The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 106
(Part 5 of 7)

Q. Yes, but then explain the difference or the similarity.

A. Yes.

Q. Did you want to say something further on this?

A. Whether it is the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whether it is the bombing of residential districts, regardless of whether it is England or Germany, whether it is the gassing of Jews - everything is a crime against humanity, that is obvious. At that time people were living in a time of crime legalized by the state... and it was the responsibility of those who gave the orders...

Q. All right, we shall come to the question of responsibility later.

A. And I... on myself... and that is why I have indicated these matters, the bombing and so on - the direct effect on myself, when I saw the bodies...

Q. You mean the psychological impact?

A. That is what I meant, relating this to myself, I do not have the right here to deal with this matter in its entirety, nor do I have the requisite knowledge to do so, to be able to deal with it objectively.

Q. You probably knew that there is international legislation on war? The Hague Convention, and so on?

A. Yes.

Q. That civilian populations - that all civilians are protected against measures which are not required for military purposes in war?

A. Yes.

Q. You said that for you an oath is one of the highest moral obligations?

A. Yes.

Q. And you had sworn loyalty to the Fuehrer, and also within the SS had an obligation to be loyal to the Reichsfuehrer- SS, Himmler?

A. Yes.

Q. Would you read out here what Himmler stated in his well- known speech at Posen on 4 October 1943, about the evacuation of the Jews.


"I am referring now to the evacuation of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish People. This is one of those things one says easily...`the Jewish People will be exterminated'...every Party member says that...quite is in our programme...removing the Jews...exterminating them...that we'll do...exterminating them...that we'll do...and then they all come along, the brave eighty million Germans, and everyone has his 'decent Jews'...obviously all the others are pigs...but this one is a first-class Jew...none of those who talk like that have looked on, no one has gone through it...most of you will know what it means when a hundred corpses are lying on the ground together...when there are five hundred or a thousand lying have to get through this and to have remained decent, apart from exceptions due to human weaknesses...and this has made us tough.

"This is a page of glory in our history which never has been and never will be written down, because we know how hard it would be for us if today in every town, in addition to the bombing raids and the sufferings and deprivations of the War, we also had the Jews as undercover saboteurs, agitators, and instigators. We would probably have reached the level of 1916-1917 by now, if the Jews were still part of the German national body. We have taken from them the wealth they had...I gave strict orders, which were implemented by SS Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl, that this wealth was of course to be transferred in its entirety to the Reich...we did not take anything of this for ourselves...individuals who have acted wrongly are punished in accordance with an order I gave at the outset, stipulating that anyone who takes even one mark of this will be put to death. A number of SS men...not very many...sinned against that, and we shall have no mercy in putting them to death.

"We had the moral right, we had the duty to our people to kill this people which wanted to kill us. But we do not have the right to enrich ourselves with even one fur, with one clock, with one mark, or with one cigarette or anything else...we do not wish in the end, because we have exterminated a germ, to fall sick of that germ and to die. I shall never tolerate even the smallest rotten spot developing or gaining a hold. Wherever it appears, we shall together cauterize it. But overall, we can say that we have carried out this most arduous duty out of the love for our people, and we have not been harmed in so doing in our innermost being, in our soul, in our character. And in obedience, in our life as soldiers..."

Judge Halevi: Up to here, this far; this refers to a second question. Stop here for the interpretation. This was a Prosecution document - perhaps there is already a Hebrew translation of this in the Court records... Very well, in that case we do not need to waste any time having this interpreted now. T/1288.

Your views have changed since then, you told us.

Accused: Yes.

Q. Up to 8 May 1945, you were loyal to the oath you had sworn?

A. Yes.

Q. You were a convinced National Socialist?

A. Yes.

Q. But after the defeat, gradually - over the years - and with relapses - as you have said - you reached a different view.

A. Yes, in my case this took a very long time.

Q. But at that time - when Himmler gave authoritative expression to the prevailing National Socialist point of view, and in particular to the duties of the SS - at that time it was considered a glorious act to destroy Jews? The Jews were looked upon as a germ which had to be destroyed, just like any other disease? And pitilessness was considered a virtue, if one can put it like that...

A. Yes, that is correct, that I must admit.

Q. Incidentally, in terms of racial doctrine, at that time you called yourself "Nordic-Dinaric," if I am not mistaken.

A. I did not call myself that, I could not, it was the people who were - the doctors, who carried out the examinations.

Q. What is "Nordic-Dinaric"?

A. It is a mixture of Nordic, North German, if one can put it this way, and South German, an alpine person is mainly Dinaric, while someone from the north is mainly Nordic; the mixture of the two is called Nordic-Dinaric.

Q. At that time did you ever hear the term Blutkitt - 'blood cement'?

A. Yes, definitely, Blutkitt became a familiar phrase. I would put it this way - the other words, the other play on words, "Blood cements."

Q. What does that mean?

A. Having the same blood makes a link between people.

Q. I see. Did it also have another meaning?

A. It was also used in terms of descent, for example in the Waffen-SS divisions, where the so-called was used... I must just think about this...

Q. No, that is not what I mean. Did Blutkitt mean: Blood shed together acts as a cement?

A. No, I did not understand it to mean that, but that common blood acts as cement.

Q. No, no. What I mean by Blutkitt can be expressed as follows, for example: "We are all in the same boat, and no one is allowed to alight; if anyone wants to turn his back on me, I will force him to become an accomplice, so that there is no turning back for him."

A. Linguistically that is correct, this term would readily fit here, but I have never heard it in this form.

Q. Well, I can tell you that at that time this was not a rare occurrence. And I shall read this out here from Wisliceny's report (T/84), where he says that your principle (Eichmann's principle), "that his principle, he once told me to my face in Hungary in the course of a heated discussion." And then it says: "We are all in the same boat, and no one is allowed to alight; if anyone wants to turn his back on me, I will force him to become an accomplice, so that there is no turning back for him."

A. About this, I have said that in fact...that it is not my way to deal with my people in such a dictatorial and aggressive fashion. I also have no recollection of having said anything like this.

Q. Very well, that will do. This sentence I read out to you...

A. Yes.

Q. ...comes at the end of two previous sentences, which read: "Eichmann's principle in his staff policy was never to release anyone who had once worked in his Section for another job. Even volunteering for the army or the Waffen- SS he refused as a matter of principle." And then comes this sentence. What do you have to say about this?

A. I would like to say about this...

Q. Keep it brief.

A. Reporting to the Waffen-SS - I can give an example of this. Dr. Rajakowitsch had volunteered for the Waffen-SS, and I did not have to make any problems for him, but then I could not approve it. And as for staff policy, I could not conduct it - it was Mueller who conducted it. fact, not only Mueller, but exclusively the Head Staff Office, but here Mueller had decisive influence.

Q. And you do not remember having had a conversation like this with Wisliceny?

A. No. But it is quite possible that perhaps there was a similar conversation, and then in 1945 Wisliceny twisted things to his own advantage. All I can do, is just to say again that it is not true that if any of my staff was fortunate enough to get into the Waffen-SS, that I would stand in his way - that is proved by Dr. Rajakowitsch. And secondly, I was in no way able to conduct any staff policy.

Q. You knew Heydrich quite well, didn't you?

A. Yes.

Q. What sort of person was he?

A. Particularly prominent was his ambition, his desire for publicity, and his desire to grab all sorts of authority for himself.

Q. He was presumably very active?

A. Outstandingly active.

Q. And he organized the Head Office for Reich Security to a great extent.

A. To some extent he was the person who created the Head Office for Reich Security, and I would say that Best was the architect who then cast this in the right legal form.

Q. But the creator was Heydrich?

A. Yes, Heydrich was the creator.

Q. And also the policy - let us say the major lines, strategically and tactically speaking, of the extermination of the Jews were probably laid down by Heydrich - or was it Himmler?

A. I believe that Heydrich and Himmler did that jointly, together with Pohl as well; I could not exclude Pohl here. I would say that this triumvirate was responsible for the strategic and tactical planning.

Q. That was drawn up like a campaign, and also planned using psychological warfare, the tactics of deceiving the enemy and so on...

A. In my opinion, this gradually crystallized as things happened, and in case of need was ordered directly by Himmler. I do not believe that right from the outset there was a discussion of action to be taken, where these matters were dealt with in the minutest, finest detail, but that this automatically somehow resulted from the ...

Q. All right. You are saying that this developed - let us say organically, in the course of time.

A. That is how I would put it.

Q. For example, first the Jewish communities in Vienna, then Prague, then Berlin came under the supervision of the Secret State Police, for the purposes of emigration.

A. And as the official supervisory authority, the Secret State Police, first there was the centralizing of these Jewish organizations, and the roof association...

Q. But I am placing the stress on the supervision by the Secret State Police.

A. Yes, yes.

Q. So that, for example, the Jewish functionaries were given duties - to register the members of the communities for emigration, arranging property matters, and exercising fairly stringent controls here, which greatly facilitated emigration.

A. Yes, that is true, and that is also confirmed in a very precise fashion by Dr. Loewenherz. The reports are available.

Q. Yes. And then that could be switched very rapidly and simply to deportation?

A. Yes.

Q. Then there was the idea of the Jewish Councils, particularly for Poland?

A. Yes.

Q. And later for Hungary, too? Before that, let us also say for Holland? Possibly it started in Holland, the Jewish Council in Amsterdam, then in Poland - or at the same time - and lastly in Hungary?

A. Yes.

Q. As instruments of German policy regarding the Jews, these Jewish Councils - shall we say - considerably facilitated the implementation of measures against the Jews?

A. Yes.

Q. And saved a great deal of manpower and staff.

A. Yes.

Q. Both police and civil servants, too?

A. Yes.

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