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“Certificates” for Auschwitz

Yehoshua Büchler

  1. Yaakov Rosenberg debarked in Haifa on March 5, 1944. See testimony of Yaakov Ronen (Rosenberg), September 1994, and confirmation from the immigration institutions in Haifa, copy in Moreshet Archives (MA), D.1.6301. Yosef Baumer, a Ha-Shomer ha-Za’ir activist in Slovakia, also immigrated to Palestine at that time and presented the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem with his own list of Auschwitz prisoners for the purpose of equipping them with “certificates.” See Yosef Baumer, April 14, 1944, Ha-Shomer ha-Za’ir Archives, Givat Haviva (5).33.1.
  2. See lists of Slovakian Jewish deportees to camps in Poland sent from Bratislava to Switzerland and Constantinople, MA, D.1.1181/1-50.
  3. See letters from Jewish citizens of neutral and Western countries who had been interned in detention camps, MA, D.1.1179, D.1.1182.
  4. In the matter of the information that leaked from Auschwitz to Slovakia, see letters from Yaakov Rosenberg and Moshe Dachs from Slovakia to Switzerland, MA, D.1.1124/4, D.1 592.
  5. See, for example Tuvia Friling, Arrow in the Dark: David Ben Gurion, the Yishuv Leadership and Rescue Attempts during the Holocaust (Hebrew) (Beer Sheba: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Press, 1998), pp. 763 ff.; Dalia Ofer, “Hostility, Indifference, or Collaboration: Allies and the Rescue Activities of the Yishuv,” Massuah, 23 (1995), pp. 140–158; Dina Porat, The Blue and Yellow Stars of David: The Zionist Leadership in Palestine and the Holocaust 1939- 1945 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990).
  6. Frilling, Arrow in the Mist, pp. 358 ff.
  7. The Jewish Agency officials came into possession of the “Auschwitz Protocols” by the middle of June 1944; see Frilling, Arrow in the Mist, p. 765; see also Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies (London: Michael Joseph, 1981).
  8. Yaakov Rosenberg to Nathan Schwalb and Heini Bornstein, August 27, 1944, MA, C.38.7/2.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Examined inter alia were the archives of Dr. Chaim Pozner at Yad Vashem Archives (YVA) P.12, and Central Zionist Archives (CZA), Record Group 17. The following personalities involved in the affair were asked about it: Nathan Schwalb, Heini Bornstein, Yaakov Ronen (Rosenberg), Rafi Ben-Shalom (Friedel), and Yosef Baumer.
  11. Peter Witte et al., eds., Der Dienstkalender Heinrich Himmlers 1941/42 (Hamburg: Christians, 1999), p. 241.
  12. Cf. table of deportations in 1942 (Slovakia), MA, D.1.5705.
  13. See Emmanuel Frieder, To Deliver their Souls: The Struggle of a Young Rabbi During the Holocaust (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1986), p. 93.
  14. See Gila Fatran, Struggle for Surviving? The Leadership of Slovakian Jews in the Holocaust 1938-1944 (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: Moreshet, 1992), p. 197, and testimony of E. Green, MA, A.1573.
  15. Fatran, Struggle for Survival, pp. 207–208, and Michael Dov Weissmandel, (Hebrew) From the Straits (New York: Emunah, 1960), pp. 72, n. 19.
  16. Fatran, Struggle for Survival, pp. 197 ff.; Frieder, To Deliver their Souls, pp. 89ff.; report of Dionys Lenard, MA, A.1564.
  17. See report of Dionys Lenard, MA, ibid.; and testimony of Alexander Billig, who fled from the Opole ghetto, MA, A. 1453; Fatran, Struggle for Survival, pp. 152 ff.
  18. Gisi Fleischmann to Nathan Schwalb, September 29, 1942, MA, D.1.626.
  19. See Weissmandel, From the Straits, Appendix 23; copies of letters from Auschwitz prisoners to Slovakia, YVA, M.20.93, and M.5.106.
  20. YVA, M.20.93, and MA, D.1.626-3.
  21. See “Addresses of Deported Members of Ha-Shomer ha-Za’ir,” MA, D.1.1187. Concerning confirmations from young women in Auschwitz of the receipt of parcels, see collection of letters from 1943, MA, 1163/2, and D.1 1117/6.
  22. Yaakov Rosenberg to Nathan Schwalb and Heini Bornstein, August 27, 1943, MA, D.1.1124/3; Moshe Dachs to Nathan Schwalb, April 7, 1943, MA, D.1.592.
  23. Yaakov Rosenberg to Heini Bornstein, September 27, 1943, MA, D.1 1124/3.
  24. Moshe Dachs to Nathan Schwalb, May 3, 1943, MA, D.1.626/2. See also letter from G. Foeldi to Menachem Bader in Constantinople, March 31, 1943, MA, D.1.1.592/8. For the lists of Ha-Shomer ha-Za’ir members that were sent from Slovakia, see MA, D.1.1187/1–50. 
  25. See photocopy of letter from German Foreign Ministry, April 24, 1944, concerning the release of a Jewish woman named Helene Brody, in Lore Shelley, Secretaries of Death: Accounts by Former Prisoners Who Worked in the Gestapo of Auschwitz (New York: Shengold Publishers, 1986), p. 194. See also Aurelia Pollak, Three Years of Deportation (Herzliya: Doco-Story, 1999), p. 150.
  26. Ruth Zariz, “Rescue of Jews from the Netherlands by Means of ‘Certificate’ Confirmations” (Hebrew), Yalkut Moreshet, 23 (April 1977), pp. 136–162.
  27. On the mailing of certificate confirmations to Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt, see YVA, P.12.15, 22, 34, and JM.2987-2.
  28. Testimony of Yosef Baumer, given to the author on May 25, 1999. Updated lists of immigration candidates among Slovakian deportees in Auschwitz were sent to Switzerland in June 1943. See MA, D.1.1187/5.
  29. Letter from Heini Bornstein to members of Ha-Shomer ha-Za’ir, Bratislava, August 1, 1943, MA, D.1.1117/7.
  30. Heini Bornstein, Switzerland – An Island: Rescue Activities 1939–1946 (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: Moreshet, 1996), pp. 124ff.
  31. Yaakov Rosenberg to Borenstein, September 27, 1943, MA, D.1.1124.
  32. Notes from complementary talks with Yosef Baumer and Yaakov Ronen in 1999 (in the author’s possession).
  33. Cf. Yaakov Rosenberg to Nathan Schwalb and Heini Bornstein, August 27, 1944, MA, C.38.7/2.
  34. Zariz, “Rescue of Jews,” p. 140; The Schutzmacht was the Swiss office that represented British interests in Germany.
  35. For the procedures used in issuing and forwarding certificates, see ibid., p. 142.
  36. See Documents Diplomatiques Suisses (Bern: Bentei Verlag, 1991), Vol. 13, pp. 331–332.
  37. Dienstkalender, p. 86.
  38. Zariz, “Rescue of Jews,” p. 141.
  39. Monika Gödecke, Konzentrationslager Bergen-Belsen, Berichte und Dokumente (Hannover: Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen, 1995), Document 4/1, p. 3.
  40. Ibid., pp. 31–32.
  41. Register of All Persons Saved from Anti-Jewish Persecution in Slovakia, Vol. I–III (Bratislava: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1945).
  42. The survivors located were Magda (Malka) Hellinger, Malvina (Malka) Gertner, MancaMargite Schwalb, Shoshana Schweit, Lilli Sonnenfeld, Leah Schaiowitz, Alica Reiner, Magda Cohen, and Adolf Burger.
  43. See Shelley, Secretaries of Death, pp. 163 ff.
  44. One woman survivor, Shoshana Schweit, today living in the Czech Republic, asked not to publish her testimony.
  45. Conversation with Magda Cohen (today Leah Horowitz), February 23, 1993.
  46. Conversation with Magda Hellinger (today Magda Blau), January 6, 1995; see also testimony of Magda Blau, MA, A.986.
  47. Quoted in the testimony of Yosef Baumer, May 23, 1999 (in the possession of the author).
  48. Conversation with Lilli Sonnenfeld, January 14, 1995.
  49. Manca Švalbová, Vyhasnuté oči (Bratislava: Requiem, 1948).
  50. Testimony of Margite Schwalb, MA, A.1596.
  51. Conversation with Alica Reiner, November 3, 1999.
  52. Conversation with Malka Gertner, February 3, 1993. See also Doris Fürstenberg, Jeden Moment war dieser Tod (Düsseldorf: Droste, 1986), pp. 160–161.
  53. Adolf Burger, Unternehmen Bernhard: die Fälscherwerkstatt im KZ-Sachsenhausen (Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 1992), p. 166.
  54. Cf. Burger’s testimonies and publications, MA, A.293, A.332; Adolf Burger, Des Teufels Werkstatt. Im Fälscher Kommando des KZ Sachsenhausen (Berlin: Neues Leben, 1983); idem, Dalšie svedectvo (Bratislava: Našé vojsko, 1981).
  55. Idem, Ďáblova dílna (Prague: Svoboda, 1991), p. 109.
  56. Letter from Egon Roth, June 23, 1944, MA, D.1.577.