The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-012-03

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-012-03
Last-Modified: 1999/05/30

Presiding Judge: But maybe Dr. Servatius will make himself
clear. Were you referring in your question to things
mentioned by this witness himself, or by others? I suppose
there is some purpose behind these questions.

Dr. Servatius:  The question was intended in this way: was
there any undue influence on the witness?

Presiding Judge: By this witness or by others - so that we
may clarify the  matter? At present this witness can only
give evidence about his own activities. May I therefore,
request that the witness answer yes or no, If there had been
any such influence or not.

Witness Less: Is the reference to influence on me?

Presiding Judge: No, influence on the Accused; Did you exert
pressure on the Accused? When he said "on the witness" he
was referring to the Accused. Now the issue is clearer. Did
you influence the Accused in any direction whatsoever that
he should testify on certain matters and that he should not
testify on others?

Witness Less: As I have already said, I told the Accused
that it was of no interest what happened after 1945.

Presiding Judge: Apart from this was there any influence?

Witness Less: No.

Dr. Servatius:  If there had been any such influence, would
it annul the value of the statement?

Presiding Judge: This is a hypothetical question, and I
don't think we can allow you to put it.

Dr. Servatius  I waive the question.

Was a witness by the name of Benno Cohn interrogated, and
was this recorded in the presence of the Accused?

Witness Less: I do know that there was a witness called
Benno Cohn, but I am not aware of any recording.

Presiding Judge: You were asked about a recording in the
presence of the Accused.

Witness Less: I know nothing of this.

Presiding Judge: You did not make it?

Witness Less: No, nor do I know anything about it.

Dr. Servatius  There is a document No. 16 which has not yet
been submitted by the Prosecution, and according to which a
confrontation was arranged between Benno Cohn and the
Accused. After that a declaration was made. Was this not
recorded and was it not produced?

Presiding Judge: Perhaps we should divide this question.
Firstly, was such a confrontation made?

Witness Less: Yes.

Q. By you?

A. No.

Q. Then by whom?

A. I am not sure, but I think Mr. Hofstaedter was with Mr.

Q. And the second part of the question: if it was so - why
was there no recording of what was said at the time of this

A. I cannot answer the question, since I know nothing about

Judge Halevi:  You don't know if it was not recorded, and
why it was not recorded?

Witness Less: I don't know why not. As far as I am aware,
there was no recording.

Q. There was no recording?

A. As far as I am aware.

Dr. Servatius:  I thank you. I would simply make a
correction; this was document 14 and not 16.

Presiding Judge: Sixteen, according to the catalogue of
Bureau 06.

Dr. Servatius:  Mr. Less, you said that the Accused
submitted written declarations. For what reason did he do
so? Were these corrections, were these protests or what was
the reason he gave for submitting written statements to you
after the interrogation?

Witness Less: As I have said, these were corrections that he
requested and he read them into the tape-recorder. These
were statements that he read, which he had previously
prepared. These were notes he had prepared for himself
before the interrogation; he spoke about and explained those
points which appeared on paper, and thereafter he gave me
the documents, these notes.

Presiding Judge: The question was, if I understand it
correctly, if you know what motivated him to make these
additional statements?

Witness Less: Additional statements?

Q. Yes - about which you were now asked.

A. Well, he added them of his own volition, he asked to read
out these passages.

Q. But why did he do so? Are you aware of this from your
contact with the Accused?

A. Perhaps his intention for doing so arose from the fact
that I had told him that where he found it appropriate to
write down details which he wanted to supplement, he should
do so.

Dr. Servatius:  Is it correct that he said to you: I thought
about the question during the night and I would like to
supplement the remarks that were made last night?

Witness Less: There were also such comments which he made,

Q. Did he say that he wanted to fill in, that at the time of
the interrogation, at the time of a sudden question, he did
not recall all the details?

A. No, I don' remember his saying such a thing.

Q. One further question. You testified that you showed him
the article in Life. Now there are accounts there of reports
how he visited Minsk, how he watched people being shot,
their being put inside, the operation of the gassing
machines etc. On these subjects had he testified before you
showed him that article?

A. Yes.

Q. On what occasion was this? Was this a long time before
this article?

A. This was approximately in June, and Life was shown to him
in December.

Q. Were these processes already known to you?

A. From the words of the Accused.

Dr. Servatius  Not beforehand, from a third party. In other
words, did you hear about these processes for the first time
only from the Accused, from his voluntary statement?

A. Yes.

Q. I have no further questions.

Attorney General: Mr. Less, do you know whether any pressure
was exerted at all on the Accused to make his statement?

Witness Less: No pressure was exerted.

Q. Do you know what was the object of the confrontation
between Mr. Benno Cohn and the Accused?
A. For purposes of identification.

Q. Thank you. That is all.

Judge Halevi:  Captain Less, in the material of the
Accused's interrogation which we marked T/37, the six
booklets, there are explanatory remarks. However, they are
not signed by you but by the head of Bureau 06, Colonel
Selinger. But you are mentioned there in the third excerpt:
"The interrogator, Captain Avner Less, acted in accordance
with clear instructions to avoid any cross-examination. In
accordance with these instructions which derive from the
Judges Rules in regard to the admissibility of statements by
accused persons, the interrogator in several instances
refrains from continuing with the examination of the accused
on many points, even if the material in his possession
justified such an examination."

Are you prepared to confirm this as being correct or to
dissociate yourself from it or anything like that?

Witness Less: Yes, there were the instructions.

Q. And you acted in accordance with these instructions?

A. I tried to do so.

Q. We have two questions here: I noted in the few extracts
that were read out verbally before us here, that here and
there was a certain degree of cross-examination of the
Accused. I do not want to say this in order to invalidate
the replies, but simply that it does not tally with this

A. Actually, when I asked these questions, this was for the
purpose of clarification, for previously there may have
been, here and there, contradictions between what the
Accused had said beforehand and a document which was shown
to him - there were these contradictions which I simply
could not understand exactly - so it was for the purpose of

Q. I remember specially your interrogation in regard to
transportation, where the Accused's version was that his
main activity was to draw up the schedules for transports
and you pointed out to him that this could not be correct.

A. I also asked this in connection with art-works, whether
this was also within the scope of the duties of a transport

Q. Alright, there were other cases, but most important is
the second question. You also refrained, as was mentioned
here, in several instances, from continuing with the
interrogation of the Accused, on many points.

A. Yes. This was when I produced a particular document and
he read out his explanations, his version, in respect of the
document, which in my opinion was sometimes remote from what
was written. Then I did not press him, and did not continue,
and I did not ask him any additional questions, but left it
as it was, although I could certainly have continued
questioning, and drawing his attention to this and that.

Judge Y. Raveh  With regard to those two larger charts which
represent the case of the Prosecution, when were they

Witness Less: I prepared them at the end of the work of
Bureau 06, approximately in January, perhaps a little later
than that, in February.

Q. Were they prepared after the completion of the recording
of the Accused's statement?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you ask the Accused about the contents of the charts?

A. This arose to some extent from what had already been
stated by the Accused, in his notes.

Q. I am interested in knowing whether, in the Accused's
statement there is a detailed reaction to these charts or
whether there is any response at all, or if there is any
implied answer - is it possible to find any response in the
Accused's statement to the contents of these charts?

A. In the Accused's statement there are aspects which point
to the basis of the charts which I prepared. For example the
organizational chart which he signed, also appears to some
extent in that chart.

Q. But you cannot refer us to specific extracts of this
statement in order to show us what was his reply regarding
the contents of the charts or at any rate to certain

A. No, extemporaneously certainly not. I shall certainly
have to search and I will find it. At any rate, even in his
comments regarding the chart signed by him there are some
explanations relating to this as well.
Presiding Judge: Thank you very much, Mr. Less.

Presiding Judge: Who is the next witness?

Attorney General: Professor Salo Baron.

Presiding Judge: Will you please cover your head. Do you
speak Hebrew?

Witness Salo Baron:  Yes.

[ The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness Baron: Shalom Baron - in English Salo Wittmayer

Attorney General: You are a professor of Jewish History at
the University of Columbia?

A. Yes.

Q. Starting when?

A. From the year 1930.

Q. When this chair was established?

A. Yes.

Q. You were born in Tarnow?

A. In Tarnow, Galicia which at that time was part of

Q. You studied in Vienna?

A. Yes - I studied there in various Faculties: I obtained
the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1917, Doctor of
Political Science in 1922, Doctor of Laws in 1923, and I
also was ordained as a Rabbi by the Rabbinical College

Q. Amongst your publications is there one about the history
of the Jewish communities?

A. There is a book on the history of the Jewish Community
until the time of the American Revolution, which appeared in
1942 in three volumes.

Presiding Judge: Communities?

Witness Baron Jewish Communities in all countries.

Attorney General: And other publications?

Witness Baron Perhaps the most important book is the
Religious and Social History of the Jewish People, the
second edition of which has so far appeared in eight
volumes, up to the twelfth century, published by the
University of Columbia from 1952 to 1960. There is also a
French translation in four volumes, a Hebrew translation of
the first two volumes which has come out in three volumes,
and an Italian translation is to be published.

Q. Do you also engage in research into Jewish history of
modern times?

A. Yes, for example I published a book in English: Modern
Nationalism and Religion which was the outcome of lectures
which I delivered to the Baptist School of Theology, the
Rochester Colgate School of Divinity.

Q. Were you Visiting Professor at a number of universities?
At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem?

A. Yes, at a number of universities. I lectured at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem for half a year - three years

Q. In other universities?

A. Also other universities. In the United States, South
Africa and so on.

Q. Now, Professor Baron, would you be able to give us in a
general way, a cross-section of the situation of the Jewish
people before the Holocaust which overtook it following the
rise to power of the Nazis?

A. Your Honours, before I reply to this question, I want to
begin with an apology - a double apology, if I may. Firstly
for my Hebrew, which is not fluent, as I do not use it every
day. From time to time words may escape me, especially
technical expressions, in which case please allow me to use
either English or another language.

The second apology may be more important. I appear here as a
witness, not an eye-witness or a jurist, but as a historian.
It is known that a historian who studies contemporary
history is always confronted with a double problem. The
first problem is: Does one already have a historical
perspective? Generally, one does not, until the passing of
several decades, at least. The second problem is: Does one
have documents? These are usually locked away and not
available and one does not know about events that happened
until 50 years later or more. It seems to me that precisely
in this regard, there is a difference.

The period before the Second World War is so remote from
this generation, and sometimes so forgotten even by people
who lived through it, that already, it seems to me, we have
a historic perspective which usually is lacking in such
cases. And with regard to documents, perhaps we are
fortunate in that many of the German archives were captured
by the Allies and many of them have already been published.
Also many of the participants in these events wrote diaries,
autobiographies and so on and the material accumulated at
such a pace that there is perhaps need for a vast
bibliography, merely to have on record the large number of
these manifestations.

As for the Jewish Question of that period, suffice it for me
to mention that the material is so extensive that there has
already appeared a handbook by Dr. Robinson Historical Guide
to the Literature of the Jews in the Hitler Era  etc., and
literature like this is still being published from time to
time. Therefore, it seems to me that it is already possible,
provisionally, to sum up the impression we have of the

Now, if you will allow me to return to the question asked by
the Attorney General. In general, the impression gained is
one of the exceptionally vital and creative force of the
Jewish world in Europe of that time. In general, there was a
big crisis, a big crisis in the world, and a Jewish crisis
in particular. The rise of new states after the First World
War, the Soviet Revolution, the development of the Fascist
and Nazi movements, the economic crisis which began
immediately after the War, and reached its peak after 1929-
1930 - all these things placed the whole of Europe in a
state of tension to which it was really difficult for any
nation to adapt itself. At the same time, there appeared
various theories, scientific, doctrinal theories, which
attempted to seek a compromise between reality and theory,
and all these added further tension, instead of lessening

With regard to the Jews, as is known, the rise of these new
states brought the situation of the Jews to a position where
most Jews wanted to leave some of the European countries if
they could. But they were unable to do so because there were
indeed severe restrictions on emigration at that time.
Nevertheless - and to my mind it is the most striking aspect
- the vital power of the Jewish people was so strong, that
they overcame these difficulties and found new ways to adapt
to conditions which had not existed before.

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