Judgment 55, Eichmann Adolf

170. The Accused has given us a truly amazing portrait of
himself during those days. He was in charge of a Section in
the RSHA, with the SS rank appropriate to the grade of
“Oberregierungsrat” in the general administrative service
and the military rank of lieutenant-colonel. Subordinate to
him at his office in Berlin were many officials, from low
grades right up to the SS ranks appropriate to the grade of
Regierungsrat in the administrative service and to the
military rank of major. In addition, he was in control of a
group of Advisers on Jewish Affairs who were themselves
persons of considerable status in the various lands in which
they worked. The Accused asks us to believe him when he
says that, being a person in such a position, and in spite
of his being in such a position, he always acted only under
explicit instructions received by him in every case, and
only when a precedent existed which exactly fitted the case
before him would he refrain from approaching his superiors.
On the other hand, he ascribes to his subordinates no small
degree of initiative in their specific fields, for example
in questions of property, which were within the special
field of duty of Suhr and Hunsche. As for his deputy
Guenther, the Accused not only attributes considerable
personal initiative to him, but even actions behind the back
of the head of his Section. In accordance with the evidence
before us, let us therefore examine whether this is, in
fact, the way in which matters were administered in the
Accused’s Section and in the RSHA as a whole.
171. The Attorney General has submitted to us the “Joint
Administrative Rules for Ministries of the Federal Republic
(of Western Germany), General Section” (T/1423). It is the
1958 edition, but the preface states that the present text
is based on that of 1927, well before the Nazi period. This
exhibit was submitted to the Accused in cross-examination
(Session 95, Vol. IV, pp. xxxx21-22), and he did not deny
that these rules were also in force in the central
institutions in the Reich during the Nazi period, but with
regard to the SS institutions, he added:

“In the light of the change in the line of command and
in the system prevailing in the Third Reich, the
procedure employed in the Weimar Republic was
frequently changed, because here different degrees of
responsibility and command obtained. Accordingly, a
considerable number of basic orders, which had been
valid during the Weimar period, were changed.”

In paragraph 4 (p. 13) of T/1423, it is stated:

“The Ministry is divided into departments (Abteilungen)
and the department into sections (Referate). The basic
unit in the organizational structure of the ministry is
the section… Head of Section (Referent) is an
official of the senior service, who directs the section
on his own responsibility and is directly subordinate
to the head of the department or to the head of the
group. In his hands lies the first decision on all
matters which come within the scope of his section.”

(The RSHA, as a central authority (Hauptamt) is parallel,
according to this terminology, to a ministry, and its
divisions (Aemter) to departments.)

The following exchange of questions and answers took place
between the learned Attorney General and the Accused
(Session 95, Vol. IV, pp. xxxx23-24):

“Q. …Is it your contention that, whereas all the
heads of sections had authority as herein described, in
Department IV, Mueller did not agree that his
subordinate should possess such authority, or are you
arguing that in the Nazi period none of the heads of
sections had authority as stated herein?

“A. I would not dare contest what has just been said.
I am only saying what I know from my own experience and
from what I myself went through.

“Q. That is to say, a head of section had the right of
decision, but you, as Mueller’s head of section, did
not have the right of decision?

“A. It seems to me that it may be said that at that
time the matter depended upon the personality of one’s
superior, insofar as he had – if one may say so –
dictatorial qualities.

“Q. Did Mueller have such qualities or not?

“A. As far as decisions were concerned, he was very
pedantic and intolerant and reserved for himself all
decisive action. This much I can say.

“Q. Was this the case also on minor matters, on

“A. Mueller took decisions on the most trifling
matters, yes. Surprisingly enough, this was also true
of Himmler, who went right into the smallest of

Thus, the Accused’s version is that, in principle, exhibit
T/1423 was valid also during the Nazi period, and in the
RSHA as well. But the scope of a section head’s powers was
set by the department head, and since his department head,
Mueller (who was the head of Department IV), reserved all
decisions for himself, he, the Accused, as head of Section
IVB4, was not left with any power of decision.

172. One thing is undoubtedly true: Letters from Section
IVB4 and the other RSHA Sections, just as from every section
in every central authority of the Reich, were sent in the
name of the head of the service, and if the head did not
sign himself (this happened only on rare occasions of
special significance), another person signed – the
department head or the section head – in his name, or on his
behalf, or “upon his instruction.” These letters were
always written in the first person, and the “first person”
was not the signatory to the letter, but the head of the
service in whose name or on whose behalf or upon whose
instruction the signature was appended. The “first person,”
who appears in all the letters submitted to us, and signed
by the Accused or Mueller, or Guenther, or Suhr, or anyone
else, is the Head of the Security Police and the SD, namely
Heydrich, and after him Kaltenbrunner, and in the interim
period between Heydrich’s death and the appointment of
Kaltenbrunner, Himmler himself.

The reference IVB4 on a document raises a presumption which
the Accused has to rebut, that the document was sent on the
Accused’s responsibility, whether it was signed by one of
his subordinates or one of his superiors.

As to the Accused’s own signature on a document, it is clear
that, by appending his signature, the Accused accepted
responsibility for his subordinates who had dealt with the
subject of the document, but the fact that he himself signed
the document is still not proof that he had taken the
decision on the subject of the document on his own
initiative or had acted in accordance with the instructions
of his superiors.
But just as it is impossible to ascribe to the Accused the
initiative for a certain letter signed by him, by reference
solely to the “first person,” so also initiative cannot be
ascribed to some other person, for example Guenther, when
that person signed a letter. For example:

T/1398 is one of the files of the Duesseldorf Gestapo, the
contents of which we dealt with in an earlier part of this
Judgment. The office in Duesseldorf was engaged in
evacuation to Terezin, and in a letter dated 3 June 1943 (p.
247 of T/1398) sent to Section IVB4, raised the question as
to whether certain persons were to be evacuated. On p. 252,
we find a cable signed by the Accused, and drafted in the
first person, which contains certain instructions (that the
persons in question should not be evacuated for the moment.)
On p. 253, there is a further cable, this time signed by
Guenther, which states, inter alia: “I have in the meantime
dealt in a special cable with the questions which arose in
your letter, dated 3 June 1943.” Thus, the use of the
“first person” in the first cable does not refer to the
Accused, nor in the second cable to Guenther, but in both
the reference is to the Head of the Security Police and SD.

173. Of course, this formal arrangement does not mean that
Heydrich or Kaltenbrunner personally dealt with all RSHA
affairs or initiated all RSHA activities; and the same
applies to Mueller, as Head of Department IV of the RSHA.
Superintendent Less asked the Accused what in general were
the matters on which he himself was allowed to make
decisions, and the Accused replied (T/37, p. 1261), that he
could decide about anything by himself, provided he had
before him:

“The orders, instructions, commands, and appropriate
directives from Himmler, Head of the Security Police
and the SD, or Mueller, or, of course, laws or
executive regulations applying to the matter…”

And he continues:

“After that, upon my own authority – in all other cases
I could decide myself, of course, but then, if some
mishap occurred, I would be the one to have to take the

What, for example, was the origin of the evacuation
instructions sent to the various authorities? In his
Statement T/37, (pp. 906-907), the Accused stated:

“… I sat at my desk in Berlin, I had instructions
from my superiors – in this case there were not even
any such instructions – I cannot even say from my
superiors – because when it came to giving orders in
principle, Mueller scarcely ever gave any order of his
own, independently, he never deviated from the orders
given by his superiors, Heydrich, Himmler. This was
the first thing.

Secondly: I had the reports from people who were abroad, and
here it was their duty to make suggestions on the basis of
their practical experience, because they, above all, could
see what action was at all practicable. From these two
sources, Section IVB4 prepared a report which was later
either approved or rejected. The directive followed from
this procedure. In practice, this could mean that a
proposal which came in from Paris or from Zoepf in The Hague
went out fourteen days later to Paris or The Hague in the
form of a directive approved by the RSHA. This is how
things always developed in practice, and it was not the case
at all that a directive was prepared at the beginning, once
and for all, and that afterwards action was to be taken in
accordance with it and a pattern set, but everything was in
a state of continuous flux, a steady stream, and every
moment addenda were prepared or cancellations made of
details which had ceased to be valid, perhaps because
Himmler had issued new rules, or perhaps the Head of the
Security Police and the SD had given other orders, or
perhaps also because new ideas had been culled from the
reports of the officials in the occupied territories or
territories under [German] influence, as a result of which
other directives were given from above.”

Hence, also according to the statement of the Accused, he
too, was competent to issue general instructions according
to his discretion, within the limits of the orders which had
come from above and by which he was bound.

Last-Modified: 1999/05/27