Judgment 54, Eichmann Adolf

168. We have before us the following material, proving the
Accused’s part in the introduction of the system of killing
by Zyklon B at Auschwitz, and in the supply of this gas to

(a) In his autobiographical notes (T/90), Hoess describes
his conversations with the Accused on the preparations for
mass extermination operations at Auschwitz and, inter alia,
he mentions a conversation in Berlin at the end of November
1941 (supra, p. 4). They spoke about various matters, but

“I could not secure information about the date the
operation was to begin. Eichmann had not yet managed
to obtain suitable gas.”

Later, Hoess’ deputy came across Zyklon B gas and used it to
execute Russian prisoners, as mentioned above. And Hoess
continued (supra, p. 5):

“When Eichmann visited [Auschwitz] again, I told him
about this use of Zyklon B and we decided to introduce
this gas in future for the mass exterminations.”

(b) When Superintendent Less showed these excerpts to the
Accused (T/37, p. 287), the latter reacted with a vigorous
denial but continued:

“All the time, this comes back to the gas. I never had
anything to do with gas. The first time that I heard
anything at all about gas in my Section was when I was
in Hungary. Then Guenther ordered gas for himself
somehow, this I do know, and I also said to Guenther, I
say: `What on earth have you got to do with gas, man?
We do not have anything to do with gas. It is not my

The Accused emphasizes that at the time of this incident it
was not he who was in charge of the Section, because of his
absence from Berlin. Superintendent Less asked him
(apparently because of other material which was in his
possession, and which we shall mention presently) about
March-April 1942, and the Accused confirmed that at that
time he was in Berlin.

(c) Again the Accused returned to the same subject quite
spontaneously and said (p. 933 et seq.):

“I had a row with Guenther because he, sometime or
other – I do not know when, at any rate it was during
the time that I was away from Berlin, I think – he had
begun to do something in connection with gas.”
At this point Superintendent Less reminded the Accused
that he had spoken about this earlier in connection
with the Hungarian period, and the Accused continues:

“It is possible that when I was in Hungary, apparently
this was so. Matters of this kind, you see, Guenther
never weighed up in his mind…why he interfered in
matters which were no concern of his…that, altogether
the Section was not geared for this. For how could I
bring this matter now to the head of the office – he
would tell me to go to hell. He reprimanded me
severely for much less serious offences.”

Later, Superintendent Less asks the Accused if he had had
any connections with a man called Gerstein, and if he had
sent Guenther to him. The Accused replies in the negative
and adds that he now heard the name Gerstein for the first

(d) We have already mentioned Gerstein elsewhere and the
exhibits connected with his name. The reference is to
exhibits T/1306-T/1315, manuscripts by engineer Kurt
Gerstein, who wrote them in April 1945, and statements which
he gave in May 1945 to a British officer and an American
officer; also a manuscript dated 4 May 1945, which reached
his wife a year later (T/1310; T/1311). Gerstein was later
detained by the French and examined by them (T/1313/b and
T/1313/c). In July 1945 he was found dead in a French
prison and apparently had committed suicide, though his wife
doubts that this was so. From 1941 Gerstein worked in the
Medical Technical Service attached to the SS Command, and in
January 1942 he was appointed Technical Director for
Disinfection, and during his service he handled highly
poisonous gases for disinfectant purposes. It appears that
the supply of gas to Auschwitz went through him. In the
summer of 1942, on his return from the extermination camps,
he met a Swedish diplomat on the train and, according to his
statement, poured out his heart to him and confessed to what
he had seen. He also tried to pass information on this
subject on to church and neutral circles. The Swedish
diplomat confirmed that in August 1942 Gerstein gave him a
detailed report on the extermination procedure at Belzec,
and thus this part of Gerstein’s statement received
confirmation from a trustworthy source (T/1312).

According to Gerstein, Guenther ordered 100 kilograms of
potassium cyanide from him on 8 June 1942 (T/1309, p. 4 of
the English document, p. 3 of the German document).
Elsewhere (T/1313/a, p. 3) he says that Guenther on this
occasion ordered 260 kilogrammes. Gerstein also relates
(T/1309, p. 8 of the English document, p. 12 of the German
document) that at the beginning of 1944 Guenther again
requested very large consignments of potassium cyanide for
an unknown purpose (see also T/1313/a, p. 11). Gerstein
attached to his statement accounts from February to May 1944
relating to a quantity of gas of more than 2,000
kilogrammes, and in a handwritten document in French he
wrote that these quantities had been ordered by Guenther.

(e) Gerstein’s documents were submitted to the Accused
(T/37, p. 2256), and he denied all knowledge of their
contents. He admits that at the beginning of 1944 he was in
Berlin (p. 2260), but emphasizes that he was away from the
office very frequently (p. 2268). He mentions the
possibility that a special assignment had been given to
Guenther, though such a matter also should have come to his
attention (p. 2269). However, it is a fact, states the
Accused, that not all Guenther’s special duties came to his
knowledge. And how does he explain such a possibility?

“Possibly this was a case where Mueller had assigned a
duty to Guenther directly…since Mueller knew me
generally as a more sensitive person than Guenther… I
am not trying to say that I displayed the sensitivity
of a girl, but I was much more sensitive than Guenther,
for example.” (p. 2274)

Elsewhere the Accused surmises that possibly Guenther had
direct contact with Globocnik and ordered the material for
him (p. 2340). The Accused thought that this possibility
was more likely, because Mueller would not decide on a
matter of this kind on his own responsibility but would
receive instructions from the head of the Security Police,
in which case he, the Accused, would have known of it,
because during that period in 1942 he was not away from
Berlin for more than eight days at a time, and during such a
short period a matter of this nature would not have been
completed (pp. 2246-2347). At this stage, the Accused
mentions yet another possibility, namely that he had not
heard about the whole matter from Guenther but only read
about it in the literature, in the books of Poliakov or
Reitlinger (p. 2346, p. 2488). On pp. 935-936, supra, he
even argued that he heard the name Gerstein then for the
first time. In his evidence before us, he repeated his
general denial, but here he already remembers that he had
heard about Gerstein and his report while he was still in
Buenos Aires (Session 95, Vol. IV, p. xxxx16).

169. As already stated, exhibit T/1312, with regard to
Gerstein, was submitted to us. Though it does not provide
corroboration of the contents of Gerstein’s statement,
because it only proves that as far back as 1942 Gerstein
disclosed particulars which also appear in his statement in
exhibits T/1309 and T/1313, still this fact adds weight and
credibility to this statement of his. We do not doubt the
accuracy of his statements with regard to Guenther’s visit
and the requisitions made by the latter.

In our view, there is also sufficient corroboration of
Hoess’ statement on his discussions with the Accused on the
subject of introducing Zyklon B gas for the mass execution
of Jews at Auschwitz, and also of Gerstein’s statement about
the supply of gas by the Accused’s Section. Corroboration
of Hoess’ statement on this matter can be seen in the fact
that the Accused visited Auschwitz in the autumn of 1941
(see section 143 above), i.e., during the period in which
preparations were being made there for mass extermination of
Jews, and at that time the question of executing by gas
occupied the Accused, and he also took part in the
preparations for execution by means of gas vans, as we have
seen. As for the supply of gas to Auschwitz, we see
corroboration in the fact that the Accused made a partial
admission, namely that he had heard at the time of
Guenther’s activity in connection with the supply of gas.
As we shall make clear below, the acts of Guenther – his
permanent deputy in charge of Section IVB4 – are prima facie
to be regarded as the acts of the Accused himself, and we do
not accept the Accused’s allegation that he had no
connection with this activity and did not know about it.
The Accused admits that, as Section Head, Guenther’s
activities should have come to his knowledge, and he also
admits that even had he been away from Berlin temporarily, a
matter of this kind would not have been concluded prior to
his return. There remains, therefore, only his assumption
that there was some kind of secret negotiation between
Globocnik and Guenther – so remote a possibility that it
cannot be seriously considered. And again, in the first
part of his Statement, the Accused said spontaneously that
he had been informed of the matter at the time and had
discussed it with Guenther. Only at a much later stage did
he try to alter his version and contend that he had learned
of the whole matter only in recent years from the
literature. We reject this attempt on the part of the
Accused, and consequently, as stated, we do not accept his
version, with the exception of his statement as mentioned
above, which in fact lends further weight to our acceptance
of the statements by Hoess and Gerstein.

Accordingly we find that Hoess’ deputy began to use Zyklon B
in Auschwitz for the execution of Russian prisoners. Hoess
informed the Accused of this, and jointly they decided to
introduce this method for the mass killing of Jews in
Auschwitz. Guenther – with the knowledge of the Accused –
made an attempt to introduce this system also in the other
extermination camps, and to that end ordered a quantity of
Zyklon B from Gerstein in June 1942. But this plan was not
implemented, and in the other camps the use of motor exhaust
gas was continued. In 1944, the Accused’s Section ordered
additional large quantities of Zyklon B for use in
Auschwitz, possibly also in other places, such as Terezin,
where in the end the gas chambers were not put to use.

We have said that the activities of Guenther, the Accused’s
deputy, are to be attributed prima facie to the Accused.
This finding requires further elaboration, together with
discussion of the Accused’s contention that everything he
did was not on his own initiative but solely on the basis
of, and in accordance with, the instructions regularly
received from his superiors. At this point, we return to
the general subject of the Accused’s status within the
apparatus of the RSHA.

Last-Modified: 1999/05/27