The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 86
(Part 4 of 5)

Dr. Servatius: I now submit the next exhibit, document No. 673. This is a memorandum from Wagner, of the Foreign Ministry, for submission to the Reich Foreign Minister. It is dated 6 July 1944, and deals with the same complex. It starts:
"In the enclosed telegram, dated 29 June, Ambassador Veesenmayer has requested instructions as to how to deal with the various proposals from the Swedes, Swiss and Americans for evacuating Jews."
Page 2, the last paragraph, reads:
"In view of the consistent approach to policy on Jews pursued so far by the Reich, which aims at preventing emigration of Jews as far as possible and, where this is permitted, makes it dependent upon the provision of suitable recompense, and also in view of our Arab policy, Inland Group II suggests asking the Hungarian Government through Ambassador Veesenmayer to reply to the Swiss and Americans that emigration to Palestine cannot be agreed to under any circumstances, as the attitude here is that Palestine is an Arab country, and the Hungarian authorities could not lend their hand to Arabs being driven out of their homeland by Jews (by analogy with the Feldscher Operation)."
The last sentence reads:
"Any reply to this position will probably take two to three weeks, and by the end of this month the action against the Jews in Hungary will largely have been completed, so that in essence the intervention will then have become pointless."
Presiding Judge: This document will be marked N/84.

Dr. Servatius: I offer as further evidence document No. 848. This is a communication from Ribbentrop to Reich Plenipotentiary Veesenmayer personally. The communication is dated 10 July 1944. In the first paragraph it says:

"On my proposal, the Fuehrer has now decided to accommodate the Hungarian Government in the matter of the foreign offers for evacuating Jews to abroad."
It continues:
"Therefore the proposals from the Swedish, Swiss and U.S.A. Governments contained in your telegram of 29 June under points 1 to 3 can be complied with, in connection with which we assume that the groups of Jews designated in their offers, will be received by these countries, i.e., Sweden, Switzerland and U.S.A. Any transfer of Jews to Palestine should be avoided if at all possible, in view of our policy towards the Arabs."
Then, at the end, it says:
"We are, however, able to decide on this concession only on condition that the evacuation of Jews to the Reich, which was temporarily halted by the Regent, should be completed immediately and as rapidly as possible. Ribbentrop."
Presiding Judge: I mark this exhibit N/85.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit is T/1215, document No. 161. This is a communication from Veesenmayer to the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs. Vessenmayer is reacting to the proposal of the Foreign Ministry. I would refer to the bottom of page 2, item 2, which reads:

"Head of Special Jewish Operations Unit Security Service here, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, has indicated that, as far as he is aware, Reichsfuehrer-SS is in no way in agreement with emigration to Palestine of Hungarian Jews. He says that the Jews in question are all biologically valuable material, many veteran Zionists, whose immigration to Palestine would therefore be most undesirable. With reference to the Fuehrer's decision about which he has been informed, he intends to report to Reichsfuehrer-SS, and if necessary, to request a new decision from the Fuehrer."
Witness, would you please explain why, according to Veesenmayer's report, you did not agree with the order given and asked for a new decision by the Fuehrer?

Accused: I am unable to check whether these are my words, as it reproduces what I am alleged to have said. A whole series of documents have already demonstrated that Himmler gave extremely strict orders prohibiting emigration to Palestine, and I had to follow these orders.

Dr. Servatius: Then it says:

"In any case it was agreed with Eichmann that, if authorization is given for further evacuations of Jews from Budapest, it should be attempted to carry these out as suddenly and fast as possible, so as to make sure that the Jews eligible for emigration would already have been evacuated before the formalities are completed."
Witness, would you tell the Court what you agreed to, and what powers you had to make such an agreement?

Accused: In order to answer the question, I must base myself on the documents. Now, it says an agreement was reached to carry them out as fast as possible - this appears for the first time in a memorandum from Wagner to the Reich Foreign Minister, who cites this argument for the first time. If therefore...

Presiding Judge: Let us first settle one thing. Is Veesenmayer here giving a true report of what you said? Before we proceed to the substance of the matter.

Accused: Do you mean in the entire paragraph, Your Honour?

Presiding Judge: Yes.

Accused: No, I deny that. I deny that, Your Honour, because I can prove, as far as the last part of this paragraph is concerned, because in a moment there will be another document which maintains the contrary.

Presiding Judge: Very well.

Accused: Since Veesenmayer had received his strict instructions and guidelines from the Head Office for Reich Security - from the Foreign Ministry - as shown by the documents, and since I was unable to determine the tempo of the evacuations - this was something which the Hungarian gendarmerie handled and which Veesenmayer in the end determined on a higher level together with the Hungarian Government - Veesenmayer was unable to agree to anything with me - the most he could do was to give me an instruction, but not agree to something.

Dr. Servatius: The next document is No. 162 - I submit this as evidence. This is a communication from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Ministry, dated 3 August 1944, regarding departure via Romania. This shows that Eichmann did not decide on his own initiative, but applied to higher authority. Item II reads:

"I would inform you confidentially that Eichmann has again applied to the Head Office for Reich Security to obtain a final decision on the part of the Reichsfuehrer-SS as to whether the Swiss action for emigration via Romania to Palestine can be authorized. Eichmann has repeatedly proposed that transport should be authorized only to Lisbon via Western Europe."
Presiding Judge: This will be marked N/86.

Dr. Servatius: Next, exhibit T/1217 - document No. 156 - communication from Veesenmayer to the Reich Foreign Minister. Under (1) it reads:

"Recently appointed Hungarian Minister of Interior yesterday informed Chief of Security Service Special Operations Units here, Eichmann, that last Hungarian Council of Ministers has decided to propose to Regent that evacuation of Jews from Budapest should start on 25th of this month. At the request of Eichmann, Minister of Interior indicated willingness to bring date forward to 20th of this month."
Witness, would you tell the Court whether what it says here is correct - that you proposed to the government to advance the date of the evacuation?

Accused: Today, I am unable to reply to this question, either in the negative or in the affirmative. But since the difference involved is five days, it seems to me that the reason must and can only have been a demand by the Reich Transport Ministry related to drawing up the timetable. I cannot imagine anything else.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit is T/1219 - document No. 154. This is a communication from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Minister, dated 24 August 1944. He reports that the Hungarian Minister of the Interior has just informed Eichmann "that contrary to his previous agreement he has now been instructed, by order of the Regent, that concentration of the Jews from Budapest in five large camps yet to be set up outside the city limits should start on the 28th of this month, without evacuation from these camps to Reich territory being envisaged."

Then, at the end, it says: "Eichmann will report on this to the Head Office for Reich Security, with the request that since they are superfluous, he and his units should be recalled from here." At the bottom of the document there is a handwritten note which I would decipher as follows: "(1) Mueller" - this appears to be Sturmbannfuehrer or Gruppenfuehrer - "is not available, spoke to Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther. He says that in any case part of the unit will remain behind for observation purposes. Von Thadden."

Presiding Judge: Are these von Thadden's initials, in your opinion?

Dr. Servatius: That is my impression. I have seen the handwriting several times. It is the competent department in the Foreign Ministry.

Witness, that would seem to show that you are now making some protest to the effect that from now on you are going to be unemployed; so you are saying, if I am to be superfluous, I want to be recalled from here. Would you state your view on this?

Accused: From what I have so far - or how I have so far dealt with the matter and spoken about it - it is quite clear that once I had received the first official announcement, "It is all over," I would immediately have wanted to take the first opportunity for clearing out of Hungary. That had nothing to do with protesting, but I reported back to Berlin. And I would like to state finally that I did not succeed in this, either, because von Thadden's memorandum says that orders had been given for part of the unit to remain in Hungary.

Dr. Servatius: Next, exhibit T/1222, document No. 1441. This is a communication from Veesenmayer to the Reich Foreign Minister, dated 25 August 1944. It reads:

"SS Obergruppenfuehrer Winkelmann has just informed me by telephone that at three o'clock last night he received a teleprinter order from the Reichsfuehrer-SS, according to which the deportation of Hungarian Jews to the Reich is strictly forbidden, effective immediately."
Veesenmayer appears to be surprised, for it then says: "When I enquired as to whether this was an official order and whether I could use it, Winkelmann answered in the affirmative."

Next, exhibit T/1220, document No. 1421. This is a teleprinter message from Becher to Himmler. This deals with various points concerning the implementation of the matters with which he is dealing here by order of the Reichsfuehrer. It reads:

"(1) The other side did not believe that we seriously wanted to negotiate. They believed that we only wanted to use their agreement for propaganda purposes.

"(2) Detailed discussions and the fact that at the same time three hundred pieces had moved across the border without any conditions changed this attitude.

"(3) The other side has stated unequivocally their basic desire to carry things through, and this is substantiated by the view that there will be no one who will say a clear 'no' to this one-time possibility."

Then, under (4):
"However, the other side considers it not feasible to implement in practical terms only by supplying trucks." Instead of these, he proposes other bottle-neck articles which should be demanded.
Under (6), it reads: "I have therefore agreed with the other side," and then there is a series of proposals, and under (9) it says:
"Other side indicated that if further evacuations to the Reich were to occur now, negotiation would not be considered as serious by those in power and would therefore not succeed. Meanwhile, Reichsfuehrer's order on this has been received."
Witness, can you indicate what were the negotiations which were involved here, and were you informed of these negotiations?

Accused: Generally speaking, I would definitely have been in the know at that time, although Becher did not disclose all the details to me. This communication proves what I have said - that this is when the petty bargaining started, instead of what I had suggested and got approval for, that is to say, as an initial, immediate measure to have 100,000 emigrate first of all - I forgot to say that there was an addendum which stated, "their destination should be up to the Jews."

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit is T/1221, document No. 1422. A teleprinter message from Himmler to Becher: "I authorize and permit you to continue negotiations."

I now submit as evidence document No. 572. This is a memorandum from the Foreign Ministry - Wagner - for submission to the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs, dated 15 September 1944. It deals with the efforts of the Swiss legation to obtain larger numbers of departures, viz. of two thousand Jews in return for two thousand Reich Germans interned abroad. The Swedish legation has also intervened, and at the end it says: "Inland Group II proposes dealing with both interventions in a dilatory fashion until a final decision is reached on the question of how to deal with the Jews still remaining in Hungary."

Presiding Judge: I mark this exhibit N/87.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit is T/1231, document No. 449. This is a memo from the Foreign Ministry, dated 16 September 1944, and signed by Wagner. It announces that 318 Jews from the camp near Hannover - which is probably Bergen- Belsen - have arrived in Switzerland, without any papers at all. The Foreign Ministry had no information; at the bottom of page 1, at the end of the letter, it says: "Inland Group II immediately initiated the requisite steps to clarify the facts of the matter."

Then we have exhibit T/1232, document No. 450, memorandum from the Foreign Ministry, dated 29 September 1944, for information of the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs. It says that, as far as the 318 Jews who reached Switzerland are concerned, this involved procuring equipment of military importance for the SS. The consideration in return for the release of the Jews benefited the SS.

Then it says:

"Exactly what this transaction involved, according to the Head Office for Reich Security, is not known in Berlin, as the negotiations between the Reichsfuehrer and the person in charge of implementing the matter, Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, were conducted directly and orally only. For reasons of a Security Police nature, nothing has been put down in writing about the matter, and it can be assumed that there will be no further case like it, in view of the severing of relations with Turkey."
And then, at the end, it says no reply should be given to the Swiss, and if the Swiss bring the matter up again, they should be informed orally, after a suitable delay, that investigations of the matter have been without result.

Witness, you appear here as the person in charge - the person in charge of implementing the matter. Is it true that you implemented the matter, and what can you say about this?

Accused: No, it is not true; I was not the person put in charge of this by the Reichsfuehrer-SS, nor did I have any dealings whatsoever with him at that time, because I first met him on 4 December of the same year. But the best proof that what I am saying is true is to be found in exhibits T/1220 and T/1221, which have just been dealt with, that is Becher's letter to Himmler and Himmler's reply to Becher. This matter is dealt with there.

Dr. Servatius: I now turn to the next list.

Presiding Judge: There are still documents here; are you dropping all the other documents given in the list?

Dr. Servatius: No, that was an error, my list has been divided into two parts.

Presiding Judge: I see. Please proceed.

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