The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 108
(Part 3 of 4)

Presiding Judge: Which page, Dr. Servatius?

Dr. Servatius: It is marked 178, Serbia.

"On 8 December 1941, a telegram from Belgrade signed Veesenmayer and Benzler reached the Foreign Ministry. It indicated that, as could be proved, Jews had been identified as having been involved in many cases of sabotage and acts of insurrection, and it was therefore urgently necessary to proceed expeditiously to secure and remove at least all male Jews. It was proposed that they be removed from the country down the Danube, so as to move them to Romanian territory. The Foreign Ministry decided that this could not be carried out, and Luther informed the Ambassador in Belgrade accordingly.

On 10 September, Veesenmayer and Benzler again telegraphed the Foreign Ministry that `a speedy and draconian settlement of the Serbian Jewish Question was an urgent and expedient necessity.' And he asked for instructions from the Foreign Ministry, in order to be able to make an extremely forceful approach to the military commander of Serbia. An order to the same effect from Himmler to the Chief of the Operations Group of the Security Police, and to Fuchs of the Security Service would considerably further the matter. "Finally, Rademacher was sent to Belgrade to ascertain whether these Jews could not be disposed of on the spot. He ascertained that over two thousand Jews had already been shot in reprisals for attacks on German soldiers and stated, `in execution of this order, first the active Communist leaders of Serbian nationality - some fifty in number - and then continuously, Jews as Communist agitators have been shot.' Right from the outset the figure was not eight thousand Jews, but only four thousand. Of these, only 3500 can be shot, as the others are needed by the Security Police, in order to maintain the health and security services in the ghettos, which are to be set up.

"As a result of Rademacher's negotiations with the experts in Jewish matters, Standartenfuehrer Fuchs and Sturmbannfuehrer Weinmann, it was agreed that the male Jews should be shot by the end of the week, thus solving the problem, while the remainder, some twenty thousand Jews - women, children and the elderly - as well as the remainder of the fifteen hundred Gypsies left - after shooting the men - was to be concentrated in the Gypsy quarter which is to be set up as a ghetto, and makeshift arrangements could be made for providing food during the winter.

"Then, as soon as the technical possibility existed under the overall solution of the Jewish Question, the Jews should be deported by water to reception camps in the East. In this way the `speedy and draconian settlement' referred to by Veesenmayer and Benzler became a fait accompli."

Attorney General: The Court has presumably observed that what Counsel for the Defence is doing now is generally speaking not allowed; by reading out this material he is contradicting statements by his own witness. We have not objected to this because we believe that what the judgment says about Veesenmayer's involvement in the criminal conspiracy against the Jews is true. But in order to avoid giving an incorrect impression, and also in order to avoid creating any unfounded precedent, I considered it my duty to make this observation.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, I believe that I can, in fact, attack my own witness if he obviously shows himself to be a hostile witness, as is obviously the case here, where he does not remember his head office, and the Court rules that he has lied on oath in giving testimony.

Presiding Judge: We have heard the remarks of both sides; I do not consider it necessary at this stage for the Court to react or comment. Please proceed.

Dr. Servatius: There are two more depositions.

Presiding Judge: I think there are more, Dr. Servatius, there are still von dem Bach-Zelewski and Kappler, Slawik.

Dr. Servatius: I have not yet received Slawik's deposition.

Presiding Judge: We have had it for some time, and I gave instructions for it to be passed on to you. Mr. Bodenheimer remembers that Mr. Wechtenbruch received the deposition.

Dr. Servatius: It is possible that this is an oversight on the part of my office; I have not yet seen it.

Presiding Judge: Very well, in the meanwhile let us continue with those depositions which you do have.

Dr. Servatius: This is the deposition by Bach-Zelewski of 25 May 1961 before the Nuremberg Court of First Instance. On page 2 it says:

"Until the beginning of this trial (at Nuremberg) I always assumed, on the basis of what I was told by Ohlendorf, with whom I shared a cell for a considerable time at Nuremberg, that the name Eichmann was fictitious."
Judge Halevi: Dr. Servatius, you said, "until the beginning of this trial I assumed" - you said that this was the Nuremberg Trial. I understood that this was the Eichmann Trial.

Dr. Servatius: Yes, here it should be "this trial." At the bottom of page 3,(3)to (6):

"Because of my position, I received information about the activity of the Operations Units. Where these Operations Units carried out military duties, such as intercepting enemy news, in my Department, just like other parts of the Wehrmacht, I worked together with the Operations Units.

"At that time, I also heard of illegal activity on the part of these Operations Units. I believe that all generals in the East knew about this. By illegal activity, I mean shootings by the Operations Units, which took place without any basis in law. I was not informed as to the complete extent of this activity. Only after the end of the War I became aware of that. I should also like to stress that both the Generals and I did not approve of this illegal activity and were critical of it.

"As far as I know, for supply purposes the Operations Units were subordinate to the Army Groups or Armies. From conversations I had with Nebe and his successor Naumann, when I met them in Russia - both of whom led Operations Units - I got to know that they received their operational orders directly from the Head Office for Reich Security. I do not know any details as to how the orders were transmitted, nor do I know any details about the actual orders. At the time I understood the assignment of the Operations Units to be the liquidation of underground movements and the extermination of Jews."

On the same page, at the bottom, (7) to (9):
"I did not know that the Operations Units were also required to exterminate Gypsies and political prisoners. The order for extermination was given - according to what I was told by Nebe and Naumann - by the Head Office for Reich Security. I do not know which Department in the Head Office for Reich Security issued the orders, and cannot, therefore, give any names. In any case, in their conversations with me, Nebe and Naumann did not mention the name Eichmann. Neither do I remember any other names. However, I do remember that Nebe and Naumann mentioned the name Heydrich, who was Chief of the Head Office for Reich Security at the time."
On page six, concerning (15):
"As far as I know, Higher SS and Police Leaders never received orders directly from the Head Office for Reich Security. In any case, I myself never received such an order. The only possibility might have been for the Head Office for Reich Security to have issued an order to a Senior Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service, and that order was then brought to the attention of the Higher SS and Police Leader by the commander on the staff. In formal terms, there was a possibility of the Higher SS and Police Leader obtaining a decision directly from Himmler in such a case."
At the bottom of page 11:
"I have already said that I did not know Eichmann and also did not know of the existence of his Section until the end of the War. I am therefore also unable to say anything about visits, special assignments, and receipt of orders."
Page 14, the end of the examination:
"After the end of the War, I spent a long time in prison in Nuremberg together with Ohlendorf. He told me that Heydrich assigned him to an Operations Unit, in revenge for a memorandum written earlier by Ohlendorf which Heydrich had not liked. Ohlendorf told me that the orders for the Operations Unit had already been received before he joined it. In his talks with me, Ohlendorf never incriminated Mueller and never mentioned the name Eichmann."
Presiding Judge: Thank you very much. Now the passages to which the Attorney General wishes to draw attention.

Interpreter: On page 4, in the middle. This has already been read out. Now on page 5:

"As to (10) to (11): I do not know to whom the activity reports of the Operations Units were distributed," and further down: "I myself do not know whether Eichmann was on the circulation list. If this was the case, I consider that this underlines the importance of his Section."
On page 8, fourth line from the top:
"Himmler himself selected people for particular assignments, according to circumstances. In this, official rank played no role; it was the official function which counted."
Page 12:
"When it came to selection and filling posts and allocating important assignments, a vital role was played by Himmler's personal inclinations and the candidate's personal suitability and ideological stance." The rest of the material marked has already been read out.
Presiding Judge: No.


"There was a possibility of avoiding an assignment by applying for a transfer. In a particular case this might have led to some disciplinary action. However, this certainly did not include any risk to one's life."
Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, we still have Kappler. I have marked Bach-Zelewski's deposition XIV. Kappler's is in Italian. We have a Hebrew translation.

Dr. Servatius: I have received a German translation of the Hebrew text.

Dr. Servatius: Kappler's deposition of 27 June 1961, it says here before the Court of Appeal of Rome.

On page 1, the witness says the following on point 3:

"I cannot say exactly what my rank in the SS was in October 1943. However, I do remember that I received, some time before the round-up of the Jews of Rome, a notification by telephone informing me, among other things, that I had been promoted to Obersturmbannfuehrer. In that same telephone message I was urged to prepare the round-up. I do not remember from whom I first received the order to proceed with the round-up and the deportation of the Jews of Rome, but I remember well that I never received an order to seize and deport a specific number of Jews. There was reference only to `the Jews of Rome.' My vague recollection of these details is due to the fact that there was a very frequent exchange of instructions, orders and enquiries from the different offices regarding this operation. The large number of notifications and clarifications was caused chiefly by objections that I myself raised."
On page 2, I pass over a paragraph, and then it reads:
"On the other hand, I do remember well that the contacts proceeded between myself and the central offices, and I remember particularly a telegram signed by Himmler, in which the need was stressed to solve the Jewish Question also in the city of Rome."
I pass over seven to eight lines:
"I remember that at that time an SS captain came to my office and introduced himself as Dannecker, and presented an authorization to carry out the round-up of the Jews. This authorization gave him full powers, and instructed the local police commanders to give Dannecker every assistance he required for this operation. The power and authority for a search operation against Jews (and not only in Rome, since the authorization was not restricted in any way) was signed by SS General Mueller.

"Finally, I remember that I received a telephone message from someone attached to Himmler's General Staff. This announcement came directly from headquarters, which at that time used a cover name - I do not remember the name - but anyhow, it was located in East Prussia, near Rastenburg. In that telephone message - the same message which I spoke about previously - he informed me that I was being promoted, and I was told that the Reichsfuehrer-SS, Himmler, was urging me to decide, once and for all, to carry out the round-up of the Jews."

I now pass over two pages and come to page 5 in my version, the additional questions from the Defence Attorney of the Accused. It says the following:
"1. I reject the version that the orders for the operations against the Jews of Rome were given by General Wolff. As for the telegram sent on 17 October 1943 from my office, I repeat: That telegram was sent not to General Wolff, but to Group VI/E, since radio- telegraph communication from the transmitter in my office was possible, at that time, only with the radio station of that Department. In fact, Department VI/E was the communications centre of the Head Office for Reich Security. As for the rest, I refer to what I stated when I answered question No. 9 put to me by the Counsel for the Accused.

"2. I am unable to respond to this question, because I heard the name Adolf Eichmann only after the year 1945; I learned this name from the press. I reject the possibility that mail and orders concerning Jews which reached my office bore the signature of Eichmann. I am certain of what I am saying, because I had occasion to send proposals and counter-proposals to all those who had sent me instructions and reminders concerning the Jewish Question. Therefore, I would certainly remember the name Eichmann, if I had had any previous knowledge of it.

"3. I have already answered this question. General Harster was Head of the Security Police in Italy."

I now proceed to point 30, page 8 in my copy.
"The operations against the Jews which took place after the round-up of 17 October were authorized by the circular which I mentioned above, and which, as I have noted, provided for the arrest of the Jews by the Italian police, by civilians, and by whoever wished to help in their capture. I received this circular through the normal office channels, but I do not remember who signed it. This circular referred to Italy only, and it made it quite clear that there were agreements in force between the two governments. I remember that Questore (Head of Police) of Rome, whom I summoned to my office to ask him what concern of his was it, and what right he had to engage in the hunt for Jews, thus also violating extraterritorial areas (meaning the Vatican enclave), replied that he could do nothing, because these were the orders which he had received."
That is everything I wished to read out from the document.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Attorney General.

Attorney General: One passage which we marked has already been read out. I believe there are two more short passages, at the end of paragraph No. 9. I have the German version before me, the same version from which Counsel for the Defence read.


"There is very little that I can say about the manner of the round-up, or the final destination chosen for the Jews who were seized. The operation was organized and carried out by Captain Dannecker, who, as I have stated, arrived in Rome with a dozen persons, equipped with full powers from Mueller."
Presiding Judge: Anything else?

Attorney General: In the following passage marked by us, we directed the witness' attention to a telegram. The question is simply whether the telegram or a copy thereof was appended.

Presiding Judge: A telegram of what date?

Attorney General: The telegram reached us so late that we asked for another questionnaire. In the translation the telegram is called an "express letter."

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