The Trial of Adolf Eichmann: Judgment
(Part 55 of 70)


170. The Accused has given us a truly amazing portrait of himself during those days. He was in charge of a Section in the RSHA, with the SS rank appropriate to the grade of "Oberregierungsrat" in the general administrative service and the military rank of lieutenant-colonel. Subordinate to him at his office in Berlin were many officials, from low grades right up to the SS ranks appropriate to the grade of Regierungsrat in the administrative service and to the military rank of major. In addition, he was in control of a group of Advisers on Jewish Affairs who were themselves persons of considerable status in the various lands in which they worked.

The Accused asks us to believe him when he says that, being a person in such a position, and in spite of his being in such a position, he always acted only under explicit instructions received by him in every case, and only when a precedent existed which exactly fitted the case before him would he refrain from approaching his superiors. On the other hand, he ascribes to his subordinates no small degree of initiative in their specific fields, for example in questions of property, which were within the special field of duty of Suhr and Hunsche. As for his deputy Guenther, the Accused not only attributes considerable personal initiative to him, but even actions behind the back of the head of his Section.

In accordance with the evidence before us, let us therefore examine whether this is, in fact, the way in which matters were administered in the Accused's Section and in the RSHA as a whole.

171. The Attorney General has submitted to us the "Joint Administrative Rules for Ministries of the Federal Republic (of Western Germany), General Section" (T/1423). It is the 1958 edition, but the preface states that the present text is based on that of 1927, well before the Nazi period. This exhibit was submitted to the Accused in cross-examination (Session 95, Vol. IV, pp. xxxx21-22), and he did not deny that these rules were also in force in the central institutions in the Reich during the Nazi period, but with regard to the SS institutions, he added:

"In the light of the change in the line of command and in the system prevailing in the Third Reich, the procedure employed in the Weimar Republic was frequently changed, because here different degrees of responsibility and command obtained. Accordingly, a considerable number of basic orders, which had been valid during the Weimar period, were changed."
In paragraph 4 (p. 13) of T/1423, it is stated:
"The Ministry is divided into departments (Abteilungen) and the department into sections (Referate). The basic unit in the organizational structure of the ministry is the section... Head of Section (Referent) is an official of the senior service, who directs the section on his own responsibility and is directly subordinate to the head of the department or to the head of the group. In his hands lies the first decision on all matters which come within the scope of his section."
(The RSHA, as a central authority (Hauptamt) is parallel, according to this terminology, to a ministry, and its divisions (Aemter) to departments.)

The following exchange of questions and answers took place between the learned Attorney General and the Accused (Session 95, Vol. IV, pp. xxxx23-24):

"Q. ...Is it your contention that, whereas all the heads of sections had authority as herein described, in Department IV, Mueller did not agree that his subordinate should possess such authority, or are you arguing that in the Nazi period none of the heads of sections had authority as stated herein?

"A. I would not dare contest what has just been said. I am only saying what I know from my own experience and from what I myself went through.

"Q. That is to say, a head of section had the right of decision, but you, as Mueller's head of section, did not have the right of decision?

"A. It seems to me that it may be said that at that time the matter depended upon the personality of one's superior, insofar as he had - if one may say so - dictatorial qualities.

"Q. Did Mueller have such qualities or not?

"A. As far as decisions were concerned, he was very pedantic and intolerant and reserved for himself all decisive action. This much I can say.

"Q. Was this the case also on minor matters, on details?

"A. Mueller took decisions on the most trifling matters, yes. Surprisingly enough, this was also true of Himmler, who went right into the smallest of details."

Thus, the Accused's version is that, in principle, exhibit T/1423 was valid also during the Nazi period, and in the RSHA as well. But the scope of a section head's powers was set by the department head, and since his department head, Mueller (who was the head of Department IV), reserved all decisions for himself, he, the Accused, as head of Section IVB4, was not left with any power of decision.

172. One thing is undoubtedly true: Letters from Section IVB4 and the other RSHA Sections, just as from every section in every central authority of the Reich, were sent in the name of the head of the service, and if the head did not sign himself (this happened only on rare occasions of special significance), another person signed - the department head or the section head - in his name, or on his behalf, or "upon his instruction." These letters were always written in the first person, and the "first person" was not the signatory to the letter, but the head of the service in whose name or on whose behalf or upon whose instruction the signature was appended. The "first person," who appears in all the letters submitted to us, and signed by the Accused or Mueller, or Guenther, or Suhr, or anyone else, is the Head of the Security Police and the SD, namely Heydrich, and after him Kaltenbrunner, and in the interim period between Heydrich's death and the appointment of Kaltenbrunner, Himmler himself.

The reference IVB4 on a document raises a presumption which the Accused has to rebut, that the document was sent on the Accused's responsibility, whether it was signed by one of his subordinates or one of his superiors.

As to the Accused's own signature on a document, it is clear that, by appending his signature, the Accused accepted responsibility for his subordinates who had dealt with the subject of the document, but the fact that he himself signed the document is still not proof that he had taken the decision on the subject of the document on his own initiative or had acted in accordance with the instructions of his superiors.

But just as it is impossible to ascribe to the Accused the initiative for a certain letter signed by him, by reference solely to the "first person," so also initiative cannot be ascribed to some other person, for example Guenther, when that person signed a letter. For example:

T/1398 is one of the files of the Duesseldorf Gestapo, the contents of which we dealt with in an earlier part of this Judgment. The office in Duesseldorf was engaged in evacuation to Terezin, and in a letter dated 3 June 1943 (p. 247 of T/1398) sent to Section IVB4, raised the question as to whether certain persons were to be evacuated. On p. 252, we find a cable signed by the Accused, and drafted in the first person, which contains certain instructions (that the persons in question should not be evacuated for the moment.) On p. 253, there is a further cable, this time signed by Guenther, which states, inter alia: "I have in the meantime dealt in a special cable with the questions which arose in your letter, dated 3 June 1943." Thus, the use of the "first person" in the first cable does not refer to the Accused, nor in the second cable to Guenther, but in both the reference is to the Head of the Security Police and SD.

173. Of course, this formal arrangement does not mean that Heydrich or Kaltenbrunner personally dealt with all RSHA affairs or initiated all RSHA activities; and the same applies to Mueller, as Head of Department IV of the RSHA. Superintendent Less asked the Accused what in general were the matters on which he himself was allowed to make decisions, and the Accused replied (T/37, p. 1261), that he could decide about anything by himself, provided he had before him:

"The orders, instructions, commands, and appropriate directives from Himmler, Head of the Security Police and the SD, or Mueller, or, of course, laws or executive regulations applying to the matter..."
And he continues:
"After that, upon my own authority - in all other cases I could decide myself, of course, but then, if some mishap occurred, I would be the one to have to take the consequences."
What, for example, was the origin of the evacuation instructions sent to the various authorities? In his Statement T/37, (pp. 906-907), the Accused stated:
"... I sat at my desk in Berlin, I had instructions from my superiors - in this case there were not even any such instructions - I cannot even say from my superiors - because when it came to giving orders in principle, Mueller scarcely ever gave any order of his own, independently, he never deviated from the orders given by his superiors, Heydrich, Himmler. This was the first thing.
Secondly: I had the reports from people who were abroad, and here it was their duty to make suggestions on the basis of their practical experience, because they, above all, could see what action was at all practicable. From these two sources, Section IVB4 prepared a report which was later either approved or rejected. The directive followed from this procedure.

In practice, this could mean that a proposal which came in from Paris or from Zoepf in The Hague went out fourteen days later to Paris or The Hague in the form of a directive approved by the RSHA. This is how things always developed in practice, and it was not the case at all that a directive was prepared at the beginning, once and for all, and that afterwards action was to be taken in accordance with it and a pattern set, but everything was in a state of continuous flux, a steady stream, and every moment addenda were prepared or cancellations made of details which had ceased to be valid, perhaps because Himmler had issued new rules, or perhaps the Head of the Security Police and the SD had given other orders, or perhaps also because new ideas had been culled from the reports of the officials in the occupied territories or territories under [German] influence, as a result of which oth

er directives were given from above." Hence, also according to the statement of the Accused, he too, was competent to issue general instructions according to his discretion, within the limits of the orders which had come from above and by which he was bound.


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