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 Jerusalem.
Comments, designated by brackets , are those of the editor, Jochen von
Typos are mine, not the author’s.
LESS: You have touched on the final solution to the Jewish question.
Would you like to speak about it now, or about the war with Russia
EICHMANN: The final solution depends … it’s all mixed up with …
something that happened after the start of the German-Russian war.
At that time Reich Marshal Go”ring issued a document conferring a
special title on the head of the Security Police and the SD. I’m trying
to remember the wording. Was it “Deputy Charged with the Final
Solution,” or was it “with the Solution of the Jewish Question?”
LESS: Wouldn’t this document relate to the period prior to the outbreak
of the Second World War?
EICHMANN: We can only be sure that it relates to the period when
emigration had ceased to be possible and the more radical solution was
resorted to. The war with the Soviet Union began in June 1941, I think.
And I believe it was two months later, or maybe three, that Heydrich
sent for me. I reported. He said to me: “The Fu”hrer has ordered
physical extermination.” These were his words. And as though wanting to
test their effect on me, he made a long pause, which was not at all his
way. I can still remember that. In the first moment, I didn’t grasp
the implications, because he chose his words so carefully. But then I
understood. I didn’t say anything, what could I say? Because I’d never
thought of a … of such a thing, of that sort of violent solution.
And then he said to me: “Eichmann, go and see Globocnik in Lublin.”
EICHMANN: Globocnik, the former Gauleiter of Vienna, was then head of
the SS and the Police in the Lublin district of the Government General.
Anyway, Heydrich said: “Go and see Globocnik, the Fu”hrer has already
given him instructions. Take a look and see how he’s getting on with
his program. I believe he’s using Russian anti-tank trenches for
exterminating the Jews.” As ordered, I went to Lublin, located the
headquarters of SS and Police Commander Globocnik, and reported to the
Gruppenfu”hrer. I told him Heydrich had sent me, because the Fu”hrer
had ordered the physical extermination of the Jews.
LESS: The Gruppenfu”hrer?
EICHMANN: I beg your pardon?
LESS: The Gruppenfu”hrer?
EICHMANN: The Fu”hrer. The Fu”hrer was Hitler. Yes, the Fu”hrer was
meant. I’ve only quoted Heydrich’s…
EICHMANN: Heydrich’s words. He said: “The Fu”hrer has ordered the …
that is … Hitler has ordered the physical extermination of the Jews.”
Globocnik sent for a certain Sturmbannfu”hrer Ho”fle, who must have been
a member of his staff. We went from Lublin to, I don’t remember what the
place was called, I get them mixed up, I couldn’t say if it was
[See URL http://www.almanac.bc.ca/cgi-bin/ftp.pl?camps/treblinka]
Treblinka or some other place. There were patches of woods, sort of,
and the road passed through – a Polish highway. On the right side of the
road there was an ordinary house, that’s where the men who worked there
lived. A captain of the regular police (Ordnungspolizei) welcomed us. A
few workmen were still there. The captain, which surprised me, had taken
off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves, somehow he seemed to have
joined in the work. They were building little wooden shacks, two, maybe
three of them; they looked like two- or three-room cottages. Ho”fle told
the police captain to explain the installation to me. And then he
started in. He had a, well, let’s say, a vulgar, uncultivated voice.
Maybe he drank. He spoke some dialect from the southwestern corner of
Germany, and he told me how he had made everything airtight. It seems
they were going to hook up a Russian submarine engine and pipe the
exhaust into the houses and the Jews inside would be poisoned.
I was horrified. My nerves aren’t strong enough … I can’t listen to
such things… such things, without their affecting me. Even today, if I
see someone with a deep cut, I have to look away. I could never have
been a doctor. I still remember how I visualized the scene and began to
tremble, as if I’d been through something, some terrible experience. The
kind of thing that happens sometimes and afterwards you start to shake.
Then I went to Berlin and reported to the head of the Security Police.
(von Lang, 75-76)
(Ed. note: After discussing visits to Chelmo and Auschwitz, Less brings
Eichmann back to Treblinka.knm)
LESS: But you were in Treblinka again?
EICHMANN: I’d like to say something about this last, about this last
point of this terrible, terrible business. I mean Treblinka. I was given
orders. I went to see Globocnik in Treblinka. That was the second time.
The installations were now in operation, and I had to report to Mu”ller.
I expected to see a wooden house on the right side of the road and a few
more wooden houses on the left; that’s what I remembered. Instead, again
with the same Sturmbannfu”hrer Ho”fle, I came to a railroad station with
a sign saying Treblinka, looking exactly like a German railroad station
– anywhere in Germany – a replica, with signboards, etc. There I hung
back as far as I could. I didn’t push closer to see it all. I saw a
footbridge enclosed in barbed wire and over that footbridge a file of
naked Jews was being driven into a house, a big… no, not a house, a
big, one-room structure, to be gassed. As I was told, they were gassed
with …what’s it called? … potassium cyan…
[See URL http://www.almanac.bc.camanac.bc.ca/cgi-bin/ftp.pl?camps/auschwitz/
EICHMANN: Potassium cyanide… or cyanic acid. In acid form it’s called
cyanic acid. I didn’t look to see what happened. I reported to Mu”ller
and as usual he listened in silence, without a word of comment. Just his
facial expression said: “There’s nothing I can do about it.” I am
convinced, Herr Hauptmann, I know it sounds odd coming from me, but I’m
convinced that if it had been up to Mu”ller it wouldn’t have happened.
(von Lang, 84)
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’s Treblinka visits
Summary: Heydrich reports Hitler’s order to exterminate the Jews
Eichmann visits Treblinka on Heydrich’s orders
Organization: The Nizkor Project, Vancouver Island, CANADA