The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 110
(Part 1 of 7)

Session No.110

26 Av 5721 (8 August 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the one hundred and tenth Session of the trial open. We shall hear the summing-up of the Attorney General.

Before that, I give Decision No. 100

I decide that the summing-up of Counsel for the parties shall be recorded by stenographers, as laid down in my decision regarding the official record dated 13 Nissan 5721 - 30 March 1961.

Please go ahead, Mr. Attorney General.

Attorney General: If it please the Court, in this trial there has unfolded before our eyes the image of a regime which, in our generation, threatened to put an end to liberty of man, and to the liberty of nations. In particular, there hovered here, within the walls of this court-room, the shades of Adolf Hitler and his band of accomplices, those semblances of horror which mankind will recall forever as the embodiment of wickedness to the depths of the abyss.

Adolf Eichmann, the Accused who stands before you, acted like his leader and spoke in his manner - with glib-tongued falsehood when feeling weakness, and with the fist of destructive wickedness when in power - with pretence and subterfuge serving to camouflage devilish hatred and murderous fury in his heart.

Throughout these two months, witnesses who are the remnants of this great Holocaust have succeeded each other on this witness stand. Each recounted that portion of the great calamity which he was requested to relate to you, until the total picture emerged as one great horror.

We were shocked by the account of murder, brutalities, tortures and atrocities which, it would be impossible to believe that the like could have been perpetrated by the hands of man, had they not been depicted in detail by living human beings. We have heard of acts of cruelty and lust to do evil, to degrade and oppress the spirit and the flesh, such as has never been known in the history of mankind. We were horror-stricken when there appeared before our eyes the "ashen planet of Auschwitz" which the Nazis put into orbit above the skies of Europe, with Jewish blood pouring from its soil like a fountain jet. Images arose before the mind's eye of Rabbis and servants of the Lord, who were commanded to wrap themselves in prayer shawls and phylacteries, and were then set on fire to the jeers of their torturers. And, after that, we were shocked to the core to hear of the tortures in the camps, the whippings, the acts of degradation, humiliation, and thus we could realize to what depths of wickedness man can reach towards his fellowman.

We were told of rats being placed into the trousers of Chelmno prisoners and their being ordered to stand motionless, of the "parachute-entertainment" of the camp commanders who ordered Jews to climb up to roofs and jump down, and whoever did not manage to jump properly was shot. We were told about dogs being set on to human beings and given the order "Man seize the dog!," about hangings of young lads while the camp orchestra played merry marching songs, about babes and sucklings being cast alive into the flames, after their mothers had protected them with their own bodies and rescued them from being asphyxiated in the gas chambers. I believe that if anyone were to try to invent a nightmare, he would be incapable of describing even a small fraction of the shocking and terrible occurrences that were related, described and presented here.

All that was also heard by the man sitting here behind the glass partition. We have seen him staring in front of him, taking in what was being said; we watched him following the descriptions and looking at the films which embodied all the "seven sectors of Hell." After that came his turn to testify. It might have been expected that, at least now, sixteen years after the limbs of the Nazi hydra had been cut down, he would utter one word of remorse, he would voice one expression of regret and repentance. Instead, his evidence commenced with the usual Nazi talk of the war that had been forced upon Germany, and then he went so far as to say that the war against the Jews, too, was in fact forced upon the German people.

He does not believe in regrets - so he declared - that is something for children, since the dead can no longer be resurrected. And in what does he believe? He believes that the vow that he took and the oath that he swore to Hitler are capable of absolving him from responsibility for his deeds and, they in themselves constitute absolute justification for everything he did. This we saw during the weeks during which he occupied the witness stand. And subsequently we saw him wending his way amongst the documents, brazenly denying the authenticity of the facts crying out from every testimony and from all the evidence, in his search for the flimsiest of excuses, each one of which was designed to conceal and cover up his own role in the shedding of an ocean of blood.

To this end, he was ready to deny his own words, to go back on his own statement, to argue that documents were forged, that witnesses - even his own witnesses - were wrong and were misrepresenting the truth, that the records were false, and that the wording in official documents was incorrect. That is what he has had to say in the face of what he himself calls "one of the most terrible crimes in the history of mankind." The barricade of paper and lies which he tried to construct diligently and pedantically in order to cast off any responsibility, so as not to see, feel or hear, is typical of the Nazi image. And we cannot escape the question that has confronted this court from the opening days: Of what material were these men moulded - they whose work this was, who committed these deeds, and that this was the existence they created, and thus they defend themselves when their day of judgment arrives?

Counsel for the Defence has spoken of two worlds confronting each other: The depths of suffering and the heights of power. The world of the Caesars - so he said - does not know tears. Correct. Tears are only known to a person who has a human heart within - only he is capable of being shocked by the sufferings of others. He who possesses a heart of stone is neither shocked nor horrified even when a dreadful procession of deeds wrought by him passes before his eyes for a period of two months, but when facing judgment he is capable of a tortuous struggle based on falsehoods and evasions - for after all the Leader himself declared that a lie should be repeated so many times until others would also begin to believe that it was true. Yes, indeed, two worlds stand here, confronting each other; however, the world of the dictator is not on the lofty heights but in the vile depths of hatred, while it is the world of the victim which brought to all inhabitants of the earth the message of the law given on Mount Sinai and the supreme injunction: "Thou shalt not kill!"

Thus has Israel stood, from those times, facing the bearers of hatred, vengeance and arrogance. Thus stood the fathers and thus will stand the sons.

"And the Philistine said unto David: Come to me and I shall give thy flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field. And David said to the Philistine: Thou cometh to me with a sword and a spear and a javelin, while I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the battlefields of Israel whom thou hast abused."
These are the worlds, Your Honours, and this is the scene.

The righteous Dr. Grueber conveyed to us the definition of the mercenary soldier, the "Landsknecht," who divests himself of all conscience when wearing uniform, who - from that moment - remains completely indifferent to the sufferings of others, even those caused by himself, who rejects any plea, who is not even prepared to listen to an entreaty to alleviate the tortures somewhat.

Adolf Eichmann was cold and obdurate even towards the noble member of his own people, and Dr. Grueber, when speaking to him saw before him - as he said here - a gaping chasm of hatred. Once, in a rare moment, when this man stood before him, tired, weary and exhausted, begging for the life of a Jew, Eichmann, on this occasion, for once gave expression to his inner thoughts. And what did he say at that time? "Dr. Grueber, what do you want all this activity for? The Jews will never be grateful to you for it."

Where, Your Honours, were the wells of poison from which these men drew the strength to trample upon human beings like vermin, to tear a baby to pieces with their hands like a worn-out rag, to be engaged for five years and more in dispatching millions to their deaths? It is horrifying to come to the conclusion that for one who embarks upon this journey there is, so it seems, no longer a way back to human values, for this doctrine of falsehood destroys the human heart and converts it into a block of ice and marble, who crouches over documents, decrees, orders and proclamations. It is to these to which the Accused and his like endeavour to cling when the arm of the law reaches them. Truth and falsehood do not have any of their usual meaning in what such men will say. The truth is that which serves their purpose; a falsehood is that which stands in their way. This is the road to perversion of the Nazi - from the beginning to end. If they experience a regret in their hearts - it is because of the fact that the abominable task was not completed; if they are anguished - it is because the methods they employed were not sufficiently effective in order to accomplish the objective fully.

After this poison has penetrated the soul, and after the subject has divested himself of his human obligation to consider moral values, and to test his path by the dictates of conscience, the ground has already been prepared for the process which is called "the Final Solution." For there is no more moral restraint, no more halting before crime, but the reverse: There comes the enthusiasm and the craving to carry out the evil design faithfully. The camp that raised Hitler to power believed in the creed of hatred towards anyone who stood in its way. This was not a mass hypnosis, or any other psychotic phenomenon, by which a man is trapped and no longer able to free himself. It was a voluntary, informed and conscious way of acting on the part of a gang of criminals, whose rise to authority was also meticulously and clearly planned. This foul wave raised into highly- placed positions, and to posts wielding enormous power, men who saw in Nazism an opportunity for a career, for a share in government, for good emoluments, for convenient living conditions, and who accordingly were ready to co-operate with any vile conspiracy. Their hatred knew no geographical, social or family boundaries. Envy and fanaticism were in their hearts, envy of the possessions of others, lusting after foreign lands, of property not theirs. Their fanatic faith made them burn spiritual treasures, in public, and at home to seize the New Testament from a woman's hands, tearing the book to pieces.

How did this satanic wave of evil and murder well up like a flood?

Why did Adolf Eichmann leave Austria, where he grew up and received his education and became drawn to Nazi Germany? What attracted him, the Austro-Nazi to the false image of this doctrine? What prompted him to join their service and to execute on their behalf one of the most debasing and revolting tasks which they performed? And how, indeed, does a human being bring himself to act, as those men acted? It would seem that when a dictator, ridden by hatred, the ground prepared for his leadership in the soul of the nation, can lead it whichever way he desires, even to the depths of Hell. On this topic, too, we heard from Dr. Grueber about fiendishness becoming even worse, men becomimg even more deeply enslaved, about the road from which all those who tread it would never return. This was the regime that created the "bicycle-riders," those who trampled and kicked those under them and who cowered down to their superiors - stepping on and crushing anyone beneath them, and displaying discipline to their superior with eager joy and clicking of their heels, whatever his orders might be.

But there was something more than that: an absolute rejection of the principles of morality, or of what they termed the "bourgeois morality," in order to achieve the supreme objective. For this purpose, everything was permissible - lying, deceit, violence and murder. But in their own eyes, and in the eyes of their associates, they continued to be decent people, useful to society. Not only were they not troubled by any pangs of conscience, but they even regarded themselves as demi-gods capable of carrying out all these terrible decrees.

A person whose heart is ready to absorb such hatred, will be attracted to it even from far away. Whoever was ready to follow the leadership of Hitler - and it should not be forgotten that he was elected to the Reichstag for the first time, by about 40 per cent of the electors - and gave his consent, either wholeheartedly or with some hesitation to that which was perpetrated afterwards throughout the whole of Europe.

Adolf Eichmann said in his Statement made in Israel that he should be allowed to hang himself in public, as a warning to future generations. But such an idea did not bother him when dealing with Jewish affairs in the Gestapo, or when writing about the solution of the Jewish Question in 1941, or when dictating to Sassen in 1957 about the glory of his greatness, and his achievements during the War. At that time he did not give expression to such thoughts - so he stated before you.

It is, therefore, patent, that his statement was empty lip- service, devoid of any meaning. Eichmann was never ready to stand trial for his deeds and to bear punishment for what he had perpetrated, and therefore he fled and lived in hiding under an assumed name.

"From time to time I used to return to my old ways," he told us when we confronted him with the Sassen Document "and on such occasions I uttered the nationalistic slogans in Argentina also." Return to his old ways - to what? That is to say: Twelve years after the defeat, when he no longer stood in awe of his oath, or of a Leader, or of orders or a regime, he again believed in the doctrine of murder and race- hatred. And when his tongue became loosened, he expressed his regrets at the fact that the Jewish People still existed.

Now when the time has come to judge Adolf Eichmann, I shall try to tie up, one by one, the central testimonies describing the crimes, and to link them to the beginning of this trial - to the indictment and to my opening address.

The summing-up will be divided into an oral statement, which will include the principal arguments concerning the legal significance of the evidence produced, in connection with the charges that have been brought against Eichmann, and a written section - prepared by my colleagues - which will follow the course of my opening address, and indicate the documents and evidence that have been presented in proof of what was stated there. Furthermore, we shall also submit to you, in writing, some further notes, linking up the evidence with the various counts. I am afraid that there will still remain many items of evidence and documents which will not be referred to in the summing-up - neither in writing nor orally. But I feel certain that the Court will consider those as well.

The Accused does not deny the fact that the Holocaust took place, nor that this unprecedented harrowing crime was indeed perpetrated; that millions were murdered, starved, reduced to servitude, kept under inhuman living conditions - that all this happened. These things were horrible and awful - this he acknowledges. And he has no question to ask, or any criticism to make, regarding any of the witnesses to the Holocaust who described a small part of the Catastrophe. Everything that was related concerning the ghettos, the atrocities, the villainy, the viciousness, the murder in the camps, the plunder, the killing of babies and children - all these he does not question, nor take objection to. But he maintains that he was not the one responsible for them, and that he was not implicated in them. Others shed the blood: Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich, Kaltenbrunner, Mueller, Pohl, Hoess. Not he.

I shall not refer again in detail to the evidence brought here in proof of this terrible national calamity that overtook Jewry, or to the events and the atrocities of that hell which descended upon Europe, where the victims were not even allowed to weep. You will recall, Your Honours, the question asked by that Jewish child when it saw the partisans, led by Abba Kovner, coming to liberate it after months of concealment in a dark bunker: "Mother," it asked, "are we allowed to cry already?" For in the Nazi inferno, as distinct from that of Dante - it was forbidden to sigh - it was forbidden to shed a tear.

Your Honours, I shall not take you again through the valley of the shadow of death which has been depicted here by dozens of witnesses, since these matters are engraved in the mind, and no one who has heard them will ever forget. I want to deal now with the extent of the awful design, with the conspiracy that was entered into for the extermination of Jewry, with the role part played by Adolf Eichmann in that criminal conspiracy, in which thousands and tens of thousands were partners - with the SS taking the central part - and with the various acts with which he promoted, aided, organized and initiated the execution of the crime. It was Adolf Eichmann's contention that he occupied a humble place in an inconspicuous corner of this conspiracy; that he fulfilled a technical function of secondary importance, in drawing up the timetables for moving the trains. In our view, he occupied the very pivotal point in this huge slaughter-house. He was in charge of the practical implementation of these atrocious crimes in all the sectors.

The conspiracy to exterminate Jewry did not emerge overnight, nor was it implemented overnight. It took on three different forms. At first there was the slogan: "Let us throw the Jews out of Germany;" this developed into the slogan: "Let us pack them into Poland and prepare them for the Final Solution; at any rate, let us throw them out of Europe." And, lastly, it changed into its final form: "Let us cast them into the gas chambers and into the furnaces." In all these three stages, Eichmann performed an executive function of the first order, and he had a hand in all these crimes which are defined in the indictment as crimes against the Jewish People, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

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