Testimony (1961) of Auschwitz survivor Szenes against Adolf Eichmann:

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Loose Cannon

Mar 20, 2023, 11:23:10 PMMar 20
Testimony (1961) of Auschwitz survivor Szenes against Eichmann:

The testimony of the Hungarian Jewish witness Mrs Elisheva Szenes at
Session 53 of the Eichmann trial, on 25 May 1961 (as reproduced on the
Nizkor website), contains some interesting material.
"STATE ATTORNEY BACH: What happened to the people of that transport
who arrived at Auschwitz?

WITNESS SZENES: They went off, group by group, to the right and to the
left. I was sent off with the group that was sent to the side of life,
and the others, as we know, went to the gas chambers. Mengele was
standing there - he indicated to the right or to the left. As he
divided up the groups, roughly half by half, in each of the two
directions, to the side of life and to the side of the gas chambers -
roughly, I cannot say exactly.

Q. How do you know that one side led to life and the other to death,
to the gas chambers?

A. They did not conceal that at all, they made no secret of it. They
said that to us right away, when we were directed to the side of life,
the women who were there told us. Incidentally, I met acquaintances
there. there was actually no need for gas, since many people died in
the first weeks, even in the first days - within a few days they

Q. Do you know roughly how many persons of the transport survived?

A. No. I cannot tell you that, since they were transferred to various

Q. To what place were you transferred from Auschwitz?

A. I was transported as part of a group of 500 people, but within this
group there were only a few people left of those who had come from
Kistarcsa. They took us to Fallersleben in West Germany, to a factory
for War production.

Q. Did you ultimately reach a place called Salzwedel?

A. Yes. Ten days before the liberation, the group was transferred to
Salzwedel; but by that time the group had already grown to 800 who had
come from a death march, had stopped at Fallersleben and were joined
together with us.

Q. Do you recall a particular incident concerning railway waggons that
arrived - waggons full of Jewish men who came to Salzwedel?

A. Yes. They came after us. But then they no longer opened the doors
of the waggons.

Q. What did that mean? What was the outcome?

A. Since the Americans only arrived ten days later - this happened on
14 April - they all died there in these sealed trucks.

Q. You mentioned earlier a place called Fallersleben. What happened
there to women who gave birth to children?

A. In Fallersleben there were two women who gave birth to babies. At
the beginning the SS women nursed them fondly, for about four or five
days, but afterwards, they took them away together with their mothers.
As we learned they brought them subsequently to bergen-Belsen and to
the gas chambers."

Michael Mills comments:

SZENES describes the transport on which she arrived being divided into
two groups of roughly equal size. That contrasts with claims that only
10% of each transport was selected for labour, with 90% being gassed.
The division into two equal groups suggests separation for two
different destinations, with perhaps one group selected for retention
within the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex and the other for transfer to
other camps - Szenes herself was transferred.

Szenes claims that the selection was carried out by Mengele. But how
does she know who the selecting officer was? It is likely that she had
not even heard of Mengele before her arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau,
and she could have not have known who the person doing the selection
was. It is possible that she was told later by other prisoners. But it
is equally possible that she read about Mengele after the war, and
assumed that he must have been the one who selected her. If that is
the case, this is a possible example of witness testimony being
contaminated by what they learned subsequently.

Szenes does not say whether she was registered and received a tatooed
number. It is possible that she was held as an unregistered
"Depot-Haeftling" pending her transfer to a work-place. If that was
the case, then the other half of the transport may have been the one
that went through the registration process.

Szenes claims that the other group into which the transport was
divided was sent to the gas chambers, but her grounds for that claim
appear flimsy in the extreme. It was based purely on what the other
women in the camp told her, which may have been purely rumour.

Szenes says she met acquaintances in the camp. I presume she is
referring to persons who reached Auschwitz-Birkenau on earlier

A large proportion of the half of the transport selected with Szenes
died before they could be transferred elsewhere, presumably from
disease, exacerbated by semi-starvation. Some died within a few days,
which could only have been from disease. Szenes' comment that "there
was no need for gas" suggests that the number who died in this way was
quite considerable. Indeed, the rapid reduction in the numbers of the
Hungarian Jewish deportees soon after their arrival at
Auschwitz-Birkenau might well be explained by such deaths due to
disease, without having recourse to putative large-scale extermination
action on the part of the camp administration. As Szenes says, there
was no need for gas. It is entirely possible that the other group into
which the transport was divided was elsewhere in the camp complex,
undergoing the same attrition.

Szenes states that members of the transport were transferred to
various places. We know that Hungarian Jews were sent to 380 different
locations, and her testimony is consistent with that.

Szenes states that she was transferred to a factory in West Germany
for war production. Her testimony confirms that Jews were sent to
Germany for labour, and refutes the claim that there was a ban on
importing Jewish slave labour into Germany.

Szenes states that there were gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen, to which
mothers and babies were sent. That can only have been a rumour that
she heard, since there were no gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen according
to the orthodox account. This part of her testimony casts doubt on the
value of her testimony about half the transport on which she arrived
being sent to the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau.square


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