JERUSALEM, Israel. May 2nd: At the Eichmann trial today a man who escaped death after?
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Background: JERUSALEM, Israel. May 2nd: At the Eichmann trial today a man who escaped death after German SS guards had forced him to dig his own grave, told the court that he was later arrested and put into a "Death Brigade."
Dr. Leon Wells, a Polish-born American scientist, gave his evidence in English. He had earlier told how his four sisters - including one aged seven - had been killed in Belsen extermination camp. His whole family had been killed by the Germans.
He said that in June 1943 forty men, including himself, were taken from Yanovska camp for what the Nazis called "road mending work". But this was the "Death Brigade" and their job was to "wipe away all evidence of the murders committed by the Nazis...to remove bodies from their graves...to burn the bodies, grind the bones into powder, remove from the ashes of the bodies valuables such as gold teeth." They then had to blow the ashes to the wind, to cover up the graves so that no one would ever find the burial places.
Eichmann, his lips a thin line, appeared deadly pale in his glass cage while sobs could be heard from the audience.
Wells said that when two thousand bodies were piled up it was difficult to keep the flames going. Some of the bodies were alive at the time of burning. The "Death Brigade" were given hooks, petrol, oil and a bone-grinding machine which was like "a cement mixer", Wells told the judges.
Asked what had made him go on...what was the force that drove him to try to survive, Wells replied "...a sense of responsibility. The need to tell future generations and the world."