EBERHARD VON THADDEN
7 May 1961
The Competent Court of Justice, Duesseldorf
Re: Request for Legal Assistance
The main hearing of the criminal proceedings against the
Accused Adolf Eichmann is at present taking place in this
In the context of this main hearing, I request you to extend
legal assistance to this Court by the examination on oath of
the following witness:
Eberhard von Thadden, Duesseldorf, c/o Gollnow-Werke A.G.
The witness is to be examined on the following allegations
of the Accused:
(1) that orders about anti-Semitic measures were given
by the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler,
Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler, and Chief of the Security
Police and the SD Heydrich, in agreement with the
supreme civilian and military authorities;
(2) that, as a Specialist Officer, the Accused did not
have a special position or special authority in the
Head Office for Reich Security, and that he became more
prominent than other Specialist Officers only because
of the significance of the measures adopted;
(3) that under the National Socialist government in
Germany, as a Specialist Officer for Jewish matters in
a department of the Head Office for Reich Security, the
Accused had no independent powers to take decisions
with regard to the basic measures adopted against the
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) From 1933 to 1945 did you work in the Reich Foreign
(2) What were your functions, and during which periods
(3) Under the organizational set-up existing from time
to time, what were your duties?
(4) Did you have duties related to treatment of the
(5) Were you in touch officially with the Accused?
(6) As Specialist Officers in different central bodies,
did you and the Accused hold equivalent ranks?
(7) Did you negotiate with the Accused or his deputy
about anti-Jewish measures abroad?
(8) In such negotiations were you and your partners in
the negotiations able to take decisions on your own
initiative, or did you have to follow the orders of
your respective superiors?
(9) Were basic arrangements for the treatment of
foreign Jews co-ordinated by your office and the Head
Office for Reich Security?
(10) Were the proposals for such basic arrangements
made by the Accused himself or did they come from his
(11) Were requests from the Foreign Ministry for
approval of exceptions to general rules conveyed to the
Accused through you?
(12) Was the Accused able to decide on his own
initiative on these requests?
(13) Did the Accused obtain a positive decision to such
requests from his superiors?
(14) Did your office approach the Head Office for Reich
Security through you with the request that measures be
taken to eliminate stoppages which occurred in the
persecution of Jews abroad?
(15) Were those Specialist Officers of the Foreign
Ministry and the Head Office for Reich Security,
through which written correspondence between these
authorities passed, personally responsible for the
contents of such correspondence, or were they bound by
the instructions of their superiors?
(16) With whom originated the initiative for the
deportation of the Hungarian Jews?
(17) Who conducted the negotiations about these
deportations with the Hungarian Government?
(18) With whom did the Reich Plenipotentiary for
Hungary, Veesenmayer, agree on the details for the
(19) On whose orders did the Reich Plenipotentiary in
Hungary, Veesenmayer, act? To whom was he answerable?
I would also request that the witness be asked the following
additional questions which were drawn up by the Attorney
(1) Was your statement, made on 11.6.1946 in Nuremberg
as defence witness to the Commission of the
International Military Tribunal, true to the facts?
(2) Was the affidavit you swore to on 11.12.1947 before
Advocate Dr. Otfried Schwarz, in defence of Otto
Hofmann, accused in the criminal proceedings against
Greifelt and others, true to the facts?
(3) Was the affidavit you swore to on 16.4.1948 before
Advocate von der Trenck, in defence of Gustav
Steengracht von Moyland, accused in the criminal
proceedings against Weizsaecker and others, true to the
I would 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,
Advocate Dr. R. Servatius, Hohenzollernring 14, Cologne, and
to afford them, on their part, the opportunity to ask the
witness any questions which might arise from his answers.
There is no objection on the part of this Court to the
aforementioned representatives of the parties obtaining
copies of the record of the examination.
Please forward the original of the record of the examination
to this Court,
(-) Moshe Landau, President of the Trial Court
Neuss, 18 May 1961
Closed Session of the Court of First Instance
– 12 AR 1559/61 –
Amtsgerichtsrat (Judge of First Instance) Kowarzik as Judge
Justizangestellter (Court Official) Otto, as Authenticating
Official at the Court Office
In the matter of an Israeli request for legal assistance in
the criminal proceedings against Adolf Eichmann
When called up, the following appeared:
the witness whose name appears below: Dr. jur. Eberhard von
as representative of the Attorney General of the State of
Israel, Mr. Erwin S. Shimron of Jerusalem
as representative of Counsel for the Defence of the Accused,
Advocate Dr. Servatius, Advocate Wechtenbruch of Munich.
The witness’ attention was called to his obligation to tell
the truth. He was duly admonished as to the penalties for
giving false sworn evidence, false unsworn evidence, or
incomplete evidence. The witness was made aware that he may
refuse to give information relating to questions which, if
answered, would render him, or any relative of his, liable
to criminal prosecution.
The witness was informed of the subject matter of the
The witness then stated as follows:
I am Dr. jur. Eberhard von Thadden. I was born in Berlin on
17 November 1909; I live in Buederich, Kreis (District)
Grevenbroich, von der Leyenstrasse 4. I am married, have two
children, and am a businessman by profession. I am not
related and not connected by marriage to the Accused in
On the matter in question:
Having been informed that according to the request for legal
assistance I am to be examined with regard to certain
questions which have been drawn up by the Court in Israel,
the Defence and the Attorney General, and that, in addition,
I shall have to reply to questions which, as part of the
same request for legal assistance, are to be put to me by
the representatives of the Attorney General and the Defence
present here, I wish to state that in principle I am
prepared to give evidence here. Before my evidence is used,
however, I would ask all the authorities concerned with this
request for legal assistance to verify whether, under the
Grundgesetz (the Basic Law of the Federal German Republic)
and the relevant German laws, it is at all admissible to
examine me as witness in the criminal proceedings against
Eichmann, both with regard to the request for legal
assistance as such, and also with regard to my previous
status as an official in the civil service.
At this point the witness was informed that the examining
judge was not competent to rule on the admissibility of the
request for legal assistance in question, but that,
according to the documents available, such examination was
carried out by the Federal Justice Minister, the Justice
Minister of the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Chief
Senior Prosecutor in Duesseldorf, who are the sole
authorities competent to rule on admissibility, in
accordance with the guidelines on relations with foreign
countries in criminal matters, and that, pursuant to Section
41 of the aforementioned guidelines, the prosecuting
authorities can apply for a decision on admissibility by a
With regard to his previous status as an official, the
examining judge informed the witness that in his view the
approval of the request for legal assistance issued by the
Federal Justice Minister must also be considered to be
equivalent to the requisite permission to give evidence, as
stipulated in civil service regulations, if any such
permission to give evidence is at all required for him as a
former official of the German Reich.
The examination of the witness was then continued.
In 1932 I passed my first state examination in law, and
after preparatory service I passed the second state
examination before the Reich Examining Board in 1937 in
Berlin. On applying to the Foreign Ministry of the former
German Reich Government, I was appointed as attache in the
autumn of 1937. I was first employed in the Political
Department, V. This section dealt with political affairs
relative to Poland and Russia. While I was working in this
section, I passed the Main Diplomatic-Consular Examination.
Subsequent to this examination I should have been promoted
to Legation Secretary. However, there was some delay in
obtaining the promotion. In 1940 – as far as I remember – I
was appointed Legation Secretary in the Foreign Ministry.
Shortly after my appointment, I was transferred to the
Personnel Department of the Foreign Ministry. I stayed with
the Personnel Department until January or February 1942. In
January or February 1942 I entered the army and went to the
eastern front as an armoured infantry rifleman. Shortly
before that, I was assigned to a position authorized in the
budget as a Legation Counsellor (Legationsrat). In April
1942, I was wounded, and after my recovery, I was granted
leave from military service, in order to resume my duties in
the Foreign Ministry. After that I worked with the Special
Plenipotentiary for Economic Affairs in Greece, Envoy
Neubacher. In the spring of 1943 – I think it was in April
– I was ordered back to Berlin by telegraph and assigned to
Department II Inland. The Chief of this Department was
Legation Counsellor – subsequently Senior Legation
Counsellor – Horst Wagner. The Department was subordinate
to State Secretary Steengracht who in turn was directly
subordinate to the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs. In
1943 or 1944, I became Legation Counselor, First Class. I
was a member of Department II Inland until the collapse.
In Political Department V, I dealt mainly with the question
of Danzig, as well as with German minorities in Poland.
While I was working in Department V, I did not meet the
Specialist Officer Veesenmayer; he was not working in this
department at that time. As far as I remember, I did not
hear of Veesenmayer until 1943.
In the Personnel Department, I dealt with a group of senior
officials in the Foreign Ministry. At this time there were
not yet Specialist Officers on Jewish Affairs or Advisers on
Aryanization with the German diplomatic agencies, but there
were Police Attaches positions created at that time. The
Police Attaches were proposed and also appointed on the
basis of proposals from the Head Office for Reich Security
or the Ministry of the Interior – I cannot say today which
of these two bodies was responsible for such appointments –
after the approval of the host country had been obtained by
the Foreign Ministry. The Police Attaches were subordinate
to their organization at home. In accordance with service
regulations, the Legation Head was the administrative
superior of the Police Attache, but in matters of discipline
his home organization was in charge of him. When it came to
actual work, in practice the Police Attache received
instructions from his home organization. In theory, as far
as I am aware, the Mission Head was entitled to cause the
recall of a Police Attache who did not prove amenable, or to
ask for his recall.
When working with the Special Plenipotentiary for Economic
Affairs in Greece, with headquarters in Athens, I dealt
largely with ensuring supplies for the Greek population and
for army units, although in the latter case only insofar as
supplies came from Greece itself. I also had to negotiate
with the International Red Cross about matters of supplies
for the civilian population. For a while I also had to deal
with aspects of financing fortifications on Crete. I had
comparatively little to do with supplies for Saloniki. Once
I took part, together with Neubacher, in a consultation at
Major-General (Generaloberst) Loehr’s office. I am not
aware of having met Dr. Merten on official business.
I once saw Wisliceny in Athens in a bar, but I had no
personal or official contacts at all with him. On this
occasion, I got to know from the person who pointed
Wisliceny out to me that he was dealing with Jewish matters
in Saloniki. While I was working with the Special
Plenipotentiary for Economic Affairs, I never heard of
Eichmann visiting Greece.
In Department II Inland, I was mainly involved with
maintaining contact with the various German offices of the
SS, i.e., those offices which were subject to the
Reichsfuehrer-SS and Chief of the German Police. My
connections in the course of this activity of mine were with
the central offices only, while my Department Chief reserved
for himself any dealings with members of those offices who
had the rank of an SS Gruppenfuehrer or Obergruppenfuehrer.
In terms of rank, my Department Chief rated lower than the
SS Leaders I have just referred to. As part of my job, I
also had to deal with assignments which were really part of
the duties of other specialist officers of the Foreign
Ministry, but were concentrated in Inland II, because the
offices under the Reichfuehrer-SS and Chief of the German
Police were engaged in handling these assignments. As part
of my duties, as described, I also had to make contact with
German missions abroad and with foreign missions in Germany,
in order to execute specific tasks.
I had my first contact with Jewish matters only after I was
transferred to Department II Inland. Until then, including
the period I spent in Greece, I had nothing to do with
either Jewish questions or Special Operations Units. I
heard for the first time about the existence of Special
Operations Units as a systematic organization in the post-
war trial in Nuremberg. While I was working in Department
II Inland, I also never found out that there were Special
Operations Units for destroying Jews, nor do I remember
hearing at that time that there were Special Operations
Units for shooting political commissars.
While I was working in Department II Inland, vast numbers of
reports on Jewish questions crossed my desk, drawn up by the
offices of the Reichfuehrer-SS and Chief of the German
Police, as well as by German missions abroad and by the
foreign representations in Germany. These included matters
which I had to deal with in practical terms, e.g., if a
report on Jewish questions had to be drawn up for the
Foreign Ministry, or an instruction had to be drawn up for a
mission abroad. As part of my activities in Department II
Inland, I dealt with such matters as the foreign policy
aspects of the deportation of Jews from occupied territories
or friendly states, or, for example, the proposal that Jews
be exchanged for internees, to the extent that the Foreign
Ministry was concerned with that.
In the course of my duties I became aware of the extent of
the deportations of Jews in the various occupied and allied
countries. I only had access to the records existing in the
Department relative to Jewish questions which originated
before I joined the Department, when I had to use such
records in order to deal with tasks with which I was
charged. Rademacher, my predecessor, did not personally
hand over the field of work to me, because when I joined
Department II Inland, Rademacher was already in the army.