The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 112
(Part 3 of 6)

After Horthy returned to Budapest from his meeting with Hitler, he received a visit from Veesenmayer, the Reich Ambassador, who informed him that he, Veesenmayer, would now set up the new Hungarian Government, together with Horthy, On that same day, Eichmann came in with the Special Operations Command named after him, Sondereinsatz-kommando Eichmann," in order to carry out one of the major purposes of the German take-over. This unit included his chief assistants - he listed their names - the hangmen of European Jewry, from all countries.

The object of this mission he defines, in his police interrogation, thus: "The speedy deportation and evacuation of all Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz." And elsewhere he says: "The order of the Reichsfuehrer was the deportation of all Hungarian Jews; to comb Hungary through from east to west and to send them to Auschwitz. That was the standing order."

When examined, he took back only the word "Auschwitz," and here in Court he says:

"True, my instruction was to deport them to Auschwitz, but now I do not remember, it was not only Auschwitz, the documents show that some of them were sent to Austria as well. Here speed was of the essence, so that there should not be a recurrence of the disgrace of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, of which they were afraid."
Kasztner wrote about this in his report, that this was one of the objects, and this was disclosed by Eichmann himself, when he spoke freely to Sassen. I examined him about this in Session 103. For that reason "the master" himself was sent to Hungary, as Himmler or Mueller put it. Today he no longer wants this title, by any means.

"The documents do not correctly describe 'the master'" - that is how he responded to my question during the examination, and the comradely expression of Mueller's about "the master" can today be interpreted in ways which do not fit with the "soldierly idiom." I am quoting Eichmann during the examination. Therefore, perhaps to make doubly sure, he denies this time that which he did not deny during his police interrogation - that he had earned this title at all in connection with his mission in Hungary.

"What kind of a master I was there," he says, "that is proved by the documents." The bloody harvest of about half a million persons apparently is not sufficient for him.

The story of the deception and lies started immediately. The representatives of the Jews were called together on the day following the German take-over, and Eichmann, who denied at first, during the direct examination, that he had in any way ordered the Jewish representatives to be summoned, now argued that he was not connected at all with what had happened in those early days, that Krumey and Wisliceny were not subordinated to him at that time, but eventually he admitted - when I presented Krumey's testimony - that in fact he had ordered this meeting to be convened.

Freudiger has told us what happened there. Krumey told the Jews that they should understand that in times of war certain restrictions must be put into effect, but in the end everything will turn out all right. If the Jews would only see to it that there be calm, hand over the documents which describe all the communities and their functionaries, if they co-operate - everything would be all right. The tenor of his remarks was totally reassuring. But what would happen in case of a refusal to co-operate - that was demonstrated by the SS soldier who was standing with his pistol drawn, aimed at the Jewish representatives throughout this meeting. Wisliceny and Hunsche were also there.

Then "the master" himself entered into contacts with the Jewish representatives. On 21 March, he ordered them to present themselves to him again, this time to him directly. We have two reports about this meeting, and the Accused did not dispute their accuracy. He announced that he would be in charge of all Jewish affairs in Hungary, but he would be prepared to grant to the Council of Elders some executive powers. "You have to give orders to the Jews," he said. "Stop all your liberal attitudes, stop asking for authority from the Jews." In any case, the Jews will be sent for labour, he declared, and he was not prepared to say whether it would necessarily be within the boundaries of Hungary, but the Jews had better volunteer for this, for if they did not, they would be taken forcibly.

Henceforth, the Jews were forbidden to transfer their residence without permission from him. The deception tactics continued, as was done in the ghettos, in the manhunts, and at the very entrance to the gas chambers. Eichmann continued: This will be only for the duration of the War; after that, everything will return to its normal course. But immediately there came this addition: There must be co-operation, because he had heard that in places where the Jews did not co-operate, there were also a number of killings.

Therefore, this was not worth while. "We do not have such manpower," he said, "we cannot place a lot of supervisors over you. Wherever there is resistance, we shall use force, and there will be killings. It is desirable that you, the Jewish representatives, make these matters public, so that everyone is aware of this." He already had much experience in Jewish affairs, he said, and he would see to it that he was obeyed, and let them not think that they could deceive him; if anyone thinks so, he will fall into his hands.

As I have indicated, Eichmann admitted in cross-examination that the minutes of that meeting, in which these matters were stated, is generally a correct reproduction of what was said and proclaimed. Here again, there was a mixture of glib talk and threats. On the one hand, an expression of the will to have industrial production sped up - a hint that the Jews were meant to stay alive. He also gave a promise that he would zealously guard the lives of the Jews and suggested that they speak to him frankly, "since I myself am also talking frankly."

Your Honours, he has told us here that the apparatus of deception which he put into operation towards the Jews, was being operated upon instructions. But a person has to get to the point of total identification with these cunning methods, with lying and deception of this kind, in order to announce to the Jewish representatives, when he knows that the people whom they represent are marked to be sent to death, to tell them: "I am talking to you frankly, I am open, you speak to me openly as well." This is not the manner of a person who puts into effect an apparatus of deception, camouflage and deceit only under orders. This is the manner of a person who is immersed up to his neck in heaps of abomination, who identifies himself psychologically, entirely, and without reservations, with the task he has undertaken, with his base, murderous job.

He told the Jewish representatives that he was interested in Hebrew literature, that he spoke Hebrew better than they did - which was a kind of compliment and token of interest. In the same breath he announced that he would mercilessly mow down anyone standing in his way. This is taken from the report. And after he spoke in this way to the representatives of Hungarian Jews and spiced deceitful promises with threats of murder, his messenger Novak was sent, as he himself admits, to Vienna, to plan the course of the trains from Hungary to Auschwitz. Well, he admits in his own words that he seized control of Hungarian Jewry, forcibly, by threats of terror and deceitful promises. That entire story of his, that he came there to report about timetables of transports, collapses totally. He also vehemently denied that he received Jewish prisoners from the Hungarian authorities. But this is recorded explicitly in the official Hungarian report of his liaison officer, Ferenczy. He himself told Freudiger that he was responsible for the ghettoization of the Jews in Hungary.

From that point on, Eichmann and his gang of criminals seized control of Jewish life in Hungary, by ways and means which were described in detail in the Kasztner report and in Freudiger's testimony. The Hungarian reports show that this was done in full co-operation with the Hungarian state authorities and through them. About the perfect co- operation between him and the criminals Endre and Baky, we have heard from the witness Dr. Ferencz and this was also reported, with satisfaction and great willingness, by the Reich Ambassador Veesenmayer to Berlin. To celebrate the authority given by the Hungarian Government for the operation to begin, those men made themselves a little banquet. The co-operation also covered the formulation of anti-Jewish laws: a ban on travel, the expulsion of Jews from gainful vocations, confiscation of property, seizure of hospitals, ghettoization and curfew. Experienced men from the Security Service helped in all these matters, since, after all, they knew their job by heart. Everything went here at a speedy pace, one edict following another, and all stages of the liquidation were concentrated and brought down upon the heads of the Jews in a series of blows.

In the meantime, "the master" was also engaged in fulfilling the second part of his mission - the reception at Auschwitz. It was a heavy burden, even for this camp, to receive all those masses, "diese alle Juden zu verkraften" (to process all those Jews), as he put it in his Statement in the police interrogation. For that reason, as we know from his statements, he had to maintain special contacts with Auschwitz, he travelled there, and after the usual subterfuges in his testimony, he finally admitted that he went there to ensure the reception of the number authorized for deportation.

Rudolf Hoess testified in his trial that Eichmann had from the first agreed to undertake the mission in Hungary only on condition that Auschwitz could receive all the transports that he would direct there. To that end, he first went to Auschwitz for inspection. "The master" also made the arrangements for burning the bodies and complained that no railway side line had been constructed to make possible greater efficiency. In view of his requests for stepped-up activity at Auschwitz, Hoess was returned to take command of the camp, after he had already been transferred elsewhere, in order that he personally would overcome the difficulties, and in order that he could match the pace of deportations by Eichmann with the pace of extermination.

Between the two of them, there was bargaining about the number of trains that would go there, with Eichmann demanding more and Hoess agreeing to less. In the end, a deal was worked out. Hoess adds that Eichmann personally arrived with the first transport at Auschwitz. In his cross- examination Eichmann stated that he did not remember whether he had arrived with the first transport, but he did travel with one of the first. A specially appointed person from his unit was present during the assembly and loading of these unfortunates.

The Accused wants to restrict the duties of this representative of his to supervision over one aspect: that these transports do not include, Heaven forbid, foreign nationals. He paid a lot of attention to this. But again, lies tend to collapse of their own weight, because, as Veesenmayer confirmed in a telegram to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, this task was assigned to some official from the German embassy. Eichmann told Sassen that he had been in charge of a few hundred people of the Order Police who were engaged in all arrangements for transport to Auschwitz. For that reason, he was also responsible for the indescribable suffering of those people on the way, suffering which was described here, just as he was responsible for the fate of these people inside Auschwitz itself.

The campaign of deception went on. Hungarian Jews began receiving, from the deportees, the well-known "Waldsee" postcards, in which the relatives who had allegedly been sent to labour assignments, reported that they were well. Freudiger discovered that, under the word "Waldsee," the postcards bore the word "Auschwitz," and asked Krumey about it, and Krumey replied: "Mr. Freudiger, you are an intelligent person; there is no need to see everything." We have heard from Foeldi that he himself had been ordered to write such a postcard from Auschwitz to his sister, and you have it before you as an exhibit, T/1151. Eichmann did not deny that he had set in motion this apparatus of deception and lies. This is one of the examples of that method.

His work bore fruit. The Hungarians produced the Jews. Vehicles were found. We may imagine what supreme effort was required, in the critical phases of the War in those days, when Nazi Germany was fighting for its life along all fronts; what difficulties "the master" had to overcome in order to obtain these trains, and even the few that were given to him, when every railway car was needed for the front, when every man had to bear arms. But he knew how to overcome difficulties. The liquidation of Hungarian Jews went on at full speed. The chapter is summed up in a number of German interim reports, and finally, in a report of 9 July 1944, which shows that 437,402 Jews were deported from Hungary to their death.

That was his harvest in three and a half months of work. The ovens at Auschwitz worked almost to the point of bursting; day and night, the Moloch swallowed up his victims there. And he wanted to see them there, to the last man. When Hitler himself was prepared to make a deal with Horthy, and in exchange for receiving all the Jews of Budapest, Luther was prepared to yield 8,700 Jewish families who would emigrate to Palestine - when Eichmann learned about this from Veesenmayer, he announced that he would appeal through Himmler against this decision and would ask for a new ruling by the Fuehrer ("Er beabsichtigte, im Hinblick auf die Fuehrerentscheidung, ueber die er unterrichtet wurde, Reichsfuehrer-SS zu berichten, und gegebenenfalls um erneuten Fuehrerentscheid zu bitten").

Why did he go to such lengths? That, too, was stated in the document. "Because, in his opinion, among those marked for emigration, there were Jewish elements of biological worth and also numerous Zionists." According to this same official report, he wanted to seize even those who had already somehow managed to leave Hungary, and were in French territory on their way to Palestine.

All this was not enough for him, but he wanted to secure this aim in a third way. And this is how it is reported: He planned the deportation so speedily and so skillfully (schlagartig) that, until the Jews would be able to arrange emigration papers, even if this were allowed them, there would no longer be anybody to emigrate, because all of them would be deported. And indeed, he did not sit by idly. He actually appealed against the Fuehrer's decision, and it is stated specifically in an official document that, upon Eichmann's application, Himmler intervened in the matter and asked the German Foreign Ministry to act in order to prevent the emigration of these families to Palestine. Here we see that he took the most extreme position, more extreme even than that evil man Hitler himself, who was prepared to release a handful of Jews, so that he could receive all of them, and was therefore prepared to make a deal with Horthy: You give me 300,000 Jews, and I shall give you 8,700 families. Eichmann does not agree even to that. He is not prepared to make even that concession.

When I examined him about this, he said that it was true, this was the way in which he had to act, since Himmler's order to ban emigration had been given in writing, whereas this Fuehrer-order was presented to him by Veesenmayer orally.

But Hitler's original order to kill all Jews, how did that come to his attention? Did he not say that in the summer of 1941 Heydrich reported that the Fuehrer had decided to liquidate physically all Jews? An order for extermination given orally sufficed for him. A Fuehrer-order given orally to save a handful of Jews - that was not enough for Mr. Eichmann. That he wants to see in writing. And then he added in his examination, as usual, that he acted only upon instructions. And finally he said about that entire document that Veesenmayer apparently did not write the truth there.

And once he started finding fault with documents, he added that his own letter to Guenther on this matter, of 24 July 1944, was also a forgery, because it did not bear a file-notation or the proper heading, and the style also did not appear to him to be his own. May I remind you, Your Honours, that this document was found in the records of the German Foreign Ministry, which received a copy of it, that nobody disputed its authenticity when it was submitted, and what I said yesterday about official documents applies to this as well.

Eichmann's allegation here again reflects the last absurd refuge of this man, when there is no escaping any more in the examination, and when the document speaks against him strongly, then he tries to get rid of it by claiming that it is a forgery. That is the way of his defence. And, in fact, he has reason to fear this document, because in this letter to Guenther he asks his office to take steps to induce the Reich Government to adopt a tougher policy, which will prevent any possible emigration to Palestine.

In the meantime, Horthy stopped deportations because of the pressure to which he was subjected. However, at once Eichmann still managed to carry out the deportation of the Kistarcsa train. He told us that he has some kind of a vague recollection about a train that left and was brought back. The other details, so he says, are shrouded in his mind in the fog of oblivion. Once again he offered us his help in reconstructing the documents. But the evidence speaks for itself, and we do not need this help.

Here, too, the struggle goes on, "the duel," as the witness Freudiger termed it, between Horthy and Eichmann. In spite of the ban by Horthy, Eichmann persuaded the Hungarian gendarmerie to co-operate with him in carrying out the deportation. Grell says in his deposition that Eichmann performed the deportation from a Hungarian camp "by a trick." In his testimony, taken from him in Germany - he was a counsellor at the German Embassy in Budapest in those days - for this trial, in which it is evident that he is trying to help the Accused just a little, he is compelled to say the following, and I quote from his testimony, Testimony No. 5, p. 4: "I found out officially once that the Special Operations Unit carried out a deportation from the vicinity of Budapest behind the back of the German Embassy and the top ranks of the Hungarian Government, in co-operation with the Hungarian gendarmerie and the State Secretaries in the Ministry of the Interior, contrary to the arrangement that existed between the German Government and the Hungarian Government." So much for the statement by Grell in his testimony.

The deportation from Kistarcsa is one of the proofs of Eichmann's fanatic desire to bring about the extermination of Jews under all conditions and by all means possible, even against the spirit of the instructions he had, as long as he did not contravene...

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