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Subject: Holocaust Almanac - Eichmann's testimony (Madagascar Plan)
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Keywords: madagascar,eichmann

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/eichmann.002
Last-Modified: 2000/02/15


The complete transcripts of the trial of Adolf Eichmann are available

Captain Avner W. Less was the Israeli police officer who interrogated Adolf
Eichmann, prior to his trial and subsequent conviction in Jerusalem.

Comments, designated by brackets [], are those of the editor, Jochen von

Typos are mine, not the author's.

LESS: How did you hit on that? (Madagascar Plan?)

EICHMANN: Emigration had dropped to practically nothing as a result of the
war. If you don't mind my going back again: Theresienstadt had not been a
solution, and the Nisko on the San experiment had failed, too. Then the
French campaign got under way, and that gave me new hope of at least a
temporary solution. I remembered Theodor Herzl's efforts to bring about a
Jewish state, described by Adolf Bo"hm, and that at one time Herzl had
considered plans for Madagascar. I also remembered that in this connection
he had met with considerable opposition in his own ranks. I said to myself:
It's all the same to me how we get soil and living space, the main thing is
to do something. The situation was getting more and more acute as the Jews
were driven out of one part of the country after another, on the one hand by
legal restrictions, and on the other by party pressure on the non-Jewish
population to boycott the Jews. It was plain as day, you didn't have to be a
genius to see that if things went on that way, the result would be turmoil,
the nature of which I really didn't foresee at the time. I certainly
suspected nothing like what happened later on. But something had to be done,
I said to myself, because a boiler full of water, with a fire under it and
no safety valve, is bound to explode. I, in my little job, wanted to help
look for that valve, and it seemed to me that my efforts to find ways and
means of resttlement were just such a safety valve. The Madagascar plan
struck me as a new hope for a solution.

[The French campaign, beginning with the German offensive of May 10, 1940,
ended on June 25 of that year with the total victory of the Wehrmacht and an
armistice, by the terms of which half of France was subject to German
miliatry occupation. The island of Madagascar was at the time a French
colony, with 3.5 million inhabitants and an area more than twice the size of
the Federal Republic of Germany.]

EICHMANN: By then I had learned from Theresienstadt that ghettoization
accomplished nothing. The way I planned it, it would have offered a
relatively satisfactory partial solution for about ten thousand people, but
too many people were shipped in. Many of the Gauleiters wanted to rid their
territories of all Jews too old to emigrate. They kept after Himmler to ship
_their_ Jews - as they called them - to Theresienstadt. On the other hand,
the Gauleiter of Saxony opposed this ghetto on the grounds that Jews so
close to the borders of his Gau (territory) were a hotbed of infection and a
center of black marketing. I continually referred to these difficulties in
my reports, though they were not in my jurisdiction, because the
ghettization program was under Himmler's personal command. For a long time
Himmler was under the influence of Streicher-Stu"rmer ideas, in sharp
contradistinction to Heydrich, his Security Police and SD chief, who had no
use for this unrealistic, fool's wisdom, as I called it on one occasion.

LESS: You thought Madagascar more realistic?

EICHMANN: I first went to the Reich Office for Emigration at the Ministry of
the Interior and made inquiries about the geographical, climatic,
geological, and other conditions. I obtained detailed information from the
Tropical Institute in Hamburg, and the picture did not seem too unfavorable.
From the juridical point of view, I had in mind an autonomous Jewish region
of Madagascar.
	Up until then, I had always functioned as a kind of specialized
assistant, hiding behind the broad back of a superior. In Berlin, that
changed. Now I was in charge, and I was brought into contact with an
administrative machine such as I had never encountered before or even heard
of. You can't imagine the difficulties I ran into, the tedious,
tooth-and-nail negotiations, the thousands of objections raised by the
various agencies. They all felt it was their business. For instance, the
Foreign Office claimed that the Security Police should have no say in the
matter, because Madagascar wasn't Germany. None of these people understood
our aims or intentions. They had never read, studied, assimilated any basic
work on the subject. They had no contact, no inner contact, with the
question. They didn't throw themselves into the problem as such. A
Regierungsrat (translator's note: Roughly, the second secretary of a
government department. Here the term expresses a Nazi's contempt for the
government bureaucracy.) Lischka, for instance, would never have concerned
himself with such a matter. A Regierungsrat Lischka, a Regierungsrat Lange,
a Regierungsrat Suhr, a Regierungsrat X Y Z, not one of them, I tell you, no
dry-as-dust office manager would have bothered about Nisko on the San or
Theresienstadt, he wouldn't have bothered with any of that, because he
wasn't interested, because it's not in the files, not in the registers, so
he won't touch it. Such people, of course, lead a quiter life, they make
things a good deal easier for themselves. These people had never read,
studied, assimilated a, let's say, a basic work. They had no contact, no
inner contact with this thing. By the time the plan seemed fully clarified
and none of the departments had any more changes to suggest, it was too
late. The German army had long been in Paris, but by then nothing could be
done about Madagascar. When the French fleet put out to sea and Germany
occupied the previously unoccupied zone of France as far as the
Mediterranean seaboard, Madagascar was out of the question. It was all over,
the plan had been wrecked. I capitulated. The dream was over. That must have
been in 1940.

[Once again, Eichmann has his dates wrong. The Western Allies landed in
North Africa on July 11, 1942. It was then that the German High Command
thought it necessary to occupy all of France, especially the Mediterranean
seaboard. This was done on November 11, 1942. The French warships
concentrated in the harbor of Toulon had been neutralized in accordance with
the terms of the armistice. Their crews now scuttled them to prevent them
from falling into the hands of the Germans. This cut off all possible
communication between the German masters of France and such distant outposts
of the French colonia empire as Madagascar.]

LESS: Was the Madagascar plan supposed to account for all the Jews? Your
records always speak of four million Jews.

EICHMANN: Well, it certainly never went beyond the theoretical stage,
because no one knew whether or not there would be room for four million Jews
on Madagascar.

LESS: But the plan was supposed to contribute to a solution of the Jewish

EICHMANN: To a considerable degree - mainly at first with regard to the Jews
located in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. What would have been
possible after that remained to be seen.

LESS: How about the Jews in the Government General? Were they taken into

EICHMANN: Undoubtedly. I started that in Radom.

LESS: Have you heard of a report by a Polish commission of inquiry that
visited Madagascar in 1937?

EICHMANN: No, never, never, never. I got the idea from Theodor Herzl.

LESS: Are you aware that Madagascar had previously been investigated by this
Polish commission, for instance---

EICHMANN: No, I am not, no, I didn't know.

LESS: ...which came to the conclusion that a maximum of fifteen thousand
European families could be settled there, while certain members of the
commission thought that figure too high? (von Lang, 65-69)

                             Work Cited

von Lang, Jochen, ed., in collaboration with Claus Sibyll. Eichmann
Interrogated: Transcripts from the Archives of the Israeli Police.
Translated from the German by Avner W. Less. New York: Farrar, Straus &
Giroux, 1983. 

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