The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-106-07

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-106-07
Last-Modified: 1999/06/14

Q. Confessed?

A. I would definitely do that, without keeping this to
myself in secret; I do not believe I would have been able to
do that.

Q. Is that a Catholic expression?

A. Then I would have had to worry about someone finding out
what I had done, and then it would have been worse, and I
would also have been kept under strict surveillance.  I
myself experienced this several times.

Q. So in individual cases Mueller could release you from
your obligations under your oath of allegiance?  In
practical terms?

A. No, Mueller could not do that, but...

Q. It was something like a sin which you confessed.

A. Just as in Romania, in Romania the Hungarian
border I did not follow orders, but also had to get my
reprimand, and after I had confessed, it was over.

Q. Did you never feel any conflict...a - what is called an
inner conflict between your duty and your conscience?

A. It would be better to call it a split state, a form of
splitting, where one fled from one side to the other, and
vice versa.

Q. One had to renounce one's personal conscience?

A. One could put it that way, yes, because one could not
determine and regulate it oneself.

Q. Unless one accepted the personal consequences for

A. One could have shot oneself, or one could have simply
said: "I am not going to do this any longer," but I do not
know what would have happened then.

Q. But you also did not try that, did you?

A. I did it differently, in my normal standard - my
continuous requests to be transferred.  In another form it
would have been interpreted as disobedience, and treated

Q. So perhaps you would once more read something from this
speech of Himmler's about the question of obedience, which
you referred to previously.  The second point. "Obedience."


     "In a soldier's life, obedience is required and shown
     morning, noon and night.  The small man in fact always
     or normally obeys; if he does not, he is locked up.
     Obedience in the case of higher office-bearers of the
     state, the Party and the armed forces is a more
     difficult question;  here and there in the SS as well.
     "Here I would like to say something clearly and
     unambiguously: It is self-evident that the small man
     must obey.  It is even more self-evident that all the
     high-placed leaders of the SS, i.e., the entire
     Gruppenfuehrer corps, are an example of unconditional
     obedience.  If someone believes that an order is based
     on an erroneous understanding by the superior officer,
     or on an incorrect foundation, it is self-evident that
     he, i.e., each one of them, has the duty and
     responsibility to bring this up, as well as to explain
     his reasons in a manly and truthful fashion, if he is
     convinced that they are in conflict with the order.
     "But once the decision has been taken and the order
     given by the superior concerned, or by the
     Reichsfuehrer-SS, which is normally the case for the
     Gruppenfuehrer corps, or even by the Fuehrer, it must
     be carried out, not only literally in accordance with
     its letter, but also according to its spirit.  The
     person who carries out the order must do this as a
     faithful agent, as a faithful representative of the
     power issuing the order.  If they initially believed
     that this was right, and that was not right or even
     wrong, then there are two possibilities: If someone
     believes that he cannot take responsibility for
     carrying out an order, he must honestly report that - I
     cannot take responsibility for that, I request to be
     released from it.  Then in most cases there would be
     the order, `But still, you must carry it out, or one
     may think that the man has lost his nerve, that he is
     weak.' And then one might say, `Very well, you will be
     pensioned off.'  But orders must be sacred."

Judge Halevi:  Stop there.  There is a Hebrew translation of
this passage, which can therefore be included in the record.

Accused:    Perhaps I could say something about this, Your
Honour.  Naturally it was easy for the SS Gruppenfuehrer,
the generals.  For example, Six was not yet a general in the
SS, but I believe he was an Oberfuehrer, at least an
Oberfuehrer, not a Brigadefuehrer.

Q. You have already put that on record.  I remember
something along those lines: For these gentlemen it was
easier, the higher someone was, the easier it was for him,
and the lower, the harder.

A. The harder, because one word and one would be demoted,
then one could not do anything about it.  And here in this
speech, Himmler had his Gruppenfuehrer all gathered
together.  Then one can easily talk about generals.

Q. You may in fact have heard that - I think - Dean Grueber
- commented that there was an absence of the courage of
one's convictions (Zivilcourage) in Germany.

A. That is quite true.

Q. So you can confirm that?

A. Yes.

Q. And he also said that if there had been more people with
the courage of their convictions, everything would have
turned out differently.  Do you agree with this?

A. If this courage of people's convictions had also been
structured hierarchically, then that would have been quite

Q. So it was not inevitable destiny?

A. An expert would have to examine how it came about that a
large proportion of the people discarded...

Q. Did not have...

A. ...left aside what is called the courage of one's
convictions, without thinking at all about it, and on the
other hand orders given were unthinkingly...

Q. Yes, yes.  If you call that fate, then it is fate, yes.
But it is a question of human behaviour.

A. It is a question of human behaviour, and definitely that
is how things were, it was wartime, things were turbulent,
every individual said to himself: "There is just no point in
my being against it, it would be like a drop in the ocean,
damn it, and there is no point, there is no sense, nor will
it do any good nor any harm, nor anything."  And so it must
also be a question of the times, I think, times, education,
that is ideological education, these matters.

Q. Yes, yes.

A. Because generally militarists, by definition, do not have
the courage of their convictions.

Q. Well then, if you are now examining your conscience
seriously, must you not then admit that you lacked the
courage of your convictions?

A. I lacked this just as many others lacked it, in the
entire army, just like most of those in uniform.

Q. Many others, right?  And what here you call idealism, you
call yourself an idealist also for that time; that meant
carrying out what was ordered from above as well and as
completely as possible?

A. Yes, I understood by this clinging to National Socialism
which was preached, and as a nationalist to do my duty in
accordance with my oath; that is what I understood by this.
And today it is obvious to me that every nationalism if
taken to extremes leads to brute egoism, and from there it
is no longer any great distance to radicalism.

Q. At that time it was very difficult for an individual to
take the consequences, if he did not want to follow the

A. In what form, may I ask?  To shoot oneself, in the last

Q. To have the courage not to participate in such a crime,
to see what happened, to try to stay alive, and if not, then
not.  That was a hard thing to do then, but today I am
asking you, today do you have the courage...

A. To what extent?

Q. To take responsibility for your actions?

A. I have already said this.  In human terms it is quite
obvious that I am reflecting, judging myself.

Q. Is that what you call "take responsibility"?

A. As far as... I must draw a distinction between what I
have done and what I have not done - what was imposed on me,
and then the issue must be clarified, since I was not a
giver of orders, for example like Endre...

Q. We have already heard that...

A. ...and Winkelmann...

Q. Very well, we have heard that too...

A. ...but a receiver of orders.  If today this is a
punishable offence, then I must take the consequences and
accept the punishment...

Q. But will you at least admit the facts - not the legal
questions - leave that to the Court.

A. Yes.

Q. But the facts - do you at least admit the facts?  The
truth?  The facts?

A. Which I was duty-bound to do.

Q. I mean the Sassen Document, for example.  There you have
all sorts of objections - you were drunk - and it is a
forgery - and there were errors in the transcription...

A. Of what I have said, there is nothing untrue, either...
there are many true things in it, which I accept readily,
and which I must accept.

Q. For example, were you also drunk when you corrected the

A. No, on the contrary, at that time I sat down and made the
corrections, but they are not final corrections.

Q. That is exactly what I mean.  Here you are confusing two
different things, you are confusing the final wording of
these conversations with the fact that you said these things
- not finally, but initially you dictated them into a
dictaphone - provisionally!

A. I admit that at a late hour I simply prattled away
freely, and then nationalism once again took over, what I
call - my occasional internal relapses, until one picks up
one's new threads.  What, of all this, I was made to
believe, what was cooked up, what is mine, what was
incorrectly heard - all of this must of course also make
itself felt in this document.

Q. But basically these are your words, even if it is not a
definitive position, that is to say, quite obviously you
could not have issued the book in this form, this is only
the preparatory work?  But to evade this and say: "I have -
I was made to have too much to drink, or I do not know what
I said, or it was forged" - I do not think this is worthy of
this place.

A. Although none of these points are applicable, are proved
not to be applicable, I wish to state here as well, Your
Honour, I would rather accept responsibility in this matter
than allow myself to be stained by any impression of wishing
to evade this.

Q. Look, this is just empty talk, just like this business
about your asking Mueller to transfer you to a different
post, but not drawing any practical consequences when this
was refused.   It is exactly the same thing here.  You are
saying: "In order not to be suspected of wishing to evade
things, I would rather accept responsibility for this." But
you are really insisting that the Court should not read this

A. I am not insisting on this, Your Honour, but I myself am
not in fact able to distinguish which is mine...

Q. This is precisely the practical consequence of your

A. ...and which is not mine.

Q. Then do not say what you said before, that you prefer, in
order not to be suspected of wishing to evade things, that
you prefer to submit it as evidence; you are in fact not
submitting it as evidence.

A. What am I to do, if I myself know, for example, from
reading this that the first three pages already have nothing
at all to do with me.

Q. You have not even read more than three pages.

A. Here I have...of the entire set of seventeen volumes, I
read the seventeenth, then I read the first and second
volumes, and I read some few pages of the rest.  I myself
have not actually read it right through.

Q. Well, as you wish, I am just saying how things are. Of
course, you have all the rights of an accused.  And what I
said to you previously is self-evident: A judge cannot force
an accused.  It is simply a question of evaluating the
truthfulness of the testimony.  This concludes my questions.

Presiding Judge: This will also conclude this long session.

Dr. Servatius, do you wish to say something at this stage?

Dr. Servatius:  Because I must say it now, because it might
perhaps be too late at the next session.  There was the
question of numbers, which was asked by Judge Raveh, about
when he took over this position in Berlin, whether he was
still in Vienna at the time of this conference.  There is
another table, where the Accused has drawn up a detailed
timetable.  I have made a copy of this and wanted to submit
it now.  I shall submit it later, in accordance with
procedure.  It says here...

Presiding Judge: In any case, it will not make any
difference whether you do this now or at the beginning of
the next session.  It is now already very late, so would you
please repeat your request at the beginning of the next

Dr. Servatius:  May I ask another question?  In the interim
may I speak with the Accused?

Presiding Judge: Certainly, I believe that you spoke with
the Accused yesterday.  Yesterday evening, according to my

Dr. Servatius:  Apparently yesterday evening was a special
exception, so I thought.

Presiding Judge: Oh no, you were given authorization
yesterday, and you will obtain this authorization again from
time to time, just as before the cross-examination.

Dr. Servatius:  I see, thank you very much.

Presiding Judge: The next Session will be on Monday, 8.30

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