The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 60
(Part 1 of 6)

Session No. 60

16 Sivan 5721 (31 May 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the sixtieth Session of the trial open. Please continue, Mr. Bach.

State Attorney Bach: Your Honour, in order to complete the picture, I still wish to draw the Court's attention to two excerpts from two statements by Wisliceny. The one is the statement which was written in the Bratislava prison, and which we called at the time "Cell 106"; it was given the exhibit number T/85. This is Prosecution document No. 773. And here, on page 21 of the copy of the German version, Wisliceny describes the negotiations between Dr. Kasztner and Eichmann, how he kept on putting Dr. Kasztner off by telling him repeatedly to come back again, how in the meantime he planned the implementation of the deportations from Hungary. And after that, he says:

"Whereas Becher truly endeavoured to secure results from the negotiations, it was Eichmann's objective, through laying down impossible conditions and carrying out the deportations in the swiftest possible manner, to create a fait accompli."
At the end he describes Mr. Brand's mission and adds:
"In view of the fact that he was unable to achieve anything, he did not even come back. Eichmann rejoiced."
On the following page, page 22 of the copy, he says:
"Since Brand did not return, Eichmann was unwilling to receive Dr. Kasztner any more, and thought of getting rid of him when the opportunity arose. He also planned similar measures against Freudiger."
We shall also see, subsequently, that these matters were corroborated by the statements of Kurt Becher. Thereafter, he describes how Eichmann, at a later stage, planned to deport the Jews of Budapest.

With regard to the beginning of the deportation and how precisely the plan was carried out, and what were the stages of the planning of the operation, this we see from Wisliceny's affidavit which is also contained in Prosecution document No. 856, which was given the exhibit No. T/56, and here, in his interrogation dated 29.11.45, on pages 8-9, we find paragraphs 23 and 24 of the statement. In paragraph 23, Wisliceny describes the negotiations between Eichmann, Himmler and Becher. I do not wish to repeat this. He more or less restates the same fact about the demand for trucks and raw materials, on condition that they will not be used against England and America. Thereafter, he says:

"I was later informed that this proposal was turned down by the Allied countries because there was no assurance that they would not be used against the USSR. As Eichmann had predicted and wished, the negotiations failed, the planned actions went ahead."
Subsequently, he adds in paragraph 24:
"I think it quite important to describe the attitude of the Hungarian Government. According to Ferenczy, the Hungarian Government at first agreed only to concentrate the Jews at certain collecting points. Conditions created by the massing of hundreds of thousands of people in congested camps were unbearable. The inmates could not be fed or taken care of. Ferenczy went to Budapest on about 20 April 1944 and reported to Endre and von Baky that either the Jews would have to be returned to their homes or removed to other areas.

This was the moment Eichmann had waited for. He declared that he would be ready to take over these Jews if the Hungarian Government would make a special request. It happened as follows: Ferenczy arrived in Budapest in the morning, gave his report to von Baky, who sent it to Eichmann. Ferenczy saw Eichmann around noon and received Eichmann's request. At four o'clock in the afternoon, the Hungarian Government had made the demanded request. Eichmann immediately called a conference of transport experts in Vienna for the arrangement of the timetable of the evacuation. The conference was attended by Novak and Captain Lulay, Ferenczy's adjutant, on behalf of the Hungarians, and in addition, representatives from the Reich Ministry of Transport were present."

Wisliceny states further:
"I saw copies of the cables which were sent regarding all these matters from Eichmann to the Chief of the Security Police and SD, Kaltenbrunner, reporting the developments; furthermore, a cable to Eichmann's deputy, Sturmbannfuehrer Rolf Guenther, requesting him to immediately inform the Inspector of Concentration Camps, Brigadefuehrer Glicks, of the arrival of the Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz, and ask him to make all necessary preparations for their reception."
State Attorney Bach: Our next document is Prosecution document No. 359, which was shown to the Accused and was given the number T/37(109). Here, the reference is to what they call "certificate Jews," Jews who possessed a special right or a special document, by virtue of which they could be exempted from the anti-Jewish operations. And here Veesenmayer, in a cable dated 26 May, advises that "in accordance with a message from the Eichmann special operations unit, the certificates were checked personally by State Secretary Endre of the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior. Through close co-operation of the SD units with Endre, a stringent execution of the checking was ensured."

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1192.

State Attorney Bach: The following document is Prosecution document 152, which was also shown to the Accused and was given the number T/37(90). Here Veesenmayer reports to the Foreign Office on 25 May 1944 that, up to that day, about one hundred and fifty thousand had already been sent to "the destination" - as he put it. And later on he says:

"In a briefing that took place today in the Ministry of the Interior under the chairmanship of State Secretary Baky, with the participation of the Chief of the Gendarmerie (the Hungarian District Commissioner) and Chief of Police of Area 3, and Commander of the Special Operations Unit of the SD, Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, together with officials of his Section, all the details concerning the concentration in, and deportation from, Area 3 were settled."
Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1193.

State Attorney Bach: Incidentally, in his comments, the Accused acknowledges that he participated in that meeting. His comments are on page 1313.

The next document is our No. 678, which was shown to the Accused and was given the number T/37(175). This is von Thadden's report concerning his visit to Budapest. It is pointed out here that this is a secret Reich matter, and that von Thadden, together with Hezinger, visited the legation and spoke to Eichmann's unit and the unit of Ballensiefen; I shall explain later who this was.

The important matter here is on page three. There is a certain hint here, although there is no detailed explanation, about certain secret agreements, of which Winkelmann was aware, and which were being prepared behind Veesenmayer's back, and of which Veesenmayer did not approve.

Presiding Judge: Where does this appear?

State Attorney Bach: On page three, paragraph three, in the German copy: "Soweit ich aus Andeutungen entnehmen konnte, scheint es sich um Geheimvertraege zu handeln, die Gruppenfuehrer Winkelmann hinter dem Ruecken von V. vorbereitet hat, und mit denen V. nicht einverstanden ist" (As far as I could infer from hints, there appear to be secret agreements prepared by Winkelmann behind the back of V., and with which V. disagrees).

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1194.

State Attorney Bach: It says here that they planned to include a total of a million Jews, of whom one third were fit for work and would be transferred to Sauckel and to the "Eastern Industries,"* {*The German document refers, in point of fact, to OT, i.e. "Organisation Todt," the Reich agency for construction founded by Todt.} and that the entire operation would be completed by the end of July.

At the end he describes a luncheon together with Eichmann, a visit to the Ballensiefen Institute, an institute for the research of Judaism which had been established in Budapest, and he also describes the publication of a newspaper similar to the Stuermer called Harc (Battle).

The following document is our No. 375, which was shown to the Accused and given the number T/37(147). Here von Thadden, after his return from Budapest, delivers a most detailed report to his superiors. He states here that every day twelve to fourteen thousand Jews would be transferred to the Generalgouvernement, and he also talks of the duplicity used against the Jews of Budapest. He relates that, by way of duplicity, the anti-Jewish legislation continued to be applied, and it was explained to the Jews of Budapest that these measures applied only to the Jews of the eastern areas, and not to Jews similar to the Magyars, explaining further that otherwise there would be no need for anti- Jewish legislation, if indeed they wanted to deport the Jews of Budapest. And he says that this was a way of deceiving the Jews of Budapest.

Presiding Judge: On what page is this?

State Attorney Bach: It appears at the bottom of the first page and at the top of the second page in the German copy, "das Gesetzgebungswerk zeige deutlich, dass man hinsichtlich der uebrigen ungarischen Gebiete anders verfahren werden, denn sonst sei dieses Gesetzgebungswerk ja ueberfluessig" (The legislation was to show clearly that as regards the other districts of Hungary, there would be a different attitude, since otherwise this body of legislation would be superfluous).

Thereafter he reports that an operation in Budapest was being planned for the middle of July, and they were thinking of mobilizing all possible forces to this end, including postmen and chimney sweeps, who would have to serve as guides, in order to point out the Jewish apartments. And he says that on that day all buses and tram services in Budapest would be stopped, so that they could be used to transport the Jews. The Jews would be concentrated on an island in the vicinity of Budapest, on an island in the Danube. After that he describes the close co-operation between Endre and the SD office in Budapest and gives an account of the support they were getting from the newspaper Harc.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1195.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our document No. 1342. Here Wagner passes on a report which is almost identical to von Thadden's report. However, at the bottom, there is also a reference to the one third of the Jews who were fit for work, amongst those whose deportation was being planned. But the significance of this document lies in the hand-written comment appearing on page two of our copy, where Wagner writes, on 28 June: "Eichmann ist bei Veesenmayer gewesen, um alle Einzelheiten zu besprechen. Grell ist Verbindungsmann bei Eichmann" (Eichmann visited Veesenmayer, in order to discuss all the details. Grell is the liaison man at Eichmann's [office]).

Dr. Servatius: It says "ist Verbindungsmann zu Eichmann" (Eichmann is the liaison man to Eichmann.)

State Attorney Bach: I thank Counsel for the Defence.

The Court will notice that this remark was written on a later date. The letter was written at the beginning of June, and the comment was written later on; evidently further information was received.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1196.

State Attorney Bach: The following document is our No. 566. It is a letter which the Accused wrote to von Thadden - as far back as 11 February 1944. I am quoting it here now, for it is connected with the next document I am about to submit. This was before the Germans invaded Hungary, and he enquires here about a certain Jew, Edmund Meszaros, and here he doubts whether the man is an Aryan - he does not know whether the man is an Aryan - and he turns to the Foreign Office, in order to obtain details about this man, about his parents, and his past in Budapest.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1197.

State Attorney Bach: And here is the reply now, in our document No. 527. Here, von Thadden writes to the Commander of the Security Police and the SD on 30 May 1944 that, in view of the close ties between the Eichmann unit in Budapest and Endre and the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior, they presume that the problem had meanwhile been solved directly, and that there was no need for action by the Foreign Office.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1198.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 630, which was shown to the Accused and given the number T/37(174). Here, von Thadden advises Veesenmayer of a particularly diabolical plan. He again refers to operations against the Jews in Budapest and says that the great operation in Budapest would surely arouse a vehement response abroad. And he says that the Press Department intended to recommend to the Minister the creation of pretexts and of external grounds for the campaign, such as the discovery of explosive materials in the headquarters of Jewish organizations and in synagogues, sabotage groups, plans for revolution, assaults on the police, and smuggling of currency on a large scale, designed to undermine the Hungarian currency system. And he adds that, according to the plan, "some special outstanding incident ought to serve as the culminating point which would serve as the reason for the entire round-up."

The man who proposed this was someone called Schmidt, who had written about it previously to the Foreign Office.

Presiding Judge: Was this written by von Thadden?

State Attorney Bach: The letter is written by von Thadden. He addresses his letter to Veesenmayer and states that it was the Press Department which had made this suggestion to find the necessary grounds for the large Budapest operation.

Judge Halevi: Do we know what the "Presse-Abteilung" (Press Department) was?

State Attorney Bach: Yes. I simply did not think it was necessary to produce another letter from the same Schmidt, actually in identical terms, to von Thadden. I did not want to burden the Court with yet another document.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1199.

State Attorney Bach: A reply came to this from Veesenmayer. It is our document No. 632. He is not satisfied, he does not approve of this suggestion, for he is afraid it will have the reverse effect. He says: Surely it is well known that the Jewish clubs and synagogues have been requisitioned for some time already and are now under the strict control of the Hungarian police; accordingly, he does not believe that this operation, this propaganda, will serve much of a purpose. He is also of the opinion that such a sharp reaction abroad to the Budapest operation should not be anticipated - judging by previous experience.

State Attorney Bach: Was the previous letter sent from Germany to Hungary?

State Attorney Bach: Yes. Von Thadden sent it from Berlin to Veesenmayer in the form of a suggestion, and Veesenmayer replies that he does not think this suggestion is a practical one, for the reasons which he specifies.

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/1200.

State Attorney Bach: In order to illustrate how Budapest Jewry was preparing, meanwhile, for what was about to happen, I should like to present to the Court the evidence of Moshe Rosenberg.

Presiding Judge: [to witness] Do you speak Hebrew?

Witness Rosenberg: Yes.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Moshe Rosenberg.

State Attorney Bach: Mr. Rosenberg, in 1944, were you in Budapest?

Witness Rosenberg: Yes.

Q. Are you a native of Hungary?

A. Yes, I was born in Hungary.

Q. In what work were you engaged in Budapest during that year?

A. My professional work?

Q. Yes.

A. I worked as an engineer.

Q. Were you also active in Jewish public life in Hungary?

A. Yes.

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