The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 82
(Part 5 of 5)

Judge Halevi: So it means Auschwitz, or Treblinka? Or Lublin?

Accused: As far as I know - I am not absolutely sure - whether there was one final destination in the Generalgouvernement or more.

Dr. Servatius: Witness, did you make enquiries about possibilities for reception, to see whether these evacuees could be accommodated there? The impression given by this document is that you took the trouble to enquire where these people could be sent - there is room at a particular place, and now you are calling for these people.

Accused: I did not elaborate on my answer to the question from His Honour, Judge Halevi, firstly because I have already discussed this aspect once today, and secondly because I have been directed to answer the question and no more.

However, I must now repeat what I said at the beginning of the Session earlier on...from whom I, that is to say Section IVB4, received an indication of possibilities for reception. This was not in the province of IVB4; it was the chief of Department IV who ascertained such possibilities, together with Gluecks. They were the ones who thrashed out final destinations - if I can put it that way - and then Section IVB4 was notified by its superior. This information was then used as the basis for the discussions on timetables held with the Reich Transport Ministry.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit is T/467, document No. 1164. This is a note from Himmler to Mueller, dated December 1942. It is a short instruction from Himmler: "I direct that all of the Jews still present in France, as well as the Hungarian and Romanian Jews, who have influential relatives in America, be held in a special camp." The instruction continues: "They should be given work there, on condition that they are healthy and remain alive. Such Jews are valuable hostages for us. I would imagine a figure of some ten thousand." The note is signed Himmler.

Witness, was this attitude on the part of Himmler indicative of a mitigated or an intensified approach? Do you know anything about the matter?

Accused: I really cannot say whether this was a mitigated approach or an intensified one - I just do not know. The very fact that hostages were intended shows the aim pursued by Himmler in this context...

Dr. Servatius: The next document - T/767, document No. 174. This is a letter from Ambassador von Hahn to Eichmann, dated 23 February 1943. It is about a list of Jews which is to be drawn up - foreign nationals in the German sphere of influence. The letter indicates that Eichmann had refused to draw up this list, claiming that he lacked the requisite staff. The Foreign Ministry comments in the last sentence on page 2: "The arguments presented orally by you do not appear to justify your refusal."

Next exhibit - T/469, document No. 965. This is a letter from the Foreign Ministry to Eichmann, dated January 1943. According to it, the embassy has been instructed to conduct urgent negotiations in the recently-occupied French zone, so as to implement anti-Jewish measures there.

At the bottom of page 1, there is a paragraph which begins as follows: "Subsequently the embassy received instructions to hold urgent negotiations with the Italian High Command. It was indicated that there were no objections to transferring all stateless Jews."

Witness, am I correct in assuming that the instructions received by the embassy came from the Foreign Ministry?

Accused: The instructions were issued by the Foreign Ministry to the embassy, but the last paragraph on page 2 indicates that, due to the urgency of the matter, this instruction was issued to the embassy by the Foreign Ministry without prior consultation with the Head Office for Reich Security. This is the mutual consultation which my Department Chief ordered me to observe, and the official in charge at the Foreign Ministry received the same instructions from his chief, Luther or Wagner.

Judge Halevi: At that time you were away from the office on official business, were you not?

Accused: Your Honour, I obviously cannot remember today whether I was away on official business or not.

Judge Halevi: According to the letter - the letter mentions that you were away on official business at the time - is that not so?

Accused: I do not have the letter before me. I only referred to the question of Counsel for the Defence.

Judge Halevi: Look at the letter, particularly the last sentence.

Accused: Yes, indeed, that would appear to be the conclusion.

Judge Halevi: And when you were away on official business, was it not possible to contact your superior?

Accused: Your Honour, I do not know who signed this. Consequently, I cannot say what was this man's normal procedure. The letter does not indicate this.

Judge Halevi: In any case, it was D3?

Accused: It is D3, but there is no signature, and I do not know - it does not appear to have been von Thadden, because this sort of thing did not normally arise between von Thadden and my Section.

Judge Halevi: Thank you.

Dr. Servatius: I come now to exhibit T/470, document No. 1223.* {*Erroneously reffered to as document No. 1123 on page 597, Volume II} This is a telegram from Guenther of IVB4 to the Senior Commander of the Security Police in Paris, dated 25 January 1943. It refers to deportations to Auschwitz: Trains are ready, and at the end a reference is made to directives applicable to this evacuation, and a distinction is made between evacuation transports and transports of detainees.

Witness, would you please explain this difference with regard to type of transports.

Accused: I gather from this telegram that a distinction was made between the deportation contingents dispatched as ordered by Himmler, and individual cases of persons who contravened the legal regulations. Whereas, in the case of deportees under Himmler's overall deportation plan, there was no need to issue a personal order for protective custody...that is to say, one order for protective custody per person - in individual cases...that is for prisoners taken into protective custody - an order for protective custody had to be issued for each person, and this could only be signed by the authorized official. Since these decrees existed, the officials in charge had to ensure that in the case in question the provisions of the relevant decree were observed. Otherwise there would have been an infringement of the regulations.

Judge Raveh: Does this letter not contain an advice from your Section as to how to circumvent these instructions?

Accused: No, I cannot see here any advice from the Section as to how to circumvent these instructions. It says that Jews in mixed marriages are to be exempted from evacuation - that can be seen in the directives - even if they have infringed the regulations on Jews. However, they can be taken into protective custody pursuant to a decree from a totally different source than IVB4 - Circular 656/42 (I read five, dated 18.2.1942, IV - i.e., the Chief of Department, Mueller himself). That would be the official, bureaucratic information provided in reply to this question from the official in charge, who had available all the relevant decrees and had to deal with enquiries in accordance with them.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit is Police number 704 - not yet submitted. I submit it as evidence. It is a communication from Standartenfuehrer Knochen, Paris, to Eichmann, and concerns deportations of Jews from France. It reads:

"In the immediate future it will not be necessary to provide special trains for transports of Jews, first, since it is hardly possible to carry out measures against Jews with French nationality, due to political reasons, because of the Marshal's attitude, and secondly, because the French keep using the Italians as a pretext. Thirdly, a solution is forthcoming, by issuing a law which will make it possible to naturalize" - that should read denaturalize - "all Jews who immigrated into France after 1932."
I submit the document as proof that a certain amount of pressure was exercised in this respect on the legislative branch.

Presiding Judge: I mark this document exhibit N/44.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit - T/490, document No. 1215. This is a communication from the Paris office - Roethke - to the Nancy Security Service (SD) Commando, dated 30 July 1943. At the end it says: "Aged Jews are not to be transferred to the Nancy or Luneville old age homes, but to the Drancy Camp for Jews, if they are still to some extent able to survive the transport." In the preceding paragraph it says that another old age home has been emptied, and these Jews have gone to Drancy.

Witness, are you connected with this order?

Accused: No, these are local measures on the part of the Senior Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service, and they did not fall under the competence or cognizance of the Head Office for Reich Security at this time either.

Dr. Servatius: The next item is a communication - this is exhibit T/484, document No. 1522. This is a communication from the Paris office, Roethke, to the Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service in Brussels, for the attention of Ehlers. This concerns Jews of French nationality who are resident in Belgium. At the end of the first paragraph it says: "In the coming weeks these Jews should be interned and evacuated at one stroke, as soon as the law, which so far has not been promulgated, is published." Further on it says:

"If implementation of the law runs into difficulties, action will in any case be taken against Jews of French nationality."
What powers did the person whose signature appears on the communication - Roethke - possess? Who had in this instance to issue orders to the SD headquarters in Brussels?

Accused: Since Roethke was a Specialist Officer of the Senior Commander of the Security Police and the SD, he was entitled to carry out any measures about which he received orders from his superior officer, the Senior Commander. The various Senior Commanders were able to consult each other and co-ordinate things, and as long as these were measures which were not defined as being "of importance to the Reich," in such cases the Head Office for Reich Security was not made to participate at all.

Dr. Servatius: Did Belgium also fall within the area of competence of the Senior Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service in Paris?

Accused: As far as I either read somewhere or I vaguely recollect, at the beginning Belgium was subject to the authority of Knochen, when his position was still defined as "Delegate of the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service for France and Belgium." When these offices were then renamed "Senior Commander," I believe that was when a Senior Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service was appointed for Belgium as well.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit is T/487, document No. 1523. This is a minute drawn up by Roethke, SS Obersturmfuehrer in Paris. On page 3 (here numbered 78), the memorandum reads:

"As far as the Jewish Question is concerned, the French Government is no longer prepared to do its share."
In the penultimate paragraph, on the next page, it says:
"It is proposed that the Schutzpolizei batallion be called in immediately, since whether the denaturalization law is issued or not, the co-operation of the French police in any major operation for seizing the Jews can no longer be counted upon, unless Germany's military position changes radically in our favour in the next few days or weeks."
And at the very end it says:
"To be submitted to SS Standartenfuehrer Knochen for information and further decision."
Witness, were you dealing with this matter when Knochen approached your office, in order to break this resistance which had sprung up in France?

Accused: I know nothing about this. I consider this matter to be a continuation of the documents discussed at the beginning, with 250 men being called for by Paris, and this 250-man reinforcement not being approved by the Chief of Department IV. In any case, I personally was not involved in the clearing up of difficulties which arose - that was the role of the higher echelons.

Dr. Servatius: As far as the general position of the Paris office is concerned, there is one more exhibit - T/477, document No. 718. This dates from several months earlier, and once again the view expressed is that a strong-arm policy should be adopted. At the bottom it says:

"The Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service in a decree dated 5 March 1943, has again indicated unambiguously the categories of Jews liable to deportation," and then there is a list of the countries concerned. On the last page it says: "What counts here is not the French Government's favourable - and therefore completely irrelevant - attitude to the Jews, but the Fuehrer's unequivocable orders."
The next exhibit is T/480, document No. 1208. This is a telegram to Zoepf in the Netherlands, Knochen in Paris, and Ehlers in Brussels, dated 23 April 1943. The text reads as follows:
"For obvious reasons, the Auschwitz camp has again asked that the Jews to be evacuated should not, before their deportation, receive any disquieting information as to the location and nature of their forthcoming employment. The accompanying commandos should also not drop any hints."
Witness, this bears Guenther's signature; would you please explain why this order was issued?

Accused: What I can do today, is to try and reconstruct how this may have come about. The accompanying commandos, and also the authorities who seized them, probably told the Jews being deported what their final destination was, thus creating alarm; so the commander's office of the Auschwitz concentration camp went through official channels to the Economic-Administrative Head Office, and then the instruction was issued...the request was made for the competent authorities in the Head Office for Reich Security to impress on their subordinates - the Senior Commanders of the Security Police and the SD - the need to proceed in accordance with the wishes of the Economic-Administrative Head Office, to keep the fact of the final destination completely secret, and to keep the fact about further employment completely secret, in accordance with the decisions of the commander's office of the concentration camp.

Dr. Servatius: Witness, could this not also be understood as implying that the persons to be transported had an extremely bad impression of the name "Auschwitz," possibly because it already had a bad reputation. Could this be what it means?

Accused: That is exactly what I was trying to say in my reply.

Presiding Judge: I do not consider that this lengthy answer has clarified our understanding of the document at all. It was simply a paraphrase of the exhibit. No - there is no need to reply.

Dr. Servatius: I would just like to draw the Court's attention to the last page of the document. It reads: "Auschwitz" - there the camp is indicating why it wants secrecy - "Auschwitz must consider it important, in the light of implementation of most urgent projects, that it be able to receive transports and make subsequent arrangements as smoothly as possible."

Judge Halevi: It also says, "to avoid comments likely to provoke resistance."

Accused: Your Honour, as the signature shows, I did not deal with this matter. In the meanwhile, eighteen years have elapsed, and since I am here under oath, I would not wish to say something that I believe or think, if it might be incorrect.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, can we break off here?

Dr. Servatius: Certainly, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: The Court will convene tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.

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