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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Testimony-Abroad/Kurt_Becher-03


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people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Testimony-Abroad/Kurt_Becher-03
Last-Modified: 1999/06/14

(19): How and when did you become involved in this
operation, and at whose initiative?

Answer: Not very long after I received Himmler's basic
agreement to conclude the trust agreement on the
Weiss_Manfred Works, Dr. Billitz approached me and asked me
to intervene with Himmler, in order to save Jewish people.
As far as I remember, that was at the beginning of May 1944.

(20): When and under what circumstances did you meet Mr.
Joel Brand?  When did you first talk to him?

Answer: I have already referred to this question in my reply
to the eighth question of this record.

(21): Were the Accused's proposals for implementing the
operation more favourable than those of Reichsfuhrer-SS
Himmler with whom you talked?

Answer: I was not familiar with all of the Accused's
proposals in detail.  When under urging from Dr. Billitz I
applied for an appointment to see Himmler, which I managed
to obtain through the good offices of Winkelmann, I knew
from Dr. Billitz that a proposal was being discussed about
trucks in return for releasing Jewish people.  Himmler did
not say whether he was aware of this proposal and who had
made it.  However, as far as I remember, Himmler's words
were: "Get out of the Jews everything that can be got out of
them.  Promise them what they are asking for.  As to what we
will keep, we'll just have to see!"  I objected and made a
point of saying that the arrangements made with the Jews
must be observed, come what may.  I remember that, as far as
the unit of account was concerned, Himmler finally laid down
an amount of one thousand dollars per person.  I remember
various sums being discussed at the time, and I should
imagine that Dr. Kasztner may well have known more about the
details than I did.

(22): After the War, did you act as interpreter during the
interrogation of fellow detainees in internment or prison
camps or prisons?

Answer: No.

(23): During the time you were imprisoned, did you speak
about persecution of the Jews and the responsibility for
such persecution with your fellow detainees, Veesenmayer,
Winkelmann, Geschke, Juettner and others?

Answer: As far as I remember, during the years in which I
was interned I spoke with many people also about this
problem, including General Winkelmann when we were both
imprisoned in Budapest (1945-1946), and later General
Juettner in the witnesses' wing of the Palace of Justice in
Nuremberg.  I do not remember any conversations with
Veesenmayer, with whom I was also imprisoned in Budapest,
and later in Nuremberg.  As far as I remember I did not come
across Geschke in prison.

(24): Did you also meet the above-mentioned persons after
the end of your imprisonment, or did you make any other
contact with them, and did you talk to them about the
subject of the Jews?  When did this occur last?

Answer: As far as I remember, after I was released from
internment in Nuremberg, in December 1947, I did not have
any conversations with any of the gentlemen referred to -
Winkelmann, Juettner, Veesenmayer, or Geschke.  I
corresponded with Winkelmann and Juettner with regard to
matters other than the Jewish problems.  My correspondence
with Winkelmann ceased in 1948, and that with Juettner in
1952.

(25): During your imprisonment, did you talk to Dr. Kasztner
about Jewish matters?  If so, when was this and who
initiated such discussions?  Did Dr. Kasztner exert himself
towards this end?

Answer: Dr. Kasztner told me that he was in Nuremberg in
order to give evidence as a witness in the Wilhelmstrasse
trial, and on this occasion I had a meeting with him - as
far as I remember this was in August 1947.  If I am not
mistaken, I had another talk with Dr. Kasztner around April
1948, when I was still in what was known as the open
witnesses' wing in Nuremberg.  During this meeting we
naturally talked about our joint rescue efforts.  I was
taken from the prison for an interrogation and met Dr.
Kasztner at that time.  Of course, I endeavoured to get in
touch with Dr. Kasztner again.

(26): After you were released from prison, did Dr. Kasztner
come to see you?  If so, how often did you meet and for how
long?

Answer: I neither saw nor spoke to Dr. Kasztner again
afterwards.  As to whether I corresponded later by letter
with Dr. Kasztner, as far as I remember I did exchange a few
letters sporadically with Dr. Kasztner.

(27): After you were released from prison, did Mr. Joel
Brand come to see you, and did he talk with you about Jewish
matters?

Answer: Mr. Joel Brand wrote to me on 16 May 1955 and asked
to come and see me.  As far as I remember, he came to Bremen
in June 1955, together with the writer Weissberg_Cybulski.
These two gentlemen explained that he wanted to write a book
about the rescue work of the Vaada [Jewish Rescue Committee]
and the close co-operation with me.  They said that this
book would become a best-seller and was to appear in all the
languages of the world.  However, it would only be possible
to write this book if I would be prepared to take part in
the book, in the interest of historical truth.  After all,
Mr. Brand could not say anything of his own knowledge about
what had happened in Hungary after he left for
Constantinople in the middle of May 1944.  That meant that
in that regard he would have to rely on the stories of
others.  It was true that he had the Vaada's report by Dr.
Rudolf Kasztner.  However, it was vital that I present the
co-operation of the Jewish Rescue Committee with the German
side.  He was particularly interested in the historical
truth being described about the success I had had as a
result of my negotiations with Himmler.

I did talk to the two of them about some of the events of
that period, but I indicated that I was not inclined to
co_operate with them on this book.  During the conversation,
Mr. Brand asked me to give him an affidavit in which I would
confirm that wooden barracks which were acquired with means
provided by him would be made available to the German
authorities.  He needed such a statement in order to submit
claims for reparations.  I did not know anything about the
matter.  I therefore refused to give the affidavit he asked
for.  My impression was that Mr. Brand was very disappointed
at this.  At that time Mr. Brand spent several days in
Bremen.  He kept trying to convince me to take part in his
book.  In a joint letter, dated 22 July 1955, Messrs. Brand
and Weissberg-Cybulski once again asked me to work on the
book with them.  I did not reply to this letter, and since
then I have had no contacts with Mr. Brand.

(28): After the War were you in touch with Mr. Andreas Biss?

Answer: Yes.  I do not remember when Mr. Biss first wrote to
me.  I did speak to Mr. Biss - he was Dr. Kasztner's
representative on the Budapest Rescue Committee - about our
joint work.  I think that my last personal meeting with Mr.
Biss was at the end of 1960, or the beginning of 1961. (29):
Did you have general conversations with the Accused about
the Solution of the Jewish Question in Hungary, and what was
the Accused's attitude?

Answer: I was careful not to have general discussions with
Eichmann about the Jewish Question.  From many things he
said and the measures he applied, I knew what the Accused's
attitude was.  Eichmann was an ardent Nazi and a fanatical
anti-Semite.

The representative of the Attorney General in Jerusalem has
read out to me the Accused's allegations as contained in
Prosecution documents Nos. 3290 to 3305, tape 69, volume VI
of the Accused's statement to the police.  Insofar as I am
cited in these statements and my activities are described, I
wish to state that they in no way correspond to the truth.
I did not have any influence on the carrying out of
deportations; it has been proved that I brought my influence
to bear against deportations in many instances, and in some
cases I was also successful in doing so.  My assignmnent
from the SS Leadership Head Office and the Manfred Weiss-
Manfred operation I carried out were totally unconnected
with Eichmann.  As I have already stated, it was around the
first half of May that, on the urging of the Jewish
leadership, I tried to acquire influence with Himmler in
favour of the Jews.  My above statements are supported inter
alia by the declaration made by Dr. Rudolf Kasztner.

I have been shown Dr. Kasztner's sworn evidence of 13
September 1945 before the International Military Tribunal
(IMG Volume XXXI, No. 47, in the Israel Prosecution
documents), insofar as the evidence refers to me.  If
differences as to motives are seen in Dr. Kasztner's
testimony, I am unable to provide any explanation of that.

(30): Do the statements and evidence which you gave in
1944,* {* Should probably be 1946} 1947 and 1948 in the
witnesses' prison in Nuremberg, on oath and not on oath,
conform to the truth?

Answer: I no longer remember in detail the statements and
evidence which I gave in the witnesses' prison in Nuremberg.
However, in accordance with my inner attitude, all the
statements and evidence I gave, whether on oath or not, were
made to the best of my knowledge and belief.  If I am today
to swear that all such statements and evidence conform to
the truth, I would have to be shown the documents, so that I
can check them all in detail.

(31): When did you learn what happened to the deportees?

Answer: Jewish sources, particularly Dr. Kasztner, first
hinted, and from the end of August 1944, I think, told me
that of the Jews deported from Hungary only some were being
used for labour, while the others were annihilated.  At
that, as far as I remember, I turned to Eichmann, too, and
he insisted that these were lies.  All the Jews, he said,
were being used for labour.  It was only when I read the
content of the order which I managed to get Himmler to issue
in the autumn of 1944 - today I am not entirely sure whether
it was October or November - "With immediate effect, I
prohibit any annihilation of Jews, and on the contrary, I
order that weak and sick persons be looked after" - that I
received for the first time confirmation from the German
side that Dr. Kasztner's information was correct.

(32): What information did you provide to General Juettner
about the "foot march," and how did he react to it?

Answer: General Juettner was furious about the foot march.
Before he left Vienna for Budapest - this was the middle of
November - I was able to draw his attention to the details
of this catastrophic measure, and I had also informed him
that, together with General Winkelmann, I had already
protested to Himmler.  General Juettner, under the
impression of what he had seen himself, had had talks in
Budapest with General Winkelmann, and also with a
subordinate of Eichmann's in the presence of Winkelmann and
myself, and expressed his indignation.  As far as I
remember, Eichmann's subordinate put forward the excuse that
he was only carrying out orders.

(33): What do you know of the "foot march" of the Jews of
Budapest to the Austrian border?

Answer: As far as I remember, the foot march began at the
end of October 1944, i.e., under the Szalasi Government.
The reason given for the foot march was that these people
had to build a defensive rampart on the Austrian border.
That is why there was mention of age limits for men suitable
for this purpose.  When I had discussions in Switzerland
with President Roosevelt's emissary on war refugee matters,
Mr. McClelland, and with Mr. Saly Mayer, I promised these
gentlemen that I would without delay make representations to
Himmler, in order to put an end to this foot march, but in
any case, if that could not be arranged, at least to ensure
that those taking part in the march should, in terms of age
and physical capacity, be suitable for constructing
fieldworks.

When I returned from Switzerland at the beginning of
November, I saw,  on the road from Vienna to Budapest,
dreadful sights of misery of people marching.  I immediately
informed General Winkelmann, and together with General
Winkelmann submitted a detailed report - I believe by
teletype - to Himmler, with the request that he give orders
for this foot march to be stopped.

I do not know whether this order for which we asked was
issued immediately.  In fact, the foot march continued,
because a few days later I again saw these marches on the
road from Budapest to Vienna.

I then went to Himmler and endeavoured to have the foot
march stopped.  Himmler then prohibited the foot march.  I
remember the people on the foot march being in an extremely
bad state.  As far as I remember, those in the march
included ten-year-old children, as well as old people of 65
years of both sexes.  I also remember that at least in part
- I drove along the road three times - the weather was bad.
As to whether in talking to General Juettner I called this
foot march Eichmann's regiment (Standarte), I cannot
remember any more today.

(34): Where did Eichmann live in Budapest?

Answer: I do not know where his dwelling was.  I do not
remember ever visiting him there.  His office was on the
Schwabenberg.

(35): Did you know Slawik, Eichmann's caretaker?

Answer: No.

(36): Did you know the name of Eichmann's driver in
Budapest?

Answer: No.

(3): Did you know SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Dr. Wilhelm
Hoettl?

Answer: I knew him fleetingly in Budapest.  I met him again
later in the witnesses' wing of the Palace of Justice in
Nuremberg.

(38): Did you know of any relations between the Accused and
Dr. Hoettl?

Answer: Not at all.

(39): What German personnel were available to you for
carrying out your special assignment for the SS Leadership
Head Office?

Answer: The people I worked with were detached from units of
the Waffen-SS and assigned to my staff.  They were officers
for requisitioning horses, veterinary officers, paymasters,
non-commissioned officers and private soldiers.  The horse-
requisitioning commissions consisted of Hungarian officers
from the Honved Ministry, German army officers and members
of my staff.
------
The hearing was adjourned at 17.30.
Bremen, 21 June 1961

The hearing was continued on 21 June 1961.
Present: The same persons.
------
(40): Do you identify as authentic the teletypes of 25 and
26 August 1944, of which a photocopy has been submitted
(Document Nos. 1421 and 1422 of the Israeli Prosecution)?

Answer: Although I do not remember the exact wording, I
acknowledge that these documents are photocopies of
teletypes which might have been exchanged between myself and
Himmler.

(41): Do you still maintain as accurate your statements made
in 1947 and 1948 as they have been joined together in
Prosecution document No. 774?

Answer: No. 929 of 7 July 1947 and 929 B of 10 July 1947
(though only slightly, because of the short time available
to me), I can declare that the statements made in them
correspond to the truth.  Having looked at these records, I
remember especially that my description of the conversation
with Eichmann before Himmler is accurate.

Due to lack of time, I only glanced also at the other
records submitted to me yesterday: one without a number,
dated 28 July 1947, No. 1858 of 29 August 1947, No. 2294 of
1 November 1947, No. 2710a of 2 March 1948, and No. 2710c of
22 June 1948.  I have only a vague recollection of these
interrogations.  As can be seen in these records, in part I
expressed myself on matters which I knew by hearsay only,
and about which I heard only during my internment.  Today I
am no longer able to remember many of the events about which
I testified in these interrogations.

(42): What led up to the conversation in December 1944 in
Triberg between Himmler and Eichmann at which you were
present?

Answer: I gave expression to my complaints and my uneasiness
that it seemed to me that, time and again, Eichmann tried to
circumvent the instructions issued by Himmler.  I requested
Himmler to send for Eichmann, in order to inform him in
person of his intentions.  I had told Himmler that Eichmann
simply did not take his orders seriously, and would only
carry them out if they were expressly confirmed by
Gruppenfuehrer Mueller.  Eichmann had told me this much
himself.  Himmler then sent for Eichmann, together with
myself.


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