHA. I held this position until the end of the war. Pohl, as Chief of WVHA, and Kaltenbrunner, as Chief of RSHA, often conferred personally and frequently communicated orally and in writing concerning concentration camps. . . .”

You have already told us about the lengthy report which you took to Kaltenbrunner in Berlin, so I will omit the remainder of Paragraph 5.

“6. The ‘final solution’ of the Jewish question meant the complete extermination of all Jews in Europe. I was ordered to establish extermination facilities at Auschwitz in June 1941. At that time, there were already in the General Government three other extermination camps: Belzek, Treblinka, and Wolzek. These camps were under the Einsatzkommando of the Security Police and SD. I visited Treblinka to find out how they carried out their exterminations. The camp commandant at Treblinka told me that he had liquidated 80,000 in the course of one-half year. He was principally concerned with liquidating all the Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. He used monoxide gas, and I did not think that his methods were very efficient. So when I set up the extermination building at Auschwitz, I used Cyklon B, which was a crystallized prussic acid which we dropped into the death chamber from a small opening. It took from 3 to 15 minutes to kill the people in the death chamber, depending upon climatic conditions. We knew when the people were dead because their screaming stopped. We usually waited about one-half hour before we opened the doors and removed the bodies. After the bodies were removed our special Kommandos took off the rings and extracted the gold from the teeth of the corpses.”

Is that all true and correct, Witness?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: Incidentally, what was done with the gold which was taken from the teeth of the corpses, do you know?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: Will you tell the Tribunal?

HOESS: This gold was melted down and brought to the Chief Medical Office of the SS at Berlin.

COL. AMEN:

“7 Another improvement we made over Treblinka was that we built our gas chamber to accommodate 2,000 people at one time whereas at Treblinka their 10 gas chambers only accommodated 200 people each. The way we selected our victims was as follows: We had two SS doctors on duty at Auschwitz to examine the incoming transports of prisoners. The prisoners would be marched by one of the doctors who would make spot decisions as they walked by. Those who were fit for work were sent into the camp. Others were sent immediately to the extermination plants. Children of tender years were invariably exterminated since by reason of their youth they were unable to work. Still another improvement we made over Treblinka was that at Treblinka the victims almost always knew that they were to be exterminated and at Auschwitz we endeavored to fool the victims into thinking that they were to go through a delousing process. Of course, frequently they realized our true intentions and we sometimes had riots and difficulties due to that fact. Very frequently women would hide their children under the clothes, but of course when we found them we would send the children in to be exterminated. We were required to carry out these exterminations in secrecy but of course the foul and nauseating stench from the continuous burning of bodies permeated the entire area and all of the people living in the surrounding communities knew that exterminations were going on at Auschwitz.”

Is that all true and correct, Witness?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: Now, I will omit Paragraphs 8 and 9, which have to do with the medical experiments as to which you have already testified.

“10. Rudolf Mildner was the chief of the Gestapo at Katowice . . . from approximately March 1941 until September 1943. As such, he frequently sent prisoners to Auschwitz for incarceration or execution. He visited Auschwitz on several occasions. The Gestapo court, the SS Standgericht, which tried persons accused of various crimes, such as escaping prisoners of war, et cetera, ?frequently met within Auschwitz, and Mildner often attended the trial of such persons, who usually were executed in Auschwitz following their sentence. I showed Mildner through the extermination plant at Auschwitz and he was directly interested in it since he had to send the Jews from his territory for execution at Auschwitz.

“I understand English as it is written above. The above statements are true; this declaration is made by me voluntarily and without compulsion; after reading over the statement I have signed and executed the same at Nuremberg, Germany, on the fifth day of April 1946.”

Now I ask you, Witness, is everything which I have read to you true to your own knowledge?

HOESS: Yes.

COL. AMEN: That concludes my cross-examination, except for one exhibit that our British allies would like to have in, which is a summary sheet of the exhibits which I introduced at the commencement of the cross-examination. That will be Exhibit Number USA-810. It is a summary of the earlier exhibits that I put in with respect to the Waffen-SS at the commencement of my cross-examination.

Now, I understand, Your Lordship, that both the Soviet and the French delegations have one or two questions which they consider peculiar to their country which they would like to put to this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, you will remember that the Tribunal was assured by Counsel for the Prosecution that, so far as witnesses were concerned, with the exception of one or. two particular defendants, the Prosecution would have only one cross-examination and now, since that assurance was given, this is the second instance when the Prosecution have desired to have more than one cross-examination.

GEN. RUDENKO: This is correct, Mr. President, that the Prosecution did make that statement; however, the Prosecution reserved the right to do otherwise on certain occasions when deemed necessary. Since, in this case, the Prosecution represent four different states, occasions do arise when each of the prosecutors feels that he has the right to ask the defendant or witnesses individual questions particularly interesting to his own country.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you indicate the nature of the questions which the Soviet Prosecution desire to put? I mean the subjects upon which they are. I don’t mean the exact questions but the subject.

GEN. RUDENKO: Yes, I understand. Colonel Pokrovsky, who intends to ask the questions, will report on the subject to the Tribunal.

COL. POKROVSKY: May I report to you, Mr. President, that the questions of interest to the Soviet Prosecution are those dealing specifically with the annihilation of millions of Soviet citizens and some details connected with that annihilation. At the request of the French Prosecution, and in order to clarify the contents I would also like to ask two or three questions connected with the documents which in due course were submitted as Document F-709(a) to the Tribunal by the French Prosecution. This is really all there is; however, these questions do have great importance for us.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, the Tribunal, as has just been stated, made the rule, with the assent of the Prosecutors, that in the case of the witnesses there should be one cross-examination. There is nothing in the Charter which expressly gives to the Prosecution the right for each prosecutor to cross-examine and there is, on the other hand, Article 18 which directs the Tribunal to take strict measures to prevent any action which will cause unreasonable delay, and, in the opinion of the Tribunal in the present case, the subject has been fully covered and the Tribunal therefore think it right to adhere to the rules which they have laid down in this case. They will therefore not hear any further cross-examination.

Do you wish to re-examine, Dr. Kauffmann?

DR. KAUFFMANN: I will be very brief.

Witness, in the affidavit which was just read, you said under Point 2 that “at least an additional half million died through starvation and disease.” I ask you, when did this take place? Was it towards the end of the war or was this fact observed by you already at an earlier period?

HOESS: No, it all goes back to the last years of the war, that is beginning with the end of 1942.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Under Point 3, do you still have the affidavit before you?

HOESS: No.

DR.KAUFFMANN: May I ask that it be given to the witness again?

[The document was returned to the witness.]

Under Point 3, at the end you state that orders for protective custody, commitments, punishments, and special executions were signed by Kaltenbrunner or Máller, Chief of the Gestapo, as Kaltenbrunner’s deputy. Thus, do you wish to contradict what you stated previously?

HOESS: No, this only completes what I said over and again. I read only a few decrees signed by Kaltenbrunner; most of them were signed by Máller.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Under Point 4, at the end, you state:

“All mass executions through gassing took place under the direct order, supervision, and responsibility of RSHA. I received all orders for carrying out these mass executions directly from RSHA.”

According to the statements which you previously made to the Tribunal, this entire action came to you directly from Himmler through Eichmann, who had been personally delegated. Do you maintain that now as before?

HOESS: Yes.

DR.KAUFFMANN: With this last sentence under Point 4, do you wish to contradict what you testified before?

HOESS: No. I always, mean regarding mass executions, Obersturmbannfáhrer Eichmann in connection with the RSHA.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Under Point 7, at the end, you state–I am not going to read it–you were saying that even though exterminations took place secretly, the population in the surrounding area noticed something of the extermination of people. Did not, at an earlier period of time–that is, before the beginning of this special extermination action–something of this nature take place to remove people who had died in a normal manner in Auschwitz?

HOESS: Yes, when the crematoria had not yet been built we burned in large pits a large part of those who had died and who could not be cremated in the provisional crematoria of the camp; a large number–I do not recall the figure anymore–were placed in mass graves and later also cremated in these graves. That was before the mass executions of Jews began.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Would you agree with me if I were to say that from the described facts alone, one could not conclusively ‘prove that this was concerned with the extermination of Jews?

HOESS: No, this could in no way be concluded from that. The population . . .

THE PRESIDENT: What was your question about?

DR. KAUFFMANN: My question was whether one could assume from the established facts?at the end of Paragraph 7?that this concerned the so-called extermination of Jews. I tied this question to the previous answer of the witness. It is my last question.

THE PRESIDENT: The last sentence of Paragraph 7 is with reference to the foul and nauseating stench. What is your question about that?

DR. KAUFFMANN: Whether the population could gather from these things that an extermination of Jews was taking place.

THE PRESIDENT: That really is too obvious a question, isn’t it? They could not possibly know who it was being exterminated.

DR. KAUFFMANN: That is enough for me. I have no further questions.

DR. PANNENBECKER: I ask the Tribunal’s permission to ask a few supplementary questions, for during cross?examination the witness stated that the Defendant Frick had visited the concentration camps Sachsenhausen and Oranienburg in 1938.

Witness, when an inspection of the concentration camp of Oranienburg took place at that time, 1937-38, was there any evidence at all of atrocities?

HOESS: No.

DR. PANNENBECKER: Why not?

HOESS: Because there was no question of atrocities at that time.

DR. PANNENBECKER: Is it correct that at that period of time the concentration camp at Oranienburg was still a model of order and that agricultural labor was the main occupation? .

HOESS: Yes, that is right. However, work was mainly done in workshops, in wood-finishing workshops.

DR. PANNENBECKER: Can you give me any details as to what was shown at that time at such an official visit?

HOESS: Yes. The visiting party was shown through the prisoners’ camp proper, inspected the quarters, the kitchen, the hospital, and then all the administrative buildings; above all the workshops, where the inmates were employed.

DR. PANNENBECKER: At that time were the quarters and the hospitals already overcrowded?

HOESS: No, at that time they were normally filled.

DR. PANNENBECKER: How did these quarters look?

HOESS: At that period of time, living quarters looked the same as the barracks of a training ground. The internees still had bedclothing and all necessary hygienic facilities. Everything was yet in the best of order.

DR. PANNENBECKER: That is all. I have no further questions.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Francis Biddle, Member for the United States): Witness, what was the greatest number of labor camps existing at any one time?

HOESS: I cannot give the exact figure but in my estimation there were approximately 900.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): What was the population of these 900?

HOESS: I am not able to say that either; the population varied. There were camps with 100 internees and camps with 10,000 internees. Therefore, I cannot give any figure of the total number of people who were in these labor camps.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): Under whose administration were the labor camps? under what offices?

HOESS: These labor camps, as far as the guarding, direction, and clothing were concerned, were under the control of the Economic and Administration Main Office. All matters dealing with labor output and the supplying of food were attended to by the armament industries which employed these internees.

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): And at the end of the war were the conditions in those labor camps similar to those existing in the concentration camps as you described them before?

HOESS: Yes. Since there no longer was any possibility of bringing ill internees to the main camps, there was much overcrowding in these labor camps and the death rate very high.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

[The witness left the stand.]

sources

https://famous-trials.com/nuremberg/1932-hoesstestimony

https://www.sachsenhausen-sbg.de/en/history/1933-1934-oranienburg-concentration-camp/

Testimony by Joseph Berman regarding atrocities committed by Oberscharführer-SS Rudolf Seck and others in Latvia

They say that a picture paints a thousand words, and that is true, but it never tells the full story. It is just a snap shot of time. Especially when it comes to the Holocaust, pictures are powerful but I believe the testimonies of those who survived and lived through the horrors are much more powerful.

Rudolf Joachim Seck was an SS officer during World War II during the course of which he committed a large numbers of crimes against humanity, for which he was later sentenced to serve life in prison by a West German court. Seck held the SS ranks of Unterscharführer and later Oberscharführer (Staff Sergeant). He was the commander of Jungfernhof concentration camp, near Riga, Latvia. His office was at the Gestapo headquarters in Riga on Reimerstrasse. According to Joseph Berman, a Jewish man from Ventspils and a survivor of The Holocaust in Latvia, who was assigned to the work detail cleaning Seck’s automobile, Seck was closely associated with Rudolf Lange, the main SS leader in occupied Latvia.

Rudolf Lange

Seck made it a habit to meet, at the Skirotava railway station, trains of Jews deported from Germany, Austria, or Czechoslovakia. Theoretically these Jews were to be sent to the Riga Ghetto or the Jungfernhof or Salaspils concentration camps, but usually this did not occur, as Seck would instead take them to Bi ernieki or Rumbula forests, near Riga, and shoot them.

Following the war, Seck was tried in West Germany before the Landsgericht Hamburg with other Nazi personnel who planned or participated in the murder of Jews in Latvia. In 1951, Seck was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Below is the testimony of Joseph Berman against Seck

“I am the Joseph Berman mentioned in the House of Commons White Paper on Buchenwald, Advisor to the Prosecution and first Rebuttal Witness in the Buchenwald Trials held at Dachau in 1947; former Intelligence Investigator of the Office of Military Government for Bavaria.

I, Joseph Berman, born on the 25th June 1925 at Ventspils, Latvia, and now living in London, was a political prisoner during the German occupation, first at the main headquarters of all concentration camps in Latvia – Kaiserwald, Riga and later on in the extermination camp Dondangen, Kurland, Latvia. I hereby make the following declaration:-

Rudolf SECK was the man I saw almost every day, beginning from 1941, either coming from or going to the headquarters of the Gestapo for the Baltic States, which was situated at Reimerstrasse, Riga. Mostly he travelled with his car to and from Jungfernhof, Salaspils, the Headquarters, Central Prison, and sometimes also the Riga Ghetto.

He was always with “Sturmbannfuehrer” Dr. Lange’s group, which met the incoming transports of Austrian, Czech and German Jewry at Skirotawa Station. These people were supposed to be taken by him to Salaspils, Jungfernhof or the Riga Ghetto, but usually did not arrive at their destination, because he took them to the Bikernieku or Rumbuli forest to be shot. These facts are known to me because, when cleaning the car of Seck and all the other cars every day, they used to stand next to me and I could hear them brag about their shooting abilities.

I used to see Seck leaving Reimerstrasse with the various convoys that set out from Riga to other parts of the Baltic States and White Russia to quell partisan uprisings and liquidate certain camps or Ghettos or the so-called special “Himmelfahrtskommando.”

I also saw Seck at Peterholm Street, the Clothing Depot of the Gestapo, from where he took away suit-cases full of new clothing, Jewelry, etc., after the unfortunate victims had been taken care of by him.

I also saw him during the “actions” in the Riga Ghetto in 1941, and he was a visitor of Scherwitz at Auseklu Street, and later at Lenta.

Although he never asked me to come with him when he went out on these criminal expeditions, I am aware of the fact that he was one of the leaders of the N.C.O.s at Gestapo headquarters, Riga, who were in charge of Jewish affairs during the German occupation, and I know that he definitely accomplished his mission and ruthlessly liquidated European Jewry.

I was present one day in 1942, in the yard of Motor Pool in Reimerstrasse, when “Untersturmfuehrer Reese, Nickel, Seck, Tekemeyer and Mohr searched the home-going (to the Ghetto) “Reichsjuden” column, after a transport of foodstuff including delicacies had arrived from Paris (stolen by the Riga Gestapo from the Wehrmacht). It consisted of tinned fruit, best chocolates, etc. Hardly anything was found on the unfortunate victims; some had a few potatoes or a piece of bread. 15 people were brought into one of the newly finished garages (they were Jews from either Germany, Austria, or Czechoslovakia); I had to run away when I saw the above-mentioned SD-men lead these men into the garage. To our great surprise, a Jew by the name of Heppy, who, together with Otto Mohr was working in the kitchen of Gestapo headquarters and was responsible for supplies of provisions, and who was respected for his work and organising ability, initiative and personality by all who had contact with him, was also locked up with the above mentioned 15 unfortunate victims. Heppy was a Latvian Jew and had been a sailor for many years; he was an example of cool thinking and open resistance against the Nazi beasts. He must have saved thousands of people by the many favours he bestowed on them.

These 16 people were kept at Reimerstrasse for one night, and the next day the whole Gestapo in Riga turned out to watch them being taken away to Salaspils in a Renault lorry. I still remember the numberplate of the lorry, which was Pol. 91088. They were liquidated in Salaspils in front of all the inmates of that camp. The personalities of the Gestapo headquarters in Riga that day, smiling and in very high spirits, followed the procession to Salaspils; 1 saw them later return to Reimerstrasse. Whenever people were being shot or hung, the same 20 or 30 high ranking officers of the Riga Gestapo had to have their transportation ready in a matter of a few minutes.

I was often maltreated by Rudolf Seck, and whenever he came to Reimerstrasse or to any other place where I was present, he used to kick everybody around.

I saw him many times with an automatic pistol (some of theirs were the small type used by airborne troops), and I saw him carrying an extra large pistol, whenever he went out on one of his criminal expeditions.

(signed) JOSEPH BERMAN

London, 16 February 1949.

I herewith certify that the above is a true copy of the English original.

(signed) H. MICHELSON

London, 16 February 1949.

sources

https://www.testifyingtothetruth.co.uk/viewer/image/106498/2/

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/latvia

https://www.dodax.com/en-us/books-audiobooks/lexica-reference-work/betascript-publishing-rudolf-joachim-seck-dpCH6QFIS3006/

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Deception and death.

Franz

I was struggling with the title of this blog and even about the contents. I was going to do a picture blog with pictures of some of the atrocities committed by the Nazis, and even though I have done blogs containing horrific images I realized that although a picture tells a thousand words it doesn’t necessarily tell the full story.

Therefore I decided to use testimonies from a Nazi and a witness statement of a  survivor to illustrate the evil of one particular evil man ,Franz Hössler, an often forgotten perpetrator who used deception and death to fulfill his own sadistic needs.

Franz 2

Franz Hössler  was a Nazi German SS-Obersturmführer and Schutzhaftlagerführer at the Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dora-Mittelbau and Bergen-Belsen.

Johann Kremer, SS camp doctor in Auschwitz from 30 August to 17 November 1942, recorded a transport of 1,703 Dutch Jews to the main camp managed by Hössler. He had described the event in his diary and used it in his testimony during the Auschwitz  trial.

Kremer

“In connection with the gassings I described in my diary dated 12.10.1942, I declare that on that day about 1,600 Dutch were gassed. This is an approximate figure, which I stated as a result of what I had heard from others. The action was led by SS officer Hssler. I remember that he tried to drive the whole group into a single bunker. This he achieved up to a last man who could not be crammed further into the bunker. Hossler shot this man with a revolver. This is the reason why I wrote in the diary: “Gruesome scene before the last bunker! (Hössler!)”.

Filip Müller one of the very few Sonderkommando members who survived Auschwitz. gave the following testimony. It was a speech of deception Hössler had given to  a group of Greek Jews in the undressing room at the portals of the gas chambers.

filip

“On behalf of the camp administration I bid you welcome. This is not a holiday resort but a labor camp. Just as our soldiers risk their lives at the front to gain victory for the Third Reich, you will have to work here for the welfare of a new Europe. How you tackle this task is entirely up to you. The chance is there for every one of you. We shall look after your health, and we shall also offer you well-paid work. After the war we shall assess everyone according to his merits and treat him accordingly.
Now, would you please all get undressed. Hang your clothes on the hooks we have provided and please remember your number of the hook. When you’ve had your bath there will be a bowl of soup and coffee or tea for all. Oh yes, before I forget, after your bath, please have ready your certificates, diplomas, school reports and any other documents so that we can employ everybody according to his or her training and ability.

Would diabetics who are not allowed sugar report to staff on duty after their baths”

Hössler was not tried at the Auschwitz trial but was   tried in the Belsen Trial.

trial

On 17 November 1945 Hössler was sentenced to death by hanging. The sentence was carried out by British hangman Albert Pierrepoint on 13 December 1945 at Hameln prison.

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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