The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 97
(Part 2 of 6)

Q. Did you wish to meet Lospinoso there?

A. I only know about the orders I was given; it was a matter of ascertaining on the spot from the Commanders...

Q. That is not a reply to my question. I am asking whether you tried to meet Lospinoso or not, yes or no?

A. No, I did not have dealings with Lospinoso.

Q. And you also did not endeavour or attempt to meet him?

A. I did not have to meet him. The documents show that Mueller wanted to talk to him, and that I became involved, and evidently I conveyed something to the Foreign Ministry about that. I did not gather anything else from this, but Mueller's journey to Rome was linked positively with this.

Q. I am showing you T/482 and T/483. After looking at these documents, do you not wish to revise your answer?

A. I do not need to revise my position on these documents, Mr. Attorney General; rather, in order to be able to understand this document, which has been taken out of context, I would refer to a series of some twenty documents which have to be arranged chronologically, and then all the facts can be seen clearly, and it can be seen that I personally had nothing to do with these matters, but Mueller handled this business with the Foreign Ministry and Knochen in Paris. And if it is desirable, I shall gladly give the Prosecution numbers of these twenty documents, and when the documents are studied, the facts can all be seen to be very clear and very simple.

Q. You were an Obersturmbannfuehrer, were you not?

A. Yes, Mr. Attorney General.

Q. That is a rank which is equivalent to that of Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) in the army, is that correct?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. And in the civil service to that of a Senior State Counsellor, is that correct?

A. Yes, that is also correct.

Q. And as such you had no powers of command?

A. I had the power to give instructions, that is to say a Section Head's powers of implementation, that is correct, and I have said as much as well. But in principle I did not make use of these powers of implementation, as...and I would have to repeat myself as to why... I have already said this several times, and I was so consistent in this attitude that I became known for this outside my Section.

Q. So it became known that you sought to cover yourself in the case of all unpleasant matters. Now, we already know that and we do not wish to come back to that. Is that correct? What I now wish to know is: How many times a week did you go to Mueller?

A. At least twice; some weeks I was in contact with Mueller every day, either on the telephone or he would summon me. In the course of duty, I came with my files twice a week for consultations.

Q. How long did each of these official meetings with Mueller last?

A. Normally they took an hour, an hour and a half at most.

Q. And at these meetings - twice a week you said - current matters which had accumulated were discussed. Is that correct?

A. Yes. The bulk of the files which I had in my 'consultations file' for consultation were put before him. He was asked for instructions, and then they were either decided on immediately, or he took them with him and then discussed the business with his superior. That is how it was.

Q. And as you said, he would give you general instructions or directives, and you then acted on the basis of these instructions or directives with reference to matters which had accumulated with you during the week. Is that correct?

A. Yes. In addition he even dictated everything to me relating to the minutes I had to draw up, or communications which the Section had to send to other central offices.

Q. How many letters a week did you sign on an average? I realize that you cannot give me any precise figures, but on an average how many letters did you sign per week?

A. I would estimate that on a weekly basis the Section is difficult to matter takes a long time, another is dealt with quickly...but I could imagine, if I am to give a round figure, perhaps 150 matters, 200 matters, I do not know, it could have been...

Q. With your signature, right?

A. No, not with my signature, altogether. And that would include matters concerning internal communications. Because what is seen here in the documents are in fact clean copies, and these clean or fair copies are the result of the bureaucratic work of the Section, with minutes and reports, and so on. That is...with this figure, this number I am trying to give some rough idea of the extent of the Section's total weekly correspondence.

Of course, to avoid any misunderstanding, let me point out that naturally these two - the estimated two hundred matters - were not all submitted to Mueller and discussed with him. That is quite clear. At every consultation during the week, no more than 25-30 matters at most were discussed with Mueller, that is to say around 50-60 matters a week. But there was no need for that either, because once a decision of principle had been handed down, that became a precedent, and other cases in the future had to be interpreted according to that. That is how this is to be understood.

Q. Yes, I understand. And the Section then would no longer approach Mueller, but instead, based on the general directives, the requisite answer would be drawn up to be sent to the office which had applied to the Section. Is that right?

A. If it was the same matter which the Chief had determined and ordered. And if later, within a certain time, assuming the arrangement had not been cancelled, there was a query on a similar or the same matter, at any rate not with regard to a matter involving different facts, then the same decision had to be given in the reply, because I was not allowed to come to the Chief twice with the same matter.

Naturally, in practice that was unavoidable, as there were always distinguishing facts which kept occurring in this connection.

Q. Are you telling us that Mueller actually dictated letters to you like to a typist - a shorthand-typist - is that what you are saying?

A. No, that is not what I am trying to say - none of the principals ever did that; they dictated the general outline.

Q. For example, when it was a matter of Jews in Holland who had managed to acquire foreign nationality, and now wanted to emigrate. What was the general instruction which Mueller gave you about this?

A. The important things here are firstly the date, and secondly the office from which the enquiry...

Q. June 1943.

A. June 1943: At that point, there was a general ban on emigration by an order from Himmler, and this ban stated that the emigration was to be notified to the Darmstadt Emigration Office if there was a direct Reich interest...

Q. All right, so that was something which could not be taken back to Mueller? Could a reply be given independently?

A. No, no - if it was an application, as the records also show in fact, let us say that an offer of 150,000 Swiss francs or 100,000 Swiss francs was made here, then it was my superiors who would have allowed this - or even would not. I myself could certainly not decide that. But if it was a general query, for example, as to whether at that time emigration could be authorized, then I did not have to consult my Chief; rather, the Section could give a negative decision on its own responsibility, without prior consultation, in such matters, simply by reference to Himmler's order to this effect. Such a decision had to be given, because that is what the regulations provided.

Q. I am not referring to this matter - I am referring, for example, to Zoepf's question as to what is to be done with those Jews who are trying to obtain foreign nationality and to emigrate. I assume that in this matter you did not have to refer to Mueller or hold consultations, but that you could yourself answer Zoepf directly. Is that correct or not?

A. If an analogous instance had occurred previously, and been decided on, then naturally I would no longer have needed to apply to the Department Chief in this matter.

Q. For example, as in this exhibit T/550, document No. 600, I assume that you could reply to that without consulting Mueller. Is that correct?

A. But I am absolutely convinced here that first of all there was no analogous, let alone identical, case before this, and secondly that this matter - before an answer was issued - must have been agreed on with the Foreign Ministry. That can readily be seen from the considerable time-lag, as here I replied on 26 June 1943, to a report dated 27 April 1943. So this shows me that in the meantime the matter was being processed and could not be decided on just like that by the Section.

Q. Perhaps that was not so urgent for you? Perhaps that was not such a pressing matter?

A. It did not depend on me whether a matter was handled quickly or slowly, as the matters would automatically be sent through the subdivisions, to those who dealt with them.

Q. Very well, then, I want to get some idea how things proceeded. Let us assume that you took the matter to Mueller, you came to Mueller after making your enquiries with the Foreign Ministry. Zoepf is asking what should be done: There are Jews in Holland, they are trying to get foreign nationality in order to emigrate. What happens with Mueller in such a case?

Please leave the document alone. I am asking about the normal course of official procedure. You went to Mueller; what did Mueller say?

A. I am not at all sure with regard to emigration at this time as to whether Mueller decided this case himself. The reason why I would venture to say this is because I know how hesitant and cautious Mueller was about taking decisions in individual cases. Here, he would very rarely take a decision himself, and at once. So this matter would not have just been held up in the Section as a result of processing with the Foreign Ministry etc; certainly it was also held up by Mueller until he had discussed the matter with the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service. Naturally I cannot remember this particular instance, I would like to state that right away, but I can refer back to similar cases.

Q. You were all cautious and you were all hesitant - so who took the decisions? Was Hitler the only one in the whole Reich?

A. I cannot say more than what I have explained. The course followed by a file was complex, and obviously it became even more complicated if someone like myself had to have a precedent decided on every matter. I would stress once more that it was not every single matter, but I made sure that I was provided with precedents. And I would also like to add - the business of the children in France just occurs to me. If I myself had decided about a telegram that had been on my desk a couple of hours, it would not have taken ten days. These are indications that these matters were not decided by me just offhand. That was far from me.

Q. Or because you were away on an official journey? We have, after all, heard that you were often away on official trips. Perhaps that was what happened here?

A. Then the files did not stay without being dealt with because of that; they would be dealt with by the deputy. That is why a Permanent Deputy was appointed for each Section.

Q. So let us assume, for example, that this question about nationality in Holland went from you to Mueller, from Mueller to Heydrich, from Heydrich to Himmler, from Himmler to Goering and to Hitler, and I do not know where else. So what finally happened? You received instructions, directions, or guidelines from someone, that is what you are saying, is it not?

A. First of all the procedure did not go as far as that, the Chief of the Security Police...

Q. But it was three months, was it not?

A. I do not wish to comment on that; this matter would at the most have gone through...

Q. Ribbentrop also dealt with this matter; everybody came in on this, but in the end you, little Eichmann, received instructions from someone. But here we can only see one thing: Zoepf's approach to you and your answer to Zoepf. So you did receive instructions from someone, did you not, you poor, little Eichmann, to sign and send this off to Zoepf? From whom did you receive this order? From Himmler, Hitler, Heydrich, Mueller - from whom?

A. This matter did not go to Ribbentrop nor to Himmler nor to Goering; this business - I would venture to say - at the very most went to the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service. I then received instructions and orders from my superior, Mueller. This business was decided on at the Foreign Ministry by someone no higher than von Thadden or his superior, the Under-Secretary of State.

Q. And that took three months? You are not trying to tell me that you were so inefficient in the Third Reich?

A. I cannot tell you any more, Mr. Attorney General, than I can read here - the difference in dates, the differences in time. I cannot say anything more about this.

Q. So in the end Mueller calls you, explains the matter to you and says what? In general terms.

A. He tells me what the decision is, he gives me the instruction I have requested.

Q. For example, in this instance, "out of the question," right?

A. The answer could be short or long, depending on how much time he had, how many files there were, or the importance or the manner of disposal, the scope, if I can put it that way.

Q. Take this matter, for example, the matter which is now before you: What might Mueller's answer be here, for example? Did you say "no" to Zoepf?

A. I do not know - that was in 1943 - it happened eighteen years ago, who can expect a reply from me today as to what my superior said to me about this at the time and what I was to reply? I would have to dream something up, some pretext, take some street number - anything - and that would not help anybody.

Q. Are you telling us that he literally dictated such a reply to you, as if to a lowly female clerk. Or did he tell you of the decision, as is done in a military setting, and you took care of the rest? What are you, an Obersturmbannfuehrer or a shorthand-typist?

A. I have already spoken about this in detail - already said how things were - it was given as an outline; and I also said that Mueller's decisions and directions were treated as precedents, and the order given in general terms made it possible to decide on all similar instances according to these instructions as well, so that he would just have to say "rejected" or something similar or "approved"...No, the official-in-charge also had to be informed of the reason, so that from among the many entries he could find where a relevant decision had already been taken, and that was the reason for the consultations with Mueller, because otherwise it would just have been necessary to submit things in writing to Chief of Department IV, but one had to attend consultations in person. Moreover, I was not in any way the only one and the exception, every Section Head had this right. Naturally there were Section Heads who were not so precise and not so bureaucratically afraid, and then there were Section Heads who were possibly even more cautious and more reluctant than I was. For example, the Sabotage Section Head - I still remember him - he took up even more of his Chief's time than I did.

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