The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 63
(Part 1 of 8)

Session No. 63

18 Sivan 5721 (2 June 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the sixty-third Session of the trial open. Mr. Hausner, before you continue, we have in the meantime gone into the question of the opinion of Dr. Serafim, and in this connection we hand down our

Decision No. 67

At the fifty-seventh session, the Attorney General applied for the admission as evidence of a written opinion by Dr. Hans Guenther Serafim, a German scholar at the University of Goettingen, which was prepared for a court in Ulm, in West Germany, in connection with a certain criminal trial held there. The opinion includes excerpts from testimonies given in various trials, the cases of Ohlendorf and Pohl in Nuremberg and others, and from Hitler's speeches, and the conclusions which the expert drew from that material concerning the question put to him by the court in Ulm, viz.: Were SS officers or men exposed to the risk of death or to other serious bodily injury in case of a refusal to obey orders? The expert also says that, in the course of his protracted investigations, he did not find even one case where an SS officer suffered bodily injury owing to his refusal to fulfil an order.

As far as the expert's conclusions are concerned, we will not admit it in evidence, for the drawing of such conclusions is a matter for the Court itself. With regard to the material on which the expert relied, we are not prepared to admit it in this indirect manner. We are ready to consider any application to submit the material itself, or portions thereof, which may be made to us. With regard to the material which the expert did not find in his investigations, we are of the opinion that the remarks of the expert on this subject are general, and too vague to be able to serve as evidence before us. Accordingly, we reject the application of the Attorney General.

Attorney General: With the Court's permission, and still on the subject of special problems, I submit the certificate of a public official containing an article from the issue of the Voelkischer Beobachter dated 27 May 1944. I regret that I have only one copy of the material I am now submitting, but, of course, I shall prepare additional copies for the Court.

The Voelkischer Beobachter, the organ of the Nazi party, was the paper which served as a guide to the whole German press, and this particular article in question, entitled "Die deutsche Antwort auf den Luftterror" (The German Reply to the Terror from the Air) was copied in some other papers - I know of two at least: the Hamburger Fremdenblatt of 27 May 1944, and the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung of 28 May 1944, which contained that article by Goebbels.

Presiding Judge: Are you also submitting this?

Attorney General: I want to show that this article was widely distributed in Germany. [The Attorney General shows the Court the copy of the Hamburger Fremdenblatt and a copy of the photostat of the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.]

What does Goebbels say in this passage I am quoting? Perhaps, for the Court's convenience, it will peruse the papers in the meantime.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps we should leave them with you.

Attorney General: There are two paragraphs to which I draw the attention of the Court. Goebbels writes about the Allied air attacks on the civilian population. And this is what the Nazi Propaganda Minister says: "So far we have refrained from bringing to the knowledge of the German people the meanest of these declarations - of which we have presented only a small, typical selection, and which, taken together, amount simply to a call for the murder of women and babies - since we were apprehensive lest the nation would have to turn to self-defence in the face of such cynicism and to act measure for measure against the pilots parachuting from enemy planes that have been brought down. However, circumstances have meanwhile been created which forbid us from practising such consideration in the future. "The Anglo-American terror pilots have, in recent weeks, begun together with the indiscriminate bombing of the residential quarters of our towns, to attack the German civilian population openly, directly, and without paying any regard - and be it even only outwardly - to the international laws of warfare, to shoot at it, using the planes' armament, and to murder in cold blood. There is no room here any more for pretexts, since the enemy planes pass over villages, fields and roads at low altitude while using their machine guns against groups of people walking innocently on their way. "This has no longer anything to do with war. This is plain murder. There is no convention known in the law of nations on which the enemy can rely. The Anglo- American pilots are putting themselves beyond the pale of all the internationally recognized laws of warfare by indulging in such criminal fighting methods." And, towards the end of the article:

"It is virtually no longer possible and tolerable that we should use the German police and army against the German people, when it deals with child murderers as they deserve. Even the unscrupulous Anglo-American manner of warfare must come to an end somewhere. The pilots cannot rely on the fact that they were soldiers acting under orders. There is no law of warfare which provides that a soldier would be exempt from punishment for an abominable crime, simply by relying on the order of his superiors. This will certainly not be the case when these orders are in blatant contradiction to all human morality and all international practice regarding the conduct of warfare. Although, with the enemy, the dividing line between war and crime has, in this century, become blurred to a large extent, it will be demanding too much to expect that we submit in silence as victims of this abysmal barbarism. "We are making these observations in a most objective spirit. Our nation takes a much more extreme view of these questions than does our government. It has even been our wish that war should be conducted chivalrously. But apparently this is not what the enemy wants. The entire world is witness to this fact, and it will also bear witness that, if this disgraceful state of affairs should persist, we shall find ways and means to defend ourselves against these crimes. We owe it to our people who are defending their lives decently and courageously, and who must not, under any circumstances, become, for that reason, fair game to the enemy's head-hunters."
Presiding Judge: I notice that these particular words are missing here.

Attorney General: They ought to be in the appendix.

Presiding Judge: What appendix?

Attorney General: Are they not there?

Presiding Judge: I do not think so.

Attorney General: They are in the portion of the photocopy which I gave to Dr. Servatius.

Dr. Servatius: I fail to see any connection with the indictment. These are the words of the Minister of Propaganda regarding the air raids, and I do not see any connection either with the persecution of the Jews or the acts of the Accused. For this reason, I think that it is irrelevant and request the Court not to admit this as evidence.

Attorney General: I think there is the strongest connection. If Defence Counsel will allow me, I should like to make use of his photocopy of the Voelkischer Beobachter, in order to submit it to the Court. Afterwards, I shall make a copy of the required extract for him. This is on the next page, which is attached to the photocopy. On the question of authenticity, no problem arises. Defence Counsel does not challenge the authenticity.

Presiding Judge: It gives the impression of authenticity.

Attorney General: With regard to the admissibility of the document, Your Honour, I believe that it is important. It makes no practical difference whether the issue is one of air raids attacking the civilian population, or one of any other act which harms the civilian population. On the contrary, if this is the official Nazi attitude - and we are dealing with an autocratic regime, where the Minister of Propaganda expresses the official attitude of his government and his country - if that is the authoritative attitude, namely that war does not justify attacks on the civilian population, on women and children, then this attitude should apply in both directions. It does not apply only in the case of the Anglo-American pilots with whom this articles deals, but it must create an awareness of the difference between acts of war and plain murder on the part of every single German as well.

We heard from the Accused here himself, in his statement to the police: "For what could I do? These were my orders. I acted in accordance with orders." This is what he said in his interrogation - this is what he said in justification of his actions. And here his own government says, even though it does not say so about itself, obviously, but refers to others, that there is a distinction between obeying orders, depending on their nature.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 68

We reject Defence Counsel's objection and admit the article by Goebbels as evidence in the trial. This will be exhibit T/1252.

Please let us have two more copies of this document.

Attorney General: Certainly, Your Honour. The next document is our No. 1367. This is Himmler's letter to Kaltenbrunner, dated 19 May 1943. On 19 May 1943, the Reichsfuehrer-SS writes to Kaltenbrunner:

"I am forwarding to you a large number of copies of the book Die juedischen Ritualmorde (The Jewish Ritual Murders). Himmler orders Kaltenbrunner to distribute the copies of the book to persons dealing with the Jewish question. He asks that immediate investigations be made into the question of ritual murders by Jews, and thereafter to prepare trials on this subject. In the third paragraph of the letter, Himmler suggests that Kaltenbrunner consider setting up - in conjunction with the Foreign Ministry - an unofficial broadcasting station, completely anti-Semitic, to be directed towards England and the United States. It should be supplied with material to be put before the English and the Americans, in the same way as the Stuermer had done during the period of the struggle.

Himmler stresses that he wants a sensational presentation. Apart from this, he requests that persons should be given the task of examining court notices and police announcements in England about the disappearance of children, so as to make it possible to publish brief notices in the German broadcasts that in such and such a place an English child disappeared, and that probably it was a case of Jewish ritual murder. "Ultimately," says Himmler, "I assume that we could promote anti-Semitism considerably in the world by means of widespread anti-Semitic propaganda in the English language, and possibly even in Russian, on the basis of very strong propaganda about ritual murder."

Presiding Judge: This will be exhibit T/1253.

Attorney General: And now we come to the matter of the prevention of immigration to Palestine, which we have already mentioned. A number of documents still remain, in order to describe this activity and the Accused's role therein. Our document No. 884 - this is a report from the German embassy in Spain to the Foreign Ministry, in which there is an account of a ship which sailed from Spain to Palestine, of the means that were adopted to equip this transport with foodstuffs, clothing, etc. This was no novelty. The German embassy in Spain took an interest in all movement of Jews, but the Foreign Ministry sends a copy of this for Eichmann's information. The departure of Jews from Spain to Palestine - that, too, is Eichmann's concern, in the eyes of the German authorities.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/1254.

Attorney General: Our document No. 218 has already been shown to the Accused and was registered as T/37(50). This is a letter from the German Foreign Ministry to Eichmann. The Foreign Ministry intervenes to stop the immigration to Palestine from Romania. It says that, on the basis of information from the counter-espionage, nine Romanian ships sailed during the years 1941-1942 from Romanian ports, with several hundred Jewish refugees, and that these ships, some of which were flying the Romanian flag, had sailed, via the Bosphorus, for Palestine. Following this, the German Ambassador in Bucharest was ordered to intervene with the Romanian Government to have this stopped, on the grounds that the tonnage of these ships was needed for Germany, and not for the transport of Jews. The Court will recollect that this subject of immigration from Romania was discussed when we presented the Romanian chapter.

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/1255.

Attorney General: The following document is our No. 1387. This is a batch of documents of the German Foreign Ministry dealing with the departure of five thousand persons for Palestine, in accordance with the demand and the wish of the British Government.

British Government made it known that it was ready to absorb five thousand non-Aryans, 85 per cent of them children and fifteen per cent accompanying adults, from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The Reich could not permit that a noble and brave people such as the Arabs should be forced out of its homeland, Palestine, by the Jews. Consequently, the Germans were prepared to conduct talks only on the basis that the British Government should declare its readiness to transfer these Jews elsewhere - to Great Britain instead of Palestine.

Presiding Judge: Do you know what was been erased here, in the passage you are quoting? Was it erased in the original?

Attorney General: No, I don't know, Your Honour. It is erased in such a way that I, too, cannot read it in my copy.

Judge Halevi: Maybe this is also confirmed by their signatures.

Attorney General: Perhaps. The next paragraph is interesting. "In the event of the English agreeing, contrary to our expectations, to these conditions, one can suppose that the arrival of thousands of more Jews in Great Britain - as may be anticipated - will seriously exacerbate anti-Semitism in Great Britain itself, in a way which would be undesirable to the British Government." Simultaneously, it would be possible to secure the repatriation of thousands of German internees, or others wishing to return.

In the same letter, it says that the Swiss legation was also taking active steps for the rescue of thirty to fifty thousand Jews from Europe; the Argentinian embassy also intervened.

The next document also refers to the fact that the Argentinian embassy announced that it was prepared to absorb one thousand Jewish children from various concentration camps in Europe. The German Foreign Minister said that this request should also be dealt with in connection with the British request regarding an exit permit for children. The Argentinians says that, in addition, they are also prepared to absorb Jews from France bound for Argentina. It is intended to explain to the Argentinian Government that there is readiness, in principle, to negotiate the departure of children for the Argentine, on condition that the Argentinian Government will undertake to leave the children permanently in Argentina, and will not allow them to emigrate to Palestine, and on condition that, as against this, the consent of the English and the Americans is obtained for the free passage of Germans wishing to return from South America to their fatherland.

The next Foreign Ministry document refers to a request of the Swiss legation in Sofia to grant exit permits to Palestine for five thousand Bulgarian Jews. It mentions, in this context, that the International Red Cross had also intervened in the matter, and asked the German embassy in Ankara to ascertain whether the Reich Government was prepared to grant free transit to one thousand Bulgarian Jews from a Bulgarian port to Haifa. "We intend to exert influence on the Bulgarian Government" - thus says the Foreign Office - "to reply to the British Government via Switzerland, in accordance with the German practice that emigration to Palestine is out of the question, but we are ready to start negotiations on the basis of the Jews being brought to Great Britain."

The third appendix speaks of exit permits to Palestine for seven thousand Romanian Jews, a matter on which - so it says - various authorities repeatedly made approaches to the Romanian Government. "Recently, there was an increase in the pressure exerted on the Romanians to allow the departure of these Jews."

The fourth appendix refers to the request of the Swedish legation, upon instructions from the Dutch Government-in- exile, to grant five hundred Dutch Jews exit permits for Palestine.

The fifth appendix deals with a request of the French Government to permit the transit of two thousand Jewish children from France to Palestine.

Presiding Judge: This was a request of the Red Cross to the French Government.

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