The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 33
(Part 3 of 5)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Judge Halevi: Was it Bergen-Belsen?

State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour.

The next document is our No. 1258. A report is sent to the BdS about a number of appeals and declarations from French clergymen protesting anti-Jewish activity. I do not intend to read these to you except, perhaps, a few lines from the first one, which is brief. It is an appeal by the Cardinals and Archbishops in the occupied zone to Marshal Petain:

"We cannot repress the cry of our conscience."

"Deeply moved by what is reported to us about the mass arrests which took place during the last week and about the harsh treatment inflicted on the Jews in the Veelodrome d'Hiver, we cannot repress the outcry of our conscience. It is in the name of humanity and of Christian principles that we raise our voice in protest, in favour of inalienable human rights. It is equally an anguished cry of pity for the frightful suffering inflicted especially on mothers and children. We ask you, Marshal, to see to it that the sense of justice and the rights of charity be respected. The Jews are human, they are our brothers. A Christian cannot forget this."

Presiding Judge: This will be T/468.

State Attorney Bach: I should like to draw the attention of the Court to one of the other passages quoted, in which one of the clergymen says: "Herr, habe Mitleid mit uns!" (Lord, take pity on us!). There is an ironical remark in handwriting on the margin: "Help us poor lambs!" This was written on the first page by the person who received the report. The SS man wrote it in irony.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is No. 965. Here we have a letter from the German Foreign Ministry to the Accused. The letter itself is not very important, it contains not much that is new; it speaks of the need to render the coastal area of France free of Jews. The important thing here is the last paragraph - an apology: "In view of the urgency of the instructions to be given to the German Embassy in Paris these were transmitted without prior consultation with you, since I was informed that you would not return from your official journey before the 27th of the month"; i.e. here the Foreign Ministry gives instructions to Paris without first informing Eichmann - obviously an apology is in order.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/469.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is No. 1123, a telegram signed by Guenther to the Commander of the Security Police in Paris. Here Guenther hints how it may be possible to circumvent the existing instructions that, for the time being, Jews cohabiting in mixed marriages should be exempted from the general evacuation, even if they have broken the rules imposed upon the Jews. And this is what he says: "But on the strength of Order No... dated... they can be taken into protective custody. They are to be regarded as protective prisoners and, since they are treated differently from the evacuated Jews, they are to be removed not in evacuation transports but in prisoner transports."

Presiding Judge: This will be T/470.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 121, a letter from Knochen to Mueller. Reference: Conversation with SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann in Paris. "The information from SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann concerning the evacuation of all Jews of French nationality led me to express my opinion on this question in brief and, while describing the situation, to stress those points which are necessary for the implementation, in order to meet with the least possible difficulties from the French Government."

I skip a paragraph here, and then he says: "The French Government, i.e. first and foremost Marshal Petain, objects to every attempt of extending the anti-Jewish measures to Jews of French nationality as well. They declined to introduce the wearing of the Jewish Star by order of the French Government."

Here is one more, very typical, paragraph, Your Honours.

"From the Jews' camp, Jews of French nationality, who had been arrested because of their failure to wear the Star of David and other offences, were to be deported. Bousquet let it be known that these Jews could be deported, but the French police would not be available for the operation. To our reply that, in this case, the deportation would be carried out by German forces, the French Police reacted by staging a police raid and immediately arresting 1,300 Jews of non-French nationality. These Jews were handed over to the German Police with an indication that they were to be deported in place of the Jews of French nationality. It is clear that, in this case, both categories of Jews are being deported."
Presiding Judge: I see that Laval, too, tried to delay somewhat.

State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour. There will be some more, and more explicit, documents on this point, when Roethke found it necessary to meet with Laval because of this matter. This is why I quote the most explicit document on the subject.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/471.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 277, which was marked No. T/37(146). In it Roethke announces that "the French Police has declined to undertake the surveillance of the deportation train...carrying Jews of French nationality." He requests reinforcements, and he adds that he "requests that the unit be instructed to use firearms, without warning, in cases of attempted escape by the prisoners."

Presiding Judge: This will be T/472.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 697. It refers to activity by the Italians on French soil. And here it says, in reply to various telegrams which were apparently received from Paris:

"I have transmitted the gist of the a/m telegrams to the Foreign Ministry. On the basis of the information given by me, the Reich Foreign Minister will raise the matter of the Italian attitude towards the Jewish Question during his next personal negotiations with the Duce. As soon as I shall receive information from the Foreign Ministry about the result of the negotiations on this matter, I shall let you know." - Signed Eichmann, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer.
Presiding Judge: This will be T/473.

State Attorney Bach: We shall put before the Court more details concerning these negotiations when we come to the expulsion of the Jews from Italy.

The next document is our No. 249, which was submitted as T/37(64). Here, there is first of all mention of 49,000 Jews already expelled.

Presiding Judge: Who wrote this report?

State Attorney Bach: Roethke again.

Presiding Judge: It will be marked T/474.

State Attorney Bach: I shall read, in very concise form, one section which shows the attitude of the Italians towards the Jewish Question. When we come to this subject, I shall not have to repeat these details.

In Section III it says:

"Attitude of the Italians with regard to the Jewish Question: (a) Attitude up to now in the area of France occupied by Italy must be abandoned under all circumstances, if Jewish Question to be solved.

"Following cases especially flagrant:

(1)End December 1942 and beginning January 1943, civilian and military Italian authorities prevent freeing border and coastal strips of Jews in the French area occupied by them, as well as internment of certain categories of Jews."

There is here a description of Italian resistance to the printing of identity cards with the marking "Jew" on them, and various other actions by the Italians intended to sabotage the German efforts.
"(5)In mid-February French Police wants to intern 200 to 300 Jews, in implementing a retribution operation ordered by us in the Lyon district. The Italian General stationed in Grenoble demands from the French police the annulment of the internment order. (Italian Jews were not arrested under the internment order.)

(6)In executing the said retribution operation, the French Police arrests foreign Jews in Annecy in mid- February with the help of the local constabulary and takes them to the constabulary barracks. Italian military thereupon demands immediate liberation of the Jews, which is refused. As a result the barracks are surrounded by armed Italian soldiers."

"A. A. (Foreign Ministry) has been informed through RSHA - Eichmann - about attitude of the Italians. Reich Foreign Minister Ribbentrop was going to raise the attitude of the Italians regarding the Jewish Question during negotiations with the Duce."

Judge Halevi: Who wrote all these detailed notes?

State Attorney Bach: These are Roethke's notes. After receiving the telegram from Eichmann, who informed him already about his approach to Ribbentrop in this matter, he (Roethke) describes here the details of the sabotage, as he calls it, on the part of the Italians.

The next document is our No. 264, which was also numbered T/37(68), a query from Roethke to the Accused whether he could deport 1,000 Jews to the East. The document is being submitted because of the reply to the letter.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/475.

Who signed the reply? Is this the signature of the Accused on the reply?

State Attorney Bach: There is a separate document for the reply.

Presiding Judge: But there are two documents here.

State Attorney Bach: The second one is also from Roethke who communicates the same thing to the Ministry of Transport. I did not want to read this, because the contents are identical. The reply is in our document 266, which was also given the number T/37(69), in which it says: "Transports of Jews may be dispatched, as arranged, on 23.3. and 25.3.1943. Like the two previous transports, they will be directed to Cholm (Generalgouvernement). I request you to get in touch immediately with the Head Office for Traffic Control in Paris, which is receiving instructions from the Reich Ministry for Transport." There are some more technical details. Signed: Eichmann.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/476.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 718.

Presiding Judge: It will be numbered T/477.

State Attorney Bach: Here he speaks again about the difficulties of getting hold of the Jews, about certain statistics. Then he adds the following:

"Deportation of the Jews from France must not end before the last Jew has left French soil, still before the end of the War. The decision cannot be the will of some French members of government or even the French Head of State; on the contrary, the decisive element is the will of the Fuehrer, which was expressed again and again in the strongest form especially in his most recent speeches. It may even be maintained that the evacuation of the Jews from France is a need of first priority because the Jews are still prominently represented in France..."
Then he voices his bitterness about the French, who are not doing enough in order to expel the Jews. He mentions that, in their discussions with him, the French always quote the Italians, saying: Look, if the Italians act like this we need not act differently, and then he reports that he told the French: It is to be expected that the Italians will also shortly change their ways.

Judge Halevi: Who wrote all this? Is it Roethke?

State Attorney Bach: All this was written by Roethke.

Presiding Judge: Roethke to Knochen.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 1553. The subject here is the German activity in Tunisia in North Africa. Rahn, the representative of the Foreign Ministry, reports to the Ministry. There are many matters here which do not belong to our subject. But I draw your attention to the last paragraph on the first page, which reads:

"Incitement to looting of Jewish shops and to pogroms, plotting of demonstrations, etc. not feasible as long as our troops are not at least at Algerian border." In paragraph 4 on the fourth page he says: "Since international Jewry responsible for Anglo-American attack, sum of twenty million raised from Jewish property by Special Operations Detachments of Security Police and SD and handed over to Mixed Arab-Italian- French Committee for immediate relief for bomb attack victims..."
Presiding Judge: Do we know what is meant by twenty million? Are these Marks?

State Attorney Bach: These are French Francs. They actually raised more. They add here: "In case enemy bombing civilian population continues, additional sums will be raised."

Judge Halevi: Who is Rahn?

State Attorney Bach: Rahn was at that time Representative of the Foreign Ministry in Paris. He went to Tunisia with the Army.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/478.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 1552, and it concerns the same subject. It says there that the Relief Committee for bomb attack victims has so far paid fifty million French Francs to families injured by the bombings, mainly to Moslems.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/479.

State Attorney Bach: Here is a document which is of importance not only from the point of view of France but actually from the point of the entire treatment of the Jews of the West. Its number is 1208. It is a telegram sent to the Commander of the Security Police and the SD in Holland, to Knochen in Paris and to Ehlers in Brussels. This is what it says:

"The Auschwitz camp has again requested, for obvious reasons, not to give any alarming intimations, before departure, to the Jews about to be evacuated, concerning the location and the manner of their impending utilization (ihrer bevorstehenden Verwendung). I request you to take note and comply. I ask you especially to make sure that continual instructions are given to the escort detachments, so that during the journey as well the Jews must be given no special indications whatsoever which would cause resistance, nor must conjectures be voiced concerning the nature of their accommodation, etc. With a view to implementing most urgent work projects, Auschwitz has to insist that the reception of the transports and their further allocation be carried out with as little friction as possible."
Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/480.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 196. Von Thadden writes to Eichmann informing him about efforts to persuade the Italians to take action against the Jews in the areas occupied by them. Von Thadden suggests holding a meeting between the commanders of the Italian and German police.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/481.

State Attorney Bach: Following this proposal by von Thadden, the Accused writes to him saying: "In reference to your previous letter, I request that the matter be re- examined or, perhaps, that it be taken up with Count Lospinoso" (commander of the Italian police sent to the area of France occupied by Italy). The Accused requests that a meeting be arranged with the Count. This document was shown to the Accused and was marked T/37 (290). Here is von Thadden's reply.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/482.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 875. Von Thadden writes to his superiors:

"Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann had suggested inviting the Italian Inspector of Police, Lo Spinosa, to come to Paris before 15 May, in order to establish contact between the German and Italian police authorities dealing with the Jewish Question. The German Embassy has transmitted this proposal to the Italian Government as instructed, but the Italian authorities did not consider such a meeting appropriate at this time."
Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/483.

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