The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 59
(Part 6 of 6)

Presiding Judge: Who is to continue?

State Attorney Bach: If it please the Court, yesterday I informed the Court that in presenting the documents I had reached 15 May; today I shall continue as of 15 May 1944. With the Court's permission, not in chronological order, I should like to cite two documents which relate to the testimony of the last two witnesses who have testified here, that is to say, to the mission of Mr. Joel Brand.

The first exhibit is our document No. 447. In this, the German Foreign Ministry informs Veesenmayer about a particular broadcast which was picked up from Radio London. The document is dated 20 July 1944, and it says that, on the evening of 19 July, under the heading "Germany wants to do business with Jewish blood," the London radio broadcast an item which said that two emissaries of the Hungarian Government had recently appeared in Turkey, in order to make the following proposal from the Gestapo and the Hungarian Government to the representatives of the Allies there. According to this proposal, all the Jews who were still in Hungary would be allowed to leave, on condition that England and America would supply Hungary with a certain amount of pharmaceuticals and means of transport, including trucks.

It was promised that this equipment would not be used on the Western Front. For the time being, the names of the emissaries have to be kept secret, and in the meanwhile, the matter is being examined in London. Competent British circles consider this to be an impudent attempt to weaken the Allies, whose sympathy for Hungarian Jewry is well known. Official British circles consider the plan to be a crude attempt to set the Allies against each other. There is not even the slightest chance of the British and American Governments considering something of this type, although saving Hungarian Jewry is important to them. It also says, it is not yet clear to what extent the plan had the approval of the supreme German and Hungarian authorities, but the British authorities state that they know for a fact that the Gestapo was aware of it.

The Foreign Ministry now informs Veesenmayer that Ribbentrop, the Reich Foreign Minister, wishes to be informed about the facts of the matter.

Presiding Judge: I mark this T/1190.

Judge Halevi: Is this an accurate translation into German of the British broadcast? Do you also have the British broadcast from a British source, or are there no differences?

State Attorney Bach: I have not checked the English version.

Judge Halevi: I assume it is in the Rescue file to which you referred yesterday. If there are no differences, that is alright.

State Attorney Bach: I have gone over that material. I did not find this broadcast in it.

I come now to Veesenmayer's reply. This is our document No. 448, which was also submitted to the Accused and was then given No. T/37(151). The reply is dated 22 July 1944. In it Veesenmayer reports that:

"Obergruppenfuehrer Winkelmann has informed him that four or five weeks ago the Jew Brand from Budapest was given the mission of obtaining goods in short supply in Turkey for Germany, in return for which a few Jews are to be allowed to leave for Turkey. Matters had not been concluded, but Winkelmann assumes that Brand has fallen into the hands of the Secret Service and made statements to them. Brand's wife is in Budapest and is at present still not detained. Moreover, I have been confidentially informed of indications that the broadcast from London is accurate, and that there are indeed two SS emissaries currently in Turkey. The matter has resulted from secret orders from the Reichsfuehrer-SS.

"Legation Councillor (Legationsrat) Grell informed me today that he had heard that the negotiations in Turkey were proceeding well, and that the Reuter report was apparently only being published, in order to camouflage the matter from the Russians, but that, in fact, the Western powers were ready to agree to such a transaction."

In this connection, I shall subsequently draw the Court's attention to passages in the Kasztner Report, indicating that these really were rumours which were put about by the members of the committee to the Germans.

Judge Halevi: Freudiger has already testified about this, about what Rabbi Weissmandel said, in the sense that the opposite conclusion is to be drawn.

State Attorney Bach: Yes. The idea was Rabbi Weissmandel's; afterwards Freudiger spoke frequently about it with Eichmann and others. And we can see that, in any case, the rumour worked. The Accused reactions on this matter are on page 1948 ff; and when he was questioned about the passage which says that there was a secret order from the Reichsfuehrer-SS, he says on page 1955: "Yes, that is also correct, Captain. The Reichsfuehrer-SS gave the order on this matter."

Presiding Judge: I mark this T/1191.

State Attorney Bach: With the Court's permission, I shall now draw the Court's attention to various passages from the report of the Aid and Rescue Committee which relate to this transaction, these same transactions with the Germans, in order to see how the matter looked to the committee. It seems to me that there are here also some answers to the questions asked today and yesterday by Your Honours.

First of all, on page 23 of the report. This refers to the first contact with the SS, Wisliceny's appearance at the head of the "Jewish Commando," which raised hope that it might be possible to obtain something by means of negotiations on an economic basis and by means of diplomatic manoeuvres. Dr. Kasztner adds:

"It is true that on all fronts oppressive silence prevailed, but there was no doubt that, above all, we had to gain time, in the hope and assumption that the Anglo-Saxon invasion, and also the Russian spring offensive, could not be far off."
On page 33 there is a passage about the Brand-Eichmann meeting. Naturally, Kasztner could only have heard about this from Brand, and we have already discussed it this morning, so I shall not quote from this.

Next, on pages 38 and 39 of the report, there is a reference to the first meeting of Dr. Kasztner with Eichmann in the presence of Mrs. Brand. Here, too, we have the same conversation about which we have already heard from Mrs. Brand, and I shall not return to this. The Court will note that the details are identical.

There is just one further detail here which was not mentioned by Mrs. Brand. This is item No. 3, where it says that Eichmann said to them that it was entirely out of the question for him to stop or suspend the deportations, and that they should not think him an idiot. After all, if he stopped the deportations, then there would not be any readiness abroad for negotiations with him. That we should pursue the discussions in Istanbul more energetically, he would not allow himself to be deceived, and that, after all, there was a limit to his patience.

On page 41 we already have a reference to the first attempts at deception, with fictitious telegrams on the part of the committee:

"As soon as we were released from detention, I went to see Eichmann. I showed him the telegrams from Istanbul and asked him to stop the deportations until the draft interim agreement arrived. Eichmann refused and stated: `That is quite out of the question. On the contrary, I shall continue with them full steam ahead.'

"Afterwards, on the morning of June 3, Eichmann summoned me and stated: `I cannot bring the Jews to Budapest. Now I have to go to the Minister of the Interior, Jaross. He is bound to ask me: What deal did the SS make with the family of Baron Weiss? Do you know of this agreement? Now I shall have to suffer before Jaross because of this filth. Me, of all people.' He went on to say: `If Jews are now brought from Transylvania to Budapest, Endre will ask me what new deals we have made again with the Jews'."

Kasztner says:
"'But you promised definitely, you always said that it was your habit to keep your promises. I know that you really did cable Klausenburg about this.' Eichmann: `Yes, but yesterday I cancelled the order by telegram. Now everything is clear, is it not? I do not have any time for you now.' Outside, it took some time before cold reason overcame the feelings of impotent rage and desperation. I summarized the results of the 'negotiations'."
Then, on page 43, Kasztner once again insists that Eichmann keep his word. On page 43, he describes how Eichmann started to shout, and then relates the conversation: "`What do you really want?' says Eichmann in the end, opening the conversation. 'I must insist that the agreement we reached be implemented. Are you prepared to bring the people we have proposed from the provinces to Budapest?' 'Once I have said no, it is no.' 'Then there is no point in our continuing with negotiations.' And I make as if to get up and go. Eichmann: `Your nerves are too taut, Kasztner, I shall send you off to convalesce at Theresienstadt, or perhaps you would prefer Auschwitz?' Answer: 'There would be no point to that, no one would replace me.' Eichmann: 'Try and understand me, I must clean out the provincial towns from this Jewish dirt, no arguments and no crying will help here.' Kasztner: 'In that case, our arguments in Constantinople will not help, either.' Eichmann: 'What do you want with this handful of Jews?' Kasztner: 'It is not just them. The situation in Constantinople looks bad because you are speeding up the deportations. You must prove that your proposal is a serious one. And what does this handful of Jews matter to you?'"

Then, on page 44, Eichmann says: "You must understand me. I cannot take upon myself such a major responsibility vis-a- vis the Hungarian Government, I cannot play the role here of the saviour of the Jews."

And here Kasztner describes how Wisliceny, who had kept out of things, now intervenes in the conversation and explains to Eichmann that there is nothing to worry about as far as the Hungarians are concerned, that he has already used some pretext to Ferenczy, in order to explain why Jews have to be sent abroad in some numbers, and Kasztner says that he left then.

In this context, I should like to draw the Court's attention again to Wisliceny's comments on Kasztner's report. When he was asked about this meeting which Kasztner is talking about, on page 10 of our exhibit T/1116, he describes the meeting and says that Dr. Kasztner left the room and waited outside: "As soon as I was in private with Eichmann, once we were on our own, he flew into a rage and said that, in the presence of that 'Jewish pig,' I had stabbed him in the back. He was already discovering more and more of my `tactics,' and I was really on the point of overdoing it, and so on and so forth." With respect to the list which had been submitted then, of the Jews who were to be transferred from various camps to Budapest in order to be saved, here he says on page 11 of our typed copy that Eichmann gave him a personal order to bring five or ten people from each camp to Budapest as a gesture, but "he was forbidden to find" the others.

After that, he describes telephone calls in which he nevertheless gave instructions for these people to be transferred. And he says that he had a row about it with Dannecker, who did not agree to transfer so many persons to Budapest.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, perhaps I might ask the following: Exhibit 900, report of the Rescue Committee - my copy has no date and no signature; perhaps I could be given the date when it was written. We have here Wisliceny's statement and reactions - when was that?

Presiding Judge: I cannot see a date on this exhibit, Mr. Bach. What can you tell us about this?

State Attorney Bach: I do not quite see what the problem of Counsel for the Defence is. We have heard testimony from a witness that the report of the Rescue Committee was in his hands, and that he passed it on to the Czech prosecutor, who gave it to Wisliceny. Wisliceny gave his comments on 25 March 1947.

Presiding Judge: In other words, no later.

State Attorney Bach: Certainly. This report was submitted in 1946, so that in that respect I do not know the exact date. I think it was drafted in 1945 and submitted to the Zionist institutions in 1946.

Judge Halevi: We could check on the date of the Zionist Congress. That would be the latest date.

State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour. There was the Zionist Congress, and it was submitted there, so that it was drafted before that. Wisliceny did not make his comments until March 1947.

To proceed, Your Honours. On page 47 of the report it says:

"Eichmann demanded ever more impatiently that Brand return; according to the agreement he was due to return within two weeks at the latest. He wanted a `clear-cut answer' as to whether the German proposal had been accepted in Istanbul or not. We had to explain to him every day that discussions on this matter between London, Washington and Moscow could be protracted. There were enough reasons for delay. Apparently the Allies could not easily be brought to a common denominator about such a delicate matter. The continuation of the deportations of Hungarian Jews was complicating the negotiations."
Then, on page 48, starting at the bottom of page 47, it says that "on 9 June Eichmann said, 'If I do not receive a positive reply within three days, I shall operate the mill at Auschwitz'."

On page 48, he made another visit to Eichmann, and he says:

"I drew his attention to the fact that the extermination of the Jews who had been deported to Auschwitz was putting us - the committee - in an impossible situation vis-a-vis foreign Jewish organizations, as well as the Allies. We had lost our moral credit. No one abroad still believed that the rescue plan was ever meant seriously by the Germans."

"What did you imagine?" screamed Eichmann. "Perhaps you think that the Reich has enough food to feed hundreds of thousands of Jews for months, or enough personnel and doctors to look after your sick? If that is what you want, the American gentlemen should choose a less cunning partner than myself."

Then, at the bottom of page 49 and the top of page 50, Your Honours, there is the altercation about those thousands of persons who should have reached Austria. There Eichmann says:
"They can only be Jews from the original area of Hungary. Not from the Carpathians or Transylvania. In any case, they no longer exist, and apart from that, they are of greater ethnic value and more fertile - he is not interested in keeping them alive."
On page 52, there is a description of the beginning of the negotiations about money with Becher, and later with Eichmann. It says that "Becher was impressed by the valuables. For his staff, they were considered to be an achievement."

On page 59, he says: "Oddly enough, Eichmann was cheaper. At the beginning he demanded two hundred dollars per head, then he demanded five hundred dollars per head. Becher's economic staff demanded two thousand dollars per head. As the final authority, Himmler himself eventually set the price at one thousand dollars."

Your Honours, on page 74 it appears to me that there is an answer to the question of His Honour, Judge Raveh, who asked Mrs. Brand this morning what was the meaning of the "Interimsabkommen" (interim agreement). What sort of agreement was it: Was it actually a fictitious matter, or was it a serious proposal? Here Dr. Kasztner states that "on July 7 we received the text of the interim agreement." This contained the fictitious proposal of the Jewish Agency to the Germans, to make available to them abroad food and money, in return for freeing Hungarian Jews in groups of ten thousand. He writes: "With this `agreement,' the interim agreement, I was trying to convince Eichmann and Becher that our friends abroad in principle inclined to agree to bigger deals with the Germans, as long as German demands stay within reasonable bounds." And he says again that "abroad" - he is saying this to Becher - "there is a great deal of suspicion vis-a-vis the Germans, and that the reason for the failure of Becher's mission is mainly that Eichmann has, in the meanwhile, sent those Jews who were supposed to be the counterpart of those goods to Auschwitz to be gassed."

He goes on to say, "if, in the meanwhile the Jews of Budapest are deported, there will be no grounds for hoping to achieve any success."

As far as the quantity and value of objects are concerned, reference is made to this on page 75. There is a discussion here about the value to be assigned to the valuables handed over to the Germans. Kasztner argues that the price of one thousand dollars per head has already been paid in actual fact in kind and in cash, while the Germans think otherwise.

Then, on page 76, it says that "inter alia, Becher was given fifteen thousand kilogrammes of coffee."

I would like to draw the Court's attention to page 79 of the report, where this first group is sent to Bergen-Belsen, instead of abroad, and then it says: "Visibly peeved, Eichmann told me the same day that he had been ordered by the Reichsfuehrer-SS to allow part of the Bergen-Belsen group to go abroad. The order applied to five hundred persons, but the number was not definitely fixed. It could also be somewhat more or somewhat less. He would see. However, he would only give the order for their departure when a date had been set for a first meeting between Becher and the representatives of world Jewry."

On the same subject, he says on page 90:

"Krumey was waiting for us in a hotel. He had previously gone to Bergen-Belsen, in order to put together the group of five hundred candidates for departure abroad and accompany them to the Swiss border. He now notified us that the number of people released had been reduced, on Eichmann's orders, to three hundred. However, he had allowed another eighteen people to depart."
And now, one last passage from the report, on page 133. Dr. Kasztner spoke to Eichmann about the Brand mission. "Yes," said Eichmann, "I saw all of this in advance. I warned Becher countless times not to allow himself to be led by the nose. If I do not receive a positive answer within forty- eight hours, I will have all this Jewish bag of filth from Budapest laid low" (werde ich das ganze juedische Dreckpack von Budapest umlegen lassen).

Presiding Judge: We can now recess, Mr. Bach. We shall

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