The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 57
(Part 1 of 6)

Session No. 57

15 Sivan 5721 (30 May 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the fifty-seventh Session of this trial open. Mr. Hausner and Dr. Servatius, do you have any further questions to Professor Gilbert after having examined his diaries and Pohl's statement?

Attorney General: I have no questions.

Dr. Servatius: I merely have two further brief questions to the witness.

Presiding Judge: Professor Gilbert, please take the witness stand. There are two questions which Dr. Servatius wishes to ask you; you are, of course, still under oath.

Witness Gilbert: Yes, Your Honour.

Dr. Servatius: The value of a diary assuredly depends on whether the entries were recorded immediately or at a later time. Were these entries recorded on the same days as the date they bear?

Witness Gilbert: [replies in German] They were always taken down on the same day and then dictated to my secretary.

Q. Did you supplement or revise them later, or has everything remained as it was originally recorded?

A. I would rather carry on in English.

Presiding Judge: Please do.

Witness Gilbert: [in English] In dictating the notes to my secretary, I took advantage of the trial transcripts and any additional facts that I recalled in the meantime. But this dictation usually took place the next day. There was no long lapse of time between the conversation and the actual dictation of notes for the diary.

Dr. Servatius: Do you want this diary to be regarded as an authoritative and scientific account?

Witness Gilbert: The diary comprises the original raw data for later scientific evaluation. So, to answer your question about expert evaluation, that really takes place in the second book, in which I evaluate all of the factual data which I collected, and on that basis make my expert evaluation of the Nazi system and its leaders, including Hitler.

Q. For evaluating material it is assuredly important whether a report has been written sine iraet studio (without wrath and excessive eagerness) - the concept will surely be known to you - in other words, without preconceptions, without bias. Was that how this diary was written?

A. Yes, I had the advantage of American ignorance of the Nazi system, except for a little briefing as a military intelligence officer; I also had the advantage of being completely uninformed and incredulous about the events that we are discussing today, and I had to be convinced, more and more, about what actually took place. It took me a year to get the whole picture.

Q. Would you consider it impartial when, right after an objective finding by you, a personal opinion follows which concludes with the expression: "Pfui, Teufel" (For shame, to hell with it)?

A. Yes. This was one of those situations in which it was impossible for any normal human being not to react with revulsion. As I said, there was one day when I lost my academic composure and spoke to Kaltenbrunner rather sharply. I also recall now this expression that you used. I used it when I was talking to Pohl, when I asked him: "What do you mean, all the SS leaders knew these things? The extermination of the Jews was described in great detail and nobody raised any objections?" He went on and on for quite a while and, at the end of the conversation, when he couldn't give any explanation and shrugged off the fact that it was not in his jurisdiction and he couldn't explain these things, I used the expression: "Well, there's only one thing I can say - pfui, Teufel!" I want to make it clear that I think any normal human being would have reacted in the same way. A psychologist is not a soothsayer, he is not inhuman, and a good psychologist should have feelings and sympathy, regardless of his race, religion, or anything else.

Q. Therefore, was your judgment of these reports not due to sentiment of a certain kind?

A. Yes, in reply to your last question. I was observing and interacting with these defendants according to the techniques known as "participant observer." This means participant observer, as one human being among others, to find out the psychological cause of the greatest tragedy in human history. As such, I reacted as a human being, and the whole world reacts to it as human beings. The only people who could have thoroughly investigated these events and not be moved by them would be the same kind of characters as I designated as the "murderous robots of the SS." These events are being judged judicially and psychologically by human beings, and they are being judged in human terms all over the world.

Presiding Judge: It was not our intention to reopen the interrogation of the witness at this time, but rather to enable the attorneys of both sides to ask additional questions, in the light of the additional documents which have been presented. I request that attention be given to that.

Dr. Servatius: May I perhaps be permitted to direct another question to the witness. If I have understood you correctly, you said that you interjected this remark as a normal human being - thereby, I presume, admitting abandonment of the role of professional expert.

Witness Gilbert: I explicitly want to correct that. The role of a psychologist is not distinct from that of the role of a human being. Psychology, above all, is applying human understanding in a scientific manner. The same, I daresay, applies to jurisprudence. The only profession I have ever encountered which separates the role of a human being from his professional activity was the role of the SS man.

Dr. Servatius: I have no more questions to the witness. I merely beg to point out that the assertions in question are from the diary entries about Pohl on the first and second of June 1945.

Attorney General: In the light of the foregoing questions, would the Court allow me merely one question to clarify the facts: Professor Gilbert, whatever is recorded in your diary as emanating or coming from the people you talked to, is it truly and correctly recorded, factually truly and correctly recorded?

Witness Gilbert: Yes.

Judge Raveh: Professor Gilbert, last night I read some parts of your book, and I came upon a remark of Goering I wanted to ask you about.

Witness Gilbert: Yes, Your Honour.

Q. You spoke to Hoess of Auschwitz.

A. Yes.

Q. It was before he testified.

A. Yes.

Q. You tested him.

A. Yes.

Q. And the same day you talked to Goering about this?

A. Yes.

Q. And you said to Goering: "He is just another German being loyal to the Fuehrer." And now his answer: "Oh, but that has nothing to do with loyalty. He could just as easily have asked for some other job or something." Goering speculated: "Of course somebody else would have done it anyway." Do you recall this remark of Goering's?

A. Yes, I do, Your Honour. It pertains to this question of acting under obedience to orders.

Q. Yes. Was this the entire conversation between you and him on this occasion, or perhaps you would like to look into your diary.

A. There may be more to that. It is easiest to check from the date.

Q. It is 9 April.

A. Yes, I have it, Your Honour. There is more.

Q. Have you found it?

A. Yes, Your Honour.

Q. Have you something further?

A. Yes, Your Honour. Right after the last part you quoted I said: "What about killing the man who ordered the mass murder?" "Oh, that is easily..."

Q. That is something else.

A. No, that is a continuation of the same conversation.

Q. But another question.

A. The same discussion, Your Honour. Then his answer: "Oh, that is easily said, but you cannot do that sort of thing. What kind of a system would that be if anybody could kill the commanding officer if he didn't like his orders? You have got to have obedience in a military system." Now there is just one more paragraph. "If I am not mistaken, millions of Germans are sick through this obedience."

Q. It appears in the same book?

A. Yes, that's right.

Q. My question is another one. If you look at this remark of his, "that has nothing to do with loyalty," and further the words, "or something," what do they mean?

A. Goering was indicating that there were other possibilities, but he was too cagey to indicate what they were. I would only speculate, and I will not speculate about what the other possibilities were in his mind. However, I do have further testimony, if you wish it, on what other SS men said about other possibilities.

Q. You talked to him in German?

A. Oh, yes - all of them. Constantly.

Q. Do you recall his exact words - or something?

A. I can't say it's in this conversation, but it would naturally be from the way he spoke oder so was (or something like that).

Q. Was it a chance remark of Goering's, or what you would say, a considered judgment of his?

A. It wouldn't have been a chance remark, Your Honour, because we were constantly arguing about this issue - of obedience to orders.

Q. Thank you.

Presiding Judge: Thank you, Professor Gilbert. This finally concludes your testimony. Mr. Hausner, I request that you also transcribe Pohl's statement, just as you undertook to transcribe Hoess' statement.

Attorney General: We shall do that.

Presiding Judge: Now there is still a formal matter here that must be disposed of. If I am not mistaken, no decision has yet been made to hear the testimony of Kappler in Italy, and we need it. We have had much discussion about the testimony, but no formal decision has been taken. We shall now dispose of this matter; this is required for applying to the Italian authorities.

Decision No. 61

It is hereby resolved to apply to the Italian authorities to take evidence from Herbert Kappler who is in the military prison in Gaeta, Italy. The application will be based upon the convention for mutual legal aid between the Republic of Italy and the State of Israel.

We can now continue with the testimony of Mr. Joel Brand. Mr. Brand, you continue to give your testimony under oath.

Attorney General: Yesterday we broke off in the middle of the Bandi Grosz matter. Did Bandi Grosz accompany you on your journey to Constantinople?

Witness Brand: Yes, Sir.

Q. Who gave the order that he accompany you to Constantinople?

A. Technically, Eichmann gave the order. But I know that Grosz' connection was with the SS Espionage Group, with Klages.

Q. Did Eichmann explain to you why he wanted Bandi Grosz to travel with you?

A. Yes, he said, in one sentence, that he should pay heed to what we would be "letting out of the bag" in Constantinople, or to what I and my friends would be "letting out of the bag" in Constantinople, and should report to Eichmann when we returned.

Q. In your opinion, was that the real mission, or the sole mission, of Bandi Grosz during this journey?

A. I believe his mission also included watching me, as well as getting into contact with English and American authorities.

Q. In regard to the latter function, was anything at all said to you by the German authorities?

A. Not directly. I believe I have already reported about the conversation outside Budapest where the attempt was made, I might say, to shove down my throat the belief that Himmler was a decent human being, that the Jews could be rescued only through Himmler, and that Eichmann's offer was identical with Himmler's offer and the sole chance to rescue us. Then there were other hints. He himself told me the trucks would not be used along the Westwall (the fortifications in the West), but only on the eastern front.

Q. I am speaking about Bandi Grosz: Did you hear him say, or did you learn anything at all about whether he had other functions as well?

A. In Budapest, no; later on, yes.

Q. What were they?

A. The first time, in the airplane, he showed me papers, or he said he had papers to be returned to Krumey - I no longer remember precisely whether he tore them up in my presence or gave them back to Krumey. He said that those were his real instructions, but at that time he was still very secretive about them. Later, in Constantinople, when we were confined together in the police station, he began to shriek at me that we were all dolts, that we did not know at all what was involved, that in reality very different things were at stake: He had come to conduct peace negotiations, to establish contacts with the Allies.

Our Jews were in the picture as - well, how shall I put it - a baksheesh, to be rescued into the bargain. That is what he said, above all, as I sat with him in the police station.

Q. And so you arrived in Constantinople.

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. Did you meet there with representatives of the Jewish Agency?

A. Yes.

Q. Was this followed by a plan to travel to Ankara to see the American Ambassador Steinhardt?

A. Yes, that had already been determined in Budapest. Dr. Komoly had proposed that I establish contact with Steinhardt by all means. I had made this proposal there, and it was accepted; I was to make the trip.

Q. And were you then arrested in Turkey?

A. Yes, I was arrested during my attempt to make the journey.

Q. Was this followed by your journey to Aleppo to meet with Moshe Sharett?

A. I travelled towards Jerusalem, towards Israel, in order to meet with Moshe Sharett, since he did not receive a visa for travel to Turkey.

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