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‘death March’ of 50,000 Hungarian Jews Described at Eichmann Trial

June 2, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An eye-witness described today at the trial of Adolf Eichmann a “death march” of Hungarian Jews which climaxed Eichmann’s accelerated effort to annihilate the remaining Jews of Hungary in the fall of 1944 before the anticipated entrance of the Russian Army into Budapest.

Arye Breslauer, a former official of the Budapest Jewish community, said that an estimated 50,000 Jews took part in the death march from Budapest to Austria in November 1944, in which 6,000 to 10,000 Jews died of hunger, cold and disease.

The testimony and relevant documents were submitted by the prosecution as it neared the close of the Hungarian chapter of the case charging Eichmann with responsibility for the deaths by disease, starvation, exposure, torture, shooting and burning of 6,000,000 European Jewish men, women and children.

Mr. Breslauer said he worked with the Swedes and the Swiss to save some Jews from Eichmann’s last big murder drive but that he could not balk the Nazis and the Hungarian fascists. He said that on November 23, 1944 he drove to Hegyeshalom, on the Hungarian-Austrian frontier, on behalf of the Swiss Embassy in Budapest. He testified he had certificates from the Swiss Embassy to hand out to the Jews, stating they were under the protection of the Swiss Government. He was too late.

Documents introduced by the prosecution in support of the witness demonstrated that Eichmann initiated the death march. The documents were designed to prove that Eichmann had made a desperate last minute effort, before the arrival of the Russians, to round up 200,000 Jews in Budapest for extermination. The prosecution said he had already succeeded in sending 450,000 to the Auschwitz factory.

Mr. Breslauer testified that the vanguard of the 50,000 marchers was made up of the very old, the young, children, pregnant women. He said the marchers walked 137 miles in seven or eight days to the Austrian frontier where Eichmann’s deputy in that area, Dieter Wisliceny, took charge. He told the court that thousands died and the weak were shot.

He included in his testimony a tribute to the “selfless devotion” of the young Swedish diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg, who was sent by the King of Sweden to Budapest to try to save some Jews.

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