The complete transcripts of the trial of Adolf Eichmann are available
Captain Avner W. Less was the Israeli police officer who interrogated
Adolf Eichmann, prior to his trial and subsequent conviction in
Comments, designated by brackets , are those of the editor, Jochen von
Typos are mine, not the author’s.
LESS: You were also in Auschwitz?
EICHMANN: I kept getting orders to visit Auschwitz. Mueller told me they
were expanding the plant, and he wanted me to take a look and report
back to him. Herr Hauptmann, those fellows were very cruel, describing
those things as gruesomely as possible to a man accustomed to desk work,
putting it to him as abruptly as possible. Naturally, they laughed their
heads off when my nerves broke down and I couldn’t keep up my military
dignity – that’s what they called it – the way they did. Ho”ss told me
Himmler had been there and taken a good look at everything. He told me
the Reichsfuehrer himself had gone all weak in the knees. He meant that,
meant that, in a disparaging sense, because Ho”ss himself was thoroughly
hardened. That was the day when Himmler, after seeing that – undoubtedly
to screw up his own courage and hide his weakness from his
concentration-camp men – told Hoess that those were battles the coming
generation wouldn’t have to fight. When I visited the installation,
Hoess send for an all-terrain car. We drove to a certain place – I don’t
know my way around Auschwitz. I never got any further than the command
post at the main entrance. Had no desire to. As we were driving, I saw
some big buildings. Almost like factories. Enormous chimneys. Hoess says
to me: “Working to capacity! Ten thousand!” A job was under way. They
were separating the able-bodied from the ones who were supposedly unfit
for work. I didn’t watch the gassing. I couldn’t. I’d have probably
keeled over. And I thought: Whew, I’ve got it over with again. But then
he drives me to a big trench. It was very big, I can’t say exactly how
big, maybe a hundred meters long, maybe a hundred and fifty or a hundred
and eighty. And there was an enormous grating, an iron grating. And
corpses were burning on it. Then I got sick to my stomach. Sick to my
stomach. (von Lang, 83-84)
LESS: What were the duties of Bureau IV B4 in relation to Auschwitz?
EICHMANN: Strictly speaking, none, Herr Hauptmann, only when the man in
charge of these things at Administration and Supply Headquarters,
usually a certain Liebehenschel, was consulted about the destination of
the shipments from one place or another ordered by the Reichsfuehrer.
This was a purely technical question of scheduling and routing.
LESS: What does “special treatment” mean, and who was subjected to it?
EICHMANN: Special treatment was killing. Who thought up the term – I
don’t know. Must have been Himmler, who else could it have been – but
then, I have no proof, maybe Heydrich thought it up after Goering gave
him his authorization. But I really don’t know. I’m just trying to
puzzle it out.
LESS: But you knew special treatment meant killing?
EICHMANN: Everybody knew that, yes, Herr Hauptmann, everybody knew. When
a shipment was marked “for special treatment,” they decided at the point
of arrival who was fit for labor and who wasn’t.
LESS: In other words, special treatment was given to those who were
declared unfit for labor?
EICHMANN: By the doctor, yes. But there were also certain groups that
Himmler put down for “priority accommodation.”
LESS: Who drew up the lists of Jews to be sent to Auschwitz and given
EICHMANN: That must have been the evacuating authority. That’s my guess.
Because IV B4 didn’t evacuate; it only transported.
LESS: Did you receive copies of the lists?
EICHMANN: No, never a list.
LESS: You only set up shipments?
EICHMANN: Set up shipments? No, Herr Hauptmann, only the schedules for
the shipments. The shipments themselves were set up by the evacuating
LESS: Was special treatment given in other places besides Auschwitz?
EICHMANN: Yes. In the Government General there was Kulm and there was
Treblinka. No shipment was ever run to Kiev or Lemberg; in those places,
people were shot.
LESS: Who drew up the lists of Jews to be deported for special
EICHMANN: There again, Herr Hauptmann, it was always the evacuating
LESS: Was it the duty of Hoess, the Auschwitz camp commander, to record
the number of Jews sent to Auschwitz?
EICHMANN: I don’t know that, Herr Hauptmann. I am not informed about his
official duties, and if I had asked him I don’t believe he would have
given me truthful answers. Those Auschwitz people always kept you at a
distance – Hoess, too, at first – because they didn’t want anyone to see
their cards, and I was from a different outfit. They had the
death’s-head on their collar patch, and I didn’t have naything.
LESS: How many Jews were gassed and killed at Auschwitz?
EICHMANN: Herr Hauptmann, I’ve read, and Hoess is supposed to have said,
that he killed four million Jews. Up to now, I’ve thought that figure
exaggerated. But if we’re going to talk about figures, whether it’s one
million or four million or a hundred amounts to the same thing in
principle. In these last fifteen years, I’ve done some figuring myself.
At the end of the war, I spoke to my officers of five million. I saw
that figure as a kind of clound in my mind’s eye. In that brief, hmm,
how shall I put it? – apocalyptic speech, or whatever you chose to call
it, I wasn’t looking for exact figures.
I don’t remember whether the Jewish Year Book published at that time
gave the figure of ten million Jews for Europe, or whether that figure
covered the German-occupied Russian territories. In any case, I tried to
work out a basis to figure on. I’ve read that a few months after the war
the Allies reckoned that 2.4 million Jews were still in existence. I
read that somewhere. Emigration from Austria, Germany, the U.S.S.R. – I
said to myself, let’s say that 1.2 million Jews emigrated. Then comes
natural diminuition. I’m no statistician. I just figured that out for
myself. So on that basis I said to myself: Yes, one way or another,
about six million Jews must have been killed. Whether I was right or
not, I don’t know, Herr Hauptmann. (von Lang, 108-110)
von Lang, Jochen, ed., in collaboration with Claus Sibyll. Eichmann
Interrogated: Transcripts from the Archives of the Israeli Police.
Translated from the German by Avner W. Less. New York: Farrar, Straus &
Subject: Holocaust Almanac – Eichmann visits Auschwitz
Summary: Eichmann discusses his Auschwitz visit, and the duties of his
department relative to Auschwitz, explains “special treatment.”
Organization: The Nizkor Project, Vancouver Island, CANADA