Judgment 57, Eichmann Adolf

177. There is no contradiction between this kind of status
and the constant anxiety to be “covered,” to which so many
of the above witnesses testified. And if Mueller, the head
of the Gestapo, one of the key men in the Nazi security
network – who sat in his office and was not prominent
outside it, but pulled the strings from his office – if he,
too, took care to be “covered” from above, this tendency is
certainly understandable in the Accused. When he was
already “covered” by an existing instruction, he acted
without asking questions, and if he had before him a new
question of principle, he prepared a draft order, approached
his superiors – first of all, of course, Mueller, and
Mueller approved it, or, as Huppenkothen said, did not
approve it without further discussion, altered it or also
addressed questions on it to those above him.

178. The Accused’s Section also dealt with many individual
cases of Jews who tried to escape from the jaws of death.
Much evidence, from all parts of Europe, has been submitted
to us on such cases. Nearly all of them had a tragic end,
and in this, too, the Accused and the officials of his
Section had a hand. Here we shall mention only one case out
of many, to illustrate what has been said about the standing
of the Accused in his Section – this time as seen by an

In Holland, Professor Meyers, Professor of Law at the
University of Leyden, was arrested together with his family
and taken to Westerbork camp. His friends mobilized support
and funds on his behalf, in order to secure permission for
him to emigrate to Switzerland. This request was refused in
letters (T/534, T/535) emanating from the Accused’s Section
– one signed by Guenther and the second by the Accused –
because Professor Meyers was an “intellectual.” His friends
did not give up hope. Efforts for the rescue of Professor
Meyers were concentrated in the hands of a Dutch lawyer,
Mrs. Van Taalingen-Dols, who has also published a book on
this matter, entitled The Battle for a Man’s Life. Counsel
for the Defence submitted to us an affidavit from Mrs.
Taalingen-Dols, accompanied by extracts from the book
(N/104). The intention of Counsel for the Defence was to
prove that the Accused and his Section did not have
authority to permit individuals to emigrate from the areas
under German rule. Indeed, this was so: When emigration was
stopped in 1941, Himmler reserved this power to himself and
only permitted emigration in isolated and exceptional
instances (and in return for the payment of a considerable
sum in foreign currency).

With the aid of influential persons, including a member of
the SS, Mrs. Taalingen-Dols sought an interview with the
Accused, of whom she says in her affidavit:

“They always hinted to me that he was the supreme chief
of Department IV (the group of `Jewish Departments’) in
the RSHA in Berlin). As such they described him to me
as an important and extremely influential man.”

She was granted an interview in Section IVB4 and on 22 July
1943 visited the Section, accompanied by a member of the SS.
The Accused was on one of his service journeys, and she was
received by Guenther who “according to what he said, was
authorized to give a binding reply” (p. 214). Guenther
repeated the prohibition on emigration, emphasizing that of
late Himmler had rejected all applications of this kind.
When the lawyer asked whether Guenther would object to her
trying to take a certain step in SD quarters in Holland,
Guenther replies that “all the activities against the Jews
are decided in Berlin, and all operations must be
subordinate to this” (p. 216). The decision, announced by
Guenther on the spot, was:

“The Reich…is prepared, as a special exception, to
prevent the deportation of the Meyers family to the
East, even though the professor is not yet 65, and up
to this age all the Jews are evacuated to the East.”
(p. 217)

Guenther was asked what would happen to Professor Meyers in
the event of a general evacuation, and his reply was that in
such an event there were two possibilities – one of them,
his being deportation to Terezin. Counsel for the Defence
informed us that the professor and his family were in fact
sent to Terezin and survived.

We shall also quote a statement by the same member of the SS
who was present during this conversation (p. 218):

“He says that, the fact in itself that I was allowed at
all to appear personally at the RSHA -the holy of
holies – and was permitted to speak there to the deputy
of the supreme chief for Jewish affairs, must be
regarded as an exception to basic procedure, because
outsiders have no access there.”

From this case we have learned about the powers which
existed in regard to emigration, and we have also learned
that Guenther – and how much more so the Accused – had the
power to decide upon the exceptional treatment of a specific
Jewish family. We have learned further that this decision
could only be made in Section IVB4 in Berlin, and not on the
spot, at the office of the Adviser on Jewish Affairs in
Holland. Finally, we must point out with what fear and
trembling all of them, including the SS man, mentioned the
name of the Accused, the arbiter of life and death.

179. Also with regard to the scope of the duties, which were
placed within his competence, the Accused made an attempt,
in his Statement to the police and in his testimony before
us, to play down his own personal involvement, in
contradiction to the truth. His repeated contention was
that he was no more than an official dealing with the
preparation of timetables for the trains which carried the
deportees from their various countries to the East. There
is no doubt that even obtaining the necessary railway
freight cars called for much effort, in view of military
needs at a time of total war. But it cannot by any means be
said that here the Accused’s duties ended. His main work
lay not in obtaining the freight cars, but in obtaining the
Jews to fill them, in order to deport them for extermination
and everything connected with this. One cannot summarize
the nature of this work by detailing his duties. The
purpose was a single one; the duties were many and varied,
according to the constantly changing circumstances in any
given place. As the Accused said in his Statement on p.

“As far as evacuation was concerned…it was the duty
of IVB4, as it were, to set the pace, for two reasons:
first, the clear and resolute orders which had been
given by the Reichsfuehrer-SS and Head of the German
Police to carry out the matter energetically. This was
a permanent standing order. Secondly, as I said
before, IVB4 was dependent upon means of transport. If
there were periods when it was easier for IVB4 to
obtain the freight cars, IVB4, in accordance with the
general order from the Reichsfuehrer-SS and Head of the
German Police, had to make strenuous efforts to ensure
that the freight cars should be used to their maximum
capacity. This is what IVB4 did, of course…these
were the two hinges on which the whole matter turned.”

“That the maximum capacity of the freight cars should be
used” – thereby, in effect, everything has been said, and
there is a vast difference between this and the mere
arrangement of timetables. This called for the creation of
all the conditions preliminary to hunting down Jews wherever
they lived and rounding them up for deportation. At the
other end also, attention had to be paid to the “reception”
of the transports at their destinations, so that the
deportation machinery should not be halted halfway; and it
is clear, for example, that the speeding-up of the
extermination process facilitated the reception of fresh
transports at peak periods, such as the period of
deportations from Hungary to Auschwitz. Thus both the speed
and methods of extermination also became part of the field
of interest of the Accused and his Section.

The Accused’s key position in everything relating to the
deportations of the Jews from the Reich and the Protectorate
stands out from the facts which we have found. This is true
also of all the European lands in which the Advisers on
Jewish Affairs were active, and whose steps he used to
control from his seat behind the desk in Berlin, with the
aid of modern means of communication and through his
frequent journeys to the focal points of operations
throughout the length and breadth of Europe. We have also
noted his special activity in Hungary.

As to the plundering of the property of the deported Jews,
this went side by side with the deportation itself and was
handled by the Accused’s Section, especially through its
jurists, Suhr and Hunsche. We have quoted the evidence for
this in detail above, and finally the Accused also admits
that his Section was involved in the plunder (“dass das
Dezernat IVB4 hier seine Finger schwerstens drin gehabt
hat”) (T/37, p. 2872).

180. To sum up this section: We reject absolutely the
Accused’s version that he was nothing more than a “small
cog” in the extermination machinery. We find that in the
RSHA, which was the central authority dealing with the Final
Solution of the Jewish Question, the Accused was at the head
of those engaged in carrying out the Final Solution. In
fulfilling this task, the Accused acted in accordance with
general directives from his superiors, but there still
remained to him wide powers of discretion which extended
also to the planning of operations on his own initiative.
He was not a puppet in the hands of others; his place was
amongst those who pulled the strings.

It should be added – and we have already given the details
in the appropriate place – that the Accused’s activity was
most vigorous in the Reich itself and in the other countries
from which Jews were dispatched to Eastern Europe; but it
also ranged widely in various fields of activity in Eastern

The question arises: If such was the Accused’s status, why
was he not promoted to a higher rank, after his last
appointment at the end of 1941, in spite of his rapid
advancement in the preceding years. The Accused gives the
answer to this (T/37, p. 250):

“And it was virtually impossible to promote me further
because the post of Section Head, according to the
establishment, was that of a Regierungsrat or
Oberregierungsrat, and the equivalent SS rank…to
Regierungsrat was Sturmbannfuehrer, and to
Oberregierungsrat – Obersturmbannfuehrer. Therefore,
so long as I was a Section Head in the RSHA, I could
not go any higher, even if I stayed there for twenty

And it should also be remembered that in 1944, three
decorations were conferred on the Accused, one after the
other, including the “Distinguished War Service Cross, First
Class, with Swords” (T/55 (13)). It is not rare for a man
in an important position – and especially in a position such
as that of the Accused – to be unwilling to be prominent or
for the ruling powers to wish him not to be prominent.

Last-Modified: 1999/05/27