The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 95
(Part 4 of 5)

Q. No, I asked you whether, from his point of view, Rudolf Hoess could be familiar with the facts, and you replied to this by "yes." And you agree with me that when Rudolf Hoess wrote his book Commandant of Auschwitz and admitted to all these appalling crimes which he had committed, he did not intend to shift the guilt onto someone else.

A. When I read what Hoess wrote here, I was totally convinced that he intended to shift all the guilt from the Economic-Administrative Head Office onto the Head Office for Reich Security. That is shown by the entire statement.

Q. I do not believe that you had any reason to be convinced of this, and that everyone who reads his book comes to the conclusion that he confessed completely to what he did in Auschwitz. Did Hoess have any personal reason to shift the guilt on to you?

A. I really cannot explain any of this, and I have taken the trouble to collect most of Hoess' inaccuracies and contradictions.

Q. Was Hoess on good terms with you?

A. Yes, on normal terms.

Q. Anyhow, on better terms than with Mueller?

A. It is not possible to say that, as I spent a great deal of time - I would tend to say all my time - with Mueller, while I only met Hoess sporadically.

Q. You have not understood my question. I asked whether Hoess was on good terms - on better terms with you or with Mueller?

A. This can best be replied to as follows: Mueller was too highly-placed a superior, and the distance was therefore naturally greater than with someone like Hoess, for example, who had roughly the same rank as I - so our relationship was totally different - I would say it was a more free and easy one than that with Mueller.

Judge Halevi: Mueller was not at all Hoess' superior.

Accused: No - I meant the difference between Mueller and myself on the one hand, and Hoess and myself on the other hand.

Q. But you were asked to compare Hoess' relationship with the two of you.

A. I wanted to show this most clearly in this fashion, because I thought that the Attorney General wanted to know whether my relationship with Hoess was a closer one than with Mueller.

Q. No - whether Hoess' relationship with you was better or worse than Hoess' relationship with Mueller.

A. I never saw the two of them together...

Attorney General: You will agree with me, that Hoess did not have the slightest reason for reducing Mueller's guilt and shifting it on to you?

Accused: No, I cannot have any doubts about that - there is no reason for that.

Q. And so, when Hoess writes the following about Mueller in Appendix Four to his book - this is T/45...

Presiding Judge: Is this before the Accused in German?

Attorney General: No, I have this in English, I am translating from the English: "... I knew Eichmann and Guenther, who had much more to do with him than I had" - and the reference here is to Mueller, since the entire chapter is about Mueller - "that he controlled the actions against the Jews in their more important respects, even though he gave Eichmann a fairly free hand in the matter."

A. Mueller did not leave me a free hand, and above all, more important, I did not presume to act with a free hand; rather, I asked for instructions from him, as I said right away, and in that respect this statement by Hoess is not correct. How could Hoess...

Q. Although he had no reason to lie?

A. Although he had no reason to lie, no.

Q. And you will agree with me that all these people who made statements in Nuremberg and described you as the central pillar of the exterminations, would have been able to do this more easily if they had only looked for a scapegoat, if they had blamed this on Mueller.

A. I have a very plausible explanation for this.

Q. So, let us hear it.

A. In making their statements at Nuremberg, these people had to sound trustworthy as well; they knew so many details and facts about me, as I was in direct contact with these people, sometimes on a friendly basis. That of itself immediately made their testimony more credible, since it is a remarkable fact that normally the Accused tries to clear himself in some way or other, and this was put to his credit. In the case of Mueller, they could not refer to such matters of detail, because there was such a distance between them and Mueller, that they were incapable of giving personal details about him. That is the only possible explanation.

And as far as freedom to decide is concerned, I must here make a distinction between times when I dealt with executive work and times when I did not deal with executive work. As I have already said, there I did, as far as I could, run things very freely, I thought about things and made proposals, but when it was a question of executive matters, I no longer had a free hand, nor did I lay claim to it.

Q. And when Hoess talks about you in Appendix Three, he put you before Mueller and thus gave you the place of honour.

Judge Halevi: Is this book also available in German?

Attorney General: It is, Your Honour, but not with the appendices. We submitted the appendices separately.

"Eichmann was completely obsessed with his mission and also convinced that this extermination action was necessary in order to preserve the German people in the future from the destructive intentions of the Jews. This was the way in which he regarded his task, and he employed all his energy in fulfilling the plans for extermination which the Reichsfuehrer-SS had made."
Is this also not true, something which is said by someone who was close to you, who must have known you?

Accused: This could be countered by all my...

Q. Is it true, or is it not true?

A. No, no, it is not true, not in this form.

Q. Did you say the following in 1957 in Argentina? - "Hoess was my dear colleague and friend."

A. I would have had no right to use this term, since during my entire life I did not see Hoess more than at most, I would say, seven times, about seven or eight times, so one could hardly use such a precise, well-rounded term.

Q. In Argentina did you say: "Hoess was punctiliousness and accuracy personified"?

A. I do not know, but that would be true.

Q. And this man, who was punctiliousness and accuracy personified, also said the following about you:

"Eichmann was also a determined opponent of the idea of selecting from the transports Jews who were fit for work. He regarded it as a constant danger to his scheme for a `final solution,' because of the possibility of mass escapes or some other event occurring which would enable the Jews to survive. In his view, action should be taken against every Jew who could be got hold of, and such actions ought to be pursued to their conclusion as quickly as possible, since it was impossible to anticipate the final result of the War. Already in 1943 he had doubts about a complete German victory and believed that the end would be inconclusive..."
Is that true?

A. That is just as untrue as Wisliceny's statement along similar lines.

Q. So that is yet another lie.

A. Yes, that is an absolute untruth.

Q. Do you remember Hoess telling you about Himmler's visit to Auschwitz? That the work of extermination was a battle which the future generations would not have to endure? And Hoess said that he was encouraged by this remark of Himmler's.

A. That this remark encouraged Hoess? I do remember, and I also said so in my Statement here, because this is a sentence I never forgot.

Q. And in Argentina you said the following about this sentence by Hoess:

"But just as Hoess thought, so we also thought. And if Hoess told me of this sentence which the Reichsfuehrer pronounced, which I can repeat today just as accurately, it is because this sentence by the Reichsfuehrer gave me just as much on an official level as it probably gave Hoess in his sector, because, after all, we were his followers. Under the Reichsfuehrer we had freely undertaken, by means of an oath of loyalty and an oath of office, to submit to and obey the orders of our superiors."
Did you say that?

A. I cannot swear to the actual wording. However, I would like to say here that what was meant for Hoess' sector, that is to say, outright extermination, to some extent this sentence from the Reichsfuehrer could apply to my sector in a changed sense, since I, after all, was ordered to draw up the timetables and everything connected with that. From that point of view, this is true, but I cannot comment on the wording, since I must reject the actual wording in these statements, as I am unable to check it.

Q. The motto of the SS was "My honour is called loyalty" (Meine Ehre heisst Treue). Is that correct?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. And Hoess remained loyal to you?

A. It was not up to Hoess to remain or to be loyal to me. Nor was he in any way obliged to such loyalty. It does not apply - this loyalty does not apply to one another; this loyalty applies to the oath, to one's superior, to the leadership in general. That is how, today, I would still understand this term, "My honour is called loyalty."

To avoid any misunderstanding, I should just like to supplement that by saying what I mean by this expression "that is how I would still understand this today." What I mean is that I still perceive this today, as far as I remember things - I do not wish to give the impression of still being a National Socialist today.

Q. When did you cease being a National Socialist? That is my question.

A. I am sorry, I did not understand - I did not...

Q. When did you cease being a National Socialist?

A. I gradually ceased being a National Socialist after the collapse. But that did not happen in a flash, overnight ...for me it took time for this change to come about. There was even a time when I relapsed, and that is how I gradually worked out a new view of life, which became rooted in my inner life and which gave me satisfaction.

Q. And that is why you signed "Obersturmbannfuehrer ret." in Argentina?

A. I have already said that I cannot remember who asked for it. Somebody asked me for this photo...

Q. Did you sign it, "yes" or "no"?

A. Whether I signed it, or wrote on the back, I do not know, but it is my handwriting.

Q. I see.

A. Nor do I know...

Presiding Judge: Silence in Court! I will not allow the proceedings to be conducted in this way. Please proceed, Mr. Attorney General.

Attorney General: Did Mueller once say to you, "If we had fifty Eichmanns, we would have won the War," and were you proud of that?

Accused: Yes, apparently he did say that once.

Q. And you were proud of that?

A. Yes. But it is also necessary to know the reason why he said that.

Presiding Judge: If this happens once more, I assure the public that I shall have the hall cleared. I keep issuing warnings; if these do not have an effect, I shall have to adopt this drastic measure.

Attorney General: And did you once say to Mueller that really 500,000 Germans should be executed in connection with the plot of 20 July 1944, and that that should clean up the Augean stables?

A. No, that is not correct in connection with 20 July; I said that much earlier, and the figure was not 500,000 - I gave some approximate figure, approximately 100,000. I said: "Before we have the right to sit in judgment on others, our duty as Germans should be to bring about order and integrity at home first of all."

Q. And to stand how many up against the wall?

A. I have already said - 100,000.

Q. To stand them up against the wall?

A. It is quite possible that that was a colloquial phrase, an expression which resulted from the anger at there being treachery, and all those scoundrels in one's own ranks. And then, on the other hand, people solve the Jewish Question in such a fashion. That can also be seen clearly from my statement, because I said: "First it is necessary to bring about order in one's own shop, and only then is one entitled to judge and talk about others."

So, to that extent this is correct, and I said this in my Statement, too, but that has nothing to do with 20 July; as far as I can remember, this outburst on my part was around the time when Bock held his victory parade in the Champs Elysees.

Q. And how did Mueller react to your proposal to stand this or that number of Germans up against the wall?

A. As far as I remember, several Section Heads were present at the time; I was accused of defeatism and acknowledged this defeatism - a defeatism which, outside the Security Police, gave rise to severe penalties. My point of view was - and is also today - that if one holds a police function, one cannot go around with one's head in the clouds, but one must try and identify one's own errors and one's own failings and defects and try to remedy them, before one has the right to condemn others. Today, this is also still my attitude. At that time I expressed this, in opposition to the generally prevailing attitude.

Judge Halevi: Which traitors were you angry about at the time?

Accused: I had learned about them through the records which, throughout the day, over weeks and weeks, had been placed on my desk, in which I read about spying and treachery, against those at the front, and against everyone, about oath-breaking and other matters, and this - we were at the beginning of the War - this all obviously shook me very deeply, and I said to myself: Well, if that is how we are, we have no right to judge others.

Attorney General: Do you remember, when you were in Argentina, reading a book called The Last Days of the Reich Chancellery?

A. Yes, something like that may have been its title.

Q. Approximately when did you read the book?

A. I can no longer say when...

Q. Approximately.

A. Perhaps around 1955 - perhaps a little earlier - I have no idea.

Q. The book was written by Gerhard Boldt, if I am not mistaken.

A. I cannot remember the author today - but it is quite possible.

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