The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 10
(Part 3 of 4)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Attorney General: Mr. Less, in view of the fact that the Accused refers to a room where you interrogated him and he compares other things to the measurement of that room, perhaps you could tell us what were the length and breadth of the room in which you conducted the interrogation of the Accused.

Witness Less: In my estimation three by four metres.

Attorney General: And now the next extract on page 226 beginning with the words "In Auschwitz habe ich..." up to page 230.

In Auschwitz I had to look at those installations yet once more. I told Hoess this and as a consequence he ordered a field car. We rode in the field car through some area - I didn't know my way around in Auschwitz. This was a section - far from the headquarters. I had been there on my business several times only in the headquarters, near the main entrance, I had never been further inside - I also did not have any inclination to do so - and then I saw large buildings, large buildings, this was already in the guise of a factory, the enormous chimney, and Hoess said to me: "Yes," he said, "here there is a capacity of 10,000 - yes 10,000."..
Presiding Judge: Daily capacity, right?

Interpreter: It says "Da ist Kapazitaet."

Presiding Judge: Please check this later.

Interpreter: There is a remark here saying that it is not clear.

Reading of translation continues.

And here, something was going on where they separated those who were fit to work from those who, as it were, were unfit for work. I did not look at the gassing, I could not, for almost certainly I would have collapsed - I did not want to do this - or I would have felt unwell. I don't know what would have happened to me. I could not and already I thought: well once again I got out of it and then he drove me to the edge of a huge pit, huge - I cannot say what size it was - perhaps even 150 metres, or 180 metres, I do not know this, but the pit was very large. There was an enormous grate, an iron grate and on it corpses were burning and then I felt bad, then I felt bad. I told this to Mueller that was my report...

L. What year was this?

E. This was in 1945. I said to Mueller, I said: "Why does this have to be, why does this have to be so? Surely Germany is sufficiently large, if Jews have to come in, namely the Jews of Hungary, of Hungary - everywhere there is a shortage of workers, this really does not have to be. Actually the old people remain anyhow in Hungary." Naturally I - I shall return to this at a later stage, Captain - the Hungarian gendarmerie, which carried this out - let us say - with its own sometimes raged in a terrible way, ignoring the agreement, taking along even children, old people and the elderly, a fact which again led to a clash with the Main Office for Economic Administration since they complained to the Reichsfuehrer that there were being sent people aged 70 to 80 as well, as a consequence of which the matter was referred back to me, and I brought my complaints in this connection to the Secretary of the State Lacik Endre who was responsible for this. But on this I shall have more to say on another occasion when I come to the matter of Hungary, Captain.

L. Yes, yes.

E. Then let me speak now about this last point of the most terrible thing I have ever seen in the course of my life: It was Treblinka. I also received an order. With Globocnik...I went to Globocnik ...on this occasion for the second time and [had] to report to Mueller. Because the installation was in full operation. Then I thought, thus I pictured it to myself: there is a wooden house here to the right, this I still remembered, to the left there were some additional ones. Two-three other wooden houses. Instead of this - again with a certain Sturmbannfuehrer Hoefle - instead of this I came to a station, a station called Treblinka and which was put up as if it were a German railway station somewhere in Germany; with all the signs etc. - they imitated everything. I stayed there - far to the rear. I did not come nearer in order to see all this. I saw how, on passages fenced in by barbed wire, a line of naked Jews were entering a house in front, entering....not a house - a big structure similar to a hall - to be exterminated by gases. A hall where they were put to death, as far as I was told, with is it called -cyan...

L. Potassium cyanide?

E. Cyan....

L. Potassium cyanide [Zyankali].

E. Potassium cyanide or acid, it has the name of some acid, the acid of potassium cyanide. How this took place, this I did not watch, I submitted a report to Mueller and he received this report, as usual, without a word, without a comment. Only his facial expression betrayed to me: "Truly I cannot do anything," and I am convinced, Captain, - perhaps this sounds funny, funny on my part, I know, but I am convinced that if Mueller had had the power of decision, this would not have happened at all, not as far as Mueller was concerned.

Attorney General: With the Court's permission, before we proceed, it appears that not all the Hebrew translation was made personally by Captain Dayan. There is a part of that translation which was made by the members of his unit, and he has not managed to revise it. If the Court approves, where Captain Dayan discovers any faults in the Hebrew translation of those sections which he did not deal with personally, may he be allowed to correct them subsequently, so that those translations as amended may serve as the official record?

Presiding Judge: This will be in order.

Attorney General: Thank you. Mr. Less, I would request the excerpt on page 238 of the statement.

E. The last question yesterday was - it seems to me - the beginning of the Wannsee Conference, if I am not mistaken, or was it? ...

L. It seems to me that you were speaking about the statistics.

E. Yes, the statistics. I have it here, also. Allow me before [speaking about] the statistics, which I have truly made a note of, to talk to you again about the Wannsee Conference, which came much earlier from the point of view of time.

L. Yes, of course.

E. Accordingly, I took here the year 1942 or 1941. The Wannsee Conference took place, undoubtedly, a long time before Heydrich's death. Therefore, possibly, the date which I mention, which I can mention... well it is quite easy to verify it, the Conference of Wannsee was very important, for here Heydrich received his authority as the person in charge of the solution, or the final solution of the Jewish question. From this point he regarded himself as having the authority in all these matters. All the central authorities were then invited to this Conference, and this at a high level of representation namely, the Secretaries of State. Of the Party functionaries, there was present the Gauamtsleiter Schacht, Goebbels' Deputy for the Capital of the Reich, Berlin. There were also present senior officials of the Fuehrer's Chancellery - I should say "the Fuehrer's Chancellery," for that was the name of that office.

IVB4 received an order to prepare in writing a draft of the invitations which were sent afterwards in the normal way of outgoing mail, all of them initialled by Heydrich, because they bore the stamp of official invitations - to each one of the Secretaries of State with a personal title at the head of the letter and with a personal ending to each letter. The date of the Conference subsequently had to be postponed because one or two of those invited were suddenly delayed. The invitations were then sent out again.

Heydrich then possessed written authority signed by Goering and on this basis he delivered a long speech on what had been done so far, and in it he asked (and this had been the real original reason for the invitation) for intensive cooperation.

His second real reason was to indulge his well-known vanity that was his weakness and to boast with his authority, which now made him the unrestricted ruler of all the Jews of the areas under the influence and occupation of Germany, and to demonstrate clearly the broadening of his influence. But also perhaps to his use of - how can I put it - his clearly being in the good graces of the greatest people in the Reich, to further other personal tendencies about which he was also thinking of how he could combine them for his benefit. This was the policy followed by some of those leaders. It was widely believed, and Heydrich was known for it, that he was never satisfied with all that he was able to take hold of.

I can still remember that Globocnik who had that installation for extermination in Lublin received authority from him after the event to exterminate the Jews - this was the first case of this kind that I had heard of - despite the fact that Globocnik had for some time put people to death, and had certainly already sent very many to their deaths, Globocnik asked in this connection to grant him authority after the event, signed by Heydrich. I can still see Mueller in front of me, how at the time we discussed this he shook his head, without saying a word. In addition to the death installation, about which I reported yesterday, the same Globocnik also maintained labour camps and several workshops, in Berlin - Lublin, where it seems to me, they somehow worked for the Waffen SS. Maybe for the Waffen SS but they worked there. Possibly it was also for the Army but I am more inclined to think, seeing that this whole matter was under the over-all direction of the Economic Administrative Main Office, that these matters were taken into account for the needs of the Waffen SS.

L. Who passed on to Globocnik that instruction after the event? Was that instruction passed on further by you or by your Department?

E. Yes, at that time I received an order from Heydrich for Globocnik - as follows - to prepare the following letter for Globocnik: - Heydrich dictated it to me:

"I authorize you to bring another 150,000 to the Final Solution."
But I do not know now whether he gave the order on the letterhead of the "Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police in the Reich Ministry of the Interior" and wrote this "By order, Heydrich" or whether he wrote on notepaper of the "Chief of the Security Police SD" I have...

L. At the time when it said in the letter "to bring 250,000 Jews to the Final Solution"...

E. It seems to me 150 - or 250, I really do not know.

L. Its implication at that time was extermination and death.

E. Yes, yes. Those Jews were already dead. For these, Globocnik requested to give him authorization after the event. I think that they numbered 250,000, so it seems to me. He asked for such an authorization a second time as well, Globocnik.

L. This second order after the event was also passed on by your Department, by you?

E. Yes, that is certainly so - the same authorization after the event, on the grounds that what was now being done was by an authority based on the Wannsee Conference - in this way by Heydrich to Globocnik. This was the surprising thing to ask for authorization retrospectively...(that authorization) was dictated to me personally by Heydrich, as he had also done with the letters of invitation to the Secretaries of State, as he wanted it written subsequently, it was subsequently brought to him by his staff and signed by him.

L. What was the purpose of the Wannsee Conference?

E. Heydrich's aim at the Wannsee Conference was to obtain authority enabling him, as he imagined, to administer and himself to control the affairs of the Jews. And there was also this, please I do not know exactly, there was certainly, somehow, some kind of division that he achieved, or Himmler gave orders - how can I put it - for a division of functions by which the Economic Administrative Main Office had to implement all the affairs of the concentration camps, while at the same time the Security Police had to carry out the seizures and the transportation.

L. Were you present at the Wannsee Conference?

E. Yes, I was obliged to be present too.

L. Was a decision adopted there as to the way in which each office would be responsible for the final solution of the Jewish question, that is, for the extermination of the Jews? Was there a decision on the scope of your special Department?

E. No. There was no decision on this. This was not decided for this reason: firstly because it was not done in fact; and secondly, that this was a matter of details, which were not discussed at the Wannsee Conference, in the presence of the Secretaries of State.

L. If that was the case, what was discussed there?

E. Heydrich described along general lines what had been done up to then, it is...of course also difficult how much of the particulars I can remember (possibly I can do so briefly), he then said that the solution of the Jewish question had encountered these and other difficulties, he pointed to many problems of competence arising out of the authorizations for work, to various conflicts of responsibility, and for this reason, therefore, for the sake of efficiency, he had asked Goering [for permission] to unite this matter under one authority. Goering in his capacity as plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan, gave him, accordingly, that authorization, although, I don't know what it was called - whether this was given to the Reichsfuerer and he, Heydrich implemented this by virtue of the authorization which had been given to him by Himmler, this could also be possible, I do not know, this must be checked and it is possible to check it quite easily; for then Heydrich had to write "By order" since at that time that was the way it was done.

I remember that afterwards, somehow, one or two of those present received permission to speak, and as was the practice - I took part for the first time in my life in such a Conference in which these senior officials participated, such as Secretaries of State - it was conducted very quietly and with much courtesy, with much friendliness - politely and nicely, there was not much speaking and it did not last a long time, the waiters served cognac, and in this way it ended.

This, more or less, was the course of the Wannsee Conference because it took place in the guest house of the Reich Security Head Office, which is located near the Wannsee Lake, close to Berlin.

Attorney General: Mr. Less, before we go on, perhaps you would be good enough to tell the Court what was the main subject which the Accused came to on the page which I intend to have read, page 307. Please have a look. Give us only a general description so that the matter may be understood. The section before the words: "Es kam dann der Befehl..."

Witness Less: The Accused describes here the last days in Berlin.

Q. When?

A. In 1945.

Q. Before the defeat of Germany?

A. Before the defeat.

Attorney General: The following extract is on reel No. 7, pages 307-308.

E. Meanwhile, either Office IV or the Headquarters of the State Police brought large quantities of medium- size weapons, especially armour-penetrating weapons, into my office building, and I ordered them to be stored, according to the regulations, in underground cells. At that time, there was taking place, in a central hall in Kurfuersten Street, a meeting of the heads of departments, such as Mueller had in fact assembled all the time throughout the years and here I came across something, which I had never believed to be possible: there was a head of department here, who dealt only with the issuing of forged papers, certificates etc. for persons belonging to the Security Police, namely the Security Police of Office IV who wanted some change or other in their names, who wanted certificates that they had been, for example, insurance agents or something similar during the War.

Then Mueller asked me, what about myself. I said that I would dispense with that, since I had no concern other than for my defence set-up and for that purpose I had no need for forged papers. Then the order was received to hand over the entire archives for burning under the supervision of officers - even the archives of "Secret State Matters." This thing took a few days. All the operation was halted again by air-raids, and at that time I said to the officers on my staff, who were sitting around in downhearted and depressed spirits while not doing anything - for nobody had anything to do, and each one was immersed in sad reflections - I said that in my opinion the War was now finally lost - for I had seen that forged papers were being issued and that now I had the opportunity of forming my own opinion, as well, on the question of the modern wonder weapons - that we were lost and there was nothing left to save. I myself said that I was glad on the eve of the battle for Berlin, for I knew that my defence set- up was drawn up, in part, with cunning and I had no thought left in this world apart from this: that in the final battle for Berlin, at any rate, I would seek my death, if it did not come to me by itself. Millions of German women, children and old folk - I said to my people and to the soldiers - fell in this War. Millions of enemies attacked Germany for five years, I estimate that the War also cost the lives of five million Jews.

And now everything was over. The Reich was lost and if it was all about to end, I said, then "I also will jump into the pit."

With regard to the despicable campaign of forging papers which aroused disgust in me, I was ready at once to put a bullet through my head rather than have a forged document publicly issued for myself.

Attorney General: Mr. Less towards the end of that part of his evidence, the Accused gave you a written document, a sort of declaration in writing. Is that so?

Witness Less: Yes.

Q. And do you have it with you?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you ask him to read it so that it could be recorded?

A. No, he asked to record the written declaration into the microphone.

Q. And did he do so?

A. Yes.

Q. And this is to be found from pages 359 onwards?

A. Yes, it begins on page 359.

Q. Apart from this, do you have the same thing signed by him?

A. Yes, signed by him.

Q. First of all, please submit to the Court the declaration signed by him and afterwards I shall ask you to read out this declaration.

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