The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Sessions 13
(Part 2 of 5)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Attorney General: Were these called the "Incorporated Regions?"

Witness Baron: Yes. The remaining part of Poland which remained under German control was called the Generalgouvernment - as early as September 1939. Thereafter the war passed from the east to the north. In April 1940 the German forces entered Denmark for the first time and subsequently Norway. These two countries were occupied in the month of April 1940 and came under the control of the German army. At the beginning of May 1940 the German forces entered Holland, Belgium and France. This was in the months of May-June 1940. After the surrender of King Leopold to the German forces, a ruling clique remained in Belgium with independent status, while Holland was under the authority of a German governor.

France was divided into three parts: the northern part was ruled by the German army; the southern part was dominated by the forces of Italy, which entered the war in May 1940; and the rest remained under the control of Marshall Philippe Petain, and was called the Vichy Republic. This situation continued until the year 1942, until November 1942, when the German forces occupied the whole of France.

In April 1941 the war moved to the Balkans. And here the German and Italian forces took over domination of the Balkans with the aid of Bulgaria and in particular occupied Yugoslavia and Greece.

Yugoslavia was divided up: Croatia became a separate republic, parts of Thrace were given to Bulgaria and the other part came under the dominion of Germany. The same thing happened to Albania and Greece. Albania was occupied first by the Italians, and they also received the southern portion of Greece, Athens and the Peloponnese. The main area in which there were Jews was Salonika - the city where three- quarters of all the Jews of Greece lived - and it came directly under German rule. Part of Thrace was given to Bulgaria which had been an ally of Germany. Rumania also became an ally of Germany.

And here there were important changes when the war between Germany and the Soviet Union began. Even prior to this, in a dispute between Rumania and Hungary, in terms of the agreement - Diktat the arbitration award - of Vienna between Ribbentrop and Mussolini, northern Transylvania was given to Hungary, there were minor changes here. After the war with Soviet Russia, the following were the arrangements for ruling the occupied areas: The major portion was occupied by the German army. Of this part, namely in the north, they created "Ostland" which went by the name of "Ukraine." The southern portion, Galicia and so forth, was added to the Generalgouvernment. And all these vast areas, to the extent that they were subject to the German forces, remained under their rule until the Soviet forces returned and overcame the German armies. There is hardly anything to add to this.

Presiding Judge: We are talking only of Europe, and not of North Africa?

Attorney General: Which of these countries were directly under German rule and which were satellites? Let us start in the north-west. Was Norway under military rule?

Witness Baron: Yes.

Q. Denmark was at first a "Muster Protektorat" (Exemplary Protectorate) and then occupied?

A Correct.

Q. And France?

A The northern portion was directly under German rule, and from November 1942 - all of France.

Q. Was Belgium a country of occupation?

A Belgium was a country of occupation, although it remained with a King. King Leopold was a prisoner.

Q. And Holland?

A Holland was under direct occupation.

Q. When Italy dropped out of the War did the Germans take over northern Italy?

A Correct. The Allied Armies reached Naples. When Mussolini was deposed in Summer 1943, the Germans seized the country.

Q. Were Austria and the Protectorate regarded as parts of the "Gross-Reich"?

A The Protectorate was regarded so, more or less; Austria and the Sudetenland were completely part of the "Gross- Reich," as was this part of Poland.

Q. The Generalgouvernment at first was under military rule. And after that who was the Governor General there?

A Hans Frank was head of the Generalgouvernment.

Q. The Ostgebiet - the Ostland and the Ukraine - what were they?

A They were given essentially to Alfred Rosenberg, but under him there were Lohse and Koch, the two dictators of Ostland and Ukraine.

Q. Directly under German rule?

A Under German military rule.

Q. Was Rumania a satellite?

A In fact it was an ally until it left the War, and then the German forces occupied it once again; but in their stead came the forces of Soviet Russia.

Q. Slovakia was a so-called independent country, a satellite state?

A A small portion of Czechoslovakia, particularly Carpathorussia, was given to Hungary.

Q. Was Hungary an independent country?

A Hungary was an independent country until they deposed Horthy, and Szalasi became Prime Minister, and the German forces themselves entered and occupied the country.

Q. You are talking of a later date in the year 1944. The German's first entry was on March 10 1944, while Horthy was still in office.

A Yes. After Horthy visited Hitler at Klessheim, all was lost.

Q. And Croatia?

A Croatia was regarded as a separate republic and remained so until the arrival of the Allied armies.

Q. And was Serbia under full occupation?

A Serbia was under occupation until the arrival of the armies of Michaelovich and Tito. The Bachka region was transferred to Hungary.

Q. Was Greece under direct German rule?

A Only the northern part. Most of the country was handed over to Italy, but a certain portion also to Bulgaria and Eastern Thrace.

Q. And was Bulgaria satellite country?

A Bulgaria was a satellite state until it withdrew from the war.

Q. And now I think that there is only Luxembourg left. Was it annexed to the Reich?

A Luxembourg was annexed to the Reich in 1942. Before that it had only been occupied, but then it became a direct part of the Reich.

Attorney General: Thank you.

Presiding Judge: Was not Alsace-Lorraine also annexed to the Reich?

Witness Baron: Of course.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions to the witness?

Dr. Servatius: Professor, you surveyed the history of the Jewish people throughout the past 150 years. You referred to the persecution to which the Jewish people was subjected from time to time and in the end you dealt with the question why all these evils befell it, if throughout these times it had only done good. Can you, Professor, detail the reasons for this negative attitude, for this struggle against the Jewish people?

Witness Baron: Your Honours. Many theories have been offered as to the source of anti-Semitism and its development. The most outstanding feature was usually the hatred of the Jewish religion. The religion of the Jews was distinct from the other religions and they were hated simply for being "unbelievers," as being "heretics," people who did not believe in what the majority in the country believed, whether Christian, Moslem or otherwise.

In recent times this changed somewhat; that is to say it was realized, especially because of the wars between the Protestants and the Catholics, the Thirty Years' War, that it was impossible to perpetuate a state of affairs where a religious majority forced a religious minority to accept its religion.

Consequently, religious freedom became a fundamental principle in western countries, at least in Europe, America and so forth. Instead of the former hatred, came the hatred of the Jews as being of a different kind, that is to say what is occasionally called in English - the "dislike of the unlike"; the strange was something that was not liked. For this they also found many different intellectual explanations: for example the Jews were too dominant in economics, they lent money on interest, they took control of cultural affairs, etc. All kinds of justifications.

But this was the basic factor, that evidently the hatred arose solely because of this difference between the majority and the minority, and they wanted to justify it somehow. They justified it by using one argument or another. But there was another distinction: occasionally this hatred expressed itself in bloodshed. But in more recent times this had almost completely disappeared; only in Eastern Europe they still attacked the Jews physically - in the Ukraine, in White Russia. It could be said that this period had already passed, and the difference between the Jews and the Christians or the Moslems or any other religious group would remain in force - possibly there would be a struggle, but it would not lead to bloodshed. This is what was believed.

As a historian I can say that when the comparatively minor pogroms took place in Russia in 1881, the whole world was aroused, for nothing like that had happened for a hundred years or more, and it was believed that human progress had been such that the shedding of blood on account of the hatred of the Jews had vanished from the world. But all these things were minute compared with what took place in the nineteen-forties, and as I mentioned previously there had been nothing like it in Jewish history.

I can sum up by saying that if there had been anti-Semitism or opposition to the Jews almost throughout all the generations, whether in the Greek world, in the Persian world - according to the Book of Esther - in the Christian world and in the Moslem world of the Middle Ages, it is worth while remembering one fundamental fact, that there was practically no violence with bloodshed, not under the Persians and not under the Greeks. With the Romans there were minor disturbances in the times of Philo in Alexandria. There were hardly any disturbances under the Moslems over a period of 1,300 years.

Presiding Judge: Pardon me, Professor. I think the question was: what were the motivations of anti-Semitism.

Witness Baron: The answer is: The dislike of the unlike. There were also special factors in each country. This was economic jealousy, people who did not like their competitors who were Jews, whether in the professions or in business. Similarly there were also other special reasons of all kinds. But the fundamental difference - and this I stress - was that hatred of the Jews did not necessarily lead to bloodshed and violence, whereas here this tragic thing occurred.

Dr. Servatius: Don't you think that irrational motives are at the root of the fate of this people, something beyond the understanding of a human being?

Witness Baron: In a certain sense this leads us into the field of theology - philosophical or religious theology. If we start with this question, we are virtually starting with matters which are beyond human understanding. I am a historian, and according to my professional beliefs I have to find rational reasons, intelligible ones, for all historical development. Nevertheless it seems to me that we should not deny that a difference of religion alone is sufficient to explain much of the opposition to the Jewish people.

Even the pious men of Jewry believed the Dispersion itself was at the root of something beyond human understanding, which had come as a punishment from the Almighty for the sins of the early Jews in their own country and that this Dispersion atones for the transgressions of Man. All this, in a theological sense, can be correct, but does not justify any person or group of persons in being willingly, of their own volition and free choice, the instrument for punishing the Jewish people.

Q. Professor, I did not want the argument to enter into a philosophical question, but only into a historical question. You, Professor, certainly know that there is a school of thought regarding historical philosophy of historical jurisprudence, from Hegel to Spengler. Hegel and Spengler both say that there is a spiritual quality in history which impels it onwards. Hegel believes that the directing force is the spirit of history, Spengler - the spirit of culture, without the influence of Man.

A Your Honours, we are entering here into profound questions of the philosophy of history. As it happens I am not one of the historical determinists, not one of this group of Hegel and Spengler which may be called the determinist - idealistic, and not of the Marxist school, that is to say economic determinism. Even if each of these has some basis and if they can presume that such a thing exists, I have never felt that this approach is a justifiable one. In my opinion, history develops from elements and changes in society, many of which cannot be foreseen in any way - they are fortuitous. Chance is of great importance in history. Personality is of great importance in history. All these things, together, create history.

Obviously there are also fundamental movements, there is the ancestral heritage, but all these factors develop together. I have said that history does not jump forward on one leg, but progresses, perhaps on a hundred legs. Each single leg is part of the historic process. As far as our question is concerned, I am certain that even those who are determinists, even those who believe that everything coming to pass in history must essentially come to pass, as Hegel said, will nevertheless believe, as our forefathers believed, that, in fact, everything is determined in advance by the Almighty or by other determinist forces, but even then a choice is open to Man. In other words, each individual has to determine whether he will do such and such, and he is responsible for his actions. Even the most religious predestination of Calvin does not grant justification to any man to sin and commit evil in any way. If he is a criminal he will stand judgment before man and not only before God.

Dr. Servatius: This last question on which you touched, Professor, the question whether a choice is open to man is a question of religious philosophy. I wanted us to return to the sphere of the school of historical jurisprudence. As far as the school of historical jurisprudence is concerned, can one not say that what the leaders do does not always achieve the object at which they aimed? On the contrary, time and again it may lead towards the opposite result. Here they wanted to destroy and annihilate the Jewish people and the purpose of those plotting to do so came to nought. A prosperous state arose instead of this evil plan of theirs.

A The outcome of any of the deeds of man is not always in accordance with the intention. This is a known fact. We see this every day. But with regard to the historical school of jurisprudence, I was always amongst the disciples of Savigny and Einhorn and all those, and I greatly believe that they were right in this - that the law of history is only the outcome of the forces of ancestral heritage, possibly over centuries. I go even further; I myself once tried to show how far the forces within society have an influence on the development of religion and vice versa. My book, which I was privileged to mention this morning, was called A Social and Religious History of the Jews. Several of my lectures bore the special title "Social and Religious Inter-relations." I believe that society influences religion and religion has an influence on society and also on law. There are without doubt fundamental matters beyond the will of man. But all that is known thereof, all that has been acknowledged, is that history sometimes develops autonomously, that is to say, it is not manifested only in the will of such and such persons - every individual person in his own way - and every human grouping, in my opinion, is responsible for its actions and cannot say that it merely executes the demands of history. Because, if so, anyone could interpret history specially for himself and the world would be chaotic.

Q. This is my last question to this witness, your Honours. The witness is certainly aware that Hitler often used to rely on what was termed historical Providence, and notwithstanding this, his efforts were in vain. If a leader of nations cannot exert the influence desired by him, how much more so would the effort of one individual out of several, one in a crowd, on being asked to wield influence, be of no value at all?

A In reply to this question - this is not a historical question, but more a legal question. To what extent an individual person who is not a leader is also responsible in the historical sense - there is no doubt that sometimes insignificant people have much more influence on the course of history than their importance to the state warrants. There are cases as I have said - someone said, for example, that we do not know what the history of Europe would have been if on the day of Waterloo Napoleon had not had a headache. There are such fortuitous cases. They are fortuitous for individuals, for a few people.

But I do not see any logical connection here between the fundamental historical outlook and the personal responsibility of a leader or of the most insignificant of men - the personal responsibility in respect of basic morality, in respect of good and evil - this does not concern historical matters but religious matters, moral questions in the life of man on earth, in society, in religion.

Presiding Judge: Why do you refer to this as a legal problem? This is not clear to me.

Witness Baron: I thought that here there was a question whether there is a distinction between a leader and an ordinary person as to whether he is responsible for changes in history or not.

Presiding Judge: Let us perhaps leave that to the jurists.

Witness Baron: Quite right.

Dr. Servatius: I have no further questions.

Attorney General: I have no questions.

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