The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 107
(Part 2 of 6)

Q. Now, in connection with the Wannsee record of proceedings - in connection with the Wannsee Conference - you replied to my colleague, Judge Raveh, that in the part not referred to in the record, methods of killing were talked about.

A. Yes.

Q. Who spoke about this topic there?

A. Today, I no longer have any detailed recollection of this matter, Your Honour, but I know that these gentlemen stood together and sat together, and in very blunt words they referred to the matter, without putting it down in writing. I would definitely not be able to remember this, if I did not know that at that time I said to myself: Look at that...Stuckart, who was always considered to be a very precise and very particular stickler for the law, and here the whole tone and all the manner of speech were totally out of keeping with legal language. That is the only thing, I would say, which has actually remained imprinted on my mind.

Q. What did he say about this topic?

A. In detail, Your Honour, I would like...

Q. Not in detail - in general.

A. There was talk about killing and eliminating and exterminating. I myself had in fact to make my preparations for drawing up the record - I could not stand there and just listen - but the words did reach through to me because the room was not, in fact, such a big one that one could not catch single words from the flood of words...

Q. I thought this was in the official part of the meeting?

A. The official part - that did not last very long, that was the...

Q. Was this in the official part or not? I thought it was in the official part, because it appears in the record and...

A. It was also in the official part, Your Honour, but the official part, if you like, in turn consisted of two parts - that is to say, the beginning, where everyone kept quiet and had to listen, and then near the end, where everyone spoke about the matter all at once, and where the whole time the orderlies kept serving cognac or other drinks, and it got to the stage of alcoholic influence...all I mean is that, although it was an official matter, but still, it was not a stiff official matter, where everyone is quiet and everyone lets all the others have their say to the end, but at the end everyone spoke all at once.

Q. But this was also taken down by the male or the female stenographer?

A. Taken down by the male stenographer.

Q. And apparently you were instructed not to include that in the official record of proceedings?

A. Yes, that was the case. The shorthand-typist sat next to me, and I had to ensure that everything was recorded. And after that the shorthand-typist typed this up, and then Heydrich decided what should and what should not be included in the record. And then he, so to speak, polished it further, and then it was ready, this record of proceedings.

Q. And what was said about this important topic, you have no recollection at all of this?

A. Your Honour, this is not the most important point. What is the most important point in the record...

Q. Excuse me, I did not say the most important point, I said "an important topic" - so important that it was then left out.

A. No, on the contrary, Your Honour, Heydrich wanted to make sure that the main points were worked into the record. So it is in fact precisely the other way round. The essential points are in the record, and the non-essential points were then left out by him, because here, so to say - how shall I put it - he created a form of reinsurance, by pinning down the State Secretaries separately.

Q. Does that mean, then, that the methods of killing were an unimportant topic?

A. Oh, the methods of killing?

Q. That is what we are talking about.

A. He did not include those, no, no.

Q. At that time was there talk of killing by gas?

A. No, not by gas.

Q. Then how?

A. There was a discussion about the engine business. I remember that, shooting. About gas I did not know anything, I cannot remember.

Q. There was a discussion of the various methods of possible solutions, and on that District Leader Meyer and State Secretary Dr. Buehler expressed the opinion "that some preparatory work in the course of the Final Solution should be carried out immediately in the relevant areas, but in so doing any alarming of the population should be avoided." Do you remember that?

A. I am sorry, I did not understand that.

Q. If you did not understand, I shall read it out to you again.

A. Yes.

Q. What kind of operations were discussed here? What was the intention?

A. I cannot imagine anything else here, and that I...

Q. Not imagine, I am still asking you, as the Attorney General also asked you all along, "What can you remember?" This was a turning point here, was it not?

A. I had previously seen the preparatory work in the Lublin district, I...where two huts were hermetically sealed, during my...

Q. We have already heard this. I want to know what happened at this conference, what was said about this at that time.

A. Today, I no longer remember, but I am sure that this matter was discussed. Where it says, "on the spot, without alarming the population," I cannot imagine the intention being anything else other than such installations, which I had seen shortly before that time.

Q. Did you at that time report at this meeting on what you had seen?

A. I did not say anything whatsoever at the Wannsee Conference. I simply could not, neither did I have any authority to do so.

Q. Who reported on these technical questions?

A. Actually no one reported. Heydrich spoke, and then everyone spoke together; it is possible that - it is possible, but I do not know, that Buehler perhaps said something, and Krueger will definitely also have spoken here, because Krueger, as the Higher Police Leader for the Generalgouvernement, he was in fact to some extent the head of the entire business, on the spot. Globocnik was in fact subordinate to Krueger, so, as his boss, Krueger must definitely have known about this in detail.

Q. But Krueger, according to the list of participants, did not take part in the Wannsee Conference.

A. But he had previously already been to see Heydrich, and arranged Buehler's participation. And then Heydrich had a lengthy discussion with Krueger; as a result of this I had to send special letters of invitation to Krueger and Buehler.

Q. Now, you have told us that you do not see yourself as an anti-Semite, and also were never an anti-Semite.

A. I was never an anti-Semite, no.

Q. You will agree with me that at first sight this would appear to be a paradox - a convinced National Socialist who is not simultaneously a convinced anti-Semite.

A. It appears to be, but not necessarily.

Q. I saw in your memoirs that you write that you "devotedly gobbled up the Voelkischer Beobachter newspaper, as you put it.

A. Yes.

Q. Is it correct that the Voelkischer Beobachter was full of anti-Semitic propaganda?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. So you did not gobble this up devotedly?

A. The Voelkischer Beobachter was first and foremost the largest newspaper we had, and it reported in detail on political and overall current world events.

Q. So you read it as a source of information?

A. I, in fact, received it by virtue of my office and read it as such.

Q. In your memoirs, you speak about the time before you joined the National Socialist Workers' Party.

A. At that time I read it in coffee houses.

Q. What was your attitude, then, to that which you read in it ?

A. During the so-called period of struggle ("Kampfzeit"), I did not only read the Voelkischer Beobachter, I also read the other National Socialist newspapers, and in them read, above all, things about the terror exercised against the SS and the SA. .

Q. Just a moment, I thought you had understood my question. The question was about the anti-Semitic material which was printed in such large quantities in the Voelkischer Beobachter. What was your attitude to that?

A. In Austria this was probably the least-read material, just as the principles of the Party program were hardly read at all, because in Austria it was a question of matters other than these. They were intended for the national student organizations, yes, that I admit, but the normal professional scarcely bothered about these things. I, in fact, was one of them, after all, I was not a member of a student organization.

Q. What was of concern to you, as you, I believe, said, was the economic plight which was triggered by the Treaty of Versailles. That is roughly what you said.

A. Economic and national plight.

Q. Yes.

A. In addition, there was the fact that I did not become acquainted with anti-Semitism through my parental home.

Q. If I am not mistaken, National Socialist propaganda connected the economic plight with World Jewry.

A. Yes.

Q. What was your attitude to this part of the National Socialist propaganda?

A. Basically, for the man in the street the deep roots and - the cause - was in fact the least important aspect - it was - this period of unemployment, this was the most important thing.

Q. I do not consider you to be the man in the street.

A. At that time I was working professionally, for the Vacuum Oil Company, and I had hardly concerned myself with - let us say with intellectual values, except for...the only thing was when I came home on Saturdays and Sundays, in the coffee house - the reading material in the coffee house - but nothing else. I had no time for this.

Q. You were 25, 26 years old, when you joined the Party?

A. Yes.

Q. We have heard from you that you are someone who likes to think things over - at that time was this not the case?

A. At that time, when I was travelling repeatedly, I hardly concerned myself at all with all these things. I pursued private interests, which were neither literature nor similar intellectual matters.

Q. Did you know of those sections of the Party platform which concern Jews - concern the Jewish Question - before you joined the Party?

A. Before I joined the Party, practically nobody at all, scarcely anyone concerned himself with this.

Q. Not "scarcely anyone." Do not tell me now about "anyone." We are talking here about Adolf Eichmann. Were you familiar with this, "yes" or "no"?

A. No, because I was to some extent received into the Party against my expectations, and also without making up my mind. It went so quickly and so suddenly that fact, I knew nothing at all about it beforehand. I was, in fact, a candidate some time before that.

Q. But you did know that Hitler was an extreme anti-Semite?

A. Yes, I knew that.

Q. Already at that time?

A. Everyone knew that.

Q. And that the Nazi Party was built on the Fuehrer principle, I suppose you knew that as well?

A. Everyone knew that as well, yes.

Q. When you were already a member of the Party, in 1935, the Nuremberg Laws were passed?

A. Yes.

Q. The trend of these laws was to remove the Jews from the German national body?

A. Yes.

Q. What was your attitude to this legislation?

A. My attitude at that time was like that of many people - the bark is worse than the bite. That is the briefest way of putting the thought that I could come up with.

Q. In other words, that Hitler did not intend to implement this legislation which was passed by the Reichstag according to his ideas.

A. At that time, like many people who had grown up in Austria, I tended to think that things would not all be implemented along the propaganda lines, and as things are reported; rather, I thought, the bark is worse than the bite. That was the general point of view of everyone then living in Austria, and in fact, at that time, I had just come from Austria.

Q. But in 1934 you were already in Germany?

A. Yes, in 1934 I was in Germany.

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