The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 11
(Part 2 of 4)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Attorney General: I would request the replay of the portion at the foot of page 711, beginning with Mr. Less' question "Koennen Sie mir vielleicht noch eine Sache erklaeren?"
L. Can you explain to me another thing which I repeatedly fail to understand: the question that it was not desirable to return the foreign Jews and the confiscation of Jewish property. What has this to do with "technical questions of transport."

E. Yes, Captain.

L. From this...- don't keep on interrupting me...- I beg your pardon.

E. Certainly.

L. From this it transpires, over and over again, that your Department dealt with these problems as well.

E. To some extent.

L. Apart from the problems of transport.

E. Yes, Captain, it is true to a certain extent, for these were prior considerations in order to enable the carrying out of the deportation at all, for I could not possibly...that is I could not possibly act in such a way that some official or other, of some deportation authority or other, would simply go out into the street and indiscriminately simply seize and deport every Jew, because this is called the "transportation of Jews."

It could not be in this way...this was impossible, since here there was a need to...all the difficulties...there was a need on the part of IVB4, of the competent authorities, as I have already managed to say repeatedly...

L. I should like at this point to interrupt you...

E. Yes.

L. Because the recording tape is running out. Tomorrow we will continue talking about this. The time is now exactly 14.14.

E. All right.

The Attorney General: I request page 716, from the beginning of the page.
L. Was this a law of the Reich - or let us put it this way - was the final solution of the Jewish question also a law of the Reich?

E. The final solution of the Jewish question itself - I now refer for example to the special task that was assigned to Heydrich - to put it for once quite blatantly - the killing - was not a law of the Reich - it was an order of the Fuehrer, a so-called Fuehrer's order, and Himmler, Heydrich and the Chief of the Administrative- Economic Head Office divided up amongst themselves, as heads of the offices, [the implementation of] this order of the Fuehrer. In accordance with the legal conception of that time, which was commonly accepted, let us say that "the words of the Fuehrer had the force of law." This was a well- known thing, but not only in this case, but in all the cases - with all the central authorities - it was obligatory to take account of that in a proper manner. The words of the Fuehrer have the force of law - this is how it was called, at all times and in every place.

L. Is this, then, the answer to my question?

E. That of yesterday - this was my reply, Captain, yes definitely for here the question was - the question which was obviously put with justification, Captain, - namely "Were the Department's duties not merely of a transportation character?" That was your question is that not so, Captain, ?

L. It did not have a purely transportation character?

E. Obviously it was not merely of a transportation character, but the directives were the conditions for implementation in general.

L. Here there was a special misssion. Right? There was a special objective which they had to solve - the destruction of the Jews, which - as you said - was received from above. It was from this that all the problems flowed, but...

E. Obviously, Captain, ...

L. ...Nothing direct. You always wanted to describe the matter as if you were, here, only a transportation officer - and nothing more.

E. Which was generally the case, Captain, "

Both talk at once.

L. Please don't interrupt - as it appears from all the documents which have so far been produced, your function was a far greater one. You had to become actively involved in these affairs. The question whether you acted, in whatever direction on the strength of an order, which had been given previously, is in my opinion completely irrelevant to this issue. It is a fact that side by side with the transportation question - the technical transportation question, as you termed it - you also dealt with aspects which certainly had no connection with technical- transportation questions.

E. May I now...

L. Certainly, do you agree with that?

E. Captain, Department IVB4 never received an order to kill - never. Department IVB4 had nothing to do with it, excepting where it was the actual transportation aspect - as you have just said, seeing that...I said already yesterday, so it seems to me...that it could never have worked - so, for example, an order for Paris, the Hague or Brussels - "a thousand persons to be put here into one train," for them it would have been necessary to issue directives, since the people had to - the deporting authority had to know what and which category of people. This detail was added and conveyed - obviously - and this I have to admit - by Department IVB4, in accordance with those instructions and orders of IVB4's superiors, which we had in our possession.

Attorney General: I would request the next section from page 724, which begins with the words: "Aber fuer alle Fragen" and ends on page 729, with the words "Herr Hauptmann, das ist sicher."
L. But with regard to all the questions touching upon the Jews in the occupied areas or in other areas, they fell within the jurisdiction of your representative, who...

E. Yes certainly, that was obvious.

L. The question of the Jews?

E. Yes, certainly, obviously, this was...this...this actually...Captain, this...

L. And he was the competent authority.

E. He was the competent authority for this, that is true, Captain, except that he would not, obviously, take decisions on his own.

L. But he received the decisions from you.

E. Yes, certainly. On this he had appropriate instructions and directives from Berlin, and now he had to see, to consider how...he could somehow co-ordinate these directives with the efforts of the BdS and the senior commander of the SS and the police. An order, for example, just a simple order from Berlin to the official, was for example completely lacking in significance, if the BdS or the senior commander of the SS and the police objected for any reasons whatsoever.

L. Seeing - as you said - we are talking of an order from the Fuehrer...

E. Yes, surely.

L. is difficult for me to imagine that one of the men of the BdS in the various districts, would dare to do anything which would give rise to difficulties for the official in charge in the area.

E. No, here you are correct, Captain, it was in fact as you say. Only in France, for example - it was actually a prior condition - but also in the other countries - it was necessary, as a prior condition, firstly to clarify the legislative aspect in this sovereign area - if I may be permitted for once to put it in this way. And only then would all the rest become possible.

L. When you say "legislative" area are you referring to questions of nationality?

E. All...the...all the questions [which had to be settled] with the French Government - which demanded sovereignty for itself - this was necessary, as also appears, if you please, from those documents, which I have already signed.

L. I now show you a photocopy marked by me with the numbers 1+2, 9 June 1960, p.726. I now read to you:

"The Head Office for Reich Security IVB46 2768/41G (511), Berlin, South West 11 - dated 14 August 1941 - Secret. -Urgent letter - To the State Police Post - for the attention of the Ass...Assistant"...

E. Assesor...

L. Assessor Dr. Wenker or his substitute, Duesseldorf, Prinz Georg Str. 88. Re: Jewish Art Treasures Reference...

For special reasons I have to request you to notify me by 5 September 1941 whether there are still...and if so what are the...objects of art of special value in your district under Jewish ownership, namely objects of art of the kind that were once in Jewish ownership and which perhaps it is possible to acquire through public auction or purchase. These works of art must be designated not only according to their general classification but by means of an exact and detailed specification.

Included in this are first of all the following particulars Name of the artist, age, estimated value, and indication of the person having currently possession, a short description of ownership so far, addtional features having special significance; the intention is to offer these works of art to be purchased by an extremely high authority. By order (I.A.) Signed Eichmann."

"Authenticated by a clerk in the Chancellery." And after that there is noted here a written remark based upon a subsequent telephone conversation with Sturmbannfuehrer Eichmann at RSHA, in which the time limit was extended to 15.9.41.

...I am unable to read this, what is written here. Could you kindly look at the document?

E. Yes, surely.

L. And comment on it?

E. This is a letter which Regierungsrat Suhr, a member of my Department, that is to say, this - this must be read within the context of the wish, or of...of the practice of Goering to equip himself with outstanding works of art, pictures and the like, as he had also done in the West, and [wrote] here - this is obviously again some kind of...some kind of...some kind of a letter containing in its fair copy ...from the memorandum it was possible to conclude that it was a kind it was referred to IVB4 - and directed to me...and it could be surely determined that here, at the State Police, in the office of the secret State Police, Duesseldorf, that such things existed, since it was addressed only to an officer of the State Police, there must therefore have been given some indication or other - there must have been given - something there, and in consequence of this it was prepared by Suhr and written to this State Police office. In addition, here is Suhr's signature.

L. Ah, this is Suhr's signature?

E. Suhr's...yes...this is Suhr....yes.

L. This is not a technical-transportation question?

E. No, this is not a technical-transportation question, Captain, that is certain."

Attorney General: I would now request the portion starting on page 781 in the middle, starting with the question by Captain Less: "Sie sagen, sie hatten nichts mit der Toetung zu tun" up to page 784.
L. Do you say that you had nothing to do with the killing?

E. Yes.

L. But the transports for killing were provided, the people to be killed were delivered up...

E. Yes, indeed, it is true to an extent, Captain, that I received the order to do this, to deport, but not every person whom I deported was put to death. It was completely beyond my knowledge who was killed and who was not, otherwise 2,400,000 persons, when counted, would not have been discovered again.

L. Already, yesterday, I replied to you about this that it was not to your credit that Jews were still found alive, but it was thanks to the Allies, who achieved the victory. Had the war gone on and continued for a longer period, then, it would appear, then these two million, too, would not have been alive. For your plan was extermination - the total extermination of all the Jews...

E. Not my plan, for I had nothing to do with this plan, Captain, .

L. Oh yes, you were certainly connected with the plan, for...

E. Yes, I...I am surely guilty of being an accomplice - this is absolutely clear. I have indeed already said so once - to this extent I cannot evade my responsibility, Captain, and it would have been absurd if I had wanted to try and do so, since according...according to the legal conception, I am obviously guilty of being an accomplice - this I can see for myself. To this I agree.

L. We are not talking, here, of a legal conception. We are talking of the bare facts.

E. Yes, but I mean, on the basis of those bare facts, according to....I am legally guilty of being an accomplice, that is obvious...I understand this, but therefore I am also endeavouring - I also cannot try - in any way - to want to avoid find an excuse for this....

L. Alright, but in all your explanations, again and again, you hide, you try to retreat and take shelter behind "This was not the sphere of my operation, this was not my field, these were the instructions that I received, it belonged to the the Reich Railways Administration" and so on...

E. Yes, I was indeed forced to do so, Captain, for as head of Department IVB4 I truly was not authorized for everything, but only within the scope of my objectives, which was limited and relatively narrow. That designated scope of objectives together with its narrow limitations can be checked at any time, because this was after all a central authority..."

Attorney General: Mr. Less, what does the statement deal with, before the part beginning on page 855 with your question "Hier auf Seite 8, im ersten Absatz"?

Witness Less: This discusses the report of the Wannsee Conference.

Q. Thank you. I would request the playing back of the extract on page 855 beginning with Mr. Less' question.

Less: Here, on page 8 in the first paragraph, Heydrich continues:

"It will be necessary to give appropriate treatment to the remnants which are likely ultimately to survive. Seeing that we are dealing here undoubtedly with the most resistent section, a section which must be seen to be a natural selection, a germinating cell for Jewish reconstruction in case of release."

What is the meaning here of "It will be necessary to give appropriate treatment?"

Eichmann: This is...this is some...this matter originated with Himmler - natural selection - that was...that was...that was a pet saying of his "Natural Selection."

L. Yes, but what does it mean here?

E. Put to death, put to death, of course...

L. Here on page 9 in paragraph 1 it says as follows I quote part of the sentence:

"With regard to the treatment for the final solution in the occupied European areas and those under our influence it is suggested that the appropriate officials in charge at the Department in the Foreign Ministry consult with the competent officer at the Security Police and the SD."

The competent officer at the Department mentioned here - does that refer to you?

E. It referred to me, yes, may I just have a look, please - "it was suggested" - "it was suggested that the appropriate officials"...apparently...apparently...this was suggested apparently by the representative of the Foreign Ministry - or evidently this was the Under-Secretary of State, Luther. It was, therefore, probably - not probably - this was taken for granted, it in fact emerges from this that the appropriate officials of the Department of the Foreign Ministry should get in touch with the competent officer at the Department of the State Police and SD, this had to be me, yes, definitely."

Attorney General: Mr. Less, was this discussed in the portion of the statement immediately preceding your question on page 932 "und Guenther?"

Witness Less: This arose from the question which I put on page 931, where I asked if the talks and the negotiations which were conducted between the Accused's representatives and his deputy and other institutions were held with his knowledge and consent.

Attorney General: Thank you. I would ask you to let us listen to the tape from page 932, beginning with Mr. Less' question "and Guenther"?

L. And Guenther?

E. ....He didn't always inform me... Guenther began greatly exaggerating his own self-estimation, when the affair in Berlin began working smoothly, and he was in turn the opposite of Suhr - Guenther was a man who was the opposite of Suhr. Guenther always outwardly portrayed the character of a "veteran fighter" - Guenther was - his main characteristic was stubbornness - whatever he wanted to do, he carried a tank, and he...there was my regret...he frequently used to decide matters on his own authority, although he himself had little...he had the minimal experience in his sphere, but I was compelled to accept this, as a fact, and even today I am obliged to bear responsibility for the matter.

L. Didn't he also try, as indeed was the general tendency, to provide cover for himself? E. Yes, I must say this - I must say here from - from the point of view of my matter, of which I spoke earlier, that the head of the Department was responsible for the persons subordinate to him - I must mention something which I have already referred to, Captain, . This was cause for great discord between me and Guenther, who at some time or other - I don't know when - at any rate it was also at the time when I was not in Berlin, I think when he got involved in some business about gas.

L. You mentioned this, I believe, when you were in Hungary.

E. Possibly, when I was in Hungary, evidently that was it, yes. Matters of this kind, you know, Guenther did not weigh up in a calculated manner, and this is, where...where...where he interfered - this [I asked myself] the same words, why did he interfere in matters which were not his concern, for which the Department was not at all - was not at all competent...for how would I bring this matter now before the head of the Ministry - he would surely send me to Hell. He would surely have reprimanded me seriously...even for lesser contraventions.

Attorney General: I request the playing back of the section commencing with Less' question on page 976.
L. Was the deportation of the gypsies to the extermination camps also carried out by your Department?

E. Yes, indeed...that is, I don't know whether all the gypsies...this I do not know...from the west...the gypsies from the, to the camps? - to a ghetto...not to the camps, a ghetto, to Lodz, this was the beginning...before the French war...before the outbreak of the Franco-German war, I believe, or afterwards, I do not know...from the...from the western areas.

L. Weren't the gypsies also brought afterwards to Auschwitz, and put to death there by gassing?

E. Captain, I do not know this now, I do not know it...

L. Didn't your Department also have to deal with the evacuation of the Poles from the area of the Generalgouvernement?

E. Yes, that is to say... It was Krumey's task in...where was it, in Lodz he was the director of the local office of the Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of German Folkdom. Let me just consider how it was conducted, at that time; and so the Poles were resettled here...yes, yes...we had to deal with this as far as the transports....we had to supply the material from the Reich Ministry of Transport, at the time when the transports were moving from the Reich...that is to say from the Warthegau to the region of the Generalgouvernement itself, no, but this was from the Warthegau, it seems to me.

There were Poles here....according to a special plan between the Reichs Commission for the Strengthening of German Folkdom and the local State Police or between the central authorities of the State Police and the SS and Police Leaders respective of - this was yet another reason why here - nowhere else were there SS and Police Leaders, only - only in the area of the Generalgouvernement - apart from this, the expression did not exist at all.

And with the SS and Police Leaders and with the authorities of the Generalgouvernement for...the area of the Generalgouvernement, gypsies...ah...Poles were evacuated (wurden ausgesiedelt) from their places of residence and Volksdeutsche were settled in their place - those who had been brought by the Commissioner for the Strengthening of Germanism as this office was called - from the Russian areas to this country - but we had nothing to do with the evacuation from their places of residence and the resettlement, for here only Novak was supposed to order the transports from the Reich Ministry of Transport.

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