The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 86
(Part 1 of 5)

Session No. 86

21 Tammuz 5721 (5 July 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the eighty-sixth Session of the trial open. The Accused will continue with his testimony in direct examination. I draw the Accused's attention to the fact that he is still testifying under oath.

Accused: I am aware of the fact.

Presiding Judge: Please proceed, Dr. Servatius.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, I should like, if I may, to add a few more comments on Becher's testimony which was dealt with yesterday. I am here referring to exhibit T/689, document No. 774. This is a compilation of a series of interrogations of Becher, including also a conversation with Kasztner. In the second half there is a record dated 10 July 1947. I wish to refer there to the bottom of page 9, continued on pages 10 and 11. Becher states the following:

"I would like to describe to you a violent outburst. Mr. Himmler received Eichmann for ten minutes while I was there and shouted at him: `If until now you have murdered the Jews and I now order you to foster Jews, tell me whether you are going to carry out this order of mine or not'."
I shall now skip a sentence. It then continues:
"I begged Himmler, practically on my knees, `for God's sake, straighten things out again with Eichmann before he leaves your quarters'."
This is Mr. Becher, on his knees before Himmler, begging for the Jews.

The last sentence reads:

"He was then awarded the Iron Distinguished Service Cross, First Class, with swords, and Eichmann was placated. This is a `story' I have never told before."
Question from Kasztner: "Was he placated?" "You know what I mean. All the small things which he could still have done he would have done, but more so, if this dreadful shit on him by Himmler had stayed on." Whereupon Kasztner says: "It is a real paradox if, with the German concentration of power at the time, little Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann could shit on the all-powerful Reichsfuehrer-SS. I am sorry, it was not like that, and yet it was." I think this characterizes this story very well.

There is something else in the same document. In the record of the examination read out yesterday, on page 13, the twenty-second question at the top of the page reads: "After the War, did you act as interpreter during the interrogation of fellow detainees in internment or prison camps or prisons?" Answer: "No."

In the record here, the witness answered otherwise. First of all, the interrogation of 7 July 1947, page 3. Someone comes up to him during the interrogation, whereupon he introduces himself and shows his qualities. He says:

"I have done fatigue duty here. I have done translations and also acted as a messenger. I recently spoke to Captain Binder, and he said to me: 'Collect all your documents which you need for your de- nazification. You are not an Automatiker' (someone who is automatically released and will not later have to appear before the special court). I understood your attitude perfectly - you could not believe who I was."
On the same topic, in the interrogation of 28 July, page 2 at the top, it says:
"I am a sort of interpreter* {*This word is in English in the original} in the witnesses' wing, between the men in the witnesses' wing and the Prison Office (sic). I look after welfare. I have already (the next part is illegible) been here a year."
It might still be argued that he is not claiming to be an interpreter, but on page 12, at the bottom, in the first record, dated 10 July, (there were two records dated the same day; this is the second one) it says: "That is quite true. Mr. Becher, look here, today you know practically everything that went on."

Answer: "Yes, I was an interpreter here for something like ten months."

I continue now with Hungary and first submit document No. 676. This is a communication from Veesenmayer to Ambassador Ritter, dated 23 April 1944, and it deals with deportations.

Presiding Judge: I mark this exhibit N/74.

Dr. Servatius: In the middle of the last paragraph, it reads:

"So as not to jeopardize the operation, it would appear expedient to postpone somewhat the evacuation of the fifty thousand labour Jews from the area around Budapest, which was requested by me and already promised by the government, as would in any case be necessary, due to prevailing transport problems. Transport by trek on foot (Fusstrek) not feasible, since major problems would arise as regards provisioning, footwear and guarding. Since the Jewish Operation is a total whole, I consider the plan cited above to be correct and request notice by wire if there are any objections and wishes at your end."
I would point out that the word Fusstrek is first used in April by Ambassador Veesenmayer.

Judge Halevi: It also says here, "Place of reception: Auschwitz."

Dr. Servatius: Yes, that is near the beginning of the first paragraph. I can read out the paragraph. There is another sentence first. Then it says: "Place of reception: Auschwitz. It has been ensured that implementation of this operation pays ample attention to economic requirements of the war."

The next exhibit is T/1186, document No. 213. This is a most informative document, because it illustrates the channel of command followed by the arrangements for deportation. This is a communication from Guenther, Department IVB4, to the Foreign Ministry, dated 24 April 1944. It says:

"In the meanwhile, the Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service in Hungary has been notified by express teletype of the content of the telegram of the Plenipotentiary and Ambassador of the Greater German Reich in Hungary, according to which, in a consultation on 13 April 1944, the Hungarian Prime Minister gave his binding promise that, for the time being, fifty thousand able-bodied Jews would be made available by Hungary to the Reich."
There is then reference to implementation. It says here:
"Having regard to the transport problems referred to, at the same time enquiries were made as to whether, in order to remove them, it is considered necessary for the Head Office for Reich Security to take the matter up with the Reich Transport Ministry."
The last paragraph reads: "No further information can be provided until receipt of the report called for by Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann." Eichmann is stationed in Budapest, and the chain of command passes via Veesenmayer, Foreign Ministry, Head Office for Reich Security, and now enquiries are being made from Eichmann.

I now submit document No. 681, not previously presented; I submit it as evidence. This is a communication from Ambassador Ritter in the Reich Foreign Ministry to Veesenmayer in Budapest, dated 27 April 1944, dealing with evacuation. I refer to item II. This reads:

"If there is any further delay in the evacuation, I would recommend that in your telegraphic report you make it quite clear that, for your part, you have done everything possible and necessary, in order to ensure the speedy implementation of the operation, and that the reason for the delay in evacuating those Jews made ready, is that the authorities responsible for evacuating and taking charge of the Jews have not yet made the necessary arrangements."
Presiding Judge: The last words here have been erased. One can see that better in the photocopy. It is correct that someone must have prepared this as a draft. It is clear enough that someone changed the comma into a full stop.

Dr. Servatius: It looks here as if there was something wrong with the typewriter.

Presiding Judge: No, the change of the comma into a full stop shows that this was really erased.

Dr. Servatius: It does seem to me that it might have been crossed out.

Presiding Judge: I mark this exhibit N/75.

Dr. Servatius: Witness, can you tell the Court which were the competent authorities that had not made the necessary arrangements, as stated in the document?

Accused: Thinking back, these might equally well have been Hungarian or German authorities. Looking at the date, from my own point of view I have to say that at that time I was already negotiating with Brand. I must also state that both on the Hungarian side and on the German side, there were departments which were constantly pushing and wanted things done by tomorrow, if not by today, and did not have the slightest idea of the fact that the Hungarian gendarmerie also had to follow bureaucratic procedures in its operations divisions. This document reflects the impatience on the part of the various departments. That is my only way of explaining this.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit is T/1188, document No. 227. This is a communication from Veesenmayer to Ambassador Ritter at the Reich Foreign Ministry, dated 4 May 1944. It is a sort of announcement of success in ghettoization in the Carpathian area, concluded at that time.

"Two hundred thousand Jews are being held in ten camps and ghettos. In Transylvania/Zone II a start has been made today on concentrating some 110,000 Jews living in this area."
In the next paragraph it says that there will be a timetable conference in Vienna on 4 May, and then, in the last paragraph:
"Since it is assumed that foreign Jews have also been seized in the concentration operations, Eichmann will visit eastern Hungary next week, and have the Jews from neutral and enemy states separated and placed in special accommodation. Veesenmayer."
Judge Halevi: Not Eichmann - I think it says the liaison officer of the legation.

Dr. Servatius: That must have been Grell.

Attorney General: It would seem that it would have been Hezinger at that time, not Grell.

Dr. Servatius: I submit as evidence document No. 374. This is a communication from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Ministry, dated 8 May 1944, and is about the 100,000 Hungarian labourers to be made available. The departments involved are listed in the first paragraph.

"In a discussion on 1 May, where representatives were present from the O.T. (Organisation Todt) Plenipotentiary General for Labour Mobilization, the Security Police and the Wehrmacht, it was stipulated that in future all requests for Hungarian labour, both Jews and non-Jews, for employment in Hungary, are to be made to the O.T. representative at the Honved Ministry who, with regard to the non-Jews, will stay in close contact with the representative at this end of the Plenipotentiary General for Labour Mobilization."
The `Todt' Organization deals mainly with road building and other construction jobs and projects. When it says Plenipotentiary General for Labour Mobilization, that means labourers for the war industry. The industry was, in turn, answerable to the Plenipotentiary General. The last paragraph is important:
"The 100,000 Hungarian labourers required by the O.T. for labour in the Reich would have to be requested from the SS Economic-Administrative Head Office, SS Gruppenfuehrer Gluecks, which office disposes of Jews from Hungary who are to be evacuated."
Presiding Judge: I mark this exhibit N/76.

Dr. Servatius: The next document which I submit as evidence is No. 529. This is an enquiry from Pohl to Himmler about transports of Jews - able-bodied women - from Hungary. The telegram reads:

"The first transports of Jews from Hungary show that some fifty per cent of the able-bodied Jews are women. Since we do not have a corresponding amount of women's work for these large numbers of women, we have to use them for O.T. building jobs. I request authorization. The O.T. agrees." Signed: Pohl.
Presiding Judge: I mark this exhibit N/77.

Dr. Servatius: T/1194, document No. 678. This is a travel report by von Thadden about a visit he made to Hungary on 25 May 1944. On page 2 he refers to "the departments of the executive," and he says:

"The job is an extraordinarily difficult one, and co- operation with the departments of the Security Service is not always the smoothest. Hezinger managed not only to perform his duties outstandingly, but also to establish friendly relations with the departments of the executive."
Witness, can you say what is meant here by "the departments of the executive"?

Accused: The German departments of the executive which operated in Hungary were the following: The Commanders of the Security Police and the Security Service, who were subordinate to the Senior Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service, and the Commanders of the Order Police, who were subordinate to the Commander - the Senior Commander of the Order Police. Both Senior Commanders were subordinate to the Higher SS and Police Leader. This was the executive apparatus of the German police in Hungary.

Dr. Servatius: At the top of page 3, under point 3, it says:

"During the discussion on the question of assets under point 2, Ambassador Veesenmayer drew my attention to the fact that the matter under discussion in terms of scope, was out of all proportion to the fishing expedition initiated by the Reichsfuehrer's offices in Hungary. He said that in this particularly delicate matter he was sending his best assistant, Consul Rekowski, straight to the Reichsfuehrer. He did not give me any further indication as to what was involved. As far as I could tell from what he let me know, this would appear to involve secret agreements which Gruppenfuehrer Winkelmann has prepared behind Veesenmayer's back, and of which Veesenmayer does not approve."
Witness, can you tell the Court what were these secret moves which are here called a fishing expedition?

Accused: It is quite obvious that this refers to the activities of Himmler's Special Plenipotentiary in Hungary, whose task here was to seize for Himmler assets to be used for equipping divisions of the Waffen-SS. And in his efforts here Becher managed to extract (herauszuschaelen) Hungarian heavy industry - what was called the Weiss-Manfred Works - at Csepel, near Budapest, for the German sector.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps you could use some word in German which is easier to understand than "herauszuschaelen"?

Accused: Herauszubrechen (to break out).

Presiding Judge: What does that mean?

Accused: Getting rid of the owner, a Jew called Manfred Weiss, and moreover eliminating Hungarian central management of this Hungarian war production centre, and instead installing a German - let us call him a Director General - and here Becher fortified his position with a German Board of Directors.

Presiding Judge: That is clear now.

Dr. Servatius: Witness, do you know who was to be Chairman of the Board?

Accused: The names of several German gentlemen were put forward, and I believe that SS General Juettner was also designated to be on the Board.

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