The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 67
(Part 2 of 6)

Presiding Judge: I see only what it says here: "The annexed copy is well worded to War Times Record selected pages from Document 1553 PS." Do you have anything to say about that?

Attorney General: We requested these three interrogations in which there is some connection with the present trial, and did not request anything else.

Presiding Judge: But is each one of these documents complete in itself?

Attorney General: It is absolutely complete. It begins with a certain date and comes to an end. And now, in the main French statement (our document No. 185) dated 26 April 1945, which Gerstein made to the two officers, he relates that on 8 June 1942, Guenther asked him to go to the Lublin zone.

Presiding Judge: But why is it in French? Did he make a further statement that was recorded in French?

Attorney General: He typed it out on a typewriter. I even have the confirmation of a priest in Rottweil that at the time Gerstein used his typewriter, although he does not identify the typewriter. Gerstein brought this material to these two officers. He supplemented the statement with handwritten remarks. The Court will notice that at the end there appears a written deposition in French and, thereafter, the last two pages are in English. All this was handed over by Gerstein to these officers. They spoke with him and submitted a report with this document annexed.

Presiding Judge: Was the entire statement in French typewritten - only signed at the end? This is dated 26 April 1945.

Attorney General: It is dated 26 April 1945. It has an appendix in handwriting.

Presiding Judge: But it is not in the right order here.

Attorney General: There is an invoice in the middle.

Presiding Judge: But this invoice was not submitted by him?

Attorney General: The invoice was made out to him.

Presiding Judge: But how did it get into the middle of the batch?

Attorney General: He attached it to the batch of papers. He also attached the other invoices to which he refers in his statement.

Presiding Judge: So what does he say there?

Attorney General: He says that Guenther invited him to visit the extermination camps in the Lublin zone.

Presiding Judge: I see that he mentions the name of Pastor Niemoeller's wife as a reference.

Attorney General: Yes, he supplied the names of people such as Dibelius and Pastor Niemoeller, who would be able to testify that he was an honest man, that he had always belonged to the anti-Nazi underground, that his statements were credible, and that he was not simply fabricating a story. That was how he introduced himself to these two officers. He says that Guenther asked him....

Presiding Judge: On what page is that?

Attorney General: It appears at the beginning of the statement in French, on page 2:

"On 8 June 1942, SS Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther, of the Head Office for Reich Security, came to my office. He was in civilian clothes. I did not know him. He instructed me to obtain one hundred kilograms of cyanic acid (prussic acid) and to accompany it to a place known only to the truck driver. We drove to the potash works near Kolin. After loading the truck, we drove to Lublin, in Poland."
And here follows a long description of a visit to the extermination camps and of conversations with Globocnik, a description of the extermination at Belzec in the presence of Gerstein, and in the course of this account it says:
"I must also add that SS Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther, of the Head Office for Reich Security, asked me, at the beginning of 1944, to supply a very large quantity of cyanic acid for an obscure purpose. The acid to be delivered to Berlin, Kurfuerstenstrasse, to his office."
Presiding Judge: On what page is that?

Attorney General: It is on page 4, in French.

"Il me faut encore ajouter que le SS Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther du Reichssicherheitshauptamt demanda de moi, le commencement 1944, de tres grandes fournitures d'acide prussique pour un destin obscure."
Hence, from the point of view of contact with the Accused, it is clear that the connection existed. The Accused was questioned about all the Gerstein material, and he answered on two occasions. One of these appears on page 933, that Guenther liked to become involved in matters which were not his concern, and that he went into "some business with gas." On that, Eichmann says as follows: "At any rate, that was at a time when I was not in Berlin - I think that he got involved in some business with gas." Less asks him: "You referred to this, I believe it was when you were in Hungary." And he replies: "Yes, the Section was not entitled to deal with that. How could I now bring this before my chief? He would tell me to go to the devil." This was Eichmann's answer when told that his Section was dealing with the supply of gas.

Presiding Judge: Was he shown the documents?

Attorney General: Yes.

Presiding Judge: This reply came after he had been shown the documents?

Attorney General: No. He was interrogated on this point before he was shown the documents. He was shown the documents later.

The weight of the verification of the document is very substantial. We have the confirmation of persons who saw Gerstein sign, we have the confirmation by his wife, we have verification, a partial proof of the accuracy of the contents through the certificate from the Swedish Foreign Ministry. Having regard to all these, I ask the Court to determine that the documents originating with Gerstein or recorded from his oral statements have probative value, and that the rules of evidence should be departed from, in order to allow their submission. Perhaps I may add that the Polish Commission also relied on the Gerstein material.

Judge Raveh: In what language was the original statement?

Attorney General: In French.

Judge Raveh: Here we have a German translation attached which, in turn, has been translated from the English.

Attorney General: There was a French file of the interrogation of Gerstein in Paris which has been lost. An English translation was preserved, and that is the one that was found in the files of the War Office, in the American War Archives. They do not have the French original there - they have the English translation. That is the document that was preserved. From there, we obtained it in the form in which it was preserved, namely in English. We re- translated it into German, of course, for Defence Counsel.

Judge Raveh: No, this is apparently a translation into German not made by you.

Attorney General: Yes. Apart from that, PS 1553 was already translated into German at Nuremberg, since it was submitted as one of the prosecution exhibits in the major trial.

Judge Raveh: And there it was translated from the English.

Attorney General: I believe that it was translated there, either from the French or the English.

Judge Raveh: It says so, the attestation is by the translator Leo Ratzersdorfer, dated 14 January 1947.

Attorney General: That is so. I thank Your Honour.

Judge Raveh: He does not state that specifically - he only says that he knows English and German, but he does not say from which language he made the translation.

Attorney General: One may assume the intention was to say that he translated from English into German. To be absolutely precise: In the major Nuremberg Trial, only the invoices of the firm "Degesch" were submitted, and the Court will find them in the 27th volume of the Blue Series, in the German edition, on p. 340 and following pages. That is PS 1553. The affidavit was submitted in Case 1, the Doctors' Trial.

I have to add, further, that at Nuremberg they did not have the authentications which we have - they did not have the confirmations by the officers who questioned Gerstein and to whom he made his statement. They did not have the widow's confirmation which we procured, since we attach much importance to these documents and, therefore, we took the trouble to secure the necessary verification.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps this affidavit was also printed in the Green Series?

Attorney General: It was referred to there, Your Honour, but I think that it was not printed in full. We ascertained from Reitlinger the history of these documents and the difficulties that arose at Nuremberg, because there it was not proved that Gerstein was dead, and there was some doubt whether it was possible to admit his affidavit. For this reason, we endeavoured to ensure that when we came to submit these documents we would have all the accompanying documents and be able to rely on them.

Judge Raveh: In the German translation, in the concluding portion there, if you look at the page before the last, page 15 of the sixteen pages, it ends there with the signature, and that apparently corresponds to page 6 of the declaration in French. In the German translation, there is an additional passage which I do not see in French, and that is where he mentions Guenther.

Attorney General: The Court should kindly note, if the Court will please skip two pages and glance at the handwritten part, beginning with the words "L'acide prussique," the cyanic acid was ordered - according to the attached note - by the Head Office for Reich Security. This corresponds exactly to the German translation which is before the Court. I would ask you to examine our document No. 185 - and then it will become clear. There are two separate documents - the interrogation on the one hand, and the statement on the other.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, I have misgivings, or an objection, only as regards the so-called interrogation, document No. 1553, dated 26 April 1945 at Rottweil - that is in Alsace-Lorraine. In my humble opinion, this was not the interrogation of a witness, but a report which was submitted by Dr. Gerstein, a report which he submitted in order, possibly, to justify himself. It appears that this is a document where Dr. Gerstein seeks to justify himself and asks that his actions be taken into account in his favour. It should be further pointed out that on page 10, he estimates the number of those exterminated at twenty-five million.

Presiding Judge: In which paragraph of this statement?

Dr. Servatius: On page 10, in the middle. In fact, the quotation, or rather the reference, is apparently to twenty- five million exterminated persons. That is document No. 1553.

Presiding Judge: Have we received this, Mr. Hausner?

Attorney General: Yes. It will be found in the part in French on the printed page 4. I shall, of course, reply later on the merits of the matter; for the present, I only wish to draw the Court's attention to the passage in question. It is the continuation of our No. 185 which is at present before you but not yet marked, Gerstein's French document.

Presiding Judge: Now let us see where there is mention of the twenty-five million.

Dr. Servatius: On page 10, in the middle.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, you are taking this apparently from the German translation; but is it also in the French translation which is before us here?

Dr. Servatius: No. I presume that the item does not appear before you in French, for you have before you only a translation of the English translation.

Presiding Judge: But we have it here on page 4 of the French translation as well.

Dr. Servatius: These were my reservations and objections to this document. Likewise, I express my opposition to the submission of the invoice of the "Degesch" company. According to the impression which I have formed, these are only duplicates of accounts which were supplied on behalf of the "Degesch" company at Dr. Gerstein's request.

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