The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/06/07

Attorney General: And finally, two more documents.  The
famous speech of Himmler before senior SS officers at Posen
on 4 October 1943.

Presiding Judge: Is that the same speech by Dr. Serafim?

Attorney General: This is the one that Dr. Serafim relied
on, partly.  Incidentally, this was submitted at the major
Nuremberg Trial, and the Court will be able to find it under
the heading PS 1919.

Presiding Judge: But here there are other sections.  Here it
deals with the Jewish question.

Attorney General: The speech was a very long one and lasted
several hours.  We copied extracts from it.  It is printed
in full in vol. 29 of IMG on pages 110-159.

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/1288.

Attorney General: On the subject of the Jews, Himmler says
the following to his officers:

     "In all frankness, I want to make mention to you here
     of a subject of a special difficulty.  Amongst
     ourselves, let us speak openly for once, although we
     would never do so in public, in the same way as we did
     not hesitate to carry out our duty as we were ordered
     on 30 June 1934, and we stood our transgressing
     comrades up against a wall and shot them; we never
     spoke about it, nor shall we ever talk about it."

The Court will recall that this was the famous purge of the
SA in which Roehm and his comrades were killed.  "Thank God,
it was a matter of innate self-understood tactfulness that,
at no time, did we discuss it amongst ourselves, nor did we
ever talk about it.  Everyone was horrified, and yet it was
clear to everyone that he would do the same thing again, if
he were ordered to do so, and if it would be necessary.

     "I now mean the evacuation of the Jews, the
     extermination of the Jewish people.  This is one of
     those things which are lightly uttered.  `The Jewish
     people will be exterminated,' says every member of the
     party.  `Clearly, our programme stipulates elimination
     of the Jews, extermination - this we shall do.'  And
     then all those eighty million brave Germans come along,
     and each one has his particular decent Jew.  Of course,
     they say, it is clear that the rest are swine, but this
     one is an excellent Jew.  Not one of those who speak in
     this way has ever witnessed that, not one of them has
     ever experienced this.  Most of you will know what it
     means when a hundred corpses lie together, when five
     hundred or when a thousand are lying there.  To go
     through all this and to remain decent men, apart from
     human foibles - this is what has hardened us.  This is
     a glorious page in our history, a page which has never
     been written and which can never be written.  For we
     know how we would be making things difficult for
     ourselves, if we were to have in every town, still
     today, the Jews as secret saboteurs, propagandists and
     inciters, in addition to the bombings, the burdens, and
     the deprivations of the War.  If the Jews were still
     residing within the body of the German nation, we would
     probably have got today to the stage of 1916-1917.
     Whatever treasures they had, we took away from them.  I
     gave a strict order that these treasures should, of
     course, be transferred in their entirety to the
     ownership of the Reich.  This was carried out by
     Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl.  We have not taken any part of
     it for ourselves.  Individuals who have transgressed
     against this will be punished in accordance with the
     order given by me."

And now, in the chapter on discipline:

     "In military life - morning, noon and night, discipline
     is demanded and observed.  The little man obeys it
     constantly - or almost always.  If he does not conform,
     he will be incarcerated.  The question of discipline is
     more difficult in the case of the higher ranks in the
     state, the party and the army, as well as - here and
     there - in the SS.  There is something I want to say
     there clearly and unambiguously: the little man must
     obey - that is taken for granted.  It is even more to
     be taken for granted that all the senior leaders of the
     SS - that is to say, the whole corps of Gruppenfuehrer
     - should provide an example of unconditional
     discipline.  If anyone thinks that some order is based
     upon a mistaken view of his superior officer or arises
     out of an incorrect principle, then it goes without
     saying - and this applies to each one of you - that it
     is his duty and his responsibility to give expression
     to it, and he must also give his reasons in a manly and
     frank manner, if he is convinced that they militate
     against the order.  But, as soon as the superior
     officer or the Reichsfuehrer-SS - and in most cases
     that would apply to the corps of Gruppenfuehrer - or
     even the Fuehrer himself, has given his decision and
     the order, then the order must be carried out not only
     according to the letter, but also according to the
     spirit.  Whoever carries out the order must do so as a
     loyal commander, as a faithful representative of the
     commanding authority.  If, at first, you thought this
     was right, and that was not right or even mistaken -
     then there are two possibilities: If someone thinks
     that he cannot shoulder the responsibility for carrying
     out an order, he must report that frankly: `I cannot
     take the responsibility, I ask to be relieved of it.'
     Then, in most cases, an additional order will be given:
     `Nevertheless, you must carry it out.'  Or one may
     think, this man has had a nervous breakdown, that one
     is weak.  Then one can say: `All right, you leave on

Presiding Judge: You have not submitted the party programme
that is mentioned here.

Attorney General: No.  If the Court wishes to peruse it, the
entire document has, in fact, been presented in this way.
It is true that I only submitted these passages...

Presiding Judge: Not the entire speech, but the programme of
the National Socialist party mentioned here.
Attorney General: We have not submitted it but, obviously,
if the Court is interested, we can submit Mein Kampf; that
would not be a problem.

Presiding Judge: I meant the programme of the National
Socialist party, but...very well.

Attorney General: If the Court will still allow me to
consider this comment, I shall examine exactly what has been
submitted, and what it is still necessary to submit.

Presiding Judge: Because he mentions it here: "Ganz klar
steht in unserem Programm Ausschaltung der Juden, Ausrottung
machen wir." (That is clear, it says so in our programme;
elimination of the Jews, extermination - this we shall do.)

Attorney General: Yes.  According to our plan, we ought now
to have the first witness on Majdanek.

Presiding Judge: Do you prefer that he should not be heard

Attorney General: No, actually, I would prefer him to be
heard, since he has come from far away.  He comes from a
settlement in the north of the country.  If I may ask the
Court to sit possibly until 12.45 instead of 12.30, then we
can finish.  The witness is Mr. Yisrael Gutman.

Witness Gutman:   I wish to make an affirmation.

Presiding Judge: Why do you want to make an affirmation?  It
is my duty to ask you this question.

Witness Gutman:   I can only do things that I believe in
with perfect faith.

[The witness makes his affirmation.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Yisrael Gutman.

Attorney General: You are a member of Kibbutz Lahavot
Habashan in Upper Galilee?

Witness Gutman:   Yes, since my arrival in Israel.

Q. You were active in the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto,
and, with the suppression of the uprising, you were taken
out of the bunker where you were wounded?

A. Yes.  I was a member of the fighting organization in the
Warsaw Ghetto, and I came out after the uprising was crushed
on 5 May 1943.

Q. What led you to leave the bunker?

A. I was wounded.  And I was lying in one of the bunkers
that had been prepared - there was a doctor there as well.
They discovered the bunker and introduced poison, chlorine,
into it.  I was not aware of when and how I got outside.  I,
and all the people who came out of this bunker, were
affected by the poison.

Q. And then you were transferred to the assembly square,
which was known in Warsaw as the Umschlagplatz?

A. I was transferred through the streets of Warsaw for the
last time, I saw the town in its ruins.  I saw corpses in
the streets, I saw the destroyed houses.  And they took me
to the Umschlagplatz.  Nor was this for the first time.

Q. And railway freight cars were standing there?

A. Railway freight cars waited there, ready.  We were put
inside right away, and the train started off.

Q. How many people were there in that transport?

A. I cannot state numbers.  I can only say that it was
actually impossible to stand up in the freight car.

Q. Why was it impossible to stand?

A. Since the congestion was so great.  It was one block of
human beings.  And when members of families lost contact
with one another in this dense crowd, they were unable to
find one another again.

Q. Where did the train come to?

A. We thought that the train was going to Treblinka, but it
went to Majdanek.  We were later told by veteran prisoners
at Majdanek that all the victims could not be absorbed in
Treblinka, and, therefore, some of the transports were sent
to Majdanek.

Q. Describe to us what happened when you reached the railway
station at Majdanek.

A. When we got there, they were already awaiting us.

Q. Who were "they"?

A. They, the SS brutes.  They lined us up in rows of fives.
By shouting and hitting us with whips, they began to spur us
on, to make us run towards the camp.  We walked from the
railway station in Lublin to the gates of the camp.

Q. How long did the walk last?

A. I am unable to state how long it was.  We arrived there,
and they made us lie down - they told us that we could lie
down on a lawn.  At first, we did not know where we were.
We lay there for several hours.  Afterwards, it was towards
evening, it began getting dark, and they took us to the
bathhouse.  I was not aware then - although I did not
believe that it was a bathhouse - I did not know where I was
- I knew what they were doing.  But the man who shaved my
hair at the bathhouse told me that people remained alive
here - but he could not tell me how long I would remain
alive.  And when I came out of there, I noticed that many of
those who had come with me were no longer there.  I was not
at all aware that a selection was taking place there.  After
that, I went through very many such selections, when I knew
and saw that this was in the classic Nazi style.

Q. Where were you housed in Majdanek?

A. At that time, in May 1943, Majdanek was divided into five
fields - they called them "fields."  These fields were
separated.  Each field constituted a camp in itself.  Each
one had its administrative authorities, and the regime also
differed from field to field.  I found myself in field No.

Presiding Judge: How was the field called in German?

Witness Gutman:   Feld.  That was field No. 4.  I was told -
and afterwards I knew - that this was the worst field in
Majdanek.  It had been opened in our honour.  Until we
arrived there, it was empty.  It was constructed in such a
way that in the centre there was a large parade ground, a
square for roll-calls.  On either side, there stood very
long huts, stables for horses, and this was where we were

Attorney General: Was there anything written on the huts?

A. Yes.  It was written that their capacity was fifty-two
horses.  They placed us inside - as far as I remember, I
cannot be one hundred per cent accurate - we were about
eight hundred people in this hut.  It was hut No. 18.  There
were twenty-two such huts.  Only in one hut were there
veteran prisoners; they had been brought there to train us,
to introduce us to that way of life in the camp, a way of
life which we knew as the realm of the SS, the way of life
that the SS prepares for human beings.

Q. Mr. Gutman, I know this must be difficult for you, but it
would make it simpler for all of us if you would kindly
merely answer my questions.

A. Certainly.

Q. Thank you.  Now, how many floors were there in a hut such
as this?

A. These bunks that we slept in were of three tiers.  I
should imagine that the width of such a bunk was about 80
cm., perhaps 60.

Q. For one person?

A. It was for one person, formally, I might say.

Q. And in practice?

A. At the time of our arrival, many transports were brought
in.  They made two people lie down in one bunk of this kind.

Q. What was the work like at Majdanek?

A. Our work schedule was as follows: They made us get up at
4.30 for a morning roll-call.  After that, if the roll-call
was in order, if they were satisfied that all were present -
if people had died, or if there were sick or injured
persons, they had to be dragged from the block and laid down
next to those standing - the important thing was that the
total should be correct, it was important that everyone
should be there.  If they found that the number was correct,
we were dismissed, and work would begin.

Q. What sort of work was it?

A. At that time, there was no work for us at Majdanek, and
hence they sought to have us occupied.  Perhaps it was
something which they regarded as work - we used to carry
stones from one place to another.  We were divided into
sections.  One group would carry the stones, a second group
would crush these stones into gravel, while a third would
pave a road with this gravel.  Conditions were better for
those who were paving the road, since the work had to be
done at the double.  The stones had to be placed inside the
folds of our clothes, and they used to check whether we had
taken enough stones.  The work had to be done at the double.
This was our work.  I did not perform this work for long.
They gave us wooden clogs for our feet - plain pieces of
wood which had a strap of cloth one and a half centimetres,
maybe one centimetre wide, and that was a valued possession.
I was not aware of that.  And, on one of the early nights,
one of these clogs was stolen from me, and at these roll-
calls, at 4.30 in the morning - it was extremely cold at the
time - I had to stand barefoot, with one foot bare.  Some
days later, I ran a high temperature.  When I got up in the
morning, I fainted, and I was dragged by my companions to a
sick roll-call - it was called a sick roll-call - and I was
taken to the Revier at Majdanek.

Q. What was the meaning of "Revier"?

A. That was what was supposed to be a hospital.  It is
impossible to use this term, but in the language of the camp
we used this expression Revier.

Q. How long were you there?

A. I contracted pneumonia, with complications caused by gas
poisoning.  I was not the only one to be sick with an
illness like that.

Q. Are you referring to the chlorine poisoning in the Warsaw

A. Yes, I am talking of the chlorine poisoning we contracted
already in Warsaw.  I was not the only one suffering from
this illness, but a very great number of those who came on
the transport together with me contracted this illness.
And, in general, I could say that all my acquaintances died.
I was fortunate.  Some doctor who examined me found grenade
splinters in my face, he noticed the wound I had under my
eyes and decided to give me medicines, something which
nobody received - at any rate not the Jews in Majdanek.  I
would like to say that I was told there that I was a lucky
man because, only a short time before I came to Majdanek,
they were not admitting Jews to the hospital at all.  A Jew
who fell ill was shot.  And this liberal practice, whereby
Jews were admitted to the hospital - this was a new

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