The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 93
(Part 5 of 5)

[To the Accused] When you gave instructions for people to be sent in the direction of Cholm, where were they headed? To the death camps. Say it out clearly. You say that you do not intend to evade things, so - without evading things, say it.

Accused: To Cholm. In Cholm there was also - I have said as much in my Statement, how I was sent there by my Department Chief, and saw how the Jews were gassed, and reported on it.

Q. No, you spoke about Kulmhof, Chelmno.

A. But that is the same place.

Q. No, it is not the same.

Presiding Judge: Kulmhof is Chelmno. There is a place called Kulmhof.

Attorney General: But not Cholm.

Presiding Judge: So what is the Polish name for Kulmhof?

Attorney General: Chelmno.

Presiding Judge: So it is. But that is not Cholm. Cholm is some other place.

Attorney General: Quite. Cholm is not Kulmhof or Chelmno.

Presiding Judge: As a matter of geography Kulm and Kulmhof are two places close to each other.

Attorney General: I believe so.

Judge Halevi: That is not what I have gathered. Cholm is not in the Warthegau.

Attorney General: No, it is in the Generalgouvernement.

Judge Halevi: But is the Accused aware of that?

I have a question to the Accused. Do you know that Cholm is in the Generalgouvernement, so that here is not Kulm, or Kulmhof, which is in the Warthegau.

Accused: Yes, I can see it says Generalgouvernement.

I am sorry, I assumed that it was Kolm, Kulm, Kulmhof. But I am not trying to retract or evade things, as the Attorney General put it, because in my Statement I did indicate that I was there. It is simply that when I read Kolm, I naturally thought that this was Kulm in the Warthegau. But now I see that it is not Kulm in the Warthegau, but I must again state here that I am not familiar with any Cholm in the Generalgouvernement.

Judge Halevi: But you signed this. This is your telegram, is it not?

Accused: Yes, yes, that is correct, everything. But today I have no idea of there being any Cholm in the Generalgouvernement. I was never in Kolm, or it must have some other name in Polish - I do not know.

Presiding Judge: Precisely. What is the name in Polish?

Attorney General: Chelm.

But you received many reports, many reports about transports of Jews to Cholm. Two of these have been submitted - T/447 (17 and 18), and another two which I now wish to submit through you, document Nos. 62 and 63. And they all report on transports in the direction of Cholm. Where did they all go?

Accused: As is indicated, they went to Cholm, I am not disputing this.

Q. And then where did they proceed to? They went to be exterminated, did they not?

A. I was not in Cholm, but this is quite possible, and I will not deny this and will allow the possibility that it might possibly have been an extermination camp. But I just do not know. I was never sent to Cholm.

Presiding Judge: Your number 62 will be T/1420, and your number 63 will be T/1421.

Attorney General: May I show the Court the map which I have brought? As you can see, Cholm is in the same area as Sobibor, Lublin and Majdanek, and perhaps we really should ask the Accused about this.

[To the Accused] Look at this map that is the map of the Generalgouvernement. There is Chelm can you see, near Lublin?

Accused: Yes.

Q. Is that Cholm?

A. Having now read this in the telegram, it has to be Cholm. I would have admitted to this just as I admitted to the other places as well. I did not deliberately...I did not know...I thought it was Kulmhof.

Presiding Judge: Are you submitting the map?

Attorney General: Yes. It may help the Court.

Presiding Judge: I mark the map T/1422.

Attorney General: And sometimes the organizer of the deportation notified you which transport was going to Auschwitz and which to Cholm, and asked you to inform the relevant departments, as in T/447 (15), document No. 250.

Accused: Yes, in accordance with orders, transport matters came within the sphere of Section IVB4. I have stated that as well.

Q. And that would be after you issued authorization? As it says in the document here, "die dortige Genehmigung"? (the authorization from there).

A. In order to keep the timetables, IVB4 had to issue the authorization. That was also dealt with in Section IVB4.

Q. When Jews who were not capable of working were sent, they were taken directly to the extermination camps, were they not?

A. I had nothing to do with extermination camps, and I refuse to make a statement about things with which I had nothing to do. However, I can state what I saw when I was dispatched by my chief, in accordance with orders to report on what I found.

Q. You determined the destination of Minsk and Riga for the deportees of the Reich, didn't you?

A. No, I did not determine them, they were determined at the time by Heydrich. They were the first two destinations indicated to me, when for the first and last time I was free to choose between the Generalgouvernement and Litzmannstadt, to choose for reasons of the timetable.

Q. But the reports were sent to you?

A. The reports, the notification had to be made by Section IVB4.

Q. And you knew what horrible fate awaited these people dispatched to Minsk and Riga? Execution by the Operations Units.

Accused: No, at that time I did not know that, I read about it here in the summary report from the occupied Russian territories, where it says that the Higher SS and Polish Leader in the area himself issued the order to kill these Jews.

Q. When were you in Minsk?

A. In Minsk - that was the winter of 1941, and also 1942.

Q. Which month?

A. I cannot say which month, I know that I wore a thick leather coat, that is my sole recollection, and I would conclude from this that it must have been in the cold season of the year.

Q. As of June 1941 your Section, that is to say, you, received the reports about the murders by the Operations Units?

A. First of all, I did not receive them regularly, and secondly not immediately.

Q. Did you receive them from June 1941 or not?

A. No, I did not receive them as of June 1941.

Q. As of when did you receive them?

A. The documents show...

Q. As of when did you receive them, according to your memory - forget the documents.

A. According to my memory around autumn, this can be checked properly by means of the documents.

Q. No, according to your memory, not according to the documents.

A. It may have been - let us say, around September 1941.

Q. September 1941 - very good. When you received the report in T/302, was that in December 1941? This marking, for every four Jews perpendicular lines, and for the fifth - a diagonal line. Did you know that this related to the murders by the Operation Groups?

Accused: I have never denied that I knew that the Operation Groups received the order to kill, but I did not know that Jews from the Reich were subjected to the same measures. That I did not know.

Q. Did the Fuehrer's order apply to Jews of a certain type only, or did it apply to all Jews?

A. It applied to all Jews, of course, but...

Q. To all Jews, including the Jews of the Reich?

A. Basically yes, but at that time, because we were so unaccustomed to the matter, we assumed that the Jews from the Reich would not be treated in that way. That was also contradicted by the orders that these Jews were to be provided with all sorts of equipment.

Q. That was in order to deceive them. They were told that they were going to some settlement project, just as the Operation Groups reported sarcastically to you that they had totally mistaken ideas, totally wrong ideas about what awaited them.

A. I did not order any methods of deception to be used. I would also like to point out that had I known that these transports were to be shot in Riga and Minsk, even then I would not have seen any possibility of holding up these transports on my own initiative. I had no way of doing this. What I am trying to say is that I am really not trying to evade anything or withdraw anything, or cowardly retract anything today, which cannot be retracted at all, since I did have my orders. Whether they were to be killed or not, they had to be carried out, they were dealt with by administrative procedure, I only had to deal with a tiny part of them, the other tiny parts which had to be handled before a transport like this could be sent off, were dealt with by all sorts of other sections.

Q. The order was an order of the Fuehrer's, was it not? And all the others were the persons who implemented it?

A. Yes, that is how it began.

Q. And so Kaltenbrunner, for example, in this sense received orders, and so did Heydrich.

A. No, these high-ranking generals - they had what was called a power of veto, they could, for example, have pointed out to Himmler that for this or that reason it was perhaps not feasible, but I as a Section Head had no such power of veto.

Q. I am not asking about you, I am asking about the Chiefs of the Head Office for Reich Security. Could they not carry out the Fuehrer's order?

A. Oh yes, they even had to carry it out, but in the case of these high-ranking military and administrative personnel there were always other possibilities. For example, I would refer to the behaviour of the Governor General, the Governor in Cracow, and all along the line, even a Gauleiter...

Q. But I am asking you about these two - let us not turn to anything else. Were Heydrich and Kaltenbrunner obliged to carry out the Fuehrer's order?

A. If Himmler gave them the order, yes.

Q. And you considered that the sentence passed by the International Military Tribunal on Kaltenbrunner was justified? Although according to what you have just said he was only a recipient of orders?

A. No, he gave orders, as a commanding general, a commanding general gives orders, he does not receive them.

Q. I am not asking about Kaltenbrunner's position generally, I am asking about his position with regard to the extermination of Jews. Did he receive orders or not?

A. No, he gave orders.

Q. You really cannot contradict yourself within the space of five minutes.

Presiding Judge: Is it not correct that he both received and also gave orders?

Accused: Your Honour, I do not think that possible, since both of these men in the first place held the rank of commanding general, they had been members of the Reichstag, they had totally different powers and possibilities of being involved in playing first violin here, both in the political sphere and also in the executive sphere. It is my opinion, and I think you must agree with me, that such people cannot very well be called recipients of orders.

Presiding Judge: I must tell you that I am surprised at this - National Socialist Germany was after all, organized according to the "Fuehrer principle," was it not?

Accused: Yes, that is true.

Q. Which means that everyone below Hitler was a recipient of orders?

A. But it seems to me that these highly placed military and administrative personnel also had their own special powers.

Q. You mean that within these orders, they had greater personal discretion.

A. Greater power to issue directions, if I might put it that way.

Q. Excuse me for intervening in such well-known matters. Please proceed.

Attorney General: Yes, but the Accused wants to deny them.

[To the Accused] But you will agree with me that as far as the extermination of the Jews was concerned - not in other respects - both Heydrich and also Kaltenbrunner were recipients of orders? To carry out the Fuehrer's instructions?

Accused: I am unable to judge this from my position; looked at from my position, both were not only my supreme judicial authority, but also my supreme chiefs. And for me, they were the givers of orders, whom I was duty bound to obey. I cannot say anything other than this.

Q. I realize that you did not receive the order directly from Hitler, I realize that you received it through the chain of command. But once it had been pronounced by the Fueher, it was binding upon everyone through the chain of command, was it not?

A. It was binding on those who issued the orders, quite obviously. And the recipients of orders had to wait in turn until the orders reached them, if I can put it that way.

Q. And the order reached Heydrich, and he passed it on to his successor, Kaltenbrunner. Is that correct? And they were duty bound to implement it?

A. I assume that they both received the order then from Himmler.

Q. Very well, so they were recipients of orders. They did not invent the idea?

A. I have never heard of commanding generals being called recipients of orders. This is the first time here, that I have heard of this.

Q. You never heard of Hitler having given orders to the high-ranking commanders of the Reich? Did they not receive orders from him? Did von Brauchitsch and Manstein not receive orders from Hitler? Were they not recipients of orders?

A. But I also heard that some of these high-ranking generals were also downgraded to civilian status if they exercised their veto on an order from Hitler; and that was the right enjoyed by these commanders. I could not say the same of the more lowly persons.

Q. And nothing happened to them, they were not put on trial? They were not shot on the spot?

A. These generals and field-marshals doubtless dealt with their business with Hitler in private talks with him. I was not present - I only heard things, and I know that for example - I believe I am right in saying it was Halder - I believe I am right in saying that Manstein - were returned to civilian service, because as field-marshals they were said somehow to have disagreed with some operation which apparently had been ordered.

Presiding Judge: [To Attorney General] Will you leave it at that, as far as this chapter is concerned?

Attorney General: Yes, I am prepared to leave it at that. Thank you very much.

Presiding Judge: The Court will adjourn until 3.30 p.m. today.

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