The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 92
(Part 1 of 4)

Session No. 92

27 Tammuz 5721 (11 July 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the ninety-second Session of the trial open. We are continuing with the cross-examination of the Accused. I remind the Accused that he is still testifying under oath.

Accused: I am aware of the fact.

Attorney General: Accused, when you signed either with the abbreviated form, i.A. , or in full, im Auftrage (by order), that meant that you were observing the general directives and were signing in accordance with the general rule, did it not?

Accused: I am not familiar with any general rules or general directives; the only thing I do know is that when I signed im Auftrage, by order, whether abbreviated or in full, I was so ordered by my chief, because in every single instance I would make sure I consulted my superiors, and observed the right of any specialist officer to have instructions issued to him.

Presiding Judge: I do not understand. In all instances when you had to sign a letter in a file, you received instructions from your chief?

Accused: In all instances which were new, on which my chief had not yet taken a decision. If that is not sufficient, I can give examples.

Presiding Judge: That will suffice.

Judge Halevi: Does that mean that there was never a single letter signed by you which was not marked i.A. or im Auftrage?

Accused: There was not a single letter signed by me which was not signed i.A. or im Auftrage. I was prohibited from doing this throughout my entire activity in Department IV.

Attorney General: And this is true both for matters on which you had to consult your superiors and for matters which had already been decided, and where you did not have to consult anyone. Is that true?

Accused: Signing im Auftrage? Yes, that is true.

Q. So you will agree with me that the mere fact that you signed im Auftrage or i.A. actually meant nothing at all?

A. I am sorry, Mr. Attorney General, I could not follow you there - I had my orders, and this is shown by the term im Auftrage, by order, and the term was not just for show. It was just like the term in Vertretung, on behalf of, the Chief of Department. The Department Chief had his authority; the specialist officer had a right of implementation of his own, that is true. But I did not even make use of this right of implementation, as can be confirmed by the testimonies - I was known for this far beyond my own Section, for running, for going to my superior on every single matter.

Presiding Judge: In any case, the fact that a letter is signed i.A. adds nothing, nor does it detract from the question of whether in a specific instance you received instructions from your superior, or whether you received these, as you put it, in the shape of directives, guidelines and so on. That is correct, is it not?

Accused: Yes, it is. In all cases I had to - I could not sign other than im Auftrage, whether in that particular instance I had approached my superior for instructions, or whether I had signed straight away on the basis of some previous instruction which had established a precedent.

Attorney General: Look at exhibit T/681, document No. 1444. Here you have put your signature on stationery of the Reichsministerium des Innern (the Reich Ministry of the Interior), on an order in which, on the basis of the powers granted to you, you order the transfer of the property of the various Jewish communities, listed individually, to the Reich Association of the Jews in Germany. And you sign i.A. On behalf of whom were you signing this order, for example?

Accused: Without going into the contents, the letterhead reads: "Reich Minister of the Interior, Police SIVB (new)." This is the Section, and according to instructions in this case, the letterhead to be used here was that of the Reich Minister of the Interior, together with the prefix "Pol.," the use of which is covered by regulations, and also the designation of the Section. After my chief had settled that, I also had the right to write "by order." That was perfectly normal according to the prevailing regulations.

Q. But by whose order was it signed?

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, do we have Regulation 10 which has been submitted in evidence?

Attorney General: I do not have the document before me, but I believe that a photostat has been submitted to the Court.

Presiding Judge: This would show us who is authorized to issue instructions, I assume.

Attorney General: (To the Accused) Did something like this have to be passed on to a minor specialist officer? That could not have been done without Mueller having to sign this, according to what you have said?

Accused: No, not if I already had my chief's instructions. I believe that in some written internal instruction or other it was stated explicitly that these matters are to be settled from case to case, with individual instances being decided and clarified. That has been submitted here and can be examined in writing.

Q. So that means by order of the Reich Minister, does it not?

A. I do not know how this is to be construed; but certainly the "S" appears there, and below that the indication of the police. Today, I do not know what explanation for this was given by the administrative legal specialists. I am sure that at the time I knew it.

Q. But you cannot have signed by your own order. After all, IVB4 is you yourself, and you cannot mean to say that you were signing on your own order - Eichmann by order of Eichmann. You were signing by order of the Minister of the Interior.

A. I believe that if you look at the relevant decree on this matter, the emphasis will - I believe - be on this little word "Pol." Today, I would imagine this to be Police Department or Department of Police in the Reich Ministry of the Interior. It has to be something along those lines. In any case, it can be read in this decree.

Q. In your interrogation by the police, you said that every time you signed i.A. , this meant that you were doing so on behalf of the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service. You said so, for instance, on page 1830 [of the Accused's Statement], and you said so also in connection with a whole series of documents submitted to you. You certainly know on behalf of whom you were signing, and certainly this did not become clear to you as a result of the documents which you saw.

I therefore ask you whether what you said on page 1830, "at the very most I signed by order, i.e., by order of the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service" - I ask you whether this is correct?

A. There were two letterheads: "Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, III" or "Reich Ministry of the Interior." Every time that I signed "by order," it was of course by order of the incumbent of the office which appeared on the letterhead. The specialist officers in the Reich Ministry of the Interior signed "by order," and the specialist officers in the Head Office for Reich Security had exactly the same right to sign, as the Head Office for Reich Security was, I believe, a division or a main division in the Reich Ministry of the Interior.

Q. Let me now show you two documents, one signed by you and one by Suhr. The first document is No. 600, T/550, which is signed by you. This is headed "Head Office for Reich Security," and you signed im Auftrage. The same applies to T/401 as well - our number 694, where you are writing under the RSHA heading and sign "i.A. Eichmann." That means then that here you are acting by order of the Head Office for Reich Security. Is that correct?

A. Yes, it is, in accordance with instructions.

Q. And when you sign a document such as T/771, or any one of these documents where you signed under the heading Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service and added your signature with "by order," that means that you signed on behalf of the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service.

A. Yes, that is what this means.

Q. That means that everything you have told the Court - that these signatures mean that you always acted by order of Mueller - that is incorrect.

A. No, it is not incorrect - on the contrary, Mueller was the representative of the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service; he was the person who had to give me my instructions, and he gave them to me.

Q. Yes, we have already heard that. When did you first learn of Hitler's order to carry out the Final Solution of the Jewish Question?

A. I learned of this when I was summoned to see the Chief of the Security Police, who at that time was Heydrich - this was after the German-Russian war - I have already stated that it was some time after the twin battles of Minsk and Bialystok, and it must have...

Q. Approximately when was that?

A. I have lost any recollection of that - it could be worked out, because the battlefields had already been cleared up by the Building Site Commandos - so that it might have been, in my estimate, August-September - in any case it must have been before the trees started shedding their leaves.

Q. We shall try to go back through the documents and identify when this was. When you wrote in T/733, document No. 1558, to the Foreign Ministry about preventing the emigration of the Jewess Flora Sara Bucher, in the light of the approaching Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe, and that was on 19 November 1941, you already knew about Hitler's order, which is why you spoke of the approaching Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe.

A. This was not yet termed the Final Solution of the Jewish Question, because at that time the Madagascar Plan had not yet, to the best of my knowledge, been shelved.

Q. But this very morning we heard that the Madagascar Plan was shelved at the end of 1940 or the beginning of 1941. So there could be no talk of Madagascar in November 1941.

A. This is the first time I have heard that the Madagascar Plan is supposed to have been shelved at the beginning of 1941. I have never heard that.

Q. So when was it shelved?

A. I remember very clearly that when Heydrich ordered me to undertake this official journey, I secretly...that is to say as far as I was concerned I knew nothing...Madagascar was what was important for me.

Q. So when was the Madagascar Plan shelved?

A. I am not sure when it was exactly, but in any case the date given here, February 1942, is too late - it was shelved earlier than that. One can imagine that the Madagascar Plan was definitively shelved when orders were given for the deportations to Minsk and Riga. I think that it was then.

Q. So when was that?

A. That was November 1941.

Q. Therefore, if the Madagascar Plan was present in your mind when you signed T/733, it would not have been reasonable to forbid the Jewess Mrs. Bucher to travel to unoccupied France, because why should one have prohibited her travelling to unoccupied France?

Presiding Judge: Perhaps we can clarify this. Accused, according to what you said, the Madagascar Plan was shelved because of political developments.

Attorney General: He referred to military developments, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: Political and military, right? This was after the De Gaulle uprising, and after De Gaulle gained control of the French colonies in Africa, was it not?

Accused: That is correct, Your Honour, and immediately after that there was the action taken by Ambassador Abetz in Paris, and I think that should give us a very good idea of the date.

Presiding Judge: Very well, but was that not much earlier than November 1941?

Accused: Your Honour, I have also tried to determine the date accurately with the help of the material available to me. Abetz visited Hitler for this purpose in autumn 1941, I believe, and that is when Abetz submitted that the Madagascar Plan was no longer really valid and recommended looking for a solution in the East. Thus, I believe that this date is also important when it comes to determining the time when the Madagascar Plan was shelved, and this date is to be found in Poliakov (Red), which reproduces the entire contents of the letter of Embassy Councillor Zeitschel to his ambassador, including a date.

Attorney General: In reply to a question from His Honour, the Presiding Judge, you said that the shelving of the Madagascar Plan was linked to De Gaulle's seizure of the French fleet and French overseas territories, in 1940. Is that correct?

Accused: I believe...I must add that when I say linked, that means at around the same time, as far as I can tell, as the presentation of the ambassador in Paris to Hitler. Today, twenty or more years later, I can no longer remember the exact dates. I do not know.

Q. Do you know when Madagascar itself was conquered by the Free French forces?

A. No, I do not know that. I did not find this in any of the documents which refer to the matter.

Q. I shall remind you of the exact date - I shall tell you that it was long before 19 November 1941, so that when you wrote on 19 November 1941, about the approaching Final Solution, you could no longer be dreaming of Madagascar.

A. If, when I wrote this, the deportation orders for Riga and Minsk had already been issued, then obviously I could not have - but I do not know when the deportations to the East were ordered and carried out.

Q. Very well, I can help you - it was in October 1941. Do you want to see?

A. Yes, please, if I may.

Q. I shall show you in just a moment - what I have now is not the document I am thinking of. In any case, what I wish to know is this: When on 19 November 1941, you talk about the "approaching Final Solution," you cannot mean Madagascar any more, because at that point you already know of the Fuehrer's order, and that the "Final Solution" means extermination.

A. As I have said, once orders came from the top for deportations to the East - to the Russian areas - at that point obviously, in accordance with orders, that is what would have been meant by the Final Solution, but as long as that had not happened, in accordance with prevailing terminology of the day, the Final Solution meant the Madagascar Plan. I cannot say any more about this than was indicated in orders at the time - I have no reason to deny this.

Q. We shall see in a moment whether you cannot say any more. In exhibit T/395 you wrote once more to your Foreign Ministry - on the same date, 19 November 1941 - that "in the light of the impending Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe, emigration of Jews from the territories occupied by us will be prohibited." That, too, is not because of Madagascar?

A. There is a basic order from Himmler about this, included in the files here, prohibiting emigration from the occupied territories.

Presiding Judge: That was not the question - the question was, what is the meaning of the words "the impending Final Solution" in this letter?

Accused: It is the date, Your Honour, which is not clear, and I am saying quite honestly and frankly that if at that time the Madagascar Plan had been shelved on orders from the top, then this phrase "the Final Solution" meant the eastern arrangement. But if, when this letter was written, the Madagascar Plan was still in force, then it referred to the Madagascar Plan.

Judge Raveh: Perhaps you would show us the document to which you are referring in Poliakov (Red). Here it is. Please show us the document to which you are referring.

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