The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 10
(Part 6 of 7)

[Attorney General, Continued]

And now, it only remains to determine Adolf Eichmann's exact place within that spectacle of horrors. What was he? A sort of perfected dictaphone, though one operating wholeheartedly and with a willing spirit, but nevertheless merely a conduit pipe through which his superiors heard the summarized contents of files, and into which they dictated instructions - as he claims - or the mainstay in the murderous enterprise?

Eichmann, in his defence on this point, contradicts himself; it runs counter to his statements made elsewhere. It is in complete contradiction to all the evidence, and negates any possibility of a structured military or police apparatus.

All the charts he drew up where intended to conceal, to diminish and to minimize the image of Section IVB4, in order to limit its scope to a microscopic point, almost invisible to the naked eye. And in its stead there appeared entwined spider's webs of lines, arrows, chains of command and channels of influence - charts that do not stand up even to the most superficial examination. There is no command system in the world that could have operated in the manner described by Adolf Eichmann; and this much we must admit about the Nazis - they were not inefficient. In order to shake off and saddle others with the awful guilt he humiliates himself, saying he never exercised the power of command which he possessed as a senior officer, nor the authority at his disposal as Section Head. And in order to follow this absurd line to the end, he claims that he never made any recommendation to his superiors on any matter, small or large, and was, in fact, never required to do so, whether it related to the dispatch of hundreds of thousands of Jews from a particular country to their deaths, or whether it was a question of the application of an individual person to send a parcel to his relatives, who had been deported to the Generalgouvernement or to Vichy France. All these matters were determined by his superiors, and he merely carried out what was demanded of him.

In this way, Your Honours, Eichmann tried to convince you that he is a miserable person, a victim of circumstance, whose bad fortune led him to be caught up between the wheels of the murder machine. He does not deny the existence of such a machine, that it was in operation, that it perpetrated all these things, but he again and again protests his innocence by saying: "Not I, but others; others did it and justly received their severe punishment, since they were the ones who issued the orders and who willingly did what they had done."

But in the Nazi system of authority, built upon the principle of leadership, there was one supreme source giving orders, and one only. That was Adolf Hitler. All those placed beneath him in the chain of command received his orders and transmitted them to the lower ranks. Every ranking officer in the Nazi hierarchy, alike, used both to receive and to give orders.

Wisliceny testifies that the idea of extermination in the East originated in the minds of Eichmann and Globocnik, as Eichmann himself acknowledged to his friend in 1944. From them, the idea was conveyed to Himmler and it came back to them - this time in the form of an order by the Fuehrer. I have no doubt that it was not Eichmann who gave the first comprehensive order for the extermination of the Jews, in the same way as I have no doubt that the Chief of the General Staff did not, on his own initiative, give orders for the entry of the Germans into the Second World War. In both instances the orders originated with Adolf Hitler, and passed right down the whole chain of command until the very last of those who were to carry out these orders.

By his own admission then, Eichmann occupied a place in this chain, since as he stated, he dealt with and arranged the transport of the Jews to the camps, in the full knowledge that they were going to be put to death there.

By this, in itself, Eichmann acknowledges his role in the crimes detailed in the first six counts against him, and this admission of his suffices in order to convict him on these counts. But was that, in fact, the whole of his share in the enormous crime?

As against the version of the microscopic point - which has nothing to support it, except his own word, and while at the same time he maintains that, according to his belief, an accused may lie in his own defence - there is a mass of evidence, both oral and written, which has been submitted by us; documents from the war period itself, testimonies that were given at the trials of the war criminals, evidence that was produced by the Defence in this trial, and witnesses who were questioned on behalf of the Accused himself. All these testimonies point clearly to him as the mainstay in the execution of these terrible deeds, and there is nothing in his defence, and in defence of his version, apart from what he himself says. Perhaps for this reason, he took pains to speak at length, to say something about everything, to make a show of finding excuses for any problem in any way he could, even in a totally absurd manner, contradicting what he had said previously in his evidence, and what he would be saying subsequently. His supreme effort in his examination was not to remain silent and not to lack a reply to any question whatsoever, for he only had his own word to rely on - all the rest was against him, both the evidence produced by us and by him. Hence he became so fearful when he had to face the Sassen Document, for there Eichmann talked about Eichmann and contradicted the account that he tried to present to the Court. For this reason he claimed that with this document, to use his expression, "they are trying to fry me"; there he flew into a rage and said he would not answer any further questions.

I will say at once that the extracts from the Sassen Document which were submitted to the Court, and even the document as a whole - if it had been admitted - were not needed in order to provide grounds for convicting Eichmann. We have copious evidence without his incriminating himself by his own words, and the Prosecution does not seek to base a conviction upon the Accused's own statements. But the passages that were admitted were necessary, utterly to destroy his version, which in any case had been absurd, and in order to show the baselessness his own account, which anyhow was the flimsiest and contradicts all the evidence, both oral and written. Passages in which he inserted many amendments in his own handwriting testify to the fact, without the shadow of a doubt, that the man appearing before the Court is not only a murderer stained with the blood of millions, but also a disgusting liar, who is ready, time and again, when hard-pressed against the wall of evidence, to make a theatrical gesture and to declaim that, while he is innocent of any crime, he is nevertheless ready to take all the guilt upon himself, so as not to appear a liar.

Eichmann himself relates in his Statement to the Police that, in the presence of Mildner, he met the journalist Sassen and together they examined and analysed the problems of the extermination. In reply to my questions in cross- examination, he said that he had conducted these conversations with Sassen in order to put the record straight, and that he had told the truth. He admitted that he had quietly and calmly, and while totally sober, inserted hundreds of alterations in the manuscript, and it is precisely the slight printing errors that still remained, such as the name Grumeir for Krumey and so on, which he did not attend to, that prove that this was the first, rough, draft of the words as spoken by him and amended by him in the main places in the transcript, which was to have served as the basis of the book they wanted to write.

The authenticity of the Sassen Document is proved by the evidence in its entirety. Anyone reading Sassen obtains complete confirmation of hundreds of documents, of the testimonies of Wisliceny and Hoess, of the personality obsessed by the idea of the destruction of the Jews, and in the form in which the words were written down as having come from him, it becomes clear that they had indeed been uttered by him. The various expressions of keeping the ovens heated with human beings, such as "Schlittenfahren" which, as we were told, means, in his idiom, "to fix people," elegant methods of destruction, and the like, reveal the stamp of his language.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, do you maintain that we can go back on our previous decision in this matter?

Attorney General: No, Your Honour, I am only asking this of you - to believe that the rest of the words, too, that I read out to the Accused, and which contained insufficient alterations to warrant my asking him to identify these passages as having been corrected by him - were indeed spoken by him and are indeed true, despite his verbal denial. Although as far as his role and his status, his powers and authority are concerned, those extracts which the Court ultimately admitted are absolutely adequate for the purpose of evaluation of the Accused's evidence.

In conclusion, as regards the general assessment of his role in the system of extermination, we do not depend on the Sassen Document. In evaluating Eichmann's skill as a liar these extracts are of importance. I request the Court to examine them and to form its opinion about them, and to accept them as authentic.

But also without them, the Accused has been confronted with copious evidence depicting his status in the extermination enterprise, which absolutely bar for him an escape into the microscopic cave that he sought to dig for himself in his statements.

Hoettl, a Section Head in Department VI of the RSHA (Head Office for Reich Security), testifies to Eichmann's having been the representative of the RSHA, and of Himmler, for the arrest of the Jews of Europe, and for their transfer to Germany. Hoettl goes on to say that this transfer ended in the destruction of the Jews. Hoettl did not withdraw these remarks when questioned as a witness. He said that Jewish Affairs were handled exclusively by Eichmann and then called him "the great transporter to death."

In Wisliceny's statements Eichmann's activities are described in detail by a man who had once been the Accused's superior, and who had afterwards served under him. The two men were friends and worked together. Wisliceny himself confessed to many and various crimes, and one may assume that he knew what lay in store for him because of them before the Czech court. His statements accord with everything we know from the many documents which were certainly not before Wisliceny when he gave his evidence and wrote out his declarations. Wisliceny declared that it was Eichmann's task to execute the order for the extermination of the Jewish People. He reported this at Nuremberg, and testified that he had seen in Eichmann's possession a written instruction from Himmler, in which the latter based himself on the Fuehrer's order to exterminate the Jews. That letter stated, so Wisliceny went on, "that the task has been assigned to the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service and to the commander of the concentration camps." And Wislinceny adds:

"Eichmann told me that he had been personally commanded to carry out the order within the framework of the RSHA and, for that purpose, he had received the powers of the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service."
All this completely matches Hoess' statements, notes and evidence. These two, Wisliceny and Hoess, made their statements separately, and were certainly unable to co- ordinate matters with each other. Hoess belonged to the concentration camps section, and he testified that Himmler had informed him that Eichmann would come to him and discuss details of the extermination, and to make the necessary arrangements in Auschwitz.

Wisliceny and Hoess both point to two basic links in the chain - the RSHA which dealt with the matter through Eichmann, and the Authority controlling the concentration camps (before the Economic-Administrative Head Office had been established) operated by Hoess, which together constituted the main pivots for carrying out the mass exterminations.

Wisliceny also described Eichmann's devotion to his task, and Wisliceny gives an account of his activity, his relationship with his assistants, his friendship with Kraus - the same Kraus to whose recommendation I have already referred - of his immensely powerful position, of his putting into operation the plan for extermination, and of his decisive personal role in it. At the same time, Wisliceny describes Eichmann's cowardice, and his desire always to be "covered" by an order. We heard something of this urge for cover from the Accused himself, in his Statement to the police, when the question of his conversations with his superiors was referred to; he said, inter alia:

"Yes, this was for the purpose of being covered; the whole file receives cover from the fact that an order has been given by some superior - thus I am only the instrument for implementation, for in any case I was only the instrument of implementation..."
Let us return to the matter of status. Rudolf Hoess describes how Eichmann pressed for the carrying out of the extermination, and stresses the indefatigable struggle he waged in order to attain his objective as speedily as possible. Eichmann did not want to take any difficulty into account, and resolutely opposed the assignment of Jews for labour, since this would endanger the ultimate objective, and Eichmann's life aim, says Hoess in conclusion, was the Final Solution. Do we not see emerging here the image of the Accused as it is portrayed in the Sassen Document?

This is what he says, in an extract which was submitted:

"In Holland, in the beginning things were rolling simply splendidly; later on difficulties arose... It is impossible to describe how difficult it was until finally, it again became possible to get one train moving. This could be seen in all the countries...10,000 were removed, and after that a struggle had to be waged. Subsequently, again, a transport of 10,000 or 15,000 arrived...thereafter it again became necessary to take up the struggle until once again part of them was released, and so it went on."
This was Eichmann's struggle: Frank, the Governor General of Poland, wanted to retain a number of Jews for labour; German industry wanted to retain a number of Jews; in Holland Jewish experts were needed; the armaments industry demanded workers; the railway administration was not prepared to supply rolling stock; the Economic-Administrative Head Office wanted selections of Jews in order to harness those who were fit for slave labour. And yet Eichmann insisted, he was obliged to put up an obstinate struggle with everything and everyone, in order to accomplish his mission. And, as Sassen says, he was compelled to persuade afresh, even his own men from time to time.

To the representative of the International Red Cross, too, he appears, towards the end of the War, as the central figure dealing with all Jewish affairs. He is portrayed in the official report of this body as an expert on all Jewish matters, as occupying an eminent position in the concentration camps of Lublin and Auschwitz, and as the direct authorized representative of the Reichsfuerer-SS for all Jewish affairs. According to the definition of the representative of the International Red Cross, Eichmann's name was on everybody's lips as the person responsible for the extermination operation.

Already in October 1941, his name was linked by the emigrants in London to the murder of the Jews of Germany, as stated in the newspaper Die Zeitung. In Vilna, in 1941, Abba Kovner heard from a member of the Wehrmacht, Anton Schmid, that he [Eichmann] was the central personality in the extermination. Zimmerman heard this in Cracow in 1942 from members of the Gestapo, and Dr. Wdowinski heard it in Budzyn from members of the camp's administration in 1943.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps, at this point, you could give us a legal authority in regard to these rumours?

Attorney General: Certainly. Our argument is that each one of these testimonies taken separately....

Presiding Judge: I am referring now to your last remarks, to the effect that rumours reached each of these witnesses that Eichmann was the person. You will no doubt recall that I raised this question already when this evidence was presented. What is its importance, if any?

Attorney General: Each of these testimonies on its own, is indeed of no value, even if the Court were to exercise its powers under Section 15. For we do not know from whom Schmid, or that member of the Gestapo, or the man who spoke to Dr. Wdowinski heard these rumours. But when all this is joined together to form one and the same impression, and points in one direction, all of it creates a composite picture. Abroad, in London in an official publication, in an open and public item Die Zeitung, inside Europe - in the camps, in documents of the German Foreign Ministry, and of other authorities of the Reich - when all this is taken together, I maintain, each single item fits into the whole comprehensive picture, and into an unbroken chain. Each drop has its own particular significance. Possibly, each one is only a small item in itself, but it is admissible and valid, and together they combine into a substantial quantity.

Judge Raveh: Admissible under Section 15?

Attorney General: Only by virtue of Section 15. On that there is no dispute.

The tale about a man who was born in Palestine and who knew Hebrew and Yiddish spread in Sosnowiec, as we heard here from the witness Mrs. Masia. Eichmann jokingly told Wisliceny that the Jews believe him when he tells them such a story. This is the evidence that he gave in T/133 on page 4. The very news that Eichmann was to visit the Emigration Centre spread dread and panic as late as 1940, as Mrs. Zimet testified. And then it was arranged that people stand in line in front of the building, for him to get the impression as if there were candidates for emigration.

The German author, Jochen Klepper, approached Eichmann in December 1941, imploring him that his wife, who was Jewish, should not be deported. The German Minister of Interior himself had to intervene, so that Klepper could obtain an interview with Eichmann. And the sequel to this tragic meeting is well known; the author put an end to his own life, and to that of the members of his family.

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