The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 95
(Part 2 of 5)

Presiding Judge: Yes.

Accused: Here I have written the following addition to the matter just referred to. "If the Permanent Deputy of the Section head signs (or initials, stamps and authenticates, which is the same thing) a document, the Section Head (or Chief of Department) is not responsible for this document, but naturally the Permanent Deputy" - Permanent Deputy as an official title and in capitals - "who has signed. The Permanent Deputy can thus, like the Section Head, handle documents on his own, or not on his own. Generally this occurs when the Section Head is away on official business, sick, on holiday, temporarily transferred or detached, or is not in the office and the matter is an urgent one. Obviously, in these cases it is his duty to act exactly as I have described under (1.) to (4.) with reference to the Section Head" - i.e., what I had to do, my consultations and these matters. "The Section Head has no responsibility whatsoever for such cases as these, which have been dealt with and signed by the Permanent Deputy. The Permanent Deputy is appointed by the Department Chief."

Attorney General: I have no objections to this; I am asking whether, with this restriction, you maintain what you said in your police interrogation on page 1299 about Guenther's activities?

A. Yes. I would still add a further restriction: As far as it was not a special assignment, since I made that statement, that was at least sixteen years after the event, and I had no way at that time of reminding myself of these matters on the basis of any documents. Assumptions, opinions and beliefs - these constituted the basis for my Statement when I was interrogated here. In part it is correct, in fact the major part; in part I was mistaken, without any intention on my part and...

Q. You do not have here to give an overall assessment of your Statement. I am asking you about one passage: Do you still persist in that today or not?

A. Yes, with these restrictions about the special assignment, which I have just read out - yes.

Q. All right. And you agree that if you signed a letter, even if it was prepared by one of your staff, you were responsible for its contents.

A. Well, of course, if I signed the letter, then I had the authorization of my superior, and if he cannot be called to account today, then it is I who am here.

Q. That is not my question. I am asking whether the responsibility was yours. "Yes" or "no"?

A. I cannot be held responsible, insofar as I do not see why I should be punished, as it were, for having had to sign in accordance with orders.

Q. I am not asking about punishment, I am asking about responsibility for your words, as you said, for example, on page 610 of your interrogation: "I signed it, naturally I had to rely on the official-in-charge, that is why I am also responsible, that is clear - why he writes that..."

A. With the restrictions, yes, that is also clear.

Q. When you were working in IVB4, did you know that Mueller imposed special assignments on sub-department heads or Section Heads?

A. It was generally known that Mueller gave special assignments to all sorts of people.

Q. Did Guenther ever tell you anything about one of these special assignments which he received from Mueller?

A. No, Guenther really did not say anything to me about this. It is true that there was a whole series of orders for travel. Naturally he did tell me that he had movement orders to this and that place, but Guenther did not always tell me the reason, nor was he obliged to do so. But when I was in Berlin and Guenther went away somewhere, I had to know about it, since he had to prepare himself.

Q. We are not talking about journeys on official business, we are speaking about special assignments.

A. Generally, I did not know if he had a special assignment.

Q. You did not know?

A. Generally speaking. There were major special assignments which took many weeks, and obviously that would be known.

Q. For example, the matter of gas deliveries to the extermination camps. When you discussed that with Guenther, did he at that time tell you that this was a special assignment with which Mueller had charged him?

A. I never discussed that with Guenther. I never had discussions with him about his having to deliver gas anywhere.

Q. Very well, I shall remind you of that, you said it in your police interrogation.

A. I seem to remember saying to Captain Less that I knew of some gas business, but I did not know if I read that in Buenos Aires in "Poliakoff," or if I heard about it at the time - it is all totally confused in my mind, just as many matters are mixed up in my mind; that is what I said in the Statement.

Q. Very well, we shall see. On page 933 it says: "There was considerable ill-feeling between Guenther and myself, as he at some point - I do not know when, but in any case it was a time when I was not in Berlin, I think - when he got involved in some gas business or other."

So, is that correct?

A. Yes, that is correct - that is correct.

Q. So that was not in Buenos Aires, but in Berlin?

A. Yes, this fact is also true. I told Captain Less about this matter, I believe, in conjunction with the fact which totally amazed me that it was alleged that Theresienstadt was to be annihilated by gas. I believe that it was under this heading that I made this comment to Captain Less. I remember this matter, and it is correct.

Q. Yes.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, he says here that this was at a time when he was not in Berlin.

Attorney General: When he returned to Berlin, he talked to Guenther about this, that is clear from page 934. I would like to ask him what he remembers.

[To Accused] So tell the Court what you remember.

Accused: I really cannot say anything other than what I told Captain Less at the time. I do not have any new impressions about this matter - at most, as a result of the great deal of material I have had to absorb since, it is even more blurred. But I would like to stress that this is correct, and that I did know that there was some sort of gas business.

Q. What did you know?

A. What, I do not know either.

Q. Today, you no longer know what you knew then?

A. Today, I do not know what I knew then; today, I am also influenced by the Gerstein Report. Today, obviously I have thought about the matter.

Q. What does it mean when it says, "Guenther got involved in some gas business or other"? What sort of gas business?

A. I do not know, because if he had said what it was, I would have had no reason not to say so in my Statement, as in any case I said that I am not able to - nor do I need to - shoulder any responsibility for special assignments which various members of my Section had.

Q. However, what did you mean when you said these words "gas business" (Gasgeschichten) to Captain Less?

A. Well, about this far as this gas business is concerned I could...I could obviously not mean anything other than the matter of cyanic acid gas, that is quite obvious; I myself know about this, of course, as I was sent to the Eastern Occupied Territories by Mueller and saw it, didn't I?

Q. And did you talk to Guenther about this gas business?

A. Of course, I would have talked to him when I heard it rumoured in some way that something was going on, since today I still maintain that Section IVB4 was not at all competent for such matters...and nothing like that ever happened, either. If Guenther received any special assignment, that went on behind my back, I have no knowledge and no idea about that.

Q. Did Guenther tell you that it happened under a special assignment?

A. I do not know - I can hardly imagine so - I cannot say precisely. But I would also like to refer to, and would ask the Court to look at, the testimony by Huppenkothen, who was Group Leader in Department IV, and I think for a while he was also Mueller's deputy. He confirms this fact - that Mueller gave out these special assignments without the knowledge of the Section Head. I do not know what his attitude to this matter is in his last statement which he gave a few weeks ago, as I have not yet read it.

Q. Tell me, what point was there in this special assignment being given to Guenther in your Section, and not, for example, Rauff in the technical section?

A. These are problems which I do not know about and do not understand.

Q. Not at all?

A. No, I was not involved in, or concerned with, any such case in any way whatsoever, not even marginally.

Q. When you saw the gassings in Chelmno, did you know at the time that Rauff was providing the motor vehicles for them?

A. I certainly had no knowledge of that at the time, I only learned of that very late, when...

Q. When, when?

A. Very late, since this office - Rauff's - was in fact housed in some distant corner of some official building, but not in the offices at Kurfuerstenstrasse 116, some official building or other...

Q. No, no, when did you find out that Rauff had received the assignment?

A. When I heard about the trucks, that was very late, that might have been in 1943.

Q. Not before that?

A. I myself never had any idea about it, this matter was kept so secret. I did not have the faintest idea who was doing it.

Q. And you did not concern yourself with it either?

A. No, I did not concern myself with it either. By way of proof for what I am claiming here, I should also like to say that if I had had even my little finger in the matter, I would without a shadow of a doubt definitely have been referred to somewhere in the numerous series of documents here, which deal with this matter.

Q. Which, in fact, did happen. Let us return once again to the question of Guenther and gassings. You say that Guenther did that when you were away from your office, in Hungary?

A. I do not remember that, being away from the office in Hungary. It depends on the wording of the question I was asked. I have not read it through again, in spite of my testimony, so I am in some doubt. Perhaps I could hear the question? Then I will be able to reply.

Q. Very well. I will therefore ask you again. This matter of Guenther's intervention in this gas business became known to you, according to what you yourself said, in connection with this plan to annihilate Theresienstadt by gas? That is how you put it.

A. No, I said that I was confused about this and that I did not know if I knew of this from Buenos Aires, or from that time. This matter is confused in my mind, about this gas business. That is what I said.

Q. Well, let us nevertheless try to sort this out in your mind. I want you to tell me: When you learned about this and spoke to Guenther, what was his reaction?

A. I do not even remember talking about this with Guenther, not sufficiently clearly to be able to describe it. I just said that I could imagine that if I had heard that from him, I would at the time have told him that Mueller had not authorized that. I do not know anything about it. I definitely believe that I would have made a statement along these lines, as this corresponds to my natural reaction to such a matter.

Q. But I am not asking you what you made a statement about, but what the facts were. Did you talk to Guenther?

A. But you see, the whole matter is so blurred for me that I am unable to give any concrete information. I have tried to work the matter out, but I am unable to distinguish between what I heard myself, what I know myself, and what I have read.

Q. But look, this is a serious matter after all, and you said that you did not deal with it. But you did know that there were gassings, and I assume that if you found out that someone from your Section was dealing with that without authorization, that this would somehow have entered your memory, and would have remained there.

A. Again, I can only say that I have said what I perceive, what I believe, and I can only say for sure that I had nothing to do with this. Otherwise I would know more concretely about this matter - but nobody would have told me anything concrete, because like everything, such assignments were all run as secret Reich matters.

Q. But it is precisely because of that, precisely because it was such a confidential and serious matter, that it is totally impossible that you do not remember hearing that one of the members of your Section was dealing with such a matter.

A. I have testified on this matter, insofar as I believed I perceived it. If I had even the slightest personal bad conscience about this matter, I would, after all, have kept quiet and said nothing at all.

Presiding Judge: We are not now talking about your conscience. You are being asked to make an effort to remember - whether you can remember further details of your conversation with Guenther about the gas matter, as this is, and also was, such an important matter.

Accused: I am unable to remember details, but I do know one thing - that Guenther had personal and private relations with members of the Waffen-SS, but I do not know which group or where these members of the Waffen-SS were from, or where they were employed. He had these relations outside the office. He was someone who did not have a sociable disposition - he did not smoke or drink or go to any place of entertainment. And so it was conspicuous, his having meetings with members of the Waffen-SS outside office hours. This struck me when I read the Gerstein Report. And then I said to myself, "Now just a moment, that is possible." That was my reaction. And, today, I tend to confuse so much of that period with the great deal I have read in the meanwhile, that I myself no longer have a clear picture of things. But it is not just in these matters that this happens, this also happens to me in many other matters...

Presiding Judge: All right, that will do.

Judge Halevi: When did you read the Gerstein Report?

Accused: I first heard about the Gerstein Report when I was in Buenos Aires.

Q. And when did you first hear the name Gerstein?

A. I first heard it in Buenos Aires. For me this report was something completely new, and it was only here in Israel that I read the report.

Q. And what did you know in Buenos Aires about the Gerstein Report?

A. The only thing I knew there...I was told roughly of the contents in a couple of sentences. I did not read these matters myself in Buenos Aires, it was none of my business.

Q. But in Buenos Aires you already knew that, according to the Gerstein Report, Guenther was involved in this affair?

A. That was, after all, the reason why I was asked about the Gerstein business in the first place.

Q. In other words, that means that in Buenos Aires you already knew of the Guenther-Gerstein transaction for supplying gas?

A. Yes, I did find out about that there, that is correct.

Judge Halevi: Thank you very much.

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