Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Judgment/Judgment-036 Last-Modified: 1999/05/27 There is no doubt that the order to begin negotiations about the exchange of Jews for goods came from Himmler himself. What caused Himmler to make this proposal, we do not know. Possibly, all this was nothing but a manoeuvre, or he was seeking to prepare an alibi for himself or wanted to show what he could achieve by obtaining essential goods for the Reich. In any case, all these were matters of general high policy, entirely beyond the sphere of activity of the Accused, who concentrated all his efforts on the implementation of the Final Solution. On receiving the order to conduct negotiations with the Jews, he carried it out. There is proof that when Brand did not return and the whole matter collapsed, the Accused expressed satisfaction (the evidence of Hansi Brand; report by Wisliceny, T/85, p. 21). The most that can be said is that the Accused conducted the negotiations as he was ordered, in the same way as, in accordance with orders received, he allowed the departure of 1,700 Jews from Hungary to Bergen-Belsen, and later on from there to Switzerland. But it is sheer hypocrisy to come now and testify that his reactions to the failure of the negotiations were sorrow, fury and anger, like the feelings of Joel Brand. This entire version was invented by the Accused only after he had read Joel Brand's book, from which he thought he could find something to hold on to, in order to show himself in a more favourable light. To this end, he also exploited an error made by Joel Brand, in connection with the 100,000 Jews whom the Accused allegedly agreed to release as soon as the barter agreement was concluded, and even before the goods were supplied. In the detailed report drawn up by Mr. Moshe Sharett (Shertok) after his conversation with Brand in Aleppo (T/1176), there is no mention of such a promise, but Brand is quoted as saying that only a few thousand would be released immediately (supra, p. 4). Incidentally, it seems to us - although Brand's evidence is borne out by that of his wife, and we do not doubt the subjective sincerity of both these witnesses - that Brand was mistaken in regard to one further detail, namely that the Accused promised him to blow up the extermination installations at Auschwitz the moment an agreement was concluded. This, too, is not mentioned in Mr. Sharett's report, and it is inconceivable that Brand would not report two such important promises to Mr. Sharett or that Mr. Sharett would not have noted them in writing, had they been communicated to him by Brand. When one compares the Accused's evidence in Court with what he said in Statement T/37 on the same matter, the untruthfulness of his version is glaring (supra, p. 294 et seq.). He says there that he received the order to conduct the negotiations directly from Himmler, and that he does not remember who initiated the idea, whether it was Becher, or he himself, or Himmler. And again, on p. 2905, in answer to a question by Superintendent Less as to how things got to the stage of negotiations with Brand: "Mr. Superintendent, this, too, I do not know; I left this matter entirely open, this I do not know. When I read the book [by Brand], I always thought to myself: I do not know who gave the order or the idea. The order, of course, came from higher up, this is clear - but the idea, if it was I, if it was the Reichsfuehrer, if it was Becher, someone must have thought of it - and in any case I was the one to send it on higher up. Whether I was the initiator of it or someone else gave me the idea and I only passed it on higher up and received the necessary instructions, this I do not know any longer; this I can no longer say." (See also pp. 1089-1090.) It is therefore evident that he devoted much thought to this question, but he cannot give the answer - although the first hint of an effort to claim credit for the initiative already appears at this stage. Is it possible that he would not remember so important a matter, if it were indeed true that he initiated the idea of sparing the lives of one million Jews? But in his testimony in Court everything seems to have become quite clear: He, and he alone, initiated the plan, brought it before Mueller (not directly to Himmler) and received, from or through Mueller, authority to conduct the negotiations (Session 86, Vol. IV, p. xxxx13). We learn from the documents the kind of plans the Accused was concerned with, after Brand's departure. He was not engaged in preparations for the emigration of 100,000 Jews, as he had the temerity to allege in his evidence, but in the deportation of all Hungarian Jewry to Auschwitz at an accelerated pace, that is to say, the extermination of those Jews who still remained in German hands and who were to be the subject of barter against goods. He is already preparing the evacuation of the Jews from Budapest at this very same time, that is, the second half of May 1944. This we learn from von Thadden's report mentioned above (T/1194). 117. With regard to all the Accused's activities in Hungary, he reverts to his usual tactics of shifting responsibility to other authorities, until his Counsel has to put the question to him: "Witness, what else remained of your activities, because I do not know what there was left for you to do?" And the Accused answers: "This I already said in my Statement when questioned by the Superintendent on behalf of the Israeli Police, but I know that these things sounded incredible. In fact, the documents prove that I was associated with the preparation of the timetables, but only marginally. At first, all that was left for me to do was to report and pass on information to my superiors...I know that this is incredible, or almost incredible, but what am I to do? This is how things were." (Session 86, Vol. IV, p. xxxx11.) Indeed, this version is not credible, because there is no truth in it. As to the relationship between the Accused and the Hungarians (especially Endre and Baky and Ferenczy of the gendarmerie), we have already said that they were his loyal partners, that their desire to get rid of the Jews was no whit less than the Accused's desire to get hold of them, in order to send them to extermination. But in this partnership the Accused was undoubtedly the one to guide and decide, both as the representative of the German conquerors and as being the expert in the Solution of the Jewish Question, who had become famed as such after his feats in other countries. The true relationship between the partners is quite evident from Ferenczy's reports, which were submitted to us. Representatives of the Accused were present in the assembly camps, into which Jews were collected before deportation, and the deportation plans were drawn up by joint committees of Hungarian and German representatives (see, for instance, T/1160, para. 3). The Accused claims that his representatives fulfilled only one function: They were present to exclude Jews of foreign nationality from these deportations, in accordance with Veesenmayer's directives (Session 103, Vol. IV, p. xxxx6). This, also, is a false contention; for this task was kept for the German Embassy officials themselves (see T/1188, and von Thadden's report, T/1194, pp. 3, 4). Finally, we see who was really in authority, from the report by Ferenczy, T/1163: "Mishaps" were discovered in one of the camps: The Hungarian in charge enabled Jewish notables to leave the camp, etc. It was therefore decided that German Security Police units, led by German officers - i.e., the Accused's men - would in future take over the command within the camps, as well as the technical arrangements for loading the Jews on to trains. The Hungarian gendarmerie were left to attend only to external security and security within the camps (supra, pp. 1, 2; see also T/1164, para. 2). Escorting the trains remained a function carried out by the Germans all the time, within Hungary as well. German Security Police men also prevented Jews from being rescued from the assembly camps through the call-up for labour service in Hungary; they arrested Jews who had received such call-up notices, confiscated their papers and handed them over to the Accused (T/1161, para. 2; T/1163, para. 8). From all these details, a true picture emerges of the Accused's activities in connection with the round-up of Jews before their deportation, and also of the balance of power between him and the Hungarians. It is true that he needed the help of the Hungarian gendarmerie, because only they knew the local conditions and had the large amount of manpower required to carry out these operations. It is also true that the gendarmerie remained loyal to Regent Horthy, and this occasionally made it difficult for the Accused to carry on his activities when Horthy showed signs of independence and rebellion against the Germans. But the incident of the Kistarcsa train shows that the Accused succeeded in having his own way, even in the face of an explicit order from Horthy. As to the German side, the Accused tried to shift responsibility in two directions: to Veesenmayer, the Reich Plenipotentiary and Ambassador, and to Winkelmann, Higher SS and Police Leader, and to Geschke of the BdS. Veesenmayer was undoubtedly very active in Jewish affairs. For instance, documents were submitted to us showing that in April 1944 he conducted negotiations with the Hungarian authorities for the handing over of 50,000 "Jews for labour" to the Reich (N/73; T/1181; N/75, and others). He put pressure on the Hungarian Government regarding the expulsion of the Jews of Budapest (declaration by Lakatos, N/106, p. 4). Obviously, the German Embassy did not engage in the actual rounding-up and deportation of the Jews. Veesenmayer's duty in such matters was only to report to his Foreign Ministry on what had been done. Generally, reading between the lines, Ribbentrop's concern is felt about the fact that Veesenmayer is not sufficiently assertive of his authority (see, for instance, N/70). In reply to instructions couched in this spirit, Veesenmayer cables on 22 April 1944 in reassuring terms that the SD men handling Jewish affairs (i.e., the Accused's unit) are in continuous contact with the SD through a special liaison officer. In any case, it is clear that the Accused was not dependent on Veesenmayer in the carrying out of his duties. Even when it came to conducting top level negotiations with the Hungarian authorities, to prepare operations against the Jews, which, in the nature of things, was Veesenmayer's area of activity, the Accused frequently acted on his own, while Veesenmayer only sent in reports (see T/1219; T/1234). As far as Winkelmann and Geschke are concerned, it seems that there was some formal connection between the Accused's Special Operations Unit and the BdS Geschke. But this connection was even weaker than that which existed between the Advisers on Jewish Affairs on behalf of Section IVB4 of the RSHA in various countries and the BdS in each country. The position held by the Accused, as head of a Special Operations Unit, added independence to his status as special representative of Himmler and of the head of the RSHA, Kaltenbrunner, as he received his order directly from Berlin. In fact, there is no indication in the evidence that the Accused received any substantive instructions from Geschke or Winkelmann, except in the evidence given by the Accused himself, which is not trustworthy in this matter as well. We wish to point out that we have reached these conclusions without having recourse to the evidence of Veesenmayer and Winkelmann themselves, since for obvious reasons they were trying to keep themselves as remote as possible from any connection with actions against Jews, or even from knowledge of them, and their statements in this matter are unreliable. From what has been stated above, a clear picture emerges of the Accused's activities in Hungary. On the German side, which was dominant and made the decisions, the Accused was the chief stimulating force in implementing the Final Solution in Hungary. Here, in the field itself, he acted with increased energy, initiative and daring, and stubborn determination to complete the work, in spite of all the difficulties in his way. The measure of his responsibility for the catastrophe which befell the Jews of Hungary must be evaluated accordingly.
Site Map ·
What's New? ·
© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012
Home · Site Map · What's New? · Search Nizkor