The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 49
(Part 1 of 5)

Session No. 49

8 Sivan 5721 (23 May 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the forty-ninth Session of the trial open. Mr. Bach, please proceed.

State Attorney Bach: If it pleases the Court, I shall now turn to the chapter on Jews from Slovakia. First of all, two documents: The first is No. 1527 - a report of the German legation in Pressburg to the German Foreign Ministry. This is a fairly long report, but I consider only one passage to be of importance, which indicates the absolute control of the German authorities in Slovakia. This is on page three of the German original. The author says there that he considers that Tiso is behaving properly towards Germany. He talks about various political groups. Then he says:

"This group does not represent any danger. It can be left alone, as long as it does not pursue a policy overtly hostile to Germany. Its attitude is known, it is being kept under observation, and there will be intervention if necessary. I told Tuka and Mach that if they are unable reach agreement with Tiso about filling posts, they should ask for my decision. However, they should only use this as a very last resort. I believe that success can be achieved by their simply telling Tiso in this particular instance that they will consult me."
Presiding Judge: Who is the sender, Ludin?

State Attorney Bach: No, Killinger, who was at first the German envoy in Pressburg. Afterwards he talks about the Durcansky group, and how he intends to deal with this entire matter. From the entire tone of the document it is quite clear that he knows that what he says will be decisive.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/1073.

State Attorney Bach: I would now ask the Court, by virtue of its power under section 15 of the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law, to admit a further statement - the examination of Dieter Wisliceny, which was forwarded to us by the Czech Government, with the authentication of the official Czech authorities. Dieter Wisliceny was the Accused's representative in Bratislava during the decisive years. Here he describes in great detail how he carried out his assignment, what instructions he received from the Accused, how he worked together with the Czech authorities, and so on.

We shall submit to the Court both evidence and documents which entirely bear out almost all of Wisliceny's statements here. Just by way of example, there are details here how the death of one of the most admired Jewish heroines, Mrs. Gisi Fleischmann, came about. Dieter Wisliceny describes here the means used to save this woman, both by Dr. Kasztner and by Becher. And he here describes a telegram from Eichmann to Alois Brunner, who at that time was in Pressburg, a second telegram, and so on.

We shall request that the Court also admit Dr. Kasztner's report, which describes this matter from his viewpoint. We shall later bring a witness who was with Gisi Fleischmann in the last camp, and who was to have been sent to his death together with Gisi Fleischmann in the very same transport, through whose testimony we will also corroborate Wisliceny's statement.

Presiding Judge: Was this an examination towards Wisliceny's trial?

State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour. This was an examination by the Slovak prosecutor, Dr. Michal Geroe. Also present were representatives from the American State Prosecutor's office, as well as others.

Presiding Judge: When did the examination take place?

State Attorney Bach: The examination took place on 6 May 1946.

Dr. Servatius: I should just like to observe here that the Accused had nothing to do with Gisi Fleischmann, as at that time he was in fact in Hungary.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 47

We admit Wisliceny's statement as evidence, on the grounds mentioned in our Decision No. 7.

State Attorney Bach: There is one copy in Slovakian and one in the German translation. I have also attached the Hebrew translation.

Presiding Judge: The document is marked T/1074.

Judge Halevi: The German version here only starts on page three, is that intentional?

State Attorney Bach: This might be an error. I have another copy here which I will give you. Wisliceny starts by describing how in February 1942 he was called to the Accused in Berlin, who assigned him to negotiate with the Slovak Government about allotting twenty thousand Jews as a labour force. He then describes the negotiations and the implementation of the plan, initially the expulsion of only able-bodied men. Then he states that he always received the schedules and transport destinations from Eichmann in a telegram from Berlin.

Presiding Judge: On which page is this?

State Attorney Bach: I was now reading from page three. Then - I skip something and come now to the middle of March - he says: "Eichmann summoned me to Berlin, where he informed me that he was able to send entire Jewish families from Slovakia to Poland. Consequently I should immediately notify the Slovak Government accordingly."

Presiding Judge: Which page?

State Attorney Bach: Also on page three.

Judge Raveh: Mr. Bach, do the dots in the text indicate that this is not a complete text, or what?

State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour. It is possible that there was also additional text here which was omitted, where he referred in detail to persons in Slovakia.

He says that he then went to Berlin, and Eichmann laid down the following conditions: He was prepared to resettle all Slovak Jews in the vicinity of Lublin; the Slovak Government would have to revoke the Slovak citizenship of all these Jews upon their leaving Slovak territory; and he then indicates what is to be given in return - he demands 300 Reichmarks per person. In other words, the Slovaks would have to pay 300 Marks for every Jew the Germans were prepared to accept. He says: "It is possible that this amount might be increased later to 500 Reichmarks." He says that the matter of Jewish property was dealt with in co- ordination with Regierungsrat Hunsche.

These conditions of Eichmann's were also transmitted to envoy Ludin, who originally refused to carry out such a diplomatic demarche, and Wisliceny contacted Eichmann and notified him accordingly, and he says: "Eichmann informed me that an official communication had already been sent to Ludin. Several days later a communication for the envoy to this effect was received from the German Foreign Ministry, along the lines of Eichmann's conditions."

Presiding Judge: Which page?

State Attorney Bach: Page four. And then it says, "with instructions to notify the Slovak Government of them." I now quote from page six. He talks there of his role during the transports: "My role when the transports left was as follows: The non-commissioned officers stationed in the assembly camps informed me of the departure of the transports and the number of persons..." and he had to report to Eichmann accordingly by teleprinter. He also said - and this is also important, because we shall hear this subsequently from other witnesses as well - that every such transport had a code, and the code was DA and then a number; for example, he says, "DA 306." And he continues: "On 25 May 1942" - this is also on page six - "Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann came to Bratislava. Eichmann's visit took place as a result of an unofficial invitation from Mach. As far as I know, this invitation was issued back in April. Eichmann visited the German envoy, Ludin, in my presence."

Then, on page six, he describes Eichmann's visit to Premier Tuka, when Koso was also present. During this visit, Tuka asked for detailed information, and Eichmann told him the following:

"In certain districts of Poland, which are destined to receive these Jews, he had evacuated the Polish and Ukrainian populations; Jews not only from Slovakia, but also from Germany and the other European countries were being brought there. In this connection he indicated names of small Polish towns in the vicinity of Lublin."
He goes on to say:
"The Jews will be able to move around completely freely within this area, and he was preparing major work opportunities, i.e., he was arranging to move firms to this area, particularly war industry plants."
He explains why a certain sum has to be paid in order to help the Germans carry out this operation.
"Tuka took note of this statement, and in his reply he expressed the desire that these Jews be treated humanely; this is literally what he said. Eichmann promised to do so. I personally had the impression that Tuka meant this seriously. After the visit to Tuka, Eichmann was received by Mach."
Wisliceny then says that Mach received a similar statement from Eichmann, "and here I had the impression that Mach was relatively indifferent to the question of the accommodation and fate of the deported Jews." Then he talks about the skittles game with Mach. In the middle of this game the news was received about the attack on Heydrich, and Eichmann left immediately for Prague.

I now go on to page eight. He says here that "at the end of July, Tuka invited me to have a talk with him. He referred to Eichmann's previous visit and stressed that Eichmann had promised him especially good treatment for the deported Jews from Slovakia." He said that Slovak bishops had expressed misgivings, and Tuka "insisted that he be given an assurance that the Jews were allowed to hold religious services and practice their faith."

Presiding Judge: The Christian Jews.

State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour, Jews of the Christian faith. He wishes to send to the Lublin district a Slovak commission, in order to check on the spot what was the real state of the Jews, because of doubts which had arisen. He, Wisliceny, after some time went to see Eichmann in Berlin in this connection.

Now I turn to page nine. Wisliceny states:

"...that he passed on Tuka's request to Eichmann. Eichmann initially came out with various pretexts and said that the Slovaks had no right to concern themselves about these Jews, as they had revoked their citizenship. He rejected the application to send a commission or some priests. However, I did not leave it at that reply and asked directly, 'What is happening in Oswiecim?'"

Presiding Judge: Is that Auschwitz?

State Attorney Bach: Yes. He also says that there were rumours that Jews who were not able-bodied were apparently being murdered in Poland. He said that he demanded a clear- cut answer from Eichmann. At first Eichmann tried to avoid answering and said that everything that was happening in Russia and Poland was being carried out on the Fuehrer's orders. "I wanted to be absolutely sure and asked to look at the relevant orders. At this point Eichmann insisted that I swear a special oath that I would not say anything to anyone about what he would tell me." He was obliged to swear this oath, and then Eichmann went to the strongbox, pulled out a thin file from it and opened it at a certain page, and then said the following: "Himmler has received orders from Hitler for the complete biological extermination of European Jewry."

Presiding Judge: He has already said this in another statement.

State Attorney Bach: Yes, so I do not wish to repeat this. Now there is this version, this allegation, according to which he said: "I only hope that nobody will ever do the same thing to us." Whereupon Eichmann told him not to be sentimental. He also told Wisliceny on the same occasion that the killing was done in gas chambers, and that the dead Jews were subsequently burned in crematoria. He also ordered him to give Tuka an evasive answer to his question.

Then on page 11 he talks about the efforts of the Jews in Bratislava to save themselves from being transported, by paying over money. He refers to Hochberg who gave him an envelope with 20,000 dollars, and says that he said he would use this sum in order to induce Eichmann to put an end to a large extent to the Final Solution. He says that he gave the money to Eichmann, that Eichmann initially reproached him but later agreed to pass it on to Himmler, and asked for the money to be transferred to him.

Wisliceny then talks about the contacts between him and engineer Steiner and Mrs. Gisi Fleischmann in connection with the negotiations to save Slovak Jewry, and the whole of European Jewry. He knows that Eichmann passed on these proposals to Himmler, although he himself rejected them, although he himself was not personally prepared, in principle, to act in order to bring about an easing of the actual provisions. That is on page 13.

After that he says: "In the summer of 1943, when I was just temporarily in Bratislava, Eichmann forbade me to maintain any links with the Joint and threatened that if I did so he would report me to Himmler, so that I would be sent to a concentration camp." We shall subsequently stress this point by means of other evidence. He says that because of these developments he no longer had a close relationship with Eichmann, and this became a very formal one. His transfer to Greece also resulted from this development.

He says that Tuka later repeated his request about sending a commission to Poland. In 1943 a further request was made through the German Foreign Ministry to Eichmann, for his opinion.

"Although even the envoy was in favour of sending such a commission, Eichmann left the note unanswered for many months, and as far as I know it was only in August 1943 that he proposed that such a commission be allowed to visit Theresienstadt. I do not know whether Ludin informed the Slovak Government of this proposal. In any case Ludin was not satisfied with Eichmann's reply and did not consider it to be satisfactory."
He later exercised pressure on the Slovak Government to expel the rest of the Jews from Slovakia as well. And Tiso promised that the Jewish Question in Slovakia would be finally solved by 1 April 1944.

On page 15 he describes the circumstances of Gisi Fleischmann's death, and he says the following:

"Immediately after Mrs. Fleischmann's arrest by Brunner, the Joint group in Bratislava notified Dr. Kasztner in Budapest and asked him to obtain Mrs. Fleischmann's release from General Becher."
Presiding Judge: Excuse me, something here is not clear in the German copy. What is the name here? Brunner, Eichmann...

State Attorney Bach: The names here are: Brunner, Eichmann, Dr. Kasztner and General Becher.

"Becher subsequently intervened with Eichmann. Eichmann immediately sent a telegram, saying that Mrs. Fleischmann was not to be deported. He showed this telegram to Becher. I know all of this from Becher. However, Brunner informed me that he received a further telegram from Eichmann, rescinding his original order and leaving it up to Brunner to decide whether Mrs. Fleischmann was to be deported or not. "Whereupon Brunner, as he himself admits, had Mrs. Fleischmann deported with the special indication `RU' - Rueckkehr unerwuenscht (return not desired). In a conversation I pointed out to Brunner that he might have problems because of this matter, as I thought that Becher, who at that time was Himmler's plenipotentiary, was not likely to have his orders disregarded. Whereupon Brunner said he was covered by Eichmann's second telegram. I informed Dr. Kasztner in Vienna of these facts in November 1944."
He then talks about his posting to the German-Hungarian border to take charge of Jewish labourers from Hungary. We have other testimony about this.

If it pleases the Court, I should now like to present the testimony of Dr. Shlomo Yehuda Ernst Abeles.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Abeles: A little.

[The witness is sworn]

Presiding Judge: What is your name?

Witness: Dr. Ernst Abeles.

Presiding Judge: Will it be difficult for you to answer in Hebrew?

Witness Abeles: I can answer the initial questions in Hebrew.

State Attorney Bach: It would be best if the witness were to speak German.

Presiding Judge: Let us see how things go. You may be seated and give your testimony from your seat.

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