The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 102
(Part 3 of 5)

Q. So when Hoeppner wrote to you from Litzmannstadt on 16 July 1941 - T/219 - that it would be a more humane solution to kill the Jews of Litzmannstadt, this was no surprise to you, because at that time you were already in possession of reports that a number of Jewish communities had already been exterminated.

A. At that time I did not yet know that. I have already said that the first time I heard of such measures was when Heydrich sent me to the East. That was not on 16 July, because the war against Russia had not yet been declared - I believe - until the end of July.

Q. No, no.

A. Whatever, but the time when I was ordered to the East was long after 16 July.

Presiding Judge: On what date is he supposed to have received the first reports?

Attorney General: 25 July 1941. I shall check this in order to make sure I am not mistaken.

I am not speaking about what you saw during your visit there. I am speaking about the reports from the Operations Units. I believe that the war against Russia broke out on 21 or 22 June 1941. As has already been stressed, you received the first report on 24 June 1941. And by the date of this particular letter you must, according to our information, have received at least thirteen reports. Those were reports about the extermination of entire Jewish communities.

Accused: But that is something I would really query - whether by then I had already received thirteen reports.

Q. If that is the case, you force me to offer evidence. Let us first of all agree about the distribution of the reports - admit that up to a certain date, the office in Department IV received three copies of the Operations Units reports, one of which was sent to you as well.

A. I cannot indicate more precise details, but I do know that I received such reports.

Q. Look at "Report of Events 1" of 24 July. The office received three copies, office of Department IV.

Presiding Judge: Which number was that, please?

Attorney General: This is new, I have not submitted all of this - I did not believe that this would be necessary.

Accused: From this it is not absolutely clear that IVB4 received this. This is not stated here.

Q. Here, it does in fact only state Department IV - three copies.

A. Exactly, but I was not in fact Department IV.

Q. Right. And no other unit of Department IV is mentioned as the recipient of the reports, except for IVE, not even the Department Chief, right?

A. There is a reference to Group IV...I do not it Group IVB or IVE?


A. Because Section IV...

Q. IVE, that is clear, is it not - those are the Occupied Territories, right? That must definitely...

Presiding Judge: And what is the date of the first report to his Section?

Attorney General: To the best of our knowledge, 24 July 1941. The first report we have where IVB4 appears, or the first time, is dated 24 July 1941. If the Court wishes me to leave out all the others I shall be glad to do so.

Presiding Judge: I think you should do so.

Attorney General: Thank you very much, Your Honour, for this guideline, and I shall observe it, since these are documents which have not been used so far.

Now, this is what we know about the first reports which reached you.

Presiding Judge: That means the first reports where Section - where Section IVB4 appears explicitly in the distribution list.

Attorney General: Yes, I apologize - this is the first report where Section IVB4 appears in the distribution list.

Accused: Yes, that is correct, I must have received this report on 24 July 1941; I do not know whether it was on the 24th or 25th.

Q. The distribution list also changes here. The office now receives one copy, IVB4 one copy, and the Department Chief also receives a copy.

A. Yes, in Department IV there were...

Q. Whereas in the past the practice had been for the office to receive three copies and distribute them in the Department, now the issuing office distributed them directly.

A. I do not know about the organizational aspect. But in any case only thirteen or fourteen of the total of forty one copies were distributed to the various Sections and Groups in Department IV.

Presiding Judge: Are you submitting this?

Attorney General: Yes. If the Court could give instructions to return these two to us afterwards, so that we can have further copies typed.

Presiding Judge: All right. The document of 24 July will be marked T/1429, and the second one, 24 July - T/1430.

Attorney General: So in the second half of July 1941, it was no longer particularly surprising for you to hear that entire Jewish communities had simply been slaughtered.

Accused: If I read this at the time, then I would also have known this. Yes, but this did not yet mean the physical extermination of the Jewish People, as Heydrich told me, but these were the event reports from the East...

Q. Yes, yes. But I simply wanted to know why the letter T/219 should have been such a great surprise. At that time it was, after all, already clear to you that such things were occurring. He was not, after all, suggesting to you that this be done to the entire Jewish People - only to one single town, and he proposes or requests that, given the fact that they can no longer be fed, as there is no more food, it might be perhaps more humane to use other means against the inhabitants of this town. Is that correct?

A. Yes, it is simply a question of whether I did in fact receive this document - whether this was ever before me, that is the question.

Q. Just admit one thing: assuming that you received this letter, this letter could no longer shock you or take you aback, because from the reports which reached you at that time you knew that such things were going on.

A. Assuming that this letter reached me, I must say that it nevertheless would have been unusual, since that was Reich territory - the other area was the front.

Q. So that is the only difference?

A. I just now only answered the question I was asked...

Q. True, true.

A. Without any - let us call it niceties, because I really do not even know whether I received the letter.

Q. I am showing you a passage from the Sassen Document where there are many corrections in your handwriting. For example, look at this passage, marked with red brackets...there are a fair number of corrections in your handwriting there. Page 282.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps in the meanwhile you or someone else could read this out.

Attorney General: We have certain passages typed out for the convenience of the Court. We shall give a copy to the interpreter.

Presiding Judge: But as usual, please read this out.

Attorney General: Do you then agree that there are corrections in your handwriting in this passage?

Accused: I would like first to...

Q. No, no. Do you here see corrections in your should be able to see these in a minute.

A. First of all, I drew a circle here with a reference to slip No. 8. That slip is not there.

Q. Very well, but nothing is stopping you from telling the Court what you wrote or wanted to write as slip No. 8. But I am asking you whether there are handwritten corrections by you here or not.

A. There are so many...I can read one, but this does not indicate anything, because I wrote a slip about this.

Q. On which word did you make this comment? Just read it through, that would be the simplest way, and please tell the Court where you added a comment, and just stand up and read this out.

A. Excuse me, am I to read out the passage marked in red?

Attorney General: Yes.


"Over whom did you have authority?" And then there is the circle with the reference - slip 8 - "I had authority over all my subordinates. These were a Government Counsellor, a Government assessor and my permanent deputy, a Government official, several Senior Police Inspectors, several Police Inspectors, several police clerks, several criminal investigation secretaries and several criminal investigation assistants, several police employees, several SS Sturmfuehrer of the Security Service, for a while an SS Obersturmfuehrer of the Security Service, several SS Untersturmfuehrer and several Unterfuehrer and men of the Security Service, who were acting as police personnel. Thus I gave an outline of my Section, as it worked in Berlin, and to the extent that there were extended arms to this Section, there were the Advisers on Jewish Affairs at the German Legations, with the Commanders of the Security Police and so on. And here there must be a qualification to the power of command, since these people were first and foremost subordinate to the ambassador or the envoy or the commander. If they were unable to follow the orders in matters of substance which they received, these Advisers were free, unlike the other direct subordinates of the ambassador or the commander, free to come to me, to tell me why they could not carry out these orders, because they were somehow contrary to an instruction they had received from the Section. And they would ask for clarification, and only then would they return to their office - that could have happened. So here I did have direct authority."
That should read here: I did not have direct authority - apparently a word has been left out, that can be deduced from the meaning, so that naturally the last sentence has been incorrectly transcribed by the typist.

Attorney General: Please continue.


"When you drew up a circular, with the letterhead: Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, Section No..., signed 'by order' with your name, for all State Police Regional Headquarters, this was an instruction and an was rather an instruction, not an order, not an order, naturally..."
Q. You wrote "not an order" in your own handwriting, after the word "instruction," didn't you?

A. Yes, this was an instruction to the State Police offices.

Q. Is this true? I would like to know whether it is true that you said this.

A. should be understood...between an instruction and an order. An official cannot receive orders; he has to receive instructions. But what an instruction is for an official, an order is for non-officials. I could receive orders, but not instructions. The officials could receive instructions not orders.

Q. Very well. Apart from this comment, is this correct?

A. No, according to the documents, it is factually incorrect all the way through, as can be seen. I do not remember what I wrote on the slip then. But I am sure it was only something incomplete, because at the time I had forgotten everything. Today, I know more about this whole matter and how it proceeded.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, may I draw attention to something else? In the original it says here, "so it was an instruction and an order?" Crossed out, next to it, handwritten: "not an order!!!"

Presiding Judge: In other words, this was something the typist misheard.

Attorney General: No. It said "an order." Eichmann crossed this out, and added in his handwriting, "not an order."

Presiding Judge: Yes. But apparently there was something on the tape there.

Attorney General: Yes, on the tape it said "an order," and he saw that, and crossed it out and wrote "not an order." Very well, let us now take another passage. There are many corrections, are there not?

Accused: Yes, I see a few corrections, not many, a few.

Q. Would you please read out the passage?

A. Yes.

"This is entirely new to me. After a considerable pause had elapsed..."
I do not know what is new to me, I am reading it out, I see no connection with what goes before...
"After a considerable time had lapsed and there were no transports of Jews from Slovakia, Gruppenfuehrer Mueller sent me to Pressburg, after I reported to him that it appeared to me that in Slovakia difficulties would crop up in matters of principle. I went off and then spoke to the Slovak Minister of the Interior, Mach, on the same day on which, in the evening, the Slovak Minister of the Interior informed me that he had just been notified by his representative in Prague that there had been a bomb attack against Heydrich. I visited the German Ambassador in Pressburg on the same day, and put a knife to his breast, and told him according to orders that the Chief of the Security Police wanted efforts to be initiated immediately and without delay to deport the last Jews from Slovakian territory. I also informed the Slovak Minister of the Interior of the same message, in fairly blunt terms and without any diplomatic courtesies (I informed the German Ambassador of that in the talk with him before the meeting with Mach...). This was not in fact the first meeting, as I knew Mach long before he became Minister of the Interior, and that is why I could speak completely differently with him than Ludin could have as the official German Ambassador. So that possibly I arranged things with Mach far more briefly and in a more decisive fashion."
Q. Did you say these words?

A. I am sure that I did not say these words in this form, when I consider how many errors there are just in what has been read out on page 32, despite the correction slip.

Q. Did you correct what needed correcting in these few lines?

A. No, I did not correct these things at all, since I gave up correcting.

Presiding Judge: You did make corrections - but you did not correct matters finally? Is that what you are saying?

Accused: Yes. Not only did I not make final corrections, Your Honour, but after I saw how many correction slips were needed here, I stopped all corrections and gave it up, and then for years I had nothing to do with this.

Presiding Judge: But we are talking about this one passage, not about the complete document.

Attorney General: Would you please count how many corrections or changes you made in writing in this passage - just count them.

Accused: I cannot enter a discussion on matters which are not officially cut and dried...

Q. Please tell us how many corrections are there?

A. Three ridiculous corrections.

Q. Three ridiculous corrections.

Perhaps I could ask you why just when you read this out, you again corrected your own corrections? It says here that you put a knife to his breast, as you expressed it, and said that the RFSS (Reichsfuehrer-SS, i.e. Himmler) was demanding the deportations. Previously it said the Chief of the Security Police, which you crossed out and in your own handwriting wrote RFSS, the Chief of the Security Police being probably dead already or seriously injured. And why now, when reading this out to the Court, did you return again to the Chief of the Security Police??

A. I do not know. I only know that as of now I will no longer give my comments and I shall not answer any more questions, since I consider all of these documents to be untrue and unauthentic and not correct, for the reasons I have explained...

Presiding Judge: You will reply to questions until I, the Presiding Judge, release you from so doing.

Accused: Your Honour, yes, I am also prepared to do so as well. But I have the feeling that I am being grilled here for as long as it takes to roast the steak through, on the basis of something which is as full of shortcomings as can be demonstrated here with precision.


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