The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 106
(Part 4 of 7)

Q. And that you also confirmed these outlines by swearing to them.

A. Yes, that is also correct, the Defence then submitted it to make things clearer and easier, so the Court would see how things were in organizational terms. But I am really not able was a mistake on my part which I made, just as the Statement to the police also contain many inaccuracies which I did in fact imagine, but which are in fact incorrect. There are many things which I imagined, to my own disadvantage, which never even took place, and which I had included.

Q. That is all, thank you.

Presiding Judge: We shall now have a break for twenty minutes.


Judge Halevi: I shall also permit myself to depart from the normal practice, and to question the Accused in his own language.

Accused, you said, I believe, at some time in your cross- examination, that you had in fact been brought to Israel against your will, but subsequently did not regret that so greatly, that in any case you welcomed the opportunity you have here to tell the world the truth about your activities. Is that correct?

Accused: Yes, in human terms - well I would say, considering my human side, I am even happy that the cross- examination took so long. I did at least have the opportunity here to separate the truth from the untruth which was heaped on me over fifteen years.

Q. I entirely understand that it is important to you, and that you are not only interested in the truth for this trial, not just because of this trial. You are in fact a well-known personality in the world now. Do you want - are you sure that you want the truth about you to be known?

A. Yes, indeed, and above all I also wish - I also had an interest in my own family being able to say here, my own sons being able to say to any people who might or could come to them on the basis of the propaganda there has been: "You see, he was cross-examined, in the longest known cross- examination ever, and he said the truth so-and-so," and that is why I was interested in there being a lengthy cross- examination.

Q. You may be seated during the interpretation, it takes a very long time.

A. Thank you very much.

Q. What you have said there about your family, that complicates things somewhat, because you will probably be interested in presenting yourself to your sons in the best possible light, in a good light. That might lead you away from the truth, if the truth might be negative for you. Do you understand?

A. That is out of the question for me, because I endeavoured during the cross-examination to be very precise and stick entirely to the truth, even if it were to my disadvantage, but I wanted...what I did, that I do not deny, I cannot deny it, I had my orders...

Q. Yes, be brief.

A. ...and I would appear, in my own eyes, to be a coward if I were to try here to take refuge in lies or other things.

Q. You see that you have not been interrogated here with the methods of the Secret State Police, and that the Court does not resemble a People's Court.

A. Yes, I have noted that.

Q. So that it depends entirely on you to what extent you have the courage to tell the truth, to the extent that it is negative.

A. Yes.

Q. You are not being forced in any way.

A. Yes, I have realized that.

Q. Since you yourself have just used the term "cowardice," I would draw your attention to the fact that Wisliceny called you a coward.

A. Yes.

Q. And that Winkelmann, for example, compared your personality with that of Endre, with whom you were then on close terms, to some extent to your disadvantage, when he said that at least Endre had had the courage before a Hungarian court to stand by what he had done, to take the blame on himself and not shift it elsewhere.

A. Yes.

Q. He indicates this as a description of Endre, and it is not an easy thing to do this.

A. Yes.

Q. There were other exceptions, such as the previous Governor of the Generalgouvernement; I believe his name was Hans Frank...

A. Yes.

Q. ...who said at the Nuremberg Trial that, while he had not had any responsibility for the extermination of the Jews, nevertheless he could not deny his guilt, and in fact went so far as to say that a thousand years would pass and this crime would not be expiated from the name of National Socialist Germany, or could not be extinguished. And he was sufficiently courageous to take this upon himself, although he denied the legal competence.

A. Yes, I am aware of this.

Q. But that was an exception. Most...

A. Yes.

Q. ...of the accused at Nuremberg shifted it to others.

A. Yes.

Q. Part of the reason for this - and you have also said this - is that generally an accused can lay claim to the natural human right not to tell the truth. And I entirely understand this. I do not expect an accused to incriminate himself. But you pride yourself on not acting according to this principle, but rather having the exceptional courage to disclose the entire truth here before this forum, and the forum of world public opinion.

A. May I reply to this?

Q. Yes. In actual fact, it is not so much a question as a one-sided address to you.

Now let me complete my question. You may be convinced that the Court is entirely free of prejudice, that it has nothing against you, although you are in Israel, and that we are trying just as hard, if not harder, only to uncover the truth. So if you want the same thing, then the two of us have exactly the same aim. This is all we want. But for you obviously this is much more difficult than for us, it takes far greater personal courage than for anyone else, and I do not know if you are capable of really disregarding your personal well-being and really wrestling with yourself towards an acknowledgment of the whole truth. And even if the Court is objective, as I have said to you, that does not mean that we are so naive as to believe everything that every witness, or an accused as a witness, tells us. You can assume that we shall make every effort to sift the truth from the falsehoods.

You see, you wanted to write a book, and you wanted to give an example, an example of expiation to the generations to come. You were thinking more particularly of young Germans...

A. Yes.

Q. As you said, young people learn from the mistakes of the generation before them, how not to do things...

A. Yes.

Q. And this was not to be a book for advertisement or propaganda, but a frank book.

A. Yes.

Q. And as the Presiding Judge has already said to you, instead of writing a book, you are using the opportunity here in your testimony to do the same thing as you would write in your book.

A. Yes.

Q. But this can only be of value if you are convincing on the strength of your candour - not only convincing as far as the Court is concerned; you cannot even convince your sons, if you are not frank.

Today, you will probably complete your testimony, and this is likely to be the only public opportunity you will have of showing the world where you stand and what sort of a man you are, whether you are a man, or whether - as you said - you want to evade the truth. You can still do this now. But today may be the last day to do so!

A. Yes...

Q. First of all, as far as the substance of the matter is concerned, I should like to say something to your advantage. You referred to the so-called declaration of war by the Jewish People against the German people, and your Defence Counsel indicated - I believe it was yesterday - that although this was possibly not correct, nevertheless you did believe that, or might have believed that. In fact, in the meanwhile, I have been doing some reading, and in Chaim Weizmann's memoirs, in his autobiography, there is something, not as you put it, a declaration of war, but something which might give rise to your understanding it in that way. He writes there, on page 509 of the English edition, that at the Zionist Congress in August 1939 in Switzerland - just before the outbreak of the War - there were protests against the British White Paper, and he writes:

"Our protest against the White Paper ran parallel with our solemn declaration that in the coming world struggle we stood committed more than any other people in the world to the defence of democracy, and therefore to co-operation with England, the author of the White Paper."
However, that did not mean that your nation was justified in treating our nation differently from any other nation, even nations which were at war - officially - with Germany.

A. Yes, that is true, and I have said as much.

Q. For example, when you marched into France or Norway, the Germans, who were in a state of war with these people, after the nation concerned had been defeated, they specifically singled out the Jews; or in Holland, you know perfectly well that the Dutch said, there are - we recognize only Dutch and non-Dutch.

A. Yes.

Q. And the Germans said, we distinguish between Jews and Dutch.

A. Yes.

Q. And they did not deal equally with the Jews and the Dutch, although at the time they were both enemies of Germany, or the French, or Norwegians, or Poles. The Jews were sent to Auschwitz, and the other nations were not.

A. Yes.

Q. That has nothing to do with any declaration of war by the Jewish People.

A. No, I said that also, didn't I?.

Q. The reason for this was Hitler's racial doctrine.

A. Yes.

Q. The distinction between Aryans and non-Aryans?

A. Yes.

Q. ...which was made years before war was declared.

A. Yes.

Q. ...which was embodied in law, in particular by the Nuremberg Laws.

A. Yes.

Q. I assume that not only Germans belonged to the Aryans.

A. No.

Q. But nevertheless, further distinctions were drawn between Aryans. For example, the Slavs, who are probably Aryans according to this racial doctrine, they were in fact a second-rate nation, who received different treatment from the first rate, the master race.

A. Yes, that distinction had been drawn by the authorities responsible for racial policy.

Q. That was not your fault, these were the conditions for your...

A. Yes.

Q. And what was the race, for example, of the Mufti, who is mentioned in your testimony?

A. The Mufti, in racial terms, belongs to the Semitic race. That is why...

Q. Yes, "that is why"...?

A. ...the concept of anti-Semitism which was - I do not know if it was coined by Schoenerer, but he certainly propagated it - is incorrect.

Q. Incorrect? It is "Jew-hatred"?

A. Properly speaking, it should be "anti-Judaism."

Q. Yes, hostility to Jews, yes.

A. Or if one considers the entire race, then this would not be restricted to Jewry alone, but would also have to include the Arab peoples. I do not know whether it would include all of them, but at least a majority of the Arab peoples...

Q. But that was not applied consistently?

A. For certain reasons - I do not know how this came about - this was not applied.

Q. Probably for political reasons?

A. Schoenerer's concept remained and...

Q. Yes, yes. But in practical terms, for political reasons this was not in fact applied to the Arabs - or was it? A. No, no such plans existed, I believe. I have never read anything about that, and I believe that this whole matter was adopted by Hitler from the...the other Schoenererian memories, that there was a great to-do about this matter of Schoenerer's...

Q. Very well. Now something else. You often draw a comparison between the extermination of the Jews and the bombing of German cities, and between the killing of Jewish women and children and the killing of German women and children by bombing, particularly in the years - in the final years of the War. But you probably realize that there is a basic difference, depending on whether the target is a military target, an enemy who is resisting, forcing an armed enemy by bombing into capitulation, as the Germans also tried to force England by bombing into capitulating, and after capitulation of course the bombing would stop - between that on the one hand, and removing one by one, say from every house, the Jewish men, women and children, or having them summoned by the police and taken away from a Gestapo district office and sending them to Auschwitz and exterminating them there. The difference, after all, is a considerable one, is it not?

A. Of course this is an enormous difference, that is correct.

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