The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-055-05

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-055-05
Last-Modified: 1999/06/02

Q. If so, it could not be said, as you previously supposed,
that contacts between the witness wing and the prisoner wing
were completely sealed off?

A. Yes.  I have already said, previously, that this was
possible only in the case of consultation between the
lawyer, the accused and the witness.

Q. Would it be correct to say that, until Christmas 1945,
supervision at Nuremberg was still very lax, so that the
accused were all seated at one table, and the witnesses were
also able to be in contact with them?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. Would it not be correct to say that they were all
together in the same camp - I think it was in Neuendorf and
in Luxenbourg, where they were not yet classified into who
were to be the accused in the principal trial and the
others, and did they not there have ample opportunity to
arrange for their line of defence?

A. Yes, of course, some of them were together, I remember,
for instance at Neuendorf.  Not all of them, but some were
there and talked with each other.  But they knew nothing
about the indictment, about documents, etc.  But very soon
they were brought to Nuremberg, where they were held in
solitary confinement during the trial.

Q. You said that neither the accused men nor the main
witnesses who were together with them were aware of the
indictment.  But did the accused not regard the charges of
crimes against peace as a political gentlemen's crime, and
was it not the charge regarding the persecution of the Jews
which worried them most?

A. Yes, that may be so.

Q. Did they not always start to talk about this subject,
without having to be asked about it?

A. Yes, I myself, as Interrogating Officer, know that
immediately after these men had been carefully interrogated
and examined, I myself conducted many such interrogations.
That is correct.
Q. Was it not the main concern of these accused men to iron
out - as it is called - this matter of the extermination of
the Jews?

A. When you say "to iron out," do you mean to evade

Q. That is to say, find a way in order to remove this ugly
matter, by ironing over it as a housewife would do.

A. Yes, of course, they all tried to evade the past, if that
is what you mean.  That was so from the very beginning.

Q. Was it not, therefore, important to find a person who
would alone bear the guilt, and was this not to be somebody
who had disappeared or who, perhaps, even better still, was
already dead?

A. Yes, it is conceivable, but was hardly possible, because

Q. Thank you, that is sufficient for me.

Presiding Judge: Let us hear your full reply.

Witness Gilbert:  As I said, it is conceivable, but hardly
possible, because everyone of those men tried to iron out
his own guilt in a different way, because the one who was
not an SS man could say simply: "It was for the SS to deal
with that, I had nothing to do with it."  Those who were in
the SS based themselves on the chain of command within the
SS.  For instance, everybody knew that Kaltenbrunner was the
Chief of the RSHA, that Pohl was the Chief of the WVHA, but
all those men who headed the SS knew that Eichmann and Hoess
were directly concerned with this extermination.

Dr. Servatius:  It is not important whether their plan to
iron the matter out somehow was successful, but that they
had such a plan, and that at first the statements by
witnesses, such as the statement of Hoess here, were
directed towards that end.

Witness Gilbert:  There was no question of a planned
conspiracy to put all the blame on Eichmann.

Q. But Eichmann was one of those who had disappeared?

A. Yes, of course.  Kaltenbrunner told me that Eichmann was
amongst those who had disappeared and was counted amongst
the dead.  But I would like to say that Eichmann was not
chosen at all by everybody to be the one to carry all the
blame; but if there was such a man, then it was Hitler.
Many told me that Hitler bore the guilt, he gave the order
and then followed the question who carried this order out.
And then it became gradually clear that it was Eichmann and

Q. What were the facts that were mentioned by those
concerned, from which this was to follow?

A. The fact is that Hoess, Morgen, Kaltenbrunner - who was
not reliable - Goering and everybody who spoke of this
extermination with knowledge of the facts mentioned
Eichmann's name.  And, finally, the main fact that Hoess
named him as the chief of the extermination operation.

Q. I have to state that all these are allegations which are
being raised here, and not facts.  I have no further

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, have you any further questions
to the witness?

Attorney General: Was Rudolf Hoess, the Commandant of
Auschwitz, also amongst those who tried to evade personal
responsibility and place it on others?

Witness Gilbert:  Well, it was known that Rudolf Hoess was
the Commandant of Auschwitz.  Have I understood your
question correctly?

Attorney General: Did he endeavour to shift the
responsibility on to others?

Witness Gilbert:  No.  And here, Your Honours, is where the
psychological context is so important.  I was not trying to
find out who else was responsible.  I wasn't a lawyer.  I
was interested only in finding out what makes a man like
Hoess tick.  And I find, incidentally, again and again, as
though he can't avoid it - he repeatedly mentions Eichmann
as the man who was the kingpin in the machinery, or you
might say, the driving shaft in the whole machinery, without
which the machinery couldn't work.  The driving shaft, and
not just a cog in the wheel.

Judge Halevi:  Did you think at the time that Eichmann was

Witness Gilbert:  Yes, I did.  All through the trial I
thought he was dead.

Q. You see that you were wrong.

A. Yes, obviously.

Q. You believed Kaltenbrunner on this?

A. Yes, I had no reason not to believe it at the time.  I
thought he ought to know.

Q. Do you think that, in this respect, you were a good

A. Yes, Your Honour.  A psychologist judges from evidence
that is before him, but he is not a magician nor a

Presiding Judge: Just like a judge...

Witness Gilbert:  I was in no position to know whether
Eichmann was alive and, for that matter, Kaltenbrunner
himself may really have thought that Eichmann was dead.  So
I don't think this really indicates misinterpretation of the
data at hand.

Q. This supposition, too, is likely to be proved wrong in
the trial; namely that Kaltenbrunner believed that Eichmann
was dead - this assumption is likely to be proved false in
this trial.

A. I am relying on the wisdom of the Court to determine
whether Eichmann is alive.

Presiding Judge: [explains the meaning of Judge Halevi's

Witness Gilbert:  Oh, I would like to state that I don't
really care what Kaltenbrunner believed, because I think he
was a liar anyway.  I mentioned this only because I wanted
to explain why Justice Musmanno and I didn't discuss
Eichmann - everybody thought he was dead, and there wasn't
much to say about him.

Q. What did you think about Mueller?

A. I'm afraid I got no contact with Mueller.  I can recall
only one place where he is even mentioned, and I believe
that is in Dr. Morgen's or Dr. Pohl's case...But Mueller is
virtually a complete blank, and I cannot answer anything
about what I could think about him.

Q. You say that Kaltenbrunner's mentioning that Eichmann was
dead is engraved in your memory in a special way, because on
that day evidence had been given about the children who were
thrown into the burning furnace at Auschwitz?

A. That is correct.

Q. You also said that this evidence was given about
something which happened in 1944?

A. Yes - I remember that day.  The year 1944 was referred
to.  It was said that that was the "rush season."  There
were so many persons in the transports that they couldn't
wait to gas the babies - they threw them into the ovens
alive.  It was for me the lowest point of the trial.  On
that day I spoke to Kaltenbrunner and got that answer.

Q. And then you went to Kaltenbrunner and said to him: "I
suppose that you also did not know about these matters?" And
his reply was, according to what appears in your book on
page 163: "Of course not, the people who did that are all
dead - Hitler, Himmler, Bormann, Heydrich and Eichmann"?

A. That's right.

Q. And did it not occur to you then that Heydrich had
already died in 1942, and it was none other than
Kaltenbrunner who took his place - took the very place of

A. Yes, I was aware of that, and this fitted in with
Kaltenbrunner's allegation that when he became Chief of the
RSHA, he didn't have anything to do with these things; but,
of course, everybody there knew he was lying.

Q. Are the entries in your diary more detailed than in the
book?  Or could you have a look at your diary at the place
corresponding to page 163 of the book to see whether the
description is more detailed?

A. If I may have the date, I can do that easily.

Attorney General: 27 February.

Witness Gilbert:  Well, may I just read it as it appears
here?  I haven't seen this in ten years.

Judge Halevi:  Perhaps you could pass it on to us - there is
no need to read the whole of it.

Witness Gilbert:  I'll just take a quick glance then and let
you know whether it corresponds to the book.  There are more
details in the original diary.

Q. Would it be possible, in addition to the original book,
to submit the original diary?

A. Yes, certainly.

Attorney General: If the Court so desires, we shall
photostat a number of excerpts from the diary - of course we
can do that.  If the Court wishes to have the entire diary,
naturally we can submit it.  We have it here for the purpose
of assisting the Court, but I think that Professor Gilbert
would like to have it back as soon as possible.  That is the
main problem.  But there would be no difficulty in making a
photocopy of this chapter.

Judge Halevi:  Mr. Attorney General, are you ready to submit
the original diary for the purposes of the trial?

Attorney General: Certainly.

Judge Halevi:  This is only a technical matter, to make
arrangements to return the book to the witness, possibly at
a later stage.

Attorney General: Certainly.  It was for this reason that I
asked the witness, after he had left the United States
without bringing the diary with him, to ensure that it would
reach us here in good time.

Judge Halevi:  It is simply fuller and more accurate than
the book.

Attorney General: As the Court pleases.  The diary is here.

Presiding Judge: Professor Gilbert, my colleague has asked
for the entire diary to be submitted here.  You will receive
it back at the end of the trial.

Witness Gilbert:  All right, sir.  It is in two volumes in
G.I. bindings.

Presiding Judge: You will allow me to mark them as exhibits?

Witness Gilbert:  Certainly, anything that will serve the
cause of justice.  May I merely explain to the Court that
the transcript of the proceedings in the Nuremberg Trial
represented a kind of supplement to the diary, which weren't
always summarized on the pages.  Sometimes they were, and
sometimes they weren't, but you don't need the
substantiation of the testimony in the trial.

Presiding Judge: The first volume is marked T/1171 and the
second volume T/1172.

There are, in the meantime, two questions I should like to
ask you.  Does your personal diary contain any account of
what you heard from Goering when he was asked by Justice
Musmanno - when you were present as an interpreter?

Witness Gilbert:  No, I don't think so, Your Honour.  These
brief conversations when Musmanno was there were not part of
my investigation, and they were of no importance to me,
although of course they were important anyway.

Q. As regards the statement made by Pohl about the liability
for the extermination of the Jews, to which you referred in
your main evidence, did he draw any distinction between the
transport of the Jews and what happened to them inside the
extermination camps?

A. I don't recall any distinctions made by Pohl.  I think he
simply wanted to establish that he was not responsible for
the extermination programme, and that other men were
handling this, such as Eichmann, etc.  I also have a written
statement from him to that effect, and he goes on saying he
simply can't understand how the thing came about.  Of
course, there were others doing it, but he admits that he
knew it - he said everybody knew it.  He was speaking of the
SS.  He said: "Of course, I don't mean that every little
sergeant knew about it, but certainly all of the SS leaders
knew that extermination was taking place."  He did not,
however, make the distinction that you asked about, as far
as I can recall.

Q. Do you have that written statement by Pohl here?

A. I think I may - I know I have it, but it is not with me.

Q. You have it here in Jerusalem?

A. Yes, it is at the hotel now.

Q. Would you be kind enough during the lunch interval to get
hold of that statement and then produce it after the

A. Certainly, Your Honour.

Q. And is there an account of your conversation with Pohl in
the diary?

A. In the diary, yes.  Yes, there is.  I noticed when I got
the diary last night - as I said, by diplomatic pouch - for
the first time in ten years, that this was one of the
conversations which wasn't included in the published diary.
The reason for it was that Sauckel's defence I considered
too unimportant to include, and this was at that time...

Q. Can you find it?

A. Yes, there is a yellow tag on it.  I'm sure I can.

Q. If so, these are the two points.  That will be the second
point that you should look into during the midday break.

A. All right, Your Honour.

Q. Please bring it with you after the interval, and also the
document containing the statement by Pohl.  We shall take a
recess now and resume at 3:45.

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