The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 112
(Part 1 of 6)

Session No. 112

27 Av 5721 (9 August 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the one hundred and twelfth Session of the trial open. The Attorney General will continue his summing-up.

Attorney General: With the permission of the Court, I shall now proceed to the evidence attesting that Adolf Eichmann had both ties to, and control over - whether indirectly or directly - the concentration and death camps. The camp known as the Terezin Ghetto served as a "propaganda camp" towards the outside world, and this is how it was called in the documents: "Propagandalager." In the Reich proper, the Nazis did not herd the Jews into the ghettos as they did in eastern Europe, but removed them from their homes and deported them to Terezin, to Lodz, and to the death camps of Nebe and Rasch.

This is the place to emphasize that Terezin was never under the control of the Economic-Administrative Head Office. Formally speaking, it was subordinated to the Commander of the Security Police in Prague, and the work of the camp was financed by the Emigration Fund, which came from Jewish money. The actual administration of Terezin was in the hands of the Central Office for the Solution of the Jewish Question in Bohemia and Moravia, which was under Hans Guenther, that is to say, subject to instructions from Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann's absolute control over the arrangements in this ghetto found expression in his own words, in the course of his police interrogation.

"And then things happened in such a way that I was ordered to set up a Jewish police force down there, composed of one hundred and fifty persons, as I seem to be able to recall, or a force of two hundred persons, so that they could take care of their own affairs down there. And then this happened, but how it happened I don't remember any more; there came an order from Himmler that he wanted to convert Theresienstadt into a ghetto for old people, that is to say, for a purpose of which basically nobody had thought before...nobody had thought before."
As for his absolute control in giving his directives to the residents of the ghetto - for the violation of which there was the death penalty, which was in fact imposed and carried out numerous times - that has been testified to by Seidel and Rahm, who had been in charge of that camp. Seidel was a member of his own unit, Rahm was the deputy of Hans Guenther.

Himmler wanted to keep this ghetto in existence for the purpose of the great camouflage, whereas Eichmann dealt with it as he dealt with all other ghettos, and wanted to liquidate its residents. This difference of opinion was pointed out by the representative of the International Red Cross in the report he submitted on this matter towards the end of the War, and which was published in Geneva in June 1946. He wrote that while Himmler was considering, in April 1945, on the verge of Germany's defeat, more humane methods of dealing with the Jews, Eichmann was not personally in agreement with this point of view, but as a good soldier he was going to obey the instructions of the Reichsfuehrer. Also at the last meeting between the Accused and Himmler - of which we know from the Accused himself - the matter of Terezin was discussed, when Himmler informed him that, since he intended to conduct negotiations with Eisenhower, he wanted, therefore, to transfer immediately a hundred or two hundred Jews from that camp to Tyrol, in order to spare their lives, and in order that Himmler appear as a more decent and more respectable person in the eyes of the American commander.

At that time, Wolff, Himmler's chief assistant, was in contact with the Allied armed forces, with the aim of arranging for the surrender of Germany on that front.

Eichmann also dealt with the dispatch of Jews from Terezin to Auschwitz. The last "selections" carried out there, as we know from the witness Oppenheimer, took place in the autumn months of 1944. Eichmann was known to all residents of the camp. The witness Diamant reported about a certain selection with the personal participation of Eichmann. The Defence Counsel examined the witness with the aim of proving that Eichmann was at that time in Hungary, and therefore could not have been at Terezin at one and the same time while being in Hungary. However, we also know from the testimony of the Accused himself, that during the period of his activity in Hungary he would travel to Berlin, from time to time, and that there were breaks in his stay in Hungary. There is, therefore, no contrast and no contradiction between those two, and the Court is asked to find that the witness Diamant spoke the truth.

Terezin seems to have been the place chosen by Eichmann for the final liquidation of the remnant of Jewry, after the death factory of Auschwitz had already fallen to the Soviet army. For that reason, in January and February 1945, those Jews from the Reich who had been living in mixed marriages, were transferred to Terezin; for that reason, apparently, Mrs. Salzberger was sent there, after being interrogated by Eichmann, and we have heard direct testimony about the preparations in this matter from Adolf Engelstein. Wisliceny also spoke about the same subject.

As for Bergen-Belsen, we know that Eichmann ordered that Jews with Argentinian citizenship be sent there, and that a general order of detention over his signature, was dispatched to all police stations. Complaints about the conditions of life in the camp of Bergen-Belsen were directed to him.

However, he was present in other camps as well. During his police interrogation he reported repeatedly - and the Court will find in the written summary which we shall submit, a detailed list of all these places - about his visit to Treblinka, about the dummy train-station which he saw there, about the signs intended to deceive the victims up to the last moment of their lives.

In his account to Sassen, he reported in more detail about his last visit to this camp. I examined him on this in Session 102, and he confirmed the gist of that. He did remember that the commander of the camp which he visited had a small armoured car, a kind of half-track, and in this half- track Eichmann enjoyed running around the camp for quite some time, until he learned how to drive this vehicle properly, and after that, he says, he returned to Lublin.

We can only surmise how many hundreds of thousands of Jews were suffocated in the gas chambers while Mr. Eichmann was taking his pleasure rides around the death camp. Today, he no longer remembers with certainty - so he said in Court - whether that camp was Treblinka or Majdanek. But he does remember well his visit to the Chelmno camp. This camp, which was put into operation in December 1941, stopped working in 1943, as transpires from that official Polish Report, and on that occasion, when the operation of the camp was stopped, Kaltenbrunner was asked to instruct the staff of the camp, which was sent on military duty to Yugoslavia, that they must observe strict silence concerning what they had seen or heard at Chelmno.

One conclusion is inescapable - that the staff of the camp was under the command of Kaltenbrunner, since he was the person required to give them the order for their silence, he and not the chief of the Economic-Administrative Head Office. That in fact this was so, and that the staff of that camp was subordinated to the Head Office for Reich Security - that is known also from the statement by Ohlendorf and from the affidavit by Blobel. The Head Office for Reich Security was also in charge of maintenance and operation of those closed trucks into which the Jews were loaded, and in which they were killed by asphyxiation through exhaust fumes. I have already mentioned that Rudolf Hoess testified that for the purpose of visiting Chelmno he required permission from Adolf Eichmann.

Now for the death camps in the Lublin area. The Accused admits that he sent the Jews from the West there. Had he admitted that alone, he would have been admitting active partnership in crime between himself and Globocnik. The transports of Jews directed to these camps, in the direction of Cholm, did not have to be announced and reported to the Economic-Administrative Head Office, as was required regarding transports to Auschwitz.

I would like to ask emphatically that the Court remember that Eichmann claimed here insistently that the camps were not all subject either to Department IV, nor to the Head Office for Reich Security at all, but only to the Economic- Administrative Head Office - a further attempt to disassociate himself from these chapters of horror. Globocnik was required, under these same instructions, as specified in T/737, T/1399, to report to IVB4 about the transports that had arrived, and not to the Economic- Administrative Head Office. Eichmann's instructions refer to total deportation, including children and old people, and they state specifically that the Commander of the Security Police at Cracow, Schoengarth, one of the participants at the Wannsee Conference, would be responsible for receiving them, and that the units under Globocnik would deal with the matter, and that at the end of the operation they should report to IVB4. These were the instructions of Adolf Eichmann.

Let us add to this the testimony of Rudolf Hoess before the International Military Tribunal, that the camps at Belzec, Treblinka and a third camp, Wolczek - the nature of which is not known to us, but which he mentions - were operated by a special operations unit of the "SIPO"; let us also add the fact that Wirth, the commander of the Belzec camp, was a member of the "SIPO"; let us further add the testimony of Wisliceny; let us remember that Gerstein provided the poison gas in 1942, after he had inspected the extermination operation precisely in the Lublin area at the orders of Guenther. Let us recall the report about the final dismantling of the camps, submitted by Globocnik, which stated: "Aussiedlung is erledigt und abgeschlossen," that is to say, the uprooting of the Jews has been completed; ergo: their murder and the despoliation of their property have been completed. The final conclusion from all this emerges that the Economic-Administrative Head Office did not operate the death camps; it was not this office which received announcements about the dispatch of persons to these camps; neither was this office the one to receive reports when these people reached the camps - with the exception of Auschwitz, of which I shall speak later. Eichmann's allegation in this matter, therefore, has no basis whatsoever.

The series of contacts with Globocnik is also enumerated in detail in our written summary, which we shall submit later, and in order not to weary the Court, I shall not specify the matters in detail, and shall content myself with stating that he confessed in his own words to a series of such contacts over a long period.

And now about Auschwitz: Rudolf Hoess also testified before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, and also at his own trial, that Adolf Eichmann had complete control over the fate of the Jews sent by him, those who were termed transport-Jews, "Transport-Juden." True, Auschwitz was one of those camps whose direction was in the hands of the Economic-Administrative Head Office. The commander of the camp, as long as he held that office - if one may call such a job an office - was in fact subordinated to Pohl, but instructions about the fate of the deportees arriving there, their admission or release, their execution immediately or after some time - all these were in the hands of the deporting agency, and this is how matters remained to the end. We know this from the mouth of Hoess, and we know it from the official instructions by the Economic- Administrative Head Office, which also speak of the Transport-Juden.

According to Hoess, Eichmann gave instructions to hold the deportees from Terezin in a family camp at Auschwitz, the Familienlager, for a number of months. We have heard from Yehuda Bakon what keeping people there actually meant. The apparatus of deception was once again in operation. The aim was that these people should write reassuring letters to their relatives, according to a formula dictated to them by Gestapo men. Complete corroboration for this - the testimony of Hoess, T/1356, printed page No. 19. Eichmann personally supervised these transports and also determined the date on which they were to be killed by gas. I am not saying that he specified this for each and every single Jew: This person shall now go to the gas chambers. Certainly, the workload was too heavy. But which transport should go directly to the chambers and which should be left, which should go to the family camp and which should not - that was in his hands, with a few exceptions. When Gisi Fleischmann was sent to Auschwitz, she was sent with the instruction "R.U." - Rueckkehr unerwuenscht, "return undesirable."

Konrad Morgen, the examining Judge: of the SS, after visiting Auschwitz and other death camps, gave orders to arrest Eichmann. The witness Rajewski, a Polish detainee who was employed in the political department, that is the department in charge of registration at Auschwitz, testified that the transports that arrived there - all of them transports of Jews, including from the Generalgouvernement - as the Court will recall, were all marked with the sign IVB4.

Eichmann himself admitted to Your Honours here that he visited Auschwitz five or six times. Since I do not have more than this, except for what Hoess has reported, I shall be content with this number which comes from his own mouth. What was he doing at Auschwitz? Why would a transport clerk travel to the great death camp? Why would he have to be there five to six times? If he just needed information from the Economic-Administrative Head Office saying: Auschwitz is all right, send on! - why then is it his business to go look at what is going on at Auschwitz, if his version is correct? But his version is not correct, Your Honours. As he said in those passages to Sassen, which we have termed "File 17," he used to come to Auschwitz whenever a large new transport would arrive, or whenever it was necessary to arrange a solution for another problem. Whenever a new big shipment was to arrive, he would go there himself to see what was to be done, and how it was to be received. This was the meaning of his visits. Because, in order to arrange the railway timetable, there was no need to visit the place. And, after all, he himself admitted in his police interrogation and confirmed this to me in cross-examination as well, that he did not take part in even one single Session at the Railway Ministry that was concerned with the timetables. This was done for him by Novak.

And not only the deportees from Terezin were kept at Auschwitz in the family camp, so that they could serve as part of the diabolic camouflage apparatus, but others as well. We remember the "Waldsee postcards," those famous postcards which the deportees were ordered to send their relatives, claiming that they were well. We remember the articles written by Fritz Fiala, the Slovak who was asked by Wisliceny, at the orders of Eichmann, to assuage the fears of the Slovak population, of the Jews and of the government. After visiting Auschwitz, Fiala wrote that it was a good and comfortable place, that people were happy in their work there, and that their life was comfortable and pleasant.

When the "Institute for the Study of Ancestral Heritage"* {* Ahnenerbe} needed skeletons for its collection at Strasbourg - they turned to Eichmann. And when Sievers was questioned at his trial why he turned to Eichmann of all people in this matter, he responded that the Superintendent of Concentration Camps, Gluecks, referred him to Eichmann. And again the question arises: Why would Sievers refer this to Eichmann, if indeed the Accused's version? Why would Sievers say that Gluecks referred him to Eichmann and not to any other person, if the version of the Accused is correct, that this matter was not within his competence and that he immediately responded: I have nothing to do with that, I am not a merchant in skulls and skeletons. Why did Sievers turn to him again a few months later in the same matter, in writing?

This was the course of events: Sievers asked for skulls and skeletons for the anatomical collection. Sievers spoke about the case with Guenther. Some sort of a hitch occurred, the exact nature of which we do not know, but we can understand from T/1363 that Dr. Beger, who actually dealt with this matter at Auschwitz, was forced to interrupt his activity, because there was an epidemic at Auschwitz. And then, a few months later, a written request is again sent to Eichmann.

The Accused is now seeking here his usual refuge in the face of an overwhelming burden of proof. "This was a secret task" - so he states - "and Mueller assigned this to Guenther." In the first place, there is the general question which I posed yesterday: If there was no connection at all between Department IV and Auschwitz, what business did Mueller have to assign the task of supplying gas or furnishing skulls to anyone, be it to Guenther or anybody else? In addition to this general question, his version breaks down in the face of two inescapable facts: When Sievers asked, on this matter, for the help of Dr. Brandt, one of the chief physicians of the SS, he added to his letter the draft of an application to Eichmann in this matter. Dr. Brandt did turn to Eichmann, according to the proposed wording. Should we really think that the top echelon of the SS did not know what was what, and did not know the division of powers, and was applying to an outsider who had nothing to do with the matter? And how far does the need to be very precise in the details of an application go when one drafts the letter, so that one must address His Excellency, Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, thus and not in any other way, and he will provide you with the skeletons? And that was the top echelon of the command! Therefore, his version here is not plausible at all. The fact that Sievers again turned to him in writing a second time, because he could not have told Sievers at all, "I am not authorized to do this," because if he had said so, Sievers would not have turned to him again.

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