The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 107
(Part 3 of 6)

Q. What was your attitude to this National Socialist opinion that the Jews had to be removed from Germany?

A. In 1934-1935 I had not yet thought anything at all about this, it was not until 1937...

Q. Just a moment. Are you saying that, in these years when your comrades spoke about this, you, of all people, did not reflect about this at all?

A. At that time I reflected only on what occurred to me while reading the book I mentioned, by Adolf Boehm. That was in the year - it must have been - it may have been the end of 1935, at least I think so.

Q. And until that time you did not think about it?

A. Until then I had not thought about it at all, because when I joined the Head Office for Reich Security, I had to put my nose to the card index. I had to do a very subordinate job, and I was upset that I had finished up in the wrong spot. But I could not leave there, and previously I had been in the armed forces.

Q. The work which you did, which afterwards you yourself did, the "forced emigration."

A. Yes.

Q. What was your opinion of this? Was this something positive, something negative?

A. At that time, in my opinion this was also a very positive matter, and I was strengthened in this opinion by the desire to emigrate, which I in fact saw daily on the part of the Jews as well.

Q. But this desire, was it not the result of fear?

A. Yes, that is true. But I had not instilled this fear. That was my advantage, I had not sown this fear, I would say. Of course, on the other hand, I did not know that the central authorities were also now advocating forced emigration, and not only the Security Service Head Office. So, at the time, I said to myself: For both parties this is two birds with one stone.

Q. I asked you about your own mental attitude to this, about this idea of forcing the Jews to emigrate by intimidating them - your own mental attitude. A person has a mental attitude to his work, either positive or negative or indifferent, correct?

A. Yes, my mental attitude at that time was, in fact, exactly what it is today: I saw Jews being forced out of all areas of the German people's life; I saw that things were economically bad for them; I saw them being harassed and oppressed. But I was able to say to myself, in order to put my mind at rest, I have no part in this - in all of these things - I have been placed here, and I am now to help in emigration, and the expression of my mental attitude was reflected, I would say, in the fact that I sat together with the Jewish officials with whom I had to deal on an equal footing, at the production line, as the phrase went, and weighed up the possibilities of making the best of that muddle.

Q. But did you not reflect on the causes of this muddle?

A. No, I did not reflect on this. My contacts with the Jewish officials were such - for example, after the Kristallnacht, a young lawyer from the Jewish community said to me: "Jewish impertinent lout attacks harmless lions." That was his description of the Kristallnacht. The only reason I should like to make this point is because to some extent it indicates what my personal relationship was with those people, and how I spoke to them.

Q. This does not concern this matter. Now, we have heard a great deal from you about your duty of fidelity, to which you were bound as a soldier.

A. Yes.

Q. I want to ask you: Were you a soldier at all in the years in which you were in the Head Office for Reich Security?

A. Yes, at least I was bound to a duty, and I also felt this obligation within myself.

Q. The work you carried out there - was that military service?

A. That is what was said, yes. Of course it was not service, not as one carrying arms. But, for example, in the Security Service Head Office for a while, every morning before we started work, we had to do our military exercises - and we had to practice using weapons. All of this was a part of it. Later this was abolished.

Q. In those years you were not in the Waffen-SS?

A. Previously I was,, not in those years. I was attached to it in the reserves.

Q. In the Waffen-SS?

A. No.

Q. I understood that you were a police officer.

A. Yes, that is also true, because I was, so to speak, drafted into the Head Office for Reich Security with the Red Form.

Q. What is this Red Form?

A. This was some red form or other, showing that one was drafted for the duration of the War. One could not do anything about it. The recruiting office was notified by the personnel division, and then one was earmarked for the duration of the War for the Head Office for Reich Security. As far as I know, this applied to everyone in certain age groups.

Q. You replied to the Attorney General that you could, indeed, have left the Party and the SS, but not the employment you had been given. I believe this is what you said?

A. Left the Party and the SS? Of my own free will? This sounds odd to me, because as far as I am... even the... otherwise one would not have been left at liberty.

Q. I do not wish now to waste any time on this - I shall find this passage later and ask you about it subsequently.

A. Yes.

Q. You are now saying that you were not able to leave the Party, having once joined it, is that your statement?

A. No, I would put it like this: As long as there was no state of war, one could probably have left the Party and the SS, but I in fact did not have any...I had been sworn into the forces. During the War, in any case this did not exist. I do not even need to explain this, because as of the beginning of the War there was no leaving, nor any other possibility of doing anything of one's own free will. And before that, there was first of all the swearing of the oath to the forces, and the oath when I joined the Security Service Head Office. I have already said that, instead of my ending up in the Head Office for Reich Security, I in fact came to the Security Service Head Office. These are two different matters. But at that time it was not possible to distinguish between them.

Q. Your statement is that you could not, for example, have left your position in the Head Office for Reich Security and reported for the front, without the consent of your superior?

A. No, the reason why one could not do this, was because in fact the recruiting office was simply unable to accept and register and examine one, but...

Q. I am not talking so much about the formal aspects now. If you had insisted, "I want to go to the front," would someone have been able to stop you from doing so?

A. One would not have received any approval at all, but would have been punished, because I was not in fact able to do what I wanted. For everything I did, I had to obtain the permission of my superior. In addition, there is the fact - as I have said repeatedly - that I did apply. Not only did I apply, but probably most members of the Head Office for Reich Security applied.

Q. But if there was a bad official, an incompetent official, then they would have been interested in getting rid of him?

A. In most cases they would put them in the Operations Commandos, but not in the Waffen-SS, where people wanted to go.

Q. Now, you have told us that you were irresolute, and were just not keen on taking decisions.

A. Yes.

Q. Was that known to Mueller - your superior?

A. Yes, that was known. There were in fact a few people like this with us.

Q. An official, particularly a highly placed official in this office, that in reality was the Gestapo, had to be keen to take decisions, and tough, is that correct?

A. I noticed that this was not necessarily correct, because I came there overnight, without having ever before worked in an office of that kind.

Q. Excuse me - so that is not correct?

A. It is not necessarily correct. I would say that I noticed this in my own case.

Q. Was Mueller himself tough?

A. Not always, he was precisely...he was the type of a fossilized civil servant, I would say, he was an old civil servant following his rules and regulations strictly. Heydrich was tough, but Mueller...

Q. That will do. I did not now ask about Heydrich.

A. I only wanted somehow to illustrate the difference in toughness.

Q. The Chief of the Gestapo was not tough?

A. Naturally there was a certain toughness, but not what one would understand by toughness, that is why I took Heydrich. Heydrich was like ice.

Q. Leave Heydrich aside.

A. I cannot describe Mueller in any other fashion, it is difficult...

Q. Why?

A. It is difficult to describe Mueller.

Q. Only in comparison with Heydrich? Very well. And your permanent deputy, Guenther, was he tough?

A. Guenther was tough, yes.

Q. Besides, this was a characteristic required of every SS man, to be tough.

A. That was required, of course. But as I have said...

Q. But you did not satisfy the requirement?

A. There is toughness and there is toughness, is there not? One can be tough on oneself, and one does not necessarily have to be tough on other people. One can pamper and coddle oneself, but be brutal to others. There were all sorts of species.

Q. But the toughness required of an SS man was toughness to others.

A. It was primarily toughness on oneself. For reasons of self-discipline and subordination - everything connected with that. That is how the term toughness is to be understood, not toughness to others. It is not the right interpretation.

Q. Yes, yes. In this context I wish to return to a question already asked by my colleague, Judge Halevi, but I did not hear a reply to it. If that was the case, why did Mueller not remove you from your job?

A. I cannot say why, I myself really would have welcomed it, but possibly, I was very meticulous, very meticulous, and I obeyed according to the regulations and orders, and there is no doubt, Mueller was also a - he was a civil servant who had reached a high position through order and accuracy, and possibly this was precisely one of the reasons...and also my personal way with people was not aggressive, nor did I incline to considerations of ambition and personal advantage and other characteristics of such a group of civil servants...there are people who bring the apparatus into disarray as a result of their personal ambitions by...I was just obedient and quiet and did not make myself too conspicuous. Perhaps that was to his liking.

Q. But according to what you yourself have said, you were not even a good bureaucrat, because you did not fully exploit your bureaucratic powers.

A. Yes, in that I was the image of Mueller, I would say, because Mueller himself did not take decisions either; rather, he in turn obtained his decisions from his Chief. Possibly that also played a role, I do not know. In any case, it is a fact that he had more work with me than with the others - it is not because I am saying this now in 1961, but because that was well-known, was already known at that time. My own people had far more work as a result of this fact, because they had to write a memo for every petty thing and they had to open a file, while others just put it down on a piece of paper and simply made a suggestion, and came back within ten minutes, and then gave orders to their expert staff on what to do. Things proceeded more or less by leaps and bounds. I was not used to this approach.

Q. And also Heydrich, the tough one, who was familiar with your work, he also did not find it necessary throughout all those years to remove you from your office?

A. No. In fact I had relatively little to do with Heydrich, there were only a few matters at high level, and otherwise one did not see one another for months on end.

Q. In the meanwhile, I have found the passage to which I referred earlier. My colleague has found it for me. It says here:

"Attorney General: Very well, I wish to know whether you tried to leave the Nazi Party and the SS.

Accused: I did not try to leave the SS and the Party.

Attorney General: And you remained in them of your own free will and free choice?

Accused: A member of the SS and the Party, yes, but not in my post to which I was assigned."

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. I thought that you remained in the SS throughout the years of the War, despite your pangs of conscience, because you knew perfectly well that there was no possibility of getting out of the SS. Now I read your words here, and that must be interpreted as follows: "I remained a member of the SS and the Party of my own free will."

A. Yes, well, I could not have done this even if I had wanted to. Until 1939, until before the War, some people did manage this; for example, von Mildenstein did get out.

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