The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 87
(Part 5 of 6)

Presiding Judge: I do not quite see what is the problem in this list. It goes from May 1944 to April 1945.

Dr. Servatius: The list goes up to 30 April 1945. I cannot see exactly how the passages are divided. The way it is compiled, it is impossible to follow.

The next document was written in French. First of all, there is a reference to Guenther at the bottom of the page. It says there:

"Le 8 juin 1942, il entre dans ma chambre de service avec SS Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther du RSHA en civil, inconnu a moi. Il me donna l'ordre de procurer 100 kg. d'acide prussique." (On 8 June 1942, he entered my office with SS Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther of the Head Office for Reich Security, a person I did not know, in civilian clothes. He ordered me to obtain 100 kilograms of prussic acid.)
He goes on to say that he then left with Dr. Pfannenstiel, and at the end it says they have been ordered to observe the strictest secrecy. Globocnik told them: "Anyone who fails to preserve the secret will be killed. Yesterday two people were shot for this reason."

In the middle of the document, there appears the name of Dr. Herbert Lindner, Ministry of the Interior. He is one of the gentlemen engaged in euthanasia. When this was read out previously by the Prosecution, I pointed out that on the last page but one, under 4, Dr. Gerstein says here that a total of twenty-five million persons were murdered there. Then, at the bottom of the page, there is another reference to the name Guenther. It is not quite clear: "le fils du Rasse-Guenther" (the son of Guenther the racist). Then there is an explanation, which I find it difficult to understand, that he did not pay for the deliveries, in order to keep the matter quiet. He says that in that way, by requiring return of the money, which he had laid out, the matter would have become known. I do not understand why he did not pay for it, and he made such a point of it at the hearings.

Then, in the enclosed document, there is a letter to Gerstein, dated 9 April 1944, from the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Schaedlingsbekaempfung (German Society for Pest Control), known as Degesch, in Friedberg. This reads, in the first sentence: "Dr. Peters has passed on your letter to us for an answer. Enclosed please find a list of the unpaid bills up to the 18th of last month. This list does not include our two bills of 30 May, for 975 Reichsmarks each."

This list is not available here, but all of these bills are very carefully preserved here, and they look as if they never became part of any business operations. They do not bear any marks or entry stamps, have not been folded at all, and give the impression that these invoices were issued again on request.

In his further statement, Dr. Gerstein said that he could have immediately destroyed this prussic acid, and that he would have used as his pretext the allegation that it was not stable. But oddly enough, he is here asking in detail about storage life and is having this confirmed, whilst, according to his statement, he always made a point of saying that if it would arouse attention that this acid had not been used, he would say that it had decomposed and could not be used, while here he is asking for confirmation of the contrary.

The next document, handwritten and in French, reads as follows. It is undated:

"L'acide prussique etait ordonne par le Reichssicherheitshauptamt, Berlin, Kurfuerstenstrasse, a l'ordre du SS Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther" (The prussic acid, as mentioned in the enclosed document, was ordered by the Head Office for Reich Security, Berlin, Kurfuerstenstrasse, on the instructions of SS Officer Guenther).
Then it says:
"Je n'ai jamais paye cette fourniture, dont l'adresse des notes etait pour le meme destinataire: moi-meme" (I never paid for these supplies, the invoices for which were always for the same recipient: myself).
Then the next document in English, dated 2 April 1948, which has to be 1945 - it is difficult to make it out. Here he indicates with whom he had dealings in the main - in the middle. First of all, Leadership Main Office D, "Sanitary Service," and secondly the Reich Physician SS and Police, Berlin.

The last document is an affidavit - no, it is not an affidavit; it says at the end: "I am prepared to take an oath that all of my statements are completely true." The document is dated 26 April 1945. On the third page, at the end of the first long paragraph, it says:

"On 8 June, 1942, SS Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther from the Head Office for Reich Security came into my office in civilian dress. I was not acquainted with him. He ordered me to obtain 100 kilograms of prussic acid, and to accompany him to a location known only to the truck driver. We drove to the Kolin Potash Works. Once the truck was loaded up, we drove to Lublin (Poland). We took with us Professor Pfannenstiel, Professor for Hygiene at the University of Marburg/Lahn. We were met in Lublin by SS Gruppenfuehrer Globocnik."
It continues:
"He said, 'This is one of the most secret matters - perhaps the most secret - anyone who talks about it will be shot immediately'."
I repeat what was said in the other letter - that two talkative persons were shot.

On the next page, under point 4, in the middle, it says: "Your second assignment is to convert the gas chambers, which have so far been operated by the use of exhaust gases of an old diesel engine, to a more poisonous and faster- working substance, prussic acid. However, the Fuehrer and Himmler, who were here on 15 August, the day before yesterday, have given instructions that I must personally accompany all persons who are visiting the installations." Then, on page 12, it says:

"I must add that at the beginning of 1944, SS Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther of the Head Office for Reich Security required me to supply very large quantities of prussic acid for an unknown use. The acid was to be delivered to his office in Berlin, Kurfuerstenstrasse. I managed to convince him that this was impractical, due to the major risk involved."
At the end of the statement he said, at the bottom of the last page but one:
"Being responsible for this department, I did everything in my power to ensure that after the prussic acid arrived at Oranienburg and Auschwitz, it vanished in disinfection chambers. This avoided misuse of the acid."
He then makes a few more comments, and at the end he says:
"Had the absence of the acid been noticed, I would have stated that there was some mistake by the local disinfection station, which was not familiar - and had to remain so - with the actual use of the acid, or I would have said that the acid had decomposed, and that it was not possible to keep it in storage any longer."
I now turn to the next list, 40. First of all exhibit T/1357, document No. 31. This is the examination of Hoess before the International Military Tribunal by Kaltenbrunner's defence lawyer. Hoess' examination begins on 15 April 1946. I refer the Court to page 4.
"Question: Did you make Eichmann's acquaintance?

Hoess: I made Eichmann's acquaintance about four weeks later, when I had received the order from the Reichsfuehrer. He came to Auschwitz in order to discuss with me how to carry out this order. As the Reichsfuehrer had told me during the course of our conversation, Eichmann had been instructed by him to discuss implementation of the order with me; I received all subsequent orders from him, from Eichmann."

On page 7, replying to the question of whether Himmler had been in the camp, Hoess says:
"Yes, Himmler visited the camp in 1942 and watched the whole of the process exactly from start to finish."
Next question: "Did the same hold true of Eichmann?"

Answer: "Eichmann made repeated visits to Auschwitz and was entirely familiar with the processes."

Next question: "Did the accused Kaltenbrunner ever visit the camp?"

Answer: "No."

"Did you ever talk about this assignment with Kaltenbrunner?"

"No, never."

On page 15 another defence lawyer asks:

"Did the State Police, as a Reich authority, in any way participate in the extermination of the Jews in Auschwitz?" Answer: "Yes, insofar as I received all my orders about implementation of the operation from Eichmann."

Next question: "Was the administration of the concentration camps subordinate to the Economic- Administrative Head Office?"


"You have already stated that you had nothing to do with the Head Office for Reich Security."


"I would like to emphasize this point further - that the State Police itself had nothing to do with the administration of the camp, the housing, the provisioning, and the treatment of the prisoners - this was dealt with exclusively by the Economic- Administrative Head Office."

Answer: "That is so."

The last passage from this document, at the bottom of page 24, point 6:
"The Final Solution of the Jewish Question meant the complete extermination of all Jews in Europe - in June 1941 I was given the order to install extermination facilities at Auschwitz. At that time there were already three other extermination camps in the Generalgouvernement: Belzec, Treblinka and Wolzek. These camps were under the control of the Operations Unit of the Security Police and the Security Service.

I visited Treblinka, in order to ascertain how the extermination was carried out. The camp commandant of Treblinka told me that he had liquidated eighty thousand in six months. His assignment was mainly the liquidation of all Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. He had been using carbon monoxide, and I considered his methods not to be highly efficient. When I set up the extermination building in Auschwitz, therefore, I used Zyklon B. This is crystallized cyanic acid, which we introduced into the death chamber through a small aperture."

Witness, you made various journeys to such camps where extermination was carried out; would you indicate which journeys these were, what was your assignment, and what you caused to be done there, or what you subsequently reported?

Accused: Certainly. During my interrogation I already made a statement about the journeys - the official journeys which I was ordered to make, and I must basically confirm this statement, because it is the truth of the matter. However, when I was able to study the literature, I found that I had got the timing wrong. I also got the timing wrong in other matters - the years got mixed up with me - so I have taken the literature, particularly Reitlinger, as well as Hoess' own book, Kommandant Auschwitz (Commandant of Auschwitz), and carried out comparative studies. And, on the basis of the literature available to me, I have drawn up a chronological table, and on the basis of this chronology I have tried to the best of my knowledge and belief to insert these official journeys as accurately as possible.

I should like to start with the first official journey which I was instructed to make by the Chief of Security Police and Security Service, who at the time was Heydrich. I received an order to present myself to Heydrich. He told me: "The Fuehrer has ordered the destruction, the physical destruction of Jewry." He instructed me to go to Lublin and to consult with Globocnik, who had received an order about this activity from Himmler - I believe it was from Himmler - the idea being for Globocnik to use the Russian anti-tank ditches. That was the order which Heydrich gave me.

I arrived in Lublin and reported, indicated my assignment, and then, together with either one of Globocnik's adjutants or another SS officer who knew the region, I set off in some direction which I was not familiar with, arrived at a site where I saw two medium-sized peasants' cottages, which were being worked on by a captain in the Order Police, whom I found in his shirt-sleeves. He told me that he had to seal these cottages hermetically, and that the Jews were to be gassed here by means of a Russian submarine motor. I did not see any more there - the installation was not yet operating. I returned to Berlin, where I reported and, in accordance with instructions, notified my superior, Gruppenfuehrer Mueller, as well as the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service of what I had seen.

I must add something to this statement with regard to the question of timing. It was in any case a long time, or at least some time, after the double battles of Minsk and Bialystok, because in my travels I crossed the area where I saw some battered Russian tanks, but where generally things had been dealt with by the German Salvage Commando, who had cleaned up the battlefields. It cannot yet have been winter, because where these two peasants' cottages were, there was a deciduous forest, and the trees were still in leaf. I would therefore think that it was around the end of summer or autumn 1941.

I received orders for the second journey not from Heydrich, but from Mueller. He told me I was to go to the Warthegau, and he informed me that Jews were being gassed to death in Kulm or Kulmhof, and he wanted a report on how this was being carried out. I travelled to the State Police Office in charge, which - as far as I can remember - was the Litzmannstadt Police. They gave me an official familiar with the area, who took me to the site. In Kulmhof I observed the process, according to orders, made my notes, and then returned to Berlin, where I reported to Mueller on what I had seen.

As far as I remember, in my Statement - at least I think so - I said that this must have been around the end of 1941. In the meanwhile, in Reitlinger I have found that, on the basis of his documents, Reitlinger comes to the conclusion that there was a permanent gassing camp in Kulm at the end of December, and so I must have been in Kulmhof either at that time, the end of December, or shortly after it. After reporting to Mueller, I asked him for the first time to give me a different duty, as I was not the right man for these things. Mueller's reply was that a front-line soldier could not choose where he wanted to be placed, but had to do his duty wherever he was stationed.

After this visit to Kulm, I was again sent off by Mueller, this time to Minsk, and Mueller told me that there were shootings going on in Minsk, and he wanted a report on them. I arrived in Minsk, and the next morning I somehow was not on time - in any case I was late in reaching the site to which I was being taken. An extermination operation was just about to be finished. I saw the riflemen shooting away at the people who were standing in a ditch; this is the event about which I have already related how I saw a child being shot out of its mother's arms and my reaction to this - I have already stated my reaction to this as well. It is easier for me to say when this was, because I know that I was wearing a long leather - a winter coat of leather, so it was winter, and therefore I have been able to determine the time, with Reitlinger's help as well, as the winter of 1941- 1942. It can only have been that winter.

It was only after I had made visits to these sites in accordance with orders, and to report on what I had seen there, that I was ordered to go to Auschwitz and to report on this matter there as well to Mueller. I have also tried here to set some precise timing for this visit, to the best of my knowledge and belief. Hoess says that I visited him in June 1941. However, this is scarcely possible, because he relates that I told him about gassing and shooting. That presumes that I had already been both to Minsk and also to Kulmhof, because it was in Kulmhof that I saw gassing and in Minsk shooting. But I was in Minsk in the winter of 1941 to 1942, and before that I was in Kulm at the earliest at the end of December, as the permanent gassing camp did not start operating in Kulm until the end of December.

In the book, The Commandant of Auschwitz, in which Hoess' statement appears, on page 153, it says that I am supposed to have said, "then France and Holland will be next." On this I should like to say that Weizsaecker, State Secretary Weizsaecker, did not authorize deportation of the first six thousand Jews from France until 20 March 1942, so that I could not possibly have said anything like that until after 20 March 1942, because prior to that I myself did not know this.

Hoess also says that until the summer of 1942 he buried the bodies in mass graves, and it was only after that he burned them on a gridiron. When I was there I saw this - the fact of burning on a gridiron - and I also reported on it, and I also saw people using cardboard covers. Today, I do not remember whether I was shown these cardboard covers, or whether people threw them in, because in the course of everything I have read and heard all this has become mixed up. However, what is definite is that I knew this at the time and also reported on it.

These were the official journeys I was ordered to make in order to obtain information, so that first of all my immediate superior, Mueller, could have a picture of what was going on - and it was on his orders that I had to undertake these journeys - and also from Heydrich himself, the first time. In none of these journeys, did I receive any assignment to give the people on the spot any advice whatsoever or to interfere in any practical fashion, simply to take in the stark facts and to provide my superiors with these facts, without any comment. That was my task. Anything else is not true. If Hoess maintains that I discussed or worked out something about gassing with him, that is not true, I never concerned myself with that.

On the contrary, I accepted these orders with the greatest reluctance, and despite my repeated requests to be excluded from these duties and to be relieved of these duties, my superior was not at all forthcoming, and I had to carry out this order. That had to happen to me of all people, when I was mentally attuned to a totally different area; until then I was mulling over the Madagascar Project, but I had not thought of any bloody solution, and not of such a violent one, just as I in no way interfered with the Gerstein affair, because I knew nothing about it.

I then received another order to go to Lublin again. This visit must have been between the 10th...between 22 August and 28 October 1942. The reasons are as follows: I had to take a letter to Gruppenfuehrer Globocnik in which he was charged or empowered or authorized to kill 150,000 or 250,000 Jews. I can only have taken this letter and delivered it by making a direct journey. I can only have taken that letter when the first part of the Reinhardt Operation was coming to an end. The reason is that I still remember hearing then that Globocnik had that funny idea - that he was going to have an ex post facto authorization issued for himself in writing, and that he had apparently so requested. But I also remember today driving through Lemberg, on the outskirts, and seeing for the first time something I had never seen before, namely a fountain of blood. I passed a site where Jews had been shot some time before and where - apparently as a result of the pressure of the gasses - the blood was shooting out of the earth like a fountain.

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