The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 104
(Part 5 of 5)

Q. It is you who are the Accused here, and not others. You carried it out. When the Slovak Government wanted to send representatives to visit the Jews who had been deported to the East, you were the person who foiled this, weren't you?

Accused: I was not the person who foiled this. I reported on how I was to behave, and then proceeded according to the instructions, the orders, received.

Q. And you suggested referring the Slovak Government to Fiala's articles and the deportees' postcards, didn't you?

A. Yes, exactly as I was ordered.

Q. And you signed the letter to the effect that the Slovak Government's fears and concerns about the fate of the deportees were unfounded, and that there was no reason for concern. Is that not true?

A. Yes, that was the required use of words (Sprachregelung), and I had to apply it.

Q. And you suggested to the Slovak Government that it would say what had been stated about the fate of the Jews was only atrocity stories and nothing more.

A. Yes, that was ordered, too.

Q. And when the Red Cross had to be shown a Jewish camp, you took the representatives to Theresienstadt? Right?

A. Yes. I had explained that Himmler had in fact transformed Theresienstadt for this reason.

Q. So the camouflage system and the camouflage staff worked in all directions, both vis-a-vis the foreign governments, vis-a-vis the Jews, and also vis-a-vis the Foreign Ministry, did they?

A. Yes, with one qualification. Not always vis-a-vis Jews; where the Jewish functionaries were concerned, with whom I constantly had dealings, I could, of course, not implement the orders as I had received them and just pass them on. In this setting, the matter was discussed somewhat more frankly, because the Jewish functionaries would not, in fact, have accepted what I was ordered to say.

I must correct what I have just said: not Jewish functionaries in plural, but in the singular, as it was just one to whom I said this.

Q. Yesterday, you confirmed basically what was recorded about the discussions in March 1944. At this meeting you promised the Jews that nothing would happen to them, that these were only temporary wartime measures, that after the War they would return to their homes, even though you knew perfectly well at that time that the Jews would be deported to Auschwitz for extermination. Is that correct?

A. At that time I did not know that they were being transported to Auschwitz, I have already said that. But I did know that they were being deported, and about this explanation I had...

Q. But you told them exactly the opposite! You told them that nothing would happen to them, that they would not be sent away from Hungary. Is that right?

A. Yes, those were my orders.

Q. And you are the man who maintains that a lie has never passed his lips.

A. I could not take the decision here on my own, I was subject to the pressure of the orders issued by my superiors.

Q. All right. You will admit that this is the description which you gave of yourself to Sassen:

"And so the Jews basically are right, in accordance with the facts, a Jesuit was put there, who was indefatigable, who was always full of fire, wherever there was even a hint of resistance."
And now the other passage we have already referred to:
"I was not a normal recipient of orders, because that would have made me an idiot; I thought about things as well, I was an idealist."
Just look at this and admit that this is a very accurate description of yourself.

A. Excuse me, I cannot find this on the page I have been given. Ah, here it is, further down.

Q. The last line before that.

A. I accept that I was an idealist, but I cannot accept that what else appears here is literally true, because I do not know whether this is right or not. But as for my having been an idealist, having obeyed orders and complied with orders, I have explained this here also. I must acknowledge this.

Q. You have told the Court here how you wanted to be given the opportunity to write a book in which you would speak plainly and would describe what was done to the Jews as one of the greatest crimes ever committed in the history of mankind. Correct?

A. Yes, I have declared that.

Q. Do you admit that the book which you wanted to publish with Sassen in Argentina in 1957, or the book which you wrote on the same topic while Heydrich was still alive, would not exactly have expressed these ideas?

A. No, they would not have expressed these ideas, for the same reasons...

Q. Thank you, that will suffice. These books would have expressed the idea that the anti-Jewish measures were necessary in order to protect the German people and German blood. Is that correct?

A. No, they were...if I had had my way, it would have been a clear-cut, blunt, objective statement, without commentary of my own.

Q. Admit that these books would have been an expression of the following attitude:

"We would have fulfilled our duty for our blood, our people, and for the freedom of the nations, if we had exterminated the most cunning spirit of mankind living today."
A. May I read that, please?

Q. You can look at it. "Unsere Aufgabe" - just these lines.

A. Yes. Whether these words are mine, I do not know. I would request to hear the tape-recording. I do not believe that I would have said this with...with this degree of bluntness...that this came from me with this bluntness. I consider this unthinkable. The reason why I consider it to be unthinkable is that...if the last few days I have obtained a small cross-section of these books...if you read these books, the impression is entirely different from just taking one sentence from them - from the whole - I do not have any idea who wrote that sentence.

Q. I am asking you whether this was the meaning and the spirit of things, even if these are perhaps not the accurate and exact words.

A. No, meaning and spirit are also oversharp here. One really should know how these things came about - then things could be understood better.

Q. Do you want me to submit all the volumes to the Court? Just make the request - I shall be happy to do so!

A. No, I myself have not even read them through, these volumes, but I will say that I did not acknowledge these things - I cannot acknowledge them, because I do not have any possibility of checking whether this is right. I am the last person who would evade something which he had said or wrote. I believe that I have demonstrated this sufficiently - to this Court as well. But I cannot after all admit to something which was written years ago, and I do not here even have proof that this corresponded to what I uttered and thought. My thoughts, my wishes and my intentions corresponded to a dispassionate, clear-cut statement - but that was clearly not desirable in book form, because it would have been couched in lacklustre German officialese and would not have been read.

Q. You were also asked by Sassen whether the "Night and Fog" order applied to Jews as well - do you remember that?

A. I cannot remember - but I can remember the "Night and Fog Decree" now from what I have read in particular; it did not apply to Jews.

Q. And so you said to Sassen as well, did you not - listen carefully - on page 210: "In any case it had nothing to do with Jews. We rode roughshod (wir fuhren Schlitten) over those fellows in full daylight."

Accused: The same applies here as I have said before - it is a fact...that is right, but whether I said it, I do not know.

Q. Thank you very much.

I have concluded my examination. Now, if it please the Court, I should like permission to submit for visual examination those passages from what is called the Sassen Document where the Accused did not deny having said something along those lines or things in that sense, but perhaps not exactly in those words - so that the Court can satisfy itself that all these passages are there, and that there are next to them handwritten corrections showing they have been checked, that they were verified, and thus adopted by the Accused. Now if the majority of the Court hesitated about admitting these passages before the Accused took the witness stand, that this might perhaps force the Accused to testify or bring witnesses to refute these passages, in the meanwhile he himself has chosen to give evidence, and he has confirmed as accurate most of the material.

Presiding Judge: I should like to understand your request properly. It is possible that there are passages where there are no corrections at all, and as to which the Accused said that it is more or less correct. Were you, Mr. Attorney General, referring to those passages where there are corrections?

Attorney General: Yes. I am talking for the moment about those passages where there are corrections - either in them or next to them, in other words, so that this shows that this is definitely a passage which was checked and identified by the Accused. The Accused did, in fact, refer to these corrections in his evidence and confirmed that in these passages and around them there are corrections in his handwriting. But this general confirmation is not equivalent to a detailed check, how precise was the Accused's verification of what he was shown, and this the Court will only be able to see if it examines what the Accused has done with these passages.

It would, therefore, appear to me that, in order to assess the authenticity of the material, and in order to be sure that this comes from the Accused, it is important for the Court to see with its own eyes this handwritten material and the Accused's indications of corrections. This will not add a great deal now, as in any case the passages are already part of the record. Since the Court has already heard the material, it therefore does not make any difference. But as regards the Court's being able to check the Accused's verification of the material at the time and before he had any reason to tone it down or belittle it, there is major importance in the Court's seeing with its own eyes what the Accused did with these passages.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, so that things are quite clear, I can imagine a request to submit these passages for one of two reasons - there might be more, but in any case one or the other. What you are asking is to submit them in evidence for the Prosecution at this stage, that is how it appears to me. A second possibility would be to submit them, in order to understand the Accused's testimony. When the Accused says, "This is more or less correct, this is not literally correct," a visual examination may be important, as you have said, in order to see what is the essence here. And the corrections, too, can be important in this context. I gather that your request falls into the first category.

Attorney General: The second one, too, with respect.

Presiding Judge: But the first is more far-reaching.

Attorney General: If I might word this differently, I should like to do so. My main request is the former; my alternative request is the latter.

Presiding Judge: Because, as far as the first request is concerned, as for myself I would see a major formal obstacle at this stage. We are now hearing the case for the Defence. It is certainly a very unusual step for new evidence to be submitted now by the Prosecution, without any connection to the Accused's testimony.

Attorney General: Certainly. If the Accused had not testified, if he had not said what he said about these passages, I could not have made this application at all. This application is possible, because the Accused did not deny the essence of these passages but said, "Correct, something like this, the spirit was roughly like this, the corrections are mine." And that is why it is important that the Court should see what has been done here to these passages. Now the Court has heard the testimony, but when it comes to the corrections made, in order to be able to evaluate and assess whether the Accused made some corrections, some slight scribblings, it makes a difference whether he corrected a comma, or whether he corrected and added words and lines.

Presiding Judge: And are you saying that you can do this at this stage, too, as if you were submitting any other document?

Attorney General: I believe so, Your Honour. At first I could not do so, the Court deprived me of the possibility of submitting the handwritten material. Now I cannot repeat the same request as such, as the Court has already ruled once on my request. But now I have shown the material to the Accused. He has not denied that these passages contain (a) his words, (b) his corrections. Now I am asking the Court to see to what extent he directed his attention to correcting what was read out to him from the transcript.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, what is your reply to this application?

Dr. Servatius: This evidence is not admissible. If it is to be introduced belatedly as a document, this application is out of time. If part is to be submitted now, single sheets, then it is taken out of the whole context, not only as far as the content is concerned, but also as far as the corrections are concerned. The Accused has stressed repeatedly, "there are large sections which I have in part not seen at all, and these parts also do not come from me." In that case, one should have all the seventeen tapes and then check how far the correcting went, which detailed corrections he drew up as slips. Because if one wishes to get an impression as to what is the nature of these corrections, it is precisely these correction slips which one should read very carefully. One can in fact see that in the last volume, which he wrote himself, there are no such exaggerations as appear here in the text.

If the Prosecutor says that the Accused had not denied that this is his - he definitely did deny it, only he did it in a somewhat more polite and cautious fashion and said, "I cannot commit myself. Maybe yes, maybe no"; and we have already heard that he was under the influence of alcohol, he was provoked into saying things. This cannot now be introduced in this way here, thus circumventing what should really have been done, i.e., bringing the witness Sassen here. That would have been the best proof, the golden rule, which the Prosecution should have applied. Why this did not happen, I do not understand. I assume that there are reasons for it. I would therefore request that the application be rejected.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Attorney General, again for the sake of clarification: I believe it has already been made clear at an earlier stage of the argument on the Sassen Document that the corrections have all been submitted.

Attorney General: All of them.

Presiding Judge: And these are approximately one quarter or third of all the corrections, according to the figures.

Attorney General: That is so, more or less.

Presiding Judge: What the Accused calls "Korrekturfahnen" (correction slips)?

Attorney General: What the Accused calls "Korrekturfahnen", what we have, has been submitted. There were around two hundred, some of them long comments, some of them far shorter than the handwritten corrections.

Judge Halevi: But it is not known at all if these comments were written at all. Apart from the indication of the figures, this is the only indication that such a thing exists, or that he wanted to write something like this.

Attorney General: That we do not know. Everything we have, we have submitted to the Court and supplied to the Defence. We do not have any more.

Presiding Judge: Very well. I think it will be expedient to adjourn now until 3.30 this afternoon, and then we shall try to give a decision on this application, and then the re- examination will commence.

The Court will adjourn until 3.30.

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