The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 106
(Part 2 of 7)

Q. Without making any proposals?

A. Without making any proposals. In many instances, he himself was unable to issue any instructions until he...

Q. That is something else. Without making any proposal to him?

A. Yes, yes. I have to qualify this. It was possible that there would be a borderline case. If that happened, it was only in specific cases, and then I naturally said to Mueller, here this and that decision had been taken, was this case to be applied to this decision, or would he consider issuing new instructions. I had to draw his attention to these matters.

Q. Do I understand, therefore, that there were three categories: one category of cases where there were already precedents, where you did not ask anything?

A. Yes.

Q. Second category - matters where there were no precedents.

A. I had to ask.

Q. Did you ask him without proposing anything to him?

A. Yes.

Q. Third category - somewhere in between, perhaps yes, perhaps no.

A. Where I did not know.

Q. Did you make some form of proposal, or how would you define this?

A. No, not some form of proposal; rather, I had to draw his attention to the fact that here a...that here he had taken a particular decision days or months earlier, whether this case, which was similar, whether this case should also be applied on the basis of his decision three months earlier. In turn, the Official-in-charge had to draw my attention to this.

Q. Just a moment, I am talking now about the situation between you and Mueller, forget about above and below. Nor did Mueller say to you, Eichmann, what is your opinion about this?

A. If Mueller did not know what to do, he kept the matter with him and asked, in his turn. Neither was Mueller...basically Mueller was also not...

Q. Very well. You see, it is very difficult to accept what you are saying. A Section Head, with the grade of a senior State Counsellor, who submits matters to his Department Chief and does not say what his opinion is on some matter, and is not asked for his opinion on some matter.

A. One must not forget that the topic of the "Jewish Question" was a...was not a routine matter with all these Sections, because in this matter practically all of the central authorities were involved, and most matters which had to be dealt with here had already been decided elsewhere, and these decisions by others were then passed on to the police for implementation. For example, it was entirely different from the situation of some of the other Sections of Department IV.

Q. All right, that is one explanation. Now look. We have no internal records from your office, your Section, they have not been preserved, so we cannot see from them how things proceeded. But among the documents, I have found, for example, such an internal record in the German Foreign Ministry. And I should like to go through this with you and find out from you whether in your Section things were not similar to the situation in the Foreign Ministry.

The matter starts with a letter from your Section, signed by you, to the Foreign Ministry, dated 5 July 1943, T/779. Something dreadful has come to light: A few Jews with foreign nationality are still on Reich territory. And you write to the German Foreign Ministry, you make a particular proposal, something must be done, things cannot stay this way. The first reaction from the Foreign Ministry is an interim reply - I would call it that - a letter from von Thadden to you, T/781, in which he writes to you that this is entirely a matter of principle, and he has to take it to the Reich Foreign Minister. Now comes the internal record in the Foreign Ministry, T/782. Look at this. What is this?

A. Yes, I am familiar with this matter from my scrutiny of the files.

Q. All right, that is not the decisive point. What is now important for me is how the matter was dealt with in the Foreign Ministry.

A. This type of a draft proposal was not the custom in IVB4.

Q. Just a moment. Who drafted this proposal?

A. The proposal by the Foreign Ministry? Wagner.

Q. Are you sure?

A. Yes, he signed it.

Q. Yes, but there is something else there as well.

A. Oh, von Thadden, yes.

Q. Von Thadden's initials?

A. Yes, von Thadden's stamp, yes.

Q. And Wagner's signature?

A. Wagner's signature, yes.

Q. You agree with me that von Thadden drafted it?

A. Yes, von Thadden drafted it.

Q. What happened to it then? Wagner signed it.

A. Wagner signed it, then it went to the Under-Secretary of State, and then via the Permanent State Secretary to the Reich Foreign Ministry for submission.

Q. All the interim authorities simply signed?

A. Yes, they all initialled it.

Q. Ribbentrop?

A. Also signed it, and it is the decision...

Q. Simply signed, or did he change something?

A. Yes, but now I do not know who made this marginal note.

Q. I assume Ribbentrop. After all, the decision was required from him.

A. That three days after the expiry of the deadline...

Q. It does not matter, he changed something in the draft.

A. Yes, but I do not know whether it is his handwriting or that of one of the State Secretaries. I do not know. But in any case, higher-ranking officials than Wagner did change something.

Q. And then the matter came back to von Thadden, right?

A. It had automatically to come back to von Thadden, that is correct.

Q. And what did you do then?

A. He would then have taken von Thadden's letter...

Q. I have not found von Thadden's letter to you, but I have found the result. Then came your Department's instructions, signed by - I do not know - Mueller, Kaltenbrunner, for the moment I do not know who signed it. At the moment the contents are not so important, what is important is the way it was handled.

A. I should like to see the reference and the date, they are part of it.

Q. They are also part of it, right? This is in fact the Foreign Ministry' notification to the various legations.

A. Yes.

Q. That is the procedure?

A. Yes, that is the procedure.

Q. Now, the procedure starts with a proposal, a demand on the part of your Section.

A. Yes.

Q. Now, who in your Section found that this terrible thing had come about, that a few Jews of foreign nationality were still on Reich territory, and that, therefore, the order had not been totally implemented; who had found this out?

A. Well, I do not remember this today; the Section was not able to find it out on its own. But what were the grounds for the Section appearing at all? First of all, there were complaints which came through official channels through the local State Police...

Q. So who can have made such complaints?

A. It is possible that a district leader, for example, made a negative report about the matter to the Reich leadership office...

Q. Would it, for example, be inconceivable that you, as Section Head, carried out a check to see whether the order to make the Reich "clean of Jews" within a certain time had actually been carried out properly?

A. That is inconceivable. What is conceivable, though, is that, for example, various decrees were issued, where at the end it says that a notification about implementation is required in three or five months. What for? That was needed for reporting purposes, for reports to higher authorities, that is conceivable; but to have gone around and checked whether everything was being done properly, as far as I know this happened only once, when I was sent by Mueller to the south of France.

Q. And if such a notification about implementation is to be sent, someone had to be there who checks whether this can be sent, whether the order has been carried out.

A. These were in fact the State Police Regional Headquarters, Senior Commanders of the Security Police and Inspectors, because the decrees were in fact also issued to these authorities.

Q. That means that your Section required a report from the State Police Regional Headquarters on Reich territory by a certain date: How is the deportation operation going, what is still left?

A. Not always, but if orders were given, that it was done or not; what was still left, but also if orders were given for a new wave of deportations, then circular letters were issued with a listing of the current situation...

Q. Just a moment. Of course the cases may vary. In this case we were in 1943, and somewhere we heard or read that there was an order that by this or that date the Reich territory had to be "clean of Jews." I would assume then that this order was issued to the State Police Regional Headquarters, and they were instructed by your Section to produce a report by this or that date about the state of affairs.

A. Yes.

Q. When the reports showed that, here and there, there were still so many foreign Jews, then this letter went to the German Foreign Ministry.

A. No, this report - the various reports which were produced were turned into a single report in IVB4, and this single report then went up to the higher authorities.

Q. Without your adding any commentary, and without your writing: "It has become apparent that so many Jews of foreign nationality are still on Reich territory, and something must be done in order to deal with this, and for this purpose I propose approaching the Foreign Ministry."

A. No, but...

Q. Without "but."

A. No, it was not like that. This report was drawn up, and naturally the specifications were given - how many Jews with German nationality, and so on.

Q. But the proposal, what was to be done now?

A. The reason for all of these teletypes was in fact precisely an order for deportation.

Q. The order has long since been there: "Reich territory must be 'clean of Jews' by such and such a time."

A. Yes.

Q. It turns out that this or that has still not been achieved, a summary report is drawn up, it is submitted to Mueller.

My question is: Was this report drawn up without a word of commentary from you, or with commentary from you?

A. Only the figures are given there, only the figures were specified, nothing else. What interested me, or rather it was only the figures which had to be of official interest to me, in order to draw up the timetable. For me that was the important thing, and it is now quite possible, for example if it said in the report, there are still five thousand Jews with foreign nationality in the Reich, that Mueller wrote here with his orange pen: "Check with the Foreign Ministry." I assume that in fact something of this kind did take place, and perhaps through some consultation with Hunsche.

Q. The question was whether this went off with your commentary, or without your commentary. You said "without commentary."

A. The reports went off as they stood, only summarized and condensed.

Q. Very well.

A. Perhaps by way of explanation I could add, Your Honour, it really is difficult to believe the whole business, I know. But I have already said, that is how things were on the subject of the Jewish Question.

Q. Just a moment. We have now seen how something like this happened in the Foreign Ministry. And I do not know - perhaps you will agree with me, perhaps not - that that was the normal procedure in every ministry. So why in your office, of all offices, was it not so?

A. That is precisely what I wanted to explain, Your Honour. On the subject of Jewish affairs there were so many instructions and orders, and there were so many - points of interference, I would call them - with all the central authorities and all the party offices, that in fact it was difficult for the State Police to somehow centralize all of these demands and these wishes, and implement them according to the various wishes and orders. And these things overlapped, because every Tom, Dick and Harry interfered and meddled and made demands in this matter. That is probably the reason why it was hardly necessary to make any proposals, and certainly not the Section, and even Mueller scarcely had to make any proposals. Rather, here the police had their hands completely full just keeping up with this demand.

Q. Now, the Wannsee Conference. Here in the minutes is a passage which says, "In conclusion the various types of possible solutions were discussed." Do you remember this? Or do you want to see it?

A. I remember that it is there, Your Honour.

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