The Auschwitz testimony of Esther Goldstein

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The Auschwitz testimony of Esther Goldstein

Post by David Thompson » 06 Jun 2004 04:07

Esther Goldstein, a former inmate at KL Auschwitz, testified on June 7, 1961 at the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Her testimony is available on line courtesy of the Nizkor Project at: ... 70-05.html and ... 70-06.html
Attorney General: I call the next witness, Mrs. Esther Goldstein, and I would request Exhibit No. T/1118.

[The witness is sworn.]

Attorney General: Are you a member of Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin?

Witness Goldstein: Yes.

Q. In 1944, you were deported to Auschwitz from detention in Katzow, which is in Carpatho-Russia?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Was this Hungarian territory?

Witness Goldstein: Yes.

Attorney General: Which members of your family accompanied you?

Witness Goldstein: My father, my mother, my three sisters, a married sister with her two children, and my brother.

Q. Who, of all these, remained alive?

A. My sisters and my brother remained alive.

Q. One of the sisters had two children - did they survive?

A. No.

Q. I have here a set of photographs which are included in Exhibit T/1118. This is about the holocaust of Slovakian Jewry. With the Court’s permission, I shall mark the photographs which the witness will be able to identify. May I approach the witness?

Presiding Judge: Certainly.

Attorney General: [approaches the witness] Can you identify yourself in this photograph?

Witness Goldstein: Yes.

Q. Where are you?

A. In the middle, with a white kerchief.

Q. Can you identify anyone else in the photograph?

A. My sisters.

Attorney General: We shall mark these photographs in the album which we have already submitted.

[To witness]) In this photograph, can you identify anyone?

Witness Goldstein: My father, our doctor, Dr. Kellermann, our pharmacist Belsher, another pharmacist - Weishaus, the owner of the grocery store - Sager. [The foregoing are marked in the album: the father - X, Dr. Kellerman - XX, Belsher - XXX, Weishaus - XXXX, Sager - XXXXX].

Q. Do you recognize them in this photograph?

A. Yes.

Q. Whom do you recognize in this photograph that I show you now?

A. Kornfeld - a neighbour of ours; he was conscripted into an Hungarian labour camp, he came on leave, was injured, and was also taken away with us. Here is Mr. Kramer, the owner of a grocery store, and Mr. Roth - owner of an iron store. [The foregoing are marked in the album: Kornfeld - X, Kramer - XX, and Roth - XXX].

Q. Where were these three photographs that I have just shown you taken?

A. The photograph in which I appear, I remember, was taken after the selection in Auschwitz.

Q. Do you remember when the photograph was taken?

A. Yes.

Q. Who took it?

A. A German in SS uniform.

Q. And where were the other two photographs taken?

A. I cannot say.

Q. From the surroundings, does it tell you anything?

A. That it is next to the railway station in Auschwitz, for they travelled together with us.

Presiding Judge: Do these photographs appear in the album?

Attorney General: Yes, Your Honour, we have marked here the places where they appear. We can hand the Court these photographs which the witness has identified, and perhaps the book will also be before the Court.

Presiding Judge: I have marked these three photographs T/1333, T/1334, T/1335.
Was the witness in this photograph?

Attorney General: Yes, with the white kerchief, in the centre.

Here is a picture of people in prisoner’s garb. Can you identify anyone here?

Witness Goldstein: Yes, the pharmacist, Belsher.

Q. The one you recognized in the previous photograph standing at the station?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you recognize him here in prisoner’s garb?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Where is he in these pictures?

Attorney General: In photograph No. 2, marked with three X’s. We shall mark him here with an X.

Presiding Judge: With glasses?

Witness Goldstein: Yes.

Presiding Judge: This photograph will be marked T/1336. This last photograph is not in the book?

Attorney General: I think all the photographs are in the book. We took them from the book and enlarged them. [Shows a photograph to the witness) In this picture, you are not able to identify anyone, but can you recognize the place?

Witness Goldstein: I can also recognize the women - here are the Shmilowitz sisters and the Miller sisters from our village. Four Miller sisters. [The Shmilowitz sisters are marked with X’s and the Miller sisters with circles].

Q. Did they arrive together with you, in the same transport?

A. Yes.

Q. Is this the place where the selection was made?

A. Yes.

Q. In this photograph, are you able to recognize the two girls who can be seen in the front of the picture?

A. I don’t remember their names, but these were twins, also from our village.

Q. Did they also arrive with you?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: The two photographs will be marked T/1337, T/1338.

Attorney General: Is this what a women’s roll-call in Auschwitz looked like? Is that correct?

Witness Goldstein: Correct, but that was not our camp.

Q. But in your camp, too, it looked like that?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: This photograph will be marked T/1339.

Attorney General: [Shows a photograph to the witness] This is what women looked like when going out to work in Auschwitz, is that right?

Witness Goldstein: Yes.

Presiding Judge: This photograph will be marked T/1340.

Attorney General: [Shows a photograph to the witness]) Is that how the camp looked before the selection?

Witness Goldstein: Near the railway.

Presiding Judge: This photograph will be marked T/1341.

Attorney General: [Shows a photograph to the witness] Was that also near the railway, after your arrival?

Witness Goldstein: Yes.

Q. How long did you stand like this, as shown here in the picture?

A. Not for long.

Presiding Judge: This photograph will be marked T/1342.

Attorney General: [Shows a picture to the witness] Where is this?

Witness Goldstein: Near the railway, before the selection.

Presiding Judge: This photograph will be marked T/1343.

Attorney General: [Shows a photograph to the witness] Is this fence which appears here behind the people familiar to you?

Witness Goldstein: Yes, it is an electrified fence with high tension.

Q. Was this the high tension electrified fence of Auschwitz?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: This photograph will be marked T/1344. Is this photograph also in the book?

Attorney General: All of them are in the book. If there should be any difficulty, we can point it out to Mr. Bodenheimer during the recess. [Shows a photograph to the witness] And finally, this photograph. Can you recognize anyone?

Witness Goldstein: I recognize a woman here, but I cannot give you her name, since I don’t remember.

Q. Is she from your village?

A. No. I worked in the hospital in the ghetto, and there were people with us also from the environs.

Q. In what ghetto?

A. Katzow.

Q. Where is she?

A. I have marked her with an X.

Presiding Judge: This photograph will be marked T/1345. [To the witness] Did you recognize someone here?

Attorney General: She recognized a girl who worked with her in the hospital in the Katzow Ghetto. I have marked her with an X.

Mrs. Goldstein, of all these people whom you have identified in these photographs, who survived after the War?

Witness Goldstein: My brother and my sisters.

Q. Of all those whom you recognized in the photographs?

A. I know of one only, whose name was Kramer.

Q. Just that man?

A. I am not aware of anybody else.

Q. You were taken off the freight cars, you were told to leave your personal effects behind?

A. Yes.

Q. Who gave the orders?

A. An SS man.

Q. Were the women separated from the men?

A. Yes.

Q. Did the women and children stand together?

A. Yes.

Q. Did your sister hold her daughter - a baby - and her son, who was five years old?

A. Yes.

Q. An SS man camp up to your sister and asked her...

A. My mother was standing near us. He asked her whether she was our mother, and she said yes. Then he said to her: “Give the children to your mother.” She said:

“No, they are mine, I will not hand them over.” There was an argument. Afterwards, he called to a prisoner in prisoner’s garb to translate for her, possibly in Yiddish, perhaps she would understand better. Then he said to her:

“If you want to live, give your children to your mother.” She said: “No, they are mine, I will not hand them over.” Then the SS man came up to her, took the little girl and gave her to my mother, and he took the boy also by force.

Q. And they are no longer alive?

A. No.

Q. Nor your mother?

A. No.

Q. Were you in Camp C, in Birkenau?

A. Yes.

Q. How many women were there in the whole block?

A. One thousand women.

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

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

Q. You stood there naked?

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

Q. You mean your cheeks?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Your lips or your cheeks?

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

Attorney General: To be gassed?

Witness Goldstein: Yes.

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

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

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

A. Yes. Her name was Brechsler.

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

A. She also used to make selections.

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

A. Yes, but most of them were good.

Q. Most of them were good?

A. Yes.

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

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

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

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

Judge Raveh: Were you given a number?

Witness Goldstein: No.

Q. On what date did you arrive?

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

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

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

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

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