The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 17
(Part 2 of 5)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Presiding Judge: As whose witness would he appear there?

Attorney General: He will appear as a witness for the Defence. I have his affidavit making a statement and I am entitled in terms of paragraph 15 to submit it. If the Defence wishes to refute the statements, it may bring him as a witness.

Presiding Judge: This appears to be a kind of irregular combination.

Attorney General: I shall not accept von Thadden as my witness - not in any circumstances.

Presiding Judge: Owing to the fact that you will be submitting his affidavit, you will virtually be calling him.

Attorney General: I accept his affidavit.

Presiding Judge: His affidavit does not exist on its own. But this is not important - I understand.

Dr. Servatius: The difficulty is rooted in the fact that we are applying two different legal systems. The German legal system does not recognize a witness for the prosecution and a witness for the defence, but the witness is that of the Court and accordingly one cannot talk of the possibility of a cross-examination. We should have thought of a way according to the English system of taking evidence, by means of a visit to Germany by a representative for the taking of evidence which he would take there. The simplest way would be for an Israeli Judge to travel to Germany - that is a possibility. But even more simple would be for the witness to come here.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, let us not lose sight of the practical difficulties in this matter. We all visualize these difficulties, it seems to me.

Dr. Servatius: I am only afraid that the Court will not then be able to ascribe to that evidence the weight which it would have ascribed to it if the witness could have been cross-examined here by the Defence - if he gave evidence here.

Attorney General: I would not like to prolong this argument.

Presiding Judge: It is important. We want to hear about it.

Attorney General: It would have been preferable, if Defence Counsel would have submitted to us a list of the persons whom he wishes to call and then, instead of a hypothetical debate on the principles, we would know of what and whom we are talking, and we would be able to weigh up what was our knowledge of the past of these people and whether we are able to declare that they can enter the State and depart from it. But thus far we are talking of principles and eventualities and on what is good and what is bad, and we have not even received the name of one witness.

Presiding Judge: At the present time we are speaking of certain names.

Attorney General: Then I would ask that Defence Counsel tell us whom he wants. Does he only want these two, or...

Presiding Judge: At the present time it is still premature for him to require anything. You want us, for the time being, to accept the two affidavits. But we are examining all kinds of possibilities how to cope with the difficulties inherent in the situation.

Attorney General: If Defence Counsel says that he insists that Hoettl and Huppenkothen should specifically give oral evidence, and also von Thadden, I suggest he give notice of this publicly, and I shall consider whether I can bring them here and give them an undertaking of immunity. Von Thadden will not be given a promise of immunity - this we declare in advance. If he should come here, a warrant of arrest will be issued against him and he will stand trial. I declare this in advance. It is not worthwhile to conceal these matters.

Presiding Judge: This, at least, means one problem less. What do you say to this idea of Dr. Servatius' of sending an examining officer from here to those countries?

Attorney General: I should not like to take a stand on this at the moment. There are all kinds of considerations - both political and security - and I shall express an opinion after going into the question and being guided by the opinions of other authorities.

Judge Halevi: This is also a question of sovereignty.

Presiding Judge: Naturally it can only be done with the consent of those countries.

Attorney General: Assuredly.

Presiding Judge: How much time will you require in order to formulate the views of the others and of yourself?

Attorney General: Would it be acceptable if I do so by tomorrow afternoon?

Dr. Servatius: I have not yet burdened the Court with applications since I do not know whether the witnesses will come. The question is dependent upon this fact - whether they will be promised freedom of movement. Even if they are to be promised free passage, I still do not know whether the witnesses will come, and I shall have to clarify this. But if I know this, then I shall submit applications and I shall not bother you with applications beforehand.

Presiding Judge: At any rate it would be desirable for you to consult between you, for the question of free movement also depends upon the personality of the witness. The Attorney General will not be able to give a general answer. If you would turn to him and say: I would like to have this witness here - are you prepared to guarantee him free movement - and should the answer be affirmative, then the application can come before the Court. But someone must set the ball rolling.

Dr. Servatius: The provision of the law does not differentiate in this way. In order to ascertain the readiness of the witnesses, my assistant has gone to Germany for one week to check whether each individual witness is ready to give evidence. If they are ready to testify I shall be able to notify the Attorney General specifically to what extent the witnesses are prepared to appear and whether the evidence they are due to give is relevant.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, in order that everything may be before us as far as possible at the time of making the decision - we shall postpone making the decision and we shall give it not tomorrow but on the morning following. Meanwhile kindly take your stand regarding this latest idea of Dr. Servatius and advise us thereon during the course of tomorrow.

Attorney General: I shall do so Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: This applies, therefore, to the three decisions which we have meanwhile promised for tomorrow morning. The handing down of the decisions will be deferred until the morning of the day after tomorrow.

Now we may continue with the evidence of Mr. Fleischmann. Mr. Fleischmann, you are still giving evidence under oath.

State Attorney Bar-Or: You told the Court before the recess that after the meeting at the Metropol Hotel with Eichmann, Rothenberg on behalf of the Palestine Office and Dr. Loewenherz on behalf of the Jewish Community of Vienna were appointed to be liaison officers for purposes of conducting the affairs of the Jews in Vienna, or more correctly in Austria, between the Jewish organizations and Eichmann's office. Tell the Court what happened after that.

Witness Fleischmann: May I say one word so that there should not be a misunderstanding. I said that at this meeting Mr. Rothenberg was appointed as the administrator of the affairs of the Palestine Office, and Dr. Loewenherz was appointed thereafter, but not at this meeting, to be administrator of the affairs of the community.

Q. In fact, where was Dr. Loewenherz on the day of the meeting?

A. Under arrest.

Q. When was he released?

A. Perhaps two or three weeks later.

Q. Who was the man in the community with whom you maintained contact until the release of Dr. Loewenherz?

A. The community [offices] were closed. There was no person there with whom it was possible to talk matters over.

Q. Do you recall that in those days, as you say, the offices of the Kultusgemeinde (Community) were closed? Do you remember who occupied these offices?

A. The Gestapo; the place was occupied by the entertainment force of the SS.

Q. Are you referring to the Vergnuegungstruppen?

A. I am referring to the Vergnuegungstruppen (entertainment forces). Their name was Verfuegungstruppen (standby forces) but since they excelled in sadism and cruelty, they were given the nickname Vergnuegungstruppen.

Presiding Judge: Who gave them this name?

Witness Fleischmann: The Jews of Vienna.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Do you remember a meeting with these so-called Vergnuegungstruppen, outside the office of the community after the meeting with Eichmann?

Witness Fleischmann: I had unfortunately more than one encounter. I first met them several days after we had our Session or meeting with Eichmann at the Metropol Hotel. I had to speak urgently with the Director of the Office, Emil Engel, who lived in the community building. I came to the building. Two men of the standby units of the SS were standing there, marked out from the others by their field uniform, steel helmets and armed with rifles; picked soldiers, none of them less than 1.78 metres tall, with very remarkable hands, powerful and long, such as can be found only in a choice of athletically built men. I came close to the entrance, and the wife of the caretaker, Mrs. Serakowitz, noticed me and wanted to warn me off. But one of these sentries, one of these guards, had already noticed me and called out to me to enter. He gave me a bucket of water, hot boiling water, and a rag, and ordered me to scrub the pavement before the door of the community building. I lay flat on the floor and began to scrub. The bucket was half- full of corrosive acid and my hands soon became swollen and burnt.

Q. Do you recall an incident connected with the Great Synagogue on the Tempelgasse after that?

A. After this incident, Dr. Loewenherz had already been released, the first assault on the Synagogue in Tempelgasse was carried out.

Q. Approximately when was this?

A. It was in May, approximately. At that time, surprise raids were already taking place. The raid which I personally recall was on Taubergasse, when young boys and men were rounded up like dogs and loaded onto refuse carts, not cars, and taken to Dachau. At the end of May death notices began to arrive. In this way our friend, the wife of the paprika manufacturer of Vienna, Kotani, who had been taken to Dachau, received notice that her husband was no longer alive and that she should send 10 marks as the cost of an urn, for his ashes. She sent 10 marks and received a lead box with the ashes.

Q. Did you see the notification the lady received?

A. Yes, it was in my hand.

Q. Where did it come from? A. It came from Dachau camp. A second notice reached my colleague Koerber, who was one of the directors of the firm "Klein-Koerber" in Vienna on Kaiserstrasse in the Seventh District. They were taken away and a strong light focused on their eyes, and they were compelled to look directly into it. When he tried to turn his gaze aside he was shot down by an SS man. His wife received the notice and showed it to me.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps you would clarify what was the source of the witness' information?

State Attorney Bar-Or: Were you told about this?

Witness Fleischmann: I met him as I met many people and heard many things.

Presiding Judge: Was Klein also in this transport?

Witness Fleischmann: No, he was in another transport. He was in a concentration camp and afterwards migrated to South America.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Before his emigration did he return to Vienna?

Witness Fleischmann: Yes.

Q. Do you remember special incidents concerning the houses which were occupied by Jews in those days?

A. Prior to this Moshe Schapira of the Jewish Agency came to Vienna, and I was with him and Dr. Lindenfeld, of the Mizrachi, in Tempelgasse on Tishah be-Av.* {*The Ninth of Av, traditional Jewish day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.} I had extremely bad forebodings and I conveyed them to Moshe Schapira and Dr. Lindenfeld. They said I was taking a gloomy view of things. To my regret, however gloomy my view was, what actually happened was much worse than I had predicted. This was in August. One evening, in the Seventh District, all the keys were taken [from the owners], the houses closed, searches were made in them for money and jewellery which were taken without any acknowledgement, and everything was plundered. People were left in the streets, where they were assaulted and beaten up. Dr. Loewenherz went out on the road to Canossa - a long road of degradation, to Eichmann. Every approach to Eichmann was the road to degradation. He asked him to stop this. He returned at one o'clock at night, broken and crushed, and informed us that Eichmann had promised that he would give orders to stop it.

Q. What happened to you at the beginning of September 1938?

A. At the beginning of September I entered the Community Hospital, in order to undergo an operation for a double hernia, as I did not want to emigrate with a hernia. I lay there together with Dr. Plaschke who was suffering from very serious diabetes and with Dr. Oskar Gruenbaum who had also entered the hospital in order to undergo a hernia operation. Some days later there was a first attempt at a so-called black-out which was intended for assaulting people in the dark, to throw them off tramcars and so on. Throughout the night, severely wounded people were brought to the hospital. There was no more room in the wards and the corridors, and it became necessary to put people with broken limbs and mutilated faces down in the garden.

Q. Do you remember the 9th of November 1938?

A. I was the sole volunteer officer in the Palestine Office not receiving a salary. On the 9th of November we received the news of the murder of vom Rath. On 10 November in the morning my friend and colleague, Berthold Bremer, called me and asked whether anything was happening at our end. I called up the Palestine Office in order to hear what was happening. I asked the telephonist: Has anything happened? He said: "Yes," and cut off the connection. I did not like his reply. I called up a second time and received the same answer. I said to my wife that something was wrong. I rang up my son who was then undergoing a retraining course. I told him to leave at once together with his friends, but advised him not to come home but to go in the opposite direction, to the house of a friend and a brother mason.

Presiding Judge: Where were your son and his friends at that time?

A. This was in the Third District on Wasagasse, and my friend's house was in the Third District at the Neulinggasse 20. He is today a man of eighty, who now lives in Jerusalem, after I had brought him illegally to Palestine, having bribed the SS man who arrested us.

I came to the gate of the Palestine Office at Marc Aurel Strasse 8. The gate was closed. A notice was hung up there: "Owing to building alterations there will be no admission of the public today." I thought that this applied to the visiting public only, and I tried to reach my office. I tried to open the gate. It opened and after I saw that behind it were standby forces of the SS, I tried to back away. But one of them called out to me: "Come in." The building was full of SS men. Next to each window stood two men of the standby forces of the SS, so that no one would be able to jump out of the window. I proceeded to the office on the first floor. All the telephone wires had been cut, and some of the officials had already been taken from their houses in the morning.

Q. You say all the officials in the Palestine Office...

Presiding Judge: [correcting] Not all the officials; some of the officials had already been taken from their homes.

State Attorney Bar-Or: How did you come to hear about it that day?

Witness Fleischmann: Because they were not present, and myself found them subsequently in Karajangasse after my arrest.

Presiding Judge: Was there anyone else in the Palestine Office apart from the SS men?

Witness Fleischmann: There was a large crowd of visitors who had earlier been herded together tightly in the large hall. An hour later Eichmann came and delivered a speech the like of which I had never heard.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Did you hear the speech?

Witness Fleischmann: I heard the speech myself since I was there. Immediately afterwards vehicles arrived and the visitors were loaded on to these transports and driven away.

Q. Before this, perhaps you would tell the Court what Eichmann spoke about.

A. He spoke about "the unsatisfactory rate of the disappearance of the Jews from Vienna." He said "This can't go on, the situation has to be changed by totally different ways and means and I shall see to it." This was the substance of his speech.

Q. Where were you taken to?

A. Who?

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