The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 109
(Part 4 of 4)

Attorney General: Perhaps it is in document No. 774, we shall check immediately. In any case, this allegation by Steger is not correct.

Presiding Judge: What does Revesz know about this?

Attorney General: Revesz knows that he did not tell Steger this.

Presiding Judge: Did he talk to Becher about it?

Attorney General: No, but insofar as Steger purports to be basing himself on what Revesz said about this, Steger is mistaken.

Presiding Judge: What knowledge did Revesz actually have about this?

Attorney General: To the extent that he knew anything at all, he knew that Becher had nothing to do with it.

My learned friend calls my attention to page 22 in Becher's testimony at the bottom of the page:

"When Himmler had authorized the departure of seven hundred people, as far as I remember in June, July 1944, and the persons had been selected by the Jewish Council, I heard from Kasztner that Eichmann had given instructions for the transport to head for Bergen- Belsen. At Kasztner's request, I immediately went to see Eichmann, and he told me, `Yes, for technical reasons the transport is going to Bergen-Belsen.' I asked him, why Bergen-Belsen and not Switzerland? He then said: `The people are first going to Bergen- Belsen,' and when I asked when the transport was to proceed further, Eichmann replied: `As soon as the order is given.'

"He had enough reasons, even to answer Himmler as well, why the transport should not leave. For example, he could claim a typhus epidemic, and the transport could also be lost on the way in an enemy air raid.

Presiding Judge: Are you basing yourselves on what is said here?

Attorney General: Yes. Counsel for the Defence is now trying to rebut this evidence prima facie by means of Steger's statement to the effect that Eichmann did not have a hand in this - that he was not the person who rerouted the transport to Bergen-Belsen, but that it was Becher. Steger also indicates to us the source of his information. He says he knows this from Revesz.

Presiding Judge: But it does not say anything here, about Revesz' source of information.

Attorney General: Revesz must have come in contact with Hansi Brand and also with Kasztner, because he was active in these matters. There is no disagreement on this. We cannot contest this. That is correct. He was active in these matters; in addition, he was a member of the underground and he could have known about these matters.

Presiding Judge: But anyhow, not at first hand, not from Becher.

Attorney General: Not directly from Becher.

Judge Raveh: In fact you wish to refute hearsay evidence, about which there is still doubt as to the precise extent to which we can make use of it.

Attorney General: But in these proceedings there are so many items of hearsay evidence that I do not know what of all that will be accepted in the end, what the Court will confirm and what it will reject. I do not think that I am justified in ignoring a passage like this, which directly contradicts material which we think is correct.

Presiding Judge: It would be sufficient for you if Revesz were to say here:

"I did not say something like that to Steger."
Attorney General: "I did not say that to Steger - and as far as I know, the opposite is true."

Judge Raveh: If we were now to state that our position is that we are not prepared to take into account this passage in the Steger statement, your request would no longer be relevant.

Attorney General: Yes, of course. If this passage were to be deleted from Steger's statement, there would be no basis for my request.

Judge Halevi: Did you examine the Accused when he testified about who diverted the train to Bergen-Belsen?

Attorney General: As far as I remember, I only questioned the Accused about this in general terms, and he said that he had nothing at all to do with it. This was arranged by Becher. He detracted my attention from the subject; I wanted to come back to it, but nothing came of that.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, what is your position?

Dr. Servatius: When it came to making transport decisions, only Becher had the general authority for this from Himmler. I would agree to the Court excluding this passage to which the Prosecution is objecting here.

I have, in fact, spoken with the witness, Steger, himself; he is a very loquacious man, and I tried to put it into some form - but these points, he indicated them to me - including the names - after careful consideration, and I drew his attention to the significance of this matter, and he said this to me before the whole Becher matter had been clarified, so that I have no doubts that he was telling the truth, or the truth as he sees it... However, I do agree to the passage being dropped.

Attorney General: That of course solves the problem. If this passage is dropped, it is no longer necessary to take his evidence.

Attorney General: In the fifty-second session, page 40 [Volume III, p. 945-946], when the witness Freudiger was testifying, he showed the Court a postcard which was thrown from a train, with a picture of two children who were murdered at Auschwitz. The Court returned the picture to the witness and asked us to make copies of it. The picture was not given a T number. At that moment, there was some commotion in the courtroom, and we then proceeded to another subject. Freudiger mentioned this postcard; he testified about it, and it has to be included in the record.

Presiding Judge: was it a single postcard?

Attorney General: Yes. A few words were written on the photograph, and this was then thrown from the train.

Judge Halevi: In the meanwhile can we ascertain in which Session Dr. Vrba's statement was mentioned? So that the record can be perused.

Attorney General: We shall inform the Court of this shortly.

Judge Raveh: The Clerk of the Court has already indicated the answer to the last question of Judge Halevi - Session 72.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, what do you wish to say about the copy of this postcard? From the record we see that this postcard really was shown to the Court and was returned for copies to be made, and clearly it was intended that these copies should be submitted later. Parts of the postcard were also read out for the record.

Dr. Servatius: I remember the session. I have no objection.

Presiding Judge: You may submit this immediately. I mark this postcard T/1433.

Attorney General: The Court will see that this is a picture of two children. The translation of the message to Freudiger in Budapest is as follows:

"15.6.1944. Wednesday afternoon. We are on the train, we are passing through Budapest from Komaron. S.O.S. Wife of Josef Stern, Josef, Dr. Stern Salomon and his family."
Presiding Judge: Are these all your applications at this stage?

Attorney General: These are all my applications.

Presiding Judge: We shall now recess for twenty minutes. After the recess we shall give our rulings on all these applications.


Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 99

We have been asked to use our powers pursuant to Section 41 of the Trial Upon Information Ordinance and Section 15 of the 1950 Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law, in order to authorize the submission on the initiative of the Court at this stage, after the conclusion of the presentation of the case for the Defence, of an affidavit by Dr. Vrba, who is a resident of London.

This affidavit contains details about the numbers of persons killed in the Auschwitz camp. As the Attorney General told us, Dr. Vrba knew of these figures because he was in that camp over a period of two years. Counsel for the Defence objected to the Court using its powers for this purpose. We are not prepared to use these exceptional powers for this purpose, in order to admit an affidavit from someone who could have appeared before this Court and testified, had the Prosecution considered his testimony to be sufficiently important to justify this; furthermore, such a statistical statement from such a source might shed more light on this question, but cannot give a decisive answer.

With reference to the Czech book, This Is Where Lidice Was, from which the Attorney General wished to submit several passages, we shall allow the submission of that passage, or those passages only, which show that the children were brought to Puszykowko, because these passages can be considered to be rebutting evidence against N/19, the statement submitted by the Defence on the same subject.

This Decision is based on our powers pursuant to Section 15 of the 1950 Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law. In this connection it must be pointed out that the statement N/19 itself also contains statements based on hearsay.

We are not prepared to admit at this stage the German ministries' working directives of 1934, as this item of evidence, had it been important, should have been submitted during the presentation of the case for the Prosecution.

As for Steger's affidavit, N/99, in conjunction with which the Attorney General wished to hear the evidence of Mr. Revesz, this matter has been settled by the agreement of both parties, Dr. Servatius having indicated that he agrees not to refer to those matters mentioned there on page 3, in connection with Becher's action with regard to the transport to Bergen-Belsen. This is signed by my colleague, Judge Raveh, and myself.

Judge Halevi: The report of the two escapees from Auschwitz has already been referred to in evidence by Freudiger and other Prosecution witnesses, and when the Attorney General wished to submit this statement, in Session 72, Counsel for the Defence objected to submission of the last passage, which contains figures about the extermination of the Jews in Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1942 and 1944, because, according to his argument, this passage prima facie contradicts the first part of the report.

Now - just yesterday - the Attorney General received a sworn affidavit by Dr. Vrba - one of the two escapees who composed the report - explaining the "contradiction," and describing in detail the manner of calculation and the opportunities he had for knowing the numbers of victims. I also think that it would have been better if the Attorney General had called Dr. Vrba as a witness to give evidence viva voce here, rather than saving money from public funds, as he said in Session 72.

But it does appear to me that the Court should use its powers under Section 41 of the Trial Upon Information Ordinance, as well as Section 15 of the 1950 Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law, and admit the report together with Dr. Vrba's affidavit, and if Counsel for the Defence were so to request, he should be allowed to cross- examine Dr. Vrba. It should be pointed out that this evidence did not directly relate to the Accused's responsibility, but it does appear to me to be quite important, in order to ascertain the figures of the victims at Auschwitz.

Subject to this reservation, I agree to all the other parts of the Decision.

Presiding Judge: It remains to submit the passages which contain references to the Puszykowko children.

Attorney General: I think it would be better for me to submit the book as such, together with a translation of the relevant passages.

Presiding Judge: Very well. The book will be marked T/1434, and of course the book is only submitted in accordance with the Decision. The translation of the passage from the book will be marked T/1434(a).

That brings us to the end of the taking of evidence in these proceedings, and we now come to the stage of summing up.

Attorney General: I would like to request that we be given some time to prepare our summing up, given the Accused's lengthy testimony, which now requires evaluation and clarification. We would also like to draw up tables and lists of exhibits, which will be of help to the Court and can only shorten the time required for summing up. However, all of this takes some time. As I have already said when we appeared before the Court in chambers, we need at least about eight days. We would be grateful if we were given longer, but I gather from the Court's attitude that it is not agreeable to that, and that is why we are now asking for the summing up to start on Thursday next, 3 August.

Presiding Judge: So that means, Mr. Attorney General - so as to disclose again what was started in chambers - that you cannot complete your summing-up by the end of next week.

Attorney General: Yes, that is so.

Presiding Judge: I do not wish to put too much pressure on you. Of course, it would be desirable if you could conclude your submissions by the end of next week, so that Dr. Servatius would have an intermission to prepare himself, on his part.

Attorney General: We shall of course do our best, but this will really be very difficult. The more time we get, the briefer we can make things.

Presiding Judge: That is very attractive.

Attorney General: That is our general intention.

Presiding Judge: Very well. What would Dr. Servatius like to say now? This has already been discussed in chambers.

Dr. Servatius: According to my information, the summing up is to take several days, the Prosecution's summing up. After that, I would have to have two or three days, also because I must submit my summing up in writing, in order to give the interpreters a chance - as well as for technical reasons. I cannot yet say how long - I shall keep it as short as possible. The actual summing up will be relatively short - what I have to say.

Presiding Judge: Very well, but we have here heard the Attorney General's request that we recess until next Thursday.

Dr. Servatius: That is in fact longer than seven days, and the summing up takes us over to the next weekend, so that I could not sum up until the 9th, at the earliest.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, generally in these proceedings we think in terms not of days, but at least of weeks. Thus we shall finish during that week. So one day more or less will no longer be important.

Dr. Servatius: If the Prosecutor needs that time, I have no objections.

Presiding Judge: So that makes it 3 August 1961, at 8.30 in the morning.

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