The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 105
(Part 1 of 4)

Session No. 105

7 Av 5721 (20 July 1961)

Presiding Judge: I open the one hundred and fifth Session of the trial.

Decision No. 95

We admit those passages from the transcripts [of the Sassen Document] which contain corrections in the Accused's handwriting, the submission of which was requested by the Attorney General, as material for evaluating the Accused's testimony with reference to these passages.

Attorney General: For practical purposes I would ask the Court to allow me to extract the relevant passages from the original transcript and submit each of them separately. I assume that we will be able to do this by tomorrow morning.

Presiding Judge: Very well. I hope that there will not be any disagreement, but perhaps it will make things easier if you show them to Dr. Servatius first.

Attorney General: Yes, of course. Dr. Servatius does actually have all the transcripts at his disposal. We are limiting ourselves to those passages which we read out, which we showed to the Accused, and on which we asked for his comments; but I have no objection whatsoever to showing the material to Dr. Servatius in advance.

Presiding Judge: Very well. You will submit these passages tomorrow morning.

The Accused will now continue with his testimony, this time in re-examination, in reply to questions by his Counsel. I remind the Accused that he is still testifying under oath.

Accused: Yes, Your Honour, I am aware of that fact.

Dr. Servatius: Witness, you have said about a series of documents shown to you in cross-examination, that these are forgeries. Did you mean to say that these documents have been fraudulently produced or forged, or that the contents were erroneous and incorrect?

Accused: I do not believe that I said "the documents have been forged." That I really do not remember. However, there are some documents here which, it is true, refer to matters long past and which apparently come from Nuremberg, and with those I am not at all familiar.

Q. Witness, the Prosecution is basing itself largely on the so-called Sassen Memoirs. I have a few more questions on the factual content and authenticity of these memoirs. How did you meet Sassen?

A. I met Sassen, without being aware of it, when Skorzeny visited Buenos Aires. I became aware of him when his partner enquired whether I would be ready to write something down from my recollections. That was around 1956-1957...I do not remember precisely when it was. And the other occasion was some time before that.

Q. Did you become friendly with Sassen?

A. Yes, over the years, one could say so.

Q. You said that he originated the proposal made to you, that you publish a book based on your recollections?

A. In fact it was not Sassen who did this, but his partner. But it was all mixed up, and the two spoke together, so that I really do not know anything definite about this. I would rather say that his partner was the first one to take the initiative.

Q. I am going to read out to you a translation from the French magazine L'Express of 1 December 1960, where Sassen indicates how you met, and I would ask you to comment on this. For reasons of expediency, I shall read out the relevant passages and would ask you then to indicate whether this coincides with your description.

In the magazine it says:

"Four years before the Israeli Secret Service discovered Eichmann and kidnapped him from Argentina, Sassen had already completed his questioning. He had even made Life a first offer, which had been rejected. Sassen himself is a man with an incriminating past. Half-Dutch, half-German, he served in the Waffen-SS. In the middle of the War he returned to Amsterdam, to run a Nazi newspaper. After the defeat, when he was being hunted by the Dutch as a collaborator, he fled to Ireland and then went on to Argentina in 1947. Since then he has worked as an independent journalist, writing for a large number of newspapers and magazines, including Life. He has never changed his name, which also appeared in the Buenos Aires telephone directory. In Buenos Aires he naturally found many Nazi friends. He is now 43 years old. However, he appears to have lost none of the blind opportunism demonstrated by his past."
Sub-heading: "The Man with the Twitch"
"According to his own description, one day in 1955 Sassen was waiting for a friend in a pub in Buenos Aires. He noticed a man near him who wore glasses and had a twitch in the left corner of his mouth. Since I am very interested in the theatre and faces, he says, I started observing this man. But he did not like this. He looked around to check whether I was looking at anyone else. Then in a chaffing voice he said in German, 'What is it about me which interests you so much?' And that is how we started to talk. The man with the twitch introduced himself as Ricardo Krumey, an ex-colleague of Adolf Eichmann's. When he heard that Sassen was a journalist, he told me that he could tell him a sensational story which was of great historical interest. It concerned the number of Jews killed in the Second World War. Being intrigued, Sassen invited the man to his home and started asking him questions on a tape recorder."

"'...I had no idea whatsoever that it was Eichmann,' asserted Sassen; 'he had told me that Eichmann had died near Linz.' But one day the man with the twitch forgot himself - during an interview, he suddenly flared up: ' could I - I, Eichmann - give orders for...' Sassen stopped the tape recorder and said, `I do not believe you need to tell me much more'."

Heading: "Two Comrades in Arms"
"'After Eichmann had revealed his true identity,' writes Sassen, 'I threw myself body and soul into this matter and tried to find out whether it was his conscience which had driven him to speak out, or whether he had done it for other reasons. I considered it to be my professional duty to find out as much as possible about the dreadful and bloody story of the slaughter of the Jews during the War. I thought that the light of Eichmann's detailed memories should be shed on this dark and bloody chapter of modern history. The Germans and the Jews alike - mankind as a whole is entitled to this clarification'."

"This is undoubtedly Sassen's version - but there are good reasons to assume that he knew right from the outset whom he was talking to. After all, Eichmann and he are both Nazis - old SS members and refugees, and it is obvious that a certain degree of trust developed between the two men, in the light of their common past."

Would you indicate to the Court whether this description by Sassen is correct?

A. All I can say about this is that what I said previously is correct.

Presiding Judge: So what is your answer to the question put by Counsel for the Defence? Is it correct or incorrect?

Accused: That it is not correct; what I said before is correct.

Presiding Judge: All right, we will now hand this back to Counsel for the Defence.

Dr. Servatius: Why then, according to you, did your friend Sassen make these false allegations?

Attorney General: I do not wish to interfere with the re- examination, but it has not yet been proved to us that this came from Sassen, and consequently, in my opinion, this form of question is inadmissible.

Presiding Judge: Yes, Dr. Servatius?

Dr. Servatius: I shall act in accordance with this objection. You have, however, heard that Sassen made statements which were repeated here in the press, according to which he presents things differently? How would you explain that?

Accused: When you say press, Dr. Servatius, do you mean what you have just read out?

Q. Yes.

A. I have no explanation at all of this.

Q. Did Sassen once tell you that he had already some time earlier offered the result of this interview to Life magazine - that is, not only after your arrest?

A. No. I have not heard such a thing.

Q. What was to be the purpose of the book?

A. The purpose of this book was to describe what had happened, but when asked questions, I normally had to say: "I do not know, I can no longer remember that." But that was not going to produce a book. However, these things had taken place. I had an immense gap in my memories, because I had completely switched off. And then what happened was that it was agreed that in the end it was not actually important; what was important was to identify the facts of what had taken place. And then there was talk of author's licence, and so on, so that on balance it would not have been a lie, because in fact this was a description of the facts. And as far as I was concerned, it was all the same to me whether it was mixed up or not. As far as I was concerned, the main thing in factual terms was that what had happened was actually recorded as such.

Q. Did Sassen give you any instructions, or make any demands of you with regard to the general tendency of the book?

A. Yes, that, if possible, I should say something about everything, in order to make sure there was plenty of material. But then, as co-author - as it was called - he would have had to turn this into a book.

Q. Perhaps I did not ask my question sufficiently clearly. Did Sassen insist on the book following a particular line?

A. Yes, at the beginning the idea of those who asked me questions was that - that Hitler should, whenever possible, be left out of this whole story. The original tendency was for me, so to say, to accept responsibility for this matter. But then I said that no one would believe this if I were to say so, apart from which, I maintain that the man who gave the orders for this cannot in any way be left out, because then that would entirely...then it would not even be worth starting to write things down.

Q. Was Peron still in power at the time when you dictated the book?

A. Yes. I believe that at that time General Peron was still President of the Republic of Argentina.

Q. Was the book designed to suit this atmosphere, the Peronist atmosphere?

A. I do not think so, but as I have said, it would be better if it were somehow to follow nationalistic lines. I think that is perhaps a better way of putting it, although I am still not sure whether this is the right way to put it. But what is right is what I said previously: The idea was to try and keep the figure of Hitler out of the whole complex.

Q. Did what was written correspond to your attitude, too, or did you allow yourself to be persuaded to exaggerate?

A. At the beginning of every meeting I countered; then, as I had more and more to drink, we would talk about the... that is why I called the whole thing pub talk, but when I received the material for correction, my hair stood on end, and that is when I started writing the correction slips.

Presiding Judge: What do you mean, you countered? I am not familiar with this expression. Explain it to me.

Accused: Well, at the beginning of a session, if...if things were suggested to me, if I said, say, "I cannot remember," or if ridiculous things were suggested, if I was presented with pure inventions, then, while I was still full of fight, I countered, I said no...

Presiding Judge: You mean you refused?

Accused: That is exactly what I meant.

Dr. Servatius: I believe the expression comes from card playing, to counter someone.

Presiding Judge: The Accused has already explained, it means to resist...

Dr. Servatius: During the interview, was the tape recorder turned off, so that you first discussed what should come in the next section, and discussed what sort of attitude you should adopt and how you should comment?

Accused: No, as far as I know, the tape recorder was functioning the whole time; at least I did not have any way of checking whether it was functioning or not. From time to time it was switched off, and then it was started again. I did not concern myself with this either.

Q. Did Sassen say to you about the Brand "Goods for Blood, Blood for Goods" operation: "That is bad, something else has to be brought up"?

Presiding Judge: I would ask Dr. Servatius not to word his questions as leading questions, in other words for the question not to be so worded as to suggest the answer to the Accused. The Accused will now answer.

Accused: That was the first time I heard this idea of "Goods for blood and blood for goods," but as to what else was talked about at that time and what he said to me, I no longer remember.

Dr. Servatius: The Attorney General several times stressed that you exercised authority which you could not have had as an ordinary Section Head. In your talks with Sassen did you talk about this point too?

A. I do not remember now. I never exceeded my authority as a Section Head, on the contrary...

Q. I would like to read out to you something which you said yourself in volume 2, at the bottom of page 86.

Presiding Judge: This has not yet been submitted, has it? It has not been referred to up till now either, has it?

Dr. Servatius: No, it is only being used now as a basis for the point that is being made, it is not going to be submitted, either.

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