The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Testimony-Abroad/Wilhelm_Hoettl-04

Last-Modified: 1999/06/14

I repeat that I had nothing at all to do with this Arrow
Cross operation to seize power.  This can best be proved by
the fact that shortly after the new government was formed,
the new Hungarian foreign minister, Baron Dr. Kemeny, wrote
to Kaltenbrunner stating that I was persona non grata in

There is not a single word of truth in the allegation that
the Hungarian Government decorated me in recognition of my
support of the revolt.  I only recently learned of this
rumour from a newspaper.  The relevant documents will show
that I am today making the same statements as I did in the
Nuremberg Trials, apart from the fact that, as far as I
know, Veesenmayer himself is still alive.

During the events of March, Eichmann came to Hungary, but I
am unable to say exactly when he arrived.  However, I do
know that, at the end of March or the beginning of April, he
must already have been in Budapest, because that was when I
intervened with him for the first time on behalf of the wife
of the well-known film actor Hans Moser.  As a Jewess, she
had moved to Budapest and asked me to issue a kind of Letter
of Protection, so that she would not be affected by the
anti_Jewish measures which were already starting then.  Hans
Moser knows about this as well.  I do not know whether his
wife is still alive.  This I did following the mediation of
another well-known actress, Marthe Harrell, who came to see
me personally in my office in Disz-ter.

In the meantime, the original programme of ridding Germany
of Jews by their emigration had been abandoned, to be
replaced by the new aim of physically exterminating them.
Thus the assignment of Eichmann and his commandos in Hungary
could only be to deport Hungarian Jewry to the extermination

As to what Eichmann undertook in the period I have already
mentioned, when I had no further contact with him, in the
direction referred to, in Germany or elsewhere, I was not
able to observe this, and I do not know more about it than
what emerged at the Nuremberg Trials or was published.
Anyhow, the first opportunity I had to observe him once more
was in Hungary.

Since it is probably helpful to describe Eichmann's
activities coherently, it would be expedient to speak about
this in more detail, before going into the rest of the
specific questions, from No. 24 onwards.

It was decided to adjourn the hearing until the following
day, 20 June 1961, at 9.30 a.m. at the same place. The
hearing ended at 5.20 p.m.

The hearing continued on 20 June 1961 at 9.30 a.m.

Present: as before.

The witness stated in continued examination as follows:

With regard to the physical annihilation of the Jewish
People, until I lost my post and was transferred to the
Waffen-SS, the only thing that I knew was that the
Einsatztruppen (sic: Operational Troops) of the Security
Police and the Security Service had received orders to
liquidate by shooting the supporters of Communist ideology,
particularly the Jews.  However, at that time I was not
aware of the details of this order and its origin.  It was
not until later that I heard from SS General Dr. Stahlecker,
who in 1938 had briefly been my chief in Vienna, that this
order came from Hitler himself and had been passed on by
Heydrich to these Operational Troops.

It should be understood that this problem occupied my mind
to a great extent, both then and after the War, since I am a
historian of the modern period.  During the time I was in
prison, and above all when I was in Nuremberg as a witness,
I had ample opportunity to talk about this extermination
programme with those who had been the leading functionaries
of the Third Reich.  The unanimous opinion of these men, who
obviously had a far greater insight than I did, was that the
idea of physical extermination of the Jewish People could
only have originated with Hitler, and that in this regard he
had not been influenced in any way by others.  What is
interesting is that Dr. Brand, who for many years was
Hitler's personal physician and as his doctor had a good
personal relationship with him, expressed himself similarly.

As to what were the real mainsprings of Hitler's hatred and
desire for extermination, I can only guess that he was
influenced by some primitive idea, although his disease -
Parkinson's - may have played some role in his conception
that all Jews were potential "enemies of the Reich," and
that therefore, in the long run, the Third Reich would not
be able to exist unless they were eliminated.  It is also
possible that some role was played by his own personal
observations from his early years in Vienna, which he
considered to shed an unfavourable light on the Jews.
Concrete indications that with Hitler - just as was the
case, on clear facts, for Heydrich - a further factor
consisted in his being of partial Jewish descent are not
known to me; such allegations have only been put forward in
newspaper articles, but no concrete evidence has been

After having been reminded emphatically of my duty to tell
the truth, I state that I know nothing about Hitler's having
been advised directly or even indirectly by Eichmann in
regard to these measures of his that, in a similar way as I
described yesterday with regard to the "Operation Margarethe
I" plan, he could have been influenced by a memorandum from
Eichmann;  I also think this would have been extremely
unlikely, because, with his boundless Hitler worship,
Eichmann would not have refrained from boasting about any
such direct contact.  In any case, I never heard anything
about such a matter.

In any case, as far as I know, the order to set up such
Operation Commandos, which coincided with the beginning of
the Russian campaign, was the beginning of the extermination
plan and its implementation.

It is possible that it was also that, at this point in time,
the concentration of the Jews in ghettos began; in any case,
this method of deporting and rounding them up was also one
of the phases which could serve for the seizure of the Jews.

As to whether the concentration camps could also be
presented as an instrument of this type: Presumably the
concentration camps were originally designed primarily for
isolating political opponents - in other words, to prevent
them from carrying out active measures.  I have not managed
to find out without any doubt who was in overall charge of
all concentration camps.

However, there are grounds for assuming that the
administration of concentration camps was subordinate to the
SS Economic-Administrative Head Office under SS General
Oswald Pohl, who was one of the SS Head Office Chiefs (just
as Heydrich or Kaltenbrunner was the Head Office Chief of
the Head Office for Reich Security, SS General Berger was
Head Office Chief of the SS Head Office, and SS General
Hildebrand was Head Office Chief of the Head Office for
Racial and Resettlement Affairs).

Orders for internment in concentration camps was something
else; here the responsible body was the Head Office for
Reich Security, and within it, the two police departments,
i.e., IV (Gestapo) and V (Criminal Police).  The chief of
Department IV was SS General Heinrich Mueller, who has
already been mentioned several times; the chief of
Department V was SS General Nebe, and later, after his
arrest in connection with the events of 20 July 1944, SS
Oberfuehrer Panzinger.

As a practical example of the activities of the offices and
officials mentioned, I should like to refer to the release
of ex-Mayor Seitz of Vienna from the Dachau concentration
camp.  At the request of American personages then in
Switzerland, I tried in March 1945 to have the ex_Mayor of
Vienna, Seitz, set free.  As a result of intercession by
Schellenberg, I obtained Dr. Kaltenbrunner's approval, but
he then sent me to SS General Pohl who had to give his
consent as well, and who did so.  I would assume from this
dual competence that, in fact, the SS Economic-
Administrative Head Office was responsible for the
concentration camps jointly with the Head Office for Reich

Although I am aware that later Eichmann's Section was
assigned "deportation of Jews" as one of its functions, I do
not know whether in actual fact it also dealt with orders
for internment in concentration camps.

On being asked now whether the well-known delivery into
Gestapo detention of the Viennese banker Louis Rothschild
(head of the Vienna Rothschild Bank) took place at
Eichmann's instigation or with his co-operation, I think I
must reply in the negative.  I believe that his arrest,
which was subsequently revoked after a large ransom was
paid, probably resulted from the direct intervention of an
office not subordinate to Eichmann, i.e., the Vienna
Gestapo.  An old friend of Baron Rothschild's, Count Dr.
Karl Khuen, asked me to mediate for Rothschild to be allowed
to have a radio in his prison cell in Morzinplatz, Vienna,
and permission was obtained from a Gestapo official called
Dr. Ebner; from that, too, I concluded that Eichmann had
nothing to do with these purely police matters.

The statement I have just made related to the period before
my transfer to the Waffen-SS.  After that, until I was
reinstated, I was unable to make any relevant observations
about subsequent phases in the persecution of the Jews in
general, or Eichmann's activities in particular.  The reason
for this is that I really was serving at the front and no
longer had any real contact with those circles with whom I
used to mix.  I was engaged in the War against the
partisans, serving in the Prinz Eugen Division in
Yugoslavia, close to the Yugoslav-Greek border.  I myself
saw nothing of Jews there, so that I could not judge whether
they had already been removed by the Operations Units to
which I have referred.  It was only by rumour that I heard
about the large-scale operations against the Jews which were
getting under way in the meantime, but I cannot remember
whether Eichmann's name was mentioned as the person
responsible.  That was the situation until I was reinstated
to the service and returned to Berlin on 1 February 1942.
(I had married in 1938, and my family lived in Vienna;
however, while I was serving at the front I only returned
once to Vienna, for a two-week leave, and did not then hear
anything more definite about Jewish matters.)

I spent most of 1943 in Rome.  The special assignment I had
been given by Schellenberg was to observe, together with the
newly-appointed German Ambassador to the Vatican, Baron von
Weizsaecker, the symptoms of decay of Italian Fascism, and,
in view of my special connections with the Vatican, to try
and bring about some form of talks for mediation with
prominent figures among the Western Allies.  This is what I
later managed to do.

As far as anti-Jewish measures in Italy are concerned, I saw
how the Fascist regime, and Mussolini himself as well,
managed very cleverly to avoid the pressure from the German
troops to intensify the anti-Jewish measures, so that, to
the best of my knowledge - at least in 1943 - Italian Jewry
was not subjected to any special persecution.

Since I had managed to establish closer connections from
Berlin with Department 2 of the Hungarian Honved General
Staff, at the end of 1943, Schellenberg authorized me to
move from my permanent office in Berlin to Vienna, where I
remained until I was ordered to go to Budapest in March

At the end of 1943 I handed over to my deputy - who
subsequently carried out my duties in Rome - control of the
Italian section in the counter-intelligence service, of
which I was still in charge.  He was an SS Sturmbannfuehrer
by the name of Dr. Karl Hass.

During this period in Vienna as well (as in Budapest), I had
no contact with Eichmann until March 1944 and heard nothing
about his activities either.

Regarding the next group of specific questions, I now state
as follows:

(24): From the beginning of the War, the accepted practice
was for police units to enter the country that was being
occupied together with the German military units.  While in
terms of provisioning, such police units belonged to the
units from which they received such things as food and fuel,
etc., they continued to be subordinate to the same Berlin
headquarters as previously.  A parallel example of this
arrangement would be the Todt Organisation, which also had
duties behind the front lines, was also supplied by the
army, and also continued to be subordinate to its head
office in Berlin.   The duties of the Organisation Todt
included building fortifications, bridges and so on.

In reply to a supplementary question:

I know nothing of the existence of an organization set up by
Himmler after he was appointed Minister of the Interior,
which consisted of Jewish persons of mixed parentage,
Gypsies of mixed parentage, prominent political opponents
such as supporters of the Roehm faction, and also criminals,
who were concentrated under the title of "labour service"
and were then organized into units of one hundred men and
particularly in France, after a brief period of semi-
military training, were brought to the Mortier Barracks, and
allocated as forced labour to the Operational Troops of the
said Organisation Todt.

I would assume from the questions asked that, in the main,
they refer to the SS Special Operations Units in Hungary.
Although I am not familiar with precise details, yet I can
state the following:

The two largest SS Special Operations Units were those of
the Security Police and the Security Service, and the Order
Police.  However, to some extent they formed a single whole,
because they were both subject to SS and Police General Otto
Winkelmann, who was then appointed "Higher SS and Police
Leader in Hungary."  Regardless of this, however, and
probably in actual fact to a far greater extent, the two
Operations Units were under the control of their Berlin
offices, i.e., the Head Office for Reich Security and the
Head Office of the Order Police.

The so-called Eichmann Sonderkommando was, it is true, part
of the Sonderkommando of the Security Police and the SD in
terms of provisioning, but was definitely in some sort of
special position, with the precise details of which I am not
familiar.  In addition there were also Sonderkommandos of
the SS Economic-Administrative Head Office, of the SS Head
Office, and also, for example of Department VII of the Head
Office for Reich Security (Science and Research, whose
duties were to confiscate valuable items from Jewish

It is quite possible that there were other SS
Sonderkommandos, because the situation was such that each
head office in Berlin endeavoured in such cases to wield its
influence in the area to be occupied.
The overall operation in Hungary was influenced to the
strongest degree by Himmler, who managed right from the
beginning to exert very considerable influence on the
manning of leading positions.  For example, he succeeded in
ensuring that the Ambassador and Reich Plenipotentiary to be
appointed would belong to the SS (overnight, Dr.
Veesenmayer, who had been an SS Standartenfuehrer, received
the rank of General in the SS), and he also had a Higher SS
and Police Leader installed, as well as a Senior Commander
of the Waffen-SS, even though at this point very few Waffen-
SS units had taken part in the occupation of Hungary.

The chains of command were very difficult to grasp, even for
an insider.  In accordance with the Berlin offices'
well_known craze for centralizing everything, every single
office tried to control as completely as possible the unit
working for it in Hungary, and to keep it free from other
influences.  Under these circumstances, the Higher SS and
Police Leader mentioned before, General Winkelmann, was more
or less a figurehead, while police units and
Sonderkommandos, which were nominally subordinate to him, in
actual fact received their orders from Berlin, and their
reports to Berlin would often be notified to Winkelmann only
in the form of copies.

(25): As far as the Sonderkommando Eichmann is concerned, I
heard about its existence in Hungary or Budapest, as I said
yesterday in my general description (concerning the wife of
the actor Moser) somewhere around March 1944, although it is
possible that such a special commando arrived in Budapest
with the army, like other commandos.  I can also not say
precisely what the situation was - whether Eichmann himself
was in personal command of this Sonderkommando right from
the point at which it came into existence in Hungary, or
whether he first ran it from Berlin and arrived on the scene

At any rate, when the intervention in favour of Mrs. Moser
mentioned yesterday was made, i.e., at the end of March or
the beginning of April 1944, Eichmann was in Budapest.
Until then the situation in Hungary was such that before 19
March 1944 the Hungarian governments had implemented
anti_Jewish measures, which no doubt were applied mainly as
a result of German pressure, in a very lax fashion only.
For example, there were many exceptions made in the case of
Jewish intellectuals in particular, who as doctors, lawyers
and so forth were simply declared to be indispensable.  This
was especially true of exemptions from labour service, which
male Jews of certain age groups had to perform.  The measure
I have mentioned is the only major one of which I was aware
before March 1944.

In this context it is important to note that the percentage
of Jews in the Hungarian population was far higher than in
Austria or in Germany, for example, and accordingly this
group had far greater influence.

However, it is perhaps worth mentioning here that - unlike
the situation in Austria and Germany - the larger part of
Hungarian Jewry consisted of craftsmen and also of farmers.
Anti-Semitism in Hungary was very pronounced among many
sections of the population, and definitely much more radical
than in Austria.  This was particularly true of the class of
leaders who achieved leading positions after Horthy seized
power, and more particularly through their advancement by
Goemboes, who was Prime Minister for many years.  According
to my observations, it was the Hungarian gendarmerie who
were the most extremely anti-Semitic.  This was definitely
an elite unit, and my historical analysis of it was that it
was to some extent the firmest support of the Hungarian
regime after the First World War.

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