The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 10
(Part 2 of 4)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Continues reading the translation.
...and the gases of this engine were going to be directed inside and the Jews would be poisoned. This was terrible for me. I do not have such a steadfast nature for something of this kind...of this kind to pass over me without reaction.

If today I see the gaping injury of an open cut on a person, I cannot look at it. I belong to such a class of people and I am often told that I could never have been a doctor. Even now, I still don't know how I immediately pictured the thing to myself, and that my demeanour became somewhat uncertain, as if I had gone through something upsetting...upsetting, as sometimes happens when we afterwards feel a slight inner shaking, or I would express it somewhat like that. With this my task was fulfilled and I went back to Berlin and reported on the matters to the Chief of the Security Police and the SD.

L. Mueller?

E. Mueller, too, of course.

L. And Heydrich?

E. Yes, Heydrich, but Mueller was my immediate superior; so I had to inform him of my journey and I also reported to him. I told him what I have now said. Possibly now I am confusing several matters; may I be permitted make myself...

L. Yes, please go on.

E. Which were the make myself notes possibly because of my attempts to keep some order. For it was...I said previously that it must have been at the end of the summer - in autumn, as I still remember, that these wooden huts were...they were in a region of deciduous trees, in a thickly wooded area of deciduous trees, large trees and their leaves were in full foliage.

L. In what year?

E. This was forty one.

L. And so: after the...

E. After the outbreak of the German-Russian War, '41, it therefore must have been the autumn of '41 - for then I was sent on to Kulm in the I must think: when was it in the Warthegau?

L. Kulbin?

E. Kulm, to Kulm.

L. Kulm.

E. Kulm, in the Warthegau. I have to reflect on this: When was this, Kulm in the Warthegau? Then I...this was the first time that I had to watch something like this, but this time I was sent by Gruppenfuehrer Mueller.

Let me say this right away: Warthegau...'41, this was, at all events, after this event, it was not winter, there was no snow, I remember that it was cold. I don't know whether it was autumn '41, or was it now '42. But we can easily reconstruct this, as follows: There must certainly be other testimonies when the Ghetto of Litzmannstadt was dealt with and generally the matter of the Warthegau, when the Jews there were exterminated. Because approximately at this initial period I received an order from Mueller to go to Litzmannstadt and to report to him on what was happening there. He did not say this to me as exactly, as crassly as did Heydrich, he said to me:

"There is a Jewish Operation going on over there." Mueller would never have expressed himself in such a blatantly cruel manner: a person like Mueller would never have done this: he said roughly as follows:

"A Jewish Operation is taking place there, Eichmann, go there; try to find out what is happening there. Report to me."

I went there, I reported to the Stapoleit at Litzmannstadt, I enquired there and they gave me an account: this was a special unit which the Rechsfuehrer had detailed and it was under the command I do not know whether the SS and Police Leader of the Warthegau or the Higher SS and Police Leader of the Warthegau. This is as much as I remember, but I was given an exact description where Kulm was situated, where it was. Perhaps they also sent an official with me to find my way, certainly because I had to approach an authority which...which, let us say: this mediation, that it came from the Head Office of Reich Security on a mission on behalf of Gruppenfuehrer Mueller, that I should watch this in order to report to Gruppenfuehrer Mueller, this is no longer known to me today. I only know this: that I saw what could be described as follows:

A room - if I remember correctly - possibly five times the size of this one, perhaps only four times as large. There were Jews inside, they were required to undress, and after that a completely closed truck arrived and the doors in front were opened and it came up to some kind of platform; and the naked Jews were obliged to go inside. Afterwards the truck was closed and began to move.

L. How many people were in the truck?

E. I cannot tell you this exactly. I could not even watch what was going on exactly, all the time I did not look at it; I was far too upset. I told this to Mueller also, at the time I reported.

He did not derive much benefit from my report. Afterwards I rode after the truck, certainly with one of the men who knew the way - and there I saw the most horrible thing that I had ever seen in my life:

It drove up to a long ditch, the doors were opened, and the bodies were thrown out, as if they were still alive - their limbs were so supple. They were thrown into the ditch - I could still see how a civilian was removing teeth with pliers, and then I moved away from there. I entered the car and went away, and I did not speak at all. From then on I sat next to the driver for hours without exchanging a word with him. By then I was "fixed," then I was "finished." I only know further that a doctor in a white coat said to me that I should look through the peephole in the partition to see how they were inside the vehicle. I refused to do this. I couldn't...I couldn't say another word. I had to get away.

I came to Berlin, I reported to Gruppenfuehrer Mueller. I described those things to him exactly as I am doing now - more I couldn't say to him: More precisely I said to him...:

Terrible," I said, "the Inferno...I cannot...this is...that I cannot..." I said to him.

L. What did Mueller say?

E. When I...Mueller was never in the habit of saying anything, never, not on these matters, nor on other matters. He was always very frugal with words and quiet and only said things that were the most essential.He said "yes" or "no" or when he said neither "yes" or "no" then generally he used to say "Comrade Eichmann" - that was, I didn't know, "yes" or "no." He was frugal with words.

L. Did you hand in a written report on this?

E. No, I was not authorized to do so, I was specifically forbidden to do so.

L. By Mueller?

E. But I...

L. Mueller forbade you to do so?

E. I believe that it was Heydrich, Heydrich.

L. Did you report to him at all?

E. Not on this, no, not on this. At that time I didn't reach...then Mueller sent me there...Mueller wanted to know first and foremost the much time it took. This I was incapable of saying. I couldn't tell him how long...I could not...I could not... I couldn't hear this. This was beyond me, I could not do it...the time... I was obliged to travel there a second time, but then understandably, I did not volunteer and nothing was said to me.

This was, therefore, the second time I had something to do with these things; on the first occasion there were these hermetically sealed trucks, of some...exhaust gas from a submarine engine, this I heard, the second time I saw it. Because I related this experience to my my permanent deputy.

Attorney General: Mr. Less - Would you be good enough to play to the Court the excerpt from page 210, which begins with the words "Herr Eichmann, Sie wollten..." and continue to page 221, up to the words "...dann hier diese Sache vertaten."
Less: Mr. Eichmann, you wanted to speak about your visits to...

Eichmann: Yes...

L. ...the extermination camps

E. Yes, surely, yes surely, I suppose that...And so, 3 and 4, Minsk and Lvov - because I was sent to Minsk and Lvov, certainly, for I have already said previously that I do not at all remember what I had to do at Lvov, and this surely I would have connected. Mueller said to me "In Linz" I mean "In Minsk they are shooting Jews, I want a report on how this is taking place."

After this I went to Minsk. In Minsk there was nothing for me to do, nor did I get to know anyone there. I went across the first areas where the double battle had taken place, that which had been in two places: possibly it was...I imagine: Minsk and Bialystok. I definitely went first to Bialystok and after that to Minsk, I presume - I do not know this exactly any more. I came to Minsk, going to the same authority - what was its name - how was it called? "The Commander of the Security Police" or it may have been called "Einsatzkommando." Really I don't know how it was called, and there I asked for the Commander, and I still remember that he was not present. I spoke to someone else whose name altogether escapes me today and I told him that I had orders to watch it, in order to report to Gruppenfuehrer Mueller. That was that.

The next day - I remained in that city for the night - the next day I came there, but I came too late, because on that day in the morning the affair had already ended, was almost completed, a matter on which I, for myself, rejoiced. When I got there I only managed to see how young marksmen, I think there were these marksmen with the death-heads on their coat collars...they were shooting into the pit, which was quite a large size, let us say four or five times this room, perhaps even six or seven times. I have...I have...all my recollections of this instance are unreliable for I only saw this thing without any thoughts, without forming any thoughts about it whatsoever. I simply saw - and nothing more than that: they fired into the pit, and I can still see a woman...with her arms behind her...and then her knees buckled and I made off.

L. You didn't look into the pit?

E. Yes, I stood there, they fired, I saw it and I went away to...

L. The pit was full?

E. Pardon?

L. Was the pit full of bodies?

E. It was full, it was full. I went away to my car. I got in and started driving - I drove to Lvov. I had no orders to go to Lvov...even this I remember now but apparently the road passed through Lvov. Somehow I came to Lvov and saw the first encouraging picture, after the awful things I had seen there: This was the railway station building, which had been erected to mark the Sixtieth Anniversary of the reign of the Emperor Franz Josef - and seeing that I personally was overwhelmed with joy regarding this period of Franz Josef, possibly because I had heard an abundance of wonderful things in my parents' home about this period or about events that occurred during this period... - my relatives on the side of my step-mother were, at this time, as you would say, of a high social standing...It was painted yellow.

This chased away for the first time - I still remember this today otherwise I wouldn't have realized this, that this sixtieth jubilee...that the figures of this Jubilee were engraved on the wall of this station building - those terrible thoughts which had not yet departed from me since Minsk. I came there, and visited the local commander of the State Police...please... I was...perhaps I even had an order, perhaps not, perhaps I went there only out of curiosity, and I paid a visit there to the commander since I was passing the place, and said to him: "Yes," I said to him "this is terrible, what is going on there," I said to him, "these young men are being brought up as sadists." This is exactly what I said, incidentally, to Mueller as well - later on.

I also said so to Guenther, I said it to everyone; I even said it to Suhr, I said it to all of them. I also said this to Hunsche... I did not have... I told this to everyone and I said: "How can it be possible? Simply fire away at a woman and children? How can this be possible?" I said: "This cannot be possible, these people must become crazy or sadists, and they are our own people." And then he said to me: "Exactly so, this is also happening with us here, they shoot here, too. Do you want to see it once? Do you want to see it once?" I said: "No, I don't want to see anything." He said "Anyhow we are going to pass by." Then I saw something else which was terrible: there was a pit, perhaps it was already closed. There welled up like a geyser should I say this...a jet of blood. I have never seen anything like it. As far as I was concerned this assignment was enough and I drove to Berlin and related this to Gruppenfuehrer Mueller.

L. Who travelled with you in Lvov. Who was he?

E. What, if you please...?

L. Who was this in Lvov?

E. This was the Commander - I don't know whether he was called "Stapolei" - this could not be - it couldn't have been the Head of the State Police - it certainly must have been the Einsatzkommando, possibly the Einsatzkommando of Lemberg, the Einsatzkommando of the State Security and SD - it was an Einsatzkommando - this was its official name. I am more inclined to believe this than that it was the State Police Office. State Police Offices were certainly not to be found at that time in Lvov but there were only operational units; surely Lvov used to belong to the Generalgouvernement? Or, at this moment I do not know if it belonged to the Generalgouvernement or to any other zone - I do not know, Captain. But at all events I said to Mueller, I said: "This is not a solution to the Jewish problem, this is not a solution."

I said that to him, above everything else we were bringing up people to be sadists - we should not be surprised at all, we should not be surprised if they became criminals - all of them criminals. I still remember that Mueller looked at me with an expression which I recognized, and in it I read what he was saying to me.

"Eichmann, you are right, this is not a solution." But he could do nothing, Mueller could do nothing about it. Mueller surely could not do anything, could do nothing, not a thing. I do not know any more who gave the order about those...about those things...gave the order...yes, gave the order...yes, of course the Chief of the Security Police and the SD gave the order - it was he who gave the order for this - this is absolutely clear. But even he was obliged to receive an instruction from the Reichsfuehrer-SS - namely Himmler - he could never have done such a thing on his own. And Himmler too, must have had his detailed orders from Hitler, otherwise, unless Hitler had ordered this, he would have been fired out of hand.

L. But didn't Hitler give an order in writing about this final solution of the Jewish question?

E. In writing? ...For exterminating them?... For exterminating them physically?

L. For exterminating them physically?

E. I never saw such an order in writing, Captain. All I know is that Heydrich told me: "The Fuehrer has ordered the physical destruction of the Jews" - this he said clearly and as certainly in fact as I repeat it now. And these were now...these were the first consequences. These were...these were minor matters, these that I have now described. I even asked the Gruppenfuehrer, I said to him: "Please do not send me there. Send someone else, someone stronger. You can see that on no occasion did they allow me to [go to] the front, I was never a soldier.

There are plenty of others who can watch this; they do not collapse - I cannot see it." I said: "I cannot sleep at night. I dream - I cannot, Gruppenfuehrer!" But this was not granted.

L. So after this you had to [go to] Auschwitz?

E. I returned and received the orders. I was forced also to visit Auschwitz...because...not in order to see this there, first and foremost...but also on that, incidentally, he obliged me to report. I told him that I would see it because they were building extensions there - I did not know at all that there were other buildings - I had to report to him on this as well...yes, furthermore, I must also say this, Captain...these people, when you came to them, made a special amusement for themselves of the whole matter, to give a man who had come to them directly from an office desk the most horrifying description and to intimate the whole thing in as abrupt a fashion as possible and they rejoiced, obviously, from time to time, if here, from the point of view of his nerves...the person could not retain his composure as they were accustomed to call it, in the way they did, is that not so?

Hoess once said...I think that I was there three times, two or three times in Auschwitz. Three times, I was there once because of Storfer...he had said to me, Hoess said to me that Himmler was there and took everything in, he watched everything exactly and that even his knees shook, Hoess said to me. He raised this...he obviously intended it as a condemnation, for Hoess was very hardened. It was on the same day about which Hoess said to me that Himmler saw this, he said - surely also in order to encourage his own spirits and so that his SS men of the concentration camp should not notice his weakness - which in fact Hoess noticed, otherwise he couldn't surely have said this to me - he said that "these are battles which coming generations will not have to fight, will not have to fight." I said, Captain, I was in Auschwitz three times. I was twice in Auschwitz because of the problem of Hungary, and I was in Auschwitz once, because in my absence while I was in Hungary the Kommerzialrat Storfer of Vienna was arrested by the Police Commander of the Vienna District, Ebner, and afterwards brought to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

On this matter I participated in a joint meeting with Ebner, for Ebner knew and ought to have known that Storfer, in the same way as Loewenherz, was active for years in Jewish life, and in no circumstances was it permitted to have imprisoned him in a concentration camp. I did not do this with anyone else. I did not [arrest] any of those persons who in the course of all those years...I do not want to say "who collaborated" - this would be criticized by people even today - this was not "collaboration." Jews, these Jewish functionaries actually worked for their community. Surely someone from amongst this group had to meet with me, in order to discuss these matters with me, and such were these people; they knew that if I promised something, I would carry it out.

When Dr. Rothenberg asked me, right at the beginning that at a certain time, at a reasonable time, after various questions had been arranged and had been started [I would make it possible for him] to emigrate to Palestine, then when he approached me in this matter on the first occasion, I said to him: "Please let us wait a little, even if this will be a matter of some months, until this and other matters [would be arranged] and afterwards - certainly." And this is how it was, and he approached me again, and then I said: "Yes, definitely, Dr. Rothenberg if you please, go, everything is ready for you." He went. Loewenherz asked me in the same way that he should be allowed to travel to England after the matter was concluded, seeing that his children and relatives were there. I said to him: Certainly he could do so. He could travel wherever he wished. The fact that this was not carried out was not my fault, seeing that the occurrences of the War prevented the matter."

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