R' Michoel Ber Weissmandl

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Rabbi Chaim Michoel Dov Weissmandl

Hebrew: רבי מיכאל בער ווייסמאנדל
Also Known As: "‎מן המצר-רבי מיכאל דוב ווייסמאנדל", "R' Chaim Weissmandel", "R' Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl", "Michael Ber Weissmandl", "Rabbi Michael Weissmandel"
Birthplace: Debrecen, Hajdu-Bihar, Hungary
Death: Died in Mt Kisco, NY, USA
Cause of death: Heart Attack
Place of Burial: Woodbridge, New Jersey, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Yosef Weissmandl and Gella Weissmandl
Husband of Bracha Rochel Weissmandl (Ungar) and Leah Weissmandl
Father of Yudit Baila Weissmandl; Margolis Nechama Weissmandl; Yosef Yakov Weissmandl; Rivka Shulamis Weissmandl; Esther Hindel Weissmandl and 6 others
Brother of Moshe Dovid Weissmandl; Amrom Weissmandl; Esther Yitel Stern and Rochel Leah Weissmandl

Managed by: Shulem Jeremias
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About R' Michoel Ber Weissmandl

Rabbi Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl (1903–1957) (known as Rabbi Michael Ber Weissmandl) was a rabbi and shtadlan who became known for his efforts to save the Jews of Slovakia from extermination at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust.


Rabbi Michael Dov-Ber Weissmandl is not as widely known as he should be. He should be renowned for his work in rescuing thousands of Eastern European Jews during World War II -- the fact that he is not is due to his being a vehement critic of the Zionists for not doing more to save European Jewry. He is, however, well known among the subset of ultra-Orthodox Jews that are anti-Zionist, for several reasons: his rescue work, his research on religious topics and the fact that he was head of the Nitra Yeshiva -- first, in Slovakia and, later, when he moved it to the United States.

Weissmandl was born in 1903, in Debrecen (today in Hungary but, then, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) but the family soon moved to Trnava (today in Slovakia but, then, also part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire).

Weissmandl moved to Nitra (also in Slovakia -- about 50 miles east of Bratislava) in 1931. In the mid-1930s, he traveled extensively throughout Europe, to meet leading Jewish scholars and to visit libraries. In 1935, traveled to Palestine.

He became involved in rescuing fellow Jews even before the start of World War II. In 1938, he gave assistance to the Jews of Burgenland (in Austria) who were expelled by the SS and dumped on a sandbank in the middle of the Danube. During World War II, he rescued thousands of Slovak Jews by devising various rescue schemes, including bribing top Nazi and Slovak officials. Even after his arrest and deportation to Sered concentration camp (about 15 miles from Nitra on the road to Bratislava) in the beginning of September 1944 he managed to sneak out from the camp and urge the Jews of Bratislava to hide.

He was deported to Auschwitz at the end of September but jumped from the train taking him to the gas chambers -- his wife and children died in Birkenau.

Shortly before the Russians arrived in Bratislava, Weissmandl was taken on a transport organized by Rudolf Kastner (Rezsö Kasztner -- a Hungarian Zionist who was accused, after the war, of saving only Jews whom he considered as suitable material for emigration to Palestine), and went to Switzerland.

Weissmandl was a leader of the "Working Group", a group of Jews from the Bratislava area who worked together (despite their otherwise mutually-antagonistic politics -- they included orthodox, secular assimilationist and Zionist Jews) to save Eastern European Jewry. The "Working Group" organized the Slovak labor camps, which were built to prevent the deportation of Slovak Jews to Poland, but was also involved in the underground network created for smuggling Jewish fugitives to safety.

The "Working Group" was also instrumental in the creation and dissemination of the "Auschwitz Protocols", the first detailed reports about the Birkenau extermination camp. (Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, two Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz, escaped from the camp on 7 April 1944 and provided detailed reports on the murder practiced there. Two weeks later, the escapees reached Slovakia and met with Adre Steiner, a representative of the Working Group.

On the basis of this meeting, Oscar Krasnansky wrote a 30-page report, the "Auschwitz Protocols." The protocols described in detail the murderous actions being committed at the camp, the number of Jews who had been murdered there, and preparations that were being made there for the murder of some 800,000 Hungarian Jews. On 16 May 1944, the gist of the report was forwarded to the West after several previous attempts had failed. After its contents were disseminated, the world understood clearly that Auschwitz was, in fact, an extermination camp.)

The most controversial activity of the "Working Group", which until today prevents its inclusion among the most important Jewish resistance movements, is its attempt to save the Jews of Europe known as the "Europa Plan".

During the height of the war, Weissmandl managed to stop the deportation of 25,000 Rumanian Jews by bribing Adolf Eichmann's second-in-command, at a cost of $50,000, or two dollars a head.

Encouraged by this success, Weissmandl conceived a more ambitious plan: if the Nazis were susceptible to bribery on this relatively modest scale, why not on a grand scale? why not try and buy the life of every Jew in Europe? The "Europa Plan", as it was called, was an attempt to rescue every remaining Jew by giving the Nazis a massive bribe.

Weissmandl saw that the tide of the war was turning and surmised that those Nazis who still hoped to win would want to use the Jews to put pressure on the Allies while Others, who feared future Allied retribution if they were defeated, would view such a deal as a way to curry favor after the war. In any event, Weissmandl's intention was simply that the Nazis should start to appreciate that live Jews were more useful than dead ones.

By paying huge ransom sums directly to the Nazis, the deportations throughout Europe were to be stopped, and the killing centers were to be dismantled. Members of the "Working Group" were convinced that they managed to stop the deportations from Slovakia by a direct bribe to the local SS representative. They believed that a substantial sum given to the right person might stop the ongoing slaughter, and they held direct negotiations with the SS representatives responsible for the so-called "Final Solution", the murder of European Jews.

These activities never received the expected support from the Free World. The same model of negotiations was proposed by the "Working Group" at the time of the deportation of Jews from Hungary, where it led to the much publicized Joel Brand and Rudolf Kastner negotiations directly with Adolf Eichmann. After the War, the members of the "Working Group" accused the leaders of the Free World of turning blind eye on the Holocaust, and also of ignoring the pleas for help coming from Europe. Weissmandl included the Zionist leadership into this camp of traitors. As a result, all his work was labeled as anti-Zionist propaganda. Thus, the story of the "Working Group" was kept out of the official history books.

A film trilogy, Among Blind Fools, was made about Weissmandl in the 1990s. The makers of this film say that

In the West, the reasons for the silence surrounding the Working Group were ... purely political. The theme of Jewish negotiations with the Nazis is still very hot in the countries with substantial Jewish communities, and it is sometimes used as a battle tool in the power struggles between the various political wings of modern Jewry: the theme of the Working Group is mostly abused in the Zionist-Orthodox conflict.

In this connection, we have found out that Claude Lanzmann was planning a whole segment about the Working Group for his famous project "Shoah". But there is not a single mention of the Working Group in the final cut of the film. Why, when he contacted most of the then living witnesses of the Working Group activities, when he even visited the Nitra yeshiva in Mount Kisco? Why did he keep writing letters to the survivors assuring them that in his film, the Working Group will be finally given the credit it deserves? Why did he finally break all lines of communication with these interviewees? We don't know. The witnesses themselves claim that this was caused by the Zionist money entering Lanzmann's project upon condition that Weissmandl's name and any mentions of the Working Group would be erased.

Very few students of the Nitra yeshiva survived WW2 but some returned there after the war. However, continuing anti-Semitism led Weissmandl to move the yeshiva to the US in 1946.

Weissmandl refused to take part in the Kastner trial in 1954 (A film of the trial, in Hebrew with English subtitles, was made by the Israel Broadcasting Authority in 1995.)

Rabbi Weissmandl died in 1957 and is buried in Adas Yeraim cemetery, New Jersey. In 1960, three years after his death, a book he wrote about his war-time activities was published -- it's title was "Min Ha Metzar" (Hebrew, "from the narrow constricted space" or "from the depths of distress"), a phrase from Psalm 118, "Min ha-metzar karati Yah, anani ba-merchav Yah" which means "I cry out to Yah from the narrow constricted place, answer me with Yah's broad open spaces".

In his book Weissmandl accused Jews outside the sphere of Nazi influence of not doing enough to help the Jews who were in danger.

In this book, Weissmandl gave his recollection of a letter which he had received in 1942 from Nathan Schwalb, refusing money to save Jews. The use of this letter by Jim Allen in the play "Perdition" led to a libel suit by Schwalb in 1987, a suit which was thrown out by the courts in 1991; see a collection of pieces relating to the play and the trial.

A web-site in memory of Rabbi Weissmandl has been created, which contains several interesting texts.


The messages the Zionists ignored




THE KASTNER TRIAL - shown at the Jewish Film Festival in 1997

Czech film about Rabbi Weissmandl: Among Blind Fools

The Nizkor Project: Dedicated to the millions of Holocaust victims who suffered and died.

His letter provides shocking and disturbing evidence of how the Zionist leadership ignored the growing evidence of mass murder and crimes against humanity being perpetrated against Europe's Jews.

One of Weissmandl's letters

During the Kasztner case, Menachem Bader of the Jewish Agency was asked

'Did you receive this letter from Rabbi Weissmandl?"

He answered: "Letters like this came to us every day".

Weissmandl later published the following letter, which is a literal translation of the letter the Jewish Rescue Committee in Czechoslovakia received from the Zionist "Jewish" Agency Executive Offices in Switzerland. This was in reply to the call of the Jewish Rescue Committee for help, with documentary evidence furnished, concerning the fate of millions of Jewish people in Nazi occupied Europe.

"We are writing to remind you of the one factor of which you must never lose sight: that ultimately, the Allies will win the war. After their victory, territorial boundaries will be reshaped as they were after the First World War. Then, the way will be clear for our purpose at this time, with the war drawing to a close, we must do everything in our power to change Eretz Yisrael to Medinat Yisrael and many steps have already been taken in this regard.

Therefore, we must turn a deaf ear to the pleas and cries emanating from Eastern Europe. Remember this: all the allies have suffered many losses, and if we also do not offer human sacrifices, how can we gain the right to sit at the conference table when the territorial boundaries are reshaped? Accordingly, it is foolhardy and brazen for us to negotiate in terms of money or supplies in exchange for Jewish lives. How dare we ask of the allied powers to barter money for lives while they are sustaining heavy casualties daily? So, insofar as the masses are concerned: RAK B'DAM TIHJE LANU HAAREZ, (Eretz Yisroel will be ours only by paying with blood), but as far as our immediate circle is concerned, ATEM TAJLU. The messenger bearing this letter will supply you with funds for this purpose".

Weissmandl says that :

After I accustomed myself to the peculiar writing, I trembled when I realized the import of RAK B'DAM TIHJE LANU HAAREZ. But many weeks passed, and I was still confounded by the meaning of ATEM TAJLU. Until one day, it struck me. ATEM TAJLU meant "You escape", for the word "tiyul" (walking trip) was used by them as a euphemistic code for "escape". They meant to say - you fifteen or twenty "party members", escape from Czechoslovakia and save your hides. The price of Eretz Yisroel is the blood of the men and women, hoary sages, and babes in arms - but not YOUR blood! Let us not spoil this plan by giving the Axis powers to save Jewish lives. But for you, comrades, I have enclosed carfare for your escape. What a nightmare! The Zionist agent "diplomat" comes to Czechoslovakia and says 'Now is a very critical time. But comparatively speaking it is not at all critical for you trapped Jews. For there is an emergency of far greater proportions; namely, BINYAN HA-ARETZ (the prize of Medinat Yisrael). Shed your blood cheerfully, for your blood is cheap. But for your blood, the Land (of Israel) will be ours!

But these were no ordinary letters - the one reproduced below from Rabbi Weissmandl, like the one above were from first-hand witnesses of the holocaust. Note how Rabbi Weissmandl asks that the crematoria in Auschwitz be bombed from the air. How it is "sharply visible" - he clearly gave information that he hoped would be passed on to help Allied air crews bomb the murder camps. Also note that he enclosed a map of the camps - where it that today? Weissmandl knew the bombing would delay the work of the Nazis, which is why they specifically asked for the Allies to bomb "persistently" all the roads leading from Eastern Hungary to Poland and the bridges in the neighborhood of Karpatarus.

He advised the the Zionist leadership to "Drop all other business to get this done . . . Remember that one day of your idleness kills twelve thousand souls". Did they do this ? The overwhelming evidence suggests that the Zionists ignored this - and other pleas - to save the majority of Jews in Europe from the holocaust, instead they pursued the policy of building the dream of Zionism - the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.

After the war, Rabbi Weissmandl expressed his frustration in The Holocaust Victims Accuse, a book by Rabbi Moshe Shonfeld (Neturei Karta, USA, New York, 1977):

Why didn't they try, from their place of freedom, to break through to us and send us a secret messenger? This question becomes greater when we see that the governments of Czechoslovakia and Poland, which were in free lands, sent secret messengers daily to their loyal people in the occupied countries. And therefore our amazement grows. Why don't the great organizers of Jewry use these messengers if they have no other way? And during all of the years since we developed this method, those in the free countries did not once attempt to send messengers to us - rather, WE had to send them and to pay for them. How many did we send them only for the to return empty-handed - because those over there did not have time to answer ?

In answer to this, Rabbi Shofeld quotes the Zionist leader Yitzhak Greenbaum, who, after the war, stated:

When they asked me, couldn't you give money out of the United Jewish Appeal funds for the rescue of Jews in Europe, I said, 'NO!' and I say again 'NO!' . . . one should resist this wave which pushes the Zionist activities to secondary importance.

Here is the orginal letter from Rabbi Michael Dov Weissmandl:

May 15th, 1944 - In a cave near Lublin, Poland.

"Sholom and Greetings.

We send you this special message to inform you that yesterday the Germans began the deportation of Jews from Hungary. It is the beginning of deportation of all the Hungarian Jews.

Every day, twelve thousand souls are being taken off. Four deportations of forty-five such train-loads move daily out of Hungary. Within twenty six days all that area will have been deported.

The deported ones go to Auschwitz to be put to death by cyanide gas. A great number are dead on arrival. The Germans allow a few of the strongest to stay alive. Those who are allowed to live are branded with a number burned into their arm and the Star of David burned into their chest.

Most of these privileged ones die within a month. Others take their place.

Those who go directly from the train to the gas chambers to be suffocated are not branded. They are completely consumed in the ovens and leave no evidence behind. These are 95% of each transport.

The dead bodies are burned in specially made ovens. Each oven burns 12 bodies an hour. In February there were 36 ovens burning. We have learned that more have been built.

Information supplied us by a few eyewitnesses reveals that in February there were four disposal buildings. We have learned that more have been built since then.

Formerly, the Germans killed and burned the Jews in the Forest of Birkenwald, near Auschwitz. Now the killing and burning take place in the buildings shown on the enclosed map.

In December, the Germans built special trains to transport the Jews of Hungary to their extermination. This is the schedule of Auschwitz, from yesterday to the end; twelve thousand Jews - men, women and children, old men, infants, healthy and sick ones - are to be suffocated daily and their bones and ashes are to be used to fertilize the German fields.

And you - our brothers in Palestine, in all the countries of freedom, and you, ministers of all the kingdom - how do you keep silent in the face of this great murder ? Silent while thousand on thousands, reaching now to six million Jews, were murdered. And silent now while tens of thousands are still being murdered and waiting to be murdered? Their destroyed hearts cry to you for help as they bewail your cruelty. Brutal you are and murderers too you are, because of the cold-bloodedness of the silence in which you watch.

Because you sit with folded arms and you do nothing, though you could stop or delay the murder of Jews at this very hour.

In the name of the blood of the thousands on thousands who have been murdered we beg, we plead, we cry out and demand that you take action, that you do deeds now - at once !

That the Ministers of Kingdoms and all the Lands raise a loud and piercing outcry that must enter the ears of the world, the ears of the German people, the ears of the Hungarian people. Let them cry out a warning to the German murderers. Let them proclaim that they know all that has been done in the past, and that which is still being done. And the Pope, himself, should join in this cry of outrage against the German murderers.

Let this outcry be heard over all the radios and read in all the newspapers of the world, that unless they stop at once the deportations of Hungary's Jews - then will Germany be forever exiled from civilization.

We ask that the crematoria in Auschwitz be bombed from the air. They are sharply visible, as shown on the enclosed map.

Such bombing will delay the work of the German murderers.

What is more important - to bomb persistently all the roads leading from Eastern Hungary to Poland and to bomb persistently the bridges in the neighborhood of Karpatarus. Drop all other business to get this done. Remember that one day of your idleness kills twelve thousand souls.

You, our brothers, sons of Israel, are you insane? Don't you know the Hell around us? For whom are you saving your money?

How is it that all our pleadings affect you less than the whimpering of a beggar standing in your doorway? Murderers! Madmen! Who is it that gives charity? You who toss a few pennies from your safe homes?

Or we who give our blood in the depths of Hell?

There is only one thing that may be said in your exoneration - that you do not know the truth. This is possible. The villain does his job so shrewdly that only a few guess the truth. We have told you the truth several times. Is it possible that you believe our murderers more than you believe us? May God open your eyes and give you heart to rescue in these last hours the remainder.

Most important is that which I write about the bombing of the Auschwitz Crematoria and the bridges leading to them.

Such bombing can vitally delay the evil work of our slaughterers. And God who keeps alive the last remnant of Israel will show His mercy for which I pray. I pray as I write out of the sea of tears of the people of Israel. We wait God's help.

One from the Market who witnesses the woes of his people"

(Rabbi Michael Dov Weissmandl, Exhibit of the Defence, no. 36, State Attorney v. M. Grünwald, District Court, Jerusalem, CC124/53)



Modern "Bible Codes" pioneered by R' Weissmandl


Ironically Germany's WW2 "Enigma Codes" revived work on the Bible Codes via computer technology it gave birth to.

Just a quarter of a century after the Holocaust, there was a fortuitous convergence of occurrences that were to move the Bible codes from obscurity into the international spotlight. The war that brought death and devastation to so many lives also gave the world the most fiendishly clever code ever developed – Germany’s the Enigma Code.

Breaking this code raised the study of statistics and probabilities to new heights, and brought about the invention of the computer.

Some time later, the advent of the personal computer made it possible to carry out searches for codes in seconds that had taken previously hours and even days to do. Researchers inspired by Weissmandl’s work, and using it as a starting point, began to develop the software necessary to perform these searches.

Rabbi Michael Weissmandl, considered a "Torah prodigy", started doing code research when the Nazis moved into his country and started "resettling" his fellow Jews. He escaped and friends smuggled him out of Eastern Europe. He eventually resettled in New York. where he started his own Yeshiva. In his Yeshiva classes, he sometimes discussed Bible Codes from time to time, but never in any detail. His students took his research to Israel, where researchers then studied Weissmandl's work in considerable detail. Most of of our modern code research is based upon Weissmandl's original work.

Rabbi Azriel Tauber, one of Weissmandl's students, said that R' Weissmandl, in the pre-computer era, wrote out the entire Torah on index cards, with 100 letters on each card, ten rows of ten letters each, and then looked for words spelled out with equidistant skips.

tWRR’s Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis was based on the original work of Rabbi Weissmandl. It described the discovery of the encoded names of 34 notable figures, the Great Sages, in Jewish history, along with the dates of their birth or death, in the first book of the Bible, and the statistical significance of each code. Prior to its publication, the paper was reviewed by a panel of referees, a process that took years to complete. The referees found the math used to compile the probabilities to be ironclad.

The Bible Code, by Michael Drosnin: pages 20-21,189


The Holocaust encyclopedia, by Walter Laqueur, Judith Baumel ; page 166


Escaping Auschwitz: a culture of forgetting, by Ruth Linn; page 26



The Europa Plan by Dr. Efraim Zuroff








Rabbi Michael Dov-Ber Weissmandl, son-in-law and close associate of Rabbi Unger of Nitra, began his public and social activities during the Nazi period when Jews were deported from Slovakia, engaging non-Jewish emissaries to send food, clothing, and money to the deportees temporarily "settled" in the territories of the General Government in Poland.

Weissmandl belonged to the core of the underground "Working Group" and was the initiator of the Europa Plan to rescue the remnants of European Jewry. His letters, addressed to the Jewish leadership of the free world "in the style of the Marranos," castigated indifference and begged for action to save the Jewish remnants from extermination.

In April 1944, he warned Hungarian Jewry of the impending deportations. A month later, he implored world Jewish leaders to demand that the Allies bomb the murder installations at Auschwitz.

In the autumn of 1944, he jumped from a deportation train on its way to Auschwitz. After the war he lived in the United States, where he died. His book of memoirs, Min ha-Metzar ("From the Depths") was published posthumously in 1960.


Siegmunt Forst

Story RG-60.5004, Tape 3119-3124


Interview between R' Weissmandl and Siegmunt Forst

Steven Spielberg Film & Video Archive:

  • **Clips that are viewable online are selected excerpts from the complete interview, which can be viewed at the Museum.***

TAPE 3119 -- Camera Rolls #12,14,15,17 -- 01:00:02 to 01:38:00

Lanzmann asks Forst about when he first met Rabbi Michael Weissmandl. Forst explains that he did some calligraphy for a book that Weissmandel was publishing. He describes Weissmandl at length. Rabbi Weissmandl saw as early as 1938 that Hitler would take over Europe. He met with the Archbishop of Canterbury several times and tried to convince him to use his contacts with the Canadian government to allow Jews to emigrate there. Forst, a Viennese Jew, moved to New York shortly before the war broke out. As events in Europe progressed, letters and appeals for money from Weissmandl were read aloud in Forst's synagogue. Forst met Weissmandl again after the war when the rabbi came to Williamsburg. He was a completely broken man. Forst visited Weissmandl, who told him story after story about his experiences, which Forst found overwhelming. As an example, Forst tells the story of when Weissmandl jumped out of a train bound for Auschwitz, leaving his wife and children behind because they refused to come with him. Forst mentions that six months before his deportation Weissmandl publicized plans of Auschwitz that he obtained from two escapees. Forst further describes Weissmandl's manner when he met him after the war. Weissmandl saw Forst as a representative of those people who knew what was happening to the Jews, but simply went about their own business and did nothing. Forst says that Weissmandl halted the transports for many months with promises of money to the Nazis. He says that Weissmandl was the old-fashioned type of Jew who existed by bribing non-Jews and who knew that physical resistance was not possible.

TAPE 3120 -- Camera Rolls #18,19,21,22 -- 02:00:02 to 02:30:58

Lanzmann asks Forst to return to the fact that Weissmandl saved himself and left his family behind. Forst says that this is the essence of Weissmandl's heroism. His natural drive would have been to go to his death with his family and he did the opposite. Lanzmann and Forst discuss this idea of heroism and its relationship to Judaism. Forst talks about Weissmandl's actions during the war. He mentions his dealings with Wisliceny and efforts which resulted in the delay of transports. Weissmandl thought that bribing the Nazis was the only way to save the Jews. At Lanzmann's urging, Forst revisits the subject of Weissmandl's mental condition after the war. He talks about how Weissmandl would go to the Bowery neighborhood where there were derelicts and people who lived on the street. Forst says, "Everybody who was outside this order attracted him, because he himself was outside this order." He describes a meeting between Weissmandl and Stephen Wise.

TAPE 3121 -- Camera Rolls #23,24,26 -- 03:00:03 to 03:32:04

Forst talks about the meeting between Weissmandl and Steven Wise, president of the World Jewish Congress. Forst says that Weissmandl did not trust assimilationist or "non-authentic" Jews like Wise and Solly Meyer, the representative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in Switzerland. Lanzmann and Forst talk about the assimilationist American approach to helping the Jews, which differed greatly from Weissmandl's efforts to bribe the Nazis and save Jews at any cost. Lanzmann asks Forst to explain the Europaplan, Weissmandl's plan to save the European Jews with bribes. Weissmandl presented his plan to Dieter Wisliceny who did not think the plan was feasible. Forst mentions the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and the Nazis' obsession with "international Jewry." Weissmandl tried to use the Nazis' fantasies of world Jewish conspiracy against them. Forst turns to Weissmandl's relations with the Catholic Church. Weissmandl, hoping for help from the Vatican, went to the bishop of Nitra (Weissmandl's hometown), who told him that there is no such thing as innocent Jewish blood because the Jews killed Christ. He also went to the Papal Nuncio but did not receive help from him either.

TAPE 3122 -- Camera Rolls #27-30 -- 04:00:04 to 04:32:22

Forst talks about the Yeshiva of Nitra, which operated underground during the war. Rabbi Weissmandl built another Yeshiva in Mount Kisko, New York after the war and the first students were sixty young survivors. Forst gives a number of examples of how Weissmandl devoted himself to helping people after the war. Forst and Lanzmann talk about the historical reasons for Christianity's enmity toward the Jews. Lanzmann asks about Weissmandl's opinion of Zionism and whether this opinion was changed by the Holocaust.

TAPE 3123 -- Camera Rolls #31,34-38 -- 05:00:06 to 05:29:10

Forst talks about how both Germans and Jews have tried to forget the past. In German, this process of coming to terms with the past is called Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung. Forst says that because Weissmandl was a living reminder of this past, he was unpopular. Forst speculates about why the Jews did not physically resist when facing the gas chamber. He talks about the differences between how religious and non-religious Jews viewed the Holocaust and states, "The religious Jew doesn't question God, he questions man." Forst tells the story of Weissmandl's visits to the Bishop of Nitra and the Papal Nuncio in more detail.

TAPE 3124 -- Camera Rolls #13,16,33 -- 06:00:02 to 06:04:59

Various clips including: Close-ups of Forst, a sketch of Forst (?) hanging on the wall, and photographs of Weissmandl and Forst (?)


Claude Lanzmann


USHMM & Yad Vashem & State of Israel

Time Code: 

2.8 hours -



USHMM Format: 

16mm; 1/4 in audio; DigiBeta; Betacam SP; VHS

Original Format: 


Claude Lanzmann



Production Date: 


Biography / History: 

Claude Lanzmann spent more than ten years searching for survivors, perpetrators, eyewitnesses, and scholars for his nine and a half hour film "Shoah" released in 1985. Without archival footage or dramatic enactment, "Shoah" weaves together extraordinary testimonies to render the step-by-step machinery of the destruction of European Jewry. Critics have called it "a masterpiece" and a "monument against forgetting."

Accession Info: 

1996.166 The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum purchased the Shoah outtakes from Claude Lanzmann on October 11, 1996.

The Claude Lanzmann Shoah Collection is now jointly owned by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem - The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.

Joint copyright belongs to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem - The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, and the State of Israel.

PE Monitor: 


The clips that stream online correspond to the following tape numbers and time codes:

Clip 1, Tape 3119, 01:24:02 - 01:37:32

Clip 2, Tape 3121, 03:11:13 - 03:26:02

Note: Siegmunt Forst appears in "Shoah." Interview segments that appear in the final film are NOT available at the USHMM. The Claude Lanzmann Shoah Collection at the USHMM contains only the outtakes from the film. Outtakes are sections of a movie that are filmed but not used in the final version.

About R' Michoel Ber Weissmandl (עברית)

בעמח"ס תורת חמד, מט. קיסקא, תשי"ח; מן המיצר, ירושלים, תש"כ

רבי מיכאל בער ווייסמאנדל איז באקאנט מיט זיינע הצלה אקטיוויטעטן צו ראטעווען אידן פון די האלאקאוסט. ער האט געגרינדעט נייטרא ישיבה און שטעטל אין מאונט קיסקא ניו יארק.

ער איז געשטארבן יונג פון א הארץ אטאקע.

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R' Michoel Ber Weissmandl's Timeline

October 25, 1903
Debrecen, Hajdu-Bihar, Hungary
January 26, 1937
Age 33
September 1, 1939
Age 35

While at Oxford University, Weissmandl volunteered on 1 September 1939 to return to Slovakia as an agent of World Agudath Israel.

December 1948
Age 45
November 29, 1957
Age 54
Mt Kisco, NY, USA