The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Submits the declaration to the Court.

Witness Less:This goes together with a type-written transcript.

Presiding Judge: Do you have copies of it?

Attorney General: This is amongst the evidence.

Presiding Judge: This declaration is marked T/38.

The translation is read.

"Captain, to sum some extent, the first stage of my statement, may I be permitted here to express some personal reflections and to advise you of a personal decision of mine:

The more I make an effort to recapitulate in my memory additional material which is likely to be of use in the matter - I am no longer able to do so. Together with this I know, of course, that there must still remain a wealth of matters which should be said about individual events, as I have just now stated, which can be brought back to my recollection, despite the 15 years which have meanwhile elapsed.

From the point of view of the matters of principle and the important ones - so I believe at least - there can be nothing more worthy of mention, otherwise I would recall it - now at least - in my memory. But there are, evidently, - of that I am sure - a mass of details which, after being triggered off by some cause - will again confront me in a visual way, and then I would be able to picture the thing we have been talking about so far, accurately and in a more rounded way.

I would ask you to please believe me that I, for my part, am fully ready, without any reservations, to relate everything known to me about the events without any restraint. Within my inner self, I have been prepared, for a long time already, for this general statement, but only I did not know when fate would place me in the position of making this statement. Already in January of this year, it was said to me, that I would stand trial this year; they also said to me that I would not go on living beyond my 56th year. The first has already happened, while the second - I presume - cannot be changed.

This knowledge, in its own way, gives me the inner decisive readiness to express, of my own free will, on my part, and even without taking my personality into account, which is no longer of any importance in my eyes, everything that I know. Throughout all the days of my life, I was accustomed to obey, from the nursery till 8 May 1945 - an obedience which developed in the years when I belonged to the SS - to a blind obedience, an unconditional obedience ("Kadavergehorsam"). And who would have benefited from it? Matters of planning and decisions of the events from 1935 to 1945 were not entrusted to me at any time during these ten years. For such a purpose I was, from the point of rank of duty of far too low a status.

For all that, I know, of course, I cannot wash my hands in innocence, seeing that the fact that I was purely a recipient of orders surely signifies nothing any more. Those who planned, decided, gave instructions and orders escaped from their responsibility cheaply by means of suicide. Others who belonged to this circle are dead now or are not to be found; although no blood attaches to my hands I will surely be found guilty of being an accomplice to murder. However this may be, in my inner soul I am ready to atone, also personally, for those terrible things and I know that I am liable to the death penalty. I am not asking for mercy because I am not entitled to do so. Furthermore, this is a greater act of atonement, I am ready to hang myself in public, as a warning example for the last anti-Semites of the countries of this world.

First of all I should be permitted yet to write a book about the terrible events, as a sign of warning and a deterrent to the youth of our times and of the future, and then let my earthy life be concluded.

May I, Captain, be permitted to deliver this statement to be added to the record.

Attorney General: Mr. Less, what comes immediately after these last-mentioned words of the Accused?

Witness Less:He gave me a list of documents or books he wanted to examine, which were likely to be of some use to him. He gave me this list in writing.

Q. Were the books supplied to him?

A. As far as I know, yes.

Q. What happened afterwards, before the continuation of his interrogation?

A. Mr. Hofstaedter came, this was on 6 June, and gave him the second caution.

Q. The same caution that you mentioned previously?

A. Yes.

Q. And that is to be found on page 363 of the statement?

A. Yes, on page 363.

Q. Would you please read Mr. Hofstaedter's caution?

A. That same caution which I have already read?

Q. Has it already been read out by you, word by word?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Read it again.

Witness Less reading the translation:

H. Hofstaedter: Today is 6th June. It is now 2.10 p.m. Do you know who I am?

E. Yes, Colonel.

H. As appears from your statements so far, you committed crimes against the Jewish people and against humanity during the period of the National-Socialist regime.

I again want to draw your attention to the fact that you are free to testify or not to testify.

It is clear to you that all your statements can serve as evidence. What do you decide?

E. I want to continue giving my statement.

Attorney General: And now, if you please, on page 366, the section at the bottom, beginning with your question, Mr. Less: "Was bedeuted Sonderbehandlung."
L. What is the meaning of "Special Treatment" and who was subjected to it?

E. Special treatment means killing. With whom it originated, I don't know. Surely with Himmler, surely. Otherwise who could it have been - please, I have no proof for it, but possibly it was Heydrich, who made up this term for himself after receiving approval for it by Goering - that is also possible, but I do not know this, I am only trying to reconstruct this.

L. But you knew that "special treatment" meant death?

E. Everyone knew that, for sure, Captain.

Attorney General: 03Page 369 to 374, please. On page 369 beginning with the words "Wie viele Juden."
L. How many Jews were sent by you to Auschwitz to be exterminated there?

E. This I took the liberty of including in the the points which I sought to put together, from which it would have been possible to get reliable documented material here, and it seems to me that one of the most important points here was to obtain obtain the transport schedules which the Reich Ministry of Transport had drawn up at that time. For today after...firstly it was not I who initiated the drawing up of transport schedules, I did not even telephone, as I have already said. And secondly even if I had done so, even then I wouldn't be able to recall that today. I would be obliged to mention some figure or other, and this is not likely to be helpful to anyone.

L. How many Jews were exterminated by gas and killed there?

E. Captain, I have read that Hoess is alleged to have said that he had killed a million Jews. I personally thought this number to be greatly exaggerated. If, generally, we would want now to speak about figures...then if it were one million, or if they were four millions, if they were 100, in principle it makes no difference, I simply mean: if I were asked about "numbers"...I myself have already reflected on this during all these 15 years...I said recently that on the eve of the conclusion of the War I spoke to my officers - who actually was present I do not know, obviously not all of them - about a figure of five millions, which I could visualize approximately and vaguely.

In...well, how can I term it, in this "short end-of-the-world speech," or however one would like to call it, in fact the numbers did not seem to me to be vital, for on that occasion I was dealing with millions, whether friend or foe, on our side as well as that of our enemies. Today, I don't know exactly any more if the Jewish Year Book for Europe then recorded the number of 10 million Jews. Whether we include in this total figure also the part of the Russian territories occupied by German forces, or not, nevertheless I tried to prepare a basis for myself and I read that the Allies at the end of the War - certainly a few months afterwards - found 2,400,000 in existence - this I read.

I myself don't know any longer today the total of the emigration from Austria, from Germany and from Czechoslovakia; at that time I said to myself "well, good- one million, one million two hundred thousand, or something like that evidently emigrated - two million four hundred thousand, plus the number of natural deaths - I am not a statistician. Once I said this. When I said, yes, somehow there must have been about six million Jews killed, so I said in my heart. If I was correct in this, Captain, I do not know, but all this had to be on the basis of the report of the statistician...

And, further, what happened since that time until 1945 - for that I thought you could use the list which I gave, if one could obtain these documents to the extent that they are not already available, I am searching here amongst my [assumptions] has to take account of this, then it would be possible to arrive at the exact number.

In fact these numbers were not fixed, of course, from the point of view of the transport schedules, between the Reich Ministry and IVB4, since the East, the area of the Generalgouvernement was not taken into consideration in the transport schedules at all.

Thus the Department IVB4 had nothing to do with this at all.

L. Did you speak to Hoess about the number of Jews who were exterminated at Auschwitz?

E. No, never. He only said to me on one single occasion, he said to me, that here they had prepared "new buildings" and that here he could "put to death 10,000 daily". Something of this kind I remember. If I imagine this to myself today, I do not know but almost certainly I do not believe that I am only imagining this, for I can no longer recall when he said it to me, how he said this to me and what the appearance was of the place where he said it to me. For this reason I do not know this any more.

Possibly I read it and I now imagine to myself that I heard him saying what I read. This, too, would be possible.

L. Give me the dates of your various visits to Auschwitz.

E. Well, first and foremost, the matter began when I was sent there by Mueller. Thereafter nothing happened for a long time; subsequently I was in Auschwitz, twice, it seems, but not on duty, but when I was in Kattowitz, then I ...or once I travelled with Mildner to, then I was not at Auschwitz, then Hoess arrived after I can remember this point, about which you asked me, Captain, whether I met Hoess in other places, now I remember it; I was in Kattowitz, I was in Kattowitz and Mildner...Hoess came to Mildner and we the evening we went to a restaurant, to a Polish restaurant, the owner [of the restaurant] knew Mildner, and we were together there, but at that time it was not at the camp, for Kattowitz and the camp are far away from each other - I don't know how many kilometres.

Afterwards I was at Auschwitz at the time of the matter of Hungary, once because of the Kommerzialrat Storfer - this was the Storfer case - subsequently I was once in Auschwitz when it was described to me that the Hungarian gendarmerie had loaded the transports in a way which did not correspond to the directives, hereafter I was in Auschwitz - I was, therefore, in Auschwitz three times...three times in Auschwitz also during that period...also during that period, but what the reason was I do not know any longer today and if I cannot remember, then I can surely suppose that at the time of my first visit until...until Hungary...which was before the Hungarian matter, I was in Auschwitz once or twice, or I met with Hoess in Kattowitz.

At all events, I presume so.

L. During your first visit did you transmit any orders to Hoess?

E. No, nothing, except this, that I had an order to observe what was going on and to report to Mueller. This was the only thing. The people in Auschwitz, themselves, always carefully kept their distance - even Hoess at the beginning, seeing that they did not want to reveal their cards to anyone, and I was from a different authority from theirs, they wore the "death- head" symbol on their coat collars and I had nothing on my collar.

L. Did Hoess take you around the area on the occasion of your first visit?

E. Yes, he took me around on a tour, but then it was still very small, I reported this as well to Gruppenfuehrer Mueller. This was in the same way as it was then in that wooded the same wooded area of which I spoke, also there were these huts. There had, therefore, to be some general command from above, as a result of which the buildings were subsequently erected with a uniform design.

L. In the course of this, did you discuss the installations for killing by gas?

E. Hoess showed me this, there were the huts as I saw them, but by then I had seen enough, and I reported to Mueller. I did not watch the actual process of killing at which they also wanted me to be present.

L. Was there a discussion and a decision between you and Hoess on the question of disposing of those killed by gas?

E. No, on this matter Hoess had his own orders, or it was left within the scope of his authority, this I do not know - IVB4 was not involved in this. The disposal of those poisoned by gas, the disposal of those killed, namely by burial or burning, no, never.

L. Was the method of killing by gas discussed on this occasion between you and Hoess?

E. Yes, this he already mentioned to me the first time, namely about the cartons with do you call them...with those acids, the cartons of cyanide acid, I actually passed this on to Mueller. That was perhaps the only difference between Auschwitz and that place up there, the place where the Captain of the Police told me that it was a submarine engine.

L. What parts of Auschwitz did you visit on the later visits?

E. The headquarters.

L. Who, apart from Hoess, was present at the time of these visits?

E. Apart from Hoess: All this affair happened there in a most military fashion; one would think that his 1A, or that is how he was referred to by us, I think that 1A was present although not all the time, I presume. I did not... I did not recognize anyone in Auschwitz. I had no personal acquaintance there and I did not get to know, in the course of the time, any of the SS men personally to such an extent that he is engraved in my memory - or with whom I discussed, let us say, anything private; I had none.

L. Did you visit the gas chambers and the incinerators?

E. In front of the buildings, which I looked at for the sake of the report to Mueller, as I have said, as I have already said, that they were the same huts as in that wood in Poland, and we were in the area of the Generalgouvernement , and afterwards in front of this installation into which groups were being conveyed somehow exactly at that time, but I did not go inside, and I did not watch anything, but I walked away from there as I have already described. Apart from this I did not watch anything. And, thirdly, the place which he showed me, where the dead were burned.

Dr. Servatius: I would ask to be allowed to put a question to the witness now, as it has been said that documents and books were supplied to the Accused. As far as it was explained to me, the documents and books were only given to him a few months later, and then his evidence was given in greater clarity, as far as I was told by the Accused himself. I would, therefore, request to put the question to the witness.

Attorney General: Obviously Defence Counsel will be able to cross-examine the witness.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps you would ask the witness this question?

Attorney General: Mr. Less, you heard the question. When, as far as you know, were the books supplied to the Accused?

Witness Less:At a later stage. Actually the list to which I referred previously was of books kept in existing archives, and he also subsequently added to it the names of books upon which he wanted to rely, such as Reitlinger, Poliakov and Brand.

Presiding Judge: The evidence which we have now heard, was this before the books were supplied, or after it?

Attorney General: What has been heard was Reel 9.

Witness Less:In Reel 9 there were documents which I produced, so I believe, from his personal file. But the books had not yet been supplied.

Presiding Judge: Would you be able to ascertain more precise details?

Witness Less:Yes.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, when your turn comes to cross-examine, you can raise this matter again. In the meantime the witness will have full particulars on the point. Do you have anything to add on this matter?

Dr. Servatius: No, I have nothing to add.

Attorney General: In the course of the interrogation, did you submit documents to the Accused?

Witness Less:Yes.

Attorney General: The last excerpt is a short section summing up this episode.

Presiding Judge: Is this the last excerpt you wish to quote?

Attorney General: No, but I thought that the Court wanted to conclude the session.

Presiding Judge: Yes, it is already time to do so.

Attorney General: If the Court will allow me, I shall produce a short extract of two or three minutes. On page 380.

The next extract is from Reel 9, page 380:

L. On page 444 Hoess was asked:"I ask you: did Himmler examine the camp and was he present himself during the extermination processes? Hoess: Yes, certainly, in 1942 Himmler visited the camp and watched a process such as this from beginning to end. Dr. Kaufmann: Is the same true of Eichmann? Hoess: Eichmann was in Auschwitz repeatedly and knew about the processes exactly."

E. I knew no more, Captain, than I have said. I did see the small buildings at the beginning, I knew that they were putting them to death with these round cardboard objects, this is what Hoess told me, he even showed me one - I also reported it to Mueller - afterwards I saw this big building, from the outside. I did not observe the process of extermination, not at Auschwitz nor in any other place. Only in Minsk did I come across it when they were shooting. Apart from this case, I declined it, or I could not and I did not want to do so. I kept away from this because the burning of the corpses...had already aroused within me...a feeling... I was not capable of bearing this.

Hoess... I also said now, Captain, that Hoess told me that Himmler had been there and had said: "These are battles which the coming generations will no longer be required to fight." Then he also told me that Himmler had watched the entire process and what I gathered from him then somehow with disbelief, he said to me that "he was shaking at the knees." I said to myself "Very well but I don't want my knees to shake - I am not going to watch this." For, as far as I was concerned, it was sufficient to have seen the burning of the bodies, the burning of the bodies.

Presiding Judge: If you have a question relating to the last excerpt, please go on; otherwise - we shall adjourn.

Attorney General: The book from which you read to the Accused that excerpt referred to at the beginning of the extract quoted here, what book was it from?

Witness Less:It referred to page 375 which is volume II of the Blue Series - the official German edition. Q. It says here that it is on page 444.

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: We shall now adjourn. The next Session will be on Friday, at nine o'clock in the morning.

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