The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 72
(Part 1 of 8)

Session No. 72

25 Sivan 5721 (9 June 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the seventy-second Session of the trial open.

Attorney General: With the Court's permission, I shall submit a number of documents, first on the chapter of Auschwitz. I should like to submit the evidence of Rudolf Hoess in his trial before the Polish National Supreme Court in Warsaw. This is our document No. 1273. I must point out that this document contains extracts from Hoess' testimony, and therefore I shall submit, separately, the full testimony in Polish, duly authenticated, as well as the extracts with a Hebrew translation on which we rely.

Presiding Judge: Is the Polish transcript complete?

Attorney General: Yes.

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/1356. Dr. Servatius?

Dr. Servatius: I have no formal objection.

Attorney General: In order that the authentication be complete, I should like to submit also a certified copy of the evidence of Ludwik Rajewski, which is included in document No. 1273. Rajewski worked in the Political Department at Auschwitz. He was a Pole - a prisoner. Excerpts from his testimony are included in our document No. 1273, and this is his full evidence, authenticated.

Presiding Judge: I do not understand. The document which you have just submitted is the testimony of Hoess. How does the testimony of someone else get in there?

Attorney General: No. In document No. 1273, there are several extracts of evidence - of Hoess himself and of a number of other witnesses who testified in the trial of Hoess. To the extent that the Polish Government Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes thought it necessary for our case, it extracted a number of excerpts from the testimonies in Hoess' trial. I intend to rely only on two of these: on the evidence of Hoess himself - which I submitted separately in full, with authentication - and on the evidence of Ludwik Rajewski, of which this is a certified copy, and portions of which the Court will find in our No. 1273. Have I made myself clear?

Presiding Judge: Yes. But what about this Rajewski? Is he still alive?

Attorney General: Rajewski is still alive. He is a university professor in Warsaw. If Defence Counsel insists upon it, under the circumstances, we shall bring Rajewski here. Defence Counsel knows what Rajewski has to say on this issue, since at the time he received our document No. 1273, together with a translation. If he insists, we shall bring him here. We have already taken steps bearing such a possibility in mind.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, what is your reply to that?

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, I have had to read so much recently, including about eight hundred more pages of memoirs which are before me, that I am really not be able to remember at present what this Rajewski said. Perhaps, during the recess, I shall be able to peruse the document and, after that, to say whether I shall have any objection.

Attorney General: I would ask that this document be admitted now, and I shall have no objection if Defence Counsel subsequently tells us whether he wants to have the witness for cross examination or not.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps we should not accept the document at this stage. Let us first hear the reaction of Defence Counsel. According to that, we shall decide what to do.

Attorney General: But I wish to rely upon it, Your Honour, and to quote portions of it.

Presiding Judge: If you are going to bring Rajewski here as a witness, we shall have no need for this document that you are about to submit now. He would then give evidence viva voce in Court.

Attorney General: I would request that we follow the principle which the Court has laid down - a statement is admissible, but where a witness is required for purposes of cross-examination, steps must be taken to ensure that there should be an opportunity of questioning him. I ask for the document to be admitted, and I shall take care to make cross- examination possible.

Presiding Judge: Nevertheless, Mr. Hausner, we shall then depart from the normal procedure, and there will be no harm in our deciding what action to take, after Dr. Servatius has read this document. If we find it proper to admit the document, then you may read excerpts from it.

Attorney General: As the Court pleases. I only want to add that several months ago Dr. Servatius also received a German translation.

Presiding Judge: We shall take a decision on this after today's recess.

Dr. Servatius: Thank you.

Attorney General: For the present, I shall only quote from the evidence of Hoess himself. On page 100 of his evidence, Hoess talks about the fact that in the crematoria of Auschwitz, it was possible in the course of twenty-four hours to incinerate two thousand people in each of the crematoria. Taking the additional buildings into account, the maximum possible was ten thousand per day, over a twenty- four-hour period.

I am only relating the gist of the statement - I shall not read it in full. On page 100, he says: "Generally, in the course of this operation, two freight trains would arrive each day. At first, Eichmann tried to send three trains daily to Auschwitz, and sometimes he dispatched three transports per day. But, as a rule, only two transports used to arrive."

In reply to a question from the presiding judge, he said that on each of such trains there would be an average of two thousand persons. On page 101, he says that the incinerators were in operation day and night and that, occasionally, when the incinerators were being repaired, it was necessary to burn the bodies in the open.

On page 105, he says:

"It happened that when the order arrived that no more Jews were to be exterminated, I was sent by Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl to the Head Office for Reich Security - to Gruppenfuehrer Mueller, the head of the Gestapo, who was also Kaltenbrunner's deputy - to ascertain from him why such an order had been issued. Mueller was unable to give me any information and referred me to Eichmann, who had been negotiating with a man called Becher in Switzerland and in Turkey. I was accordingly sent to Budapest so that I could establish on the spot whether the extermination operation had only been temporarily suspended, and whether it would be renewed later, and also in order that I might find out the reasons for the instruction to stop the extermination."
Thereafter he speaks about the negotiations, and he adds:
"The Jews pointed out that despite the undertaking to put an end to the extermination, the operation was continuing, and they stated that they would participate in concrete negotiations only when it could be proved to them that the operations had in fact totally ceased. For this reason, orders were given to stop the extermination of the Jews."
On page 106:
"As far as I remember, according to the number of the large transports, according to the number of the large 'actions', I would be able to assess the number of those exterminated at a million and a half. The number of two and a half million, which I stated at Nuremberg, was arrived at according to the data of Eichmann, who submitted this figure to the controller of concentration camps, Gluecks, in April 1945 in my presence, shortly before the collapse of the Reich."
Presiding Judge: Where do these words appear "in my presence"? There are various translations here.

Judge Halevi: Are you making an oral translation from this document in Polish?

Attorney General: Yes, I am translating orally from the text. For the moment, I would ask you to delete the words "in my presence," since I have doubts as to the exact translation of the word in Polish. But I shall come back to this point at a later stage.

On page 110:

"In the summer of 1941 - I do not recall the date - Himmler personally instructed me to come to his office in Berlin, and this is what he said to me: 'The Fuehrer has given an order to solve the Jewish Question finally. We, the SS, have to carry it out. The existing extermination centres will not be able to cope with this mission. I have chosen Auschwitz for the following reasons'."
And here he quotes the reasons why Himmler had selected Auschwitz.

And further on in this statement:

"'In regard to more precise details, you will obtain information in course of time from Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, who will come to you, and with whom you must discuss the detailed plans, and Eichmann will report to me, as soon as possible, on the outcome of this discussion.' I was to keep this order strictly confidential, and not even to report about it to my immediate superior."
In reply to Prosecutor Cyprian, Hoess answers on page 111:
"Eichmann said the following to me: 'According to his present calculations, about six to seven million people will come to Auschwitz from all parts of Europe'."
Judge Halevi: "Will come"?

Attorney General: Yes, "will come." That was at the planning stage.

Presiding Judge: It should be "will arrive at."

Attorney General: "It is still not possible to determine exact numbers." Later on, there is a discussion on the methods of extermination, about gassing, about shooting. At the end of the paragraph, on page 111, he says:

"It will, therefore, not be possible to implement the operation in this way. It is necessary to select a suitable gas which will make it possible to carry this out on a wholesale and mass basis, without holding up the operation."
Presiding Judge: Where does it say this?

Attorney General: At the bottom of page 111.

Presiding Judge: It says "mishaps" here, doesn't it?

Attorney General: As far as the correct translation of the word is concerned, it would be right to say "without obstruction, so that the mechanism should not be stopped up"; generally speaking, of course, "without mishaps" - that would complete the translation. "He selected the site with me" - "he" is Eichmann.

Presiding Judge: That, too, does not appear here. It says here: "We went out to the site."

Attorney General: But it talks here of Eichmann's visit.

Presiding Judge: But what about the word-for-word translation?

Attorney General: The literal translation is: "He went out to the site with me, and we came to two distant farm houses."

Presiding Judge: It says here: "And we came to two empty cottages." You have submitted this translation as the translation which you want us to use. Nevertheless, I now hear some deviations.

Attorney General: I shall endeavour to follow the translation which is in the Court's possession. These translations, to my regret, were not always...

Presiding Judge: We have already seen this with other languages.

Attorney General: But the deviations will not be serious. "And we reached two empty cottages where, some time later, we set up bunkers numbers 1 and 2 in provisional installations." Further on, there is reference to the property of the deportees. On page 119, Hoess is asked, "Does it refer to articles having great value?" And he replies: "Yes, it meant milliards."

Presiding Judge: In our documents, the pages skip from number 118 to 120.

Attorney General: This can be found on our page seven. "Were these of great value?" "Yes, they referred to milliards." The correct translation would be, "The reference was to milliards." Later in the extract...

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, perhaps it would, nevertheless, be important to say here, regarding the question of the translation, that it is desirable that an exact translation be presented here, since, according to the exact translation, it would be possible to deal with the question - are there, or are there not, discrepancies between one of Hoess' testimonies and another - whether he, subsequently, changed his evidence voluntarily or involuntarily. Here, for example, I understood the reference to be to "empty pits," whereas previously we were told of two buildings. Were the buildings erected subsequently? I am referring to page 111.

Presiding Judge: The Hebrew was "cottages", that is to say, "humble farm houses." What translation did you give to Dr. Servatius? Was it from the Hebrew translation?

Attorney General: I am afraid so.

Presiding Judge: Then someone must have turned "cottages" into "pits".

Attorney General: All that I can do to assist Dr. Servatius is to place at his disposal an interpreter from Polish to German, so that he may be able to translate the document directly for him, and so that Dr. Servatius may be able to understand the document from a first-hand source.

Presiding Judge: I do not know whether amongst the interpreters sworn at the commencement of the trial, there was a translator of Polish. I would ask you to have such a translator peruse the translation we have been given here, insert the necessary amendments, and certify it by signing it.

Attorney General: I shall do so.

Interpreter: Our colleague, Dr. Richter, will be able to do this.

Presiding Judge: Very good - let Dr. Richter himself do it.

Attorney General: There is already one change here that I wish to make on page six of the Hebrew translation, and this is an important amendment. At the end of the first paragraph, dealing with the outcome of this conversation with Eichmann, it says: "You will have to report to me soon," whereas, according to the original, it should read: "He, Eichmann, will have to report to me."

Presiding Judge: In order to wind up the matter of this translation which has not been too successful, please do as I have requested regarding the Hebrew translation, and Dr. Servatius should also receive - perhaps Dr. Richter will also be able to translate for him, directly into German - those extracts which you have quoted orally, so that he will have an authorized translation.

Attorney General: Yes - we can certainly assist in this way.

Dr. Servatius: One may assume that Hoess himself spoke in German - perhaps in the body of the record of the proceedings we may find his remarks in German?

Presiding Judge: Does such a thing exist?

Attorney General: No, no, the record of the proceedings was made in Polish, in the same way as our record is being made in Hebrew. This is a translation. At the commencement of the Session the interpreters were sworn according to the usual procedure. The record of the proceedings was made in the language of the country.

Judge Halevi: Our record of proceedings is being made in German as well, and, particularly in the case of those speaking German, it is possible to check exactly what they have said.

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