The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 12
(Part 3 of 7)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Presiding Judge: I understood that, if there had been anything prior to the recordings, the witness had no knowledge thereof. Is that correct?

Witness Less: This is what I said. I merely want to repeat what I said before the recording. If this is the intention of the Defence, I explained that after he had expressed his willingness to present his story, I told him to describe - to the extent that he wanted to describe - only his part in the Third Reich, and not anything which came after the surrender of Germany in 1945.

Presiding Judge: This was not the question, I believe.

Witness Less: This is how I understood it.

Presiding Judge: But maybe Dr. Servatius will make himself clear. Were you referring in your question to things mentioned by this witness himself, or by others? I suppose there is some purpose behind these questions.

Dr. Servatius: The question was intended in this way: was there any undue influence on the witness?

Presiding Judge: By this witness or by others - so that we may clarify the matter? At present this witness can only give evidence about his own activities. May I therefore, request that the witness answer yes or no, If there had been any such influence or not.

Witness Less: Is the reference to influence on me?

Presiding Judge: No, influence on the Accused; Did you exert pressure on the Accused? When he said "on the witness" he was referring to the Accused. Now the issue is clearer. Did you influence the Accused in any direction whatsoever that he should testify on certain matters and that he should not testify on others?

Witness Less: As I have already said, I told the Accused that it was of no interest what happened after 1945.

Presiding Judge: Apart from this was there any influence?

Witness Less: No.

Dr. Servatius: If there had been any such influence, would it annul the value of the statement?

Presiding Judge: This is a hypothetical question, and I don't think we can allow you to put it.

Dr. Servatius: I waive the question.

Was a witness by the name of Benno Cohn interrogated, and was this recorded in the presence of the Accused?

Witness Less: I do know that there was a witness called Benno Cohn, but I am not aware of any recording.

Presiding Judge: You were asked about a recording in the presence of the Accused.

Witness Less: I know nothing of this.

Presiding Judge: You did not make it?

Witness Less: No, nor do I know anything about it.

Dr. Servatius: There is a document No. 16 which has not yet been submitted by the Prosecution, and according to which a confrontation was arranged between Benno Cohn and the Accused. After that a declaration was made. Was this not recorded and was it not produced?

Presiding Judge: Perhaps we should divide this question. Firstly, was such a confrontation made?

Witness Less: Yes.

Q. By you?

A. No.

Q. Then by whom?

A. I am not sure, but I think Mr. Hofstaedter was with Mr. Cohn.

Q. And the second part of the question: if it was so - why was there no recording of what was said at the time of this confrontation?

A. I cannot answer the question, since I know nothing about this.

Judge Halevi: You don't know if it was not recorded, and why it was not recorded?

Witness Less: I don't know why not. As far as I am aware, there was no recording.

Q. There was no recording?

A. As far as I am aware.

Dr. Servatius: I thank you. I would simply make a correction; this was document 14 and not 16.

Presiding Judge: Sixteen, according to the catalogue of Bureau 06.

Dr. Servatius: Mr. Less, you said that the Accused submitted written declarations. For what reason did he do so? Were these corrections, were these protests or what was the reason he gave for submitting written statements to you after the interrogation?

Witness Less: As I have said, these were corrections that he requested and he read them into the tape-recorder. These were statements that he read, which he had previously prepared. These were notes he had prepared for himself before the interrogation; he spoke about and explained those points which appeared on paper, and thereafter he gave me the documents, these notes.

Presiding Judge: The question was, if I understand it correctly, if you know what motivated him to make these additional statements?

Witness Less: Additional statements?

Q. Yes - about which you were now asked.

A. Well, he added them of his own volition, he asked to read out these passages.

Q. But why did he do so? Are you aware of this from your contact with the Accused?

A. Perhaps his intention for doing so arose from the fact that I had told him that where he found it appropriate to write down details which he wanted to supplement, he should do so.

Dr. Servatius: Is it correct that he said to you: I thought about the question during the night and I would like to supplement the remarks that were made last night?

Witness Less: There were also such comments which he made, definitely.

Q. Did he say that he wanted to fill in, that at the time of the interrogation, at the time of a sudden question, he did not recall all the details?

A. No, I don' remember his saying such a thing.

Q. One further question. You testified that you showed him the article in Life. Now there are accounts there of reports how he visited Minsk, how he watched people being shot, their being put inside, the operation of the gassing machines etc. On these subjects had he testified before you showed him that article?

A. Yes.

Q. On what occasion was this? Was this a long time before this article?

A. This was approximately in June, and Life was shown to him in December.

Q. Were these processes already known to you?

A. From the words of the Accused.

Dr. Servatius: Not beforehand, from a third party. In other words, did you hear about these processes for the first time only from the Accused, from his voluntary statement?

A. Yes.

Q. I have no further questions.

Attorney General: Mr. Less, do you know whether any pressure was exerted at all on the Accused to make his statement?

Witness Less: No pressure was exerted.

Q. Do you know what was the object of the confrontation between Mr. Benno Cohn and the Accused? A. For purposes of identification.

Q. Thank you. That is all.

Judge Halevi: Captain Less, in the material of the Accused's interrogation which we marked T/37, the six booklets, there are explanatory remarks. However, they are not signed by you but by the head of Bureau 06, Colonel Selinger. But you are mentioned there in the third excerpt: "The interrogator, Captain Avner Less, acted in accordance with clear instructions to avoid any cross-examination. In accordance with these instructions which derive from the Judges Rules in regard to the admissibility of statements by accused persons, the interrogator in several instances refrains from continuing with the examination of the accused on many points, even if the material in his possession justified such an examination."

Are you prepared to confirm this as being correct or to dissociate yourself from it or anything like that?

Witness Less: Yes, there were the instructions.

Q. And you acted in accordance with these instructions?

A. I tried to do so.

Q. We have two questions here: I noted in the few extracts that were read out verbally before us here, that here and there was a certain degree of cross-examination of the Accused. I do not want to say this in order to invalidate the replies, but simply that it does not tally with this part.

A. Actually, when I asked these questions, this was for the purpose of clarification, for previously there may have been, here and there, contradictions between what the Accused had said beforehand and a document which was shown to him - there were these contradictions which I simply could not understand exactly - so it was for the purpose of clarification.

Q. I remember specially your interrogation in regard to transportation, where the Accused's version was that his main activity was to draw up the schedules for transports and you pointed out to him that this could not be correct.

A. I also asked this in connection with art-works, whether this was also within the scope of the duties of a transport officer.

Q. Alright, there were other cases, but most important is the second question. You also refrained, as was mentioned here, in several instances, from continuing with the interrogation of the Accused, on many points.

A. Yes. This was when I produced a particular document and he read out his explanations, his version, in respect of the document, which in my opinion was sometimes remote from what was written. Then I did not press him, and did not continue, and I did not ask him any additional questions, but left it as it was, although I could certainly have continued questioning, and drawing his attention to this and that.

Judge Y. Raveh: With regard to those two larger charts which represent the case of the Prosecution, when were they prepared?

Witness Less: I prepared them at the end of the work of Bureau 06, approximately in January, perhaps a little later than that, in February.

Q. Were they prepared after the completion of the recording of the Accused's statement?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you ask the Accused about the contents of the charts?

A. This arose to some extent from what had already been stated by the Accused, in his notes.

Q. I am interested in knowing whether, in the Accused's statement there is a detailed reaction to these charts or whether there is any response at all, or if there is any implied answer - is it possible to find any response in the Accused's statement to the contents of these charts?

A. In the Accused's statement there are aspects which point to the basis of the charts which I prepared. For example the organizational chart which he signed, also appears to some extent in that chart.

Q. But you cannot refer us to specific extracts of this statement in order to show us what was his reply regarding the contents of the charts or at any rate to certain portions?

A. No, extemporaneously certainly not. I shall certainly have to search and I will find it. At any rate, even in his comments regarding the chart signed by him there are some explanations relating to this as well.

Presiding Judge: Thank you very much, Mr. Less.

Presiding Judge: Who is the next witness?

Attorney General: Professor Salo Baron.

Presiding Judge: Will you please cover your head. Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Salo Baron: Yes.

[ The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness Baron: Shalom Baron - in English Salo Wittmayer Baron.

Attorney General: You are a professor of Jewish History at the University of Columbia?

A. Yes.

Q. Starting when?

A. From the year 1930.

Q. When this chair was established?

A. Yes.

Q. You were born in Tarnow?

A. In Tarnow, Galicia which at that time was part of Austria.

Q. You studied in Vienna?

A. Yes - I studied there in various Faculties: I obtained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1917, Doctor of Political Science in 1922, Doctor of Laws in 1923, and I also was ordained as a Rabbi by the Rabbinical College there.

Q. Amongst your publications is there one about the history of the Jewish communities?

A. There is a book on the history of the Jewish Community until the time of the American Revolution, which appeared in 1942 in three volumes.

Presiding Judge: Communities?

Witness Baron: Jewish Communities in all countries.

Attorney General: And other publications?

Witness Baron: Perhaps the most important book is the Religious and Social History of the Jewish People, the second edition of which has so far appeared in eight volumes, up to the twelfth century, published by the University of Columbia from 1952 to 1960. There is also a French translation in four volumes, a Hebrew translation of the first two volumes which has come out in three volumes, and an Italian translation is to be published.

Q. Do you also engage in research into Jewish history of modern times?

A. Yes, for example I published a book in English: Modern Nationalism and Religion which was the outcome of lectures which I delivered to the Baptist School of Theology, the Rochester Colgate School of Divinity.

Q. Were you Visiting Professor at a number of universities? At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem?

A. Yes, at a number of universities. I lectured at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for half a year - three years ago.

Q. In other universities?

A. Also other universities. In the United States, South Africa and so on.

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