The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 110
(Part 5 of 7)

[Attorney General, Continued]

The German Court in Ulm, whose lengthy and detailed judgment I submitted when presenting my preliminary argument, follows the ruling of the German Supreme Courts, which no longer recognize duress as a legal defence, as was laid down in various trials, and I shall quote only from the Ulm judgment (p. 467):

"Whoever served, as the accused did, for a period of years in the Gestapo and the SD during the time of the National Socialist regime, cannot be absolved of criminal liability simply because of a claim that he was in danger of life and limb, if he refused to go on participating in the criminal acts."
And perhaps I may be permitted to submit, without quoting, a judgment of the German Supreme Court on belonging to the RSHA, and acts that were committed as a result therefrom.

Presiding Judge: Is there only one copy of this?

Attorney General: We have only one copy.

Presiding Judge: This is headed: "The matter of Krause and others." Which court was it?

Attorney General: This is the German Supreme Court (B.G.H.).

Presiding Judge: Has Dr. Servatius seen it?

Attorney General: We have not shown him these authorities, but if the Court wishes...

Presiding Judge: I shall mark this with my initials and meanwhile will pass it on to Dr. Servatius.

Attorney General: I can hand over to Dr. Servatius the appropriate passages upon which I shall mainly rely.

Presiding Judge: Very well. I shall pass this on to Dr. Servatius and he can return the judgment to us when presenting his final argument.

Attorney General: In view of the legal principles of conspiracy, three questions have accordingly to be asked: What was the criminal conspiracy? What was done to execute it? What was the role of Adolf Eichmann in this evil design?

The desire to cast the Jews out of Europe became transformed in 1940 into consideration of the Madagascar Plan. I should not have devoted special attention to it here, had it not been for the fact that the Accused wanted to rely on this plan, and to point to it also as his personal attempt to seek a positive solution, as it were, to the Jewish Question and to provide, as he expressed it, ground beneath the feet of the Jews.

Already in Vienna, as we learned from a document, these matters were weighed in his office. Already at that time he planned, in fact, annihilation by means of emigration to Madagascar. One may believe that the "Stuermer" and no other source provided the inspiration for this plan. Incidentally, I have studied Adolf Boehm's book and could not find in it any trance of the Madagascar idea. And it must be remembered that we have to judge Eichmann, the planner of concentrating the Jews in Madagascar, not in the light of what occurred subsequently, and not in the light of the possible physical extermination which was not yet being discussed at that time, but in the light of the actual circumstances prior to the War and prior to the order for physical extermination.

The plan took its final shape during the War. Eichmann admitted that it had been devised and passed on by his Section after consultations and discussions with other authorities. Under this plan all the local inhabitants of Madagascar, about four million persons were to be uprooted, to be removed and deported from there, and in their stead the Jews were to be settled on that island, the main advantage of which was, according to what was specifically stated, that its occupants would be prohibited from coming into any contact - even business contacts - with other nations. There they would be living under the control of the Gestapo and would never achieve any independence. They planned to dump a million Jews there each year. Whoever studies this atrocious plan which originated with him, will come to the conclusion that its principal objective was to take control of the Jews, to throw them out of Europe, and to transport them to a country of exile, a country in which they would be isolated from the world. Whether the Jews succeeded in surviving there, or not - that did not matter, that Eichmann did not take into consideration.

He was questioned about the plan. The Court will find his replies on the subject. From the point of view of its cruelty and lack of consideration for human life, its being pervaded with hatred of Jews, its being drawn up in total disregard for the inhabitants of the island of Madagascar themselves and for the Jews destined to be deported there - it was not much better than a plan for actual extermination. Whoever was capable of preparing such a plan, recommending it and striving for its implementation - would not find it too difficult to move to the next stage of the criminal plot. But it was impertinent and insolent to mention this plot in the same breath as Herzl and the Zionist movement.

Possibly Eichmann was incensed that his schemes were not adopted. Possibly he expected that his name would be linked, as it had been linked at the ministerial meeting of 12 November 1938, with the practical solution of getting rid of the Jews - the aim which a veteran National Socialist should obviously have aspired to achieve. Possibly he toyed with the idea that if his programme were to be implemented, he - and not Heydrich - would be the Supreme Commissioner for Jewish Affairs.

At any rate,instead of Madagascar, there came the extermination plan. Eichmann admits that he knew about it already from its early stages, in the summer of 1941, and that he had an active role in its realization. As I have said, he tried to persuade the Court with all his might, that it was only through lack of an alternative and because he could not free himself, that he had to become engaged in this activity. Although, as I have said, it makes no difference, as regards his being found guilty, whether a murderer acts out of an eager lust for blood or out of "pessimism," as Eichmann portrayed his mental condition regarding the Final Solution. But for the purpose of assessing the man, of considering his testimony and evaluating the personality which he tried to present for himself, for understanding the group of his collaborators and their assistants who carried out the numerous works, there is some importance also in this enquiry. The truth came out as it emerged from a particular passage from his conversation with Sassen, about which he was questioned twice. This is what Eichmann said to Sassen:

"And this is what happened with the Jews when I, at that time was given the task without being ready for it, just like a baby, to act against the quest of the host people. I gave my thought to the matter, and when I came to recognize the necessity, I implemented it with the same fanaticism which a man would expect of himself as a veteran National Socialist, and which the superiors of the man who had been assigned to this task undoubtedly expected of him. And there was no doubt that they regarded me as the right man."

"...And this is what I say today, in 1957, to my own detriment. I could also have made matters more simple for myself. I could have said: This was an order which I had to fulfil as a result of my oath of loyalty and in my case I wore blinkers like a horse. No - that is cheap nonsense; that is an easy excuse, for which I cannot bear responsibility before my inner conscience. Therefore, I must declare expressly that, after carrying out my initial orders blindly and without thinking, I tried later on to get to the substance of the matter. For Fate endowed me with a spiritual horizon which apparently fitted me for the job."* {*Sassen Document, tape 3, p. 28}

When I first asked him whether he had uttered these words, he vehemently denied it, and said it was totally out of the question that he could have said it. Evidently there had been distortions and forgeries here. But his counsel also read out to him a passage from the Sassen Document, a passage actually preceding these words, and in re- examination the Accused replied that he had indeed said the words as they were recorded there and that, in fact, they were correct. After he had been questioned by the Court, the Court allowed me to ask him, once again, about the continuation of the quotation. The Court will find his reply on pages 16 and 17 of Session No. 107 [Volume IV, p. xxxx]. The Accused first read the following statement recorded as having been made by him (and I quote):
"But I am the kind of man who thinks his thoughts. I can carry out work blindly, and then I do so without any joy. But when I recognize the necessity and the reason for it - then I perform the work gladly and imaginatively."
When questioned, he replied that he had, in fact, said this and that he had been telling the truth, but that the remarks applied to his work in Vienna. And then I asked him to read out the continuation of his remarks, those very words which he had absolutely denied in the cross-examination. This was the continuation of the quotation that Defence Counsel had read to him, and which he confirmed. This time, in reply to my questions, he admitted that he had uttered these words as well, and that they too, were correct, but that they also applied, so he maintained, to the first period of his activity. However, when he was further asked who were the "guest people" against whom he was supposed to act, he replied "the Jews," and he admitted that the "host" who had to be freed of the Jews was Europe.

Throwing out the Jews from Europe - this Adolf Eichmann carried out, to use his own words, "gladly and imaginatively." Do we need any further evidence of his mental state, of his intentions, of his total identification with the evil design?

It is sufficient to peruse the whole quotation from the Sassen Document, as it was read to him for the first time, for it to become immediately clear that all these words actually referred to the period in which he was engaged in the out-and-out extermination. The Court should please examine the quotation. It is in the record. Eichmann appears to his superiors as the right man. He operated - not blindly, not without thinking his thoughts, but voluntarily and with complete self-dedication. After examination he acknowledged the accuracy of another quotation from the same document:

"I was not an ordinary recipient of orders. If I had been so, I would have been an idiot. I was thinking while carrying them out. After all, I was an idealist."
The Devil also claims to be an idealist.

Rudolf Hoess writes in his autobiography that he tried more than once to understand Eichmann's nature, and to assess his spiritual make-up. According to him, Eichmann manifested an extreme fanaticism for the destruction of every Jew, and he convinced Hoess, the commandant of Auschwitz, that any compromise would recoil upon them in the future. Hoess, the direct murderer of millions, testifies about himself, saying that his conversations with Eichmann gave him the mental encouragement to continue with this awesome task and helped him to overcome his own doubts and hesitations.

The two of them were friends. Eichmann acknowledged that in Court. He went further and admitted, under cross- examination, that Hoess was the epitome of exactness and meticulousness and that he had no reason to lie, to diminish the responsibility of others and inculpate Eichmann instead. With less enthusiasm, which can certainly be ascribed to the fact that, this time, he was speaking to an Israeli interrogator, Eichmann, when being questioned by Superintendent Less, in response to a statement by Wisliceny who accused him, Eichmann, personally of playing a decisive role in the disaster which overtook the Jews of Europe, said the following: (T/37 page 2525)

"I belong to that category of people, as I have already stated, who did not say in 1945, or up to this day `I was always against it,' and who were seeking, through a cheap excuse such as this, to escape the hangman's noose. That would not be correct; I had no such thoughts. Such an idea would be unbecoming. I am not able to say today - to justify myself - that I was against it."
We have thus obtained from Eichmann himself, in an interrogation in Israel as well, an admission that he had no moral objection to the execution of his duty, and in talking to Sassen, he added that he had perpetrated these monstrous deeds with feelings of joy and satisfaction.

But, even without these admissions of his, and even if we did not possess abundant evidence of his fanatical attitude and approach to the execution of his task, and if all we knew about him was that he had been appointed to the post of Head of the Section of Jewish Affairs in the Gestapo, after Heydrich had prepared the massacre of the Jews in September, 1939, and after Heydrich certainly knew what would be the duties of the Head of that Section, we must of necessity say that Heydrich selected the right man for the job. And we must remember this: In the chart showing the division of authority in the Head Office for Reich Security he was the sole Section Head who was in charge of all Jewish affairs. You will look in vain amongst the executive section of Heydrich and Kaltenbrunner for a Section comparable in its scope and description to Juden-Angelegenheiten, that is to say "Jewish Affairs."

In what were those dealing with the Jews in the Third Reich engaged in from the beginning of the War onwards? What were their Juden-Angelegenheiten? We know: they were engaged in annihilating and exterminating the Jews.

Accordingly, I say that if all we knew about him were that he was the Gestapo man for Jewish Affairs, that there was the enormous campaign of extermination, and that the Gestapo handled it, and irrespective of all the other evidence of his role in the criminal design, a very weighty presumption would have arisen to the effect that he was at the centre of the evil-doing.

But we know more about him - much more. We know, for example, that he remained in his post at the nerve centre of the Final Solution for a period of five years. He was neither transferred nor replaced. We also know that this work involved a continuous struggle, initiative and tactics which required the utmost ruthlessness, toughness and cunning. Is it not absolutely clear that his superiors saw him as being the right man in the right place? Is it not clear that, had he voiced some moral or personal reservation in respect of the task which had been allotted him, it would have become necessary to replace him? Even with the technological means which Nazi Germany placed at Eichmann's disposal for the task of extermination, it was a tremendous undertaking of abomination to accomplish the destruction of millions, to set the huge machinery in motion, to obtain the means, the men and the instruments for implementation - and all this under conditions of total war, while contriving the ruses, the craftiness and the required methods.

But there is also abundant evidence to establish that he laboured fanatically and relentlessly to achieve his purpose. His object was the annihilation of Jewry. He believed that by striking at the Jews of Europe he would cause death-blows to the whole of Jewry, as he expressed himself to Wisliceny.

"The core of the biological strength of the Jewish People lay with the Jews of Poland. They have been exterminated to the last man. Jewry will never recover from this blow."
These words, as spoken by Eichmann, were recorded in the summer of 1944, in Budapest.

To the heart-breaking grief of the Jewish People, whose wound will bleed for generations, and to the everlasting disgrace of the murderers and to the shame of the generation which stood by, not moving or stirring, while a people was murdered - the deed was in fact accomplished. At least six million Jews were destroyed and are no more. This is what Professor Salo Baron testified, after examining all the historical sources. He also made a historical and sociological analysis of the nature of the Jewish communities that were doomed to destruction and his conclusion was: They were the heart of the nation. The horrific counsel to destroy them - and thus to achieve the annihilation of the entire Jewish People - was not without foundation. It was designed to destroy the people to the last man.

As for this number of victims, there is also other evidence. Grell's testimony in this trial confirms what he stated in his affidavit. Eichmann admitted to Grell in Hungary that he had six million victims on his conscience. That same number of six million Jews who had been liquidated Hoettl had heard from Eichmann.

Eichmann himself quotes his own words in his statement to the police and describes how, on the verge of the downfall, he addressed his officers. He says he spoke of five million Jews. Afterwards he went on to say - and I quote him from T/37

"I am not a statistician. I worked this out by rough calculation and said to myself that approximately six million had been killed."
If we add up the number of persons exterminated by the Operations Units and of the victims of the death camps, including Auschwitz, according to the evidence of Hoess and the Polish reports - we reach a much larger figure.

In reply to questions from the Court, Eichmann said, in connection with the famous transaction "blood for goods," that in 1944 he thought that of the total number of European Jewry there remained alive between 800,000 to one and a half million Jews. An analysis of these figures leads to a result far exceeding six million victims.

The Jewish underground in Poland, in its pamphlet "Voice from the Depths" in 1944, that is to say before the destruction of Hungarian Jewry, and before the extermination of hundreds of thousands of others who had still survived, also arrived at a figure of five million victims of the slaughter.

Presiding Judge: Incidentally, I believe that, so far, we have not received a translation of this pamphlet - if I am not mistaken. Would you kindly make a note of that?

Attorney General: It is T/256.

This, then is the blood harvest that has no parallel throughout mankind's history on earth, in its extent, cruelty and the methods of execution.

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