The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 104
(Part 4 of 5)

Q. That will do. Now, you want to indicate or explain to me your position on the foot march - so would you explain this, please!

A. Certainly, by all means. I have already said that I was ordered to proceed from Berlin to Hungary. In Hungary, according to orders, I had to advise how such a foot march should be carried out, and I did so. To that extent some of what I have read out in this Sassen material is even correct, about the days, the reporting of the daily progress. I did not have any success with my delivery of the orders of the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service from Berlin, because Winkelmann, together with Veesenmayer, had pursued this matter further, and it was then Veesenmayer who made official representations to the Hungarian Government, for confirmation at least of 25,000 as the first instalment, instead of the 50,000 which Berlin had demanded, and Veesenmayer had to conduct these negotiations with Szalasi, the then head of state. Veesenmayer then received the instruction from Winkelmann to arrange the details with the Minister of the, not with the Minister of the Interior - with some minister or other whose name escapes me. Together with Winkelmann, Veesenmayer reached an agreement on arranging these points of detail with this minister. I believe his name was Kovacz, and that did in fact come about. The Hungarian Government then made 25,000 available. The condition - and I had also been informed of this in Berlin - was for able- bodied male Jews capable of marching. These conditions were also laid down by Winkelmann and Veesenmayer.

The first contingents which set out on the foot march reached the border in very good order and condition. They were several thousand, but, as the days wore on, the food depots and the rest points, overnight points, were not properly maintained and replenished as they should have been by the Hungarian executive bodies which ran the transports, and were responsible for them. In the end, the whole thing finally came to be run under the overall charge of the Arrow Cross people, and that was what led to disaster. I myself had nothing to do with these transports. It is true that I did act as consultant at the beginning; I played an advisory role, as the orders stipulated. But nothing was done, nor did I have any authority, and apparently Winkelmann, as the Higher SS and Police Leader, also had no authority, as he was unable to stop the transport being run by the Arrow Cross. It was the Hungarian head of state himself who one day had to halt these foot marches. I would point out that if I had had even the slightest thing to do with this, with the actual execution of transports, the commission chaired by Dr. Breslauer, which investigated all of this on the spot, would without any doubt have mentioned my name or the name of one of my people, and I would then have appeared in the report. That is not the case.

This is basically what I would like to say about this. The idea of the foot march did not originate with me, but this idea in fact originated with the...

Q. Originated with German or Hungarian authorities?

A. There you are asking me what is beyond my knowledge. I cannot say. I do, however, know that this idea was presented to Berlin by Winkelmann.

Q. Today, you do not know...

A. That is what the document says.

Q. So you claim that the initiative for the foot march came from the German authorities, from Winkelmann.

A. I can only, on the basis of a document...

Q. What do you say, you yourself, not documents - what do you remember?

A. I do not remember anything at all, but the document says that at the request - it says here "at the request of the local Higher SS and Police Leader and on the orders of the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann today returned - returned today to Budapest," and so on. And the next document...

Q. Very well, just forget the documents for the time being. I can read documents for myself. You went to look at the foot march, and you saw two corpses, you said that yourself, didn't you?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. Why did you go to observe the foot march?

A. I did not go to observe the foot march; I was on my way from Budapest to Vienna.

Q. And you saw this scene?

Presiding Judge: Yes, he has already said so.

Attorney General: You also saw old people, you saw little children, too; is that correct?

Accused: Little children - I do not know, no, that children...there were not, in fact, any...they were not sent out on the march even by the Hungarian - by the Arrow Cross - this is the first time that I have heard this.

Q. That is what you said: "As the groups reached the border, they were put to work with the German women, children and the elderly, whom they helped to dig anti-tank traps."

A. I did not understand that.

Presiding Judge: Where are you quoting from, Mr. Attorney General?

Attorney General: From Life.

Presiding Judge: I did not understand it - I did not understand the quotation.

Attorney General: I shall ask the Accused myself. Do you remember seeing elderly people? Old people?

Accused: No, I cannot remember any particular images, but I did see tottering figures, that is correct.

Q. When you were in Budapest, you lived in the Villa Aschner, didn't you?

Presiding Judge: How do things stand, Mr. Hausner? We shall come to this after the recess.

Attorney General: I am very close to the end, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: Please be seated, we shall deal with this after the recess.


Presiding Judge: Please proceed.

Attorney General: Do you remember to whom the house where you lived in Budapest belonged?

Accused: No, I do not remember that - but I do remember where I lived.

Q. So where did you live?

A. I first lived on the Schwabenberg...I was given notice to leave there on the instructions of the Higher SS and Police Leader - he had me moved to a second lodging, on the Rosenberg or Rosenhuegel (Rose Mount or Rose Hill) in Budapest.

Q. Was there a fruit orchard there?

A. Yes, there was a big fruit orchard there.

Q. Did Jews work there?

A. It is only here that I have remembered this again: I had positions for riflemen dug - not positions for mortars, as was said - but these were positions for riflemen against bombing raids.

Q. Did Jews work there?

A. I gathered that here, yes...

Q. All right... Was Slawik the foreman in charge of the work there?

A. No, he was not a foreman - because there was no other work there - he was the second caretaker, I would say; there was a Hungarian caretaker there, and Slawik was the person who supervised the house...

Q. I am talking about the supervision of this work! Did Slawik not supervise this work?

A. That is certainly possible...he would have given instructions for the work to be done there...

Q. Did you have an amphibian vehicle? A vehicle capable of travelling both on water and on land?

A. Yes, it was called a floating car (Schwimmwagen) - I had one.

Q. And a chauffeur called Teitel?

A. I do not know - I am not aware of the name.

Q. Have you heard the name Engineer Kolbach?

A. No, I have never heard it. This is the first time I have heard it.

Q. And about the incident where Slawik had something to do with a Jewish youth - did you not hear about that, that he was arrested several years later in connection with this?

A. No, never heard about it. This is the first time I have heard of this.

Q. And about an incident where a Jewish boy was thoroughly beaten for stealing fruit. You have never heard of that? That is quite simply an invention, I suppose?

A. This is also the first time I have heard of this.

Q. You have not heard anything about this incident earlier? This never reached your ears? That a boy was beaten to death in your house and then thrown into the Danube - you never heard that?

A. First of all I have never heard this - this is the first time - and it cannot possibly have happened; I cannot say any more about this.

Q. Did you hear the testimony by witness Gordon, here in the courtroom? Are you saying that he lied from A to Z?

A. I heard this testimony - I was amazed, and at the same time I was horrified. I cannot say that what a witness testified was not true, as he was in fact sworn in - because he swore an oath - but from my own experience I know only too well how one confuses things - how one believes something and sticks to it, and considers it to be unassailable, whereas in fact one should really say, "yes, I was wrong about that." I must totally reject everything in the testimony given by witness Gordon, because I never did anything of this kind, nor did I ever hear it or see it.

Q. I would like you to identify for the Court the picture of your assistant, Novak. May I have T/1147.

Presiding Judge: Please take it.

Attorney General: Please look at this picture. Is this man known to you?

Accused: Yes, this is Novak.

Q. You have told us of your conversations with the Mufti, and that he was in the company of certain other gentlemen. Do you remember that one of them was called the "Heydrich of the Near East"?

A. Yes, I remember that.

Q. This group attended a brief crash course at the Gestapo offices, did it not?

A. I would not call it a course - they were...they had to go through the Sections of Department IV, for information purposes, perhaps also through the other Departments as well.

Q. Can you confirm the following sentence? "They were to some extent, through a form of speedy procedure, reconditioned into experts for any Gestapo to be set up in the Near East."

A. I am sorry, I did not understand. It [the translation] did not come through.

Q. Very well, please read through what I am handing you. On page 653 of the Sassen Document. Just these two lines, please. Is what is said there correct?

A. These two lines are correct, yes. What appears before this is not right.

Q. Just these two lines. All right. I would like this to be translated, these two lines.

Interpreter: I have already translated it.

Attorney General: Thank you very much.

Dr. Servatius: Could you tell me which lines these are?

Attorney General: "They were to some extent, through a form of speedy procedure, reconditioned into experts for any Gestapo to be set up in the Near East." You remember that a proposal was made for someone from your office to act as adviser to the Mufti after the great victory.

A. I do not remember, but I am sure that would necessarily have happened. I can safely say that. But I do not remember that.

Q. But you cannot dispute Wisliceny's words in this matter, that it was suggested that he be the Mufti's adviser.

A. I believe that this is pure imagination on Wisliceny's part, because at that time there could be no question of proposals about personnel, and if there had been, Wisliceny would have been the last person not to have been happy about taking up such a new post, because of the novelty, the surroundings, the journey, and so on.

Q. That is what Wisliceny himself says also, but you will admit that he could only have heard something like this from you, that the fact that such a proposal even existed he could have heard only from you.

A. He could not have heard this only from me, he could also have heard it directly from Mueller, because in fact Wisliceny did...

Q. So that means either from Mueller or from you, that is what you mean, is it not?

A. Yes, he could have heard it.

Q. That will do. You had close ties with Kaltenbrunner, didn't you? In 1941 you were still able personally to recommend to him one of your colleagues or subordinates, Kraus, although at that time there was no longer any joint activities with Kaltenbrunner, correct?

A. Yes, what is in here is right, it was Hauptsturmfuehrer Kraus who was acting as honorary Gruppenfuehrer.

Q. I am not interested in the content of the letter; what I am interested in is whether you were on sufficiently good terms to be able to intervene with him in person on behalf of one of the people who in the past had worked with you.

Presiding Judge: This is T/1431.

Accused: Yes, this was an official matter, and I submitted the proposal for promotion to Kaltenbrunner.

Attorney General: And the good terms on which you were with Kaltenbrunner never cooled off, never worsened?

Accused: With the qualification that once he became my superior, our ties were purely official and stopped being private, as they had been previously.

Presiding Judge: Had you been the superior of this Kraus in Vienna?

Accused: I was not Kraus' superior; the superior was the Inspector of the Security Police and the Security Service. I was also on friendly terms with Kraus.

Presiding Judge: Very well. So this was not a normal official matter, but an entirely private recommendation?

Accused: Not private with regard to Kaltenbrunner, but it was private with regard to Kraus.

Presiding Judge: Did you wish to add something?

Accused: I simply wanted to add that I did Kraus the favour for which he had asked me.

Judge Halevi: But you wrote the truth, you did not just want to do him some favour or other, but what you wrote about Kraus was the truth, was it not?

Accused: It was the truth, because when I was in Austria, Kraus had in fact run the emigration fund there, that is correct.

Attorney General: You told us that Jewish Affairs had to be heavily camouflaged even vis-a-vis the Foreign Ministry; but you will admit that these camouflage systems and methods were also applied to other countries, for example to the Slovaks.

Accused: I never denied that; in fact, Himmler gave these orders.

Q. But you carried them out?

A. I was not the only one who carried them out.

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