Max Merten-02, Eichmann Adolf

Despite the improvements made for the Jews remaining in the
forced labour camps, the working and living conditions for
these people were unbearable. The Jewish Community
therefore endeavoured to obtain the release of the remaining
Jews from the forced labour camps. Further discussions
followed. The Jewish forced labourers were to be released.
To replace them, free Greek labourers would be engaged at a
higher wage than that of the forced labourers. To make up
this difference in wages, the Jewish Community was therefore
to pay two thousand million drachma. This was in accordance
with a proposal from the Jewish Community. In addition, the
Jewish cemetery, which was situated in the centre of
Salonika, was to be closed and handed over to the Greek
state. The sum of 1,500 million drachma was to be credited
for this conveyance, which was in line with a Greek law of
1936. This agreement was also confirmed in an order of the
Commander of Salonika-Aegaeis of 18 October 1942, of which I
submit an authenticated copy. I would ask that a photocopy
of this be made and that it be appended to this examination
as Appendix 1. This order was supplemented by a
communication from the Commander of Salonika-Aegaeis, dated
28 November 1942, to the Governor-General of Salonika. I
submit a photocopy of this and would ask for another
photocopy to be made of this and for it to be included as
Appendix 2 in the record of the examination.

Only part of the amount of money was actually paid. All the
forced labourers were released. It is not true – as has
been argued by the representative of the Prosecution, that
on 8 August 1943 some two to three thousand were still in
the camps, and that they were then evacuated. I would refer
in this connection to Molcho’s account.

Shortly before Christmas 1942, my interpreter, Meissner,
told me that two SS Leaders from the Head Office for Reich
Security had come to see me. These were Sturmbannfuehrer
Guenther and Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, the present
Accused. I am deliberately giving the names in this order,
because I concluded from the way the two behaved that
Guenther was the boss, despite his lower rank. He was also
the main speaker during the conversation, which only lasted
about twenty minutes. Guenther’s bearing was also that
expected at the time of a “member of the German master
race.” He was tall, blond, well-built, and wore a made-to-
measure uniform. Compared to him, the Accused looked
“weedy.” Guenther explained to me that the Commander had
referred him to me, and that they were in Salonika to study
the conditions in which the Jews of Salonika lived, and also
to obtain statistical material about the Salonika Jews.
They said that they had already received this material from
the Salonika Security Service Field Office. I replied that
the military administration had no specific material, there
were only the documents about the previous employment of the
Jews in forced labour.

On being told that the Accused denies having been in
Salonika at this time, I can only say that he really was in
Salonika at this time, because very soon the conversation
turned to oil and cigarettes, authorization for the supply
of which I was able to issue in my official capacity. Today
I have a very distinct memory of them both receiving from me
an authorization for the supply of olive oil and cigarettes.

It is correct that, in the criminal proceedings instituted
against me in Greece, I did not mention this visit of the
Accused before Christmas 1942. This was on the advice of my
counsel for the defence, who advised me to say as little as
possible about any personal contact with the Accused, as
otherwise it was to be feared that this circumstance would
be considered to incriminate me. I also at the time
remembered the “major” discussion of January 1943 as having
taken place in December 1942.

As far as I remember today, the Accused returned to Salonika
in the first half of January 1943. As I remember it, he
must have brought with him an order instructing the
Commander to convene a largish number of military personnel
to a discussion about the measures to be carried out against
the Jews of Salonika. This discussion must have taken place
in mid-January 1943. I would conclude this from a telegram
from Altenburg, dated 13 January 1943, to the Foreign
Ministry in Berlin. I have a photocopy of this. I would
ask that this be photocopied again and appended to the
record of the examination as Appendix 3.

The discussion took place on the first floor, in the
Commander’s mess. All of the top Army Group officers were
there, including the General of the engineers, the General
for transport matters, and the Chief Medical Officer of the
medical department. There was also an authorized
representative of the Athens legation with the German
Consul_General in Salonika.

The Accused himself only made a few introductory remarks at
this discussion. In substance, these indicated that, in
accordance with an order of the Fuehrer, German legislation
on Jews was now to be applied also to the Jews in Greece,
and that Sturmbannfuehrer Guenther, who was also present,
would give further details. Guenther then spoke for between
two and a half and three hours. He explained that, on the
basis of evaluations of intercepted Allied radio
communication and documents, it could be concluded that an
Allied landing was being planned in Greece, and specifically
along the Aegean coast, which would place the sixty-five
thousand Jews in Salonika as potential enemies in the rear
of the German troops, thus creating a major threat to
security. For this reason, he said, it was necessary to
evacuate these Jews from Salonika. They were to be
transferred to the Cracow in the Generalgouvernement, in
order to be made to carry out useful work. He also surveyed
the kinds of occupations, and also mentioned that the legal
basis for these evacuations was the Reich legislation on
Jews. There was no objection to the measures as such. It
was only during a discussion of the individual operations to
be carried out that a comment came from Major (Reserves)
Kruesemann – at that time on the staff of the Commander – to
the effect that this entire operation, including its
implementation, did not fall within the scope of the duties
of the Commander. Guenther also explained that, in order to
carry out the evacuation, a special Security Service unit
would come to Salonika and would bring along its own police
unit. This commando would be under SS Hauptsturmfuehrer

On being told by the representative of the Prosecution that,
according to an available record, I said something
completely different about this discussion in the criminal
proceedings before the Greek court, I make the following

A shorthand record of the main hearing was made. This
record is also before the German courts, viz. Examining
Magistrate I at the Berlin District Court. This shorthand
record includes both questions and answers, while that part
of the record submitted by the Prosecution’s representative
contains a continuous statement. The reason for this is
that a report on the proceedings was also made from these
shorthand statements. This report on the proceedings is
also before Examining Magistrate I at the Berlin District
Court. A comparison of the two documents shows that they do
not coincide, insofar as in the report on the proceedings
there are in part different words and descriptions given,
which I would even consider to be falsifications. For
example, I said that Eichmann was the Specialist Officer on
Jewish Affairs in the Head Office for Reich Security in
Salonika, but in the report on the proceedings what appears
is “Eichmann, the originator of the large-scale plan for the
destruction of the Jews in Salonika” (certified translation
of the official Greek report on the proceedings, page 229).

What is, however, correct is that, in substance, what I am
saying today does not entirely coincide in every detail with
what I said in my defence speech before the Greek court.
Thus I said then that the harbour of Salonika was necessary
for supplying Rommel, and that this objection was therefore
made by participants in the discussion, while in my
examination today I have said that the only objection made
was that of non-competence. The reason for this discrepancy
is that at the Greek proceedings I was not provided with
adequate documentation, and I believed that this objection
was raised at this meeting, and it was only later that I
found out that this was one of my own arguments at the
hearing, to which I have already referred, in Berlin in
September or October 1942. It is also true that I said at
the time that the Jews should not be deported, but collected
in camps (ghettos). I would say about this that the reasons
for the discrepancy are not only the lack of documents, but
more particularly the fact that in the proceedings in Greece
I was the accused and was making a speech for the defence,
where the main object was to incriminate myself as little as
possible. Moreover, my counsel was most insistent in his
recommendation that I dissociate by every possible
allegation the Wehrmacht from the Head Office for Reich
Security; I was told I should bear in mind the fact that
senior professional army officers were judging me, and I had
to address them in “military” terms. Today I am in a
different situation, since today I am a witness and have to
give testimony on oath.

Moreover, the reason why in the speech in my defence I spoke
only of Eichmann, and did not refer to Guenther, too, in
this respect, was also because of the emphatic
recommendations of my defence counsel that in my argument I
should avoid a wealth of names which would confuse the
court. It can be seen that I did at that point think of
Guenther, because, on page 43 of the shorthand record about
27 February 1959, I refer to “Eichmann’s SS adjutant.”

As far as I remember, the Accused returned to Berlin after
the meeting. Correspondence continued to be exchanged
between the Head Office for Reich Security and the German
Foreign Ministry, as well as the German legation in Athens
and the Foreign Ministry. On this point I submit
photocopies of a communication from the Chief of the
Security Police and the Security Service of 25 January 1943
to the Foreign Ministry, as well as a telegram dated the
same day from the Foreign Ministry to the German legation in
Athens, and a telegram from the German legation in Athens to
the Foreign Ministry, dated 26 January 1943. I would here
also ask that photocopies be made of these, and that these
be appended to the record of the examination as Appendices
4, 5 and 6. All of these documents indicate a suspicious
degree of urgency on the part of German diplomacy at the
time. This is something of which I was not aware at that
time in Salonika.

Hauptsturmfuehrer Wisliceny arrived in Salonika on 6
February 1943. He was accompanied by an SS Fuehrer, Alois
Brunner, who was subordinate to him – I do not know what
rank he held – as well as six or eight non-commissioned
officers and two police units of one hundred men each in the
uniform of the old Prussian Country Constabulary
(gendarmerie) with coffee-coloured tabs. The fact that
Wisliceny was the leader of this special commando, contrary
to what he said in his statement in Pressburg, can be seen
in the telegram which I have submitted, from the German
legation in Athens to the Foreign Ministry, dated 26 January
1943. I can also confirm this on the basis of my own

Wisliceny brought with him a bundle of draft orders about
introducing the Reich legislation on Jews in Salonika. I
believe that these draft orders were already in existence as
the result of a consultation in the Fuehrer’s headquarters,
in which, in addition to Hitler, Himmler and Heydrich also
took part, as well as General Engel, who represented Marshal
von Brauchitsch. This I am being shown in the shorthand
record of this witness, Engel, before the Greek court in
Athens on 21 February 1959. I believe that a typing error
has crept in with the indication of the date of this
consultation as November 1942. This should read 1941, for
the simple reason that in November 1942 Heydrich was no
longer alive.

These draft orders were then published in the name of the
Commander. Inter alia they prescribed that in future the
Jews were to wear the Jewish Star, that they had to hand
over their assets, and that they had to concentrate in
certain areas. In this respect it is noteworthy that,
already before that, the Jews lived almost entirely in
adjacent streets, and that only a few had to move following
this order. This quarter was not surrounded by a wall,
either; it was not even delineated by chalk marks.

The first transport left Salonika on 15 March 1943. It was
to proceed to a labour camp at Cracow. Shortly before, the
persons designated for this transport were placed in a
deportation ghetto set up by Wisliceny close to the railway
station. Some Jews managed to escape; operations were
organized to help them escape and leave Salonika in various
other ways. Thus, foreign passports were issued, mainly
Italian, for some three to four thousand Greek Jews, which
made it possible for them to leave Salonika, ostensibly as
non-Greeks. In this connection I would like to submit a
photocopy of a report from the German Consulate-General,
dated 15 March 1943, to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin,
together with a copy of a communication, signed by me, from
the Salonika-Aegaeis Commander to the German
Consulate_General in Salonika, dated 14 March 1943. I would
ask that photocopies be made of these documents, and that
they be included as Appendix 7 of the record of my

According to the plans of the Head Office for Reich Security
and the Foreign Ministry, the evacuation was to be completed
in the short period of five to six weeks. However, it was
held up and was not concluded until August 1943, i.e., at
that point in time at least, all Jews with Greek nationality
had been evacuated. Today I am unable to say whether at
that time Jews with other nationalities were still in
Salonika. I would submit a communication from the Foreign
Ministry, dated 4 June 1943, to the Head Office for Reich
Security, attention Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann. I would
ask that this also be photocopied, and that the photocopy be
included in the record of my examination as Appendix 8.

I myself would estimate that the number of persons evacuated
– men, women and children – was about forty thousand.

During the evacuation, the representative of the
International Red Cross, Dr. Rene Burkhardt, an ardent
philanthropist, had the idea of saving at least women and
children from the evacuation, and seeking to find ways of
getting them to other countries. Every month one or two Red
Cross steamships came to Salonika and returned empty to
Canada. Dr. Burkhardt wanted to get women and children out
on these steamers. In March 1943, two ships happened to
arrive at the same time, so that it would have been possible
to take ten thousand people on this voyage or the next one.
Together with Dr. Burkhardt, I arranged for a telegram which
was in fact sent to me, and which may possibly have been
amplified later. I submit a copy of this, and would ask for
photocopies of this also to be made and to be included in
the record of the hearing as Appendix 9. This telegram was
actually to be sent via Dr. Altenburg to the German Red
Cross in Berlin. However, I had second thoughts and sent it
directly by teletype to the German Red Cross in Berlin.

The Head Office for Reich Security must somehow have
received a copy of this teletype. One day the Accused
telephoned me and complained to me about it. One of his
questions to me was, since when I had been a commissioner
for emigration. He also pointed out that any such
assistance would interfere with Wisliceny’s work. I tried
to convince the Accused by using factual reasoning. I
referred in particular to the alarm which the evacuation of
women and children as well would create in the population,
and also to the great interest which the International Red
Cross was showing by then. I should say that I also
referred to the Hague Convention concerning war on land. I
requested the Accused to authorize the relief operation and
asked him to allow me to come to Berlin, so as to discuss it
with him in detail. The Accused said that he agreed to
that. I then obtained approval for this journey from my
commander – or possibly from the Army Group as well. The
journey did not take place immediately after this telephone
call, but one to three weeks later.

On my way to Berlin I passed through Budapest. My wife was
living there with her parents. At that time, my father_in-
law was Consul-General at the Hungarian Foreign Ministry.
We discussed the purpose of my journey. It became clear
that the Hungarians had also already considered helping Jews
from Hungary to emigrate, in order to save them. In these
deliberations nationality was already a decisive factor in

In Berlin I went to see the Accused at his office at
Kurfuerstenstrasse 116. Our meeting lasted about an hour
and a half. Part of the time the Accused used his normal
jargon, asking such things as whether I was also one of
those “religious nuts,” and whether I “wanted to start
preaching.” As to whether during this conversation the
Accused made a call to the Reich Ministry of the Interior to
clarify the nationality question, I am unable to adopt any
position at present, since I have learned from the press
that, as a result of this allegation, proceedings have been
instituted against me by the State Prosecutor’s office in
Bonn for giving false unsworn evidence and falsely accusing
Secretary of State Globke.

During my conversation with the Accused, I became convinced
that a positive decision had already been taken. In
conclusion, the Accused told me that the operation was being
approved. I wished to obtain written confirmation from the
Accused. He told me that he could not or would not give me
such confirmation, but that Wisliceny would be informed

When he told me of the approval, the Accused once again used
derogatory slang and, among other things, he said: “If you
like those sh.. Jews so well, then, as far as I am
concerned, take twenty thousand of them, but then those Jew
wenches should all be well and truly s—-d, and then they
can go and hatch out their brats in the sun of Palestine.”

After I returned to Salonika, two attempts were made to
contact the British Government, which then held the Mandate
over Palestine. There was no reply to the first attempt,
and on the second approach they refused to accept the
transport, making it impossible to carry out the relief

To the observation by the representative of the Prosecution
as to how, after my bad experience on my first visit to the
Head Office for Reich Security I dared to suggest to the
Accused that I should come to Berlin for a further
discussion of the question of transporting ten thousand
Jewish women and children to Palestine, I would reply as

Last-Modified: 1999/06/14