The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Sessions 14
(Part 2 of 7)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
On numerous occasions Eichmann told me that Jews had no value except as labourers and that only 20-25 per cent were able to work. I was present in Budapest in June or July 1944 at a meeting between Eichmann and Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, at which they talked specifically about the percentage of Hungarian Jews that would be strong enough for labour. On the basis of transports previously received at Auschwitz and the supply of Jews inspected by him in collection centres, Hoess stated that only twenty or at the most twenty-five per cent of these Hungarian Jews could be used for labour. Hoess said that this percentage also pertained to all Jews transported to Auschwitz from all over German occupied Europe, with the exception of Greek Jews who were of such poor quality, that they all had to be eliminated. Among the able-bodied were women and some children over the age of 12 or 13 years.

Both Eichmann and Hoess said that all Jews unfit for labour were liquidated.

All extermination of Jews took place in closed camps. The camps at Auschwitz and Majdanek were referred to as extermination camps 'A' and 'M' respectively. I know that Jews at Auschwitz and other extermination camps were killed with gas, starting at least as early as the spring of 1942. Eichmann said that in the cases of groups from which the able- bodied had already been selected, the remainder were gassed immediately upon their arrival at the concentration camps. In cases where there was no prior selection, the screening had to take place at the concentration camps before the unfit were gassed. The inspection at concentration camps to determine who was considered able-bodied and who was to be executed were very superficial.

Late in 1944, Himmler directed that all executions of Jews were to cease, but Eichmann did not carry out this order until he received a written directive signed by Himmler. Unaccountable thousands of Jews who had been sent to concentration camps died of epidemics and undernourishment, such as in the camps at Flossenbuerg and Sachsenhausen.

In appendix A-I, I have prepared a chart of the organization of RSHA in 1944 to show the relative position of Amt IV4 and its subsections. In the same exhibit, I have listed the experts on the Jewish Question who served in a capacity similar to my own in other countries. Their names and assignments were:

Hauptsturmfuehrer Dr. Seidl (Theresienstadt)
Hauptsturmfuehrer Wisliceny(Slovakia)
Hauptsturmfuehrer Abromeit (Croatia)
Hauptsturmfuehrer Dannecker (Bulgaria)
Hauptsturmfuehrer Brunner (France)
Hauptsturmbannfuehrer Krumey (Lodz - later Athens)
Hauptsturmfuehrer Burger (Theresienstadt - later Athens)

I have also shown members of the staff in Eichmann's office that includes Hauptsturmfuehrer Franz Novak who had charge of all transportation matters concerning all evacuations of Jews and Untersturmfuehrer Hartenberger who was a specialist on individual cases. To my personal knowledge, based on my observation during several years service in the Balkan countries and close association with leaders in these countries who were responsible for actions taken against the Jews, the numbers of Jews effected were approximately: 66,000 in Slovakia; l60,000 in Greece; 8,000 in Bulgaria; 3,000 in Croatia and 500,000 in Hungary. In appendix A-II I have set forth details as to their disposition.

I considered Eichmann's character and personality important factors in carrying out measures against the Jews. He was personally a cowardly man who went to great pains to protect himself from responsibility. He never made a move without approval from higher authority and was extremely careful to keep files and records establishing the responsibility of Himmler, Heydrich and later Kaltenbrunner. I have examined many of the files in his office and knew his secretary very well and was particularly impressed with the exactness with which he maintained files and records dealing with all matters in his Department. Every move taken by Eichmann in executing measures against the Jews was submitted to Heydrich and later to Kaltenbrunner for approval.

I have seen signed duplicate copies of Eichmann's reports to Himmler. These all went through the Chief of RSHA, Heydrich and later Kaltenbrunner, who signed them. Signed duplicate copies of these reports bearing the name of Kaltenbrunner were filed by Eichmann. The regular channel was from Eichmann through Mueller to Kaltenbrunner and to Himmler. Eichmann was very cynical in his attitude toward the Jewish question. He gave no indication of any human feeling toward these people. He was not immoral, he was amoral and completely ice-cold in his attitude. He said to me on the occasion of our last meeting in February 1945, at which time we were discussing our fates upon losing the war: 'I will laugh when I jump into the grave because of the feeling that I have killed 5,000,000 Jews. That gives me great satisfaction and gratification.'

According to Eichmann, he knew Kaltenbrunner from Linz and they had been good friends for many years. They were both members of the illegal Nazi Party in Austria and were together in Vienna from 1938 to 1940. I know that their good relations continued to at least February 1945. Eichmann told me more than once that whenever he had any difficulties he took them up with Kaltenbrunner. When Kaltenbrunner was appointed as Chief of the RSHA, Eichmann told me that his standing would be improved in the Department because of his close connections with Kaltenbrunner. Their friendship appeared to be very strong because I myself in February 1945 witnessed a short meeting between Kaltenbrunner and Eichmann. They met in the vestibule of Eichmann's office, Kurfuersten Str. 116. Kaltenbrunner greeted Eichmann heartily and asked about the health of Eichmann's father and family in Linz."

This part of the document ends here.

Attorney General: I now have the original of document No. 856 and I submit it.

Presiding Judge: This is our T/56.

Attorney General: The next document, from which I shall not read anything, is the evidence of Dieter Wisliceny before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg on 3 January 1946, with a Hebrew translation of several extracts, on which we intend to rely. This was published in a compilation which we place at the Court's disposal - the Blue Series in the German edition. All our references to it will apply to this edition - in the fourth volume on pages 339-414. For the convenience of the Court we present a separate transcript of that evidence.

Presiding Judge: Should this receive a number?

Attorney General: Yes, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: This document is numbered T/58 (the evidence of Wisliceny before the Military Tribunal at Nuremberg)

Attorney General: This document is a report prepared by Dieter Wisliceny in cell 133 of the Bratislava prison on 27 October 1946, concerning Adolf Eichmann, in Wisliceny's handwriting. As regards authentication - the Court has already accepted the sworn affidavit which confirms that indeed it was written by Dieter Wisliceny.

Presiding Judge: This means that the Court will have to compare the signature here and there?

Attorney General: No. The Court already has the affidavit of Mr. Hagag, which relies on Brookhart, on the document which has already been submitted and which states that this is the same signature. There is no problem of verification in this instance, but there is a problem of the law of evidence, since I am submitting a report by somebody whom I am unable to bring as witness. There is no dispute on the point that Dieter Wisliceny was executed following the judgment of a Slovakian court.

Presiding Judge: When?

Attorney General: I do not want to commit myself, Your Honour, but it seems to me that it was in 1947. But on this we have no dispute with Defence Counsel. And here we would request a definitive decision from the Court, for this is not the only document of its kind.

Presiding Judge: Does the statement relate entirely to the Accused?

Attorney General: Yes. This statement was put to the Accused - he was requested to comment on it. The remarks made therein will appear in other testimony which we shall seek to submit to the Court.

Presiding Judge: How did the Accused respond in general to the statement?

Attorney General: Generally speaking, he confirmed one part and denied another part. He contends that Wisliceny made this statement out of a desire to put the blame on him and to save his own skin, and so on, something which to a certain extent, perhaps, might even have been true. And the Court will certainly have to take care, when it comes to weighing up these reports, to what extent these reports of men who cannot be brought to Court, to the witness-box, to what extent they were influenced by personal motives.

But I want to ask the Court to allow us, according to a leading decision of the Supreme Court, which I shall immediately quote, to produce to this Court according to the authority given to the Court under section 15 of the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law to produce as evidence any item of testimony which has probative value.

In section 15 of the Law it is provided

"(a) In an action for an offence under this law - the Court may deviate from the rules of the evidence if it is satisfied that this will promote the ascertainment of the truth and the just handling of the case. (b) Whenever the Court decides to deviate under subsection (a) from the rules of evidence, it shall place on record the reasons which prompted its decision."
In other words we shall be obliged to request a ruling on each single document, but if once a ruling in principle were to be given, our task would be greatly simplified, and also the task of the defence, as we would know the views of the Court. This question arose in the Supreme Court; not in a trial to which the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law applied directly, but as a result of a libel case in which Malchiel Grunewald was on trial, arising out of warlike activities or in time of war. I rely on the decision of the Supreme Court in Criminal Appeal No. 232 of 1955, Piske Din Vol. 12, page 2017. I read from the judgment of Justice Agranat, pages 2084-2085. On page 2084 a comparison was made with the rules which were operative in this matter in the Nuremberg Trials:
"I have to refer, finally, to another principle, which I had in mind in connection with the establishment of the facts; I am referring to the principle arising out of the wording of paragraph 15(a) of the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law which states...To my mind there is no doubt that in the absence of such a provision - which is almost a verbatim copy of that which appears in section 19 of the Constitution of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg - it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to establish properly the factual background concerning the commission of crimes of the kind with which the said law deals; it would have been difficult to do so, if it had been obligatory to depend upon the technical exclusionary rules of evidence which stem from the Common Law and which usually apply in Israel as well. It should be pointed out that the experience of the Nuremberg Trials taught - as Williams points out in 'Proof of Guilt,' on page 152 - that this provision 'even satisfied the requirements of the Anglo-American lawyers,' a matter which was also testified to by Justice Jackson who had served as head of the Prosecution on behalf of the United States in that trial (ibid).

"Thus, the application of the local provision is limited to the hearing of the charge of an offence under the said Law. Nevertheless, can the conclusion be gainsaid that the factual background of the first two counts against the respondent is similar to the factual background of the indictment of somebody as an accomplice in the commission of a 'Crime against the Jewish People,' in accordance with section 1(a) (1) of that law in conjunction with section 23 (1) of the Criminal Code Ordinance?"

In other words, the Court there, despite the fact that the indictment was not based upon the Nazis Punishment Law, permitted and approved the deviation by the District Court from the rules of evidence owing to the fact that the general background in the case of libel was the same background as that likely to have existed in a trial for an offence under section 1 (a) (1); whereas here we are already dealing with an offence under section 1, and the words of Justice Agranat acquire even greater force.

Presiding Judge: Are you talking of a specific document - a specific kind of document - or in general?

Attorney General: We are talking generally, and also of a specific class of documents, recent documents, which were drawn up shortly after the act was committed. I shall presently come to these paragraphs. On page 2085 he goes on to say:

"It is quite obvious that we are talking here of the principle which lifts the ban on the submission of hearsay evidence and allows the Court to rely thereon, when it is of opinion that this evidence has probative value. As has already been mentioned, if we take account of the fact that in this trial there was an examination of questions of fact relating to events that occurred in another country and more than ten years ago, for our task is to delve into the state of mind that accompanied Dr. Kastner at every stage of the long and protracted negotiations that he conducted, in the first period, with the men of the Juden- Kommando,for the other members of the Rescue Committee were not always present at the meetings which Dr. Kastner held with these people; and that the reference is to a period of time in which events rapidly followed one another, and to negotiations which he conducted, largely, in an atmosphere both feverish and nervous - then it is impossible to say that the need to be aided by the said principle can be in doubt. I saw the need for this, mainly, in regard to the following class of hearsay evidence, viz. the class to which those documents belong which were drawn up at a period of time relatively close to the events upon which they shed light, and to which belong the various reports mentioned in sections A,B and C of this judgment, including those drawn up by Kastner and Freudiger."
I have not yet concluded - I shall finish forthwith.

On page 2088:

"True, I did not lose sight of the considerations that Kastner's report is not a document written by a man who worded it naively, but by an experienced journalist who was well versed in the art of writing and phrasing, and hence in various parts of this document there is discernible an apologetic tendency which Kastner adopted at the time he wrote it, that is to say: the tendency to justify his activity as director of the Rescue Committee before the Twenty-Second Zionist Congress for which the report was destined. These are certainly considerations which I had to take into account when attempting to assess the truth of the words written in one or other section of the report, and they oblige us to adopt special precautions in our assessment. Notwithstanding all this, it is clear to me that there is nothing in those considerations, generally speaking, to deny the probative value which this document contains, especially as it was intended, at any rate for external purposes, to have an official or semi-official character."
Now I shall only briefly draw the Court's attention as the Supreme Court requires me to do, to what happened at Nuremberg. In volume 15 of the Green Series to which I have already referred, the Court will find, on page 15, paragraphs 19 and 20 of the Charter, Para. 19 is the one which says that the court will admit as evidence any material "which it deems to have probative value." On pages 31-32 the Court will find paragraphs 7 and 8 of Order No. 7 which applies to American Military Courts, repeating the same provision.

Presiding Judge: Is there, in fact, almost no difference between our section 15 and section 19 of the London Charter as has been said here?

Attorney General: Possibly there is a difference, Your Honour, but the principle which the Supreme Court laid down is that a matter which has probative value shall be admitted by the Court. And, hereafter, the question is subject to discretion in the light of the sum total of the evidence. I have no doubt that the Court will not rely on, will not accept, as definite, proven and dependable, every single item that will be submitted in all these documents.

Judge Halevi: Is that similar to the general principle of German Law - Freie Beweiswuerdigung? (free evaluation of evidence?)

Attorney General: Exactly, Your Honour, but first of all we are speaking at this moment about admissibility - we have not yet reached the stage of weighing up - we shall come to this at the end.

Judge Halevi: The German principle in the Rules of Evidence is that anything is admissible and only afterwards is its practical value assessed.

Attorney General: Anything relevant, anything that has any connection whatsoever. I would restrict the matter even further. I would say that the onus is on the party seeking to submit a document such as this, to prove to the Court that it is indeed relevant, on the one hand, otherwise it will assuredly not be admissible. Secondly that it should not appear on the face of it that it has no value as evidence, it should not appear that all of it is falsified and cannot be relied upon. If it appears that it is possible to rely on it or on part thereof for any purpose at all in arriving at a judgment, it has probative value and should be admitted.

So far I have referred to the contents of pages 31-32 of volume 15. Now I hope the Court will allow me to refer also to the Charter of "IMT Far East" in the same volume on page 1222.

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