The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 111
(Part 5 of 5)

We gather from Wetzel's letter, that Eichmann gave his approval in principle to the use of gas as early as October 1941. In this letter, mention is also made of Eichmann's action in dispatching Jews from the Reich to the camps in Minsk and Riga. His claim that one page attached to that letter, which contains a note in handwriting, ought to be examined by a graphologist - cannot be entertained. If Defence Counsel had wanted to do so, he had the opportunity of having such an examination made. At any rate, the letter in its final form, and also the typewritten draft, contain Eichmann's name twice; and the letter was submitted without objection or argument. Eichmann does not deny his contacts with Wetzel who handled Jewish affairs in the Ministry for the Eastern Occupied Territories. He admits, in the end, that the subject of gases was considered at a meeting of the Heads of Sections in Department IV. He acknowledged all the time that he had witnessed the use of gas in the extermination vans at Chelmno.

Weighty corroboration of the evidence on the supply of gas by Eichmann's office is to be found in the Gerstein documents. He was the man who tried, already during the War, to alert the whole world, through the Swedish Government, against the crimes of the Nazis, and who committed suicide in a French gaol after the War. He confirms that Guenther, Eichmann's deputy, twice ordered poison gas from him - for the first time in 1942 - and in 1944 consulted him about the possibility of killing the remnants of the inmates of Theresienstadt. Gerstein gave a detailed account of the scene of extermination at Belzec, of the tasks assigned to him in connection with the supply of the gas and, at the end of document T/1313(C) he added that Guenther demanded of him to make arrangements to replace the method of killing at Belzec with cyanide gas, instead of using the exhaust of a Diesel engine.

This is additional testimony in the chain of evidence on the direct responsibility of Eichmann and his Section in regard to the supply of the gas. Here, it was difficult for Eichmann to claim that the evidence was false, or that Gerstein had tried to ascribe the guilt to others. Accordingly, the story was concocted here, in our honour, about the secret mission which Mueller supposedly entrusted to Guenther on the subject. However, he does have a somewhat "foggy" recollection on the question of the gases in which Guenther was involved - so he says - but he does not remember anything, and he can only give evidence in accordance with the documents.

Eichmann admitted that he knew in advance that he was going to be questioned on the subject of the gas. He admitted that he had heard about the Gerstein report while he was still in Argentina. The whole story of the "special mission" by Mueller is pure invention. It is possible that Mueller indeed was in the habit of assigning special missions to his deputies, or to Section Heads, but - as Huppenkothen testified - he did so mainly as regards communist affairs.

Rudolf Hoess made it clear, in the chapter in his biography that he wrote about Mueller, that in regard to Jewish affairs Mueller used to give the Section a free hand. It could have been that Mueller, at some time, would impose a limited, one-time assignment on some minor official, if he had reason to conceal the assignment from the Head of the Section, if the minor official was more loyal or more versed in the matter; but Eichmann actually acknowledges himself that he was aware throughout all these years of the use of gas. Why should they conceal from him the fact that it was being supplied? Surely he knew that the gas was arriving from some place or other. And if, as he said, the Head Office for Reich Security did not have any connection at all with the conduct of the camps, and if they did not have any part whatsoever in the methods of extermination - what purpose was there at all for any action by Mueller - by means of a special secret mission or otherwise by Guenther or by Eichmann? What did Mueller have to do with the supply of gas?

The conclusion which emerges irresistibly, from all these facts is that Wetzel's letter, in conjunction with Gerstein Report, the testimonies of Hoess and Wisliceny, Eichmann's search for a solution that did not turn men into sadists, prove his role in the matter of extermination by gas in two respects: the suggestion to use gas and its supply to the death camps.

The operation "Removing the Traces" of the murder was also dealt with by him. Wisliceny bears witness that the Death Brigade 1005 was subject to Eichmann's orders, despite the fact that its commander, Blobel, was one rank higher. Von dem Bach-Zelewski - a Defence witness - testified that, in allocating tasks to men, Himmler had regard to their personal abilities, that it was not the rank but the standing that mattered. Accordingly, it was not surprising that Blobel, who was stationed with Eichmann - as the latter himself confirmed - should be placed under his command at the last atrocious stage of opening the graves and burning the corpses. Blobel was the same man who, according to Hoess, showed him, Hoess, the extermination installation at Chelmno. on the instructions of Eichmann. Hoess also confirmed that Blobel was subordinate to Eichmann and that, while in this position, he carried out the great operation of removing the traces. He again confirms this in the chapter dealing with the Final Solution.

The Court will recollect the testimonies of Dr. Leon Wells about the operation of opening thousands of graves, the cremation of the bodies and the grinding of the bones. The account which Dr. Wells gave of the opening of the grave in which his own body was supposed to have been buried, and how he and his companions searched for a long time for body number 182, this story sounded like a nightmare in a lunatic asylum.

The witness Reznik described the same operation. The Court will remember the description of the mother who was discovered in her grave with a two-year old baby, wearing a white smock and white shoes, lying on top of her.

I shall not add to these quotations, but would ask the Court to peruse these testimonies, together with the rest of the material.

Another chapter of which Eichmann would like to wash his hands, is the demand by the Head Office for Reich Security addressed to Rosenberg, the Minister for the Eastern Occupied Territories, in connection with the treatment of the remnants of the Jews in that region. The instructions are contained in the "Brown File." The Head Office for Reich Security notified Rosenberg that there was a need for "amendments" in the Brown File. Heydrich gave orders that Adolf Eichmann, "the official dealing with Jewish affairs" (Sachbearbeiter fuer Judenfragen), should formulate these amendments. Now Eichmann wants to escape from the affair, as if he were running away from a fire. For the "amendments" were terrible, dealing with death and announcing destruction, and they join him through an additional link to the extermination in the eastern regions.

In his evidence he tries to throw dust in our eyes. He relates that Heydrich, in fact, did write the letter wherein he assigned this task to him, but in the draft there appears a correction of two words in handwriting, and now he identifies this handwriting as that of the secretary of Department II. Here, according to him, is the proof that Wilfinger of Department II, and not he, framed the "amendments" to the Brown File.

However, it is clear that this time, too, he is lying. The "amendments" were worded according to the decisions of the Wannsee Conference, and they were written nine days after it. Eichmann, and not Wilfinger, took part in the Wannsee Conference. It was Department II that informed Rosenberg that Eichmann, and no one else, would draw up the amendments, and this was signed by Heydrich. And why should there be any doubt of the fact that the person dealing with Jewish affairs - the "Referent" for implementing the Wannsee decisions - would also convey the wishes of the Head Office for Reich Security to Rosenberg?

And who was Wilfinger? He was a member of the legal Section, and, according to the scheme for the division of duties, he co-operated with all the Sections; he certainly participated in meetings at which documents were drafted, at which legal problems arose, and certainly he, too, had a share and took part in this murderous activity; but the policy of direct extermination, the practical part of the Final Solution - that was Eichmann's business and not that of the legal adviser of the Head Office for Reich Security.

And in the countries of Western Europe, to the north and to the south, the widespread campaign continued where, in every capital of a satellite country or in every centre in the occupied territory, there was a representative, subject - it is true - in a formal sense to someone else, but who received direct instructions from Eichmann.

Presiding Judge: Referring once again to the "Brown File," is there any proof of what ultimately happened to the Brown File? Was it completed, and did it serve as directives in the Eastern Occupied Territories?

Attorney General: Your Honour, there were several files, as we know from the Nuremberg documents. There was a Green File; there was, so I believe, a file of another colour, the name of which I cannot recall at the present moment, and there was the "Brown File." Later these were, in the end, the instructions according to which Rosenberg operated.

Presiding Judge: Do we have any proof of that?

Attorney General: Yes, in Rosenberg's trial.

Presiding Judge: The judgment in that case was not submitted. Was Rosenberg one of the accused in the main trial?

Attorney General: In the I.M.T. - certainly.

There was a co-ordinated assault on ancient Jewish centres in France, Holland, Belgium and Slovakia, on the communities in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Romania, of Norway, Denmark, Greece and Italy. And simultaneously, activity continued in the Reich and in the Protectorate. The net of round-ups was spread throughout occupied Europe, and Jews were caught up in it in hundreds of thousands.

From these countries, a wealth of documents has been preserved, to some of which we shall refer in the written summing-up which we shall submit. Suffice it to point out here to the conferences that Eichmann summoned, in order to give instructions, to exercise control, and to lay down directives which were binding on all the Jewish advisers. He admitted in his interrogation that these men, who were summoned by him and who operated throughout the length and breadth of Europe, were indeed engaged in marking the Jews, locating them, and speeding up their dispatch to the East.

It was not enough for Eichmann that those engaged in the operation came to him from time to time. He went to them. He visited all the countries where Jews were being hunted down and deported - at least the more important ones amongst them - and ordered these men to remain in contact for the purpose of carrying out his instructions; he worked hard with them, and stimulated them into activity. He denied ever meeting Naumann, but document T/563 refutes this. It proves that he participated in a meeting together with Naumann, at which there was a consultation on the deportations, the directives and the increase of rewards to informers who handed over the Jews who were in hiding. He laid down the instructions as to where the Jews should be taken. We know of three destinations from these documents - Auschwitz, Trawniki near Lublin, and Izbica near Lublin.

When questioned about the aim of his deportations, Eichmann said - and I quote his words from Session 93, (Vol. IV, p. xxxx: "Anyhow, I, at any rate, never denied that, to my great regret, the deported Jews were sent to their death. I could not deny that."

Indeed, Eichmann could not deny that, since it is impossible to deny the validity of tens and hundreds of documents by allegations of forgery, errors or inept wording. In his police interrogation he admitted that he was the authority for deportation to extermination camps (T/37, p. 1766).

Sometimes he was the one who determined the destination - whether it was to be Auschwitz or in the direction of Cholm, as it says in many documents. The meaning of "the direction of Cholm" emerges from the geographical situation of the town of Chelm, in the centre of Globocnik's district, from where it was easy to distribute the deportees to various extermination camps in that area.

In the official Polish report on the extermination camp, Sobibor, it says that it is situated on the Chelm-Woldowa- Brisk line. Whoever gave orders to send Jews in the direction of Cholm, or in the direction of Auschwitz, signed their death warrant.

The tremendous quantity of documents testifies to the eagerness, the method and the guiding hand - not only does he write and speak in the form of "I" - and there is no indication that the "I" refers to someone else - but he also writes "my office in Paris," "my office in Oslo," "my office at The Hague." This is how he writes and expresses himself about his various branch offices. From the Sassen Document - from that part which was admitted in evidence for the purpose of testing the credibility of his testimony - we learned how he ruled over Richter in Romania - and we know how this Richter operated - in dealing with the Jews of Romania, and also in bypassing the German Foreign Ministry. Dannecker did not sign the contract to receive the twenty thousand Jews of Bulgaria until he obtained Eichmann's confirmation on the telephone. Incidentally, in his interrogation, Eichmann acknowledged also the accuracy of the passage dealing with Richter.

He pulled all the strings, he executed all the operations of locating, concentrating and dispatching. When I asked him what was his concern with postal arrangements in the Westerbork camp in Holland, he agreed in the end that he dealt with that because it had to do with Jews, and after evasions under cross-examination, he finally admitted that every individual item which related to Jews and which reached the Gestapo was his Section's affair. (Session 98, Vol. IV, p. xxxx). "This office was declared by all the relevant parties to be the recognized institution for the solution of the Jewish Question." This is how Dannecker expressed himself in his letter in which he crowned Heydrich with the title "Commissar of the Jews in Europe" (T/400).

Again we realize the powerful status of Eichmann's Section. His representative, Roethke, goes to conduct negotiations with Pierre Laval, Prime Minister of France at the time, in matters concerning the expulsion of the Jews. He threatened Roethke once, when there had been a hitch in the dispatch of a particular train to the East, that he would be obliged to consider whether, in these circumstances, he should not remove France from the list of countries destined for the deportation of Jews.

Roethke's file minute, which includes this threat, has the weight of a hundred witnesses; for Roethke was perfectly at home in Gestapo affairs, and the very fact that he was taken aback by the threat and that he begged for mercy, lest Eichmann carry out this terrible threat, and that he promised that, from then on, everything would be in order - this fact testifies that in Roethke's view Eichmann could have implemented his threat, and that his fear was a real one. From this minute, we also obtain additional corroboration, both on the reports of the Jewish conferences which he summoned, with the participation of his advisers in the countries of occupation, and also on the statement which Goering made to Justice Musmanno, to the effect that Eichmann was able to determine the order of the countries whose Jews were destined for deportation.

We heard the same account from Eichmann himself in the passage which appears in the Sassen Document I have already mentioned, how he was obliged to struggle against difficulties in every single country, and how he had to pressure the countries of the West, in order to squeeze the Jews out of them.

In his Statement to the police, he admitted that his emissaries in foreign countries were bound, in the first place, to obtain a legal basis everywhere for carrying out the deportations. That was their first task, he said: Roethke strove to achieve that with Laval, and in the East, Richter negotiated with Antonescu; and Dannecker contended with the Bulgarian Government; Wisliceny arranged matters with the Slovak Government; in Hungary the task fell to the lot of Eichmann himself. Eichmann's domination in these matters was so great that the German Foreign Ministry was obliged to apologize to him, on one occasion, for dealing with Jewish matters in an urgent case in an emergency in Vichy France, without consulting him, since at that time he was away on an official journey. When he was questioned on this point by his own counsel, he was full of astonishment and said that such a step was not customary...and when he was cross-examined, his astonishment vanished, and he said that this was the practice and that they were, indeed, obliged to have him take part in that operation.

The appointment of Du Paty de Clam, the general commissar for Jewish affairs in Vichy France, was also his concern, and he recommended his appointment most enthusiastically. Thus we see the web of direct action, the active assistance, everywhere in fulfilling the task of the Jewish Section of the Gestapo.

Presiding Judge: Have you managed to cover more than was planned?

Attorney General: No, but this is the end of this chapter, and I shall not be able to commence another chapter and end it. I shall complete my plan, as I explained in chambers.

Presiding Judge: If that is so, let us adjourn now. The next Session will be tomorrow morning at 8.30.

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