Attorney General:

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 88
(Part 5 of 8)


Attorney General: If that is so, why did you mention five million Jews during your interrogation by the police?

Accused: Because I think, as far as I remember, that at the time I gave my men - a few officers - some kind of final briefing. I did not mention Jews only. I lumped everything together. I did not know whether the number of five million enemies of the Reich, of five million Jews, was exact. It was an approximate number, for I believed, and I also said, that five million Germans had fallen. This number of five million, which I repeated three times, was, if I may say so, a rhetorical phrase which in itself was not the heart of the matter, but the heart of the matter was: the Reich has been defeated, but the enemies of the Reich have also paid their toll after having destroyed the Reich in blood and in substance. I believe that in this sense I can more or less explain this matter.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, if you wish to sit down during the translation, you may do so.

Attorney General: No, thank you. I still have not received an answer to the question why you explicitly said in Bureau 06, quoting your own words, that you had mentioned five million Jews.

Accused: I have already said that I referred to everyone who was considered an enemy during the War. I also mentioned five million Germans. Whether that number was right or not was not important to me at that moment. And Dr. Servatius the reason was, as it clearly says here in this same paragraph, that I was engaged in manning the defensive positions around my office. But I did not say that I would gladly jump into my grave because I had killed five million Jews, or had their death on my conscience, or had taken part in their killing.

Q. We shall leave that for the moment. In your own handwriting, in File 17, which has been accepted by the Court, printed page No. 3, you declared in writing that Adolf Hitler had already declared war on the Jews much earlier, years before the Second World War. Are you willing to repeat this here?

A. I do not remember that paragraph by heart, and I can relate only to my own handwriting in File 17, for I have found that the typescript contains many errors.

Q. I shall give you your handwritten statement.

A. Thank you.

Q. Look at page 6: "The then ruling Fuehrer and Chancellor of the Reich, Adolf Hitler, had already declared war on Jewry years before the War and certainly during the War in his public speeches." Is that correct?

A. Excuse me, I cannot find the place on page 6.

Presiding Judge: It is 734.

Accused: Page 6 here is 725. Should that be 735?

Presiding Judge: 734.

Accused: Yes, 734.

Attorney General: Have you found it?

Accused: Yes, I have found it.

Q. Is that correct?

A. I wrote this, yes.

Q. Is it correct?

A. It is also correct, yes.

Q. You may keep it with you, if you wish to rely on your own handwriting only. This paragraph continues: "The enemies of the German Reich naturally also did not do this. On both sides the watchword was 'enemies must be liquidated'." Is that correct?

A. Yes, but of course this paragraph, too, does not refer to the Jews, for the Jews did not take up arms against the Germans.

Q. One moment, we shall find the continuation. Read the continuation, let us hear whether it does or does not refer to the Jews. Read it aloud.

A. A respectable and patriotic...

Q. No, "and Jewry throughout the world ...the circles." Read it, please.

A. One moment, please.

Presiding Judge: It comes immediately after the sentence which has just been read, at the end of page 734.

Accused: "The enemies of the German Reich naturally also did not do this. On both sides the watchword was 'enemies must be liquidated' and Jewry throughout the world had, through its leader,..." It is difficult to read, something has been inserted.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Chaim Weizmann.

Accused: Something is written before that, yes, "declared war on the German people."

Attorney General: "Evidently declared war."

Accused: "Evidently declared war."

Q. The Jew was such an enemy who had to be liquidated, isn't that so?

A. No, that was not said here so sharply - it should also be viewed in the context from which I proceeded. I proceeded from the one-sided treatment of the Germans after the War as "woe to the defeated," and that is shown on page 733 of this manuscript I have here.

Q. You worked in Department IV of the Gestapo which was called "Adversaries - Investigation and Liquidation..."

Presiding Judge: ..."Fight against them."

Accused: Yes, yes.

Attorney General: And the Jews belonged to these enemies who had to be fought.

Accused: Yes, that is obvious from the division of work. But it does not say "liquidated."

Attorney General: It does not say "liquidated"? Look at page 767 of this manuscript.

Presiding Judge: Yes, he did say it.

Attorney General: Yes, I have it. It says here: "The then ruling Fuehrer and Chancellor of the Reich personally ordered the physical liquidation of the Jewish enemy." Is that correct?

Accused: Yes, but it should be understood in the context of what follows.

Q. First of all, is that correct?

A. Yes, I have already said that elsewhere.

Q. The Jew was thus an enemy according to you?

A. I must explain this further, for taken out of its context this sentence gives a false picture for me.

Q. First of all I want an answer "yes" or "no," and then you can give me your explanation.

A. The Jew was at the time regarded and described as an enemy, yes. May I now continue reading this statement and explain why I wrote this sentence here?

Q. It is written here, the Court can read the continuation.

Presiding Judge: Which part do you wish to have read?

Accused: "and thereby I, and consequently also my subordinates in the Gestapo department of the Head Office for Reich Security..." etc. - I don't find the continuation, but this section reads something like "therewith I was released of these matters, for my Department had no part whatsoever in the physical liquidation."

Presiding Judge: I do not see that here; you must find that section.

Accused: It says here that "by this time the era of - say - individual treatment on the basis of the existing regulations had come to an end, and I, as well as the subordinates in my Department, were thereby released from these matters, for now the Fuehrer and Chancellor of the German people had personally ordered the physical liquidation."

Presiding Judge: Yes.

Judge Raveh: Mr. Hausner, the same marginal note also appears on page 796, and much clearer. Perhaps you can let the Accused read this note word by word from the enlarged photocopy. I endeavoured at the time to decipher that, but did not manage to decipher all of it.

Attorney General: Gladly, Your Honour.

Please, go to page 796. You will find there a remark in your handwriting, with the words "Concerning the final solution of the Jewish question."

Judge Raveh: I am not sure that we are referring to the same section.

Accused: It is exactly the continuation of the marginal note on page 707, and...

Judge Raveh: Read what follows, please.

Accused: "and I, as well as the subordinates in my section in the Gestapo office of what was then the Head Office for Reich Security, were therewith relegated to second rank in all matters concerning 'the Final Solution of the Jewish question,' for what was now being prepared was assigned to other units and nailed down by another Head Office under the jurisdiction of the Reichsfuehrer-SS and Chief of the German police."

Attorney General: At the end of the War you knew that you were wanted as a war criminal. Was that the reason that you went into hiding?

Accused: I did not know for sure that I was wanted as a war criminal, but at the time everybody who had served in the Gestapo was arrested, and therefore, in view of the fact that these mass arrests were carried out by the North Americans, I also adopted another name, as hundreds and thousands did at that time.

Q. And nobody told you at that time that you were considered a war criminal?

A. A war criminal - no, nobody used this specific term war criminal as referring to me.

Q. Nobody used that term? I have received my answer.

A. I would like to add to it.

Q. No, I used that term, and that was what I meant.

Presiding Judge: What would you like to add?

Accused: I would like to add that in the jargon of that time everyone who belonged to one of the organizations which, at Eisenhower's orders, were specified on the billboards in every village, was considered a war criminal. In this sense I must say that I was, of course, also a war criminal, for there had been dozens of organizations.

Presiding Judge: Yes, all right.

Attorney General: Your colleagues, too?

Accused: According to Eisenhower's orders, yes.

Q. I read to you part of an article in Life magazine, from the bottom of page 104, the same section from which you have not dissociated yourself. I shall pass it on to the Interpreter.

Presiding Judge: Which page have you read just now?

Attorney General: Page 104, bottom, of the German translation.

"Finally even my loyal Burger asked for a private conversation. 'Herr Obersturmbannfuehrer,' he said, 'you are wanted as a war criminal. The rest of us are not. We have discussed the matter thoroughly. We feel that you would do your comrades a great service if you were to leave us and arrange for another commanding officer'."

Did Burger say that to you?

Accused: First I must say that in my interrogation by the police I expressed my absolute reservation about this article. But with regard to this specific quotation, I must say that Burger indeed said this, as everybody was considered a war criminal. I was the highest-ranking officer, and since the war criminals were graded by rank, it is obvious that a captain was glad when a Lieutenant Colonel left him alone.

Q. So that was your comrades' solidarity with you!

A. It was a time of great pressure for everybody. Some reacted in this manner, others in a different way.

Q. You said here that the order to liquidate the Jews came from Hitler?

A. Yes, my superior in those days, the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, Heydrich, himself told me that.

Q. Are you aware that the Nuremberg Tribunal sentenced Goering, Frank, Kaltenbrunner and others to death because of their role in the liquidation of the Jews?

A. Yes, but they were men who gave orders.

Q. And you think, therefore, that this sentence was just?

A. As they had given orders and were therefore responsible, they had of course to take the consequences.

Q. And therefore you consider this sentence justified?

A. Yes. As I said this morning, those who give orders are responsible, not those receiving orders. The one who gave the orders was free to withdraw from them, in case he wanted to dissociate himself from them, whereas his subordinate - that is to say the recipient of the order - could not do that.

Q. We shall return to the question whether you were a giver of orders, or a recipient of them.

You have always been a strong anti-Semite, isn't that so?

A. I was never an anti-Semite, but I was a nationalist. I have declared this, too, in writing and verbally, that I have never been an anti-Semite.

Q. Do not your words, in your talks with Sassen, in the few pages that have been admitted as evidence by the Court, bear witness of strong anti-Semitism? You stated that if Krumey and Wisliceny indeed helped a few Jews to save themselves, this is the reason that the Hungarian people suffers today under the terror of a Jewish secret police.

A. I can relate only to File 17 which I can check. I must dissociate myself from the others.

Presiding Judge: What have you quoted now?

Attorney General: I quoted page three of document T/1033a.

Presiding Judge: That is from File 17 which was admitted, isn't it?

Attorney General: It refers to the same passages in the transcript.

Presiding Judge: Let us first look at that remark.

Attorney General: Please do so.

Presiding Judge: As I hear, this was admitted to elucidate a comment which you made in File 17. Please, read this comment, Mr. Hausner. Where is it?

Attorney General: On page 3, at the end of the first paragraph, it says: "Then Wisliceny, contrary to what he knew, gave a false report." I am reading from the few pages that have been submitted, with the consent of both parties, as part of File 17. If the Court will allow me, I shall read the following sentence: "In that case Wisliceny and Gromey (this should be Krumey) must in the last instance take upon themselves the blame for the fact that the Magyar people suffers today under the terror of the Jewish secret police." Did you say that to Sassen?

A. It is difficult for me to accept this sentence as being my words, and I have also a reason for that.

Q. I don't want a reason, I want an answer. Did you, or did you not, say this?

A. I said that it is difficult for me to remember that I used such words.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, to which comment in the document does this refer? To comment 5? That is what you have read?

Attorney General: I read what is written in the text.

Presiding Judge: But what does it say in comment 5? Perhaps we should see the context.

Attorney General: I do not have the manuscript here.

Presiding Judge: But it is on page 1 of File 17.

Attorney General: But I think, Your Honour, that it does not belong here.

Presiding Judge: But it is marked here as comment 5.

Attorney General: For the moment I accept the answer, but I shall return to the matter.

Presiding Judge: It would nonetheless be worthwhile to see the connection with File 17.

Attorney General: The problem is that the pages are those of Superintendent Hagag, and we have not yet renumbered the pages.

[To the Accused] Was your terminology in your official correspondence anti-Semitic?

Accused: I am not aware that I used the same sharp, insulting terms which anti-Semites usually employ.


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