The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/05/27



68. When war broke out in early September 1939, and Poland
was immediately divided between Germany and the Soviet
Union, persecution of the Jews reached a new stage which was
continued until Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in June
1941.  At this stage, there are various conflicting
attitudes in regard to this matter amongst the German
rulers.  It soon became evident that there was no hope of
"purging" the German-ruled territory of its Jews by
emigration across the seas, after masses of Jews had been
added to them in the Eastern Occupied Territories.  This was
a period of mass deportations without a uniform aim, except
the desire to get rid of the Jews by all means.

69. In September 1939, Polish Jewry as far as the
demarcation line were handed over to the Germans, over two
million souls, and the first wave of mass murders and other
atrocities was set loose, carried out mainly by the SS
Operations Units of the time, who entered Polish towns and
villages in the wake of the advancing army.  We heard about
these atrocities from the witnesses Ada Lichtmann, Zvi
Pachter and others (see also T/358).  This was the first
implementation of Hitler's threat in his speech to the
Reichstag on 30 January 1939 (T/117):

     "If international financial Jewry, in and outside
     Europe, should succeed in plunging the nations once
     again into a world war, then the result will not be a
     Bolshevized world and thereby a victory for the Jews,
     but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."

This trend is confirmed by the testimony of Lahousen, of the
German counter-espionage, at the trial of the major war
criminals at Nuremberg.  He said there that, already in
September 1939, Hitler decided  upon the massacre of Polish
Jewry (N/109, N/109a).  The truth seems to be - and the
Attorney General did not contend otherwise - that Hitler had
already decided to exterminate European Jewry as soon as he
laid hands on them, and the decision was already known to a
small circle at the head of the regime, but it had not yet
been finally crystallized, and the explicit and
comprehensive order for its implementation had not yet been
given.  This conclusion is confirmed by a minute of a
meeting convened by Heydrich on 27 September 1939 and
attended by his chief assistants (T/164).  Another document
was also submitted to us, addressed to the heads of the
Operations Units of the Security Police, in which Heydrich
sums up the directives he gave at that meeting (T/165).
Heydrich distinguishes there between "the final aim
(requiring longer periods of time)" and "the stages for
achieving this final aim (to be carried out within short
periods)."  The final aim must be treated as top secret
(vide, p. 1).  What this "final aim" meant was not said
there.  It is possible that this referred to mass expulsion
of the Jews from German-ruled territory.  This is hinted at
by the words on page 3 of T/164: "Expulsion [of the Jews]
across the border was confirmed by the Fuehrer."

But there is ground also for another and more far-reaching
assumption, viz., that the aim at the time was already the
future physical extermination of the Jews.  The Accused
supports this latter view in his Statement before
Superintendent Less, as follows (T/37, p. 3141; Session 91,
Vol. IV, p. xxxx9):

     "...After I read through this, I say to myself today
     that, according to this, the order for the physical
     extermination of Jewry was given by or came from
     Hitler, not near the beginning of the German-Russian
     War, as I had believed until now, but this basic idea
     was already rooted in the minds of the higher leaders
     of the men at the very top at the time these directives
     were drafted" (this in reference to the above-mentioned
     directives of Heydrich).

70. The Accused appears in the list of those present at the
consultation held by Heydrich as "SS Hauptsturmfuehrer
Eichmann (Central Office for Jewish Emigration)."  The
Accused did not deny his presence there in his Statement to
Superintendent Less ("I cannot recall that I took part in
this consultation.  Of course, there can be no doubt of it,
since my name appears there"; p. 3151).  In Court, after he
had had time to realize the serious implication of this
matter, he tried to exclude himself from this meeting, by
denying the correctness of the document, and using the
excuse that at the time he had not yet been transferred to
Berlin (Session 88, Vol. IV p.xxxx32; Session 91, Vol. IV
p.xxxx9).  We do not accept this excuse.  In either case,
whether the regular place of residence of the Accused on
that day was Berlin or not, he was already handling the
affairs of the Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration,
and his presence at this consultation was natural, even
though he held the lowest rank of all the participants.

The final aim had not yet reached the stage of
implementation, and these are the directives which Heydrich
announced were to be acted upon within a short time:

     (a) the concentration of the Jews in ghettos in the
     large cities, "in order to have better control, and
     later for evacuation" (T/164, p. 4);
     (b) the setting up of Councils of Jewish Elders;
     (c) the deportation of Jews from the Reich to Poland
     (the area of the Generalgouvernement) on freight

71.  From amongst these objectives, the Accused was to be
charged with a central task of organizing transports from
the Reich to Poland, as we shall see presently.  In the
meantime, he continued to direct the activities of the
Central Office for Emigration in Vienna, Prague and Berlin,
through the organization of emigration overseas (T/798 of
19.12.39, section 5).  After the outbreak of war, emigration
possibilities became limited.  During the first few months,
an opening for emigration still remained via Russia and
Japan, and also via Sweden (T/665, p. 4).

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