The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 83
(Part 3 of 5)

Accused: "Great indignation was felt in Berlin by the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, Dr. Kaltenbrunner, and by the Chief of Department IV, Gruppenfuehrer Mueller, against Dr. Best and myself. Hitler and Himmler were said to have been in a fury, so Eichmann and Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther, Eichmann's deputy, told me."

I have read it and this is how it was written. I also read it in Reitlinger's book, but at the time I had heard nothing about it. I believe that this is also borne out by the official documents of the Representative of the Reich, Dr. Best, which later confirm my presence in Copenhagen to the Foreign Ministry, where Dr. Best specifies the reason for my presence there. This is perhaps a slight reference to, it may give some slight support...if I say that I heard nothing about the fury and the indignation, etc.

Judge Halevi: Even though he is said to have heard it from you?

Accused: Even though Mildner refers to me, I think that this statement was given by Mildner when he was himself, I think, in prison awaiting trial or somehow...and his main emphasis in this report, as far as I can see, is that before the operation was set in motion, he immediately flew to Berlin in order to remonstrate, and report his misgivings to the Chief of Department IV, Gruppenfuehrer Mueller.

Judge Halevi: In short, you told him nothing about Hitler and Himmler, that they were so furious?

Accused: No, because at that time I could not have known anything about it.

Judge Halevi: All right.

Dr. Servatius: I should like to refer to the last sentence, where it says: "Ribbentrop initiated the measures against the Jews and bears the responsibility for them."

The next exhibits are T/587 and T/588, document Nos. 1077 and 1078. The first is a communication from Dr. Best, the Representative in Denmark, to the Foreign Ministry, dated 3 November 1943. It tells of suggestions for alleviating the measures in Denmark after the operation had practically failed. It says at the bottom: "I request to be informed if the Head Office for Reich Security is going to act according to Eichmann's suggestions." The second document merely draws the conclusion and says: "Consent was given for it to be handled like that now."

Judge Halevi: Were you authorized to make proposals in favour of the Jews?

Accused: No, I could definitely not do that, but I was ordered to travel to Copenhagen to discuss with the Commander of the Security Police and Security Service and with the Representative of the Reich, the causes that led to this excitement and to smooth it out. There and then, I received the suggestions put forward by the authorities there, since I could not, after all, myself decide, and I took them to Berlin, where I put them before the Department Chief, who...where the matter was decided either by him or by his superior.

Judge Halevi: Then these were suggestions made by those in charge in Denmark, correct?

Accused: I imagine so, Your Honour; it does, after all, follow from the document.

Judge Halevi: Thank you. All right.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit is T/584, document No. 816. This is a statement by von Thadden, dated 16 April 1948, at the Nuremberg Trial, against the accused Steengracht, the State Secretary at the time. It says at the bottom of page 1:

"I know that the Foreign Ministry adopted Mr. Best's presentation of the case and declared the requests of the Head Office for Reich Security for the immediate deportation of the Jews to be not viable politically."
It continues:
"It seems that the Head Office for Reich Security was not willing to be satisfied with this position, because the expert from Eichmann's Section explained to me ironically that the Foreign Ministry would soon enough be brought to revise its position."
Witness, do you know about a visit by Dr. Best to your Section and about this incident with the expert?

Accused: No, Dr. Best was never in my Section, and I know nothing of this incident where a member of my Section could have said anything like that. Other documents, which have also been submitted here, show the exact opposite of what Thadden claims here.

For example, at the bottom of page 2, where von Thadden says that he was reproached for having engaged in sabotage on account of the directive to keep the apartments locked, and that keeping the apartments locked could lead to failure, I should once more like to refer to the report by Dr. Best, himself a member of the Foreign Ministry, the representative of the Reich in Denmark, in exhibit T/585, document No. 757, quoted earlier on. Here, on page 1, point 2, Dr. Best himself confirms that: "It is correct that the Commander of the Security Police had ordered that locked apartments were not to be broken into." Thus, a member of the Foreign Ministry confirms that this was not an act of sabotage on the part of the Foreign Ministry, but an order by the Security Police itself.

This is an attempt by von Thadden to relieve the Foreign Ministry of responsibility, but a document in Poliakov's "Red Book," on page 102, states that there is a communication from Hencke to the Representative of the Reich, dated 17 September 1943, which says:

"The Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs requests you to put forward detailed suggestions as to how to implement the deportation of the Jews which has been decided on in principle, in particular they should stipulate the police force required, so as to make those police details available here in consultation with the SS."
Presiding Judge: I read here in this same document on page 2 that Guenther said: "Eichmann had already reported to the Reichsfuehrer and would demand the head of the saboteur." That refers to the German legation in Denmark. What do you have to say about this?

Accused: What I have to say about this, Your Honour, is that this is not correct, nor true. If it were correct, then Dr. Best would have reported to the Foreign Ministry accordingly in his report about my visit there, and my conversation with him. But Dr. Best reported from Copenhagen, after I had been there, the subject of our discussions which I had been ordered to hold with him.

Presiding Judge: All right.

Dr. Servatius: I now come to the chapter of Norway.

Judge Raveh: I should like to know if the Head Office for Reich Security was, or was not, satisfied with the course of events in Denmark?

Accused: Your Honour, there was no satisfaction, though I can no longer remember details. However, the study of the documents enables me to recall things that are clearly the result of dissatisfaction, for otherwise I would not have been ordered to Denmark in order to...the unpleasantnesses caused to the Head Office for Reich Security...that the police, which was to implement what had been initiated by others, was now obliged to endure, namely the reports abroad, etc.

I think that was partly what prompted my superiors to order me to travel to Denmark, and that was also part of the reason - this actually follows from the documents - to tone down what could still be toned down.

Judge Raveh: As far as the effect on the outside is concerned, the results can be seen in the documents. But what were the results as regards the inside? With regard to the people of the Head Office for Reich Security, etc.

Accused: Your Honour, today I can no longer remember those details; that I do not know. But since the Head Office for Reich Security - at least Department IV - was not the determinant here, then, as I see it today, the whole of this quarrel took place outside of Department IV, and within the ranks of the higher authorities.

Judge Raveh: You cannot remember if Mueller or Kaltenbrunner or you yourself or others in your Section, attempted to saddle someone else with the responsibility?

Accused: No, neither I nor my Section made this attempt. Whether the Chief of Department IV was involved in this is beyond my knowledge. Neither I nor my Section were able to initiate anything.

Judge Raveh: Did it come to your knowledge whether Mueller or Kaltenbrunner placed the responsibility on somebody?

Accused: No, I don't know that.

Judge Raveh: Then what did you travel to Denmark for?

Accused: I have already said that, Your Honour. Probably to counter the unrest which was now bound to surface abroad. In order to tone down whatever could still be toned down. In my opinion, this emerges from the documents.

Judge Halevi: What do you mean by abroad?

Accused: The neutral and enemy countries.

Judge Halevi: Not Denmark? Denmark was an occupied area, wasn't it? But did you not travel to Denmark in order to investigate the causes of the failure, to investigate the defeat?

Accused: No, Your Honour, that could not have been my task. Had it been, then Dr. Best would most certainly have dealt with it as the first point in his report to the Foreign Ministry, because it was bound to have been of immediate, personal interest to him.

Judge Halevi: I would have thought that the possible results abroad would have been a matter for the Foreign Ministry and not for your office.

Accused: But there were the executive measures, such as the decision about Theresienstadt and the relaxations, etc., those were matters for the Head Office for Reich Security.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, I now come to the subject of Norway. To begin with, exhibit T/604, document No. 198. This is a communication from von Thadden of the Foreign Ministry to the Reich Commissioner for the Occupied Norwegian Territories in Oslo, Oberregierungsrat Schiedermair, whose name comes up repeatedly. The communication is dated 15 April 1943. The introductory paragraph shows that the laws constitute the basis for all measures taken. In the first sentence it says: "The Foreign Ministry extends its thanks for the transmission of the copy of the Norwegian laws concerning the obligation on the part of the Jews to report." Some observations follow as regards changes in the law in comparison with the German law.

Next we come to exhibit T/591, document No. 1622. This consists of several communications. They show that the navy carries out those transports - a co-operative effort - without any problems. The second communication, signed by Reinhard, to the regional headquarters of the Gestapo, Stettin, dated 25 November 1942, says (in the middle of the telegram) that "after its arrival, the ship provided by the navy, etc..." On the opposite page it says: "I request, in any event, to utilize the possibilities suddenly offered by the navy to remove the Jews from Norway."

The next exhibit, T/595, document No. 491, is from the Reich Commissioner for the Occupied Norwegian Territories to the Foreign Ministry, dated 18 February 1943. It says in the introductory paragraph: "...On the basis of the Norwegian law concerning the compulsory registration by Jews of 17 November 1942, a comprehensive recording of the Jews has been carried out, with the aim of deporting the Jews from Norway." This is followed by a reference to the subject of passports and to demands for the return of Jews to Sweden.

I should just like to refer to the last sentence in the communication. It says:

"A member of the Swedish Consulate General in Oslo, in answer to a question, privately explained to the official in charge of the German civil administration that the conduct of the Swedish Consulate General was based on a directive of the Swedish Government who wants to help 'the poor Jews who, after all, are also human beings'."
The next exhibit, T/606, document No. 493, is a minute, dated 11 October - the year cannot be deciphered - it deals with the intervention by the Swedes. It says here: "The Chief of the Security Police and the SD has reservations concerning this permission to leave for Sweden." And in the last sentence: "The Inland Section of the Foreign Ministry suggests informing the Swedes that they are not authorized to intervene on behalf of these Jews in Norway."

The next exhibit, T/607, is a communication from the special Westphalia train - this is Reich Minister Ribbentrop's train. It suggests how the Security Service is to react if approached by the Swedes:

"The German Foreign Minister asks you to reply to the communication of the Security Service, of 2 October 1944, concerning the transfer of sixty-four Norwegian Jews to Sweden along the following lines: `...The Foreign Ministry is not going to reply to the Swedish Government, because the Swedish Government did not officially apply either to the Foreign Ministry or to the German Embassy'."
It goes on to say:
"It might be advisable to instruct the Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service in Oslo not to revert to the subject of his own accord."
With this I conclude the chapter of Norway.


Presiding Judge: Please continue, Dr. Servatius.

Dr. Servatius: I now come to the chapter of Serbia. Here, too, there is a chart which I submit.

Witness, was the chart drawn by you, and is it correct?

Accused: It was drawn up by me, but copied by a draughtsman.

Presiding Judge: N/51.

Dr. Servatius: I come to the documents in List 28. They, too, are considerably reduced in number.

I will begin with exhibit T/867, document No. 1043. This is a communication from Eichmann to the Foreign Ministry, dated 25 April 1940. It refers to a note verbale which is not included here. It deals with illegal crossing of the border. The reference is: "Illegal border crossing by German Jews to Yugoslavia." The last two sentences of the document state:

"Every now and then Jews are being sent back across the border by the Yugoslav authorities. So far, an official handing over of Jews by the Yugoslav authorities has not taken place. The Jews sent back in this way are brought to emigrate in the normal way as quickly as possible."
Witness, how are the words "to emigrate in the normal way" to be understood here on 25 April 1940?

Accused: At that time, normal emigration was still in full swing and not yet prohibited, so that this was regular emigration with the preparation of the necessary emigration papers, and in this way those in question were brought to emigrate through the Central Office.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit is T/869, document No. 1339. This is a communication from the military commander in Serbia, Administrative Section, dated 11 May 1941. The military commander invites all relevant departments to a discussion on Jewish matters. The result is not known.

The next exhibit is T/870, document No. 642. This is a telegram, signed by Veesenmayer and Benzler, to the Foreign Ministry. Veesenmayer is the representative of the Foreign Ministry, and Benzler probably the ambassador. The text is interesting for the relatively rigorous attitude which it reveals:

"It can be proved that in numerous acts of sabotage and revolt Jews have appeared as accomplices. It is, therefore, an urgent necessity to see to the speedy seizure and removal of at least all male Jews. The number in question is probably about eight thousand. A concentration camp is at the moment in the process of being constructed. However, in consideration of future developments, it seems advisable to remove those Jews from the country as quickly as possible. This means, with empty barges downstream on the Danube, in order to unload them on the island, the Danube Island, which is in Romanian territory. I ask that the conditions needed for acquiescence on the part of Romania be created."
The next exhibit, T/872, document No. 644, is the reply from the Foreign Ministry, signed by Dr. Luther. It says:
"The deportation of Jews to the territory of a foreign state cannot be agreed to. That is not the way to solve the Jewish Question. It is being suggested to take them into custody in work camps, and to conscript them for necessary public works." Signed: Luther.
The next exhibit, T/873, document No. 645, continues this correspondence. Once again Veesenmayer and Benzler write to the Foreign Ministry:
"The speedy and laconic settlement of the Jewish Question in Serbia is the most urgent and the most effective measure. Request appropriate instructions from the Reich Foreign Minister, in order to exert the utmost pressure on the Military Commander, Serbia. No opposition whatsoever is to be expected on the part of the Serbian Government and population, especially since partial measures have already proved themselves. An order in the same vein from the Reichsfuehrer-SS to the Chief of the Operations Group of the Security Police and the Security Service, Standartenfuehrer Fuchs, would advance this matter considerably."

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