Survivors of Warsaw Ghetto Revolt Testify at Eichmann Trial
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Survivors of Warsaw Ghetto Revolt Testify at Eichmann Trial

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Survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto testified here today in the trial of Adolf Eichmann, picturing for the court the heroism of the Jews in the Ghetto, their uprising against heavily armed, hardened Nazi forces, and their pitiful efforts to keep Jewish education alive among the children in the Ghetto.

The most dramatic recital of the events leading up to and including the last stand of the Warsaw Ghetto Jews against the Nazis, starting on Passover Eve, 1943, was given in testimony by a man and his wife who are among the few survivors of the Ghetto revolt. They are Antek -Zuckerman and Mrs. Zivia Lubotkin-Zuckerman.

For days, Presiding Justice Moshe Landau, listening to witnesses telling how, in many cases, several hundred Nazi, guards ruled over tens of thousands of Jews, has been demanding to know; “Why didn’t you fight back?” Today the court heard the answers from those who did battle.”

“We did not have a chance, ” testified the day’s first witness, Mrs. Lubotkin. “It was quite clear to us that we had no prospect of winning in the military sense. But we Knew that, despite their strength, we would be the ultimate winners because we believed in a regime of justice to man.”


Before Mrs. Lubotkin took the stand, Justice Landau announced that the three-man court trying Eichmann had agreed to ask a West German court to examine four defense witnesses whose names had been submitted by chief defense counsel Robert Servatius.The four witnesses are: former SS Major General Franz Six; former SS Major Hermann Krumey; Max Merten, former Nazi governor of Salonika, Greece; and former Nazi Foreign Ministry official Eberhard von Thadden.

Dr. Servatius had asked that the four former Nazis appear in the Jerusalem court as defense witnesses. But Attorney General Gideon Hausner, the chief prosecutor, said all four would be arrested, if they came to Israel, for trial under the same law against the Nazis under which Eichmann is being tried. Justice Landau said today that the four will be examined by representatives of Israel and of the defense counsel in a West German court. He gave both sides until Friday to submit questions to be asked of the four in Germany.

Mrs. Lubotkin testified that, after Yom Kippur, 1940, the Nazis packed 350,000 Jews into the Warsaw Ghetto, an area which she said could barely hold 150,000 at the most. “For days and nights on end, Jewish families stood in the streets, and there was nowhere to let them in, ” she testified.

She said the ghetto became “one vast jail” in which 12 to 15 people were crowded into one room. Plagues swept through the incredibly Jammed area and “there was no possibility of separating the sick and the healthy; and sometimes there was no possibility of separating the living from the dead.”

“Somehow, the Jewish youth in the ghetto became organized and a spirit of uprising developed, ” she said. “Not a revolution but a social uprising, a movement to keep the image of God, which the Germans were trying to destroy.” When the youth movement learned that the Nazis intended to annihilate Jewry, “they took arms.”


Mrs. Lubotkin described how a handful of Jewish youths opened fire on a group of SS men who had surrounded them on the midnight of Pass over Eve, 1943. The Jewish “arsenal,” she said, consisted of two rifles,20 hand grenades, some hand-made bombs and a few “Molotov cocktails.”

“It was a happy moment for the boys and girls in our bunkers,” she told the court.”For months we had been waiting to shoot at Germans. We saw Germans fleeing in terror. They left many of their own wounded and dead unattended. For the first time, we saw German blood on the Warsaw streets where, previously, only Jewish blood had flowed. Only two of our people were killed in that first onslaught. We knew, then, the Germans would pay dearly for our lives.”

The Germans brought in their soldiers in force, then, she continued, bringing in heavy armor. “We still repulsed them, by daylight,” she recounted.”But the fury of the battle.

increased. Our losses were growing heavier, theirs lighter.” It was only after that first battle, she told the court, when she went out of the bunker “passing as an Aryan, “that she realized how greatly the Germans had been demoralized, counting up their casualties as at least one hundred dead.


Antek Zuckerman, a member of the Ghetto underground command; described the first action taken by the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. It consisted of burning scores of houses in the Ghetto, in an effort to attract the Russian bombers. The Jewish underground fighters, Mr. Zuckerman testified, received “some weapons” from two Polish resistance movements, Armia Ludwa and Armia Kraiowa. But the right-wing Polish underground, NSZ, collaborated with the Germans in annihilating Jews, he charged.

The witness also accused the Polish Government-in-Exile, whose headquarters were in London, of withholding ” a considerable part of the Knowledge of these facts from the world,” On the other hand, he said, some of the Polish resistance leaders inside Poland, who knew of the facts, also “censored” the information, keeping it from their own governmental leaders in London.

Mr. Zuckerman testified about the Jewish youth underground which, he said, embraced about 20,000 young Jews among the various partisan and underground resistance groups outside the Ghetto in Eastern Poland, Southwest Russia, as well as in the ghettoes of Warsaw, Vilna and Cracow.

The efforts to keep education among the children alive, and to preserve a history of the events for posterity, were described by two other Ghetto survivors, Dr. Adolf Berman and Mrs. Rachel Auerbach. Dr, Berman told of the Nazis prohibiting the organization of classes for children which he had tried to form at first openly. Jewish boys and girls up to the age of 14 roamed the ghetto streets, turning into beggars, street vendors and waifs.

Other witnesses, at the afternoon session, told of Jewish underground work during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Rivka Kupfer, the widow of Cracow underground commander Dolek Liebeskind, testified about her work, when she acted as a courier to the various ghettoes, to warn the Jews they were facing imminent liquidation. She told how, when her husband had been caught by the Nazis, another commander took over. That man; and a colleague, fought the Germans who found them until they had only two bullets left–then they shot themselves.

A frail, middle-aged Israeli woman–like all of the other survivors heard today, living in a kibbutz–told of her activities. She is Bat Shiva Rufeisen, whose underground assignment was to carry money and smuggle explosives into the ghettoes, as well as to deliver messages to the underground from the Jewish command.

In every case, Dr. Servatius, Eichmann’s lawyer, declined to cross-examine any of today’s witness.

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