The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 11
(Part 1 of 4)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Session No. 11

5 Iyar 5721 (21 April 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the eleventh Session of the trial open. The court hands down its decision, to be noted as Decision No. 6.

It has come to our attention that there has been an abuse by one of the photographers of the permission granted to photograph the proceedings of this trial. This photographer took photographs of some of the private notes the Accused made for himself in the courtroom. That photographer will no longer be permitted to take photographs at this trial and the aforementioned photographs will be destroyed. Now let us continue hearing the witnesses.

Attorney General: Mr. Less, if you please.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Less, you are still testifying under oath.

Attorney General: Mr. Less, please look at the section of the Accused's statement on page 402. What does it refer to, Mr. Less?

Witness Less: It refers to a document we submitted to him on that occasion, as mentioned on page 401, Exhibit T/455 (T/37 (10)).

Q. What is the general content of the document?

A. A notification from the Paris branch of the Berlin Central Office.

Q. Thank you very much. I would request the recording of extract, pages 402 to 404 be heard.

Less: That is to say, current reports on this subject were passed on to you? To your Department?

Eichmann: Certainly, they did not have to be current, since Department IVB4 was obliged, for its part, to report on the transport schedules, even before the deportation began.

L. Then the transport was confirmed in these memoranda by...

E. The official authorities.

L. The official authorities abroad?

E. Actually not every single transport was approved, that was not the situation, but on the conclusion of the operation they reported on it through service channels, in the form of a report; they never reported individual cases, but each time they reported the operation as a whole. But here there was a notification of a special transport, evidently because of the remark below concerning the brother of Leon Blum.

L. What is the meaning of "The class of people included was in accordance with the directives we were given?" What directives?

E. These were the directives the Reichsfuehrer issued for implementing the evacuation. I have already had the opportunity of dealing [with this matter] right to its end, Captain; regarding Hungary, for example, "this person or that person," the age limits (Altersgrenze03) and so on.

In this way there existed, in the case of - today I do not know, I presume - in the case of each country, various directives, because the Foreign Ministry had to give its approval to these directives. If the Foreign Ministry imposed its veto, in the other countries of Europe, of course,then...

L. But it seems to me as if in this remark, and in this case the memorandum was addressed to you, the reference was to directives which were issued by your Department.

E. Obviously, for we had to issue the directive, Captain, for we on our part obtained these directives, we requested them, either from the Chief of the Security Police and the SD or from Himmler, and then we had to pass them on, since it wasn't Himmler who gave these directives to Paris and the Hague, but us.

L. Very well, what do these directives say?

E. Captain, the instructions they laid down in an individual case, regarding France and regarding Holland, the age limits. etc. - this I would not be able to give you exactly.

L. What about Holland?

E. The age limits; in Hungary I can give them precisely, the age limit, fitness for work, the allocation for maintenance...

L. Allow me - you say "fitness for work" I assume that fitness for work was determined by the commanders of the concentration camps?

E. Yes, yes, in Hungary, it was then only permitted to send fit persons to work; and this actually began at the time when the whole matter was stopped.

I have said all this, Captain, not only now, when I am - I would say - I am impelled to do so, I dealt with this right to the end a few days ago.

L. Very well, what were the further instructions?

E. I believe that afterwards, it said in general

"Any excesses which can be avoided should be avoided" and that was the end of the matter. The Reichsfuehrer ordered "with children" or "without children," "without taking into account age-limits"...and in these...these were not observed for a very long time, these directives.

L. Was it also mentioned in the directives "when there is an attempted escape, arms should be used?"

E. No, this I don't know, I do not know. Possibly, if you please, in these many transports - please I talk from experience when I say, not only in regard to Jewish affairs but in regard to so many transports, hundreds of them were carried out there, if not thousands - there were attempts at escape, some of them successful. Then the escorting guards became very busy, but if it said there "when there is an attempted escape, arms should be used" I cannot imagine it was so, I cannot imagine it.

In Hungary, in Hungary this did not happen; in Hungary I know this with absolute certainty that they never went so far as to use arms when there were attempts at escape, this I do not believe, this I do not believe, I definitely do not believe it, no! This I certainly do not believe. In some case or other - so that I should not, Heaven forbid, utter a lie, it might have been possible, that in some case or other, somehow, the clause with the addition was added - but I myself cannot imagine this, I do not see, even today I am not convinced that the necessity arose, that things went so far.

Presiding Judge: What is "the clause with the addition?"

Interpreter: An additional clause. In German Zusatz.

Attorney General: The reference is to the use of arms. The additional clause of the directive.

Let us now hear the recording of tape No.9 on page 408, beginning with the words "Sie entsinnen sich..."

Less: Do you still remember the Wannsee Conference? We shall yet have to go into details.

Eichmann: Yes, certainly.

L. At any rate, I presume you were present at the Conference.

E. Yes, certainly. I even had to write by myself the invitations to the Secretaries of State, that is to say, Heydrich told me briefly how he wanted this to be done.

L. Why were you invited to this Wannsee Conference, at a time when you had such a minor position?

E. Captain, I had to write the invitations. It was incumbent upon was incumbent upon me to supply Heydrich with the data for the speech he delivered, all the emigration figures and all that. This is what I had to give him, this was what he demanded of me; after all I was head of the Department at the Secret State Police, although not head of the Department of the Head Office for Administration and Economy.

L. Was Mueller also present?

E. Mueller was also present, yes certainly, this was a conference they used to say then, "at a high level," namely only Secretaries of State.

L. Why did they bring into the circle little Eichmann? Just because he was head of a Department?

E. I was head of the Deparment and obviously I had to be present, Captain. There was no possiblilty of my speaking there, for instance, Captain, or to be prominent in some way in the affairs of the Wannsee Conference, in the various matters of the Secretaries of State. Not in a single case did I discuss these affairs with any Secretary of State.

L. Wouldn't it have been the normal way for Mueller to have said to you:

"Eichmann, please prepare the material, so that it can be on hand if I should be asked to give a report on it? And Eichmann would have produced the material."

E. No, it was Heydrich who demanded this of me, this I have already said, Captain. Heydrich demanded this of me.

L.So you prepared the material for Heydrich, but surely wouldn't Heydrich have asked you during the Conference from time to time, if what he was saying was correct?

E. No, he demanded this of me beforehand, exactly as I have twice...yes, matters of emigration, since the Wannsee Conference was only the beginning of the actual killing business, is that not so?

L.Yes, officially, there had already been killings earlier.

E. Yes, but 1941...

L. Are you maintaing that in 1941, roughly about November, at Auschwitz they were already operating these installations of killing by gas?

E. Yes, certainly, yes certainly, correct. The Wannsee Conference was in 1942, but now, how could it have been a conference of authorization, that is to say a conference of authorization, a conference in which Heydrich made an announcement concerning his authorization. If they had already exterminated, as in fact they had done, for I reported on this to Mueller after 1941, after the outbreak of the war with Russia, I am now thinking...what was it, very well this was evidently...a much stricter organization and things of that kind - he was in fact appointed by Goering; until then the difficulties had been too great, there were too many central authorities.

L.I see in the fact that they invited you and brought you to the Wannsee Conference more than a hint of the fact that in this objective, the solution of the Jewish Question by extermination, you were entrusted with a slightly more prominent role than you are ready to describe.

E. No, no, Captain, I would have acknowledged this, I would have acknowledged this without any further [hesitation], but everyone who knew me knew actually, after all, who I was; I was all the time the head of the Department in Office IVB4 - and the head of a Department of the Secret State Police could not - in no way could he go beyond the limits to which he was confined, this was not possible at all.

L.Was it normal at far-reaching conferences of this type, where men of the top echelons met, to invite the junior officials as well?

E. Yes.

L. Was this customary?

E. Yes, yes, it was so, this happened not only with us, but also with every department head...

L. You were not entitled to speak?

E. No, they were not entitled to speak, no, no, they did not have this right; if you please I was even ordered to be in Ljubljana or in Zagreb, I imagine this was it, I was ordered to come there, where Heydrich delivered a policy speech in regard to the deportation of the Slovenes, I myself had nothig to do with the deportation of Slovenes, except for the fact, as I believe, that I was also obliged to prepare the transport charts, and that was all.

Attorney General: Mr. Less, on page 413, before the extract that I intend to play, beginning with your question "Ich werde vielleicht so fragen" - what is this about?

Witness Less: This was a general question, a continuation as regards the directives.

Attorney General: I would request the section from the middle of page 413 until the middle of page 414 be played back.

Less: Very well. Perhaps I could put my question this way: In what way were the directives in regard to the Reich different from those applying to the occupied areas, in the West and the East, and to the countries which were Allies [of the Reich]. And, in speaking now about directives, I am not referring to the directives given by you to your representatives in these various areas.

E. Captain, this was the main - actually this was generally the reason that applied to those people...from the Western [areas] the areas of the Generalgouvernement, but not, not also in the occupied parts of Russia, was there...such a thing did not exist. The the...implementation...was firstly the efforts to carry out the deportation.

L. Were these the directives which those people received?

E. This was - it was - a general instruction, this was in general the basis, this was Himmler's instruction. And so, first of all, there was a need, in these countries, Captain, - for a legal create a legal basis, on the basis...or by means of a regulation, or with the aid of orders, on the basis of which the deportation would be carried out at all. And here, those people such as Dannecker and such as - such as Wisliceny and so on....they, together with other members of the staff, under the local authority of the commander, or Wisliceny, together with the remaining members of the embassy staff, had to dig up and discover what could be considered here. For as long as it was not legal... on a legal basis, how can I put it - not a legal basis...

L. Correct - that is obvious - as you have already said a few times, but - the directives which were given to those representatives by your office, or by your section, by your Department IVB4, were they not...

E. Now we are coming to it - yes, yes...

L. I can understand that you will say, or that you intend to say that what we are talking of are...these directives. The directives were that the representatives would get in touch with the authorities, on the spot, so that they should inform them how many persons to supply for the transport...

E. Yes.

L. So that you could proceed...

E. Yes.

L. What were the directives?...This is what I mean.

E. Now, on the basis of that fact, came...that is to say if the place were ready for it that it would, accordingly, make the evacuation possible. Then came the directives for carrying out the evacuation - and there were various, frequent occasions according to what the Reichsfuehrer, in other words, Himmler, had determined, and as an example...

L. Were the directives different for the different areas?

E. For the different areas, yes.

Attorney General: Mr. Less, in the section beginning on page 699, at the bottom, there is reference to a document T/439 (T/37 (32)). Did you produce this document?

Witness Less: Yes.

Attorney General: And did you read the document?

Witness Less: I read the document out aloud.

Attorney General: And you also did the same in many other places. You read the document and what did you ask the Accused to do?

Witness Less: Whether he wanted to make any comments.

Attorney General: Thank you. I would ask you to play back the section on page 699, from the words "Ich zeige Ihnen jetzt...

Less: I now show you photocopy No. 20 - marked June 8, 1960, from Paris (Exhibit T/439 (T/37 (32)). As I see, this is a file - Paris, 21 July 1942. Is the signature Dannecker's?

Eichmann: Yes.

L. Re: Deportation of Jews.

(1) Memorandum

On 20 July 1942 we received a telephone call from Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann and SS Obersturmfuehrer Novak from the RSHA IVB4. With Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann we discussed the deportation of the children. He decided that as soon as a transport to the area of the Generalgouvernement would again be possible, transports of children could roll. SS Obersturmfuehrer Novak promised to make possible at the end of August or the beginning of September six transports to the area of the Generalgouvernement, and these could include Jews of all kinds (also persons unfit for work and elderly Jews) SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann had received advice that at that time only ten transports would be possible and that even these were not definite, and that it was...that there were contacts pending with the French Government in connection with arrests of additional Jews. With regard to the transport from Bordeaux which had been cancelled, it was explained that in consequence of the promise given by SS Standartenfuehrer Dr. Knochen to the chief of the French Police Bousquet to take for the present only stateless Jews, a completely new situation had arisen without any action on our part (ohne hiesiges Zutun) which upset the whole arrangement.

(2)For the information of SS Obersturmfuehrer Roethke.

(3) For the information and the records of SS Untersturmfuehrer Heinrichson.

E. Yes.

L. Do you want to say anything regarding this?

E. I now remember in regard to the children, I remember that I heard about it. This decision in principle for those children was made by Himmler personally. The question was submitted from the Reich Security Office through Gruppenfuehrer Mueller, that this was the state of affairs and instructions were sought how to act, and this matter was not settled, not by Mueller and was not even settled by the Chief of the Security Police and the SD, but was brought before Himmler, and Himmler then decreed: "to transport." I now remember, when I...Captain, a few days ago I...when there was some question of children.

L. Regarding the Grand Mufti?

E. Right, yes, then I, it seems to me, I said that I remember some question of children, but that was not it - that's it, that's it - yes. On this point Himmler gave instructions personally.

L. Did this decision have any connection with the "technical questions of the transport," the fate of 4,000 children, who were sent to an extermination camp?

E. Yes, Captain, in this case with the directives to carry out transports, since these were the...the office of the Commander....He had to furnish them with directives and I had to obtain these directives for myself. These had to be obtained by the Department.

L. Are you willing to sign the document for the purpose of identification?

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