The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Testimony of Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl (Part 1 of 8)

26 May 1961

To the Competent Court of Justice, Alt Aussee, Austria
Re: Request for Legal Assistance

The main hearing of criminal proceedings against the Accused Adolf Eichmann is at present taking place in this Court.

In the context of this main hearing, I request you to extend reciprocal legal assistance to this Court by the examination on oath of the following witness:

Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl, Alt Aussee, Austria

The witness is to be examined on the following allegations of the Accused:

(1) that when the Accused was serving in Vienna in 1938- 1939, he unified, simplified and improved the offices responsible for the emigration of Jews in a practical manner;

(2) that the Accused adopted measures subsequent to which the monies and foreign currency available to the Jewish population were used in such a way as to enable the largest possible number of Jews to emigrate;

(3) that as a result of the measures on the part of the Accused referred to under (1), some two-thirds of Austria's Jewish population was able to emigrate by 1939;

(4) that the Accused, as part of his responsibilities, did not deal with the seizure of Jewish property, and in this respect also, during the time the witness was in contact with him in Austria and Hungary, did not exceed his powers;

(5) that the extermination of Jews in concentration camps was carried out on the instructions and responsibility of the Economic-Administrative Head Office and was not within the sphere of the Accused's competence;

(6) that the extermination of Jews, by what were known as Einsatzgruppen (Special Operations Units), was not carried out in accordance with instructions from, or at the instigation of, the Accused, and that the Accused did not and could not influence such extermination;

(7) that the Accused was not by his own endeavours appointed head of a Sonderkommando in Hungary;

(8) that the Accused, in carrying out his official duties, did not act with the intent of exterminating the Jewish People;

(9) that the Accused immediately halted deportations of Hungarian Jews when ordered to do so by his superior, Kaltenbrunner;

(10) that Advisers on Jewish Affairs to the German diplomatic missions were appointed by the German Foreign Ministry in agreement with the Head Office for Reich Security and were subject to the instructions of the German Foreign Ministry;

(11) that the Accused, as a Specialist Officer of the Head Office for Reich Security, had no special position, but in his field had the same powers, limited by general regulations and the orders of his superiors, as any other Specialist Officer of this office.

To complete the testimony of the witness, I would request that the witness also be asked the following questions which were drawn up by Counsel for the Accused:

(1) What was the last rank you held in the SS?

(2) Did you work in an official capacity in the Head Office for Reich Security?

(3) What was your position in the Head Office for Reich Security?

(4) Who was your department head?

(5) When did you become acquainted with the Accused?

(6) What position did the Accused hold in the Head Office for Reich Security?

(7) Compared with other Specialist Officers, did the Accused have any special powers or authority?

(8) What do you know about the activities of the Accused in Vienna from 1938 to July 1939?

(9) Was he a Specialist Officer with the Inspector of the Security Police and the SD, Austria?

(10) Was he at the head of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna?

(11) What were the functions of this Central Office?

(12) What was the result of the activities of the Central Office?

(13) How did matters develop in Germany in field of emigration?

(14) Are you familiar with the results of this development?

(15) Did you have contact with the Accused from 1938 to 1939?

(16) Did the Accused discuss with you his attitude to the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question?"

(17) From the Accused's subsequent activities, are you familiar with facts which are indicative of his intentions regarding a "territorial solution?"

(18) Do you know the concept Judenstaat Nisko (Nisko Jewish State)?

(19) Do you know what were the Accused's activities in respect of this project?

(20) Are you familiar with the concept of the "Madagascar Plan?"

(21) Do you know what were the Accused's activities in that connection?

(22) In the course of his activities in Hungary, did the Accused participate in any way in the seizure of Jewish property?

(23) In the course of his activities in Austria, did the Accused have anything to do with the seizure of Jewish property? If so, what use was made of the confiscated assets?

(24) Immediately after the occupation of Hungary by Germany, how many Special Commandos were active there?

(25) Who was assigned to be in charge of what subsequently became the Sonderkommando Eichmann?

(26) What led to the Accused being put in charge of this Commando?

(27) What explanation can be given for Kaltenbrunner's presence in Hungary during the first days of the German occupation?

(28) Who was Eichmann's immediate superior at this time?

(29) Where were you at this time, and what were your duties?

(30) Who was your superior at that time?

(31) With whom did the initiative for deporting the Jews of Hungary originate?

(32) Who conducted the decisive negotiations with the Hungarian Government?

(33) How many men were subordinate to the Accused in his Sonderkommando in Hungary?

(34) What was the assignment of this Sonderkommando?

(35) Who carried out the concentration, deportation and supervision of deportations?

(36) Is it true that the Arrow Cross Party was particularly active in persecuting Hungarian Jewry?

(37) What are the reasons for an Arrow Cross government coming to power in Hungary?

(38) Under whose control were the concentration camps, and who gave the instructions for the extermination of the Jews in these camps?

(39) Did Kaltenbrunner have any influence on these instructions?

(40) To whom were the Special Operations Units subordinate?

(41) Was the Accused able to influence the activities of the Special Operations Units?

(42) What is the significance of the fact that the Accused's Section - as well as other Sections in the Head Office for Reich Security - received activity reports of the Special Operations Units in accordance with a set distribution list?

(43) Did any statement or intimation by the Accused indicate that in his activities in Austria, and later in Hungary, he had the intention of exterminating the Jewish People?

(44) In 1944-1945, who was Adviser on Jewish Affairs to the German diplomatic mission in Budapest? Was he from the Head Office for Reich Security? Who appointed him?

(45) How did the Accused behave when he received orders from his superior, Kaltenbrunner, to cease deportations of Hungarian Jewry?

I would also request that the witness be asked the following additional questions which were drawn up by the Attorney General:

(1) Did the Accused speak to you about deportations of Jews to Nisko?

(2) What were the reasons behind the deportations of Jews to Nisko-on-San?

(3) Where did you become acquainted with Stahlecker?

(4) What do you know about the Accused's relations with Stahlecker?

(5) Which offices were envisaged for implementing the Madagascar Plan?

(6) Do you know which tasks were carried out by these offices in connection with the general deportation of Jews to the East?

(7) Did the Accused discuss with you his work on the Madagascar Plan?

(8) What were the tasks of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in connection with the confiscation of Jewish property in Austria?

(9) When did you first hear about "Operation Margarethe" (the occupation of Hungary)?

(10) Did you participate in staff-level consultations in the Head Office for Reich Security in preparation for the occupation of Hungary, and if so, when?

(11) What was said about solving the Jewish Question in Hungary?

(12) What was the official relationship between Eichmann and Heydrich?

(13) What do you know about Heydrich's special assignment to solve the Jewish Question?

(14) Did the Accused speak to you about his duties in implementing Heydrich's special assignment?

(15) Who was responsible for Endre's and Baki's joining the Sztojai Government?

(16) What were the relations of the Accused with Endre and Baki?

(17) Did the Accused speak to you about his collaboration with Baki and Endre?

(18) What do you know about the collaboration of the Accused with the Hungarian gendarmerie?

(19) In August 1944, did the Accused tell you that he was leaving, and when he was leaving, for the Romanian border?

(20) What do you know about the Accused's plans for deporting the Jews from the Romanian part of Transylvania?

(21) Did the Accused explain to you the reason for his doubts about returning to Hungary?

(22) In Hungary, was Eichmann subordinate - as regards the performance of his duties - to the Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service (BdS)?

(23) Did Eichmann tell you how he knew that he was considered to be a war criminal?

(24) Did Eichmann concede that this accusation was correct?

(25) How did Eichmann know the precise number of Jews killed?

(26) Did you recently say the following about Eichmann: "I met him" (Adolf Eichmann) "again in Budapest in 1944. He was that Eichmann who sent hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews to the extermination camps, following orders without scruples, just as he had done previously in Vienna in 1938-1939. I think the best way of describing Eichmann's role would be to call him the Great Forwarding Agent of Death."

(27) Do the affidavits you made to the American authorities on 5 November 1945 and 25 November 1945 conform to the truth?

(28) Do you, more particularly, confirm your solemn affirmation of 5 November 1945 in which you swear, inter alia, to the following:

"Sometime in 1942, in Vienna, I talked to SS Brigadeführer Stahlecker, who had been in charge of one of these Special Operations Units of the Security Police and the Security Service in the East. He told me that Obergruppenführer Heydrich had instructed him to take over the command of a Special Operations Group, whose area of operations included the territory of an army group. It was his task to exterminate the Jews in this area by shooting them. I gathered from talks with Eichmann and Stahlecker and other members of the Security Police and the Security Service that, since the beginning of the Russian campaign (1941), the Jews had been killed, first by the Special Operations Units of the Security Police and the Security Service, and later - probably from the beginning of 1943 onwards - in the extermination camps in the East. The Jews were arrested and dispatched to the extermination camps by the Special Commando under Eichmann, which consisted of members of the Security Police, principally the Gestapo. Eichmann had been given that assignment by Heydrich; in the Head Office for Reich Security his chief was the head of the Gestapo, SS Gruppenführer Müller?"

(29) Are you the author of the book, Die Geheime Front (The Secret Front)?

(30) Is the statement you make in this book, to the effect that the Legionaries (Green Shirts) in Romania were organized by the German authorities, correct?

I request you to summon to the examination of the witness the representative of the Attorney General of the State of Israel, c/o H.E. Ambassador Dr. F.E. Shinnar, Israel Mission, Cologne, as well as Counsel for the Accused, Dr. R. Servatius, Hohenzollernring 14, Cologne, and to afford them the opportunity to ask the witness, on their part, questions which might arise from his answers.

There is no objection to the aforementioned representatives of the parties obtaining copies of the record of the examination.

Please forward the original record of the examination to this Court.

(-) Moshe Landau
President of the Trial Court

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