The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 96
(Part 1 of 4)

Session No. 96

29 Tammuz 5721 (13 July 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the ninety-sixth Session of the trial open. The Accused will continue with his testimony in cross-examination. I remind the Accused that he is still testifying under oath.

Accused: Yes, I am aware of the fact.

Attorney General: We heard this morning that you got the transcripts back from Sassen three times, is that correct?

Accused: No - not that I got them back three times, that is not correct - that I received three small packets, and when I had seen what was in these, I rejected it. I did not receive one item two or even three times.

Presiding Judge: This is clear enough - he is saying that he received three packages, one after the other.

Judge Halevi: And each packet contained a number of transcripts.

Attorney General: When you saw that these transcripts were not accurate, did you note anywhere - at even one single point in your own writing - that it was not correct?

Accused: I cannot remember precisely, but I will definitely have made comments to that effect. Above all - and this is the decisive point - I gave up making corrections because there was no sense and no point whatsoever in continuing to correct the text.

Q. I assume that you found that matters were not accurate already when you received the first packet?

A. I found this on practically every page, not just in the first packet. I was horrified as to how this whole matter had been reproduced, but that could not upset me any more, as once I saw how inaccurate things were, I insisted on a contract, and that was signed.

Presiding Judge: We have already heard that.

Attorney General: Yes, we have already heard about that. You could not be upset any more. But why did you not immediately stop the recordings, if you noticed right from the beginning, as you are saying, that things were inaccurate?

Accused: Because basically I was happy to be able for once to talk about the whole complex matter, and to some extent dispose of it. That was really my main motive, but I could not foresee where it would lead to.

Q. And I am telling you that in the corrections which have been identified as being made by you, in your handwriting, from page 18 to page 667, that is to say, all the way through the pages of the transcriptions of the tapes, there are notes which contain your corrections.

A. That is quite possible, but that does not mean that I acknowledge that. On the contrary, I know that I wrote and described long corrections as inserts, and even these inserts were not sufficient to correct the rubbish written there.

Q. You never accused Sassen of falsifying your words, did you?

A. There was no point in levelling any accusations; instead, I agreed with him that the whole thing had to be redone, and it was postponed and postponed...

Q. Did you accuse him of falsifying your statement?

A. I did not use the word "falsify."

Q. You did not do so?

A. I said, "It is wrong in substance."

Q. But you did not accuse Sassen of typing anything else but what you had said.

A. I noticed this for the first time ever here, namely when I received the first tape, or whatever it was, into my hands and immediately found three pages which were not at all my own words. Not at all.

Q. But when these packets were in your hands, to be examined, as I understand it, did you not at that time notice that these words were not your words?

A. I did not see them at all there, and what I did see, I examined, and as far as...I wanted to correct it, and I saw that there was no point in correcting it. It was pointless. That is also the meaning of the many numbers which I have written in...the many numbers stand for corrections by inserts, and these inserts, as I have just said, were not sufficient to correct the whole thing.

Q. Your Statement in Bureau 06 also contains corrections on almost every page. But that does not mean that, before the corrections, what was typed was not what you had said, but that you were given the opportunity to correct that, and presumably you also had this opportunity with Sassen?

A. I did not have this opportunity with Sassen. I have already said here, about these transcripts, in my Statement, that although experts transcribed from the tape, despite this there were repeatedly passages which would have totally distorted things if they had not been discovered, and it was sometimes very difficult to extract the correct meaning from the machine. There existed the danger all the more, that just for this reason an incorrect record would be produced in these notes of the Sassen Documents, if the personnel who produced this transcript was not trained in the manner that was the case here in Israel.

Q. But you admit that Sassen did not falsify anything?

A. Falsified or added, I do not know what the right term is. In any case, in part these are not my words.

I would like to add something further by way of explanation. When I had tape 17 before me yesterday, there was a sentence where the word nicht (not) had not come out in the photocopy. Let us now suppose that the word mehr (more), which was already not particularly clear, was also deleted; I would then have to confess that it would be very difficult for me to say what the sentence is supposed to mean, because if these two little words nicht and mehr are omitted, this sentence means precisely the opposite of what I wrote.

Q. But if it were unmehr (from now on), it would be perfectly clear, would it not? If instead of icht you put nun...

A. That never meant...

Q. That never meant, because you say so.

A. No - I think that in any case it can be checked very easily, because this nicht has not entirely disappeared; some parts of letters can still be made out at the top, so that the word nicht can easily be reconstructed.

Q. The word could be nun.

A. No - apart from that, I can solemnly state on oath that this should be nicht, and the whole meaning of the passage proves that it can only be nicht.

Q. The judges will be able to weigh this up.

But you definitely knew in which tape you were in your talks with Sassen? For example, in tape 41 I see you say: "Now that we have already covered forty-one tapes," etc.

A. If that was given by Sassen - this figure - then I knew it; otherwise I certainly did not concern myself with how many tapes there were.

Q. "I can now state by way of evidence that in forty-one tapes I have described all the normal things," etc., etc. That is by way of example of what came from your own mouth.

A. That is perfectly possible, because over such a long period, if I found out what the number was, I used it. I have said as much already.

Q. I understand that at that time you probably did not suspect Sassen of falsifying your words - otherwise you would not have signed the contract with him, for him to edit your account of things.

A. The contract was signed in order to protect me from any falsification et cetera, and the conditions I made in this contract also protected me by excluding any falsification or description of falsities and untruths.

Q. No, that was not my question. My question is: Did you suspect Sassen of putting other words into your mouth than those which you said, since if you had suspected him of doing so, presumably you would not have embarked on this transaction with him.

A. With the bad German which Sassen speaks, that is perfectly possible, but in any case I must...I must repeat that I must disassociate myself from these things. Sassen is not a German; Sassen does not speak pure German or clear German; Sassen speaks the German of a foreigner.

Q. Very well; so I assume that you wanted to be on your guard against any mistakes by Sassen, because of his unpolished language, but I assume that all the same you were not on your guard against any falsification by Sassen. After all, one does not make a deal about publishing a book with someome whom one suspects of falsifying things.

A. The person who could vouch for what I did say was not Sassen but someone else - this other person vanished after the third or fourth or fifth conversation or evening, and was never present again after that.

Q. Who was the other man?

A. That was a certain Mr. Fritsch, who at the time was a publisher by profession.

Q. But also in Fritsch's absence you continued for many months with your talks with Sassen, didn't you?

A. After all, nothing could happen to me...

Q. "Yes" or "no," is that correct or not?

A. Yes.

Q. All right, that will do. This morning you said here what your attitude is today to the extermination of six million Jews in Europe. Was that also your attitude when you dictated your conversations in 1957?

A. That is my fundamental attitude not only since 1945, but as I also stated and said, in part since before 1945.

Q. I asked you if that was your opinion in 1957 - you will please reply to that.

A. I can only answer this question if I can say...if I can point out that I also said this morning that, in the years in which I was working out a new conception of the world, I also had relapses, relapses which were the temporary results of external causes, and if I am given alcohol and put in the right conditions, then normally a person does not know what he is saying. Because that is how things were and all sorts of other things. That is why I must in principle dissociate myself from these matters.

Q. You are not answering my question; I am asking whether that was your attitude in 1957.

A. No, that was not my attitude in 1957.

Q. That is what I want to know.

A. May I add something further to this?

Presiding Judge: Yes.

Accused: If this question could be disposed of in one single word, that would be the equivalent of lip-service. But if someone, as I was, has all these years been in these infernal events, thrust into them, bound by his oath, bearing the burden of conflicts of conscience and other conflicts, if one wants to try and select...if one wants to find some path along which one can move, if one is looking for some internal strength, this is very difficult for a human being, unless he is a philosopher by nature - and I am not a philosopher - to be able here to find for himself some road which will be permanent and lasting. And that all takes time, that is not the sort of thing which happens overnight - otherwise, in my opinion, that is just empty lip- service.

Attorney General: In 1957 you still expressed your regret about the fact that Jews had managed to survive in Hungary. Is that correct?

A. In 1957? In any case, my handwritten notes say no such thing.

Q. This has already been accepted by the Court... I have already read it out to you, that it was the fault of Wisliceny and Krumey that the Magyar people were exposed to the terror of a Jewish secret police. That is what you said in 1957. Is that correct?

A. I cannot remember the words, but I do know that in 1957, I...there was the revolt in Hungary, I have to think connection with the revolt I did say something, but not that, not that.

Q. In 1957 you also said the following - pay attention: "No, I have no regrets at all, and I am not eating humble pie at all. In the four months during which you have recorded the whole matter, during which you have endeavoured to refresh my memory, a great deal has been would be too easy, and I could perfectly reasonably, for the sake of current opinion, play a role as if a Saul had turned into a Paul. But I must tell you that I cannot do that, because I am not prepared to, because my innermost being refuses to say that we did something wrong. No - I must tell you quite honestly that if, of the 10.3 million Jews shown by Korherr, as we now know, we had killed 10.3 million, then I would be satisfied and I would say all right, we have destroyed an enemy."

Is that what you said?

A. No, I did not say that, I did not say that at all. That has been patched together from a mixture of fact and fiction. But there is one thing I did say: Regrets do not do any good, regretting things is pointless, regrets are for little children. What is more important is to try and find ways and means of making such events impossible in the future. That was the general tone of the conversation.

Presiding Judge: Do you have this page? Mark it, that will make things easier.

Attorney General: [Marks the relevant passages in the transcript.]

Accused: I can also say here, I am not familiar with the passage, nor do I know where it is, but I presume there is not even any attempt at corrections anywhere near it.

Q. If this is supposed to be a mixture of truth and fiction, then look at the passage here and tell me what is truth and what is fiction? I have marked the passage for you here with red Xs.

A. I do not need to analyze anything here at all. I must characterize the entire passage in this form as not having been uttered.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps you could just, for once, give a straightforward reply without any "because."

Accused: This part about regrets, for example. That might have been said, but not in this form. But because it is my point of view that regrets do not change things...nobody can be brought back to life by regrets. And that is what I also expressed in this form.

But what I said after that is not in here. And I definitely also did not say that I was refusing to say that we had done something wrong, because it was my point of view that we had in fact done things wrongly. That is also proven by my actions at the time.

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