The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 113
(Part 2 of 6)

Your Honours, this is not the first time we have come across people who make a slip of the tongue, and say things which they regret later on. I should not be surprised if Adolf Eichmann is today extremely sorry about his conversations with Sassen, and about having permitted himself to talk so much. He asked [Sassen] not to include this in the book, not to publish it during his lifetime, but those were only his inner thoughts. Therefore, when he comes here to declaim about crime - this is what he calls it when asked to define it clearly, in his own words - these are again only empty words. He does not believe to this day that he has committed any crime. He knows that this contradicts all moral standards, and that he has sinned against accepted, hallowed principles. But he thinks that he was serving the Fuehrer, as well as his country and its destiny, when he freed it of its Jews, in one way or another.

Judge Halevi: Mr. Hausner, concerning the figures. I believe that in File 17 there are quite different statistics, and there he arrives at a total of less than one million.

Attorney General: Yes, Your Honour, I have given this some thought. But as the Accused did not mention it, I did not think it necessary to relate to it, since he did not revert to this matter. I know that the neo-Nazi movement throughout the world is trying to tell everyone that all that is being said about millions of Jews who perished isatrocity propaganda, and that a few hundred thousand Jews were killed in the same manner as the others werekilled in bomb attacks and by hunger during the War, and that all we are doing is to trade in Jewish blood, in order to claim reparations from Germany. This is what the neo-Nazis tell the world, and along these lines and in this sense they reduce the number and declare that it is an invention, that there were not so many who died, and that there was no extermination at all. But here, as you have seen, Eichmann did not dare to revert to this matter. Here he spoke about the great crime, at least he pretended to. He did not take issue with all the evidence submitted about those millions, and I think that I may safely regard this fact as uncontested.

Judge Halevi: All right, but the question concerns the reliability of what he told Sassen, or of what he dictated there. It turns out that this part - according to the Prosecutions' argument - were lies which the Accused told Sassen.

Attorney General: But he did not say this to Sassen. This is File 17, which he wrote himself. Sassen - those are the sixteen files of which there is a typescript.

Judge Halevi: If that is so, what is the explanation? What was his purpose in writing down those lies?

Attorney General: I have a very simple explanation. It follows the well-known neo-Nazi line: "The Jews tell horror stories about millions who perished. This is not correct, here you have statistics, as Head of the Jewish Section in the Gestapo I do the accounting, so and so many died." This is the explanation, and this is the meaning of the words. He did not say this to Sassen. If you look at the conversations, at the questions which Sassen asked him, you will see that Sassen was not ready to swallow his every reply, or to accept as reasonable every version given him. In the passages before you, you will also see that Sassen asks and probes and enquires about the smallest details. Sassen could, of course, put questions much more freely than Inspector Less in the police investigation.

Finally, I might perhaps point to a number of small, but not unimportant, incidents. Eichmann has told you that Edelstein, Storfer and Eppstein were executed by Guenther, and I have already spoken about this from the point of view of competence, but there is yet another aspect: Yehuda Bakon heard from Mrs. Edelstein that Eichmann promised her to enable her to meet her husband. Wisliceny says that Eichmann did not fulfil this promise, and that he gave the order to execute Eppstein and other communal workers; they knew too much.

There was a struggle about Gisi Fleischmann's life, which is reflected in Kasztner's Report, in the many telegrams which went back and forth, and Kasztner describes how he implored Becher to spare this noble woman, a Jewish woman of valour. Becher turned to Eichmann, and Eichmann ostensibly telegraphed Brunner to spare her life, but afterwards he sent a second telegram countermanding the first one. The tragic execution of this woman took place because she had helped other Jews; they went so far as to deceive Himmler, because Becher had turned to Himmler himself in order to save her. So they told Himmler:

"The Government of Slovakia arrested her for spreading rumours, or for propaganda against the Slovak state."
And in the last, the very last stages: When Himmler issued the well-known Stoppbefehl (order to halt), at that moment Eichmann did not dare, of course, disobey him - as far as we know from Kasztner's Report - but he sent instructions to the commanders of the concentration camps that, in any case, all transgressions by Jews were to be dealt with unrelentingly. Wisliceny further says how furious Eichmann was, because he was under the impression that the camp commanders had not taken his hint and did not understand that he meant that they should seek every excuse to wipe out the last remnants.

On page 149 of his report, Kasztner describes his conversation with Wisliceny. Eichmann was looking for ways to sabotage the Stoppbefehl. He sent telegrams to the commanders of the Jewish concentration and work camps in Poland, which were now likely to be occupied by the Soviets, saying: Jewish lives must be spared, but if, in the course of the evacuation, difficulties should arise, the Jews must be given the severest punishment. And now Eichmann was annoyed and angry because the camp commanders had not understood his orders. And when Kasztner asked how Eichmann could have tried to thwart an order given by Himmler, Wisliceny replied: "You can be sure that he was going to draft a telegram in which Mueller or Kaltenbrunner would back him up. He was going to find the right way." But there were apparently also some camp commanders who understood the hint. You heard here from witnesses about the marches westward from the camps and what went on there, and about the horrors of extermination during the last days, even in contravention of the order and instructions of Himmler himself.

This does not mean that Himmler gave the order because he wanted to save Jews. He wanted to save his own skin, he was looking for an alibi and nothing more. And the letter he wrote to Sweden, which I submitted to the Court, is the height of cynicism and impudence. But it is a fact that his order was sabotaged and that, during the very last moments, tens of thousands of Jews who could have been saved, perished.

In the dark, horrible night which descended on Europe with Hitler's rise to power, there are also some rays of light. And the Jewish people will not forget its benefactors, just as it does not forget its mortal enemies. To this very day we speak with gratitude and admiration of the ancient Persian king, Cyrus, who made it possible for the exiles to return to their country. And we shall always remember those benefactors who tried to save at least a few.

We shall never forget the noble-minded people of Denmark, the entire people, who laboured at the risk of their lives, in order to save the Jews of Denmark. We shall never forget the kindness extended to us by the Royal house of Belgium, and by the Belgian underground, which tried to blow up trains in order to save Jews from deportation. We shall remember the Norwegian underground, which smuggled Jews into Sweden, while endangering their lives.

We remember with gratitude how the Swedes granted asylum, and how their great son, Raoul Wallenberg, saved thousands of Jews in Hungary. We shall remember the French underground, which saved Jews. We shall not forget the Dutch people's show of solidarity when it put on the "mark of shame," as well as the strike it proclaimed in order to show its solidarity with the Jews, and the efforts of the Dutch Church, which acted openly, exposing itself to great danger.

Nor shall we forget the Italian officials who thwarted Mussolini's evil designs, the Priors in the Italian monasteries, and the simple people in that country, many of whom stood by the persecuted Jews. And those kindly Poles who were hiding Jews right in the middle of the valley of death, under fearful danger, braving the wave of hellish hate which enveloped all Poland; there were others also, there was the Polish underground, and there were ordinary people who helped, who concealed, who saved, who kept others alive. In Lithuania, also, we have heard about such people, we have heard about farmers' wives to whom Jewish mothers passed their children across the fence: "Please hide them until the storm blows over!"

In Germany itself we heard about Dr. Grueber and his friends, about the spiritual efforts and the physical, deadly dangers braved by those who believed in man and in love for one's fellow-men, and they were inside Germany, they were common folk, as Grueber said, people who created an underground movement, one of whose aims was saving Jews. And since we do not condemn the righteous with the wicked - we shall know how to count the few just men from sinful Sodom. Perhaps the Court will allow me to read some lines, some verses about this chapter, which were written by a non- Jew, and which I found in Kogon's book about the SS. At my request, they were translated into Hebrew by Mr. Ari Avner and into English by Mr. Rosen. Here, then, are the words of a persecuted German:

My heart I had opened to love of this country
My messengers went there, again and again.
Countless the shapes I took on, craving entry.
None did you recognize. All was in vain.

At night, a pale Hebrew, I knocked at your gate.
Pursued, I sought refuge. My shoes were torn out.
You called executioners, craftsmen of hate,
And thought you were serving God, doing him proud.

I came as an old, frightened, dim-witted creature,
Speechless with anguish, dumb in her cry.
But you had your eyes on the race of the future,
And just for my ashes one could apply.

In Eastern lands as an orphan I wandered.
I knelt at your feet, and I begged for some bread.
But fearful, on future vengeance you pondered,
And just shrugged your shoulders, and wished I were dead.

I have been your prisoner, dragged to forced labour,
Was sold into slavery, whipped, made to bow.
Your eyes you averted, you liked not the flavour.
I came here to judge you. You will know me now."

There also appeared lights out of darkness: The resistance of the Jewish People, standing alone, beaten, surrounded by hatred and hordes of hostile soldiers, as it rose to heights of heroism, such as Europe had never witnessed in any of the underground movements, in any country. The revolt, the partisans, the Jewish underground, the underground in Poland, the underground in Hungary, about which we heard from Rosenberg, which organized the escape, and also those who marched singing "I believe with perfect faith." "I believe," they said to the very last moment, that death is not in vain. There is no consolation for the extinction of one third of the nation, but there is consolation in the knowledge that they knew how to stand up to the oppressor, to the enemy. And in those hours they said:
Oh, do not say this is my final way
Dark clouds are hiding now the light of day
The hour we long for surely will appear
The our steps shall thunder: We are here.
And to end this chapter, Your Honours, I should like to mention what I may have left out before, when I spoke of the righteous gentiles in other countries: the Yugoslavs, the Greeks, and all those lovers of humanity in the conquered countries who fought against Satan at the risk of their lives, in order to save human beings from death.

Let us now proceed to the indictment and the law. Adolf Eichmann was put on trial under the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law. In its section 1(a) this law specifies three offences, three crimes, which it defines as "crime against the Jewish people," including any of the acts enumerated hereafter, committed with intent to destroy the Jewish People in whole or in part; killing Jews; causing serious bodily or mental harm to Jews; placing Jews in living conditions calculated to bring about their physical destruction.

Let us dwell on this for a moment, without proceeding to the subsequent elements at this stage, since the first counts of the indictment deal with these offences: "killing Jews" and "causing serious bodily or mental harm to Jews." We have proved - and I understand that Counsel for the Defence does not dispute this - that all these crimes, these and others which are included in this section, were in fact committed. We have proven the various positions and functions held by Adolf Eichmann, starting with IVD4, which, from the beginning, included "Ostraum," as we remember from exhibit T/170, i.e., all the area of the East; the special appointment given by Goering to Heydrich, that secret task to devise a Final Solution which, Eichmann admits, meant the extermination of the Jews. It was not Himmler who appointed Heydrich, but Goering.

Judge Halevi: What is the difference?

Attorney General: The difference is that in this case a special task can be discerned. Goering, who is certainly acting on behalf of the Fuehrer, since he himself did not have such powers, goes and confers a unique task on a certain person, and the chain is continued in this manner. Heydrich does not order Mueller to inform Eichmann that he will be the specialist for Jewish questions, i.e., also for the Endloesung (Final Solution). No, he brings Eichmann in directly, as his specialist for this subject - which shows that this is a special task, not necessarily fitting into the framework of the usual division of powers and functions.

I have examined the Accused at length on this subject, and he agrees that the extermination of the Jews does not appear in the Geschaeftsverteilungsplan (office work plan) of the Head Office for Reich Security. This was a special task, and he agrees that this function, although it coincided, in fact, with the tasks of the Head of the Jewish Section in the Gestapo, was not mentioned either explicitly or by its gruesome epithets, not even in the form of camouflage, in the list of functions of the Head Office for Reich Security. But, he says, my task extended from the Reich westward; I did not deal with the East, others did that.

I have already spoken in some detail about this, and I shall not repeat my arguments. But, in connection with the appointment I have mentioned, I should like to say the following: If the Generalgouvernement was a unit which exterminated Jews autonomously, if it is maintained that Krueger and Globocnik implemented this in Poland independently of the Head Office for Reich Security, this would be like giving the lie to Goering's order and to the Wannsee decisions.

For, it must be remembered, Your Honours, that the chief of the Head Office for Reich Security had no authority of command over Krueger. The authority to give commands to the Higher SS and Police Leaders was vested in Himmler, as we know from exhibit T/98. This means that, if Krueger was independent and alone, and if he acted through his assistant or deputy, Globocnik, or the rest of the police apparatus in the Generalgouvernement, then Eichmann's version - that there was some link between Heydrich and Krueger - is not credible. If we take Heydrich out of the picture, then Goering's orders remained suspended, and the Wannsee decisions were not carried out.

But we know, after all, that one of the more important reasons for calling the Wannsee Conference was, as it says in the note from IVB4 (exhibit T/182), to hold it because Frank, the Chief of the Generalgouvernement, showed an inclination to act on his own in Jewish affairs. And, therefore, in order to stop Frank from acting independently, he was forced to send Buehler there, and Buehler made the announcement I have already quoted, so I shall not repeat it.

Judge Raveh: Was the appointment by Goering a personal one?

Attorney General: Heydrich's appointment was personal. Just as at first, in January 1939, there was a personal appointment concerning the emigration of Jews, so it was a personal appointment now: "I charge you with the task of submitting to me proposals for the Final Solution.

Judge Raveh: And what became of the appointment when Heydrich was killed?

Attorney General: It naturally passed on to his successor. In the end, when the subject became a matter for the Head Office for Reich Security, it became part of its activities. And in this respect Eichmann is right: At a later stage, all branches were already involved. It was natural that, in order to carry out his special task, Heydrich should make use of all the apparatus of the Head Office for Reich Security, including Department II, Rauff's technical department, the legal advisers; all these operated later on within this framework. When Heydrich was killed and Kaltenbrunner was appointed, Kaltenbrunner continued to carry out the task which Heydrich had taken upon himself.

Presiding Judge: In exhibit T/37, there is something about this question. Was there a new mandate for Kaltenbrunner?

Attorney General: He says there was not, since none was needed, because in the meantime matters had reached the practical stage. There were executive measures, Eichmann had things under control, and there was no need for an additional appointment.

Judge Halevi: But there is also no doubt that Himmler often gave orders on matters concerning the extermination of Jews.

Attorney General: Of course, Your Honour. If the Court understood me to say that the appointment of Heydrich was not on behalf of Himmler, and not in accordance with his wishes, then I have not been understood correctly. It is clear to me that Himmler was in the know, and it is clear to me that Himmler wanted this, and moreover it is clear to me that Himmler was one of the chief conspirators, and at Hitler's side certainly have been the second superior conspirator, as far as the issuing of this order is concerned.

But this makes no difference. As soon as the matter reaches the routine of implementation, the executive machinery, which happens to be under Himmler's supreme authority, becomes an integral part of the network of his powers, and Himmler could give orders to Heydrich, to Mueller, and also to Eichmann. He certainly becomes involved in the matter, and he also receives reports about it.

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