The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 91
(Part 4 of 6)

Q. Stahlecker had no administrative authority whatsoever over Austria, but only over Bohemia and Moravia. Is that right?

Presiding Judge: That means, you are talking now about the Nisko transports, that is to say about a period when the Accused was in Vienna.

Attorney General: Yes.

Presiding Judge: Please go ahead.

Accused: When...I travelled with Stahlecker to the Generalgouvernement, Stahlecker had no administrative authority in Austria, but only in Bohemia and Moravia. In Austria the Inspector was, in fact, his successor. I do not remember the name at the moment.

Attorney General: And the instructions for the deportation of the Austrian Jews to Nisko came from you, then?

Accused: No, these were given by the Chief of the Security Police and Security Service Berlin, to the Inspector in Vienna. And that is where I received them from, from Stahlecker's successor.

Q. Was that an official measure by the Police?

A. The Nisko affair? Yes, that had become an official affair.

Q. Why then did you - as shown in exhibit T/801 - give the returnees from Nisko instructions to disguise their return and pose, in meeting the police, as returnees from a retraining project?

A. On no account can I assume that they had to disguise themselves. There was no cause for that. From whom did they, or rather did I have to be careful not to state the facts? But as candidates for resettlement, as being persons retrained, the opportunities for emigration would have been enormously greater. That was the reason, and none other.

Q. I am asking why you gave the instruction that they represent themselves to the police as "persons returning from retraining"? Why did you give such an instruction?

A. I do not know that I gave such an instruction. However, if I did, then the matter is quite clear. This was a confirmation that these Jews had vocational retraining behind them, and that, say, an insurance agent had in the meantime become a locksmith or a tailor, or a shoemaker, and thus it would be much easier for him than an insurance agent to receive an emigration permit. This we learned from our daily practice. In those days, after all, emigration was still the big thing. The correctness of my statements is shown, incidentally, by the following paragraphs. Already in the next paragraph there is mention that they would receive opportunities for immigration at the earliest, and it says:

"All other returnees have to be allotted to the earliest overseas transports to Palestine."
It is, in fact, quite clear that these people...if, for instance, there had been an insurance agent, and in Nisko he had not been employed as an insurance agent but in some workshop, and could show proof that he had learned something in a subject which was in demand...

Q. But you did not instruct them to register in this way in the Central Office for Emigration, but you gave this instruction, so that they should deceive the police.

A. That cannot be inferred from this remark, and there would have been no reason for that, and besides I did not dictate this remark; someone else did.

Q. Another forged document. Would the Court like to recess now?

Presiding Judge: Are you coming to a new chapter now?

Judge Halevi: One further question. Prosecution document No. 1139. Please give this document to the Accused. Does the Prosecution have this document? This is presumably also a Loewenherz document, one of the Loewenherz File notations. Fine. Please give this to the Accused.

Please, look at page 2, point 4. Page 2 paragraph 4, second sub-paragraph. It says: "The previous transports from the Eastern border province (Ostmark) should be stopped." Can you see that? "They are impossible to carry out, and create much unrest among the Jewish population."

Which transports are meant here? Is this the Nisko or something else?

Accused: No, this, in my opinion, is undoubtedly Nisko. The conversation took place on 19 December, which was the time when the entire Nisko project was, I think, more or less completed. It must be possible to reconstruct this from other contemporary documents.

Judge Halevi: Who is requesting this?

Accused: The transports...that there exists such unrest, that is requested by Dr. Loewenherz.

Judge Halevi: And he told you that?

Accused: Yes, Sir.

Presiding Judge: All right, we will take a 20 minute break.


Attorney General: With the permission of the Court, two more questions, please, to the previous chapter.

Presiding Judge: All right.

Attorney General: Accused, you went to Nisko in person, and supervised the deportation measures?

Accused: I was in Nisko, but I did not supervise the deportation measures.

Q. How long were you in Nisko?

A. That may have been, perhaps 1-2 days. Anyway, all told it can be counted in hours.

Q. You have heard here the testimony about Nisko from Dr. Kratky, Mr. Burger and Dr. Meretz. These witnesses were not questioned by the Defence Attorney, and I assume that their testimonies here were, in fact, accepted as being true, on the whole.

A. I cannot remember in detail now what these witnesses said. However, when the Nisko cases came up at that time, I told myself: This is impossible, it cannot have taken place in this way. Above all, the witnesses did not bring out the intention, the reason, and that was the hard core of the whole matter.

Q. The Jews begged you on their knees to take them away, destitute as they were, and take them to Nisko? Is that what you are trying to say?

A. No, I did not intend to say this. What I meant is that the Jewish functionaries, who knew of this distress just as well, even better than I did, they were looking for a way out, for a solution, and when the Reich then received additional territory, not only did I not ignore this idea, but, as I have pointed out, I was enthusiastic that a district of the so-called Generalgouvernement could somehow be allocated for these Jewish needs. Regrettably it did not work out.

Q. But you did not even try to discuss this matter with Frank, who was then Governor General of Poland. The whole affair was carried out behind his back.

A. It was not carried out behind his back. When it was conceived, and during the first stages, Frank, as I remember it, was not yet Governor General, and I myself had no way of going to see him. My superiors would have had to do that. I had no direct access to Frank, in my position.

Q. At any rate, Frank knew nothing about the plan, is that correct?

A. This I do not know exactly. I do know one thing, at any rate, that Frank gave an order to the Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service, or to the Higher SS and Police Leaders, to arrest me upon putting foot on the soil of the Generalgouvernement, for the reason that I wanted to build a Jewish state for the Jews in his domain.

Q. And were you arrested?

A. These orders were disclosed to me by the Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service in Cracow at that time, Streckenbach, but he could not arrest me, because for that he would have had to get the consent of the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service. However, this clearly reflects the line taken at that time by the political leadership of the Generalgouvernement, and its attitude towards what I had "cooked up" with the Jewish functionaries.

Q. And I say to you that all you have related here about alleged plans for a Jewish state in Nisko is a pack of lies. I tell you that you knew that the Jews in the Generalgouvernement were facing extermination, and that is why you threw them into Frank's territory. However, because of opposition on his part, you had to take them back.

A. May I say about this, Mr. Attorney General, that one of the few advantages fate has bestowed upon me is to speak the truth, insofar as this depends on me alone. I have learned in life that this has brought upon me more harm than advantage. And when I declare here that at the time I had heard nothing about the intention to exterminate, any program of extermination, but rather that the fact is that I wanted to set up in Radom, or in the Lublin District, or regardless in which district, such an autonomous structure, then this corresponds to the truth. And that this turned sour, that is not my fault, I was of too low a rank for that. The will existed, and it was greater than the capacity for action. This is what I have to say about this, about your accusation, Mr. Attorney General, that I am not testifying truthfully.

Judge Halevi: How did Stahlecker obtain the permission for the GPU man who escorted you?

Accused: Your Honour, when it was necessary to cross the demarcation line, and permission was granted, this was possible at certain fixed points. This applied to troop transports etc., in any event official vehicles, but only if escorted by a GPU man, and I don't know whether it was still called GPU then or NKVD, which provided the escort across this Soviet sector. Stahlecker applied to the local post of the border police of the Red Army.

Attorney General: As for your desire to speak the truth, you said once that anyone who is in detention has the right not to speak the truth. Is that correct?

Accused: This is true as a matter of principle, but I have never made use of these principles.

Q. But you believe in this?

A. According to the prevailing German conception it is, to some extent, the unwritten right of every Accused. However, I am not fighting here for my head or my neck, I am fighting to repel the untruth which has been gathering around my persons for fifteen long years. That is the only thing for which I am fighting.

Q. And in order to shake off this untruth, you hid for fifteen years under a false name?

A. Yes, Sir. I considered this my full right, because if I, a single, powerless person am caught up by the landslide of untruth, I will be pulverized, without being in a position to do anything against it.

Q. But in order to express the real truth you held those conversations with Sassen, in order to remove this blemish?

A. I have already had occasion elsewhere, Mr. Attorney General, to state that I distinguish between legal guilt and guilt in the human sense. As one grows old, one thinks quite differently about things and reflects differently, and one adopts a sterner attitude towards oneself. These are the considerations which guide me, and I have no intention whatsoever here, in this Court, to embellish my situation in any way through cheap excuses. The only thing which I am trying to achieve, now that I am here, after I have been brought here against my will, is to rescind the untruth which has been fabricated against me.

Q. You are not answering my question. You are adopting a well known tactic, which your mentors and leaders resorted to at Nuremberg. This is to admit one thing in order to deflect something else. The question is this: Did you dictate those things to Sassen in order to remove the blemish from yourself?

A. The conversations which I had with Sassen were not designed to remove the blemish from me, because this kind of thing a single individual cannot achieve. Rather, what I wanted to achieve, and that, too, went wrong, was to tell the truth of how things happened, to the best of my knowledge and conscience.

Q. And you told him the truth?

A. I did tell him the truth, but it did not find expression. That too, as I said, went wrong.

Q. But that which was printed, what you later saw, is that what you had said?

A. Only that which I wrote with my own hand - that I recognize as legally binding.

Q. That is not my question. The question is whether the transcript is correct.

A. No, I barely started reading it. I did not even read on. After having read three pages, I was taken aback: these are not my words, I did not say this.

Q. Nevertheless, one finds your handwriting throughout the entire transcript, is that right?

A. One does not find it throughout the entire transcript, but in one part only. But why should I discuss this mixture of truth and untruth any longer?

Q. We shall come back to that, I can assure you, but let us move to another matter. When you were still in Austria, did you work on the Madagascar Plan?

A. When I was still in Austria is perhaps not quite right, but when I was still in Austria...let me think please ...shortly after I came to Austria from Berlin for the first any rate the documents have reminded me of that...I wrote the word Madagascar, thus it is evident that I was concerned with this idea.

Q. And it was not your idea alone, but it was also the idea of other institutions in the Reich?

A. I do not dispute in any way that other institutions also had such ideas. In any case, I was the first who brought it up through official channels, and gave it expression in that way.

Q. When did you write exhibit T/111, in which you mentioned the Madagascar Plan for the first time?

A. This carries a date which undoubtedly came from Hagen, my superior at that time. That was probably 5 March 1938.

Q. I now show you Volume 41 of the International Military Tribunal, the Blue Series, and on pages 556-557 it says that Julius Streicher had produced the Madagascar Plan as early as January 1938. Was it from him you learned of this idea?

A. It does not say here that Julius Streicher conceived the Madagascar Plan. Rather there is reference to the fact that the Stuermer carried a report according to which the Rome newspaper Bersagliere had reported that an agreement had been concluded between the Polish Government and the French Government. It is not at all impossible that I heard of this agreement at that time and was inspired by it, inasmuch as I had read the Jewish State by Adolf Boehm a long time prior to that.

Q. About Madagascar?

A. Yes, certainly. There is talk of this in that book, and that when Theodor Herzl ran into difficulties, he also mentioned Madagascar, in his time of distress.

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