The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-040-03

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Session/Session-040-03
Last-Modified: 1999/05/28

Q. I now come to the hearing of evidence in Trial No. 9, in
which you, Sir, sat. There you spoke about the accused
Bieberstein, Ohlendorf and Blobel. Did any of these accused
allege that Eichmann was the one who caused him to perform
the acts that he committed? Did he allege that in his
favour, against his conviction or to mitigate his

A. They were accused of actual, premeditated murder. You
mention only three - there were twenty-three. They were
charged with having killed one million unarmed human beings
- men, women and children; and their defence was directed
along the line of exculpating themselves in the best fashion
they could. Now, in that respect Ohlendorf introduced as
part of his case all the testimony that Wisliceny had given
in the I.M.T. trial, so that there was an attempt on the
part of Ohlendorf to indicate that, to a certain extent, he
was under the domination of Eichmann.

Q. Would it be correct to say that no such argument of any
one of the accused was included in your judgment, and that
you yourself did not mention Eichmann in your judgment by so
much as one word?

A. That is true. I did not mention Eichmann in my judgment
because I did not see any necessity to do so. Eichmann's
power came by speaking through Himmler and through Heydrich,
so in my judgment I referred to what Heydrich did, what
Himmler ordered, and I did not mention Eichmann in my
judgment because Eichmann was not on trial - he was not a
defendant. There was no point in...

Presiding Judge: Excuse me, Justice Musmanno, the question
also was whether you mentioned any such defence on the part
of any of the accused, that they had acted under orders from
Eichmann or under the influence of Eichmann.

Witness Musmanno:  I did not.

Dr. Servatius  Judge Musmanno, you said later that there had
been a possibility of being released from these
Einsatzgruppen, that a man was freely able to get out of
this duty and be transferred, let us say, to another
department. Do you know what the International Military
Tribunal at Nuremberg said on this question? I shall quote
it to you:

Here it states as follows:

     "Throughout the war men of the security police and the
     SD had no chance to clarify for themselves their
     position and their duty, and if there were anyone who
     refused to take upon himself any duty at all, mainly in
     the occupied zone, the matter was likely to result in
     heavy penalties."

Do you concur with this determination of the facts by the
International Military Tribunal?

Witness Musmanno:  This is a general statement made by the
I.M.T. I sat for seven months presiding over the
Einsatzgruppen Trial and we took up case for case, and I
told you about Erwin Schultz who refused to go along with
his superior orders and asked that he might be released. And
he was released by no one less than Heydrich. And not only
was he released from carrying out these onerous,
bloodthirsty deeds as a colonel, but later on he was even
promoted to general. So, therefore, he did not suffer by
refusing to obey these orders to kill in cold blood. The
same thing was true with Franz Six - and a document has been
introduced along that line. The same thing was true with
regard to Noske. Noske was in the East as a leader of an
Einsatz-Kommando, and then returned to Germany. In Germany
he was assigned to Duesseldorf and there he was ordered to
kill the Jews and half-Jews. He refused to obey the order
because he felt something quite revolting from his point of
view, at killing a person at one German camp. But he refused
the order and nothing happened to him seriously. He was
subjected to some inconvenience, but he was not even
degraded; certainly he was not shot.

Ohlendorf himself stated that he could have gotten out of
this assignment by simulating illness, but that he felt that
he should not do that. And - well - I can give you a number
of illustrations. I do not know just how far Dr. Servatius
has asked me to speak on this subject...

But if there is one thing that was demonstrated in this
trial of the Einsatzgruppen, it is that, if one really did
not feel capable of killing in cold blood, he could be
released. That was stated a number of times.

Q. You said this morning that it was possible to extricate
oneself from the Einsatzgruppen. Would it not be correct for
me to say that there were various ways of doing so: Either a
man had good connections or he had already acquired many
privileges in the course of his past work in this field, or
a man could have feigned illness. But there was no
possibility to declare: I object to this on principle; this
is an enormous crime and I protest against it. Would you
agree with me?

A. I do not agree with you, and the facts are to the
contrary. There are many ways to evade performing these
horrible deeds. There was one instance where a man got out
of it by becoming drunk all the time.

Presiding Judge: Excuse me Justice Musmanno, the question
was not about feigning all sorts of excuses, making excuses,
for being excused from this service. But the point of the
question was, if I understand it correctly, perhaps it did
not come through in translation, that you could not say: "I
object to this on principle, to killing Jews on principle,
because this is a crime." Nobody got out, or tried to get
out of the Einsatzgruppen or any other service on such a

Witness Musmanno:  I thank you Mr. Presiding Judge: for
clarifying the question. Certainly in military discipline no
subordinate officer or soldier could say outrightly to his
superior officer: "I absolutely refuse to carry out this
order!" But he could say to him, and there were many who did
say that: "I am incapable of shooting anybody down in cold
blood, and so I would like to be excused." And that of
course is what I had made reference to. One of the
defendants, Willi Siebert, Colonel Willi Siebert, who was in
Ohlendorf's Einsatzgruppe, began his testimony by saying
that he had to obey his superior's orders. His attorney put
the question to him, Dr. Raul, that isn't it a fact that the
Kaiser once declared that if a soldier is ordered to shoot
his own parents, that he must obey. And Siebert agreed with
that. He said: "Yes, that is what we understand in the
German Armed Forces."

After he had made that statement, then I said to the
defendant: "Let us assume that you are ordered to shoot your
mother and your father. Would you shoot them?"  He did not
reply directly. He said: "I'll have to think this over a
while." I said: "Take as much time as you wish." Then he
gave some tentative, ambiguous response and he indicated
that he still wanted a great deal more time to deliberate,
and so I said: "We will adjourn court and you reflect on
this as much as you wish and then tomorrow morning we would
like to have your answer, because after all it was not the
tribunal who put this question, it was your own attorney and
you accepted that that was the norm and the criterion, that
you had to obey superior orders regardless even if it meant
killing your own parents." The next morning he arrived and
the question was put to him. "Let us suppose a military
situation where you are ordered to shoot your parents, your
mother and your father, will you do it?" He said: "No, I
wouldn't do it."

Dr. Servatius  The reply of the witness is sufficient for
me. I have a few questions on another subject. You certainly
knew very well the conditions in the Nuremberg gaol. You
were there on repeated occasions for interrogations. Who was
in charge of security there? Soldiers or prison guards?

Witness Musmanno.  Soldiers.

Q. Did the witnesses and the accused have a chance to talk
to one another and were they able to try and reach mutual
agreement concerning the evidence to be given by them?

A. Sometimes they could shout across the corridor -
Schellenberg told me of an episode when Goering admitted to
him when they were in the Nuremberg Gaol that Schellenberg
was correct in some division of opinion that they had before
as to who was right or not, so that evidently at times they
could communicate with each other.

Q. Did not a very strict discipline prevail between the
accused which ensured that no one could take a line of his
own, and if someone had been found taking a line of his own,
was there not someone there who would see to it that
reprisals would be taken against members of his family and
that vengeance would have been visited upon them?

A. Are you speaking of conversations between...

Presiding Judge: No, that there was discipline in the sense
that everybody had to toe the general line.

Witness Musmanno:  Is he speaking of the prisoners now?

Presiding Judge: No, the accused at the Nuremberg Trial or

Witness Musmanno:  I was thinking about the prison itself. I
did not quite understand. Would you please repeat that
question then?

Dr. Servatius  Would I be correct in saying that among the
prisoners in Nuremberg there was a general strict agreement
as to the taking of one line. If anybody would not take that
line in his defence, his relatives outside would be made to
pay for it.

Witness Musmanno:  I do not know of any such thing.

Q. On another occasion I shall submit to the Court a
document from which it will appear that such things happened
- it is specifically stated there.

When an accused passed from the accuseds' wing to the
witnesses' wing, was there any advantage in that? Would he
receive any privileges? Did they regard this as one step
towards liberty? Do you know anything about that?

A. I know nothing about the prison regulations. I could not
comment on that.

Q. On this point, too, I shall submit a document to the
Court at a later stage.

You wrote a book, if I understand correctly, about the last
days of the Reich Chancellery?

A. The book was called Ten Days To Die.

Q. When was this book published?

A. I think in 1950.* {*First published by Peter Davies in

Q. Did you interview many witnesses with a view to obtaining
the relevant material?

A. Oh yes, yes. I testified this morning there were over one
hundred. It was really over two hundred.

Presiding Judge: The question was, did you bring before you
many witnesses in order to obtain material for your book?
That was the question.

Witness Musmanno:  Well, in this investigation I saw many
witnesses and it ran into about two hundred of them.

Dr. Servatius  This was a private research, so to speak, for
writing your book, was it not?

Witness Musmanno:  My situation was very similar to that of
Trevor Roper. Trevor Roper, a professor at Oxford University
was in the British Air Corps during the War and he was
directed by his General to conduct an investigation
regarding the circumstances surrounding the disappearance or
death of Hitler. I was not aware that he was conducting an
investigation about the same time that I was. After he had
made his report to the British Government, he then published
a book and it was called The Last Days of Hitler. My
situation was quite similar.

Presiding Judge: But if I may ask, did you make additional
investigations with a view to publishing your book, in
addition to what you had already investigated on behalf of
the United States Navy?

Witness Musmanno:  That is true, Mr. Justice.

Dr. Servatius  Is its true to assume that you especially
invited all the secretaries of all personalities concerned
and that you questioned them?

Witness Musmanno:  Oh yes. I spoke to the secretaries, the
dentist, the barber, the housekeeper, the butler - all of
them, because I wanted to get information about Hitler.

Dr. Servatius  Thank you very much. I have no more

Attorney General: Shall I begin at the end? With regard to
the alignment of the accused in the case of the main war
criminals at Nuremberg; is it true that there were several
groups among the accused, one of which wanted to put the
blame on Hitler and another which wanted to keep faith with
him to the end?
Witness Musmanno:  You are speaking of the I.M.T. trial?

Q. The I.M.T., that is correct.

A. That is correct.

Q. And you spoke to people of all these groups?

A. I was not interested in any schism between the witnesses,
and at the time I was not aware of it - and after all -
these visits were not long ones: I would go to them, I would
put to them two or three questions, three or four, and that
was it. Some volunteered information.

Q. No, I am driving at another point. Who was the exponent
of the "faithful and loyal" group to Hitler? - Goering?

A. Yes.

Q. And the exponents of the group which denounced Hitler
were Frank and Speer?

A. Yes.

Q. These were the two main exponents, weren't they?

A. Also von Schirach, Schacht...

Q. I see. Now, you wanted to add something, Justice

A. Yes. I spoke to Goering shortly after he had testified,
and in his testimony had defended Hitler throughout. I asked
him why he did this, in view of the fact that Hitler had
degraded him, ordered his arrest and, in fact, was on the
verge of ordering him to be shot; and I said to Goering:
"Marshal, I do not understand why you would defend a man who
would have shot you had we, the Allied troops, not captured
you; and you know that he has mistreated Mrs. Goering..."
And he said to me: "Commander, I stood with Hitler when he
was alive - I'll stand with him when he is dead." And the
remark was so insincere, to me, and so pompous and so
utterly...annoying, that I could not restrain myself - I
laughed in his face. Then he looked about furtively, and he
said: "Commander, some day I'll tell you the real truth."

Q. Now, Justice Musmanno, did any of those accused people
you spoke to, who were awaiting their judgment and sentence
at the I.M.T. - did they stand to gain anything by what they
told you or by what they said to Professor Gilbert?

A. No. Nothing whatsoever.

Q. You said you did not mention in your judgment the
instructions or orders of Hitler to Ohlendorf, but did you
mention in your judgment anything about RSHA?

A. I did.

Q. What was that?

A. Well, I indicated, of course, that the Einsatzgruppen
were a special operation of the RSHA.

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