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

Last-Modified: 1999/06/14

Already when the Accused came to Salonika with Guenther
before Christmas 1942, I had the impression that, of the two
of them, only the Accused was somehow approachable, at least
approachable by me, because of my direct way of striving for
my aim.  I know that other witnesses have claimed that it
was impossible to talk to the Accused in a desirable form,
because he confronted them like a block of ice.  I am
convinced that these witnesses were absolutely telling the
truth.  However, I also believe that these witnesses
approached him in a different fashion, and that my approach,
unlike theirs, got through to him.

In my opinion, it was quite impossible to have any dealings
with Guenther, because he was so much the German master
type, as it was called.  Similarly, it was impossible to
negotiate with Wisliceny, because when we met, after a few
minutes a violent disagreement would erupt.  That is why I
never paid him a visit at his office in Salonika.

I should like to illustrate my success in managing several
times, before and after the discussion on the evacuation of
ten thousand Jewish women and children, to impress Eichmann
even by telephone and get him to change measures already
adopted, by means of the following examples.

In accordance with the measures practiced in the other
occupied areas, Wisliceny had forced the breaking up of
mixed marriages - of which there were only eighty or ninety
in Salonika - in those cases where he was able to get his
hands on the Jewish partner.  This led to major protests by
the Metropolitan of Salonika, the Minister-Governor General,
Dr. Simonides, charity organizations, and a large number of
individual cases in the families concerned.  I still
remember particularly the case of a tobacco merchant,
Christoph Tsannides, whose sister was married to a Jew
called Brudo.  Tsannides came to see me, extremely agitated,
and demanded Brudo's immediate release.  I replied that I
had no authority at all in this matter.  In a state of
agitation such as I have rarely experienced, Tsannides then
declared to me that he would awaken Greek public opinion, as
a well-known Greek figure, by joining the same train on
which his brother-in-law would be deported.  Since these
protests continued to mount up, I decided to call Eichmann
and ask him to rescind this order of Wisliceny's about mixed
marriages.  I pointed out to him that by these forced
separations I considered Wisliceny to be totally
overstepping his authority, without any legal foundation
whatsoever.  I also drew his attention to the agitation
actually existing among the population.  Eichmann told me he
would examine the matter.  A few days later, forced
separation was rescinded.

On another occasion, two families were arrested on the
demarcation line with the Italian occupation zone of Greece
and brought back to Salonika.  Wisliceny had ordered all the
members of these two families to be publicly shot in the
deportation ghetto.  The Metropolitan and the Chief Rabbi
intervened.  I told both of them I could not do anything.
However, I did telephone the Accused.  I informed him again
of the general agitation among the population, and among
other things asked him whether there was now to be
confirmation of the World War I tale about hacked off hands
of women and children.  At first the Accused did not reply,
nor did I ever get a ruling addressed to me personally.  But
I did hear that "only" the two men were shot, and the women
and children were released.

For some reason which today I no longer remember, Wisliceny
had ordered the shooting of fifty Jews.  Today I am unable
to say when this was.  In any case it was during the
deportations.  There were interventions with me, by the
tobacco merchant already mentioned, Christoph Tsannides, and
his brother-in-law, Jacques Brudo.  Since neither the
Commander nor I had any authority over Wisliceny, I once
again called the Accused.  I explained to him that this was
a measure which had no legal basis and was unlawful, and it
should be prevented, in order to avoid agitating the whole
of Greek public opinion.  The shooting did not take place.

There was also the case of the textile merchant, Alexander
Blumenfeld.  He held the Iron Cross, First Class, from the
First World War, and was therefore in a privileged position.
That did not stop Wisliceny and Brunner from locking him up
in the Special Commando's own prison.  They accused him of
sabotaging the Special Commando's orders.  His wife, who was
living with him in Salonika as a refugee, intervened with
all sorts of German authorities to try and help her husband.
Courageously, she also went in person to Wisliceny and
Brunner, and then Brunner maltreated her physically.  As far
as I remember, she was also hit in the face with a riding
crop.  Mrs. Blumenfeld asked me, too, to do something to
help her husband.  I called Eichmann about him and pointed
out to him that Wisliceny and Brunner had overstepped their
authority, because being the holder of the Iron Cross, First
Class, from the First World War, Blumenfeld was in a
privileged position.  Two or three days later the Accused's
office informed me that Wisliceny had been instructed to
release Blumenfeld immediately.  However, he was not
released.  In the meanwhile Blumenfeld had been killed.
Mrs. Blumenfeld now lives in Berlin and is familiar with the
details of the case.

In an audience which the Greek premier of the time, Rallis,
had with Colonel-General Loehr and his Chief of General
Staff, Lieutenant-General Foertsch, there were no positive
results as far as the Jews were concerned.  Rhallis had
tried to persuade the Supreme Commander to call a halt to
deportations.  When Rhallis reported to the Greek National
Council at the residence of the Metropolitan on his failure
to obtain positive results, Chief Rabbi Dr. Koretz also
spoke and requested further interventions.  Wisliceny heard
about this and had Koretz arrested.  He also wanted to
arrest a Greek minister, Dr. Simonides, and his State
Secretary, Dr. Panos.  I was able to save these two
gentlemen from that by taking them into "protective
custody."  In the meanwhile, Greek Security Service agents
had notified the Head Office for Reich Security of the visit
of Premier Rhallis, by means of direct telegrams, and
protested against it.  In the middle of the unrest caused
thereby in the Head Office for Reich Security, there came my
call to Eichmann to help Simonides and Panos.  The next
morning, at 4 a.m., I was finally able to release Simonides
and Panos from my office; Eichmann sent information sent to
me that Wisliceny had received orders to the same effect.

With Eichmann's approval, a food depot was also opened in
Agram for the deportation trains, against Wisliceny's
opposition, who, when I spoke to him about this, told me
that if the Jews peg out on the way, we won't have to do
away with them.  When he gave his approval, the Accused was
clearly impressed, as in other cases, by the fact that the
International Red Cross was behind this operation and
actually operated the food depot in Agram.

On being told further that it seems hardly credible that
Eichmann did not try to prevent the operation for the ten
thousand women and children, I can only imagine that the
reason why he did not oppose this was that he himself was
content not to have to bother about them any more.  In all
cases where I talked to Eichmann, I advanced weighty
political and practical arguments.

With regard to the question from the Defence as to whether
in all the cases mentioned above the Accused had the power
to decide by himself, or whether he had to obtain approval
from some higher authority, I cannot give a definitive
reply, because in no instance was there an immediate
decision - any decision always came later; the fastest
decision was in the case of Rhallis.  The fact that the
Accused called me or had me called that night from Berlin,
and mentioned in our conversation that there was uproar in
Berlin because of the telegrams from the agents, indicated
to me that there were other personnel present at the office
as well.  When I intervened in connection with the intended
shooting of the two families, about which I have already
spoken, he answered to the effect that he would try to do
something.  I would almost tend to assert that he said, "I
have to ask my `big bosses' about that."

The Prosecution representative has just shown me Documents
235 and 584,* {* T/992 and T/57} which are Wisliceny's
statements in Pressburg and Nuremberg, respectively.  Where
such statements do not coincide with my statements today,
these statements of Wisliceny's are not true.  On being
asked to describe Wisliceny's character, I can only say that
I considered him to be a brutal sadist.  I would like to
illustrate this by means of the following two examples:

There was an order that the Jews being deported had to hand
over money and jewellery to the Special Commando.
Naturally, some of them tried to save something.  When the
first transport was due to leave and was standing at the
platform in Salonika, Wisliceny repeated the order and
threatened that SS personnel would carry out a search.  At
that, some Jews handed over more money and jewellery.
Wisliceny then ordered that a carriage be searched.
Valuables were found on an old Jew.  These valuables were
not of any great worth.  Wisliceny had this old Jew taken
from the train.  He himself shot him on the spot.

On another occasion, Wisliceny wanted potatoes for the
kitchen in his house.  He called on the Jewish Community to
supply him with these potatoes.  He then also ordered that
the potatoes be delivered on a handcart, and that this
handcart be drawn by four rabbis.  However, they were not
allowed to use their hands for this purpose but had to pull
the cart with their long beards.  It was a small cart, which
was used to transport about half a hundredweight (25 kg) of
potatoes.  The rabbis tied their beards round the cross-
piece and thus managed to pull the cart along under the
supervision of an SS non-commissioned officer.  The rabbis
had to walk bent down.

In reply to the other questions of the representative of the
Prosecution, I would state the following:

In preparing my defence, and also at the main hearing in
Athens, I mentioned at least one conversation with
Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann in Berlin.

I never tried to get a transfer to Hungary, although my wife
was living in Budapest, nor did I ever try to get Guenther
to employ me in the Eichmann Special Commando.

It is true that I am trying to rehabilitate myself with
regard to the proceedings against me in Athens.  My
statements here are not influenced by the thought that this
might contribute somewhat to my rehabilitation.  While I was
still in detention in Athens, I caused proceedings to be
brought against me in Berlin.  That was in the autumn of
1957.  These proceedings are File No. I VU 37/57, under
Examining Magistrate I in the Berlin District Court.

I never belonged to the SA or the SS.

In reply to the question as to whether it is true that
organizations or persons approached me in connection with
the criminal proceedings against Eichmann, my reply is that
this did happen.  There was an organization of the Federal
Government which wanted to contact me on 24 June 1960 for
"comradely help."  On the same day a gentleman actually came
to see me.  There was only a short conversation in the
presence of my wife.  After that there was an exchange of
correspondence.  I stipulated that, at a planned meeting in
Munich, one of my defence counsels must be allowed to be
present as well.  This was declined in writing.  I was then
in Munich between 7 and 9 July 1960.  Yesterday, in my oral
statement for informative purposes, I talked about this in
detail.  However, in the light of the criminal proceedings
re-instituted against me, to which I have referred on page
sixteen of the record of today's examination, I do not wish
to say anything further about this in today's written

It is correct that Professor Kaul may also have wished to
approach me, by means of a telegram dated 8 October 1960.
In this telegram the official reason indicated was a
consultation about a tax matter of one of my former clients,
who was now represented by Dr. Kaul.  Whether this telegram
was a pretext for contacting me in connection with the
proceedings against Eichmann, I cannot say.  I myself
telegraphed a reply the next day, saying that in order to
avoid a misunderstanding, I proposed that the planned
meeting be held in the presence of my defence counsel.
Professor Kaul turned down this meeting, which was to take
place in Essen, asking why he should go to Essen for such a
trifling matter.  I then replied that I considered his
telegram to be a trick, but was at his disposal for a
factual discussion at all times in Berlin.  Professor Kaul
did not reply to this communication.

I had two meetings with my colleague, the advocate Eichmann,
brother of the Accused, in Salzburg.

I am neither able to evaluate the Accused's actions - not
even as they related to Northern Greece - nor am I entitled
to do so.  However, I can say with absolute assurance that
the horrors which befell the Jews of Macedonia could
definitely not have come about without the existence of
German anti-Jewish legislation which "legalized" the brutal
treatment of Jews and gave it a basis.

Read, approved and signed
Dr. Max Merten

The witness took the witness' oath.
The representative of the Prosecution then applied to obtain
a certified German translation of the shorthand record of
the proceedings before the Special Military Court in Athens
against the witness Dr. Merten, as well as the certified
translation of the official Greek report on the proceedings
and a certified translation of the judgment of the Special
Military Court for War Criminals in Athens, which exist
before Examining Magistrate I of the Berlin District Court
for the preliminary investigation against the witness.

The representative of the Prosecution also requests to
obtain the orders about the introduction of anti-Jewish
legislation in the area of the Commander of Salonika-
Aegaeis.  The witness is to indicate in detail and in
writing whether these documents presented are correct or
have been changed.

If the witness can do so, he is also to produce Greek Law
No. 4016 of 3 November 1959.

The Defence applied for a photocopy to be provided of the
communication from the ex-chief of the Greek military
mission in Berlin, the present Greek Ambassador to Bonn,

Note by the examining judge:

The examination of the witness was carried out in accordance
with the German Code of Criminal Procedure, according to
which the witness has to make his statement in a continuous
form.  The questions asked by the Prosecution and Defence
representatives were already used throughout the preceding
oral testimony.  In accordance with the German Code of
Criminal Procedure, the questions themselves were not
included as such in the record.

Stampe, Counsellor at Court of First Instance
Liese, Court Official

The preceding record of the examination of the witness Dr.
Max Merten is hereby certified for the Jerusalem District
Court, Israel

Berlin NW 21, 2 June 1961, Turmstrasse 91

Tiergarten Court of First Instance, Department 353

(-) Stampe, Counsellor at Court of First Instance
Certified Copy

Tiergarten Court of First Instance, Turmstrasse 91

Department 353, 353 AR 1680/61

Berlin NW 21, 7 June 1961, Tel.: 35 01 11


Counsellor at Court of First Instance Stampe as Judge

Court Official Liese as Authenticating Official at the Court

In the criminal proceedings against Adolf Eichmann the
witness Dr. Max Merten appeared again.

He stated:

I have just been shown photocopies headed "Ordre I - X."  I
was informed that these photocopies were made from an
appendix in the book "In Memoriam - Hommage aux Victimes
Juives des Nazis en Grece - Publie Sous la Direction de
Michael Molho, Rabbin de la Communaute Juive de Salonique -
Tome I, Salonique 1948," of which only a photocopy is a
available.  As I am aware, the actual original orders are
kept in the archives of the Government General of Macedonia,
in Salonika.  Only if these original orders are made
available will it be possible to check whether the orders
reproduced in In Memoriam coincide with these original
orders.  I believe that in fact there are even more orders
than those reproduced in In Memoriam.  I therefore applied
already at the beginning of 1961 to Examining Magistrate I
of the Berlin District Court with a request that he obtain
these original orders.

I have considerable doubts as to whether I actually signed
the orders which, according to the signature were allegedly
signed by me, because in my opinion at least the orders
marked "Ordre I" and "Ordre IX" must have been signed by the
Commander or his Chief of Staff.

On the question whether the content of these reproduced
orders might have been changed, I can no longer react in
detail because of the length of time which has elapsed.

Read, approved and signed
Dr. Max Merten

Stampe, Counsellor at Court of First Instance
Liese, Court Official

The preceding record of the re-examination of the witness
Dr. Max Merten is hereby certified for the Jerusalem
District Court, Israel.

Berlin NW 21, 8 June 1961
Turmstrasse 91, Tiergarten Court of First Instance,
Department 353

(-) Stampe, Counsellor at Court of First Instance

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