The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-105-04

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-105-04
Last-Modified: 1999/06/14

Presiding Judge: Well, what is your reply?

Dr. Servatius:  The question was whether you remember there
also being passages in the Sassen Memoirs where you have a
more positive attitude to Judaism?
Accused:    I have already explained that I did not belong
to the group which I called anti-Semites.  For various
private reasons I could not have been an anti-Semite.  And
because I did not belong to this group, the upshot
automatically was that, as far as I was concerned, I did
not, in fact, see a personal enemy in the Jews, and that
leads to this attitude which can perhaps be called positive.
I do not know.

Q. I would like to get the witness' reaction to a quotation
from the memoirs.  In the first volume, at the bottom of
page 27, it reads:

     "...and I did in fact frequently tell the Jewish
     political functionaries, personally I have no hatred
     against a Jew, I have never personally had a bad
     experience with a Jew, and when I changed now from a
     militant to a political officer, I had after all to
     carry out the orders I was given.  Now, I was one of
     those men who carried out orders without reserve, in
     accordance with my oath of loyalty."

Does this observation correspond with your convictions?

A. Yes, the sense of it is correct, and I also said this
time and again to Loewenherz, in fact I also told this to
the other Jewish functionaries.

Presiding Judge: I mark this exhibit N/102.

Now would the Accused please tell me - I would like to
understand this - "changed from a militant to a political
officer," what does this mean?

Accused:    By this I mean when I went from service in the
forces to service in the police.

Presiding Judge: Yes, but you were a military officer before
that, were you not?

Accused:    No, this is badly put here, that is why I said
that the sense of that is correct, but of course not
literally so.

Presiding Judge: So militant means from a soldier, a

Accused:    It would be better to say, "when I came from
military life to police life," that would be the right way
to put it, and that is why I said that the sense of it is
correct, but literally it is not correct.

Presiding Judge: All right.

Dr. Servatius:  That concludes my re-examination, and I have
no further questions to the witness.

Presiding Judge: The Accused will now answer questions from
the Judges.

Judge Raveh:   I shall ask you a few questions in German.
Do you remember at one point in your police interrogation
talking about the Kantian imperative, and saying that
throughout your entire life you had tried to live according
to the Kantian imperative?

Accused:    Yes.

Q. There is no need to show this to you; do you remember it

A. Yes, I remember it clearly.

Q. What did you mean by the Kantian imperative when you said

A. I meant by this that the principle of my volition and the
principle of my life must be such that it could at any time
be raised to be the principle of general legislation, as
Kant more or less puts it in his categorical imperative.

Q. I see, therefore, that when you said this you were
precisely aware of Kant's categorical imperative?

A. Yes, I was.

Q. And so, do you mean to say by this that your activities
in the course of deporting Jews corresponded to the Kantian
categorical imperative?

A. No, certainly not, because these that
time I had to live and act under compulsion, and the
compulsion of a third person, during exceptional times.  I
meant by this, by this living according to the
Kantian principle, to the extent that I am my own master and
able to organize my life according to my volition and
according to my wishes.  This is also quite obvious, in fact
it could not be meant any other way, because if I am
subjected to a higher power and a higher force, then my free
will as such is eliminated, and then, since I can no longer
be master of my free will and volition, I cannot in fact
adopt any principles whatsoever which I cannot influence,
but, on the contrary, I must, and also may, build obedience
to the authorities into this concept, and then the
authorities bear the responsibility.  In my judgment, that
also belongs to it.

Q. Do you mean to say by this that following the
authorities' orders blindly signifies realizing the Kantian
categorical imperative?

A. Since the Kantian imperative was laid down, there had
never been such a destructive and unprecedented order from a
head of state.  That is why it was new, and that is why
there is no possibility of comparisons, and cannot
have any idea of how it was.  There was the War.  I had to
do just one thing.  I had to obey, because I could not
change anything.  And so I just placed my life, as far as I
could, in the service - I would put it this way - of this
Kantian demand.  And I have already said that in fact others
had to answer for the fundamental aspect.  As a minor
recipient of orders, I had to obey, I could not evade that.

Q. I understood from the first part of your answer that you
meant that these years in which you were a blind recipient
of orders would be excluded from life according to the
Kantian imperative. And I intended to ask you about this,
from when till when did it last?  But then you added
something, and that again changed the whole thing.  Now I do
not know what your final position is on this.

A. Killing people violently cannot be according to the
spirit of the Kantian imperative, because in principle it is
not something God-given.

Q. That means that there was a time when you did not live by
the categorical imperative?

A. Could not live, because higher powers made it impossible
for me to live by it.

Q. From when to when was this?

A. Strictly speaking, that was from the moment when I was
transferred against my will, and against my wishes, to

Q. Till when?

A. Until the end.

Q. And throughout this time it was clear to you that during
that period you could not live by the categorical
imperative, although you had in principle arranged actually
to live your life by it?

A. During this time I read Kant's Critique of Practical

Q. For the first time?

A. Then was the first time.

Q. So that it was only then that you encountered the idea of
the categorical concept?

A. I had come across this earlier, but I had not concerned
myself particularly with it; instead, the Kantian
categorical imperative was disposed of shortly as follows:
"True to the law, obedient, a proper personal life, not to
come into conflict with the law."  This, I would say, was
the categorical imperative for a small man's domestic use.

Q. From where had you taken this definition of the
categorical imperative for the small man?  When you read
Kant later, did you find it corresponded to his definition?

A. No, I sensed this earlier on, because for someone like
myself it is not possible to understand all of the subject
of Kant completely; instead, I only took from these writings
what I could understand, and what my imagination could
somehow grasp.

Q. So I understand that you learned the true concept at the
time you were dealing with the deportation of Jews?

A. As to whether it was the genuine complete concept of the
categorical imperative, I am still not able to grasp even
today, but I have grasped one thing - that giving such
orders by a supreme head of state cannot accord with the
spirit of a divine order.  But now I was trying to come to
terms with myself, and I saw that I was unable to change
anything and unable to do anything.

Q. What interests me more now is whether then, in the years
when you came to Berlin - against your will, as you put it -
until 1945, whether during that period you were aware, or
became aware, that you were not living according to Kant's
categorical imperative?

A. I first became aware of this in Kulm.  But it would not
be right for me to say I became aware that I was not living
according to this Kantian requirement, but I said to myself:
I cannot for the present live entirely according to it,
although I would like to do so.

Q. And this realization remained with you up until the end?
Until the end of 1944?

A. I did not think of it every day, but when I travel, it is
my habit not to speak a lot, but to reflect.

Q. All right, then: When you thought it over, then did it
become clear to you?

A. In fact, in the end that was also the direct reason for
my approaching Mueller from time to time.

Q. Now let us look at some figures. Tell me who wrote T/43

A. I wrote this.

Q. When did you write it?

A. I do not remember, I have to check.  I must have written
this in Israel.

Q. Would you please read it out?

A. "At this time I said to my subordinates..."

Q. Just a moment, what does "at this time" mean?  To what
period is the reference?

A. This was the time of the collapse.

Q. Please continue.


     "I said to my subordinate commanders, who were going
     about with very gloomy, depressed-looking faces, that
     since the War, in my opinion, was now definitely lost
     and there was no longer anything to be salvaged, I
     myself was looking forward to the Battle for Berlin - I
     knew my defence system, part of which was designed very
     cunningly, and for me there was nothing of interest to
     me left in the world other than to fight to the last,
     and think only of finding my death in this struggle.
     Millions of German women, children and the aged,
     millions of soldiers had been killed in this War; for
     five years millions of enemies had assailed Germany,
     and millions of enemies had also been killed.  And I
     estimate that the War had cost five million Jews.  Now
     it is all over, the Reich is lost, and if it is all
     over, then I will also jump into the pit - in brackets:
     (in view of the false-papers operation, which I find

The rest does not belong to it - the rest does not belong to

Judge Raveh:   Very well.  Would I be correct in assuming
that you wrote this before you made a statement to Captain
Less about the same subject, and that you made these notes
for yourself, having regard to what you would say in your
police interrogation?  Do you want to compare this with what
is stated in your interrogation?

A. I wrote this down here as I thought of things at that
time, in 1945.

Q. And as you put it in 1945?

A. As I put it in 1945.

Q. Then I would like to show you something else which you
wrote. Here, at the bottom, the part which is underlined.

Presiding Judge: This is T/44, page 118.

Accused:    I assume that is correct.

Judge Raveh:   One moment, have you read it?

Accused:    Yes, I have read it.

Judge Raveh:   Please read this passage out.


     "As far as I still remember, at that time Korherr came
     up with a total number of around five million Jews,
     made up of migration, natural decrease, concentration
     camp inmates, ghetto inmates, and those who were put to

Judge Raveh:   Korherr was the statistician who drew up this
report - when?

Accused:    I think it was the end of 1942 to the end of

Q. And that was the figure he came up with then.

A. This is an approximate figure, which I had accepted
intuitively at that time during the questioning.  I do not
now know whether it is correct or not.

Q. Not during the questioning - these are memoirs.

A. Oh yes, or memoirs - all the time before I was able
actually to read the documents - as far as the Korherr
report is concerned, I do not know if I have it in my files,
I cannot say for sure.  But I remember something like this,
that the overall figure would be about five million.

Presiding Judge: The Court will now adjourn.  The next
Session will be tomorrow morning, at 8.30, when the Accused
will continue to be questioned by the Judges.  After that,
we shall be able to commence the submission of the Defence
testimonies taken abroad.  I hope we will also be able to
conclude this tomorrow.

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