The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 88
(Part 2 of 6)

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you mean the general instructions to senior SS commanders, or the special instructions on Hungary?

Dr. Servatius: There was a document which dealt generally with instructions, and it said, "Senior SS and police officers are to deal with Jewish matters."

Presiding Judge: Perhaps you would care to check. I remember general instructions, but I do not remember any special reference to Jewish matters. But you may be able to find it.

Dr. Servatius: I shall clarify the matter and inform the Court.

Witness, General Winkelmann does not say that he reproached you. He says: "After the presentation I had my own thoughts on the matter." So he did not say anything to you. Is that actually what happened?

Accused: The situation was that I received my instructions and orders from him as my superior. I have no idea what sort of thoughts he had.

Dr. Servatius: Now, let us turn to witness Huppenkothen. Did you often come and see Kaltenbrunner without going through Mueller, something which other people could not do? In other words, were you in a special position, both with regard to Kaltenbrunner, and Heydrich before him?

Accused: No, I always went through the official channels, and I always complied with official channels. And precisely when Kaltenbrunner became Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, I was extra careful to respect official channels to the letter, so that, because of the fact that it was general knowledge that both Kaltenbrunner and I came from Linz on the Danube, in Upper Austria, people would not get jealous or have some other feelings. From that point onwards, once he became Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, I was extra careful to make sure that there was at least the same distance between him and me as the other specialist officers had to respect.

There was just one exception to this attitude - in April 1945, at Altaussee, where there was a slight dropping off in the rigid...when the rigid formalities which had been observed until then were somewhat relaxed, but that was already right at the end of the War.

Judge Halevi: I have another question in this respect: Was Mueller always in Berlin, or if he was not always available, did you then not go directly to Heydrich or Kaltenbrunner?

Accused: Mueller was practically always in Berlin. As far as I know, Mueller was never ill, and I was really surprised that Huppenkothen says that Mueller was once ill for a short time, and Mueller must have been away briefly once, two or three days, say, and there is a document from that time signed by Schellenberg, his deputy. So I had to go and see his deputy, and I was not able to go directly to the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service.

Dr. Servatius: A question about Juettner's deposition. General Juettner intervened because of the foot march. Did he send for you, and did you get someone to say you were not there, and send a young officer to see him?

Accused: If an SS general or an army general had sent for me, then I would have gone myself; there is no question of my sending a substitute.

Dr. Servatius: About Grell's deposition: In the late autumn of 1944, did you have a conversation with Grell and make comments on the extermination of the Jews, about numbers and such like?

Accused: I talked to Grell a great deal and very often, and I cannot deny that it may have been in the late autumn. But it is impossible that I would have talked about the numbers of exterminated Jews, because I did not have the figures myself. As for the numbers who went off on the transports, I had the documents there, that is possible, but I could not have discussed any other definitions, because I myself did not know.

Dr. Servatius: In his statement he says: "Eichmann said he was considered to be War Criminal No. 1 and had six million on his conscience." He was talking about enemies of the state in the late autumn of 1944.

Accused: I have never stated that I have anyone's death on my conscience - that is something that I could and would have had to do if I had given the orders, but I did not give the orders. I only talked about anything like that once, and that was right at the end, before I was sent to the Tyrol, around 10 or 15 April 1945. Zoepf from Holland had been at my Section that day, and he saw that everything was about to collapse, and - to put it in vulgar parlance - he blubbered just like a child, he was so frightened.

I then informed the officers present that in my opinion it really was all over, that the Reich had collapsed - and I admit what I read - that it would be correct if it said that, as far as I am concerned, I could quite happily jump into the pit in the knowledge that five million enemies of the Reich are already inside, too. In saying this word or these words, I was not thinking of the Jews at all - that is already made clear by the fact that the enemy who was knocking at our gate then was the Russian and the American bomber fleet - those are the enemies I was referring to, and I stand by what I said, because those were my words. But those are the words which were subsequently hawked around and twisted - everyone used them as he saw fit, and that is how all these variations came about; I have no other way of explaining it.

And finally I would also like to point out that one has to understand the way I felt at the time. I admit it, personally I was at the end of my tether, the Reich in which I believed was about to collapse, there was nothing more I myself could do, and quite obviously for a nationalist - and at that time I was a nationalist - it was bitter to stand there at such an hour, to look on helplessly at what was happening, and I do not think I am the only person in the world who uses such expressions at times like those. I think I would go so far as to say that if I had praised the enemies of the Reich who were blasting the Reich to pieces at that point, that would have been unusual.

Dr. Servatius: As far as witnesses Kappler and Slawik are concerned, I should like to ensure that, if necessary, I can ask the Accused later ...

Presiding Judge: If you wish to do so now, there is no objection to doing so; in any case, we will receive these depositions later. These are the depositions which have not yet arrived, are they not? You have not received them either, have you? Well, if that is the case, we have no alternative but to ask the Accused for his position at some later stage. I did not quite understand the point.

Dr. Servatius: I have a final question to the witness. You carried out the transports to the various camps, did you not? Did you know that at least some of these people were killed in the camps?

Accused: I had to carry out the transports in accordance with my orders. And I was also aware of the fact that some of these people were killed in the camps. That I must admit according to the truth.

Dr. Servatius: In your interrogation by the police you said that you felt guilty; will you tell the Court what your attitude to the question of guilt is now?

Accused: In my case today, some sixteen to twenty-four years have elapsed since the events, and a great deal that was true then ceased being true quite a long time ago. This question of guilt feelings is a very difficult one to answer today, and I think in my reply I really must distinguish between the legal point of view and that of human guilt.

As for the deeds of which I am accused, they concern taking part in the deportations. Since this was a political directive, I believe that only the person who bears or bore the responsibility for this political decision can have a guilt feeling in the legal sense, since in the absence of responsibility, there can in the end be no guilt. And so, as a result of my reflections, I would conclude that responsibility must be examined here in its legal sense. As long as there is no overall political solution to people living together, I believe that the basis of all organized states is order and obedience. No political system can seriously be based on spies and traitors.

In order to increase security, the leadership of the state makes use of a compelling means, namely of the oath. Thus it is up to the head of state to take the responsibility, to have a conscience, and we were constantly lectured - both orally and in writing - on the fact that we must trust the leadership. Where the state leadership is good, the subordinate is lucky; where it is bad, he is unlucky. I was unlucky, because the head of state at that time issued the order to exterminate the Jews.

My participation in the deportations resulted from the fact that the highest authority for SS police jurisdiction, Himmler, gave the orders for the deportations to the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, who had judicial authority over me. He put my former chief, SS Gruppenfuehrer and Police Lieutenant General Mueller in charge of implementation. And from him I received my orders in those matters which were within the competence of my Section, according to the organization chart.

The criminal code of the SS and police jurisdiction specifies that the penalty for disobedience is death. The provisions concerning matters to be kept under lock and key, for preserving state secrets, all have sections about terms of imprisonment with hard labour and the death penalty. I had exhausted, on my part, all legal possibilities of getting another posting. Even my transfer from the Security Service to Secret State Police Headquarters in the autumn of 1939 was against my own wishes, in accordance with an order that was issued. I had to obey. I was in uniform. It was wartime.

Even when I was thinking in 1950 about leaving Germany and going overseas, I was not thinking in terms of feeling guilty in the juridical sense, but rather because of the political situation and for family reasons.

My position was exactly the same as that of millions of other people who had to obey. The difference is simply that I had a much more difficult task to perform, in accordance with my orders. All those who took part, and who maintain that it was perfectly easy, or at least not particularly dangerous, to avoid carrying out an order are not going into detail about their own acts. It is being said that there is always the possibility of evading service by pleading illness. Well, a General, for instance, has many ways of doing so; a subordinate cannot do so, because if it is found out that this illness is a pretence, there will be consequences, and anyway there is the oath against that sort of thing.

For example, in his speech at Posen, Himmler says - and he was only speaking of SS Generals - that they could be transferred to another post, if they felt that they were not up to it. But if the order is maintained, it must be followed.

Someone in an inferior position cannot shirk his duty, particularly if he is a bearer of state secrets. He could shoot himself, that is true. People who say that you could oppose obeying an order mostly declare that they themselves did not know anything about extermination of persons, so they were not bearers of secrets. The SS and police courts used to apply very stringent standards to the lower echelons, and if there had been any manifest disobedience to orders, they had to give a correspondingly severe sentence.

As for guilt in the ethical sense, any admission of one's own guilt to one's innermost self, that is something entirely different. That lies in areas totally inaccessible to the rules and regulations of a legal order. Here you argue with yourself, and you are your own judge. I have done it in my own case, and I am still doing it.

In conclusion, it remains for me, in reply to this question, to make a statement and a confession. I regret and denounce the extermination activities against the Jews ordered by the German leaders of that time. However, I myself could not jump over my own shadow. I was simply a tool in the hands of stronger powers and stronger forces, and of an inexorable fate. That is what I wanted to say on this question.

Judge Halevi: Perhaps I could ask you why you did not submit yourself to a court in Germany in 1950, instead of leaving the country?

Accused: In Germany... I had the impression and the feeling - it was more than a feeling, it was something I was convinced of - that I would not be judged fairly in Germany, that I would be convicted first and foremost for political reasons, and that I was not ready to accept, and that is why I did not give myself up of my own free will. It was not a question of not having the courage. I have also declared that I would have been willing to submit myself to a court at any time, as long as I was sure that it would be a proper legal trial and not something dictated by some political point of view of other.

Dr. Servatius: I have no further questions to the witness.

Presiding Judge: Thank you, Dr. Servatius. Later this morning we shall begin the cross-examination, and as you know, there may yet be re-examination after the cross- examination.

There is something else I should like to clarify at this stage. Dr. Servatius has mentioned that he would like to submit part of his address to the Court - I am referring now to the closing stages of the proceedings - in writing. I have already said that our law makes no provision for such a written submission. However, the Court is prepared to make things easier for Counsel for the Defence, if that would suit him better. However, I should like to ask the Attorney General for his opinion on the matter as well. The reason why I am doing this now is because I assume that if Dr. Servatius wishes to prepare written pleadings, then he will wish to begin now, and I do not want his work to be in vain.

Attorney General: I gather, Sir, that we are talking about part of the summing-up. The normal practice is such that if differences of opinion on the accuracy of facts arise during the summing-up for the Defence, I can get up and interrupt Counsel for the Defence and indicate the way I see things. I would not have such a possibility in respect of a document which is submitted to the Court. Consequently, if the Court will allow me, after looking at the partial written summing- up, I should like to be able to add my own comments on the document, also in writing - they do not have to be made orally. On my part, I agree to this procedure, as long as it is limited to part of the summing-up only, most of the address being made orally, as prescribed by our legal procedures.

Presiding Judge: Indeed, I assumed that it was a question of references from the evidence submitted, quotations and such like. We would also prefer the main body of the submission to be made orally in court, in order to avoid deviating too much from normal procedure. I think your last requirement is a reasonable one. Naturally, it has to be added that even in this procedure the Defence must have the last word. That means that if the Attorney General makes written comments on the written submission, then the Defence must have a last opportunity of reacting to any such comments.

Attorney General: Yes, that is clear.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, I was not thinking of a written summing-up, but rather of a summary of the points at issue, in the shape of a closing brief. It would be a compilation of the factual arguments of the Prosecution as against the arguments for the Defence, without any further legal submissions in the form of a written brief, but it is more a question of giving an overview of all the material, to allow ready identification of individual points, because otherwise it will be very difficult for the Court to trace passages referred to in the address, whether they are contained in documents or were referred to in Counsel's arguments.

That then is the aim of this presentation: not a summing-up, but rather so as to allow the summing-up to be relieved of all these minor points of detail, so afterwards it might be said: "Yes, that was...that is not disputed," whilst here, by this comparison, it will be quite clear that this was the view of the Prosecution, and that was the view of the Defence. It may not actually be possible to submit this at the same time as the closing address. It may take a week to complete. But I think it is very useful, and will be helpful to the Court as well, particularly if the case goes further to another court, because otherwise it will be hopeless to find one's way through this mountain of material.

Presiding Judge: All right, according to our criminal procedure, we have to take this upon ourselves. But as you have put it now, I think this will be acceptable, and I assume that the Attorney General will agree to what Dr. Servatius has just now described as his final written submissions.

Attorney General: Yes.

Presiding Judge: Very well, in that case I gather that after the oral summing-up by Counsel for the Defence, with which the public sessions will terminate, the Court will receive this written addendum within a week or so, and then the Attorney General will have some days to reply in writing, and then Counsel for the Defence will have a short time to reply to the Attorney General's comments, if he will find that necessary.

Dr. Servatius: I thank the Court.

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