Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Testifying in Nazi Trials

On December 20, 1963, the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial began.

In the following video, Jewish Auschwitz survivor and artist Yehuda B. talks about his experiences as a witness in the Eichmann trial and two years later in the Auschwitz trial.

Zeugenschaft in NS-Prozessen. Ausschnitte aus dem Video-Interview mit dem ehemaligen jüdischen KZ-Häftling Yehuda B., Archiv "Zwangsarbeit 1939-1945", Dauer 07:07 Minuten, Schnitt: Tobias Kilgus, Alexandra Neumann, Cord Pagenstecher © Freie Universität Berlin 2011

Witnessing in Nazi Trials

On December 20, 1963, the largest criminal trial in German post-war history began in Frankfurt am Main. The defendants were 23 guards and members of the camp administration at Auschwitz. In the course of the trial, more than 360 witnesses were questioned in court: a very difficult task for many survivors. After two defendants retired due to illness, the trial ended in August 1965 with 17 convictions and 3 acquittals.

The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, which received worldwide attention, as well as the Eichmann Trial in 1961, demonstrated the importance of the testimony of survivors of Nazi persecution. It was not until later that historical scholarship also took an interest in contemporary witnesses.

Legal testimony in a court case is, of course, subject to different conditions than testimony in an oral history interview. Instead of individual, often traumatic memories, criminal proceedings such as the Auschwitz trial demand legally conclusive statements about the responsibility of individual perpetrators. Yehuda B., who testified as a witness in the Eichmann and Auschwitz trials, reports on his experiences.

Biographical data

Yehuda B.

  • 1929 Birth in Moravian Ostrava (today Czech Republic)
  • 1942 Deportation to Theresienstadt with parents and older sister
  • 1943 Deportation of the family to Auschwitz-Birkenau, member of the "Birkenau Boys
  • 1945 Death march to Mauthausen and Gunskirchen, liberation by the Americans, return to Prague, accommodation in Přemysl Pitter's orphanage in Štiřín Castle near Prague
  • 1946 Moves to Palestine, begins to study art
  • 1959 Appointed professor of graphic arts and drawing
  • 1961 Testimony in the Eichmann trial
  • 1964 Testimony in the Auschwitz trial
  • Art exhibitions in many European museums
  • Interview za398 »
  • Duration: 0:56 hours, Date: 2006-09-27, Language: German