The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Attorney General: I would ask you to play back the exatract commencing on page 2680 to 2683.
L. Today is 20 September 1960. Recording reel No. 56 has been put in. It is now 09.57.

E. As an annex to...the last recording tape, in which, Captain, you read a few passages from Der Stern,which appeared in June of this year, allow me to say a few additional words to complete the picture.

I am supposed to have written - so I concluded - I must admit, Captain - that you have read it to me in the form of extracts, not the complete article, so that I don't know what the complete article as such is about - I am supposed to have written that I was an accessory to murder. Now if that one sentence stood there, or in fact stands there, then it would not correspond to the truth, for I have written in truth as follows - I can no longer give you this word for word, but I give it approximately verbatim - namely: Round about the years 1953-1955 I said that I would forthwith declare myself as an accessory to the charge of murder, if those who on the basis of orders which they had received for the evacuation and expulsion of millions of German men, women, children and elderly people would also declare themselves to be accessories to the charge of murder and if they, too, were punished. Hundreds of German civilians of all age-groups - this I wrote further - were evacuated and expelled etc. by the then enemy powers, and I have not yet heard that those who participated in this were charged somehow with war crimes or with crimes against humanity, but I have always read that those same persons walk around to this day as free persons without any stigma attached.

Furthermore, I wrote, as long as they use two different criteria here, I do not regard myself as being guilty, not in any circumstances, but the reverse - innocent - since I acted solely in accordance with the orders I received, exactly as they did. Thereafter, I further dwelt in this context with the questions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and with the wars and expulsions and killings that took place also after 1945 - though without any connection with the Second World War - in other parts of the world. Of course, according to modern jurisprudence, in accordance with the conceptions of today, according to the first Nuremberg Trial, let us say - the precedent of the first Nuremberg Trial, I am, of course, from the formalistic, legal point of view, an accessory to the charge of murder, but in my view - thus I went on to write - this is a one-sided interpretation of the law, and is evidently applied only to the Germans, in accordance to the principle "Woe to the conquered!" - Vae victis.

With regard to the remarks of Der Stern relating to my personality - to the allegiance to the flag and to orders, I can only describe them, in truth as really silly, because I need not have disclosed these things in Argentina, but such matters were the most fundamental questions relating to everyone wearing uniform, at all times. It is profoundly distressing, of course, that such things do take place at all amongst people, but I did not invent them, I was not the one to give orders about them, nor could I have stopped them. As a final point - this is of less interest in this connection, but I also had these thoughts, and they are - in regard to the extracts from the books which I wrote down in my notebook.

Here my point of view is that these remarks which I put down in my private notebooks, do not as such have to be of interest to any person at all, as long as I do not lend these books out, and I did not lend out any one of those books. How Der Stern came into the possession of these few private books - I do not know. At any rate that is all, Captain, that I have to say about the article in Der Stern.

Judge Halevi: Mr. Attorney General, these lengthy quotations from the newspaper Der Stern I, at any rate, am not happy with them, that is to say to attribute to the Accused words which we do not know exactly if they are accurate and where this German paper obtained the material ...I understand that this was brought before us only in order to hear the response of the Accused thereto.

Attorney General: Certainly.

Judge Halevi: But he often does not confirm all the words, but only the last words. Even his comment on the private remarks that he wrote in his personal notebooks - I do not want to enter into the legal aspect - but perhaps it is not customary to rely on words such as these as legal material against the Accused.

Attorney General: With all due respect, Your Honour, I believe that if something is written either by the Accused or which has some written reference to the Accused, and this is submitted to him in the course of interrogation, and he is asked to respond to it - this is definitely legitimate; in an interrogation one is allowed to do so and it is valid, and his response in regard to this is certainly valid. At any rate, this will be a matter for argument, and if Defence Counsel wishes to invalidate this - these extracts - my contention will be that they are absolutely valid.

Presiding Judge: I wanted to ask you, Mr. Less - these last words, these supplementary remarks in the last passage - did he say this orally or did he read it from a written text?

Witness Less: He read it.

Presiding Judge: He prepared this for himself in writing - that was my impression.

Attorney General: With the Court's permission, there is another section, possibly two sections, which were not marked on the tapes. We shall not be able to play them, but I would for this reason ask Captain Less to read them to you. One is on pages 2338-2339 of the statement. Please, Captain Less, read the part that I have marked in red.

L. "I asked myself, who gave the instruction to the Ministry of Eastern Affairs or to the circles attached to the Oberregierungs...Amtsgerichtsrat Dr. Wetzel to do something in regard to the gas machines? For there had to be some kind of driving force here. I said to myself, if the Chief of the Security Police and the SD, for the office of the Chief of the Security Police would simply have ordered it. And this is what I think - perhaps there are still today some circles or other from the Ministry for Eastern Affairs at that time where one could...possible the Amtsrat, the Amtsgerichtsrat Wetzel is still alive, this also can be, a source where it would be possible to receive a more accurate idea, somehow, in relation to this. For I - to the best of my conscience - I could not imagine myself anything else, if you please - perhaps this is just my imagination - that it was perhaps so, that they said to themselves in the Ministry for Eastern Affairs 'This must be conducted in a more elegant way.' The shootings did not suit them any more - perhaps some authority or other obtained precise documentation about it, and then they began querying."

Attorney General: The last section, with the Court's permission, that I would ask Mr. Less to read is on page 1933-1934.

Less: Yes, did you at that time see this solution as a question of the survival or destruction of the German people?

Presiding Judge: No. "Yes" at the beginning is not correct. Perhaps it should be something less emphatic "Did you not see?"

Less: Did you not see as a question of the survival or distinction of the German people this solution whereby the entire Jewish people, all the Jews of Europe, had to be destroyed?

Eichmann: Captain, if they had told me at that time: "your father is a traitor," and in fact my own father were a traitor and I had to put him to death, I would certainly have done so. I at the time blindly obeyed orders and I fulfilled all commands with a blind discipline, and in so doing I found - how can I put this - my satisfaction and I found consolation in it, as it was called, and we could not describe it to ourselves in any other way, a war for the destiny of the German people, and it would have made no difference, whatever the mission was that they imposed on me, Captain.

Attorney General: These, for the time being, are the extracts to which we wished to draw the Court's attention. Obviously in the course of the submission of evidence there will be additional passages which will have some connection with one or other extracts in the same chapter we shall be submitting at that time, and then we shall take the liberty of drawing the Court's attention to them. I request the Court to accept the tapes numbered 1-76. I shall have something further to say about tape 77. I would merely ask to be allowed to have access to these tapes when we shall want, at some time, to play an additional extract in the course of submitting evidence, to enable us to mark this extract for ourselves in advance.

Judge Halevi: Of course, all this material, all six volumes of the Accused's statements are now before the Court and constitute evidence.

Attorney General: Certainly.

Judge Halevi: Including what has not been publicly heard and also what is not going to be heard publicly in the future.

Attorney General: To be absolutely precise: We maintain what we have already submitted, that which is marked as an exhibit and was signed by the Accused after he checked the tapes - this constitutes his statement. These tapes are not his statement, they do not include his statement. The statement is contained in the written material, signed, and in your possession, that is to say in what we have already submitted. But we believe that it is our duty to submit the tapes as well, so that it should be absolutely clear from all the material which is before the Court what was the source of the statement which is printed and signed. But I ask you to accept all the tapes in evidence.

Presiding Judge: With regard to the subsequent access to the tapes, I think the best procedure would be for you to ask the Clerk of the Court, from time to time, for the tape in which you are interested, and then he will be able to produce that tape for you.

Attorney General: We shall do so, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: We shall mark the tapes T/39. We shall mark them T/39/1 and so forth, in order. Mr. Bodenheimer will start marking them. How many tapes are there here?

Attorney General: 76, Your Honour.

There was another tape - No. 77. What does it contain, Mr. Less?

Witness Less: A series of questions that I put to the Accused on 2 February 1961, in accordance with the request of the State Prosecution.

Q. Was that in connection with the property of the Jews of Hungary? Correct?

A. Yes, connected with it.

Q. I should like to submit tape 77. Do you also have a transcript of this tape?

A. I have a transcript, but it has not been verified

Q. Not verified by the Accused? Why?

A. The deciphering was done after the indictment or the chargesheet had already been handed to him, and there was no longer any possibility of talking to him.

Presiding Judge: With regard to the marking, it would be as well, Mr. Bodenheimer, if you would make use, this time, of special labels and affix each label to the tape itself, and perhaps you have some kind of wax seal for it, or a lead tag, such as they use for purchase tax.

Attorney General: According to an affidavit of Ms. Sonia Oster, an employee of Bureau 06, she made a correct transcript of this tape, and the transcript which is in the possession of Captain Less and which was prepared by her is a correct transcript of that tape. I ask you to accept the affidavit, the tape and the transcript.

Presiding Judge: In this case, will the tape be the principal evidence?

Attorney General: Yes. In this case the tape will speak for itself. We did not manage to have the Accused sign it. We did not think that it would be proper to have any contact with him at all after we had submitted the indictment.

Presiding Judge: The additional tape will be marked T/40, the transcript of this tape T/41 and the affidavit of Ms. Sonia Oster T/42.

Mr. Hausner, was an additional caution given before taking this extra evidence?

Attorney General: I do not think so.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have anything to raise in regard to the submission of this tape?

Dr. Servatius: No. I do not want to express any objection to this. I even believe that it will be to the Accused's advantage for him to have the right to speak up against the charges that have been levelled against him.

Judge Raveh: When was the recording of the last statement concluded?

Attorney General: Possibly Mr. Less will be able to help us in this. When did you end the recording of the statement?

Witness Less: On 17 January, if I am not mistaken. Yes, on 17 January.

Attorney General: Mr. Less. Do you have in your possession the various documents which you produced to the Accused in the course of recording his remarks?

Witness Less: Yes, they are with me, here.

Attorney General: Kindly submit them to the Court.

Witness Less submits the documents to the Court.

Presiding Judge: How many are there, Mr. Less?

Witness Less: Approximately four hundred documents.

Presiding Judge: There ought to be some order in this matter.

Attorney General: Have you arranged them in any particular order?

Witness Less: They are arranged in numerical order, and this is also mentioned in the small catalogue which has been submitted to you.

Presiding Judge: This was T/37/A

Witness Less: I understand, however, that in relation to one document appearing there - I do not remember the number for the moment - an error occurred. They are checking this in the archives, in order to correct this later.

Presiding Judge: All right, Mr. Hausner. We shall accept this now, or we shall regard this as if it was accepted at this stage, and we propose that , on Sunday, Mr. Less and Mr. Bodenheimer sit together and mark these exhibits according to their order, starting from T/43, so that it may be ready by Monday.

Attorney General: We shall do as the Court wishes. Mr. Less has not concluded his evidence, although he is approaching the end.

Presiding Judge: I am noting here - in the meantime the documents mentioned in the Accused's statement have been submitted, and at the beginning of the next Session we shall indicate the numbers of the exhibits. Is that in order?

Attorney General: Yes, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: We shall adjourn now and continue on Monday morning at 9.00.

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