The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 79
(Part 1 of 5)

Session No. 79

12 Tammuz 5721 (26 June 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the seventy-ninth Session of the trial open. The Accused will continue with his testimony in direct examination. I remind the Accused that he is still testifying under oath. You may proceed, Dr. Servatius.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, at the last Session Your Honour asked me to indicate how much longer I would require for the Defence. I would estimate that I shall finish not this week, but by the beginning or middle of next week.

The last document under discussion was exhibit T/185, document No. 74, with reference to the aims of what is known as the Wannsee Conference. The Accused gave his account about the convening of the conference and said that he drafted Heydrich's address. He then said that a record of proceedings was drawn up, which was modified several times, and of which the final version is now before the Court.

Witness, does this record give a correct summary of the content of the deliberations?

Accused: Before I go into this question, with your permission, as Counsel for the Defence, I should like to add a small point: You just said that I drafted Heydrich's address. This is only partly true, as I explained last time. As to whether the record of proceedings summarizes the result of the discussion, I believe that I answered this, too, last time, in connection with another question, and I said that this record summarizes the content of the deliberations, although - how shall we put it - certain vulgarisms - or, to put it another way - a certain amount of jargon was worked over, and it was drafted in official language, as a result of the record going back and forth in draft form to Heydrich and back to myself.

Dr. Servatius: Witness, a record of this type cannot reproduce the atmosphere of this conference, the basic attitude of all the participants. Could you say something about this?

Accused: Certainly. The atmosphere was characterized by Heydrich's relaxed, satisfied behaviour. He most definitely expected the greatest difficulties at this conference.

Dr. Servatius: Witness, the point is what the other participants in the conference expressed.

Accused: Yes, of course. Not only did everybody willingly indicate agreement, but there was something else, entirely unexpected, when they outdid and outbid each other, as regards the demand for a Final Solution to the Jewish Question. The biggest surprise, as far as I remember, was not only Buehler, but above all Stuckart, who was always cautious and hesitant, but who suddenly behaved there with unaccustomed enthusiasm.

Dr. Servatius: Witness, before this conference, you yourself saw something of the preparations being made in the East for these extermination measures. Is that correct?

Accused: Yes.

Dr. Servatius: Did the conference participants also already know something about this form of the Final Solution?

Accused: I must assume that this was known, since, at the time of the Wannsee Conference, the war against Russia had been going on for six months and, as we have seen from the documents, the Special Operations Units were in action in these areas. And, of course, the central key figures in the Reich Government were aware of these facts.

Dr. Servatius: How long did the conference last? And what happened after the end of the conference?

Accused: The conference itself was relatively short. I cannot give the precise length today, but I think that somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half would be about right. Before and afterwards, the gentlemen stood around in groups, of course, clearly discussing the conference and other matters, and I remember that afterwards, when the guests had left, Heydrich and Mueller stayed behind. I was also allowed to be present at this informal get-together; I had received permission, and that was when Heydrich briefly expressed his opinion about the conference, and, as I have already said, his satisfaction was quite obvious.

Dr. Servatius: But the comments on - I think - the Sassen Documents seem to indicate that you were also extremely satisfied. Would you care to comment?

Accused: Yes, indeed; but my satisfaction was related to a totally different area from Heydrich's satisfaction and, if I might, I should like to make a few comments about this, in order to explain my frame of mind at this time. Heydrich's satisfaction was connected to the result of the conference, while my satisfaction was relative to my personal self-examination as to the results of the Wannsee Conference.

I had to render an account to myself, to determine to what extent I was personally connected with the result of the Wannsee Conference. I was reassured by the thought that, although I held a relatively low rank as Obertleutnant, and even more junior rank before that, I had striven to be on the look-out for possible solutions - possible peaceful solutions - which would be acceptable to both parties, but would not require such a violent and drastic solution of bloodshed.

I think that I can prove that I am not just saying this now when I stand at the bar of an Israeli court, by referring to my efforts to organize the otherwise chaotic nature of compulsory and voluntary emigration. Further corroboration is provided by what was called the Radom Project. Thirdly, there were my efforts in connection with the Madagascar Plan.

Having thus made clear to some extent my own wishes, when it came to the outcome of the Wannsee Conference, I felt something of the satisfaction of Pilate, because I felt entirely innocent of any guilt. The leading figures of the Reich at the time had spoken at the Wannsee Conference, the "Popes" had given their orders; it was up to me to obey, and that is what I bore in mind over the future years. A clear indication of how I felt and what I thought at this time can be seen in the hand-written comments on Tape 17, which is the only one from the so-called Sassen Documents which I acknowledge, and which I wrote at a time when I was able to record my thoughts in absolute security, on the edge of the Argentinian pampas, and when I did not have the faintest idea that one day I would be called upon to justify myself before an Israeli court.

Dr. Servatius: I come now to exhibit T/1381, document No. 597. This is a comparison of the positions of the various participants in the conference, drawn up by the Minister of Justice on 5 April 1942. On page 1, column 1, under 6 and 7, there appear the hard-line proposals from the Minister of the Interior, State Secretary Stuckart. Under 6 appears divorce, Reich Minister of the Interior, compulsory divorce; 7, sterilization, Reich Minister of the Interior, State Secretary Stuckart, compulsory sterilization.

On the next page, 9, "Timing", Office of the Governor General, State Secretary Dr. Buehler, starting with the Government General, carriers of epidemics, black market, majority unable to work.

The next document in the exhibit is a communication from the Minister of Justice, dated 5 April 1942, to the relevant departments. The Minister of Justice has only minor reservations. The last document in the exhibit is a letter from the Minister of the Interior, State Secretary Stuckart, dated 16 March 1942, to the main participants in the conference. The last sentence at the end of the letter reiterates what his department had proposed, i.e., that divorce should be pronounced either on application by the State Prosecutor, or by operation of the law.

The next exhibit is T/730, document No. 1278. This is a circular from Eichmann, dated 31 January 1942, to all police regional headquarters, as well as to Vienna, to the Central Office for Emigration in Vienna, and, for information, to Security Police Inspectors in the Old Reich, as well as Vienna. The communication deals with the forthcoming measures for a final solution.

Witness, would you comment on how this communication came to be written.

Accused: This communication is the first consequence of the Wannsee Conference: It is basically designed to identify the numbers of Jews in the relevant areas of the Reich and the Protectorate, as a basis for drawing up the timetable. Orders were given for this document: It had to be issued as a basic decree. I have said that it was the first measure of the Wannsee Conference. Further consequences resulted from the conference and, while before the Wannsee Conference I was not at all eager to take decisions, and indeed had no desire to do so, after the Wannsee Conference I particularly made it a point not to take any decisions, no matter how minor, on my own initiative, and this became such an ingrained habit, that my subordinates often criticized me at this time because of my attitude, because I created extra bureaucratic duties for them by so doing. Only a few days ago Krumey, in his deposition, said that I was cautious to the point of exaggeration, which is something which in slightly different words Stuckart also stated in his report to the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs, using a different expression. And, finally, I would like to say that, even more after the Wannsee Conference, I made absolutely sure to get instructions from my chief, on even the most minor matters.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit is T/245, document No. 1089. This is a letter from Mueller to Luther in the Foreign Ministry, of 28 February 1942. The subject is rumours about the measures against the Jews.

Witness, did you draft the letter for Mueller?

Accused: Today, so long after the event, I dare not answer with a clear "yes" or "no." In order to explain my answer, I must state the following: Such communications could be produced as follows - either my chief dictated the general lines of the contents in a talk with me, or my chief had his adjutant draft the general outlines of the matter with instructions to send it to me through the official channels, and then I was instructed to send the final version, subsequently through the official channels to my chief; or, the last possibility, Mueller might have dictated it himself to his secretary, who would get the reference number from the registry and enter it.

I think that there is something which may indicate that the latter applied here, that is to say, Mueller drafted the letter himself. It is a purely bureaucratic point. If I had drafted the letter, I would never have forgotten to indicate the reference and the subject after the addressee. The first paragraph of the letter shows that Mueller is referring to a communication dated 6 February 1942. This sentence contains a form of words which I never used under any circumstances, "in this way to escape his well-deserved fate." The other sentence which says that you cannot plane a plank of wood without chips flying, was a favourite quotation of the Department's Chief, and, as the years went by, it became a favourite saying in the entire Department. I cannot, after such a long time, say anything more about this communication.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit has not yet been presented. I submit it; it bears police number 763. It contains a note from the files of the Foreign Ministry, for Rademacher's attention, and it shows that Hitler had decided that the Jews were to be deported to the East, and the Madagascar Plan was to be dropped.

Presiding Judge: The document will be marked N/14.

Dr. Servatius: It reads: "Envoy Bielfeld has informed me of your communication of 10 February indicating that the Fuehrer has decided that the Jews are to be deported not to Madagascar, but to the East. Madagascar is no longer to be considered for the Final Solution."

I shall pass over the next document, No. 762 and come to exhibit T/186, document No. 841. This is a letter from Heydrich to Luther in the Foreign Ministry, dated 28 February 1942. It concerns an invitation to a first experts' discussion following the Wannsee Conference. At the end, it reads: "I would ask you to have your officer in charge contact my competent Specialist, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann."

Judge Halevi: How did you come to be Heydrich's Specialist Officer responsible for this matter?

Accused: Because preparation for the Wannsee Conference was something for which Department IV was made responsible. That is why the Department Chief of IV himself took part in the conference, but none of the other Department Chiefs participated, as far as I am aware. At the Wannsee Conference, it was decided that a more detailed opinion should be given after the conference by the various State Secretaries who had not been present.

Moreover, in Goering's letter of appointment to Heydrich, Goering had made the point and required of Heydrich that he provide him, as soon as possible, with a report on the technical, practical and other conditions. Now there was no final outcome to the Wannsee Conference in terms of detailed decisions in certain areas, such as the problem raised by State Secretary Stuckart. This is why IVB4 was given the task of handling this matter in administrative and bureaucratic terms, and that is also why Heydrich gave the order for these discussions to take place in the office block in which my Section was situated. And that explains the reference to "my authorized Specialist" for these matters.

This does not mean "the Specialist from the Head Office for Reich Security responsible for these matters," but rather is a term which I would venture to say resulted from the bureaucratic and administrative necessities.

Dr. Servatius: I shall omit the next exhibit - which is Rademacher's agreement to the conference - to appear at the consultations, and the next exhibit, T/188, is simply a covering letter for transmission of the record of the discussion of 6 March 1942, which is the next exhibit. This is exhibit T/100, document No. 446 - the record of the discussion - about the first experts' discussion on 6 March 1942. The list of participants does not include either the Accused or Department IV. In the introduction, it says that the discussion was held in Section IVB4 of the Head Office for Reich Security.

Witness, did you, nevertheless, take part in the discussion?

Accused: No, what you have already said is correct, Sir; neither I nor anyone from my staff took part in the discussion. If anyone from amongst that staff had participated, they would most certainly have been mentioned under "Head Office for Reich Security."

Dr. Servatius: It is the opinion of the Prosecution that the reason why you were not present, was because another discussion was held at the same time in the same building, and you only appeared briefly for the most important items. But you did, nevertheless, participate. Is that correct?

Accused: That is not at all correct, because... It is true that a parallel meeting on another matter was taking place at about the same time, but what indicates to me that I was certainly not present at this meeting is that all, or nearly all, to be absolutely accurate, the participants in the discussion of the matter at hand were legal experts, and also the sterilization programme and the mixed marriages programme were examined and discussed from the legal point of view, as well as being considered in the light of a statement by the representative from the Ministry of the Interior, Regierungsrat Feldscher, indicating the arguments of his State Secretary, as is stated here. Which in no way changes the fact that I did not participate in this discussion.

Judge Raveh: Which department did Regierungsrat Bilfinger belong to?

Accused: Your Honour, Oberregierungsrat Bilfinger was a Group Chief, as shown in the organization chart, Chief of Group IIIa or IIIb, or IIa or IIb in Department II of the Head Office for Reich Security. And because this Group Chief in Department II is the only one from the Reichsfuehrer's Head Office to be referred to in the record, this is proof that the matters actually dealt with were the responsibilty of Department II, not Department IV.

Dr. Servatius: On the last page of the document, at the end, it says that the report of the discussion should be notified to all departments for reaction. Did you receive the report?

Accused: Certainly. Of course, I received the report.

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