The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 94
(Part 4 of 4)

Presiding Judge: How is this letter marked?

Accused: This is Prosecution document No. 270, exhibit T/456. When this entire series is completed, this chapter is a perfect example of how matters were dealt with between IVB4 and my superior at the time. It is rare that in the 1,600 documents which appear here, a chapter is so complete and gives such a comprehensive and clear picture of the situation as in this particular case. I have studied this matter carefully - I believe there are some seventeen or eighteen documents available.

Attorney General: I agree with you entirely. This is really self-explanatory.

Accused: [Wishes to continue.]

Q. No, no, I do not need anything further.

Look: When Knochen addresses Mueller - that is T/485, Prosecution document No. 1217 - you are the one who draws up the answer; despite the fact that the letter was sent to Mueller, you draft the answer and Mueller signs it. That can be seen from T/486 - Prosecution document No. 1218. Correct?

A. But I did not dispute this, because that is one of the duties of a Section Head that, after he...that he has this matter dictated to him by his Chief during consultation and he then has to submit the draft reply. Sometimes the Department Chief himself replies directly, sometimes he gives orders to his Section Head and dictates to him those points he wishes to put in his reply. That is part and parcel of the consultation which he has to hold, by order.

Q. So if in some document it says that you have decided, that means that you, Eichmann, have decided, not Mueller.

A. No, that never means Eichmann, it means that I have been ordered, I have acted under orders. It is in fact exactly the same thing as I have already commented on.

Q. Now look - I have before me T/439, document No. 65. This is a minute by Dannecker dated 21 July 1942. It says: "The question of deporting children was discussed with SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann. He decided that as soon as deportations to the Generalgouvernement are possible again, children's transports can roll."

It was settled with you, you took the decision.

A. I have already commented in great detail on these documents, with which I am very familiar, not only since I saw them here. There is another document which goes with this document, and that shows a ten-day interval. It took ten days until this matter could be settled.

Q. We already know that first of all there had to be enquiries, and that it took some considerable time to check whether there was room at Auschwitz and whether trains were available. Yes, we know that, it takes time, it is not so simple to load people on to trucks. We have already heard this. But when Dannecker says in this "He, Eichmann, decided," that is your decision and no one else's.

A. No, that is not my decision nor my ruling. The document which precedes this one and belongs with it, indicates that there is a query as to whether these children, who have been arrested by the French police in the police raids - whether they can be carried away.

Q. And you then simply decided: "They can roll"?

A. It was not I who took the decision, because it took ten days until an answer could be given. If I had taken the decision, and I had been able to take the decision, then this answer could after all have been given in three or four days. No, even Mueller did not at this point decide on this answer. He passed the matter on, as shown by this ten-day interval, as can still be seen today. This was the date, 21 July 1942, and then there was an order before that date, an order by Himmler on 26 June of that year, which stated that all Jews were to be deported from France, and despite this order from Himmler, which Himmler caused me to take to Paris - the telegram was shown here this morning - Mueller did not decide on this matter himself, and I must repeat that this is proven by the ten-day interval.

Presiding Judge: But there is still the question why Dannecker wrote "he decided."

Accused: I made a phone is possible that before this there was a reminder, a handwritten reminder which was issued, I do not know. From this document, from this minute, in any case it can be seen that I made a phone call. And then I announced that as soon as transports to the Generalgouvernement were possible once again, children's transports could roll again.

Presiding Judge: But it does not say "he announced," it says: "he decided"; there were several possibilities. So what exactly happened here?

Accused: Your Honour, I am unable to attach any importance or significance to this word "decided," because this was a telephone call; I informed him of this and afterwards he put this down in a minute. I was not able to give him this decision on my own initiative, although there was Himmler's order which related to all Jews from France. Instead, I also submitted this matter to my superior, Gruppenfuehrer Mueller, and I should like to say once again that Mueller, who was not particularly eager to take decisions, definitely did not give this decision on his own intiative.

Judge Halevi: Just a moment: so who did decide?

Accused: I can only imagine that at that time Himmler himself had to be approached, because at that time Heydrich was...

Q. So Himmler decided?

A. Certainly, because I am convinced - I have no proof, but on the basis of my experience - I am convinced that Mueller did not himself give orders in this matter.

Q. So who did decide?

A. I believe that Himmler himself decided on this case, as he was at that time the Head of Reich Security.

Q. But you did not tell Dannecker that Himmler had decided.

A. I did not know that, either, and today I do not know that either, Your Honour. I am just assuming that Mueller could just as well have decided, in any case I myself did not take the decision, because even in minor cases I did not take decisions.

Attorney General: In any case, you will agree with me that Dannecker believed you had decided.

Accused: No, Dannecker knew perfectly well that I myself did not take such decisions on my own initiative. It was common knowledge in the Section that I was the hesitant type, someone who was not eager to take decisions. It was said of me that I was over-cautious, and people were surprised that I went to my Department Chief to obtain instructions on every single minor matter.

Q. And because Dannecker was perfectly well aware of this he wrote that you decided?

A. I cannot very well be made responsible for the style and choice of words used by somebody outside for drawing up a minute about some matter.

As further evidence, I can only say...and also to further back up my statement about this, that just a few weeks ago Krumey - who was after all officially connected for a long time with Department IV and also with my Section - stated that he was often surprised at the excessive caution or words to that effect, because even on the simplest matter I never took any decisions.

Q. Is it correct that in your interrogation in Bureau 06 you said that Dannecker always expressed himself precisely and clearly?

A. That is true in general terms. But I was most surprised at the basic minute that belongs with this. The basic minute dating back to 1 July 1942, is a minute which consists of very many bureaucratic and procedural shortcomings and errors. In general, Dannecker did deal with things in a very proper and orderly manner.

Attorney General: But the minute of 1 July 1942 is from you, not from Dannecker. That is in your documents.

Presiding Judge: What was that on 1 July?

Attorney General: We will be looking at it tomorrow morning. It is in connection with the advisers.

Accused: This minute is not from me, but I may have issued the directives, as stated in the orders which I had before me, and which I read out. The shorthand typist will have taken them down in shorthand, and then written them out in my absence, because I neither signed them, nor authenticated or placed a stamp on them. But as far as the contents are concerned - and I have said this as well - it is essentially correct.

Q. I shall refer the Court to this at the appropriate time.

And when once Roethke was unable to put a transport train together, you reproached him bitterly, telling him that it was a matter of prestige, that it was a disgrace, and that you did not know how to take responsibility for this before Mueller. This is exhibit T/436, document No. 60. But it was you who did that, was it not, and not Mueller?

A. This was part of the timetable, and experience had shown that if a train was cancelled without the Reich Ministry of Transport being informed - I think the period stipulated was three days - if that was not done, what happened was that State Secretary Ganzenmueller went straight to Himmler's office and as is usually the case, all hell broke loose from above. If a transport train could not be operated, according to the order from the Reich Ministry of Transport, and also from Section IVB4, and which was passed on, then it had to be cancelled several days - I am not sure how many, three or four days - in advance.

Q. And was that so dreadful, such a disgrace?

A. Because then Mueller gave me hell and made all sorts of reproaches, because that happened very often and I never made a great fuss about it, and did not report these people.

Q. And you threatened Roethke that you would reconsider whether France was to become free of Jews.

A. That is a form of words used by Roethke, something I could never have said, as it was not up to me to make France free of Jews, nor to carry out deportations, as the orders for France existed clearly and had been issued by Himmler himself.

Presiding Judge: That was not accurate. Perhaps you could read out what it says: "He would have to consider whether France should perhaps not be dropped altogether as a country of deportations."

Accused: Yes, I am familiar with the contents, Your Honour. Obviously this is completely misleading, because I am unable to drop a country as a country of deportations which Himmler has previously designated as a country of deportations, with the requirements that not only 150,000 are to be deported - no, he said that they were all to be deported. It is perfectly clear and self-evident that I cannot have said anything like that. I have also thought about this: I believe that this is a form of words chosen by Roethke, or Dannecker or possibly Knochen, because Roethke practically forced Dannecker out - I do not know what the causal relationship might be with this matter. I could not give any such answer.

Presiding Judge: All right, that will do.

Attorney General: You reproach Roethke for not being able to arrange something, and what you say here, he later records in the minute. This minute is after all not to Roethke's advantage. He also begs you not to carry out this threat. Is that correct?

Accused: It is correct. But it is not correct that I said anything like this, because I could not say anything like that. Just a few days before this, Himmler's Reich order was issued, that this was to happen. It would have been totally impossible - quite out of the question - for me to say this.

Judge Halevi: So it would have been an empty threat. This would have been an empty threat by you.

Accused: Your Honour, in practice and to all practical purposes even Roethke cannot have believed that I could myself have threatened, because Roethke did after all know perfectly had been issued...after all, I brought this order, which was handed to me by Mueller, to Paris, and I showed it to him there, and that order showed, therefore, that Himmler had ordered that all Jews be deported from France.

In any case, Your Honour, there is a blatant contradiction here, because if here I tell Roethke that I do not even want to notify Mueller of the cancellation of one train, because I am afraid that hell will break loose, then after all one can hardly believe that on the other hand I could have been so powerful that I could order that entire countries be either put on the list, or taken off the list of countries of deportations.

Attorney General: So when Dannecker writes "he decided" it is not true, when Roethke notes "he said" it is not correct - we are not to believe any of these minutes, we are only to believe you?

Accused: No, no, not me, Mr. Attorney General, although I do try to tell the truth, but the documents, and then I would ask...

Q. These are the documents.

A. It is a question of logic - if Roethke writes something along these lines, it is illogical. How in one case can I issue a complete, basic order on my own authority, if on the other hand I hesitate and am reluctant even to inform my Chief that one single train has been cancelled?

Q. Because you are Heydrich's Special Plenipotientiary and have all powers against the Jews. That is why you could do it.

A. No - then I would not have had to be somehow careful about this train with Mueller...I would have had far more power in that case.

Q. And in actual fact you did not hesitate. You simply threatened Roethke and that was all. Is that correct?

A. I said what I have just explained, and I really cannot add anything to this, because that is the truth of the matter.

Presiding Judge: Are you now proceeding to another chapter?

Attorney General: Yes, Your Honour.

Judge Raveh: Mr. Hausner, I have a small request. Today there were a few geographical questions, and things were not entirely clear as to the East, to what was annexed to the Reich - the map you submitted. But perhaps we can ascertain how things were by asking the Accused a few questions in one of the forthcoming sessions.

Attorney General: Certainly Your Honour, it can only be of help to us. I think that we will get better guidance from the maps - but if you wish, Your Honour, we will do that.

Judge Raveh: It would be helpful if the Accused could explain his position on the matter.

Attorney General: Perhaps we can put the map up again, with the Court's permission.

Presiding Judge: Yes.

The next Session will be at 8.30 tomorrow morning.

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