The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Testimony-Abroad/Kurt_Becher-04

Last-Modified: 1999/06/14

In personal conversations with Himmler, I told him of my
impression that Eichmann had his support in Mueller and
Kaltenbrunner, and that I was not sure whether in the long
run Eichmann would follow Himmler's orders and instructions.
I remember that I recommended to Himmler that he himself try
to convince Eichmann of his current thinking.  As far as I
remember, I recommended to Himmler to award Eichmann a
decoration, as I had the impression that Eichmann would be
amenable to such a welcome from Himmler.

As far as I remember, the conversation between Himmler,
Eichmann and myself took place in Himmler's command carriage
in the Black Forest, near Triberg.  Himmler talked to
Eichmann [in a manner] I would call both kindly and angrily.
I remember one thing that Himmler said to Eichmann in this
connection: He shouted at him something like "If until now
you have exterminated Jews, from now on, if I order you, as
I do now, you must be a fosterer of Jews.  I would remind
you that in 1933 it was I who set up the Head Office for
Reich Security, and not Gruppenfuehrer Mueller or yourself,
and that I am in command.  If you are not able to do that,
you must tell me so!"

(43): Why did you complain to Himmler about Eichmann, and
how did Eichmann sabotage your activities?

Answer: It was not always clearly evident how Eichmann
counteracted my measures.  Dr. Kasztner and Mr. Biss
constantly called my attention to any arrangements made by
Eichmann which did not fit in with the negotiations between
the Rescue Committee and myself, or with my agreements with
Himmler.  I am, however, unable to remember details any
longer.  What I still know is that Eichmann always strove to
play down these matters as against me.  When Himmler had
authorized the departure of some seventeen hundred people -
I think it was in June or July 1944 - and the persons
selected by the Jewish Committee were to be sent in the
direction of Vienna, I heard from Dr. Kasztner that Eichmann
had given instructions for the transport to head for Bergen-
Belsen.  At Dr. Kasztner's request, I immediately went to
see Eichmann, and according to my recollection, he said
something like: "That is true; for technical reasons the
transport is going to Bergen-Belsen!"  When I asked why it
was going to Bergen-Belsen and not proceeding immediately to
Switzerland, he said to me: "These people have to go first
to Bergen-Belsen!"  When I asked when the transport would
continue, Eichmann said: "As soon as the order is given!"
He added that in the end it was up to him to determine when
the transport would get under way, since there were
sufficient arguments as against Himmler as well for the
transport not to leave.  For example, spotted typhus might
have broken out.  The transport could also have been wiped
out on the way by enemy bombing.

I contacted Himmler once again about this transport and
finally managed to arrange that the transport really went to

Several times Eichmann said to me that even orders from
Himmler would be carried out by him only if his chief,
Gruppenfuehrer Mueller, confirmed these orders.

In April 1945 I tried to ensure that the inmates of
concentration camps should not be exterminated through the
fighting.  Himmler gave me full powers in this respect for
the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.  For tactical reasons
it seemed expedient to me to let Eichmann know that I had
received such powers from Himmler, in order to deter him
from possibly doing something.  So, before I left for Bergen-
Belsen with Dr. Kasztner, I went to Eichmann's office here
in Berlin.  I told Eichmann that I was going to Bergen-
Belsen with Dr. Kasztner, and then on to Neuengamme.  At
this point Eichmann exploded in a fit of rage at my
intention of taking "this scoundrel Kasztner" to a
concentration camp, quite apart from the fact that he did
not agree to my having access to a concentration camp.
Eichmann stated flatly that he and Gruppenfuehrer Mueller
would not allow it, and that, furthermore, it was
undesirable for Kasztner to go with me.  I nevertheless left
for Bergen-Belsen with Kasztner.

As far as co-operation in practice between Kaltenbrunner and
Eichmann, and Gruppenfuehrer Mueller and Eichmann, is
concerned, as I remember things today, my impression is that
in many instances Eichmann worked directly with
Kaltenbrunner, but that in the main the co-operation was
between Eichmann and Mueller.  I am not able to give any
examples of Eichmann and Kaltenbrunner working together
directly in some cases.

44): Did you inform Eichmann of Himmler's orders, and what
was his reaction?  By what means did Eichmann normally
receive Himmler's orders?

Answer: Himmler issued his orders through official channels.
I only showed Eichmann the copy of the order I had managed
to obtain, addressed to Kaltenbrunner and Pohl, for stopping
the extermination of the Jews.  I believe that this was in
Budapest.  I remember Eichmann being utterly dismayed at
this order.  However, I am unable today to say exactly what
he said.

As far as I remember today, I did sometimes inform Eichmann
orally of Himmler's decisions, i.e., in cases where it
seemed to me to be suitable to give Eichmann advance

(4): Do you believe that the transport of 1,700 persons
would not have been allowed to go had you not made efforts
for the departure of these people?

Answer: Once the number of this transport through departure
from Hungary had been set, I received a promise from
Himmler, in reply to a direct question, that these people
would be allowed to leave for Switzerland.  The transport
went to Bergen-Belsen instead of Switzerland.  I  personally
had made a commitment to the Jewish Committee, on the basis
of Himmler's promise to me, that I would ensure that these
people would reach Switzerland.  I insisted time and again
to Himmler that this transport must continue.  Nevertheless,
at first Himmler only promised me that five hundred people
could emigrate in August.  I know that Himmler gave this
order.  However, in August a transport of only 318 persons
crossed the Swiss border.  At the end of October, Himmler
finally promised me that the remaining persons could now
leave.  I passed on this statement in binding form to
President [of the Joint] Mayer and Mr. McClelland.  In
December, this transport did actually arrive in Switzerland.
In my view, this transport definitely only reached
Switzerland because of my continued efforts.

(46): You have said that Eichmann sabotaged your activities.
Who supported Eichmann's efforts in this respect?

Answer: I assumed that Eichmann basically relied on Mueller,
but that he also considered Kaltenbrunner to be a major
source of support.

(47): When you made your statements of 27 and 28 March 1946,
as contained in Israeli Prosecution Document No. 827,* {*
Exhibit T/690} did they correspond to the truth, and do you
maintain your testimony today?

Answer: I have glanced at these records.  The testimony I
gave then is correct.  I have nothing further to add in that
respect.  I remember meeting Eichmann in the middle of April
in Himmler's quarters in Wustrau.  However, today I no
longer remember the details of what we talked about.

(48): How did you make the acquaintance of Dr. Rudolf

Answer: As far as I remember, I met Dr. Kasztner at the
beginning or in the middle of June 1944.  We were introduced
by Dr. Billitz; I no longer remember whether I first saw Dr.
Kasztner with Dr. Billitz or Eichmann, or with the two of

(49): When did you suggest to Himmler that a stop be put to
deporting Jews?

Answer: I am no longer able to say when I first suggested to
Himmler to put a stop to deporting Jews.  I should imagine
that I put this proposal insistently around June 1944.

(50): What was the result of your efforts with Himmler?

Answer: I remember that, after my first talks with President
Saly Mayer on the Swiss border on 21 August 1944, I
approached Himmler again, in order to get him to stop the
deportations.  I also know that, immediately after I made my
report, Himmler ordered that deportations of Jews from
Hungary be halted.

The order, which I later managed to obtain from Himmler to
Kaltenbrunner and Pohl - "With immediate effect, I prohibit
any destruction of Jews and, on the contrary, I order that
weak and sick persons be looked after.  I will consider you
to be personally responsible if this order is not followed
strictly also by your subordinate departments," meant that
Himmler not only prohibited the deportation and destruction
of Jews, but, on the contrary, gave orders for sick and weak
Jews to be looked after.

Another result of my efforts with Himmler is the stoppage of
transporting Jews to Austria by foot marches, which I
obtained with the assistance of General Winkelmann and
General Juettner.

The measures I carried out in the last weeks of the War to
protect the lives of the inmates of concentration camps are
also to be considered as a result of this attitude on the
part of Himmler which I managed to bring about.

(51): How did Eichmann react to your intervention to put an
end to the foot march?

Answer: I cannot say anything about this on the basis of my
own observations.  In any case, I no longer remember any
details today.

(52): What was the relationship between Himmler and

Answer: I cannot say anything about this from my own
knowledge.  However, my impression at the time was that the
relationship between Himmler and Kaltenbrunner was
constantly worsening.  Himmler tended increasingly to accept
my proposals.  In contrast, Kaltenbrunner followed Hitler's
hard-line approach.  In this connection, I know that Himmler
remarked to me that he was concerned that Kaltenbrunner
would denounce my efforts to Hitler.

(53): How would you explain Himmler's trying to mollify
Eichmann by awarding him a decoration, when Eichmann had not
followed his orders?

Answer: I already replied to this question in my
interrogation on 10 July 1947 (Interrogation No. 929 B,
contained in document No. 774 of the Israeli Prosecution),
on page ten, in reply to the 37th question.  What I have
stated there is true to the facts, and I maintain this in my
interrogation today.

(54): How were Jewish assets in Hungary seized for the SS
and transferred to Germany?

Answer: As far as I remember, I and my staff did not carry
out any confiscations.  However, I do know that assets were
handed over to my staff; they were meant to enable me to
reason with Himmler on the basis of contributions by the
Jews.  This is something which was agreed to with the Jews,
particularly with Dr. Kasztner and Engineer Biss.  I am
unable to state how Jewish assets in Hungary were seized by
other branches of the SS and transferred to Germany.  I know
nothing as to Jewish goods and assets that were transferred
to other German services, apart from the SS.  I know that
the assets handed over to my department were on my orders
handed over by my paymaster, Hauptsturmfuehrer Grabau, to
Dr. Schwaiger, on his release from Mauthausen.

As far as I remember, these assets - that is to say, the
assets handed in to my staff - were in part handed over by
SS offices, and in part by other offices, probably at the
instance of the Jewish Committee.  I did not deal with these
matters in person, so that I cannot say anything about the

In reply to the question as to whether I remember that
equipment for horses was bought for a sum of six million
Pengoe, I no longer remember that today.  I do remember that
a large amount of coffee was handed over to my staff.  As
far as I remember, the assets returned to Dr. Schwaiger
included also the valuables which were handed over to my
staff either by Klages' office or by Eichmann's office.

(55): Did your office issue protective passes?

Answer: Protective passes were issued directly by my office,
and also, on my recommendation and with my assistance, by
various other offices and organizations.  I remember my
assistance in obtaining Swedish and Swiss protective passes,
and also that still under the Szalasi Government, one
hundred passes signed by the Minister for the Party were
obtained.  In general, I would say that these protective
passes were issued in order to protect Jewish people against
various anti-Jewish measures.  As to whether I tried to keep
the issue of protective passes as secret as possible, I can
reply in the affirmative.

(56): Did you give Jewish persons the possibility of being
included in the special transport of 1,700 Jews?

Answer: As far as I remember, in co-ordination with the
Jewish Committee, persons were proposed for this transport
by my staff.  I no longer remember the figure.  As to
whether the committee refused to include a particular
person, my reply is that I cannot remember that.

(57): Did those who received protective passes or those
included in the special transport provide anything in

Answer: As far as I remember, these were in the main persons
who somehow worked with my equipment staff or for the
equipment staff.  I think it possible that, when these
people left the country, they handed over some goods or
monetary valuables.  Since I did not deal with these matters
in person, I am unable to say anything about them.

When it came to issuing protective passes and including part
of these persons in the transport of those who were to
travel to Switzerland, I do not know of any form of "team
work."  In any case, I do not remember anything of this
nature.  With reference to the comment which Dr. Kasztner
made in his report (Israeli Prosecution document No. 900,
page 62), I can but state that I do not know of this and
have no recollection of it.

(58): It has been suggested to you that, according to Dr.
Kasztner's report (Document No. 900 of the Israeli
Prosecution, pages 132-133), a telegram arrived from Ketlitz
on 27 November.  How did Eichmann react when he heard what
the telegram said?

Answer: I do not remember details of this discussion.
However, I have no doubt that the situation might well have
been as described by Dr. Kasztner.  At this time, the
atmosphere between the Rescue Committee and myself on the
one hand, and Eichmann on the other hand, was extremely

(59): Why did you recommend that Jews be allowed to emigrate
if they provided something in return?

Answer: When I was asked by the Jews to intervene on their
behalf, in talking to Himmler, I used the proposals already
under discussion, of trucks in return for letting people go.
Dr. Billitz reported to me that this proposal was under
negotiation by Eichmann and the Jewish Rescue Committee.  It
was on this basis that I started my efforts with Himmler,
and I continued with them even when I saw quite clearly that
this was not meant as a serious proposal.  I used all kinds
of considerations concerning valuables, and negotiations
about considerations to be provided in return, in order to
prove to Himmler how the Jews were keeping their promises,
even though these return services were actually put into
effect only to a very small extent.

(60): Did the Accused do anything to thwart implementation
of the exchange deal?

Answer: I would refer to the whole of my examination.  I am
not able to state anything further at the moment.

61st question: Do you know whether the Accused contravened
Himmler's order to cease deportations?

Answer: Today I do not remember whether I knew then of such

To supplement my answer to the 59th question, I should like
to add that my efforts to protect Jewish and politically
persecuted persons were the reason why I pretended that I
wished to carry out these business deals, because I
considered them to be the only chance of obtaining
concessions for these people from Himmler.

I made my statement yesterday and today to the best of my
knowledge and belief, according to what I remember today.
It must, however, be borne in mind that these events took
place some seventeen years ago, and also that during the
three years of my internment, as well as later, I had to go
through many interrogations, in which numerous statements by
others were put to me.  Consequently, it is not impossible
that my power of recollection may mislead me on some point
or other.

Read out, approved, and signed
(-) Kurt A. Becher

The following decision was announced:

The oath is to be administered to the witness, as the Trial
Court so requested and there are no grounds of impediment.

The witness was then sworn.
(-) Elias (-) Schriefer
Note: Before the examination, the witness was informed of
the questions on which he was to be examined.

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