The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 85
(Part 7 of 7)

Interpreter: [Reads Becher's statement]: "My name is Kurt Andreas Ernst Becher; I am fifty-one years old, a businessman by profession, and live in Bremen, Schwachhauser Heerstrasse 189."

On page 9, on Question 14 (part of this has already been read out): "Himmler authorized conclusion of a trust agreement and gave orders for Obersturmbannfuehrer Bobermin and myself to be appointed to the board of management of the concern."

Attorney General: This refers to Weiss-Manfred. Counsel for the Defence has read the first part of the reply, and we beg to call attention to the last part.

Interpreter: Twenty-first question, page 12: "Were the Accused's proposals for implementing the operation more favourable than those of Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler with whom you talked?"

"I was not familiar with all of the Accused's proposals in detail. When under urging from Dr. Billitz I applied for an appointment to see Himmler, which I managed to obtain through the good offices of Winkelmann, I knew from Dr. Billitz that a proposal was being discussed about trucks in return for releasing Jewish people. Himmler did not say whether he was aware of this proposal and who had made it. However, as far as I remember, Himmler's words were: `Get out of the Jews everything that can be got out of them. Promise them what they are asking for. As to what we will keep, we'll just have to see!' I objected and made a point of saying that the arrangements made with the Jews must be observed, come what may. I remember that, as far as the unit of account was concerned, Himmler finally laid down an amount of one thousand dollars per person. I remember various sums being discussed at the time, and I should imagine that Dr. Kasztner may well have known more about the details than I did."
On page 16, question 29:
"Did you have general conversations with the Accused about the solution of the Jewish Question in Hungary, and what was the Accused's attitude?"
"I was careful not to have general discussions with Eichmann about the Jewish Question. From many things he said and the measures he applied, I knew what the Accused's attitude was. Eichmann was an ardent Nazi and a fanatical anti-Semite."
On page 21, question 42:
"What led up to the conversation in December 1944 in Triberg between Himmler and Eichmann, at which you were present?"
"I gave expression to my complaints and my uneasiness that it seemed to me that, time and again, Eichmann tried to circumvent the instructions issued by Himmler. I requested Himmler to send for Eichmann, in order to inform him in person of his intentions. I had told Himmler that Eichmann simply did not take his orders seriously, and would only carry them out if they were expressly confirmed by Gruppenfuehrer Mueller. Eichmann had told me this much himself. Himmler then sent for Eichmann, together with myself.

"In personal conversations with Himmler, I told him of my impression that Eichmann had his support in Mueller and Kaltenbrunner, and that I was not sure whether in the long run Eichmann would follow Himmler's orders and instructions. I remember that I recommended to Himmler that he himself try to convince Eichmann of his current thinking. As far as I remember, I recommended to Himmler to award Eichmann a decoration, as I had the impression that Eichmann would be amenable to such a welcome from Himmler.

"As far as I remember, the conversation between Himmler, Eichmann and myself took place in Himmler's command carriage in the Black Forest, near Triberg. Himmler talked to Eichmann what I would call both kindly and angrily. I remember one thing that Himmler said to Eichmann in this connection. He shouted at him something like: `If until now you have exterminated Jews, from now on, if I order you, as I do now, you must now be a fosterer of Jews. I would remind you that in 1933 it was I who set up the Head Office for Reich Security, and not Gruppenfuehrer Mueller or yourself, and that I am in command. If you are not able to do that, you must tell me so!'"

And here there is a passage which has already been read out by Counsel for the Defence, under Question 43, but because of omissions I shall read it again: "Why did you complain to Himmler about Eichmann, and how did Eichmann sabotage your activities?"
"It was not always clearly evident how Eichmann counteracted my measures. Dr. Kasztner and Mr. Biss constantly called my attention to any arrangements made by Eichmann which did not fit in with the negotiations between the Rescue Committee and myself, or with my agreements with Himmler. I am, however, unable to remember details any longer. What I still know is that Eichmann always strove to play down these matters as against me. When Himmler had authorized the departure of some seventeen hundred people - I think it was in June or July 1944 - and the persons selected by the Jewish committee were to be sent in the direction of Vienna, I heard from Dr. Kasztner that Eichmann had given instructions for the transport to head for Bergen- Belsen. At Dr. Kasztner's request, I immediately went to see Eichmann, and according to my recollection he said something like, 'That is true: for technical reasons the transport is going to Bergen-Belsen!' When I asked when the transport would continue, Eichmann said, 'As soon as the order is given!' He added that, in the end, it was up to him to determine when the transport would get under way, since there were sufficient arguments as against Himmler as well for the transport not to leave.

For example, spotted typhus might have broken out. The transport could also have been wiped out on the way by enemy bombing. "I once again contacted Himmler about this transport and finally managed to arrange that the transport really went to Switzerland. Several times Eichmann said to me that even orders from Himmler would be carried out by him only if his chief, Gruppenfuehrer Mueller, confirmed these orders.

"In April 1945, I tried to ensure that the inmates of concentration camps should not be exterminated through the fighting. Himmler gave me full powers in this respect for the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. For tactical reasons it seemed to me expedient to let Eichmann know that I had received such powers from Himmler, in order to deter him from possibly doing something.

So, before I left for Bergen-Belsen with Dr. Kasztner, I went to Eichmann's office here in Berlin. I told Eichmann that I was going to Bergen- Belsen with Dr. Kasztner, and then on to Neuengamme. "At this point Eichmann exploded in a fit of rage at my intention of taking 'this scoundrel Kasztner' to a concentration camp, quite apart from the fact that he did not agree to my having access to a concentration camp. Eichmann stated flatly that he and Gruppenfuehrer Mueller would not allow it, and that furthermore it was undesirable for Kasztner to go with me. I nevertheless left for Bergen-Belsen with Kasztner."

Pages 26 and 27, questions 50 and 52.

Question: "What was the result of your efforts with Himmler?"


"I remember that, after my first talks with President Saly Mayer on the Swiss border on 21 August 1944, I approached Himmler again, in order to get him to stop the deportations. I also know that immediately after I made my report, Himmler ordered that deportations of Jews from Hungary be halted.

"The order, which I later managed to obtain, from Himmler to Kaltenbrunner and Pohl, `With immediate effect, I prohibit any destruction of Jews and, on the contrary, I order that weak and sick persons be looked after. I will consider you to be personally responsible if this order is not followed strictly also by your subordinate departments,' meant that Himmler not only prohibited the deportation and destruction of Jews, but, on the contrary, gave orders for sick and weak Jews to be looked after.

"Another result of my efforts with Himmler is the stoppage of transporting Jews to Austria by foot marches, which I obtained with the assistance of General Winkelmann and General Juettner."

The last question, 52, on the same page, 27: "What was the relationship between Himmler and Kaltenbrunner?"

"I cannot say anything about this from my own knowledge. However, my impression at the time was that the relationship between Himmler and Kaltenbrunner was constantly worsening. Himmler tended increasingly to accept my proposals. In contrast, Kaltenbrunner followed Hitler's hard-line approach. In this connection I know that Himmler remarked to me that he was concerned that Kaltenbrunner would denounce my efforts to Hitler."
Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, perhaps I might be permitted to comment briefly on Statement V and on this statement?

Presiding Judge: With regard to Grell, I assume?

Dr. Servatius: Yes. On page 9, it says: "For the rest, I stand by my written statements in the criminal proceedings against Krumey and Hunsche, letter `d' of 7 October 1957, of which the Prosecution has just shown me a photocopy." He gives the impression of this being some police or judicial examination. That is not the case: He made these statements following a police examination, and then in 1957 he stood up for Krumey and Hunsche, and in connection with Hunsche he refers to what he said with regard to Krumey, and things are being put to Eichmann's account, as at the time his whereabouts were not known. It says here that Eichmann was against the Hungarian authorities and also urged on the legation - claims which I think can be refuted by documents. I must oppose this for formal reasons: One cannot in an examination before a court suddenly include a statement made privately years earlier.

Presiding Judge: But you do agree that the document which you just now held in your hands is the very document to which reference is made in Grell's statement, don't you?

Dr. Servatius: I must assume so.

Presiding Judge: [To Attorney General] Do you wish to comment on this?

Attorney General: Your Honour, the only question is whether the document shown to Counsel for the Defence is the same document that was shown to the witness, Grell, when he was examined. If the reply is in the affirmative, then at least that passage which the witness confirms as being correct becomes part of his testimony, and must be included in the proceedings before this Court. Otherwise his reply cannot be understood. I therefore request that the document be admitted. We are basing ourselves on the passage confirmed by the witness. I would also ask that this be read out.

Judge Halevi: Did anyone at the time take the initiative of asking him about this passage?

Attorney General: Yes, we asked him.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 89

In order to make Grell's statement intelligible, we allow the submission of paragraph 'd' of his written notes as referred to on page 9 of the statement.

We shall call this V(A). As has been said, the intention is not to admit the entire document, only paragraph 'd' in the document. Is this on page 4 of the document?

Attorney General: Some of the passage in question is marked by underlining.

Presiding Judge: The question is simply where it concludes. This is not entirely clear to me.

Attorney General: I would ask that this passage be read out up to where it is marked with a green cross.

Presiding Judge: Do you wish this to be read out?

Attorney General: If it is not too difficult; if it is not too late for the Court.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, letter 'd' appears twice, once under I, and further down under III. The one in question is the second 'd', where there is nothing of substance - it merely says that, as far as Hunsche is concerned, the same applies as I said about Krumey. At the end there is a reference to Krumey, and this passage is now being read. I would have doubts about formally stretching matters to such an extent.

Presiding Judge: Again, in order to understand the second 'd,' it is necessary to read out the passages to which Grell referred to at the time.

Judge Halevi: It is like IVB4, which appears in a parallel way.

Presiding Judge: In any case, we shall look at this document further - but there is no reason not to hear those passages which the Attorney General asked to be read out.

Interpreter: Paragraph III d: "What I said about Krumey is also applicable to the matter of duress, or the protective passes. Hunsche was not able to take decisions; it is hard to believe, in view of his low-ranking position in this area, that he could decide things."

Now page 4 d I:

"I do not know anything about Krumey's activities with regard to the exerting of pressure on people who were part of this circle, with particular reference to the issuing of protective passes. I remember that Eichmann, according to information from him, and the Head Office for Reich Security were against such protective methods adopted by other authorities, particularly the Hungarian authorities, and here there was even a request that the mission intervene with the Hungarian Government, on the ground that work in Germany essential for the War required deportation of all those persons who belonged to the circle about which there was an agreement."
Presiding Judge: Perhaps you would copy these passages. That concludes this chapter. As was said yesterday, the statements of Defence witnesses who gave evidence abroad will be read after completion of the Accused's testimony, but the Parties may refer in advance to what they contain.

Dr. Servatius, I hope we will be able to have an afternoon Session tomorrow because, in the meantime, you have been able to prepare the material for today. I am perhaps keeping you to a very precise timetable, but I would like to save as much time as possible.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, I would still be most grateful if you could keep to the same hours as to date; I do need to discuss things with the Accused - above all, matters must be discussed before the cross-examination. I do not assume that he will also be receiving the questions in advance, after the precedent...

Presiding Judge: No, this will not happen here; we have no control over the court in Bremen, but we ourselves will certainly not do that.

Dr. Servatius: The subjects of Hungary and the concentration camps are most important and are still to be discussed, so that I would be very grateful to you if you could leave things as they have been so far.

Presiding Judge: All right. That means that you need the Session tomorrow, and also, as far as I understand, another Session - is that correct, Dr. Servatius?

Dr. Servatius: I still have to present Hungary and the concentration camps, and then I shall have a few concluding questions, a few basic questions, and that will take two days.

Presiding Judge: Do you think that we shall be able to conclude by the end of the morning Session on Thursday?

Dr. Servatius: I would think so.

Presiding Judge: I can see that that completes this week. Next week we shall again speed up matters. The next Session will be tomorrow morning at 8.30.

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