The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/05/28

Attorney General: I request page 1317 be played back,
commencing with Less' question.

     L. Yes, now I show you a photocopy of three pages,
     marked with my number 4 and 19-44 a, b, and c. Would
     you please read the document through. I will stop for a
     moment to enable you to read it through.
     E. Yes, surely. This deals with...with Veesemeyer's
     cable to the Foreign Ministry and it refers here to a
     particular Jewish group of people...a certain number of
     Jewish people from Switzerland, or on their way to
     Palestine through the mediation of Switzerland.
     Veesemeyer even quotes me and according to this, here,
     he asked me, apparently in Budapest, and in response to
     this I gave him a reply...that I far as I was
     aware, the Reichsfuehrer SS did not agree under any
     circumstances to the emigration of the Hungarian Jews
     to Palestine. The date, yes definitely, was July - July
     1944. "With regard to the Jews who were being
     considered, the persons in question were, without
     exception, material which was of value from a
     biological point of view, very many veteran Zionists
     whose immigration to Palestine was most
     undesirable...immigration to Palestine highly
     undesireable - with regard to the Fuehrer's decision
     which was passed on to him, he intended to report to
     the Reichsfuehrer-SS and to request a new decision by
     the Fuehrer as far as it was necessary. On this I wish
     to comment: This was July 1944, namely the period when
     transports were on their way to Palestine, and in
     exchange for...let us say in exchange for economic
     assets of which Becher gained possession. But today I
     no longer recall whether this entire matter...but
     possibly here Becher can be asked and can answer, since
     the authority was then in the hands of Becher to decide
     on behalf of the Reichsfuehrer SS and the Chief of the
     German Police, how he...and what assets he estimated to
     be important and how this was declared and formulated
     there with regard to the Hungarian authorities. I am no
     longer familiar with this, but as far as I know, Becher
     is now at liberty in West Germany. It seems to me that
     at that time, after 1945, he stood trial and was
     acquitted so that he certainly would be capable of
     giving a reply on this point. I can no longer recollect
     - I, in fact, read over here that I actually changed my
     mind and backed down and demanded a decision from
     higher up - I myself was certainly at a loss here
     (sicherlich habe ich mich selbst nicht ausgekannt) -
     for otherwise Veesemeyer would not have referred
     several times to these demands of mine, a decision on
     the part of the higher amd highest authorities ...He
     writes..."Inter alia it was agreed with me that, to the
     extent that consent would be given to the evacuation of
     additional Jews from Budapest, an attempt should be
     made to implement it, as far as was possible, suddenly
     and so speedily that the Jews who were being considered
     for emigration should be deported...should already have
     been deported before the conclusion of the formal
     arrangements." Again this shows plainly and clearly
     that it was not only the Security Police alone, who in
     this matter had their own instructions from their
     commanders, but that other authorities, too, urged the
     speediest possible conclusion of the matter. Moreover,
     I had already said once, Captain, that in Hungary these
     authorities did not have any need, even Veesemeyer, did
     not have the need, in any way...let us say in any way,
     to refer to the speed, as the tempo was laid down by
     State Secretary Endre, with his Hungarian gendarmerie,
     and this tempo was rapid to such an extent, that
     Auschwitz found it very difficult - this I still know -
     to absorb all these many transports in the appropriate
     L. He writes here, that this was discussed with you,
     that is the speeding up?
     E. "...moreover it was agreed with Eichmann, that as
     far as it was still..." and so on; it seems from this
     that he told me that I should ensure that this would be
     speeded up (durchpeitschen) as quickly as possible.
     L. Well, then he could have said "I instruct Eichmann,"
     or something similar to that? But here he says "it was

     E. But, as I said, this...this is in any case not
     important to want to analyse these...this sentence into
     its parts, as to whether he gave an order on this, or
     if there was an agreement on this...whatever the
     significance may be, at all events the tempo was
     determined by Baky, I mean was determined by Endre and
     it also happened so - that sometimes   - one thing
     followed another so swiftly that it was with difficulty
     that they could prepare the transport charts."

Attorney General: I would ask you to play the portion at the
foot of page 1416, from Less' question "Wurden die Leute."

     L. Who were the people who were subject to "special
     treatment,"... wasn't it the Gestapo which decided on
     this "special treatment." I believe you have already
     said so once?
     E. Because it is as follows - but now you say to me
     ...but you now give me...the possibility of another
     idea, Captain. Here we are talking of Jewish
     Commissars, Jewish-Bolshevist Commissars, as you read
     it to me. Here there was a completely different
     Department in charge. Perhaps this matter was decided
     by that Department, something I do not know, for at
     that time the whole question belonged to the order
     called the decree of "Night and Fog."* {*  2"Bei Nacht
     und Nebel" A German idiom used for disappearance
     without trace.} For you had previously told me that
     these were the commissars. This did not arouse any
     associations within me, but when you  mentioned the
     matter, a few days ago, then I recalled, naturally, the
     "Night and Fog" decree - for I had definitely heard of
     L. No, no, I think that the "special treatment" also
     applied to Jews in general.
     E. ...Inasmuch as all that asphyxiation by gas was
     "special treatment," but the Jews...ah...and of course
     non-Jews as well - whether they were Jews or non-Jews,
     this in my opinion made no difference as far as the
     commissars were concerned, it was not so. For them
     there was a different department.
     L. No, my question was a different one; I asked whether
     "special treatment" was prescribed by the Gestapo. The
     order for "special treatment" and so forth was from...
     E. No, from the Fuehrer from...from...from Hitler...
     L. Was the order for the camps given by the Gestapo?
     E. The order, for example for asphyxiation by gas, for
     the concentration camps?
     L. The order, for this one, for that one or the other.
     E. Ah - the individual cases - the individual cases -
     certainly, yes, yes, yes, yes...
     L. Was given by the Gestapo?
     E. Yes, definitely, yes, yes.
Attorney General: Mr. Less. What was discussed in the
interrogation of the Accused before the section on page 1640
beginning with the words "Wenn Inhaftierungen vorgenommen

Witness Less: Here we were talking about the affiliation to
the Accused's Department of the section for Churches
engaging in Politics.

Attorney General: Thank you. Please let us hear the excerpt.

     L. If arrests were carried out - did this emanate from
     your Department?
     E. No. This was done by Jahr.
     L. Oh, well, but this was consequently from your
     E. From the Department, but here there was no need to
     ask, because this had been laid dawn by law and Jahr
     acted accordingly. On one particular occasion I had an
     evangelical pastor, what was his name...he afterwards
     became a Provost (Probst) in Berlin. That is, after
     1945 he became a Provost in Berlin. But I don't know, I
     cannot now recall the name of this pastor whom, I
     believe I invited three times - namely   He...there was
     a ban in existence on the part of the Reichsfuehrer SS
     and Chief of the German Police, a ban on approaches to
     the authorities by the clergy interveneing on behalf of
     the Jews. That evangelical pastor - he had a small,
     sharply pointed beard - he came under suspicion on the
     part of a State Police Post, I do not know any longer
     in which area this was, at any rate, it must have been
     in the environs of Berlin even if it was not actually
     in Berlin itself, this I do not know - at any rate it
     was certainly near enough for me so that without
     inconvenience I could demand that he should appear
     before me. And then I told him: Yes, such a report had
     been received and now he would have to be arrested. Now
     I said the same thing also to the Supreme Council of
     the Evangelical Church, I said it also to Bishop Muench
     - once Bishop Muench came to me together with the
     entire Supreme Council of the Church. I should explain
     that I myself did not understand very much about the
     churches, for I indeed did not deal with this subject.
     Nor did I get to know the individual groupings, and
     when I was told about such a thing, I had to ascertain
     for myself first of all how all these things were
     constituteed. But I told him that  I was obliged to
     confirm the protective arrest demanded by the Police
     Post of the competent police headquarters.
     I further said to him that I was doing this with much
     reluctance - the arrest of the clergyman. First of all
     - my father was himself a presbyter of the evangelical
     community in Linz. A presbyter is not a clergyman, I do
     not know whether I may...presume that it is known, that
     he is not a clergyman but that twelve...yes twelve
     elders of the community are chosen to a certain extent
     for purposes of representation. And on Sundays they
     walk around with a collection bag and collect
     contributions. I told him this and I gave him a
     warning, on behalf of the State Police and that he was
     obliged to act in accordance with it; I said to him
     Otherwise, next time, if there should be a further
     complaint, I shall have to take you into protective
     custody, owing to the existence of this order of the
     Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police. There
     was another complaint, I no longer know whether this
     was for the second time or the third when "the knife
     was pointed at my throat" - by my superior - then I had
     to take him into protective arrest - I still do know
     that his wife telephoned to  from somewhere and
     approached me with a request to release her husband.
     But, in fact, I was unable to do anything for - on my
     part - with all my heart - but I had my orders, I could
     not do anything. I myself, I did not lodge a complaint
     against him but - the Police Post made the complaint,
     or the competent head of the State Police. In any case
     I was not behaving strictly in accordance with the law
     when I did not take him - immediately, on the first
     occasion, into protective custody as had been demanded.
     L. What was the charge against him?
     E. I believe that he had intervened on behalf of the
     Jews, but I do not know exactly. Perhaps I am also
     confused, he gave some...some...some...Sermon which was
     contrary to the regulations, Captain. Here I don't want
     to commit myself, I don't know it.

Attorney General: I request the section on page 1765,
beginning with Mr. Less' question.

     L. Didn't the practice pass...did the practice
     regarding delivering up not pass through your
     Department? Were not people...
     E. ...Not the killing not the killing...I...
     L. ...delivered up through your Department?
     E. Yes, after the Head Office for Administration and
     Economy had announced the destination.
     L. I should like to ask the following: Were the Jews
     collected, deported, brought to extermination camps,
     E. Yes, definitely.
     L. The authority delivering them must have been you?
     E. Yes, surely, the authority delivering them of
     course, Captain."
Attorney General I would ask you to play back to us, on page
2464, the extract beginning "Sie erinnern sich an die
Kristallnacht 1938."
     Less  Do you remember the "Crystal Night" in 1938 which
     took place as the result of the shooting of von Rath?
     Eichmann  ...Vom Rath?
     L. It happened in Paris. What actually happened to
     Hershel Grynszpan?
     E. Yes, Grynszpan appeared before me... Have I not
     already said this?
     L. No.
     E. In my opening remarks?
     L. No, I think not.
     E. ...Grynszpan [I was told] late in the War the War - it must have been in 43 - or
     44 - I was hardly - in 43 Grynszpan was...this is it: I
     received the line of my duty I
     received an order that Grynszpan was in custody in
     Prinz Albrechtstrasse 8, and he had to be further
     examined concerning who was likely to have been behind
     the scenes. Accordingly I gave instructions to bring
     Grynszpan no, not this way - accordingly Krischak gave
     orders - Krischak was dealing with the matter - to
     bring Grynszpan and...either way it would have been
     useless, I said to myself. I still remember exactly,
     for I was curious to see what Grynszpan looked like.
     For this reason I can still remember this very well,
     and I still said: Will they - more or less thus - if
     they had not found this out during all those years,
     then this will also...this examination will also be
     pointless, this would be useless, but an order was an
     order. Grynszpan - er - Krischak questioned him and
     took notes. Nothing, obviously, emerged from the whole
     thing and I merely said then to Krischak that if he had
     completed the interrogation, I wanted him to bring him
     to me upstairs, for I very much wanted - for once - to
     look at the man Grynszpan. I wanted to talk to him. And
     I did then, exchange a few words with Grynszpan. He was
     very brief (abweisend) and brusque, was indifferent and
     gave short replies to all the questions. I wanted to
     ask him, since I had no knowledge at all of the whole
     matter, where he had been and things of that kind. On
     the whole he looked well, he was small - he was a
     smallish lad - I have absolutely - I don't know if I am
     wrong but this I remember - such a...he was such a
     little man - this is still preserved in my memory; and
     then he was again returned to custody in Prinz
     Albrechtstrasse 8. What happened then I don't know.
     Again I deleivered my report, that is to say, the
     report was again conveyed through the service channels
     by Krischak. It was a short report - because nothing
     came of it.
     L. Do you know what happened to him subsequently?
     E. No, I do not know.
     L. Was he taken to some camp, or, or was he shot or
     E. Evidently to some camp. He cannot have remained in
     prison, so I believe.
     L. So -
     E. I was not authorized on this...
     L. Didn't you interest yourself later as to what had
     happened to him - or possibly by chance did you hear

     E. No, completely vanished ...completely
     vanished from my memory. Perhaps this was a short while
     before my departure for...for...perhaps this was the
     end of 1943...this I do not know. I don't know what
     ...what happened to him. I did not hear anything more.
     I didn't hear anything more about it. At any rate I
     cannot ...I cannot recollect. I also don't know
     where...where he stayed for the rest of the time, until
     the day on which I [received] the...on which the
     Department received the order, to interrogate him with
     regards to possible supporters. He was not...he was
     interrogated in the regular way - he was not examined
     in a particularly severe way, as far as any
     event we would have had to have the authorization. He
     was questioned in a proper normal manner. This
     was...after so many years, in any case, of no use at
     all...this was - all the more so as - in general I
     cannot understand - even then I could not understand
     it, how after so many they could still
     investigate something which in relation to the present
     instance - was indeed of no consequence.

Attorney General: Mr. Less, the next passage I would ask you
to play back to us relates to the interrogation commencing
on page 2667, the last line at the bottom. You were holding
a copy of Der Stern  6 July 1960 - what did you do?

Witness Less: I read out extracts of the article.

Q. The article contained passages from a particular book?

A. The article is based on a number of matters.

Q. And on remarks that the Accused made on these matters?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you read out to him all those passages on which you
wanted him to comment?

A. I read certain sections to him, not the entire article.

Q. I would ask you to read, on page 2667, from the last line
to the end of the reel on page 2679.

     Less:  I want to read out to you a few passages from
     the illustrated German paper Der Stern - volume 28 of 9
     July 1960 - in which an article appears about yourself.
     The following appears here:
     "Thus he writes" - the reference is to you "for example
     on the cover page of the book The Atom  by Dr. Fritz
     Kahn, the following words:
     I absorbed the contents of this book spiritually like
     other books on this topic and I found a wonderful
     endorsement of the National-Socialist faith in God and
     of Trust in God (Gottglaeubigkeit); in view of the fact
     that it has a remote connection with the materialistic
     faith  of the Communist doctrine and therefore - with
     the materialism of Lenin which derives from the Marxist
     outlook,  I warn my children against pouring all this
     together into the same vessel. The Leninist-Marxist
     belief preaches materialism. It is cold and devoid of
     life. Trust in God (Gottes-glaeubigkeit) by way of
     contrast, is lively, natural and eternal.
     But to my regret, I am afraid with regard to the
     spiritual arrogance and boorishness of my three sons,
     all this anyhow amounts to futile remarks. And for this
     I am sorry!'
     Do you recall anything of this nature?
     E. There was a search of my house, after they had
     forcibly removed me. This is what I now conclude. I
     know this, that I wrote this article...these words. Yes
     - certainly, yes, because my sons displayed a lack of
     interest so blatant in their spiritual development and
     in the further development let us say, of their talents
     - I wrote this, as a warning.
     L. And afterwards - it says further here on page 58:
     "He told them something that he had prepared for
     himself as an apology or justification: Their father is
     in fact being sought, he is being accused of abominable
     deeds but this is not true, he was always a mere
     official, faithful to his duty, which he performed, as
     he was commanded to do, but he never killed a person."
     E. That is correct, too...
     L. And further, after this: "In respect of his friends
     he admits who he is, he carries on endless
     conversations; he reads everything published since the
     War about the scope of authority of his office, the
     'Jewish Question.' He desperately clings to what
     remains for him as the sole justification for his acts:
     the allegiance to the flag, in the fulfilment of his
     duty and in obedience. And anyone who deviated from
     this path, who, in the last hours of the 'Reich of a
     thousand years' put human feelings above unconditional
     obedience, incurred the uncompromising hatred of
     Eichmann. He reads the book by Gerhard Boldt Die
     letzten Tage der Reichskanzlei  ('The Last Days of the
     Chancellery of the Reich'); and in the course of
     reading discovers that the author Boldt did not obey
     his Fuehrer to the utmost extent. What Eichmann's view
     on the subject was may be discerned from his marginal
     notes. The description on the dust cover of the book
     begins with the words 'A young front-line officer
     (Boldt) was stationed in the year 1945...' Eichmann
     draws a line through the words 'front-line officer' and
     writes above them 'scoundrel.' He does so throughout.
     In every place where Boldt is mentioned in this book,
     he adds: 'Scoundrel, traitor' or 'villain.' In one
     particular place, where Boldt relates that in the
     concluding days before the end of the Nazi Reich,
     senior SS officers who until then were arrogant and
     haughty, suddenly became lowly and needed bolstering
     up, a marginal comment of Eichmann appears: 'The author
     of this book is a stupid pig. Arshole Boldt is the name
     of this swine!!!'
     "In another place Eichmann writes: 'This author should
     have been skinned alive because of his contemptible
     behaviour. With such scoundrels we had to lose the
     War!' And, finally, on the last page of the book, there
     is Eichmann's summing up:
     "1. Everyone can live as he likes.
     2. But then he should not play the part of an officer;
     3. An officer - fulfills orders in accordance with his
     allegiance to the flag!'
     Here again he clutches at the straw of 'fulfilling
     orders' in defence of which he develops an eagerness
     and a vocabulary which were not yet at his disposal at
     the time when he assisted, cold-bloodedly and deadly
     correct (toetlich korrekt) to solve the 'Jewish
     Did you make such marginal notes?
     E. Yes, I did. But it, it was of course some kind
     ...some kind...if one is already relating such things,
     then this is contemptible on the part of such a person
     to say "he clutches..." "He clutches at a straw which
     was not at his disposal at that time." This is
     my...this Kantian demand I elevated into my principle
     and this had been so for a long time. I planned my life
     in accordance with this demand and I did not shut my
     mouth when preaching to my sons, when I...when I
     realized that they were becoming remiss; they showed
     laziness and indifference regarding the continuation of
     their education, I also the extent that it
     was right bring them to reason by using words of
     this kind to spur them on.
     L. Here he writes further, in that same article:
     "He also reads testimonies of his former friend and his
     immediate subordinate - Dieter Wisliceny, in the trials
     of the war criminals. And he feels indignant to the
     point of exploding, that Wisliceny in order to save his
     own skin tried like many others to foist all kinds of
     insinuations on Eichmann who had disappeared. From now
     on, amending his marginal comments he describes
     Wisliceny all the time only as an 'abysmal swine,' and
     a 'buttocks with ears.' He also denies vehemently
     Wisliceny's report of a sentence that he was alleged to
     have uttered in the concluding days of the War:'...and
     if it has to be so, I shall gladly jump into the pit in
     the conscious knowledge that with us five million Jews
     were put to death!' The literal significance is
     correct, but for one word: Eichmann acknowledges,
     merely that he did not say 'Jews' but 'enemies of the
     Reich' and in this form - the sentence was completely
     natural, for 'when our enemies are indeed destroying
     our Reich, I should rejoice at any one of our enemies
     being put to death.'
     "Subsequently, however, there comes a lengthy
     explanation that he could not, for this reason, have
     said 'Five millioin Jews' because many, many less Jews
     had been killed. That it did not make any difference if
     they were two, three, five or seven million - this he
     does not see, he does not want to see this."
     Did you [express] such opinions...about Wisliceny?
     E. That could have been so - yes, it could have been. I
     did, when I read a book, that is when any book came
     into my hands, or any illustrated paper which belonged
     to me, then - while I was reading it, if I became
     seized with holy rage, and while I was in such a mood,
     I would take a pencil and write exactly what occurred
     to me, what was important to say in that instance, at
     that moment.

     L. Here he continues writing:
     "Acquaintances and friends who spoke to him at the time
     in Argentina, describe him as a man who was spiritually
     shattered, who, although recognizing his unspeakable
     guilt, dared not  admit it to himself, and instead
     sought frantically for formal excuses to avoid the
     necessity of passing judgment upon himself."
     E. This is not true. This is...this is...journalistic
     L. And now it says as follows:
     "Eichmann's conscience - this is what he notes:
     I am slowly getting tired of living like an anonymous
     wanderer between worlds. The voice of my heart, from
     which no man is able to escape, always whispered to me
     about the search for peace. I want to find peace, even
     with my past enemies. Perhaps this is part of the
     German character. And I would be the last not to be
     prepared to appear before the German authorities if I
     had not the fear that the political aspect of the
     matter was likely to be too great in order to reach a
     clear and specific finality in the subject. I am far
     from wanting to raise any doubts about the just
     judgment of a German court, but it is by no means clear
     to me what is the legal status now in effect in the
     application of the law - of a person who in the past
     received orders, who was obliged to act in loyalty to
     his oath of service, and then had to carry out the
     orders and instructions which he received. I was none
     other than the subordinate of the SS and the Reich
     Security Head Office, faithful, honest, correct,
     diligent and only filled with idealistic sentiments
     towards my Homeland, to which I had the honour of
     belonging. I had never been a scoundrel and a traitor
     in essence.
     "Despite the stringent criticism of myself, I must say
     for myself that I was neither a murderer, nor a mass-
     murderer. Just as  my direct subordinates were not. But
     - in order to remain faithful to the truth, to the
     exactitude of a hairsbreadth, I would charge myself
     with being an accessory to the killing, for I in fact
     passed on the order for deportation, which I received at least some of those deported, even if by a
     completely different unit, were put to death.
     "I said I must accuse myself of contributing to the
     killings, if I judge myself severely and without
     consideration. I just do not yet see clearly if I have
     such a right in relation to my subordinates.
     "Thus, I am still involved here in an inner conflict
     since, of course, as a past minor recipient of orders,
     this must also be understood, I cannot be 'holier than
     the Pope.'
     "My subjective attitude concerning the events that took
     place was my faith in the 'national state of emergency'
     preached by the Reich leadership at that time. Later
     on, when my confidence in the necessity for total war
     was increasing, I had to go on believing, in an
     increasing measure, in the constant declarations of the
     leadership of the German Reich at that time:'victory in
     that total war or the destruction of the German people.
     "From this standpoint I fulfilled with a clean
     conscience and a believing heart the duty that was
     imposed on me?"
     E. Yes, definitely.

     L. Are these the words that you expressed - in your
     notes or...?
     E. I cannot recall where I did this, but these are my
     words. I recognize the words. I don't know where I did
     so. This I don't know, where, where it...where it comes
     from, this I cannot clarify for myself...
     L. And further, here, as follows:
     "For the same Eichmann was neither a brute nor a man
     with blunted feelings, he was, according to his own
     trustworthy evidence, - even sensitive.  And yet
     despite this, that same man knowingly and wittingly
     signed deportation orders, which meant death to many
     hundreds of thousands. A macabre example of the total
     misunderstanding, the total perversion of the original
     Prussian concept of duty which always placed the
     personal responsibility of the recipient of the orders
     alongside and above obedience, of which under the
     swastika there remained only the one half: blind
     inanimate obedience [Kadavergehorsam]. Accordingly,
     Eichmann relies on that  mortal, murderous
     falsification in his attempt to justify himself my
     means  of the 'allegiance to the flag' and 'fulfilment
     of duty.' This is a hopeless attempt. For Eichmann was
     not so foolish or so primitive, as not to be able to be
     aware of what he was doing - on the strength of an
     order or without one. He was an official for murder and
     he knew it - as long as he was this, he did not have
     any restraints, nor any urge to rely on the compulsion
     emanating from an order. And he will have to take the
     responsibility for this upon himself."
     E. The last part is journalistic gossip. If my outlook
     was that I was faithfully obedient to my allegiance to
     the flag, then it is impossible to challenge this, or
     to explain it away.
     Journalists, yes, they can do it. The writers of
     novels, they can also do so,that is all.
     L. It is now 16.15 and we will stop here...

     E. Yes, certainly.

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