7 May 1961
To the Competent Court of Justice, Berlin
Re: Request for Legal Assistance
The main hearing in the criminal proceedings against the
Accused Adolf Eichmann is at present taking place in this
In the context of this main hearing, I request you to extend
legal assistance to this Court by the examination on oath of
the following witness:
Advocate Dr. Max Merten, Berlin-Friedenau, Ceciliengarten 33
The witness is to be examined as to the following
allegations of the Accused:
(1) that in 1944 in his capacity as
Kriegsverwaltungsrat (Military Administration
Counsellor) with the Salonika-Aegaeis military
commander, he visited the Accused, Adolf Eichmann, at
his office, in order to obtain his support in a matter
of preventing the deportation of Jews from Salonika,
and that the Accused indicated his willingness to help,
but said that he could not decide on his own.
(2) that in order to obtain authorization to support
the witness’ proposal, the Accused immediately made a
telephone call to a superior authority, but his request
was turned down.
To complete the testimony of the witness, I would request
that the witness also be asked the following questions which
were drawn up by Counsel for the Accused:
(1) In 1944, were you employed as a military
administrator in the administration of the Salonika-
Aegaeis German military commander?
(2) Did you pay a visit to the Accused Adolf Eichmann
at his office in 1944?
(3) What was the purpose of your visit?
(4) What did the Accused say in reply to your request
that Jews be saved from deportations and be enabled to
emigrate via Italy?
(5) Did the Accused take a decision himself, or did he
obtain the authorization of a superior authority?
(6) Did he receive authorization?
I would also request that the witness be asked the following
additional questions which were drawn up by the Attorney
(1) Were you put on trial before a Greek court?
(2) Did you then testify in your defence?
(3) Did what you stated then correspond with the facts?
(4) Is it true that on 27 November 1958 in Criminal
Case 1/958 you made the following statement to the
Greek court in Athens:
“Persecution of the Jews of Salonika did not begin
until the arrival of the Wisliceny Commando, as
confirmed by Wisliceny. Around the middle of
January 1943, Eichmann, the originator of the
project to exterminate the Jews, arrived in
Salonika, with the sole purpose of implementing
the project devised by Hitler in 1941.
“To this end, Eichmann called a conference on 15
January 1943 in the offices of the military
commander. In addition to the military commander,
the participants were the representatives of the
13th Army Group Counter-Espionage Bureau, the
G.F.P. Counter-Espionage Police and the SS.
Eichmann told us that Hitler had decided that,
with immediate effect, the Jews had to wear the
Yellow Patch, be concentrated in special camps,
and also be subject to other restrictions; their
economic power was to be broken. Various persons
present at the meeting expressed objections to the
implementation of the project, but in vain. They
argued that supplies to Rommel, who was then in
Egypt, came via Salonika, the harbour which was
full of Jewish workers. If these workers were
arrested, the harbour would be paralysed, and
Rommel’s supplies would be seriously restricted.
Eichmann, however, dismissed these objections with
a wave of his hand.
“…The conference did not deal at all with the
question of deporting the Jews, but only with
assembling them in camps (ghettos). During this
conference Eichmann also informed us that a
Security Ministry commando would shortly be coming
to Salonika, and that the military commander was
to provide all the assistance they might require.
The office under my control was charged with the
printing of all orders to be published by the
commando. This led to a protest from the General
who was the military commander, but Eichmann
dismissed his objections with a gesture and showed
us Hitler’s order requiring the military commander
to afford any assistance required by the commando
(5) In preparing your defence in Athens, or during the
proceedings, did you ever mention a conversation with
Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann in Berlin?
I would request you to summon to the examination of the
witness the representative of the Attorney General of the
State of Israel, c/o H.E. Ambassador Dr. F.E. Shinnar,
Israel Mission, Cologne, as well as Counsel for the Accused,
Advocate Dr. R. Servatius, Hohenzollernring 14, Cologne, and
to afford them, on their part, the opportunity to ask the
witness any questions which might arise from his answers.
There is no objection on the part of this Court to the
aforementioned representatives of the parties obtaining
copies of the record of the examination.
Please forward the original of the record of the examination
to this Court.
President of the Trial Court
Tiergarten Court of First Instance Department, 353
Berlin NW 21, 29, 30 and 31 May 1961, Turmstrasse 91
353 AR 1680/61
Counsellor at Court of First Instance Stampe as Judge
Court Official Liese as Authenticating Official at the Court
In the criminal proceedings against Adolf Eichmann,
the witness whose name appears below appeared when summoned.
There also appeared:
Representing the Prosecution: Erwin S. Shimron, Jerusalem;
Representing the Defence: Advocate Wechtenbruch, Munich.
The witness was informed of the subject matter of the
examination and the identity of the Accused. He was
admonished to tell the truth and instructed that his
testimony would be sworn, in the absence of any exception
stipulated or permitted by the law. He was further
instructed as to the significance of the oath, and the
penalties in criminal law for giving sworn or unsworn
evidence which is incorrect or incomplete, and he was
further instructed that the oath also applies to replies to
questions about personal data as well as other circumstances
according to Section 68 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
As a precaution the witness was also informed of his right
to refuse to give information in accordance with Section 55
of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The witness was furthermore informed that neither the Land
nor the Federal Justice Administrations have any objections
to granting legal assistance, since the Federal Government
has no doubts as to the jurisdiction of the Israeli court.
The deponent was examined as follows:
Personal data: My name is Dr. Max Merten, I am 49 years old,
advocate, I am a German national and live in
Berlin_Friedenau, Ceciliengaerten 33. I am not related and
not connected by marriage to the Accused.
On the matter in question:
Until 26 January 1942 I worked in the Reich Ministry for
Justice. I was a Landgerichtsrat (District Court
My duties were those of an expert for the law of execution
against movable and immovable property, and I worked in
Department IV under Ministerial Director Dr. Volkmar. I was
then called up into the German army of the time and was
posted to Stettin with Anti-Aircraft Reserves Section 51.
Around Whitsun 1942 I was transferred to the Regional Air
Command III/IV. On 28 July 1942 I was transferred to the
Recruitment and Discharge Office for Military Administration
Personnel at Marburg an der Lahn. Throughout this period I
held the military rank of bombardier. On the orders of the
Army High Command I was transferred to the Salonika-Aegaeis
command. I arrived in Salonika on 10 August 1942. On 12
August 1942 I took over the duties previously carried out by
War Administration Assessor Heine, which included the
internal administration of Macedonia in the narrower sense.
At that time the head of this administrative department was
I still held the military rank of bombardier; but for my
administrative duties I wore an ordinary army officer’s
uniform with epaulettes which had green braiding and bore
the letters HV. HV was the abbreviation of Heeresverwaltung
(Army Administration). There were also two stars on the
epaulettes, so, if the green braiding was ignored, it could
look as if the person wearing this uniform held the rank of
However, I was subject to military jurisdiction. I received
orders from the military administration; in practical terms
I received them from the Supreme Commander South-East,
Senior Counsellor for Military Administration, Dr. Parisius.
In military terms I was also subject to the authority of the
Commander for Salonika-Aegaeis; at that time this was
Lieutenant-General von Krensky. On the orders of the Armed
Forces Commander South-East, I was appointed on 29 September
1942, effective as of 1 October 1942, as head of the
Administrative and Economic Department on the staff of the
Salonika-Aegaeis Commander. That meant my promotion into
the position previously occupied by Dr. Marbach.
I held this post until the beginning of March 1944. I was
then transferred, as a disciplinary measure, to Cetinje in
Montenegro, where I stayed until Whitsun 1944. My duties
were to ascertain whether a military administration should
be set up in occupied Montenegro. Around Whitsun 1944 I was
recalled to Belgrade to the office of the military
commander, where I was to work on a study of the activities
of the German military administration in the Balkans in the
First and Second World Wars. After that I deputized in
Tirana for a military administration official who was on
leave, and from there, on 25 August 1944, I began the
withdrawal from the Balkans. My last post was that of an
official in the chief quartermaster’s office with Army Group
E in Agram. I was then taken prisoner of war by the
Americans. On 20 November 1945, I was automatically
arrested, as it was called. Already on 5 November 1946 I
was released from internment, with the agreement of the
Greek Government of the day. Two offers were made to the
Greek Government of the day to extradite me. The Greek
Government indicated that it would forego my extradition,
stating that not only did it have nothing with which to
reproach me, but that it was grateful to me for my
activities in the area of the Commander of Salonika-Aegaeis.
The same was confirmed, in a letter dated 11 November 1947
to the Bad Aibling Tribunal, by Mr. Ypsilanti, the head of
the Greek military mission in Berlin, who is today Greek
Ambassador in Bonn.
I was not a member of the SA or the SS. I was a candidate
for membership of the Party. I was not finally accepted as
a Party member.
It is true that proceedings in a court martial were
instituted against me. The charge was aiding and abetting
the enemy and subverting the fighting spirit. The
proceedings were instituted by the Army Group Judge of Army
Group E. I am unable to say when the proceedings were
instituted. My first examination took place on 25 January
1945. The proceedings proper failed to reach a conclusion,
owing to the prevailing situation of the war. They were
instituted on the basis of reports by the Security Service.
I received confirmation of this in 1954 or 1955 from
Laskaris Papanaoum, when he visited my house in Upper
As I have already mentioned, I started working for the
Commander of Salonika-Aegaeis on 12 August 1942. At that
time, an operation was already underway against the Jews in
Salonika-Aegaeis. By order of the Commander dated 7 July
1942, Jews from Salonika’s intelligentsia were included in
forced labour programmes. The action started on 11 July
1942, a Saturday. After a few days it covered eight to nine
thousand Jews. They were employed on road building and
railway works. They were housed in the most wretched
conditions in forced labour camps. Owing to their previous
occupations, these Jews were unaccustomed to hard physical
labour. The work involved, however, was of the hardest
nature. The result was a high mortality rate, and I
consider that the figure of twelve per cent in two and a
half months, given by Molcho in his book In Memoriam, is
still too low.
I obtained my knowledge of how the operation was begun, the
labour assignments and mortality figures, from the
Commander’s files and reports by the contractor, Miller, who
carried out road building and railway construction projects
for the German armed forces.
Representatives of the Jewish Community tried to intervene
against what was going on. For that purpose, persons from
the Jewish Community – Advocate Yekuel, Salomon Uziel, Isaac
Angel and Saby Pelossof approached Miller, the contractor,
who arranged for a meeting with me.
The facts described to me coincided with my own observations
on my first journeys through the area of command. I
reported in corresponding terms to the Commander. I was
able to convince him that it would be appropriate to release
the Jews concentrated in forced labour camps according to
social criteria. In the main, those concerned were
officials, members of the liberal professions, and then
World War I ex-servicemen and veterans of the Greek-Albanian
War, as well as university students and secondary school
pupils, and also family men with dependent children.
This was done on the basis of an agreement between the
Commander and the representative of the Jewish Community,
dated 29 August 1942. Within a few days some 2,500 forced
labourers were released and returned to their civilian
occupations. The Jewish Community was given control over
the labour allocation of the several thousand Jews still in
forced labour camps.
The Head Office for Reich Security was informed both of the
beginning of the operation on the basis of the order of 7
July 1942 and of the release operation, based on the
agreement of 29 August 1942. The Commander was ordered to
report through his military channels. The Commander
instructed me to go to Berlin for a discussion with the
appropriate Department in the Head Office for Reich
Security. This Department was at 116 Kurfuerstenstrasse,
Berlin. There were two oral examinations. No record was
drawn up. I managed to justify the release operation
largely by saying that some of those released were disabled,
and therefore not able to work properly, and also by
pointing out that there had been unrest among the Greek
population, who feared that the same measures would be
applied to them. At that time, almost all supplies for
Rommel’s Africa Corps went via Salonika. I pointed out that
this was another reason to ensure that the Greek population
should not become alarmed, because it was to be feared that
such unrest would lead to hitches in transport and shipping.
I cannot say who heard my statement at the Head Office for
Reich Security. I do not remember the names of those men.
I cannot state one way or the other whether perhaps one of
those who heard me was the present Accused. When two months
later he made his first appearance in Salonika, I cannot be
certain that I was aware that he was one of those with whom
I had talked in September or October 1942.
By way of explanation I should like to add that during this
stay in Berlin I myself was very worked up. I would say
that I had gone to Berlin with a feeling of apprehension,
and at the end of the hearing was relieved that there would
be no further consequences for me personally.