The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 50
(Part 6 of 7)

State Attorney Bach: The witness told us. [To witness] Can you tell us what the value of the Czech krone was at the time?

Witness Steiner: One dollar was 29.29 kronen, about 30 kronen.

Q. Dr. Steiner, you said that after the War you were in touch with the Czech State Prosecution.

Presiding Judge: I did not hear, did he only state the value of the property before it was plundered?

State Attorney Bach: [to witness] Do you know what part of these assets were plundered during the War?

Witness Steiner: Actually nothing was left; houses and agricultural land were nationalized, the factories were transferred to non-Jews, the capital assets had to be handed in to the banks - nothing was left.

Q. Does that mean that all the property was confiscated?

A. Yes.

Q. Dr. Steiner, were you in Slovakia when Wisliceny's trial took place?

A. Yes, not only during Wisliceny's trial, but also during most of the war crimes trials held in Slovakia.

A. What was the judgment passed on Wisliceny?

A. Death.

Q. As far as you know, was the sentence carried out?

A. Yes.

Q. In the course of that trial, during which Wisliceny was held in prison, did certain documents written by Wisliceny come into your possession?

A. Yes.

Q. Was this the result of your initiative? Did you request to ask him certain questions, and did you receive certain documents?

A. As I said, this was part of the documentation operation of that committee. One of our tasks was to collect testimonies from Jews and non-Jews. When Wisliceny was brought to Bratislava, we asked the Prosecutor of the National Court for permission to put questions to Wisliceny, and that is how Wisliceny came to make several statements, which I eventually received, in the original.

State Attorney Bach: If possible, I should like to have exhibits T/84, T/89, T/922 and T/1107 shown to the witness. I understand that Mr. Bodenheimer has them ready.

Mr. Bodenheimer: Yes, please.

State Attorney Bach: My question is, are these the documents you were talking about, that you obtained? Witness Steiner [points to one of the exhibits] This is my secretary's handwriting, and every page is also initialled by the Prosecutor.

State Attorney Bach: That is T/84.

Presiding Judge: Did they give you the original?

Witness Steiner: Yes, they gave me the original.

Presiding Judge: What else?

State Attorney Bach: This is Exhibit T/85.

Witness Steiner: [points to exhibit] This is a document which I had in my possession before I turned it over to Yad Vashem.

Q. And now Exhibit T/89 [shows it to witness].

A. This is also one of the documents that I received.

Q. And now, Exhibit T/992, which is also a document shown to the Accused under No. T/37(101).

A. [examines the document at length].

Presiding Judge: What do you say about that, Dr. Steiner?

Witness Steiner: I don't remember.

State Attorney Bach: If you are not sure, say so. Wisliceny's signature is on it, confirming it.

Witness Steiner: Is this about Greece? I cannot read it. Yes, yes, it is about Greece.

Q. Yes. Do you remember receiving his report on his activities in Greece?

A. Yes, I received this.

Presiding Judge: Did this pass through your hands?

Witness Steiner: Yes.

State Attorney Bach: The last document is Exhibit T/1107. Perhaps you can tell us whether it was you who asked for, and received, Fiala's report, the article he published in Grenzbote?

Witness Steiner: Yes, I asked for it and I received it.

Q. Dr. Steiner, do you remember that you had in your possession the report of the Budapest Relief and Rescue Committee?

A. Yes, Dr. Kasztner's.

Q. Did you get it from Dr. Kasztner?

A. Yes, I got it from Dr. Kasztner.

Q. Did you ask that Wisliceny also give his comments on this report of the Relief and Rescue Committee?

A. Yes, I saw that Wisliceny's name was mentioned several times, and I wanted to know what Wisliceny had to say about that.

Q. Did you then get Wisliceny's comments?

A. Yes, I received comments from Wisliceny.

Q. Were they in his handwriting?

A. They were in his handwriting.

Q. What did you do with that document?

A. We made copies of it, not many, I think we made three copies.

Q. In what form, in the handwriting or typed?

A. Typewritten. We sent one copy to Paris, to the Documentation Centre. The other copies remained with me, at home, in my archive.

State Attorney Bach: [hands witness a document] What is the document that I am now handing you?

Witness Steiner: That is it.

Q. That is the copy that was typed at your instructions?

A. That is the copy that secretary made in our office, and which I checked.

Q. Where is the original?

A. I looked for it. Maybe it is at my home, but I have not found it.

Presiding Judge: Here in Israel?

Witness Steiner: Here in Israel. Perhaps I turned it over to Yad Vashem, together with other documents, but I am not sure.

State Attorney Bach: Have you tried to find it, without success?

Witness Steiner: Without success.

Q. Are you certain that this copy was made from the original?

A. That is one hundred per cent certain.

State Attorney Bach: Your Honours, I ask to submit this document as evidence. As I have said, my purpose here is not to use it in order to verify or contradict one or the other detail, but, as the Court will see - if it admits the report, the comments, and looks into them - the Court will see that the comments represent important and interesting complements to many of the facts cited in the Kasztner report itself.

For example, Kasztner in his report describes a meeting in which he, Eichmann and Wisliceny took part; we then have Wisliceny's comment to page so-and-so, and Wisliceny says: Yes, Dr. Kasztner does not know what took place afterwards, when Eichmann gave such-and-such orders. So there is no doubt that when we have before us the Kasztner report, and we have already heard explanations from the witness - and will perhaps hear more - concerning these events, it will be very interesting and also important for the Court to know what was the reaction of Wisliceny, who took an active part both in the negotiations and in the actions in Hungary. I therefore request that the Court accept this document as evidence.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any comment?

State Attorney Bach: Just one more thing: We have here, for example, also a description of the help that Wisliceny gave to Freudiger, when Freudiger escaped from Germany. On this point, too, evidence was heard from the witness himself, but this, too, is important for the trial. This document was also shown to the Accused, and he testified on it. It received No. T/37(271).

Dr. Servatius: Witness, when you visited Wisliceny during his interrogation...

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, at present the question is regarding this document. I do not know whether Mr. Bach has completed his examination of the witness.

Dr. Servatius: As for document No. 901. I raise the same objection that I raised as to all the documents emanating from Wisliceny.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 51

We accept as evidence the typewritten copy of the comments made by Wisliceny on the Kasztner report, on the grounds given in our Decision No. 7.

This will be marked T/1116.

State Attorney Bach: With the Court's permission, I will not now quote from the comments, because they all relate to the Hungarian chapter, and I will refer to them at a later stage. By the way, this is our document No. 901.

Now, Dr. Steiner, do you remember being present when Eng. Andrej Steiner made a certain declaration in which the Mufti of Jerusalem is mentioned?

Witness Steiner: Yes.

Q. Why were you present on that occasion, do you remember?

A. That was a declaration before a notary public - if I remember correctly - given in Bratislava. I was present there as a witness, in order to identify the architect Andrej Steiner.

Q. Was Steiner on trial?

A. No, this was a declaration before a notary.

Q. Why did he give that declaration?

A. This was in 1942 or 1943. At that time Andrej Steiner called on Wisliceny who told him about the children that were to be sent abroad, from Theresienstadt, and said, in Eichmann's name, that this was not going well because the Mufti opposed it.

Presiding Judge: Has Andrej Steiner's name been mentioned here?

State Attorney Bach: Perhaps one of the witnesses mentioned him, I think it was Dr. Abeles. He was one of the people in that shadow cabinet.

Presiding Judge: It was not the witness?

State Attorney Bach: No. Perhaps I should explain. This declaration was really made by the architect Steiner, who was reporting on his contacts with Wisliceny concerning the rescue of children, and Wisliceny's reaction, how Wisliceny told him about Eichmann and the Mufti.

Presiding Judge: What was the purpose of that declaration?

State Attorney Bach: That does not appear so clearly from the declaration. Maybe for use in the Nuremberg Trials, and maybe as information that the Jewish institutions may have wanted to make use of.

Judge Halevi: What declaration?

State Attorney Bach: The declaration itself was made in February 1946. It was later sent to Nuremberg, where it was given to Wisliceny, and below the declaration itself Wisliceny added his own declaration that this was correct, except for two points which he thought not to be accurate.

Presiding Judge: Are you using it now as a declaration by Wisliceny?

State Attorney Bach: Precisely. That is what I wanted to explain. The witness was only present when Eng. Steiner made the declaration. The importance lies not in Steiner's declaration, but in Wisliceny's confirmation of it, except for two reservations that he had. It is as such evidence that I am asking this document to be admitted, as a complement to another statement about the Mufti made by Wisliceny, which we have already submitted to the Court.

Presiding Judge: Actually this does not add anything.

State Attorney Bach: It adds details. It shows the influence that the Mufti had, in general, on Eichmann, and also on Himmler, with regard to the annihilation of the Jews of Europe.

Judge Halevi: It also adds to the testimony of Steiner, if you want to use it. About Wisliceny's credibility there still exist differences of opinion, but here we also have Steiner testifying how the talks were being conducted.

State Attorney Bach: Steiner only states what Wisliceny told him.

Judge Halevi: Told him at the time?

State Attorney Bach: Told him at the time...actually I agree with Your Honour.

Judge Halevi: Is Steiner still alive?

State Attorney Bach: Steiner is in the United States.

Presiding Judge: I now want to know as what you wish to submit this document?

State Attorney Bach: I want to submit it as evidence for Wisliceny's statement, and to enable the witness to identify it as the declaration that was signed in his presence, before Wisliceny added his comments to it.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Andrej Steiner?

Witness Steiner: Engineer architect Andrej Steiner.

State Attorney Bach: May I add, in addition to the point that His Honour, Judge Halevi, made, also important is the fact that from the document we see that Wisliceny does not just accept anything that is submitted to him because he might think that it is perhaps convenient for those who tender a document to him; he does not accept everything; and when he has reservations about a certain detail, he says that that detail is not accurate.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, what about this document?

Dr. Servatius: I object to the introduction of this document for the reasons I have already mentioned. In this case, too, Wisliceny is presented with a document and he signs it, despite the reservations that he has.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 52

We accept Wisliceny's comments on Mr. Andrej Steiner's declaration, together with that declaration, on the grounds given in our Decision No. 7.

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