The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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

Last-Modified: 1999/06/14

Hs 65/61

The Court of First Instance, Bad Aussee

To the President of the District Court, Jerusalem

Re: Your request for legal assistance

I hereby return your request for legal assistance in the
criminal proceedings of the Attorney General of the State of
Israel against Adolf Eichmann, File No. 40/61, addressed to
the District Court, Bad Aussee, dated 26 May 1961, together
with the Decision of your Court in the same criminal
proceedings, dated 28 April 1961 (No. 11), attached to the
request for legal assistance, and I enclose the original
record, with copies, taken of the examination of witness Dr.
Wilhelm Hoettl, in compliance with your request, in Sessions
held on 19, 20 and 21 June 1961.

I should like to add the following comments:

I have been able to comply with your request, as shown in
this record, insofar as I examined the witness myself on the
basis of the questionnaire contained in your request.  I
also questioned him as far as I was able about all
circumstances which seemed to me of significance in this
connection, and where I believed that clarifying them would
be likely to serve the cause of uncovering the truth.  And
here I was perhaps aided by the fact that I am to a large
extent familiar with the circumstances in question, both as
observer and as someone affected by them.

Although I therefore feel that I considered and asked
everything that I could, and may possibly in certain
respects have shed further light on the background to this
genocide generally, and Eichmann's role in particular, I am
nevertheless aware of the fact that I am insufficiently
familiar with the material of the proceedings.  I therefore
regret that adverse circumstances prevented me from asking
even more exhaustive questions and from being more active in
checking the answers, as I would have been able to do had I
succeeded in complying with that part of your request for
legal assistance in which you asked for the representatives
of the parties to be present.

I was unfortunately unable to arrange effectively for the
representative of the Attorney General of the State of
Israel and Counsel for the Defence to be present.  The
reasons for this are stated in the record, where the witness
is advised and instructed as to why he must remain available
in the future.

Record of the Court of First Instance, Bad Aussee, Austria,
held on 19 June 1961 (5721), in the presence of the
following court personnel:

His Honour, Dr. Egon Kittl, Oberlandesgerichtsrat (Senior
Judge of First Instance), as Judge,
Recording Clerk: Edeltraud Fritz, contractual employee

Substitute: Gabriele Koeberl, Rechtspraktikantin (legal

The witness, Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl, of Alt Aussee, appeared.

At first, the public was not excluded, when the following
general statement was made:

It is ascertained that a request from the President of the
Jerusalem District Court in the criminal proceedings of the
Attorney General of the State of Israel against Adolf
Eichmann, File No. 40/61, dated 26 May 1961 was sent through
diplomatic channels and received on 9 June 1961, to which
request there is attached a copy of the Decision No. 11
given on 28 April 1961 by the same Jerusalem District Court
in the same criminal proceedings in the 20th session.  The
request for legal assistance is signed by the Presiding
Judge, Moshe Landau, himself, and bears an authentication
from court official Y. Eisenberg; the seals are not suspect,
and therefore there are no doubts as to the genuine and
authentic nature of this request for legal assistance.  The
aforementioned Decision of the Jerusalem District Court of
28 April 1961 also includes a confirmation of accuracy by
Sworn Interpreter Pinchas Dayan, dated 31 May 1961.  This
copy of the Decision does not bear a seal.

Whereupon the request for legal assistance of 26 May 1961
and the aforementioned Decision of 28 April 1961 were read
out in court.

In this respect, the following must be added:

On the same day that these documents arrived, the judge to
whom the request was addressed caused the witness Dr.
Wilhelm Hoettl to be summoned to the hearing.   He also
caused the addressees named in the request for legal
assistance of the Jerusalem District Court to be notified -
through the Federal Austrian Ministry for Justice in Vienna,
which notified the Israeli Embassy in Vienna accordingly, in
order to ensure that the information would be forwarded - of
the date of the hearing, which was timed to begin at 10.30
a.m. on 19 June 1961, together with the information that,
under the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure, the
examination of witnesses apart from the main hearing may not
take place in the presence of the parties, including those
of the prosecutor, but only in the presence of the court
personnel.  According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, the
court personnel includes not only the judge and the
recording clerk, but also so-called witnesses for the
courts, and in addition, inspectors, doctors and
interpreters may be admitted.

The persons duly informed, i.e., Ambassador Dr. F. Shinnar
and the office of Dr. Robert Servatius, attorney-at-law,
both of Cologne, have, however, not made an appearance to
date, as far as can be ascertained.  (A further oral
announcement of the criminal proceedings against Adolf
Eichmann has again not resulted in the appearance of any of
the representatives of the parties referred to.)
Subject to any subsequent appearance of one of the
aforementioned, it is therefore noted that thus it is
unnecessary to examine or discuss the question of whether,
in accordance with principles of international criminal
procedure, there might be some possibility of complying with
the request of the Jerusalem District Court that the witness
Dr. Hoettl be examined in the presence of the
representatives of the parties in such a way as to allow
these representatives to ask him questions, and in
particular to present supplementary questions to questions
already answered, and whether they would be allowed to do so
directly or through the examining judge (to whom the letter
of request was addressed), and whether they could be granted
the opportunity of studying the files, and whether the
record or copies of the record could be handed to them.

Whereupon an announcement was made of the Decision to
exclude the public for the purpose of carrying out the
examination of the witness itself.

The witness was then instructed that he was obliged to tell
the truth, the truth completely and purely about everything
on which he would be questioned by the court; and also that
it was intended to comply with the request from the
Jerusalem District Court to put the witness on oath - that
is to say, according to the Austrian practice, on conclusion
of his testimony - and also that the oath would not be
administered if during the examination of the witness any
suspicion were to arise that he (the witness) had himself
participated in the criminal activity (of Adolf Eichmann) -
in which case the record would have to be submitted to the
Leoben State Prosecutor's office.

The witness was also instructed on the right of refusal to
testify, to the effect that under circumstances to be
determined by the court, he be released from his obligation
to testify.

In his evidence the witness stated:

My name is Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl, I am forty-six years old,
Roman Catholic, married, administrator of the Bad Aussee
Private Secondary School (Privatmittelschule).

I was born on 19 March 1915 in Vienna, Esterhazygasse 1,
Vienna 6, the son of Johann and Maria Hoettl, nee Renner.
My father was an employee in the private sector, and my
mother was a housewife.  In Vienna I attended four classes
at primary school, eight at secondary school
(Reinprechtsdorferstrasse 24, Vienna 6, Natural Sciences
Trend) and obtained my Certificate of Maturity in the summer
of 1933.  I then studied History, German and Geography at
the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Vienna,
graduating in the autumn of 1937 with a doctorate in
philosophy.  I then taught German, mathematics and
correspondence at the Vienna Technical School until, in the
spring of 1938, I received a grant from the German Research
Association which was to permit me enough time to qualify as
a lecturer at the University of Vienna.  My academic
pursuits were interrupted in the spring of 1938 when the
Historical Institute at the University of Vienna was looking
for experts on South-Eastern Europe.  In reference to my
activities at that time on behalf of the NSDAP (National
Socialist German Workers' Party), I would refer to the
content of the de-Nazification proceedings opened for me by
the Salzburg authorities.  In any case, I can state
definitely that until spring 1938 there was no connection
with Adolf Eichmann, and at that time I also knew nothing of

In the course of my subsequent activities in the Foreign
Secret Service, I met Adolf Eichmann, as far as I remember,
in March or at the beginning of April 1938.  In order to
obtain an exit permit to Hungary for a Jewish colleague of
mine, Dr. Kauders, a lawyer who, I believe, had his office
in Mistelbach, I was directed by the Vienna Secret Police
(Geheime Staatspolizei: hereinafter - Gestapo) to Eichmann,
who was said to be able to issue such exit permits
expeditiously.  Subsequently, I had frequent dealings with
Eichmann in similar cases, and on each occasion he granted
my requests.

My academic pursuits, which had been made possible by a
grant from the German Research Association, were also
designed to carry out purely historical research on
South_Eastern Europe, and in this context I made several
trips to Hungary and Romania, in the first half of 1938,
particularly to the areas of German Folkdom (Volkstum) there
(Banat, Transylvania).  In the course of this work, I
received a great deal of support from Professor Dr. Heinrich
von Srbik, who held the Chair in Modern History at the
University of Vienna.  However, this academic activity
became of minor, merely supplementary, importance, as
compared with my new task: research of the states of South-
Eastern Europe for the Secret Service.  The grant I have
referred to had nothing to do with political matters.  The
German Research Association was not a political institution.

What actually happened was that, because of my prior
knowledge of the area, I was approached by the Bureau of the
District Office of the Security Service in Vienna 4,
Theresianumstrasse, with an offer to work with them.  I then
became an employee on contract and gave up my university
career, or rather as of then worked mainly for this office
as my chief occupation.

Eichmann also worked in the Fourth District, in a similar
office, situated in Prinz Eugen Strasse.  It was in this
building that Eichmann at that time set up the Central
Office for Jewish Emigration, with which I intervened on
various occasions over the following year, including
contacts with Eichmann himself.  I was basically interested
in enabling Jews with Austrian nationality, with whom I had
become acquainted both officially and privately, to leave
the country expeditiously.

On one of these occasions - I should think it was in the
autumn of 1938 - Eichmann outlined to me his plan which he
had implemented by setting up the Central Office.  He
explained to me that, because of the red tape of the various
authorities, and particularly their lack of co-ordination,
Jews who were prepared to emigrate found it extremely
difficult to leave the country.  For example, when the
Revenue Office had issued the requisite certificate of lack
of impediment, the exit visa from the passport police would,
in the meanwhile, have expired, or it was no longer possible
to obtain passage by sea.  It was because of such
experiences that he (Eichmann) had for the first time set up
in Vienna such a Central Office for Jewish Emigration, at
which all authorities and offices which had anything at all
to do with emigration, but also travel agencies, shipping
companies and so on, had to have a representative.  He
claimed that in this fashion he had managed to do away
entirely with all red tape in connection with the emigration
of the Austrian Jews and to speed up such emigration
immensely.  This field of Eichmann's activity extended
certainly beyond Vienna, probably covering the whole of
Austria, particularly since, as far as I am aware, there
were no such Central Offices in other regional capitals.

Eichmann presented himself to me as an Austrian - from Linz;
but he spoke with a marked north German accent, in a very
cheeky style.  At the time, as far as I remember, Eichmann
was an SS Untersturmfuehrer or Obersturmfuehrer (second
lieutenant or lieutenant), and wore the appropriate uniform
with the relevant insignia.  The office, which was housed in
a large mansion, probably had a staff of some thirty or
forty, including numerous female clerks and some civilians
who, in my opinion, were representatives of travel agencies,
shipping companies and so on.  The only name I remember of
the staff or others who worked there is that of Guenther,
with whom I intervened later at a similar office for Jewish
emigrants in Prague, and also in Berlin.  However,  judging
from his manner of speech, he was not from  Vienna, but
rather from Saxony or Thuringia.

At this Central Office for Jewish Emigrants in Vienna, I met
the owner of a Hamburg travel agency by the name of Schlie.
During my talks with Eichmann, I gained the impression that
he considered it to be his main task to de_Judaize Austria,
but obviously without any idea of using actual force.  At
that time in Vienna nobody, and particularly also not
Eichmann, had thought of any physical extermination of Jews,
or even considered such a thing.  At that time, as far as I
remember, there was as yet no mention of deportations

As far as Eichmann as a person is concerned, I can state the
following in answer to questions from the Court:

I can only base myself on what he told me, according to
which he was from Linz (but apparently, as I gathered later,
he himself did admit that he was from Solingen in Germany).
In any case, never having completed his education properly,
he worked in the private sector (his brother was a lawyer in
Linz), I think as a representative of an oil firm.  Somehow,
he must have been active in politics in Austria in 1932 or
1933, because he told me that in 1933 he fled Austria, going
to Germany to the Legion (the Austrian Legion), and was then
transferred by it to Berlin, where he was attached to the
Head Office of the Security Service.  In order to obtain
promotion by way of specialization, he studied Jewish
subjects, and when German service units went to Austria,
following the entry of German troops on the Anschluss in
1938, he accompanied them to Vienna and set up the office
already referred to in Prinz Eugen Strasse.

He also told me that he had made an official trip to
Palestine in 1937, and that he could speak some Yiddish and

In reply to the Court's questions:

Whether Eichmann is of Jewish descent, I do not actually
know.  I can confirm that already in his earlier years that
was the impression he gave, and because of that he was
teased by his colleagues, which always made him angry; but I
never discussed this matter with him.

The circumstances I have described, which applied to
Eichmann as much as to me, prevailed until November 1938, at
which point, as is common knowledge, considerably severer
measures were taken because of the attack on the German
Embassy Counsellor in Paris.  Up till then, my relationship
had basically been a personal one only, not one between
offices; it is true that his department and mine were
subordinate to the same authority, i.e., the Head Office of
the Security Service in Berlin, and also in some measure to
the District Office of the Security Service in Vienna.  But
the development of these authorities was still in a state of
flux.  Therefore, during this first period in particular,
there can be no question of collaboration between Eichmann
and myself.  The information I was providing had nothing at
all to do with Jewish questions.

In answer to the questions, I should like to add that in
that first period of activities I heard nothing at all about
Eichmann using coercive methods or causing such methods to
be used, in order to compel Jewish emigration.  If you had
to go on business to that office building, you saw queues of
Jews all eager to emigrate.

I myself remember having such dealings with Eichmann in
Vienna until the end of 1938, or the beginning of 1939 at
the latest.  I would assume that he remained in Vienna when
the rest of Bohemia was occupied, i.e., March 1939,
whereupon he was transferred to Prague, where he set up the
same type of Central Office for Jewish Emigration.  I am not
sure who was his successor in Vienna, and whether this was
Guenther, whom I referred to above.

As far as I myself was concerned, at the beginning of 1939
my activities increasingly tended towards Berlin, where at
that time the Foreign Secret Service was being reorganized
on a large scale.  That was also when the Head Office for
Reich Security (RSHA) was set up, including the previous
Head Office of the Security Service, the Secret State Police
Office and the Criminal Police Office.  This was probably
when Eichmann joined Department IV (Gestapo) as a Specialist
Officer, so that this Central Office for Jewish Emigration -
in the meanwhile, apart from the Prague office, one had also
been set up in Berlin - was subordinate to the Head Office
for Reich Security, and, as I assume, more particularly to
Department IV (Gestapo).  The chief of Department IV was SS
General Heinrich Mueller; the head of Department VI (Foreign
Secret Service) was SS General Jost.  Because of the
different duties of the two Departments, there was obviously
no direct official collaboration between their personnel.

Whereupon at 12.45 the session was adjourned, and the time
for the new session was set at 2.30 p.m.
The witness Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl continued his testimony on

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.