The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 22
(Part 1 of 3)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Session N0. 22

15 Iyar 5721 (1 May 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the twenty-second Session of the trial open.

Attorney General: With the Court's permission I shall submit a number of documents. The first is our No. 1375, and it is part of the official bulletin of the Polish Government Commission for the Investigation of the Crimes of the Nazis. I am submitting the entire bulletin, the first volume, three copies in Polish and the translation of the entire volume into English. For this reason we have not translated it into Hebrew, since it appears in the official edition of that Commission in English. The chapter will be found in the English edition on pages 125 and following.

With the Court's permission I should like to draw attention particularly to a limited number of extracts.

Presiding Judge: First let us mark it. The Polish bulletin will be T/203 and the English translation T/204. Do you have two more copies of the English translation?

Attorney General: No, Your Honour. I only have this one collection. This was the sole copy kept at Yad Vashem where we obtained it.

Presiding Judge: Are you going to submit to us a Hebrew translation of the extracts to which you refer?

Attorney General: Yes, we shall do so. On the first page...

Dr. Servatius: May I be permitted to request that these extracts should be given to me either in English or German?

Attorney General: There are not many extracts. We are also prepared to supply an English translation - naturally we shall translate them into Hebrew for the Court, but at the same time we shall translate them into English for the Defence Counsel.

On the first page there is reference to the number of Jews in Poland on the day of the outbreak of the War. The officially estimated number is 3,474,000 persons.

Presiding Judge: Are you now referring to the Polish or the English edition?

Attorney General: I have in my hand the Polish edition. It is on page 165.

On page 167 it is stated that in the war with the German invader 32,216 Jewish officers and men fell, and that 61,000 were taken prisoner by the Germans.

On page 169 there is reference to the territorial concentration of the Jews in the towns and villages.

On page 173 there is a description of the anti-Jewish legislation, beginning with the order to wear the badge of shame, an order restricting movement, a prohibition of a change of residence, and on 17 September 1940 the confiscation of all Jewish property.

On page 174 there is reference to an order of 26 October 1939 for compulsory labour imposed on the Jews of Poland aged 14-60.

On page 157 the following appears:"The implementation of the task of the final solution of the Jewish Question has been transferred to department IVA in the RSHA, at the head of which stood Adolf Eichmann."

Presiding Judge: Who determined that?

Attorney General: The official Commission of the Polish Government for the Investigation into the Crimes of the Nazis in Poland, and in each place it gives the sources and the persons who wrote the accounts. This chapter was compiled by Dr. Philip Friedman, a member of the Main Commission and Head of the Historical Committee of the Jews in Poland. He is no longer alive. On pages 176 and onwards there is a description of the period of individual terror - robbery, the searches, the levies, the confiscations, the taking of hostages, beatings and tortures, derision and brutality, degradation, the holding of public displays, the photographing of Jews, forcing people to perform demeaning work, the rape of women, the desecration of sacred articles, the burning of synagogues and libraries, the deportations, the executions, mass and individual murder.

Judge Raveh: What probative value do you attribute to this bulletin?

Attorney General: I attach importance to a government research document, and it is not the only one which we shall submit which, on the face of it, is based on the authority of historical material. This is a historical publication, not a private one. This is what the Polish Government published after all that had happened on its soil. Naturally, after each individual chapter we shall fill in the missing parts with our own evidence, but in regard to the general framework, we think that we are entitled to prove it by what appears in an official publication.

I have already said that this Commission was appointed by virtue of Polish law. I submitted the law and I showed, while submitting it, the competence conferred on this Commission in terms of the law of Poland. This is, after all, an official State document.

Dr. Servatius: I have no doubt that this Commission functioned to the best of its knowledge. But I do not know to what extent this is relevant to the case of Eichmann; even though it is known that Eichmann was the head of Bureau IV, I do not believe that this document is relevant to the issue.

Presiding Judge: At all events I gather that you have no objection to the submission of the document; we shall deal with its evaluation, if and when the need arises.

Attorney General: Thank you very much.

On page 179 there is a description of the plunder of property, the transfer of people to other apartments, when the Volksdeutsche, or the German, stood there with a watch in his hand and gave 5 to 20 minutes to the owners of the apartment to leave the place.

Another form of robbery - the levies.

On page 180 there is reference to the brutality and derision to which religious Jews were subjected, when their beards were cut off, in most cases together with pieces of skin; they set fire to beards without permitting the flame to be put out.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, I too must intervene here. These are matters about which, in parts at any rate, we have already heard. We have no need for evidence which is more remote than what we have heard.

Attorney General: This is merely a summary. If the Court does not want me to read further, I shall indicate passages to which I would like to draw the Court's attention. These are individual passages.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps you would only give us the pages and the chapter headings.

Attorney General: On page 181 there is an account of the burning of synagogues and of the cruel libel that Jews had set fire to them, and the imposition of a collective fine on the Jews because of the same fire which the occupying authorities had set themselves.

Presiding Judge: That is more than a mere summary.

Attorney General: About treatment of women, about "Einsatzkommando Bromberg" on page 183. About the pogroms in Lodz following the visit of Goebbels - on page 184. With regard to the remaining chapters, I shall refer to and mention them when I come to the extermination camps, because they deal with the extermination camps.

Dr. Servatius: Mr. President of the Court, may I be permitted to request, nevertheless, that the Court should examine whether it is permissible to receive reports such as these in evidence. These were commissions that were set up, but not witnesses who can be examined. I should also like to stress that in the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg such government reports were indeed received in evidence, but this was in accordance with a specific provision that governed this in the Charter.

Attorney General: With the Court's permission, we have a provision in Section 20 and 23 of the Evidence Ordinance which refer to "Public Documents." I shall read from the English version.

Section 20 defines a public document and says:

For the purpose of this Part -

(a) the following are public documents, that is to say, documents forming the acts or records of the acts (whether legislation, judical or executive) or forming part of the official records (including all documents kept for record purposes, whether made officially or otherwise - of -

(1) the Government, or the sovereign authority of any territory other than Palestine, or " - and on this I rely - ""official bodies." I have already proved that this is an "Official Body" which was set up by law, it is a State "institution" and consequently it is possible by virtue of Section 23, to submit it as a "Public Record." With regard to its value and its probative force - this is obviously, as the President of the Court remarked, and I concur with all due respect - this is certainly a matter for the final summing-up. But the document is undoubtedly admissible as an official state document of a foreign country.

Dr. Servatius: In my opinion, the provision which the Attorney General read just now is intended to enable submission to the Court of customary documents of authorities in other countries and not a report such as has now been submitted.

Attorney General: There is judical precedent on this matter. I can draw the Court's attention to two judgments concerning official documents, although they are Israeli documents but there is not much difference.

Presiding Judge: But, as far as I know, there are no precedents on matters concerning which the recording official himself is able to testify, if I am not mistaken. If you have something closer to the issue - by all means.

Attorney General: With the Court's permission, if the Court wishes to defer its decision in this matter - we shall at all times be ready for argument of the Law of Evidence. We have the books before us. Although those were not reports, official documents are referred to.

Presiding Judge: What is the name of the judgment?

Attorney General: There is one - the judgment of Judge Zeltner who sat in the Supreme Court in the case of Kinnsbrun versus the Attorney General.

Presiding Judge: Where was this?

Attorney General: This was a case where Judge Zeltner, with the concurrence of his colleagues, the late Justices Cheshin and Assaf, held that the Israeli law is wider in this matter than the English Statute law.

Presiding Judge: What was the document under discussion?

Attorney General: The document was a marriage certificate in Rumania.

Presiding Judge: All right, that was a registration by the official who conducted the marriage.

Attorney General: Your Honour, it was a registration by an official who was obliged to investigate and examine matters. True, there is a difference between somebody recording a fact that takes place in his presence and an investigator who records facts on the basis of material which he gathers. But this is exactly what the Commission was ordered to do. This is Criminal Appeal 125/Piskei Din Vol. 7, p.261, at p. 264

Judge Raveh: Let us suppose that this was not a Polish Commission, let us suppose that this was an Israeli Commission. Who would have thought that the findings of this Commission could be submitted in order to prove their content?

Attorney General: To the extent that the Israeli legislator authorized it to examine and to submit a report, I believe that this would have been a public document which would be prima facie proof of its content.

Judge Halevi: Of the truth of its content?

Attorney General: At any rate, the general framework of its content. We shall not rely on every single detail. But Defence Counsel is right. We have other proofs of the fact that Eichmann was head of Department A IV in the Head Office of the Reich Security, and we shall not use the report for such purpose.

Presiding Judge: But nevertheless you wish to submit it.

Attorney General: We want to submit it so that the Court may receive an overall picture of what occurred in Poland. We are not able to bring before you proof of what happened in every community, in every place. We are able to produce four or five witnesses. This report says that what happened in those four or five places happened in the entire area of the Generalgouvernement.

Presiding Judge: Possibly you may have a case based on Section 15. But for the present, you were arguing on the basis of the general law, on our Law of Evidence. What I ought to say is that, as far as I know, even a judgment given by a Court in another case will not constitute evidence.

Attorney General: No, unless it was given between the same parties.

Presiding Judge: Unless it is a judgment which was given...

Attorney General: The question is: what is the value of an official report where the legislator authorized the body which submitted the report, to do so? And it will be proved to the Court from the Polish law which I submitted...

Presiding Judge: Incidentally, how did we number it?

Clerk of the Court: T/86.

Judge Raveh: We also have a Law on Commission of Enquiry, and there are a number of Reports which were made by virtue of that Law. I do not know whether, up to the present, it was possible to submit such Reports as evidence of their content.

Attorney General: The question is: for what purpose is such a report submitted? That is the only question. I would ask to draw the Court's attention to the case of the Attorney General versus Weiss, Criminal Appeal 71/54 Piskei Din 8 on page 1553. The Polish report, by the way, is based on the conclusion of the Jewish Historical Commission which was established in Poland after the War, and as proof of the framework, it is surely valid in the same way as an encyclopedia or a dictionary or any document of that nature. Alternatively, I would request you to apply to this report the provisions of Section 15.

Judge Halevi: Mr. Attorney General, are you in fact restricting the submission of this report, and possibly similar reports, for we are now talking of precedents for other reports, to the general course of events, to the exclusion of the Accused's responsibility?

Attorney General: I shall not ask the Court to draw any conclusions, for what is said in that Report, concerning the Accused's responsibility, even when his name is mentioned. This we shall have to prove by other witnesses and documents. But for proof of other events that occurred in that country, we shall ask the Court to admit the Report.

Presiding Judge: [To Dr. Servatius] Do you have anything to add in connection with the remarks of the Attorney General?

Dr. Servatius: The document seems to me, after the Attorney General's explanation, to be irrelevant to the guilt of the Accused. It seems to me that sufficient witnesses have described the background, so that its submission is superfluous.

Presiding Judge: We give Decision No 12

We admit the Report of the Polish Commission of Enquiry which was established on the basis of Polish law. We do so by virtue of our authority under Section 15 of the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law 5710-1950. But the admission of the document is restricted only to a description of the general background described therein and not to proof of the personal responsibility of the Accused for these events and his connection with these events.

Attorney General: I now ask to submit to the Court Prosecution document No. 1087. This is an instruction of Himmler dated 10 November 1939 for the establishment of the institute named Treuhandstelle Ost (Trusteeship Office East) for taking charge of Jewish and Polish property in Poland.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/205.

Attorney General: The Institute obtained powers of confiscation by its own right, and it is also provided therein that on request the Reichsfuehrer SS shall confiscate any other property which the Institute itself was not entitled to confiscate. In a document which I have already submitted, I point out the collaboration between the Accused and this Institute - Trusteeship Office East - concerning Jewish property.

The next document is Prosecution Document 779. These are the general instructions of the Office for the Strengthening of German Folkdom (fuer die Festigung des deutschen Volkstums). It also speaks of confiscation of former Polish State lands, of lands of the Polish intelligentsia and of all Poles who had been shot or exiled because of hostile activities. (Die Beschlagnahme des Grund und Bodens des ehemals polnischen Staates, des ausgewiesenen polnischen Intelligenz und aller wegen Feindseligkeiten erschossenen oder ausgewiesenen Polen).

This property, too, passes over to the control of the Treuhandstelle Ost. Of the Jews it is said that they will be transferred to the region to the east of the Vistula between the Vistula and the Bug.

Presiding Judge: This document will be numbered T/206.

Judge Raveh: Is it known who signed it?

Attorney General: Himmler, Your Honour, that is to say, at any rate on behalf of Himmler.

Judge Raveh: It says here at the end: SS Obersturmbannfuehrer.

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