The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 106
(Part 3 of 7)

Q. Perhaps you still remember what was discussed there?

A. The various types of possible solutions began...there was a review of the...

Q. No, no, before that it says: "The various State Secretaries indicated their various opinions."

A. Yes.

Q. And then it says: "In conclusion, the various types of possible solutions were discussed."

A. That was already after the dispute. No, I remember now, Your Honour. I thought that it was at the beginning, Heydrich's review after the dispute between the State Secretaries.

Q. You had better have a look at this. Well then, perhaps you remember what was talked about there?

A. The various possibilities for killing were discussed.

Q. Various possibilities for killing?

A. Yes.

Q. Now you must explain to me why, after the Conference, it was precisely these three men - Heydrich, Mueller and Eichmann - who remained behind and celebrated.

A. Why celebrated?

Q. Heydrich and Mueller, I understand. Why Eichmann, why also Eichmann?

A. Because I had to draw up the minutes. In fact, all the time I, together with the clerk, had to keep the minutes, and after the discussion the minutes had to be drafted immediately.

Presiding Judge: Silence in Court!

Judge Raveh: Just a moment, that is a new version. Up to now I, at any rate, understood that the three of you stayed behind to relax, to unwind a little. Heydrich was satisfied; he had feared there would be problems, he smoked, something you had practically never seen before then, and you sat around the fireplace, and what you have said so far had nothing to do with the minutes.

Accused: Yes,, no, there was then that time there was no work on the minutes.

Q. Very well. So why was Eichmann included as the third man in this sitting round the fire?

A. Because - we had only just been left alone, and no one else was there, and then Heydrich said how he wanted the minutes to be drafted, and after he had listed these items, there was no further talk of these matters. Instead I was asked to drink a glass or two or three of cognac. That is how that happened. And after that everyone went home, and I sat down and followed Heydrich's relevant instructions for the minutes, so that the words in the minutes are my words, except for the passages which Heydrich then corrected, expanded, or wanted to be corrected.

Q. Now we come to Pontius Pilate. You told us that you felt like Pontius Pilate.

A. Yes.

Q. The question of Pontius Pilate bothered you once more, and I shall show you something, and I have underlined a particular passage. T/43(g). Who wrote this?

A. I wrote this.

Q. When did you write this?

A. I no longer remember when I wrote this; I believe I wrote it in Haifa.* {*Haifa, Israel - camp where Eichmann was kept prior to the trial}

Q. Perhaps you wrote it there. In any case, I am showing you the passage. Just read the passage out.

A. Certainly. "Despite everything, I, of course, know that I cannot wash my hands of this, because the fact that I was a recipient of absolute orders definitely no longer means anything today."

Q. So how can these two things be reconciled?

A. According to today's...and I also said this in my retrospect...obviously the fact that one was a recipient of orders can no longer make any difference, and consequently, according to the existing paragraphs, I cannot wash my hands of things in innocence, but in fact am incriminated under these paragraphs.

Q. But I had always understood that Pontius Pilate's washing of his hands was based on an introspective process.

A. That is precisely what I wanted to refer to, Your Honour. But when it came to my innermost self - I in fact now had to search my soul, and of course one always searches one's soul - and this is where man judges himself. And I admit that this soul-searching and judging oneself may be a hard thing, depending on the mood and the prevailing influences on one - sometimes one is inclined to personal cowardice, and one would prefer to shirk this business of taking a clear-cut decision about oneself.

I am aware of all this. But if I say to myself, if I remind myself how often I tried to get away and to obtain another posting, and how I tried my level best not to go to Berlin, if only because I would be separated from my family by this posting, then I tell myself, when I carry out this soul- searching, as one does time and again to oneself in hours of quiet, I tell myself: Yes, I did everything I could have done. I was a tool in the hands of forces stronger than myself. I - let me put it in a somewhat vulgar way - I must wash my hands of it in innocence, as far as my innermost self is concerned. That is how I would understand this. As far as I am concerned, this does not involve external factors as much as my own soul-searching.

Q. As far as the washing of hands in 1942 was concerned, this was a form of mental reservation?

A. 1942?

Q. Yes, Wannsee, at the Wannsee Conference.

A. Ah, the Wannsee Conference.

Q. Yes, was this a form of mental reservation?

A. Yes, well, here I said to myself - here are all the bigwigs together - there is nothing to be done.

Q. You did not say that to Heydrich, and you did not say that to Mueller.

A. No, no, I would not have been allowed to say that.

Q. And if you had said that, might you possibly have finished up in the probation battalion? Or what would have happened to you?

A. I do not know. Perhaps the "ascent to heaven" battalion or prison. I do not know what would have happened. It depends on which of Heydrich's feelings I would have disturbed.

Q. You stated that you said on various occasions to Mueller that you wanted to go somewhere else.

A. Yes, to Mueller, that is so.

Q. Did you also say why?

A. I said that, too.

Q. Look, someone - I do not remember if it was you or another witness - said, "and there was a man called Hartl (Hardy), and Mueller said to him, `Your name should not be Hartl, but Weichl (Softy)'."

Did Mueller never tell you your name should not be "Eichmann," but "Weichmann" (Soft Man)?

A. No.

Q. He said about you what we heard yesterday; your Defence Counsel submitted a passage from the Sassen Document, where Mueller speaks about the fifty Eichmanns. Is that the opposite?

A. Yes, the opposite.

Q. So how does all of this fit?

A. But this does not refer to my official activities, that is to say, my dealings with Jews. This term, this was...the reason and the fact was that in the totally bombed-out district - I think it was called the Bavarian District - that there were in fact few buildings, relatively few buildings still intact, and one of those, for example, was the office building where my Section was housed. That was completely intact, except for various corners and ends which were burned down.

Q. My last question - did you want to say something else?

A. The background was this: Because I had chased after every single incendiary bomb, and immediately cleared craters from high-explosive bombs and so on, and when then, towards the end of the War, a rather large number of Security Police personnel, of Department IV for example, had to be assembled and, as I have already said, for the purpose of issuing false papers, apparently in all of his area Mueller had no other office building than the office building at Kurfuerstenstrasse 116, which I, together with my men, had saved from destruction throughout the War by working through the night during raids. And this reason and everything connected with it, the issuing of papers and so on, at this discussion this thing about the fifty Eichmanns came about. This was a - I think I would call it a form of comment in the Bavarian manner.

Q. But not a commentary on all of your activity during the whole time you were in contact with Mueller - it applied only to this latest episode and not the entire period?

A. It applied to the current situation.

Q. My last question: Is it correct that the concept of the physical extermination of the Jews had already gained a firm footing by the end of 1939?

A. The end of 1939? At that time I had not heard of any physical extermination of the Jews.

Q. But look at what you said on pages 3141 and 3142. I have underlined it.

A. Ah, my own opinion, my - let us call it my - my analysis of the plans before I was informed of them, yes, that is my personal opinion, which strengthens me, because today I tell myself...also Adolf Hitler's proclamations which at that time were considered to be more of a - I would say a propaganda matter, today, looking back, these have to must say that it appears somehow to have been a firm idea and a firm plan of Hitler's, and not just a propaganda matter, and that is how this must be understood as well, what I more or less...

Q. Just a moment. But at that time you did not yet understand this in this way, or did you in fact understand it in this way?

A. Yes, I already had...

Q. That in the highest circles there was the tendency, the concept?

A. Then, at the end of 1939, I did not know anything about it.

Q. Look, there is a fairly flagrant contradiction about a point which concerns this meeting of 21 September 1939. Do you know which one this is?

A. Yes.

Q. In the police interrogation you had no doubt at all on the basis of the list of participants that you had been present there.

A. Yes.

Q. It says so explicitly, you said so, and here in Court you said you were not present and the list of participants was not correct. You will understand that, at first sight, what you said to the police is more probable, because it is also supported by the exhibit, by the document.

A. Yes.

Q. And if what you said to the police is true, then it is very, very likely that on the basis of this meeting you already understood at that time what the aim of the whole business was.

A. Yes. May I say the following, Your Honour? In my statement in Bureau 06 I mixed up all sorts of things. I made mistakes about times and so on, and I myself did not even know when I actually came to Berlin. I no longer had any idea of a Reich Central Office and all of this, and all these things I had to piece together for myself from the files here. But I received these files after I made my Statement. And here I drew up a timetable for myself, so that first of all I would have a clear idea for myself as to how the years had passed, and where in fact I was. And then, in studying this, I realized from Dr. Loewenherz' report, for example, that at that time I could not actually have been in Berlin at all, and then I started thinking things over. I said to myself, well damn it, this Department Chief/Operations Units meeting - I cannot remember the substance of it either - you cannot even have been there. And so I then - in order to deal with the last lingering doubt, I then also asked my Defence Counsel to ask Dr. Six, whose subordinate I had been for many years, whether or not I had been there. And Six said I had never been at a Department Chiefs' meeting, and that is in fact true. I was never present there. Now if that was a Department Chiefs and Operations Units meeting, I was also not present at that, because at that time I was in fact still in Vienna and Prague, so what would I have been doing in Berlin. And then I looked at the document, the file is one of Department II's, I think that is still the old Security Service Bureau.

Q. Very well, that is what you said in your Statement, I think...

A. There really is nothing more I can say about this. I do not know anything about the substance of it.

Q. Very well, that is in fact what you said in your Statement. I only have one last question I would like to ask - still on this point, and then I have finished - just another minute...

Although at the end you only indicate this, that in this paper, N/2, which you drew up and submitted - I shall show this to you in one moment - you wrote there: "Prague - until September 1939; Berlin from October 1939," and you will concede that the time difference from 21 September 1939 to October 1939 is not so terribly large...

A. Yes... When I drew up these outlines - and this matter was also part of it - I still had no files available to me, just the few files which I had seen in Bureau 06 and Reitlinger, and Poliakov, and a few other books as well, but not the actual documents. I must say, I myself was in fact most surprised that I...when I saw the files here and then drew up my timetable, which was totally different from how I had remembered this...believed it in my own mind... And so this was also one of the small errors which I had reserved for myself, because I drew up these diagrams and outlines to the best of my knowledge and belief - at that time I drew them up for the Defence, in order to put some order into the entire confusing material, and later I was set right by the files.

Q. But I had understood that you submitted this as part of your testimony...

A. Yes...

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