The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 82
(Part 1 of 5)

Session No. 82

15 Tammuz 5721 (29 June 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the eighty-second Session of the trial open. The Accused will continue with his testimony. I remind the Accused that he is still testifying under oath.

Accused: Yes, Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, I am aware of that.

Dr. Servatius: We are dealing with the chapter of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. We were talking about transports to concentration camps.

I come now to exhibit T/858, document No. 1181.* {* Erroneously referred to as document No. 1518 on page 801, Volume II} This is a communication from Kaltenbrunner, Section IVB4, to Himmler, dated February 1943. Contents: Five thousand Jews capable of labour have been sent from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz. Kaltenbrunner requests authorization for the transport of five thousand Jews, who are aged over sixty and unable to work, to Auschwitz.

Related to this is the next exhibit, T/859, document No. 1557. This is a communication from Himmler's personal staff to Kaltenbrunner, dated 16 February 1943. Contents: No deportation of Jews from Theresienstadt - they are to be allowed to live and die there in peace.

Judge Halevi: But that dates from two years later, does it not?

Dr. Servatius: The first communication is dated February. The date is not entirely legible: It has a stamp added over it, but it is obviously later.

Judge Halevi: I was mistaken; I thought that the second letter was from 1945. If both letters are from 1943, there is no problem.

Dr. Servatius: As for the second letter dating from 1943, it is difficult to make out the date, but on the left there is a file number "43 secret."

Dr. Servatius: Does the Accused wish to comment on the letter?

Accused: Certainly.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, perhaps you could ask a more specific question, since a question in this form leads the Accused to make those general speeches which I wish to avoid.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, I have instructed him to keep his comments short. It is somewhat difficult to ask a question in such a way as to avoid making it a leading question.

Presiding Judge: All right, do this far as possible.

Accused: Perhaps I might first make a point about the date which will clarify the whole matter. In the reference of the second letter, from the personal staff of the Reichsfuehrer-SS, it says, "Previous communication of February '43, express letter IVB4 a, reference 2093/42." This is a reference to the letter which is now exhibit T/858, thus definitely setting its date.

Exhibit T/858 is directly connected to Mueller's telegram to Himmler, mentioned the day before yesterday, about deportations of Jews in the course of the increased rate of reception of Jews at the concentration camps. At the end of 1942 and the beginning of 1943, Himmler increasingly exerted pressure on his Head Office chief to speed up the deportations. This communication reproduces a report from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, as shown on page 2, the last paragraph, which says "as reported."

Thus, in this communication, IVB4 was not reporting on its own findings; instead, in accordance with orders, a report from the Protectorate was passed up through the official channels, and IVB4 was ordered to summarize this report according to standard practice and then submit it, and it went to Himmler, signed by Kaltenbrunner. Himmler rejected this request by Kaltenbrunner, using the words "since otherwise the tendency...would be interfered with." Those are my comments on these two communications.

Judge Raveh: Perhaps I might ask a question, in order to clarify matters. The telegram referred to the day before yesterday is dated 16 December 1942. In it special permission is applied for in respect of the deportation or transfer to Auschwitz, of five thousand Jews not capable of labour. Are you saying that this authorization, applied for in December 1942, was refused according to the letter dated February 1943, and that this is the same transport?

Accused: Yes, I am. Himmler did not authorize the first five thousand Jews not capable of labour, because in the February letter it says that, because of the increased rate of reception, five thousand capable of working were authorized. And then the Protectorate - that is to say the German authorities in the Protectorate - continued to exert pressure, and tried again to obtain Himmler's authorization, and this second attempt is reflected by the February 1943 letter, signed by Kaltenbrunner.

Dr. Servatius: I shall skip exhibit T/861 for the time being. I shall return to it later and come now to exhibit T/863, document No. 1200. This is a memo from the Jewish camp management in Theresienstadt. No, I will leave out this exhibit as well, it can be dropped.

The next exhibit is T/852, document No. 1239. This deals with notification of the Accused's visit. Under point 2 of the passage dated 27 January 1943, it says:

"Eichmann expresses his recognition to Jacob Edelstein, the senior Jewish representative, for his work, and trusts that the announced change will not be perceived by him as a slight. Since the creation of a new ghetto similar to Theresienstadt is being envisaged, it is possible that Edelstein will be appointed head of this ghetto. However, the relevant decision has not yet been taken. In the light of this situation, a new management is to be appointed for Theresienstadt, viz., a triumvirate consisting of Eppstein, Loewenherz and Edelstein."
It bears the signatures of Zucker and Edelstein.

Witness, what led to this change, and was not this recognition in actual fact a demotion?

Accused: First of all, a minor correction. I was not the person who actually made the visit; one of my experts received instructions from me to go to Theresienstadt. As far as I remember, it was about then that the Jewish Religious Community in Vienna was liquidated. Orders were issued for the heads of the Community - in this case Loewenherz, I still remember his name, but I have forgotten the names of the others, except for Rabbi Baeck, but I forget who gave the order for him to be sent to Theresienstadt. In the case of Loewenherz, I know that I received the order from Mueller.

Presiding Judge: You must answer the question you were asked. Was not this approach to Edelstein in actual fact a dismissal, and not an expression of appreciation? That was the whole question.

Accused: No, it was not a demotion; it was putting him on the same footing as Loewenherz and the other Jewish ex- officials from Berlin.

Dr. Servatius: What was the co-operation with the management of Theresienstadt like? Was the relationship a strained one? Was it good, or did it just proceed quietly?

Accused: There were strains and differences of opinion resulting from different backgrounds among the Jews, just as there are among different non-Jews.

Dr. Servatius: No, I was asking about co-operation with the German authorities.

Accused: No, the relationship was not a strained one.

Dr. Servatius: I shall now pass over an exhibit and turn to exhibit T/865, document No. 855. This is List 2 for Bohemia and Moravia. The document is an extract from a booklet published by the International Red Cross Committee, printed in Geneva in June 1946. The subject is a report on a visit to Theresienstadt on 5 April 1945 - the year should appear but does not. It reads: "On April 5, I went to Prague, in order to contact the Security Services of the city and visit the Theresienstadt Ghetto." Later it says that "this commission (although precisely who drafted the actual report is not clear) talked to Dr. Weinemann, Head of the Security Service in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, as well as with Eichmann, the Specialist on Jewish Matters." Further on, it says, Eichmann played a leading role in the concentration camps; he was the direct representative of the Reichsfuehrer-SS in all these matters.

Witness, is it correct that you played a leading role in concentration camp matters? Would you tell us what were your duties and powers in that regard?

Accused: No, that is not correct; I played no role whatsoever, and I also had no duties or powers.

Dr. Servatius: Later in the report, it says: "In the course of the evening, Eichmann elaborated on his theories about the Jewish Question." In the report it says that there was a joint dinner with you and Dr. Weinemann, and you developed these theories, and then it says: "As far as the general problem of the Jews was concerned, Eichmann believed that Himmler was currently envisaging humane methods." Further down it says: "Eichmann himself did not entirely approve of these methods, but as a good soldier he naturally followed the Reichsfuehrer's orders blindly."

When did this discussion take place, and is what it says here correct?

Accused: I still remember our evening meeting at the Prague Hradschin, after the visit. It is possible - indeed, it is highly likely - that this is where I probably gave my opinion about solving the Jewish Question. In this case, it can only have been a personal opinion, and I have already outlined my personal opinion here. The allegation that I said that Himmler's methods, which at that time would have tended towards humane methods, were not entirely approved by me, cannot be right, because I would definitely not have allowed myself to criticize one of my superiors before a foreigner.

Dr. Servatius: I turn now to exhibit T/864, document No. 1369. This is a statement dated 25 March 1947, by Rahm in his own trial, and in it he states that in organizational terms Theresienstadt was under the control of the Prague Central Office, and therefore of the Senior Commander of the Security Police. But politically it was subordinate to the Head Office for Reich Security.

Witness, a distinction is drawn here: There were different structures in terms of formal and political subordination. The witness [Rahm] is making a distinction with regard to political instructions. Would you explain, please.

Accused: It was not a question of political or formal subordination. It would have been more correct for the witness in the Rahm statement to indicate that, in cases of vital importance to the Reich, the Head Office for Reich Security is the body which takes decisions. In cases which are not of vital importance to the Reich, decisions are taken by the Protectorate authorities - that was how it was put at that time.

The authority to take decisions had no effect on the question of subordination, insofar as no change occurred in Theresienstadt's subordination to the Senior Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service, as orders were not sent to Theresienstadt, but to the Senior Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service.

Dr. Servatius: You said that matters of vital importance to the Reich came from the Head Office for Reich Security. Would you please explain what such matters of vital importance to the Reich include? And if you can, would you give us an example.

Accused: Document T/858, which was dealt with at the beginning of today's session, would be an example of this. It deals with the question whether or not a certain group of people should have to leave the territory of the former Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. A decision about this could not be taken either by the State Secretary for Security Matters in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, as the supreme supervisory authority and superior authority to the Senior Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service in Bohemia and Moravia, or by the Senior Commander himself, but only by the Chief of the Security Police, on behalf of the Chief of the German Police, Himmler.

Any visit of official significance, such as the visits by the Red Cross authorities, was a matter of vital importance to the Reich.

Judge Raveh: For smuggling letters, for example?

Accused: In itself, this is not a matter of vital importance to the Reich, and as I said when I went there on inspections - from time to time I was sent to Theresienstadt on inspections by Mueller - I did not take the matter up. However, at such times, the Council of Elders did raise the matter as a form of complaint to me, and I passed it on through the official channels.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit I shall discuss is T/834, document No. 732, a report from a credit bank to the Dresdner Bank, dated 18 March 1942. This is a report about accounts, and provides information about the assets of the Central Office for Emigration of Jews in Prague. Can you give us some information as to how the accounts came into being - in other words, where the money came from, who supervised the account, and who could authorize release of the account?

Accused: I do not have any information today about the details - I have completely forgotten everything about them. But I do remember that there was what was known as an Emigration Fund in Prague - no, it was an agency for administration and realization of assets - and this body dealt with the assets. The agency was under the control of the Senior Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service, in accordance with a decree of the Reich Protectorate for Bohemia and Moravia.

Dr. Servatius: I shall now omit two exhibits and come to T/836, document No. 1195. This is a statistical review of Jewish affairs in the Protectorate, as produced by the Central Office in Prague - the report was sent to Eichmann on 28 April 1942.

Was this report sent to you because you were in charge of arrangements in the Protectorate?

Accused: The report was not sent to me because I was in charge of arrangements in the Protectorate. The reason why I received this report was that, by order from my Chief of Department, I had to make an overall report to him, once or twice a month, I believe. And to do that, I needed all the data from the other agencies and bodies - to be precise, from all bodies except for the Generalgouvernement, the Eastern Occupied Territories, and the Warthegau.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit is a statement by David Berger, document No. 1057, which has not yet been submitted. For this, I have received the Hebrew text only, handwritten and typed. There are four copies. I submit the exhibit.

Attorney General: If Berger's statement to the police is to be used, he should testify to this Court. We have no objections at all to his testifying here, if Counsel for the Defence so wishes. But we oppose submission of a statement to the police by someone who is in the country.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, I withdraw the document.

I shall now leave the Protectorate and move on to France. The documents are presented as List 16. I should first like to present to the Court another diagram for France, giving the chain of command for the deportations.

Witness, has this diagram been correctly drawn according to your information?

Accused: It has been drawn according to my information, and it is correct, except that there may be small clerical errors.

Dr. Servatius: I would like to make a comment on the diagram.

Presiding Judge: We shall mark this exhibit N/35.

Dr. Servatius: Various numbers appear on the diagram. Originally these related to explanations written for the Defence. I have not submitted the explanations because they were too detailed. I have therefore deleted the last three lines in the bottom right-hand corner, where these numbers were referred to. In the centre, there is a somewhat abbreviated indication of titles. The Higher SS and Police Leader in France and Belgium should read, "in the area of the Military Commander of Belgium and France." Below that, it says the Commander of the Security Police and the SD - it should continue, "for France and Belgium." This can subsequently be seen in the letterheads.

Presiding Judge: Very well.

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