The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 16
(Part 2 of 6)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Attorney General: "....On the basis of my personal experience, I again assert that despite the fact that Eichmann was covered by the orders of Hitler and Himmler, his share in this deed, the decimation of European Jewry, is decisive and the full responsibility for this must be attributed to him, in view of the fact that other possibilities existed for circumventing Hitler's order."

It is my request now that the Court permit me to submit the declaration written by Rudolf Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz, which we possess in his own handwriting, confirmed by the Polish Government Body for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes. I submit here the Polish law dated 10 November 1945, which set up this Supreme Committee for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland. Amongst its powers were the examination and gathering of material relating to German crimes perpetrated in the years 1939-1945 in Poland or beyond its borders, affecting Polish subjects or persons who belonged to the Polish nation and also regarding foreigners who were in Poland at that time. A further part of its functions was the conduct and co- ordination of the activities of district committees and of institutions carrying out similar activities, the publication of material and the findings of its research into German crimes. This was a Polish Government body, and from it - and with its approval - we obtained Rudolf Hoess' written statement on Eichmann. I shall first submit the Polish law. This is our document No. 1374.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/86.

Attorney General: Now I would ask to submit the document confirmed by this official body - the written statement of Rudolf Hoess, who was also executed as a war criminal - he, too, collaborated with Eichmann. His statement was written close to the time of the events in November 1946, while he was imprisoned in Cracow.

The Court will find that the complete autobiography of Rudolf Hoess, including the portion which I mentioned, and which I intend to read now, was published by that same Polish governmental body in Bulletin No. 6.

Presiding Judge: He wrote an autobiography?

Attorney General: He wrote his autobiography while he was in the Cracow prison.

Presiding Judge: In his handwriting?

Attorney General: In his own handwriting. It was published by the Polish Government in its official translation into Polish, and subsequently the statement was published in other languages, including German and English. It will be evident to the Court from the prefaces to the English and German editions that the translators were able to refer to Rudolf Hoess' original in German, since this is a translation - albeit official - but a translation into Polish. I am supported by this in proving all the material, for it is an official publication. Apart from this I have in my possession the extract on Eichmann in a photocopy of the original itself. I would ask the Court to admit the volume.

Presiding Judge: On what page does it appear there?

Attorney General: In the seventh volume, from page 59 onwards.

Judge Raveh: At the time of recording this statement, did they read from this book or from these extracts to the Accused?

Attorney General: They read to him extracts from the writings of Hoess. They also read to him from the evidence of Hoess at the trial, and we shall submit this later on.

Presiding Judge: They read him the whole of this section?

Attorney General: I am not sure of that. I am sure that they read him extracts from Hoess' evidence.

Judge Raveh: Can you tell us where this appears in the statement of the Accused?

Attorney General: Yes, Your Honour, this appears on pages 3042-3045.

Presiding Judge: In T/37?

Attorney General: Yes, in T/37. Part of the remarks of Rudolf Hoess are to be found in a book which I ask to submit. The Court will find that there are several appendices to this autobiography on various persons, amongst them on Eichmann. And this is what I request at the present time to submit to you as part of the personal file.

Presiding Judge: Is this what appears there on page 59?

Attorney General: This is what appears on page 59 onwards. It appears as an appendix. From page 59 the autobiography of Hoess himself appears.

As justification for my application to deviate in this matter from the rules of evidence, I would like to add that this matter also links up with what is mentioned in the statement of the Accused in regard to his visit to Auschwitz - he spoke about his meeting with Rudolf Hoess, and what according to him, was known to him about Auschwitz. Hence there is also relevance to this matter and also probative value to this document in the sense of the decision which the Court gave here. I would ask you to admit the document.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have anything to say in this matter?

Dr. Servatius: For the present I have no objection to the document as such. But I would be grateful to the Attorney General if he could tell us whether he knows that together with the submission of this account, there was attached a request for clemency?

Attorney General: I must say that I have no knowledge about that. From the autobiography itself it emerges, so Hoess writes at any rate, that he had no hope of remaining alive and he knew what lay in store for him. This he writes explicitly.

Presiding Judge: [pointing to the photostatic copy] Is this a photostatic copy of the manuscript?

Attorney General: Yes, Your Honour, this is a photostatic copy of the manuscript under discussion.

Presiding Judge: [Pointing to the book] And is this the chapter relating to the Accused?

Attorney General: Yes, Your Honour. There is another chapter I shall wish to submit from that autobiography, "The Final Solution of the Jewish Question in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp," which is contained in that book.

Presiding Judge: Is that also a photostatic copy?

Attorney General: No, we do not have a photostatic copy of this.

Presiding Judge: It is only a translation?

Attorney General: What I have with me is a translation. And that portion was translated into German from the Polish translation of the official Polish edition.

Presiding Judge: Where was this translation made?

Attorney General: We were aided in this translation by the German translation as well. This book was published both in German and in English.

Presiding Judge: Is this actually the original?

Attorney General: The original was German. If the Court will recall, Captain Less gave evidence about this here, when he read extracts to the Accused from the book and he even submitted the English version as an exhibit before the Court. Captain Less produced extracts from it to the Accused and asked him to react to it.

Presiding Judge: The German original was not in his possession at that time?

Attorney General: The difficulty arises from the fact that the German original was not published by the Polish Government. The book was published in its Polish translation.

Presiding Judge: And you did not receive the photostat of the second part?

Attorney General: We did not obtain the second part.

Presiding Judge: If that is the case, this is a German translation of the Polish translation?

Attorney General: Yes, Your Honour.

Dr. Servatius: After the clarification of the manner in which this was brought before us here, I must voice an objection relating to the translation, and I request that perhaps with the documents that have been submitted in translation here, there should also be submitted a photocopy, for I have doubts as to whether certain remarks which were thought to be necessary, were not eliminated.

Presiding Judge: First of all we shall dispose of the two first documents, and thereafter I shall make a note of these remarks relating to the third document and we shall see what to do about it.

Decision No. 8

We decide to admit the official Polish Bulletin containing the autobiography of Hoess and the photostatic copy of the manuscript of Hoess in regard to the Accused before us. We do so for the same reasons we stated in our Decision No. 7 of today concerning the reports of Wisliceny.

The Bulletin will be marked T/87.

The photostat of the manuscript of Hoess will be marked T/88.

Attorney General: Perhaps I should read T/88. I request permission to read some extracts, not many, from the book - from T/88:

"Eichmann was a man full of life, always active, at the age of 30 with his full energy. He always had new plans and always sought innovations and improvements. He never knew rest. He was wholly and compulsively obsessed with the Jewish Question and with the 'Final Solution.' Eichmann was obliged constantly to make a direct oral report to the Reichsfuehrer-SS on the preparations and implementation of individual operations. And only Eichmann had the ability to pass on exact information regarding numbers. He remembered almost everything. Amongst his files were a number of files with notes, with markings which were unintelligible to others, which he always carried with him. Even his permanent deputy, Guenther, could not always provide full information. Eichmann was always travelling on duty. Only on rare occasions could one meet him in Berlin in his office. His staff who were in the relevant countries had to supply Eichmann with the required data regarding the country in question for the purpose of preparing the operations against the Jews. Thus, for example, Wisliceny was active in Slovakia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and in Hungary."
Perhaps one other passage, the one before this:
"I myself got to know him for the first time, after receiving an order from the Reichsfuehrer-SS to destroy the Jews, when he came to me at Auschwitz to discuss with me in greater detail the operation of extermination."
And later:
"Eichmann's headquarters had to attend to transport trains and to fix the transportation charts with the Reich Ministry of Transport. On the orders of Pohl, I went to Budapest three times in order to determine on the spot the number of the people who were fit for work. On this occasion I was able to see Eichmann at the time of the negotiations with the Hungarian Government authorities and with the Hungarian Army. He behaved with decisiveness and with precision. Despite this he was pleasant in his manner and polite. He was liked and welcomed everywhere. The many private invitations from the heads of these authorities prove this. Only with the Hungarian Army Eichmann was not welcome."
I pass over a passage and read:
"Eichmann was absolutely convinced that if he succeeded in wiping out the biological foundation of the Jews in the East by means of total extermination, Jewry as a whole would not be able to recover from a blow such as this, for it would not be possible for the assimilated Jews of the West, including America, to replace once again that tremendous loss of their blood, nor would they want to, especially when a natural increase worthy of the term could hardly be expected from such Jews. In this opinion he was strengthened over and over again by the Elder of Hungarian Jewry, who while being a fanatical Zionist always tried to obtain Eichmann's approval for the rescue of families with many children from being handed over. Eichmann used to talk at length with this Zionist leader on the Jewish Question. Incidentally it was interesting to hear that this man was exceptionally well-informed on the affairs of Auschwitz and the numbers of transports, the selection and the extermination."
Presiding Judge: Who was this, Eichmann?

Attorney General: I think the reference was to the Jewish Elder.

Judge Raveh: The "fanatical Zionist."

Attorney General: Yes. The "fanatical Zionist."

[Continues reading]

"Eichmann was totally obsessed by his mission and convinced that the campaign of extermination was essential in order to rescue the German nation in future from the desire of the Jews to destroy it. This is how he saw his mission and he devoted all his energy to the realization of the extermination plans of the Reichsfuehrer-SS.

"Eichmann was also a sworn opponent of the selection of Jews fit for work. He saw in this a constant threat to the 'Plans for the Final Solution' by means of mass escape or by means of some events that might occur. His view was that one had to operate with the maximum possible speed and in a decisive manner in order to implement all the operations against the Jews which could be included in any way, for one never knew how the War would end. In 1943 he already had doubts about the total victory of Germany and believed that it would result in a stalemate.

"Because of this attitude I was not able to secure from Eichmann any help for Auschwitz. All the entreaties, all the reasoning, the evidence on the spot, were not able to change his opinion. He always sheltered behind the orders he had received from the Reichsfuehrer-SS to carry out the operations at the maximum possible speed and not to allow them to be delayed at all. Despite the fact that nevertheless I was on good social terms with Eichmann, we clashed on this subject, sometimes violently. Often I had to struggle over every transport train I wanted to delay, in most cases in vain. Furthermore, he often surprised me by transports over and above the quota. He did everything to implement the Final Solution of the Jewish Question with the greatest possible speed. Every day was vital for him. He did not allow himself to consider difficulties. This he learned from the Reichsfuehrer-SS. The Final Solution of the Jewish Question was Eichmann's life mission."

Presiding Judge: Would you please hand in a third copy of the German original of the documents you submitted today?

Attorney General: We shall do so.

Now with regard to the second extract from the book by Hoess, entitled "Die Endloesung der Judenfrage im K.L. Auschwitz" (The Final Solution of the Jewish Question in the Concentration Camp Auschwitz).

Judge Halevi: This has already been referred to at length in the first volume of T/37, on page 382. I asked you whether this is exactly what was then shown to the Accused - the extract beginning with the words "Ich habe hier ein Buch das heisst 'Kommandant von Auschwitz'," and thereafter came the words "Autobiographische Aufzeichnungen (Autobiographic Notes), Rudolf Hoess, 1959, Seite 153."

Attorney General: That is it exactly, but what happened here? There are a number of appendices to the autobiography. In the Polish and English editions all of them are included. In the German edition published in Stuttgart, not all of them were included, to the best of my knowledge. And this I shall be able to clear up in the light of Defence Counsel's objection. This appendix "Die Endloesung der Judenfrage im K.L.Auschwitz" appears in its original German edition. This is actually a reprint of Hoess' words.

Judge Halevi: Is the book in your possession?

Attorney General: This book was in our possession. We returned it to Yad Vashem, but we can obtain it in a short while.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps you can obtain it from them in order that Dr. Servatius may be able to see it.

Attorney General: He received it some time ago. He examined it a long time ago.

Presiding Judge: But in order that he may be convinced.

Attorney General: Very well. Meanwhile I shall submit other material.

Dr. Servatius: Thank you.

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