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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Testimony-Abroad/Edmund_Veesenmayer-02

Last-Modified: 1999/06/14

The representative of Counsel for the Accused submitted
Prosecution document No. 1021 with the request that it be
shown to the witness. This document was thereupon shown to
the witness, who stated:

On document No. 1021: I repeat that in the ultimate result I
was never Reich Plenipotentiary.  The telegram may have been
worded in this way out of ignorance.  I was at the time put
on the train without any further instructions.

Prosecution document No. 1021 was returned to the
representative of Counsel for the Accused.  The latter then
submitted the book, The Judgment in the Wilhelmstrasse
Trial, Alfons Buerger-Verlag, First Edition, Schwaebisch-
Gemuend 1950, with the request that the witness be shown the
document signed by Adolf Hitler on 19 March 1944, reproduced
there on page 307.

The book was shown to the witness, who stated the following:

I remember a great deal of dispute at Nuremberg between the
prosecution and the defence  about the issue of "Reich
Plenipotentiary," "Plenipotentiary of the Great German
Reich," "Plenipotentiary of the Foreign Ministry," and so
on.  In actual fact, I was never Reich Plenipotentiary.  I
am a layman in these matters.  I did probably receive the
sort of authority which played a role in the Wilhelmstrasse
Trial.  I had various powers in which my formal title varied
as circumstances in Hungary changed.  In my view, had I
really been the Reich Plenipotentiary, I would have been
directly answerable to the Reich Chancellery, and should
have had the power to issue instructions to all German
authorities in Hungary, as well as to the Hungarian
Government.  In actual fact, however, I belonged to the
Foreign Ministry.  That is where my superiors were, and from
there I received my salary.

The documents submitted were returned to the representative
of Counsel for the Accused.

(2): No.  I had no authority to issue instructions to any SS
offices.  As far as I am aware, these were subordinate to
Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler.

(3): No.  Even if I used the phrase, "The Higher SS and
Police Leader reports to me" in various telegrams or
reports, this does not mean that I had any authority to
issue instructions to him.   This must not be understood as
implying that he reported to me as to a superior.  If I
chose this expression, it was because, according to my
background, I was not familiar with these matters.  In
actual fact, the Higher SS and Police Leader regularly drew
up reports about the general security situation in Hungary,
and these were sent, inter alia, to the German legation as
well.  Later, when controversy arose in Berlin as a result
of one of these reports, their transmission to the German
legation was discontinued.  The "reporting" mentioned in my
report referred to such reporting by the Higher SS and
Police Leader, at least as to the greater part.  Winkelmann
did not belong to my staff.  My staff consisted exclusively
of the legation.

(4): If there were instructions from the Foreign Ministry, I
had to pass them on.  I would almost deny having negotiated
with Horthy, as I had very few contacts with him.  As
Ambassador, I myself had to do only part of the negotiating,
namely when I was instructed to negotiate directly with the
Hungarian Government or its ministers.  However, I believe
that I always spoke to the premier only, who was also the
Minister for Foreign Affairs.  Negotiations with subordinate
Hungarian authorities were handled by the Legation
Counsellor, who could let Specialist Officers participate in

However, I had the impression that not all Jewish matters
were being channeled through me, and that very little passed
through my hands.  I believe that the basis for most
measures was Kaltenbrunner's direct agreements with the
Hungarian authorities.

The legation itself dealt in particular with matters of

The representative of the Attorney General of Israel
submitted Prosecution documents Nos. 161 and 182 with the
request that they be shown to the witness.  The documents
were shown to the witness, who made the following

On document No. 161: This matter is entirely new to me - nor
is this my style.  This would appear to be a telegram which
was received and passed on by me.  I cannot say who dealt
with this matter, nor do I remember the facts to which the
telegram refers, nor can I remember this being discussed at

On document No. 182: I cannot say anything about this,

The copies of the documents were returned to the
representative of the Attorney General.
The witness made the following supplementary statement:

Basically my deputy, Legation Counsellor Feine, would have
been responsible for the matters referred to in the
documents.  As a career diplomat in the German Foreign
Service, his duties were to handle everything which did not
involve me directly.

As the situation at the front deteriorated, so did the
ability of the German authorities to exert influence on the
Hungarian authorities.  My task was to keep Hungary on the
German side.  For that I was initially appointed as agent,
becoming Ambassador later.  I did not apply to become
Ambassador.  Even though we were interested in having
governments in Hungary which were friendly towards Germany,
this does not mean that they depended on us completely.  My
view was that we had to try and win back over to our side
Horthy, who had put out feelers about negotiating as early
as 1943.  The pro-German governments established later in
Hungary did, it is true, consist in part of people who
affirmed the historical brotherhood in arms, were faithful
to us, and did not think of betrayal.  However, their
attitudes were nationalist, and they strove for a Greater
Hungary.  It was in this sense that Szalasi, in particular,
wished to preserve Hungarian interests.

I know that the SS offices had influence in Hungary.  I know
that this influence was great.  I myself was an honorary
Fuehrer in the SS, and my last rank was that of

As I see things, without the active co-operation of the
Hungarians, it would not have been possible to carry out the
anti-Jewish operations.  It is only when you are strong that
you can threaten and force things through.  However, in 1943
we were no longer strong, and in 1944 we were weak.  In
October 1944 the Castle was occupied by soldiers, and Horthy
had to leave for Reich territory on a special train.  I
myself was an eye-witness.

The representative of the Attorney General again submitted
the book on the judgment in the Wilhelmstrasse Trial, with
the request that the witness be shown pages 171 ff.

The book was handed to the witness, who perused the page and
then said:

As things stood then, it was not obvious that the special
position of the SS resulted from the necessity to suppress
the subversive elements mentioned in my report, and more
particularly the Jews, nor did I perceive this as the main
purpose of occupying Hungary.  Today, in retrospect, things
look rather different.  The SS most definitely provided
increased protection against uprisings and so on.  And that
is what we were primarily concerned about.  In Hungary there
was also a danger of partisan activity, such as we were
familiar with from Russia and Serbia.  There were no major
organized uprisings in Hungary.  I only heard of individual
instances of agents being captured, of explosives being
seized, and later I was once informed that a larger-scale
uprising was planned in Budapest by the entire anti-German

The examination was continued after a lunch break from 13.15
to 14.30.

(5): No, this did not originate with me.  However, it is
possible that I provided further support for this, in view
of the pressing military emergency.

As to whether Winkelmann instigated this, I am no longer
able to say today.  I no longer remember what was the cause
of it.  At the time, various authorities, including military
ones, were involved in defence matters.

The representative of the Attorney General submitted a copy
of Prosecution document No. 525.  This was shown to the
witness.  He stated:

On Prosecution document No. 525: Today I am no longer able
to say what was the source of my information about the
events referred to in document No. 525.  The matter was
probably reported on by a Specialist Officer.  By then I was
no longer receiving the reports, which I have already
referred to, of the Higher SS and Police Leader.  The
initial words of the telegram refer to the change of
government in Hungary.  Whether the Szalasi Government had
already been set up by then, I am unable to say with any
accuracy today.

The Prosecution document was handed back.

(6): I did participate in this - to what extent, it is
difficult to say.

(7): I cannot say anything precise about this.  I did not
have any dealings with Eichmann about this matter, nor was I
kept informed by him.  As far as I know, I only saw Eichmann
once, when he presented himself to me.  This was not
immediately after the entry of the German forces, but a
little later.  However, it cannot have been too late, as
Winkelmann later ruled that it was no longer permitted for
SS personnel (offices) to have direct dealings with the
legation.  I knew that the Eichmann Special Commando was
engaged in the deportations of Jews.  At the time, the
concept of the "Final Solution" was completely unknown to
me.  I did not hear about this until Nuremberg.

(8): I am unable to give even an approximate figure.  Later
I heard that it was very small.  I cannot say whether I only
heard this in Nuremberg.

(9): As far as I know, in the main this was carried out by
the Hungarian gendarmerie.  I do not know whether the
Eichmann Special Commando took part in it, and if so, to
what extent. I do not know who was in charge.  I know that
security zones were fixed, because of the proximity of the
front.  Who caused this, and whether Eichmann participated
in it, I do not know.

The representative of the Attorney General once again
submitted Prosecution document No. 212.  He asked that the
witness' attention be called more particularly to point (4).

The witness stated:

On document No. 212. (4): This information came either from
the Hungarian Government or from my Specialist Officer,
Grell.  I only transmitted it.  I do not know whether I, as
Ambassador, would have obtained such information.  I would
also like to point out that Grell had very strict
instructions from the Foreign Ministry to record and report
on all such matters, in order to keep the Foreign Ministry
informed.  The legation did not deal in any executive manner
with the events referred to in Prosecution document No. 212
or any similar events.  Our duties in this respect were of a
reporting nature only.  We did, however, in certain cases
deal with questions of nationality of Jews.  This related,
above all, to Jews who lived in Hungary without being
Hungarian nationals.  In other borderline cases - for
example, regarding Jews who were under the special
protection of Horthy - we had also to report from time to
time.  The decisions about these special cases were conveyed
to us from the Foreign Ministry.  Which department took the
decision there, I do not know.  In some instances we were
informed of the decision, insofar as we had to give an
account to the Hungarian authorities.  In other cases the
decision taken in Berlin was sent directly - as I assume -
to the local SS authorities.  For example, in the documents
it says that Mr. Eichmann negotiated with Hungarian offices.
If he did this, I assume that he did it on the instructions
of his superiors, because in the Third Reich it would have
been very dangerous to undertake anything like this without
instructions.  If we learned about these negotiations, we
reported on them.  As to Eichmann's powers, I myself have no

Prosecution document No. 212 was handed back.

The questions drawn up by the Attorney General of Israel, as
they appear on pages two and three of the request for legal
assistance, were now read out one by one to the witness and
answered as follows:

(1): No.

(2): I do not know that.

(3): Not applicable.

(4): I cannot say any more about this than I have already
mentioned in passing.  I had no insight into the office, the
relationships and its powers.

(5): No.

(6): I could not make that out.

(7): I do not know.  However, I also do not know that he was
not so authorized.

(8): I assume that the basic negotiations were conducted
before Mr. Grell came to work in the legation.  As far as I
know, the special representatives from the Foreign Ministry
who were with the legation previously did not provide me
with information.  They will naturally also have transmitted
telegrams which I initialled.

(9): No.  I never had anything whatsoever to do with the
gendarmerie.  What the situation with Eichmann or other
German offices in Hungary was on that, I do not know.

(10): No.

(11): Not applicable.

(12): No.

Further on Question (12): I know that the SS (the Higher SS
and Police Leader) dealt with matters concerning ethnic
Germans, particularly with reference to recruiting ethnic
Germans into the Waffen-SS.

(13): I do not know that.

(14): I know nothing of any special train.  I only know that
later a general halt was called.

(15): I cannot say that.  I assume that it even took place
with, at the very least, considerable participation by the
Hungarian authorities.  At that time, all German
authorities, including the legation, had to release for
service at the front anyone they could at all do without.
Therefore, the German authorities would simply no longer
have had the personnel to organize and carry through the
foot march on their own.  It was then one of their last
attempts; nor did it have any real purpose.  The foot march
crumbled en route.  As far as I remember, the matter was
reported to me at the time.  I made enquiries of the
Hungarian authorities.  I was told that there was no fuel,
nor were any trains running.  The Danube was mined.  In my
view, there was no point in sending tired people off in this
way to act as labourers.  I no longer remember what the
weather was like at the time.

(17): I know nothing about this.  Later I heard that
peasants on the Austro-Hungarian border were used for these
fieldworks.  This may have been because insufficient numbers
of Jewish labourers arrived, or because those who did arrive
were unable to do anything useful, owing to exhaustion.

(18): No.

(19): Not applicable.

The representative of the Attorney General of Israel
requests that the witness also be asked the following

Did the Rescue Committee for Hungarian Jews ever apply to

The question was put to the witness by the court and
answered as follows:

No.  Mr. Kasztner was confronted with me at the Nuremberg
Trial and confirmed that he never spoke to me.  As far as I
know, Mr. Kasztner did not make representations to the
legation either.

A further question from the representative of the
Prosecution, "Were you involved in the confiscation of
Jewish assets, and did you know about this?" was also passed
on to the witness by the court and answered by him as

No, with one exception.  That was the case of the Weiss-
Manfred Works.  I only found out about this matter as the
result of a complaint from the Hungarian Government to me.
At approximately the same time, Standartenfuehrer Becher
came to see me.  The Works were to be transferred to the
ownership of the SS.  I was to obtain the consent of the
Hungarian Government for this.  The Hungarian Government
objected in very strong terms.  I passed on their protests
to Berlin, as I thought it unwise, at this point in time, to
annoy the Hungarians by such a measure which was totally
insignificant for the War.  I also wished at that time to
notify Berlin of the contracts for the conveyance, and asked
Becher to give them to me.  He refused.  As far as I
remember, the Foreign Ministry intercepted a report from
abroad to the effect that Manfred Weiss, with a number of
members of his family, had been allowed to emigrate in
return for the conveyance of the Works.  It was said that
they were brought to Portugal.  There was a conference about
this between Himmler, Ribbentrop and Sztojay, which took
place somewhere on Reich territory, but I cannot say
anything about the actual timing of the events.  Later I was
reprimanded for having supported the Hungarian Government in
this matter.  I did not know that in other instances Jews
were allowed to emigrate in return for payment.  About the
exchange of Jews for trucks I only heard when the Foreign
Ministry asked me to report on this affair.

The representative of Counsel for the Accused requests that
the witness be shown Prosecution document No. 372.  The copy
of the document was shown to the witness, who stated:

On document No. 372: I assume that I received instructions
in this matter from the authority in charge of me - the
Foreign Ministry - to contact Sztojay and conduct
negotiations.  Without such instructions I could not have
gone to see him.  I could not contact the Hungarian
Government on my own initiative.  On my own responsibility I
could only have social contacts with these gentlemen.  If
there was something I had to negotiate with them, I always
needed instructions from the Foreign Ministry.  The only
exception was when the Hungarian Premier and Minister for
Foreign Affairs asked me to come and see him, in order to
discuss various matters with me.  I was at first informed
about the evacuation of the Jews by the regular reports of
the Higher SS and Police Leader.  When the legation no
longer received these reports, I was no longer informed of
it in as much detail, and only insofar as Grell got to know
something and reported to me.

The document was returned.  The witness was now handed
exhibit T/797 at the request of the representative of
Counsel for the Accused. The witness stated on this

I cannot say that I was informed in advance of an operation
against the Jews of Budapest, and also cannot deduce this
from the document submitted, as this only speaks of a
planned operation, with the concrete details of which I am
not familiar.

Document No. 797 was returned.

The representative of Counsel for the Accused asked for
document No. 666 to be shown to the witness.  The witness
stated on document No. 666, page 4, which was shown to him:

I remember that there were fears of an uprising as a result
of the great concentration of Jews in Budapest.  The plan
was to decentralize the Jews in camps in Western Hungary.
Where this plan came from, I am unable to say.  My visits to
Lakatos were probably made in this connection.  In such a
case I could not receive instructions from any SS office,
but only from the Foreign Ministry.  It may be that for
security reasons the security authorities in the Reich
required the Foreign Ministry to take such measures.  The
only case where I was approached directly by an SS
department to negotiate with the Hungarian Government was
when Becher came to see me about the Weiss-Manfred works.

When asked by the court, the representative of the Attorney
General of Israel and the representative of Counsel for the
Accused stated that they did not intend to suggest any
further questions.

Whereupon the witness' testimony was read out to the witness
from the record, approved by him and signed as follows:

(-) Edmund Veesenmayer

The court announced the following Decision:

The witness Dr. Veesenmayer will not be sworn.


The German Code of Criminal Procedure provides that persons
who have already been convicted of the act which is the
subject of the investigation are not to be sworn.  These
conditions exist in this case.  The criminal proceedings
against Adolf Eichmann concern, as far as they are of
interest here, the persecution and deportation of Jews from
Hungary by German authorities and offices in 1944.  The
witness was legally sentenced by the American Military
Tribunal to a long prison sentence for the persecution of
Jews in Hungary, Slovakia and Serbia.  Where the questions
asked of the witness in these proceedings concern the
organization, structure and activity of the "Eichmann
Special Commando," they are also designed to shed light on
the persecution of Jews, so that also in that respect there
exists a factual link with the act on account of which the
witness was convicted.  Therefore, in accordance with the
provisions of the law, the administration of the oath to the
witness in a form limited to this group of questions only is
also to be rejected.

The witness was dismissed at 17.30.
(-) Kollatz, Assistant Judge
(-) Hunecke,  Court Official as Authenticating Officer at
the Court Office

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