The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Sessions 19
(Part 1 of 5)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Session No. 19

11 Iyar 5721 (27 April 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the nineteenth Session of the trial open.

Mr. Bar-Or, you have submitted approximately fifty exhibits to us. Usually the submission of these exhibits last about one hour, as is customary with our criminal procedure. We have spent the entire morning Session on the submission of these exhibits, because you read extracts from the documents, sometimes long extracts and sometimes in the original language as well, hence requiring translation. We are concerned that if we continue in this way - and I know that your intentions are well-meaning - we are afraid that if it continues in this fashion, this trial will exceed its proper limits. It is the Court's duty to prevent that, and you, no doubt, will help the Court in preventing it.

Therefore, in future, there must be no quoting of the text of documents, and also no reading of passages from them except in special cases, where the party desiring to submit the document will give a short explanation why it is necessary to quote from it verbatim. The document will be submitted, the counsel submitting it will briefly describe it, and if he wishes to draw the attention of the Court to a particular passage from the document, he should refer to the opening words of the passage, and you may rest assured that the judges will read the documents, and in particular the passages referred to.

If, in the course of the presentation of oral testimony, it becomes apparent that the testimonies cannot be understood without reference to a document, you will be able to mention the document at that stage, and we shall examine the document to the extent that may be required in order to understand the testimony.

We understand that the public at large is interested to know the contents of these documents or, at any rate, some of these documents. Of course, there is nothing to prevent you from informing the public of the contents of these documents in any way you deem fit, after each document has been submitted to the Court.

And now, with regard to the oral testimonies, I already said something on the subject yesterday, and I want to add that we presume that, on those subjects which do not relate to the personal responsibility of the Accused, but which are intended to provide the general background of events, it will, generally speaking, be sufficient if you would produce one testimony in order to describe this background and there should be no duplication and repetition of the same events in more than one testimony, as has already happened in the few testimonies we have heard hitherto. I ask for your cooperation in order to render the proceedings in this trial more effective.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Yes, Your Honour.

I should like to complete the set of documents concerning the events with which we dealt this morning. There remain a number of documents which were submitted to the Accused. First of all Prosecution document No. 1176. The original, on the Alexandria, Washington, microfilm No. 4 is on page 455, and was submitted in T/37 under the reference number 302. This is the report which was dictated by the SD agent Botschwing in Berlin on 20 June 1938, concerning his trip and that of Reichsbankrat Dr. Wolf and Assessor Siegert to Vienna. There they met Eichmann. This document illustrates the control that Eichmann exercised, inter alia, also over the policy of the Reichsbank and the Ministry of Economics and Finance in everything relating to the Jews of Austria at that period. The Accused speaks about it, after this document was shown to him, in his statement on pages 3451- 3454.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/149.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Thank you, Your Honour.

The next document is Prosecution document No. 1171 from the same tape where it appears under the number 450. It was submitted to the Accused and was here given the number T/37, Sub-number 300. The Accused speaks about it on pages 3445- 3450 of his statement. It is an "Aktenvermerk" (minute) dictated by Hagen in Berlin on 20 June 1938, in which is stated that Eichmann informed Berlin by telephone about the success of the negotiations between himself and his "Dienststelle" (Office) and Reichsbankrat Wolf, and that, from now on, the consent of Eichmann's office, that is to say, the offices of the district of Austria corresponding to II 112, would have to be obtained before foreign exchange permits could be given to Jewish emigrants by the other competent authorities.

Presiding Judge: The memorandum on emigration from Austria will be marked T/150.

State Attorney Bar-Or: The following document is Prosecution document No. 91, which I am submitting in the original copy which is contained in supplementary document 123 annexed to T/37. This is a report by Schroeder of Department II 112 in Vienna, written on 10 November 1938, a more or less comprehensive report on the operations against Jewish synagogues in Vienna. That was in reply to a cable from Berlin to Vienna No. 47767 dated 10 November 1938. The original copy was shown to the Accused who refers to it on pages 1680-1687 of his statement.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/151.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Thank you, Your Honour.

I pass on to document No. 1134. That is again an "Aktenvermerk" of Dr. Loewenherz about a meeting with Eichmann on 14 August 1939. This document was shown to the Accused, it was annexed as supplementary document No. 303 to T/37, and the Accused's comments on this document appear on pages 3455-3458.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/152.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Thank you, Your Honour.

Before I come to the report of Loewenherz, I should like to point out, Your Honour, that I have ascertained here that Dr. Loewenherz' reports which were submitted here by Mr. Less, were evidently those very copies which were shown to Eichmann, and signed by him at the time of his interrogation. Nevertheless our Minister Mr. Zidon, who, as we know, obtained copies of these documents from Loewenherz, has given me the original here, and I submit them to this honourable Court. I shall have to return to these reports at a later stage, for these reports stretch over the whole period until 1943. I have marked the Prosecution numbers exactly as I did in the case of the Washington numbers.

Presiding Judge: Are these Dr. Loewenherz documents?

State Attorney Bar-Or: These are photocopies of the reports.

Presiding Judge: Only the reports?

State Attorney Bar-Or: Only the reports.

Judge Halevi: To whom were these reports given?

State Attorney Bar-Or: He had copies of these reports in his possession and gave them, before he died, to the Israel representative - Zidon - who made an affidavit on it which was submitted to Mr. Bar-Shalom.

Judge Halevi: When did he write them?

State Attorney Bar-Or: The dates are given there. From the Accused's statement it appears that these reports were drawn up in this form under an agreement between Loewenherz and his colleagues with Eichmann's office: an "Aktenvermerk" had to be drawn up concerning each meeting; the original was sent to the office of the SS, and the copy remained in the possession of the members of the Kultusgemeinde. That is how these copies reached us.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/153.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Thank you, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: Are there no copies of these for the present?

State Attorney Bar-Or: They were submitted to the Court previously.

Presiding Judge: All of them?

State Attorney Bar-Or: Only those which I have marked. Others will still be submitted in the course of the trial. Here we have marked the photostat copies relating to those same "Aktennotitzen" which I submitted this morning.

After they have been marked I would request that the set be returned to me, so that I may make use thereof in the course of the trial later on.

Dr. Servatius: May I make a brief reference to this document - namely that not all the reports were placed before the Accused, but only the decisive passages that the authority who dealt with the matter deemed advisable?

State Attorney Bar-Or: That is correct.

Presiding Judge: Is that as noted in T/37?

State Attorney Bar-Or: Yes, Your Honour.

Judge Halevi: By what numbers?

State Attorney Bar-Or: In the case of each Aktennotitz which was placed before the Accused I marked the sub-number. The others which were not relevant to T/37, were anyhow not shown to the Accused. Otherwise I would have said so. They were shown without any comment on the part of the Accused.

Dr. Servatius: This can easily be determined from the record of the interrogation.

State Attorney Bar-Or: And now, before the end of this chapter, I come to the most important report of the period, the report of Joseph Loewenherz, which constitutes Prosecution document No. 783, which was submitted to the Accused in T/37 and received the sub-number 233. The Court has heard about the significance of this report from Mr. Bar- Shalom and from the affidavit of Mr. Zidon.

I draw the Court's attention to pages 2683-2726 of the Accused's statement. This is a continuous passage in the Accused's statement in which he reacts to the contents of his report. For the moment, at this stage of our case, I refer only to a part of this report and I shall come back, at later stages, to other parts of it.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/154.

State Attorney Bar-Or: The report relates to the period, details of which have so far been proved to the Court. The printed copy which I have submitted contains a total of 45 pages. And I rely here on that part which ends on page 16. These pages are marked on the margin of the report, consecutively until the end of page 16. This corresponds to page 24 of the 63 pages.

I end my present reference to this report now with the words: "diese Ziffer schaetzt Eichmann als zu hoch. Die Raeumung muss zur Gaenze im Laufe des Jahres 1940 erfolgen." ("In Eichmann's estimate this figure is too high. The total evacuation has to be completed during the year 1940"). I shall ask your permission to refer to this report, which continues until the period of 1943, on a later occasion.

Here, Your Honours, I have a request. I have prepared a translation of certain passages from this report. This report does not give a general account of the life of Dr. Loewenherz. Actually it is in the form of a general synopsis, possibly more detailed, of everything contained in the "Aktennotitzen" which the Court has seen, but in a more consecutive and a fuller manner, the relations and the difficulties that Dr. Loewenherz had in his contacts with the Zentralstelle both during the period of Eichmann's presence there until the outbreak of the War and also subsequently until the preparations for the first deportation of Viennese Jews to Nisko - all these appear here in detail. In the translation that I annexed I selected those passages from the various pages which seemed to me to be of special importance for the proof of our case.

Presiding Judge: We do not have a Hebrew translation here.

Judge Raveh: Have you already told us when this report was drawn up?

State Attorney Bar-Or: This report was apparently prepared towards the end of the War, it was apparently composed in a narrative manner. It is not something which was prepared a short time after the events. Its entire contents are based upon notes submitted to the Gestapo week after week. I suppose that this document, in fact, constitutes a kind of narrative internal report that was drawn up by the secretariat of Dr. Loewenherz' office. This report was already before the International Military Tribunal. It also served as evidence against Baldur von Schirach at a trial held in Vienna. We do not know exactly when and on what days these words were written. We do know, from the testimony of Dr. Loewenherz, that what is written here is correct, as far as he knew. The report speaks actually of Dr. Loewenherz all the time, and hence it bears the title "Loewenherz Report."

Presiding Judge: Please find the Hebrew translation and submit it to us.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Yes, Your Honour.

I now ask for leave to call Dr. Paul Meretz.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Dr. David Paul Meretz.

Presiding Judge: Please reply to Mr. Bar-Or's questions.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Dr. Meretz, you graduated in Law from the Universities of Vienna and Prague?

Witness Meretz: Yes.

Q. Until 1939 you practised as a lawyer?

A. Yes, a lawyer in Maehrisch-Ostrau (Ostrava).

Q. When did you leave Maehrisch-Ostrau?

A. I left Maehrisch-Ostrau on 14 March 1939.

Q. Was this a special day?

A. Yes, it was a special day - the day the Nazis invaded Maehrisch-Ostrau. They arrived on 14 March, in the afternoon, and I left at noon, after I received a phone call from the offices of the Zionist Organization to the effect that the Germans would arrive during the course of that day.

Q. You moved to Prague on 14 March 1939?

A. I moved to Prague on 14 March 1939.

Q. What did you do in Prague from 14 March 1939?

A. At that time I was the chairman of the Zionist Organization of Czechoslovakia, and I moved to Prague for a few days. Great confusion prevailed there. On 15 March, in the morning, the Germans entered Prague. I came to Prague on the 15 March and already in the morning we saw that the Palestine Office in Prague was closed. We were then invited to the British Legation in Prague where ten entry permits were available for the Zionist leaders, permits to enter England. Only one or two made use of these permits to enter England. Firstly, we did not want to leave the Jews there, and secondly these permits were phrased in a very, very dangerous manner. It said there "in recognition of your efforts on behalf of the refugees from Germany." If such a permit were to be found on a person, it is clear what would have happened.

Q. Did you come into contact with the Germans immediately?

A. It was like this. I was in Prague for several days. I returned to Maehrisch-Ostrau in order to wind up my personal affairs. I was arrested, but this was, in fact, because of extortions on a personal basis, as it turned out later. I spent a day at police headquarters and later found that my office - a lawyer's office - had been closed by the Gestapo, and the office was reopened by a Nazi lawyer who was paid for it. I still managed to remove incriminating documents likely to endanger me. But it was so dangerous that at once, two or three days later, I moved to Prague and took upon myself the supervision and the conduct of affairs in Prague.

Q. Who were your colleagues in the conduct of the affairs in Prague?

A. In Prague we organized matters in the following way. There was a Palestine Office there and this office had been closed from the first day.

Q. Who was the director?

A. The director of the office was Ya'akov Edelstein. The secretary of the Zionist Organization was Franz Kahn. Apart from them there was also an engineer by the name of Zucker, who ran the internal administration, and there was Dr. Frantisek Friedmann who was our specialist in financial matters. I was the chairman. We immediately abolished our system of committees. It was impossible to operate in that way; these five people constituted a kind of executive and we functioned in conjunction with the other organization, at whose head was Dr. Emil Kafka; he was the president of the Prague Community, and Dr. Frantisek Seidemann was his secretary.

Two or three days after the closure of the office we appeared before the chief official of the Gestapo; in those days that was the Kriminalkommissar (Police Commissioner) Fuchs. He told us that we could continue with our work, we could keep the office open and run it, as of that day, according to his instructions.

Q.The instructions of Fuchs?

A. The instructions of Fuchs.

Q. When were the offices opened?

A. I don't know the exact date but it was during the first week after 15 March.

Q. Perhaps you can remember something of the period before 14 March - before you moved from Maehrisch-Ostrau to Prague; do you recall the migration of Jews into your town, into Maehrisch-Ostrau?

A. It was not only Maehrisch-Ostrau. The movement began after Munich.

Q. When was that?

A. Munich was...

Q. Not Munich, when did the movement commence?

A. The movement commenced from the day of Munich, on 8 November 1938.

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