Witness at Eichmann Trial Tells of Nazi Annihilation of 134, 000 Dutch Jews

Publié le par Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Jerusalem, May. 10 (JTA) – A Jewish teacher and leader of the Jewish youth movement in Holland today testified at the trial of Adolf Eichmann here how the Nazis deported tens of thousands of Jews from Holland to extermination camps, annihilating more than 134, 000 Dutch Jews, including most members of his family. Only 6,000 of Holland's Jewry survived, he said.

Joseph Melkman

Joseph Melkman

The witness, Dr. Joseph Melkman, who is a survivor of the Bergen-Belsen camp, said that in Amsterdam and in a number of other Dutch towns general strikes were declared in protest against the Nazi measures against Jews. However, this did not discourage Nazi units from rounding up Jews and sending them to death camps.

Dr. Melkman described the frightful conditions in the Bergen Belsen camp, established near Hanover, which was originally set up for a few thousand inmates but which eventually held scores of thousands. In later stages, he testified, the only food was watery soup. The dead were lying on the streets, barracks holding 500 persons had a single latrine and that was usually broken, he said, adding that the Nazis would shut down the water supply for days at a time.


The witness testified that there were even cases of cannibalism among the hunger-crazed inmates. During the morning lineup, when totals of prisoners did not tally, the starving victims were kept standing in the snow for an entire day.

The witness described a group of Dutch Zionists who had certificates to go to Palestine and who were kept at a camp at Westerborg pending on exchange for Germans in Allied countries. He told how he had smuggled his own 18-month-old child to a Dutch Christian family and how, en route to Westerborg, the Melkmans took a baby of the same age from a Jewish woman who had no certificate and thus saved the baby.

He said the Jewish leaders of Westerborg received from the Germans weekly orders to prepare lists for deportation to Auschwitz. He recalled that each transport included a few score more than the quota since people died enroute and the Germans required that the exact quota of live victims be delivered to Auschwitz.

"Of all the horrible things I saw, " the witness stated, "nothing was so horrible as the preparation of lists for deportation. The Judenrat, or Jewish leaders, received the required number on Saturdays and began preparing lists. On Monday nights, the barracks were closed down and at 3 a.m. the barracks commander read out the names of those who in effect had been sentenced to death by fellow Jews. These were herded into freight cars for Auschwitz the next day. To this very day, Tuesday morning is the worst day of the week for those of us who survived."


The witness said that Dutch Christians took in and saved about 4, 000 Jewish children during the Nazi terror. Even the fate of the children thus saved was a hard one, Dr. Melkman testified, since they were compelled to remain in hiding in severely cramped quarters lest they betray their own presence and that of their benefactors. He told of one boy, found hiding after a long time, who was taken to Westerborg and who, told he could at last speak out, went yelling around the camp at the top of his lungs.

Dr. Melkman also testified that of 700 Jewish youths sent from Holland to the Mauthausen camp in Austria, only one survived. He said the Nazis themselves spread word that no one left Mauthausen alive to frighten Jews into compliance with their regulations the ultimate aim of which was to kill as many of them as possible. The prosecution submitted to the court photostats of documents, reports and letters which linked Eichmann with every phase of the actions against Dutch Jews in support of Dr. Melkman's testimony.

Before calling Dr. Melkman to the witness stand, Deputy Attorney General Gavriel Bach submitted further evidence of the transport of Belgium Jews to murder centers. One of the documents, from the Gestapo office in Brussels, included a report on anti-Jewish action "as requested by the Reich security head office. " In another document, the German Foreign Office replied to a query with a declaration that the local security office would decide the fate of Italian Jews in Belgium who were unable to return to Italy. Mr. Bach commented that this document showed who really decided the fate of Italian Jews in Belgium.

The assistant prosecutor then introduced documents dealing with the Holland debacle. One of them was a letter from the German Foreign Ministry to Gestapo Chief Heinrich Mueller which described the intervention of Sweden concerning 500 Dutch Jews who were sent to Germany and 400 of whom were slaughtered in one day. The Swedish Minister asked permission to visit the German camp but his request was rejected. The Foreign Ministry letter suggested that Dutch Jews should not be sent to Germany so that Sweden--which was then protecting Dutch interests in Germany--would have no authority to intervene.


The afternoon session in court was marked by testimony of how the entire population of gallant little Denmark came to the aid of the Jews against the Nazis there in spite of being occupied by the German Army. David Melchior son of Denmark's Chief Rabbi, told the court the story of how all of official Denmark, from the King on, risked its status with the Nazi occupying power by refusing to knuckle under to the Nazi racist laws and practices.

A pro-Nazi who tried to burn down a Copenhagen synagogue was arrested and sentenced to three year's imprisonment. When a second arsonist made an attempt to destroy the same synagogue, Jews were put on the Copenhagen police force as auxiliary police. Two Germans editing a newspaper published by the German occupation forces were arrested and fined for libeling Jewish merchants.

Finally, the Nazis, convinced that the Government would not back their racist edicts, ordered all Jews rounded up. At that point, under the direction of the King of Denmark, a flotilla of fishing smacks, yachts, trawlers, and even canoes was organized to evacuate the Jews to Sweden. Of 7,700 Jews in Denmark, all but 470 escaped through this operation. The Danish monarch himself, testified Mr. Melchior, sent representatives to Sweden to make certain that the escaped Danish Jews were cared for properly, and organized shipments of clothing, food and other necessities to the exiles in Sweden.

Many of the Danish resistance fighters and Danes who helped rescue Jews were rounded up by the Nazis after the Germans imposed military rule on Denmark in August, 1943, Mr. Melchior testified. "Many of them, " he said, "were sent to Buchenwald, where they met the fate destined by the Nazis for the Jews."


Several documents introduced in court today demonstrated that Italian civilian military authorities in southern France actively opposed the anti-Jewish actions and once they even used force when German authorities acted in Italian-occupied territory. According to one of the documents, Eichmann wrote directly to Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop, asking intervention with the Italian Government against such pro-Jewish activities.

Other documents showed that even the completely submissive Vichy regime opposed Nazi measures against French-born Jews and that Pierre Laval, the collaborationist head of the French regime, told the Germans he would not make French police available for the arrest of French-born Jews.

Another document was introduced as a typical order from Eichmann's office. The order advised that when a German policeman went out on a mission to arrest a particular Jew, he should also arrest the entire family as well as all nearby Jewish neighbors "to save gasoline."

Another report summed up the Nazi looting of French Jews. A total of 70, 000 homes were sacked and 26, 000 freight cars of movable property was shipped to Germany. The concern of Eichmann's office with everything relating to Jews was indicated in a complaint to the Foreign Ministry that in the independent principality of Lichtenstein, Jews not only remained but even visited restaurants.

Publié dans Articles de Presse

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