The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 62
(Part 1 of 6)

Session No. 62

17 Sivan 5721 (1 June 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the sixty-second Session of the trial open. I should like to announce that the letters of request for taking evidence abroad - the second batch - will be sent from this Court this afternoon. I am referring to four applications to West Germany, concerning Huppenkothen, Grell, Juettner and Becher; two applications to Austria, concerning Hoettl and Novak; and one to Italy, in the case of Kappler. You will know how to plan accordingly.

Who will continue?

State Attorney Bach: First of all, Your Honours, I should like to draw your attention to that portion of Becher's interrogation where he acknowledges that the funds of which the Jews in Hungary were robbed did, in fact, come into his possession. This was in the interrogation dated 1 November 1947, on page three of the examination, where he says:

"In exchange for the monies which Eichmann extorted from the Jews, I bought leather, saddles, harnesses for horses, etc."
Presiding Judge: What is the number of your document?

State Attorney Bach: No. 774, and the exhibit number is T/689.

Before I submit the final documents, I have to draw the Court's attention to one other interrogation of Becher, dated 10 July 1947. Here the examination was in the presence of Dr. Kasztner, and it was a kind of conversation between the two.

Presiding Judge: It is sometimes difficult to gather who is speaking.

State Attorney Bach: It is possible to understand, generally speaking, from the replies.

At any rate, Becher says, on page two - while talking about the Fussmarsch - that "Mr. Eichmann then made a final attempt to contravene Himmler's orders," and Becher says that the orders were obtained as a result of the combined efforts of Dr. Kasztner and himself, and that he attempted, through close co-operation with men of the Arrow Cross, to proceed with the deportation of the Jews via Vienna. The fact that this was not a mobilization of labour for defence positions was quite obvious, since he took women, and children of the age of fifteen, and even from the age of thirteen upwards, as well as old people.

"We all had the same idea, namely that, first of all, I had to secure a change in the age limits."
And then he says:
"We went together, he and I - I remember that for one long night we discussed these matters in full detail. Three days later I went to see Himmler. I took Mr. Winkelmann with me. I said to Winkelmann, as the horror marchers passed by, `Do you think that these children, this mother and this old man will manage to reach Vienna?' Subsequently I brought about Himmler's stoppage of this march. On that day, I composed a cable to Himmler, in which I described my impressions of what I had seen on the road.

"Three days later, I travelled to Himmler - I think that he was in East Prussia. In the presence of Winkelmann, he gave an order there forbidding the continuation of the march. The order was transmitted to Eichmann. Thereafter, I recall that Eichmann came to me and told me that Veesenmayer had given him a contingent of only 25,000. This confirmed that Veesenmayer was involved in the affair."

And here Dr. Kasztner says:
"As far as I was concerned, there was never any question about Veesenmayer's function."
Becher replies:
"Since I had to circumvent him, as he was my competitor, I was obliged to act without Veesenmayer. These are true facts. Mr. Eichmann's purpose was to act in defiance of Himmler's orders, which I myself had shown him."
Later on, on page 5, he says:
"I am entitled to say that, notwithstanding the fact that I endeavoured to maintain diplomatic contacts with Mr. Eichmann, I told Himmler that I must state again and again that Eichmann was sabotaging the order given by him. The march, which he had organized, was plain murder."
Thereafter, he describes the meeting with Juettner. I do not want to go over that again. We have heard about it both from Dr. Kasztner and from Juettner. He describes the shock experienced by Juettner, and Juettner's approach to Himmler.

After that, he says, on page 7:

"I saw that Eichmann tried continuously, either by himself or through his subordinates, to extract small crumbs. I said at the time to Himmler that, despite the fact that I tried for months not to clash with Eichmann, I could no longer overcome Eichmann's acts of sabotage. Himmler replied: `You stay here and let Eichmann come here.' I said: `I can't stay here, I must return to Budapest.' Then Himmler said: `Bring him here with you next time'."
Afterwards, on pages 8 and 9, Becher says that Eichmann hated Dr. Kasztner and was after his head. This more or less corresponds to what Wisliceny says also.

Thereafter, he comes to the main point:

"Now I want to tell you something more about my joint discussion with Eichmann at Himmler's headquarters. When was that? It must have been in the first half of December."
On page 10, he says:
"Himmler, in my presence, received Mr. Eichmann for ten minutes and shouted at him: `If up to now you have murdered Jews, and if I now give you the order to care for the Jews, you tell me whether you are going to carry out this order or not.' My knees almost gave in as I thought what Eichmann would be moved to do against me and against our cause. Eichmann said: `Certainly, Reichsfuehrer,' and he stood there like a stone.

After further discussion, which lasted about ten minutes, Himmler dismissed him, while I remained with him. I then begged Himmler - almost on my knees: `For Heaven's sake, straighten that out with Eichmann before he leaves your headquarters. The man is doing everything against your orders and will plot further steps.' It is no secret to you that I made use of all the available means. In my distress and panic, I then said to Himmler: `I know a way to avoid causing the opposite with Eichmann of what you caused by your order - award him the Distinguished War Cross (Kriegsverdienstkreuz) First Class, with Swords.' Himmler said: `That is out of the question - this fellow fails to carry out my orders.' After that, I said: `Reichsfuehrer, I again ask you to do so for the sake of the cause.' He replied: `For my part, you can award Eichmann the Distinguished War Cross, First Class, with Swords.' Following this, Eichmann was granted the Distinguished War Cross, First Class, with Swords, and Mr. Eichmann was reconciled (versoehnt)."

And now, Your Honours, on the face of it, it is somewhat surprising that Himmler hears that Eichmann violates his orders and, nevertheless, he tries to pacify him by granting him an order of distinction.

In this connection, I would ask the Court to admit two more items of evidence from the documents produced at the Nuremberg Trials. One is part of the testimony of Kaltenbrunner in the main trial. This was published in IMG Volume 11, on pages 369-372, in the German edition. He was questioned there in regard to the Becher deal. I do not think that there was much probative value in most parts of Kaltenbrunner's evidence, especially when it is not corroborated, when he says: "I did not know anything about it; I did not sign the letters."

I would not say that, even on the face of it, any weight attaches to such evidence. But here, in this passage, he does not say anything to justify himself. He says here that the moment he became aware of this famous deal - that of Himmler through Becher - with the representatives of the Joint in Hungary and in Switzerland, in other words, that deal about which we have heard here, he immediately complained to Hitler about Himmler, and that, in fact, from that moment Himmler's credit - as he expressed it - with Hitler was at an end. From that moment, the good relations between Hitler and Himmler were over. In his opinion, that was the matter which harmed Germany's prestige - not the actual acts of murder, but the fact that attempt were being made to exempt people from deportation for money.

Kaltenbrunner is confronted with an affidavit by Becher in which he testifies that he had passed on to Kaltenbrunner and Pohl, Himmler's instruction to stop the acts of murder, and to this Kaltenbrunner reacts here - in that part of his evidence - to that document. This is a part of his evidence in which Kaltenbrunner does not exactly justify himself, and since this evidence connects up with other documents with which we are familiar, it seems to me that it does have probative value.

Presiding Judge: Kaltenbrunner maintains that Himmler gave the instruction to stop the acts of murder on the orders of Htler which were given due to Kaltenbrunner's influence.

State Attorney Bach: Yes, but this is not the passage to which I attach importance. I am referring principally to what he says on page 371, with reference to Becher. In the middle of the page, he says that he was the one who, from the moment that he became aware of the deal (the transaction of goods for blood), told Hitler about this, and then, from that moment, the contact between Hitler and Himmler was finished. Actually, I should already say now that I want to submit a statement of Schellenberg made at the Nuremberg Trials, where Schellenberg points out how Himmler was afraid of Kaltenbrunner, and when he (Schellenberg) wanted to suggest to Himmler that he should meet a certain representative of Swedish Jewry for the purpose of negotiating, Himmler said:

"Then Kaltenbrunner holds me completely in his hands."
What is the relevance of this? There is great importance in that part of Becher's evidence where Becher says that, after Himmler's order was given to put an end both to the deportations and also to the acts of murder, Eichmann tried to sabotage those efforts, and then he, Becher, complained to Himmler about Eichmann - so much so, that Himmler summoned Eichmann and reprimanded him in the presence of Becher. The Court will have to judge whether it should attach weight to Becher's version, since, on the face of it, this story was so surprising that it is hard to believe that Becher would have invented it. But that would seem to be a matter for the summing-up, unless there is an explanation here.

Your Honours, we see one thing, that, according to Becher's version, for some reason or other Himmler is afraid of Eichmann as regards this transaction. We have already seen that this was a secret affair of Himmler's; we have seen that Ribbentrop does not know about it; we have seen that others, too, are not aware of it. We hear from Kaltenbrunner that Hitler also did not know, that he informed Hitler about it. If that is so, and since we know about the close ties between Kaltenbrunner and Eichmann, then it becomes clear why Himmler ought to be apprehensive, particularly in connection with that transaction, not to annoy Eichmann too much, since he knows that the matter could reach Hitler through Kaltenbrunner, and then the whole of his plan was likely to fail. Your Honours, those matters are interconnected.

Presiding Judge: Kaltenbrunner was subordinate to Himmler, was he not?

State Attorney Bach: But, nevertheless, he acted against him. Kaltenbrunner specifically acknowledges as much in this statement. In the same statement by Schellenberg, it says that Himmler was afraid of Kaltenbrunner; he says, "I shall be in Kaltenbrunner's hands." Kaltenbrunner admits that he went to Hitler to complain about Himmler, despite the fact that Himmler was his superior. That is stated on page 371. He says:

"Ich habe von dieser Aktion im Nachrichtendienst erfahren und habe sofort dagegen Stellung genommen, und zwar nicht by Himmler, bei dem es vergeblich gewesen waere, sondern bei Hitler" (I was informed of this operation by our information services, and I immediately took a stand against it, not with Himmler, where it would have been of no avail, but with Hitler).
Your Honours will recall that it was already in the final stages before the end, when Himmler, as we know, actually made these attempts behind Hitler's back. The Court will remember that, yesterday, I also submitted to you the remarks which Schellenberg made to Becher. He said: "Here I want to make Himmler an acceptable partner for negotiations with the West," which is what this whole plan was about. Hence, Himmler summoned Becher and said: "Promise the Jews whatever you want; what we will fulfil is a different matter." This was a political deal.

If the Court accepts this affidavit of Kaltenbrunner, and those of Schellenberg and Becher, then quite a clear picture emerges, showing that there were two factions in the SS. On the one hand, the tendency of Hitler, Kaltenbrunner, possibly Mueller, Eichmann, as the more extreme party, who were uncompromising, who wanted to continue with the extermination of the Jews to the bitter end; and on the other hand, the Himmler-Becher-Klages tendency (this was Himmler's faction) who wanted to prepare the ground for separate negotiations. And then, Your Honours, if this explains Himmler's conduct - as Becher describes the affair - our picture becomes clear. Then we shall know why this suggestion about the million was proposed, why Ribbentrop was not aware of it, why Hitler was not aware of it, why Himmler was afraid of Kaltenbrunner, and why Himmler also had to be apprehensive of Eichmann.

Presiding Judge: Didn't Hitler want to place Himmler on trial in the end?

State Attorney Bach: In the end, he even wanted to sentence him to death, when he got to know that he was conducting separate peace negotiations. Finally matters reached such a stage that he actually gave orders to kill him. The Attorney General points out that, in fact, he executed his adjutant, Fegelein, whom he succeeded in arresting, because of these negotiations.

Judge Halevi: Because of the negotiations of the last days when Hitler was inside the bunker?

State Attorney Bach: That is correct, but in actual fact this represented a certain development. In our view - and the testimonies indicate this - at least prima facie, Himmler was thinking of such plans already in 1944. In fact, in the Nuremberg Trials, there were hints that he was even aware of the plans for the assassination of Hitler on 20 June 1944, and he did not intervene. But this will be going too far, and I certainly will not try to prove it in this trial. But one thing is clear - all the witnesses hinted that it was a plan of Himmler's that was behind this proposal, and if that is so, all I want to say at this stage is that these documents are relevant - they are part of the record of the proceedings of the Nuremberg Trials, and I ask you to admit them in evidence.

Presiding Judge: Were you now talking about Schellenberg?

State Attorney Bach: I brought up these matters jointly.

Presiding Judge: On what page does Schellenberg appear?

State Attorney Bach: In Volume 31 of the IMG, page 439, there is a short passage in which he says that Himmler told him on 13 April, when Storch of Stockholm, the representative of the World Jewish Congress, wanted to be received by him, and he said: "What can I do with Kaltenbrunner? He has me completely in his hands." And, in fact, Kaltenbrunner mentions this passage in the other document which I wish to submit.

Dr. Servatius: It seems to me that we have here an argument which goes very far, and which deviates from the subject of explaining documents which are being submitted. I am not in a position, for the moment, to comment on all this, but there are remarks I wish to make which relate to, and are of importance to, our case, and which shed a totally different light on the facts under consideration.

Presiding Judge: But what about these two passages from the Nuremberg record of proceedings? Obviously, we shall listen to any explanation you wish to offer, and we shall consider it. But, at the moment, we have this application before us, and I understand that what we have heard here by way of argument is more of an attempt to explain the application.

Dr. Servatius: In regard to the actual submission, I have no formal objection.

Presiding Judge: Is Schellenberg no longer alive? It seems to me that we already asked this question at an earlier stage.

State Attorney Bach: Schellenberg died a natural death.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 66

We shall peruse the passages from the testimonies of Kaltenbrunner and Schellenberg at the trial of the main war criminals, which were quoted by Mr. Bach, as part of the Prosecution's evidence.

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