Bruno Hauptmann: Broom closet testimony

January 28, 1935

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Q. Do you know what this is, Mr. Defendant? (Exhibiting the plank S-204 to the witness.) You do, don’t you?

A. A piece of board, yes.

Q. From your house? What is the number of this board, do you know? It is S-204.

A. I really don’t know if it is from my house. That is a piece of trimming and a piece of trimming from every house looks the same.

Q. That is from your closet, isn’t it?

A. I am not quite sure.

Q. You are not quite sure?

A. No.

Q. That is your handwriting on there, isn’t it?

A. No.

Q. What?

A. No, sir.

Q. That is not your handwriting?

A. (Shaking his head.)

Q. You take a look at that. You have seen it many times before. I will take the paper off for you so it will be easier (counsel removed the cellophane wrapper on the board). Take your time about it now. First, tell me, are the numbers your handwriting?

A. The numbers look familiar upwards. I can’t remember for putting it on.

Q. Just keep looking at those numbers and tell me whether or not they are in your handwriting and that you wrote them, the numbers?

A. I can’t remember putting them numbers on.

Q. Did you remember better when you were talking to District Attorney Foley?

A. At that time I was quite excited.

Q. Were you excited when you got before a Supreme Court Justice in the State of New York in your extradition proceedings?

A. I say yes.

Q. You didn’t tell the truth there, you mean?

A. Well, I was quite excited then.

Q. Do you remember that you had a hearing before a Supreme Court Justice by the name of Mr. Justice Hammer in the Bronx court house in New York?

A. I remember that, yes.

Q. Do you remember why you had the hearing, that you did not want to come to New Jersey to face the charge that you are now facing? Do you remember that?

A. I don’t know what is the reason for this.

Q. Well, you were fighting extradiction proceedings, weren’t you?

A. I don’t know what it, what it means.

Q. And you were asked this question with reference to Exhibit 204—

Mr. Reilly: Page, please.

Mr. Wilentz: 83.

Q. Finally you were asked thie question: “Finally one day thereafter you were brought in and questioned by District Attorney Foley, were you not?” and your answer was “Yes.” “And District Attorney Foley asked you if you recognized a certain piece of wood or lumber, do you remember that?”

And your answer was “Yes.” Is that correct?

A. I will—let’s explain before you read further—

Q. No. Wait a minute. I am going to let you explain when I find out what your answer is. Did District Attorney Foley ask you—No. Withdraw that. Isn’t this the question that was asked of you in the Bronx County Court before a Supreme Court Justice while you were under oath?

A. I can’t remember the, what the question was.

Q. “And District Attorney Foley asked you if you recognized a certain piece of wood or lumber, do you remember that?” And your answer is “Yes.” Is that correct?

A. Well, I really can’t remember what—all the questions.

Q. Now, the next question, “And you said yes, that was your handwriting, is that so, yes.” Is that correct?

Mr. Reilly: Just a moment. That isn’t his answer.

Mr. Wilentz: That is the question.

Mr. Reilly: That is the question, but that is not his answer.

Mr. Wilentz: Well, we are getting to that.

Q. Isn’t that the question “And you said, ‘Yes,’ that was your handwriting, is that so, yes.” Was that question put to you?

A. I really can’t remember this question.

Q. Then the Court says—he can’t remember the question—then the Court says: “You better mark this Exhibit A.” You see this Exhibit A—Ex. A, referring to the board.

A. I see it.

Q. You see it?

A. All right.

Q. And then the next question that I asked you in The Bronx, so that when you looked at Exhibit A, which was presented to you by the District Attorney of Bronx County, and you looked at the handwriting thereon, you said that was your handwriting, isn’t that so, and your answer there was “I said that is my lumber; I could not make out the handwriting.” Do you remember that?

A. I can’t remember them questions.

Q. Did you say that was your lumber, but that you couldn’t remember the handwriting in the Bronx court?

A. I guess I did.

Q. You guess you did?

A. But you see if anybody shows me a piece of lumber, that is, a piece of trimming—

Q. Yes.

A. —you will find the piece of trimming in every house.

Q. Why didn’t you say so in The Bronx instead of saying this was your lumber?

A. Well, I didn’t think at all.

Q. You didn’t think at all. All right, then, we will come to the next. Your answer was, “I said that is my lumber, I could not make out the handwriting.” Now, the next question, “You said the number on there is your handwriting,” do you remember that question?

A. No, I don’t.

Q. You mean to tell me that you don’t remember being asked the question about the number on the lumber?

A. There was so many questions that I can’t separate it.

Q. And didn’t you answer “Yes” to that question? You said the number on there is your handwriting, yes, in the Bronx Court, before Supreme Court Justice Hammer—didn’t you say yes?

A. I can’t remember this.

Q. Will you say that you didn’t say “Yes”?

A. No, I said nothing about it.

Q. You said nothing about it?

A. No.

Q. Why, didn’t we spend a half hour on that lumber in that court?

A. I don’t know how much you spend on it.

Q. Well, you remember, do you—you were there, weren’t you?

A. I suppose I was there.

Q. Sitting on the stand?

A. Yes.

Q. You suppose you were there?

A. (The witness nods.)

Q. You suppose you were in the Bronx, in the courthouse?

A. Yes.

Q. You know what the hearing was about, don’t you?

A. No, I really don’t know what the hearing was about.

Q. You don’t know about it? You don’t know about it?

A. No.

Q. And then you were asked this question: “What about the Decatur”—and you were shown the word on the board—“What about the Decatur?” And your answer was, was it not? “A. I could not make out whether that was my handwriting and numbers.” Do you remember that?

A. (No answer.)

Q. “I could not make out whether that is my handwriting or numbers.”

A. There was many questions about it.

Q. You answered the question; was that your answer, in the Bronx Court House?

A. I can’t remember my answer.

Q. You can’t remember your answer. Now let me give you the next one: “The numbers are in your handwriting, are they not?” You remember being asked that again; and you said “They are.” Do you remember that?

A. That’s what I said, I can’t remember what I said of it.

Q. Didn’t you swear in the Bronx County Court House before Supreme Court Justice Hammer, swear unto God, that it was?

A. I did.

Q. You did.

Q. And the numbers you talked about were 2974, isn’t that so? It is a little blurred now, isn’t it?

A. Looks like it.

Q. It looks like 2974, and the numbers down here, 3-7154, isn’t that right? Take a look at it. You don’t wear glasses, do you?

A. No, I don’t.

Q. You can see pretty well, can’t you?

A. Not so very well.

Q. Not so very well?

A. No.

Q. All right then. Do you want it closer?

A. No, that is all right.

Q. Do you see it, 3-7154?

A. Yes.

Q. And between those two numbers are some words, it looks like “Decatur” first and “Sedgwick” second, you see that, don’t you?

A. I can’t make it out.

Q. You can’t make it out. All right. Now, I was just talking to you about your testimony before the Supreme Court of the State of New York in the extradition proceedings of the State of New Jersey against you, and you have just told us about it. Now, were you before that time, however, before Mr. Foley, the District Attorney of The Bronx, and he spoke to you about this piece of lumber, which is Exhibit S-204. You remember him talking to you about that?

A. Yes, I remember that I never could quite make out right if this was my writing or not.

Q. We will come to that. I want to see what you told him.

Q. (Continuing) “Hauptmann, I want to ask you some questions about this board. You know it is from the closet in your own house, don’t you?” And your answer was, “It must be.” Is that correct, do you remember that?

A. I can’t remember every single question he put at me.

Q. No, I know you can’t remember every single question, but you ought to remember something about that number. You know what that means, don’t you, that number and that address on there?

A. Not exactly.

Q. Well, you know it is Dr. Condon’s address and telephone number, don’t you?

A. I know it now.

Q. You know it now. All right. You knew when Foley was talking to you about it, didn’t you, that he was talking about Condon’s telephone number and address on this board?

A. No, I did not.

Q. You didn’t? All right, we will come to it then. The next question he asked you: “It is the same kind of wood, your handwriting is on it?” Do you remember that question?

A. I told you I can’t make out any single question he put at me, there was so many questions.

Q. Well, you could remember your answer, if you had such a question, couldn’t you?

A. I hardly think so.

Q. You hardly think so.

A. Because there was hundreds, hundreds of questions.

Q. Didn’t you know that the State was charging that you got $50,000 from Dr. John Condon? You knew that was part of the charge, didn’t you?

A. Yes.

Q. Didn’t you know that Dr. Condon was an important figure in this case, didn’t you know that?

A. I learn it after.

Q. Didn’t you know that if you had Dr. Condon’s telephone number and address on the inside of your closet, that that was a serious thing so far as you were concerned?

A. I never was thinking about it.

Q. Didn’t Mr. Foley ask you about it?

A. I can’t remember that.

Q. You can’t remember? Well, if Foley showed you this board and asked you whether that is your handwriting, Condon’s address and telephone number, and if it wasn’t you would know it, wouldn’t you?

A. Well, he showed me dis piece of board.

Q. Yes.

A. And about the numbers and the handwriting—

Q. Yes.

A. —but right from the beginning I said I—

Q. You don’t know?

A. —can’t remember ever putting—

Q. You can’t remember it?

A. —putting this on.

Q. Right from the beginning you said it?

A. Yes.

Q. Just listen to this answer then, and tell me whether or not you made it: “It is the same kind of wood your handwriting is on it? A. Yes, all over it.” Did you make that answer?

A. No, I don’t think so.

Q. You don’t think so?

A. No.

Q. You couldn’t be mistaken about something as important as this, could you? Did you say it wasn’t?

A. I—

Q. Pardon me.

A. I can’t remember I ever said something like that, “all over it.”

Q. Well, let me then—

A. I don’t think so.

Q. You think maybe you didn’t say “Yes”, all over it”?

A. (Witness shakes head) No, sir.

Q. Well, let me see, we are coming to another part of it. Do you remember the next question: “What did you write on that board, read it to the stenographer?” And you answered, did you not, “I can’t read it any more.” Do you remember that?

A. No.

Q. And do you remember the next question: “Who rubbed it out? Can you read the address on it?” And your answer was, “2974, I can’t make out the first. I read the number down below, 37154.” Do you remember reading the numbers just as I have given it to you?

A. Yes, he gave me a big glass.

Q. A glass, a magnifying glass?

A. A magnifying glass, and that is how I could make out the numbers.

Q. And so you gave him the numbers when you got the magnifying glass, is that it?

A. Yes.

Q. And Mr. Foley asked you “What else can you read on that board that you wrote yourself?” And you kept the magnifying glass and you answered as follows, did you not, “I can’t read, that is ‘A’, ‘T’, ‘U’, ‘R’, another one I can’t make out.” Do you remember that?

A. I guess this was like that.

Q. Yes. You looked at this board and out of the “Decatur”—D-e-c-a-t-u-r—all you could read was a-t-u-r, and you said “Another one I can’t make out.”

Mr. Pope: We object to that question, because the witness has never said that he ever read “Decatur” on there.

Mr. Wilentz: He never said what?

(Pending objection read by the reporter.)

Mr. Wilentz: I said out of the Decatur he was only able to read those—

Mr. Pope: That is merely the conclusion of the Attorney General, that the word is intended to be “Decatur.” It is for the jury to determine what the word is intended for.

Mr. Wilentz: That is the fact.

The Court: Well, of course, but the Attorney General is cross-examining this witness, a fact that it seems to me you are inclined to overlook. I think the question is proper.

Mr. Pope: He is examining him upon something which is not based upon any direct premise.

The Court: Well, that is your notion about the thing; I have a different notion.

Mr. Pope: May we have an exception?

The Court: You may have your exception.

(Exception allowed, and the same is signed and sealed accordingly.

(s. s.) THOMAS W. TRENCHARD,

Judge.

Q. So you did read those letters that I have just read, did you not, the “a” and “t” and “u” and “r”?

A. No.

Q. You didn’t read that?

A. No.

Q. You didn’t answer “I can’t read,” you didn’t answer that?

A. I read it through the glass.

Q. The magnifying glass. Did you read some of the letters, “a,” “t,” “u,” and “r,” and say “The others I can’t make out”?

A. I guess I did; I am not quite sure.

Q. Then Mr. Foley said to you “That is Dr. Condon’s address, isn’t it?” And you answered, “I don’t know.” Do you remember that?

A. I can’t remember whether I said I don’t know.

Q. Don’t you remember him saying to you, “That is Dr. Condon’s address,” and you saying, “I don’t know”?

A. Well, I guess I was right, because I didn’t know it.

Q. You guess you were right: is that your answer?

A. I said—

Q. You didn’t know?

A. I didn’t know it.

Q. What I want to know is whether Mr. Foley asked that question and whether or not you answered it in the way I have just read it. Did Foley ask you this question: “That is Dr. Condon’s address, isn’t it?” And did you answer it, “I don’t know”?

A. I can’t remember this particular question.

Q. You can’t remember it. Did he say anything to you about Condon, that this was Condon’s address and telephone number?

A. I guess he said something, but I can’t remember what he said.

Q. Well, he was talking to you about the Lindbergh case, wasn’t he?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And he was talking to you about the telephone number of somebody, and address of Condon: isn’t that what he was talking to you about?

A. That is what he told me after.

Q. And he was talking to you about this board, wasn’t he, this piece here, S-204, wasn’t he?

A. I guess it was this one.

Q. You guess it was? You are doing a lot of guessing this afternoon about this board, aren’t you?

A. Oh, no.

Q. You’re not, hey? All right. Then listen to the next question. Do you remember him asking you, “Why did you write it on the board?” Do you remember that? Do you remember the question?

A. I can’t make out them single questions.

Q. Now, do you remember this answer to that question: “I must have read it in the paper about the story. I was a little bit interest and keep a little bit of a record of it and maybe I was just in the closet and was reading the paper and put down the address;”—do you remember that?

A. Not exactly; I—

Q. Will you say that you didn’t?

A. I don’t want say that, I didn’t—

Q. You don’t want to say you didn’t answer Mr. Foley that, do you?

A. I really can’t say yes or no about it.

Q. You can’t say yes or no. All right; we will let it go at that for the minute.

A. Yes.

Q. You don’t want to say yes and you don’t want to say no?

A. (Nods head.)

Q. That is to say you don’t want to say yes or no to this: that you told Foley that you must have read it in the paper, the telephone and the address of Dr. Condon, you were a little bit interested, and you kept a little bit of a record, and maybe you were in the closet and were reading the paper and you put down the address. You won’t say yes or no, that that was what you told him?

A. I guess I told him something about it.

Q. What do you think you told him?

A. I—

Q. Now, we will give you a chance to tell just what you thing you did tell him.

A. Yes.

Q. Tell us, please.

A. That is a habit, when I read something in the paper or something in a book—

Q. Yes.

A. —that I make a notice on a, mostly I put it in the kitchen. When you look through my kitchen I guess you find plenty of notice like that.

Q. Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place, instead of stalling with me and fighting with me: you have a habit of writing down telephone numbers, isn’t that it?

Mr. Pope: Now, this—

Mr. Wilentz: Please.

Mr. Pope: There is no evidence of stalling. The witness has answered the question.

Mr. Wilentz: I think there is evidence that he has been stalling for a half hour with me on this thing.

Mr. Pope: May we ask that the Attorney General be admonished for those remarks?

The Court: I decline to admonish the Attorney General.

Mr. Pope: And that the jury be instructed to disregard them?

The Court: I decline to make any such instruction.

Mr. Pope: May we have an exception?

The Court: Yes, sir.

(Exception allowed and the same is signed and sealed accordingly.)

(s.s.) THOMAS W. TRENCHARD,

Judge.

Q. Now, Mr. Hauptmann, what you mean then is this, that you have got a habit of writing down telephone numbers and addresses of things that are interesting; isn’t that right?

A. Yes.

Q. From the paper.

A. From the paper or—

Q. Or from anything else?

A. From books.

Q. Yes. And you must have read this in the paper, and you were near the closet, so you wrote it down; that is what you mean, isn’t it?

A. There is a possibility, but I can’t remember—you took this piece of wood, you said you took this piece of wood from the closet, and it is impossible to stay inside in the closet and to write or read.

Q. That is—

A. That is, I guess that is what you said, or Mr. Pope meant, and so I said it is impossible that I would ever put this on this board.

Q. Well, you know you wrote some of it; you know that, don’t you? You remember that.

A. But I am positively sure I wouldn’t write anything in the inside of a closet.

Q. You know that part of it, part of the numbers are your handwriting; you know that, don’t you?

A. It looks like it.

Q. Yes. Well, you know it is; you have said so many times, in the Bronx.

A. I don’t say it is.

Q. Well, didn’t you say in the Bronx many times that you wrote the numbers on?

A. I said it look like.

Q. You told Mr. Foley that it was, and you told me in court that it was, in the Bronx, didn’t you?

A. (No answer.)

Q. And didn’t you say at that time that the reason you wrote it in there was just like you said a minute ago, that you had a habit of writing those things.

A. Yes, I said so, but that doesn’t—

Q. And that is why—sir?

A. That doesn’t include this board. I wouldn’t make any notice on the inside of a closet where you have no chance to stand to write or read, it is impossible.

Q. In the closet, no chance to stand to write or read in the closet, that is why you put it in the closet, you didn’t think anybody could find it, isn’t that why you put it there?

A. No, I make notice sometimes when a person is born that means his birthday, I want it in a place where I can see it.

Q. That is why—

A. No, that is why I always put it in the kitchen.

Q. Now let me get back to your question and answer and don’t get me off the track again. Did you tell Mr. Foley that that was your handwriting? We will start all over again.

A. Yes, all over again. I don’t know, sir, that I did.

Q. You think you did?

A. I think I did not.

Q. Did you say to Mr. Foley when he asked you why did you write it on the board, do you remember that question, and you said to him substantially what you have just told us here, “I must have read it in the paper about the story. I was a little bit interest and keep a little bit record of it and maybe I was just on the closet and was reading the paper and put down the address.” Did you say that?

A. I say I don’t know if it is exactly what I said to him.

Q. It sounds all right?

A. I said something to him, I know.

Q. Something like that?

A. Something like it, yes.

Q. Substantially that?

A. What does “substantially” mean?

Q. It means practically that, that is what it means, the same thing.

A. I said to him something about my habit of writing numbers.

Q. You had a habit of writing numbers?

A. No, not numbers—for instance, I am interested in a book and for instance there is a person, when this person was born or that person, and that was why I was interested to remember this in history, I am much interested in history and so I couldn’t forget. I always put it on the place. It was usually the place underneath the mirror in the kitchen.

Q. In other words, you were interested in historical events and dates?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And you had the habit of marking down in the kitchen on the wood, is that what you mean?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you interested in historical events relating to aviation?

A. No.

Q. You were interested in that?

A. No.

Q. Do you know who was the greatest aviator for Germany during the World War?

A. Yes, I know.

Q. What was his name?

A. Richtofen.

Q. What was his first name?

A. Manfred.

Q. Manfred Richtofen?

A. Manfred Richtofen, yes. Besides I was just reading the book in the jail, and that brings my memory back.

Q. You are reading a book about the greatest aviator in the German Army in the jail?

A. About four weeks ago I read it in the jail here.

Q. Tell me what his name is again?

A. Manfred Richtofen.

Q. Manfred Richtofen?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, we will get back to this board again and the telephone number or the words written on that board. So that you say now that when Mr. Foley asked you why did you write it on the board you said something to him that you had a habit of writing dates and other things about historical events.

A. I told him something, yes, about that.

Q. Well, Mr. Foley wasn’t satisfied with that, was he, he asked the next question, “How did you come to put the telephone number on there?” And your answer was, was it not, “I can’t give you any explanation about the telephone number.” Do you remember that?

A. No, I can’t.

Q. You can’t remember that?

A. I can’t remember all, in dem days—

Q. I want to know whether you can remember that question and answer and whether or not you gave that to Mr. Foley.

A. I can’t remember.

Q. You were then talking to the District Attorney of Bronx County, you were incarcerated, you were kept in custody and you were charged, you knew you were being charged with murder by the State of New Jersey.

A. No, I didn’t know that.

Q. You didn’t know that?

A. No.

Q. You knew you were arrested in the Lindbergh case.

A. Yes.

Q. Yes, sir. You knew the Lindbergh child had been dead, you knew that, didn’t you?

A. Yes.

Q. You knew somebody had gotten $50,000 or so they said, from Dr. Condon, you knew that?

A. That is what I read in the paper.

Q. And you were asked about Dr. Condon’s telephone number and home address in your closet on a board which was then right before you, you remember that.

A. Yes.

Q. And today you don’t remember what you said to Mr. Foley about that.

A. I said I can’t remember all them single questions, because there was so many questions at this time.

Q. Can you remember any of them?

Mr. Pope: Let him answer.

Mr. Wilentz: Yes, I think possibly I have interrupted him.

The Court: You may answer.

Mr. Wilentz: Mr. Reporter, before you go out, will you let us have the question and the answer. If he wants to add to it, he may do so.

(Question and answer read by the reporter as follows:

“Q. And today you don’t remember what you said to Mr. Foley about that? A. I said I can’t remember all them single questions, because there was so many questions at this time.”)

Q. You have answered the question then, haven’t you?

A. (No answer.)

Q. You have finished that answer, haven’t you?

A. I have finished this answer.

Q. You wanted to tell Mr. Foley the truth, didn’t you?

A. Yes.

Q. Mr. Foley treated you well, didn’t he?

A. Very well.

Q. He is a very delightful man, isn’t he?

A. Yes.

Q. A very fine man?

A. Yes.

Q. Yes. And you were sitting in there in his office and he was asking you about it, wasn’t he?

A. Yes.

Q. And you were answering him?

A. Yes.

Q. And there was a stenographer there, isn’t that right?

A. Well, there were quite a few people in the room.

Q. Yes, but there was a man writing, wasn’t there?

A. I can’t remember seeing anyone writing.

Q. Did you tell the District Attorney at that time the truth when he was talking to you about this board, S-204?

A. Well—

Q. You don’t know whether you told him the truth? Why don’t you answer the question, Mr. Defendant?

A. For the first time he brought this piece of wood and he said that’s from my closet. Well, anybody can show me a piece of wood like that; you find it in every house. I didn’t even think of it, what I said.

Q. Oh, you didn’t even think of it. Did you tell District Attorney Foley the truth when he spoke to you about this board, S-204? You might just as well answer it because I am going to stay here until you do.

A. The truth? Well, I told him—

Q. Did you tell him the truth?

A. I told him the truth, yes.

Q. You told him the truth?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you tell the truth about this board in the Supreme Court in New York?

A. I—

Q. Why do you hesitate?

A. I am not.

Q. Well, then, why don’t you answer? Either you did or you didn’t.

A. You have to give me a chance.

Q. I will give you all day, but you ought to know whether you told the truth in court.

A. No, I have to trans—I am thinking in German and I have to translate it in American language, and it needs quite a bit of time; so excuse me.

Q. Yes, sir. But just the simple question of whether you told the truth in The Bronx courthouse about this board—

A. When I told Mr. Foley—

Q. No, please. I am going to ask you the question again. When you were examined in the Bronx County courthouse specifically about 204, did you tell the truth there?

A. I was.

Q. Please, will you—

A. I was not willing—

Q. Pardon me. Will you please answer the question? Can’t you answer it Yes or No, you either told the truth or you didn’t? Then you can give the explanation.

Mr. Pope: We think that the witness is trying to answer it and that he should be given an opportunity to do so.

The Court: Yes, he ought to be given an opportunity and I think he is being given an opportunity. The question was as to whether or not he told the truth there. He may answer that and then he may add to anything he desires to add to it by way of explanation. That I think the witness is entitled to.

Proceed, Mr. Attorney General.

Q. Did you tell the truth in the Bronx Courthouse, Yes or No? And then if you want to explain it you may explain it as far as I am concerned.

A. Well, I guess I explain it first.

Q. Will you please do us the kindness of abiding by the rules of the court and answer first Yes or No did you tell the truth about this board when you were being examined in the Bronx County Court House under oath about this board?

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