Submits the declaration to the Court.
Witness Less This goes together with a type-written
Presiding Judge: Do you have copies of it?
Attorney General: This is amongst the evidence.
Presiding Judge: This declaration is marked T/38.
The translation is read.
“Captain, to sum up…to some extent, the first stage
of my statement, may I be permitted here to express
some personal reflections and to advise you of a
personal decision of mine:
The more I make an effort to recapitulate in my memory
additional material which is likely to be of use in the
matter – I am no longer able to do so. Together with
this I know, of course, that there must still remain a
wealth of matters which should be said about individual
events, as I have just now stated, which can be brought
back to my recollection, despite the 15 years which
have meanwhile elapsed. From the point of view of the
matters of principle and the important ones – so I
believe at least – there can be nothing more worthy of
mention, otherwise I would recall it – now at least –
in my memory. But there are, evidently, – of that I am
sure – a mass of details which, after being triggered
off by some cause – will again confront me in a visual
way, and then I would be able to picture the thing we
have been talking about so far, accurately and in a
more rounded way.
I would ask you to please believe me that I, for my
part, am fully ready, without any reservations, to
relate everything known to me about the events without
any restraint. Within my inner self, I have been
prepared, for a long time already, for this general
statement, but only I did not know when fate would
place me in the position of making this statement.
Already in January of this year, it was said to me,
that I would stand trial this year; they also said to
me that I would not go on living beyond my 56th year.
The first has already happened, while the second – I
presume – cannot be changed. This knowledge, in its own
way, gives me the inner decisive readiness to express,
of my own free will, on my part, and even without
taking my personality into account, which is no longer
of any importance in my eyes, everything that I know.
Throughout all the days of my life, I was accustomed to
obey, from the nursery till 8 May 1945 – an obedience
which developed in the years when I belonged to the SS
– to a blind obedience, an unconditional obedience
(“Kadavergehorsam”). And who would have benefited from
it? Matters of planning and decisions of the events
from 1935 to 1945 were not entrusted to me at any time
during these ten years. For such a purpose I was, from
the point of rank of duty of far too low a status. For
all that, I know, of course, I cannot wash my hands in
innocence, seeing that the fact that I was purely a
recipient of orders surely signifies nothing any more.
Those who planned, decided, gave instructions and
orders escaped from their responsibility cheaply by
means of suicide. Others who belonged to this circle
are dead now or are not to be found; although no blood
attaches to my hands I will surely be found guilty of
being an accomplice to murder. However this may be, in
my inner soul I am ready to atone, also personally, for
those terrible things and I know that I am liable to
the death penalty. I am not asking for mercy because I
am not entitled to do so. Furthermore, this is a
greater act of atonement, I am ready to hang myself in
public, as a warning example for the last anti-Semites
of the countries of this world.
First of all I should be permitted yet to write a book
about the terrible events, as a sign of warning and a
deterrent to the youth of our times and of the future,
and then let my earthy life be concluded.
May I, Captain, be permitted to deliver this statement
to be added to the record.
Attorney General: Mr. Less, what comes immediately after
these last-mentioned words of the Accused?
Witness Less: He gave me a list of documents or books he
wanted to examine, which were likely to be of some use to
him. He gave me this list in writing.
Q. Were the books supplied to him?
A. As far as I know, yes.
Q. What happened afterwards, before the continuation of his
A. Mr. Hofstaedter came, this was on 6 June, and gave him
the second caution.
Q. The same caution that you mentioned previously?
Q. And that is to be found on page 363 of the statement?
A. Yes, on page 363.
Q. Would you please read Mr. Hofstaedter’s caution?
A. That same caution which I have already read?
Q. Has it already been read out by you, word by word?
Presiding Judge: Read it again.
Witness Less: reading the translation:
H. Hofstaedter: Today is 6th June. It is now 2.10 p.m.
Do you know who I am?
E. Yes, Colonel.
H. As appears from your statements so far, you
committed crimes against the Jewish people and against
humanity during the period of the National-Socialist
I again want to draw your attention to the fact that
you are free to testify or not to testify.
It is clear to you that all your statements can serve
as evidence. What do you decide?
E. I want to continue giving my statement.
Attorney General: 03And now, if you please, on page 366, the
section at the bottom, beginning with your question, Mr.
Less: “Was bedeuted Sonderbehandlung.”
L. What is the meaning of “Special Treatment” and who
was subjected to it?
E. Special treatment means killing. With whom it
originated, I don’t know. Surely with Himmler, surely.
Otherwise who could it have been – please, I have no
proof for it, but possibly it was Heydrich, who made up
this term for himself after receiving approval for it
by Goering – that is also possible, but I do not know
this, I am only trying to reconstruct this.
L. But you knew that “special treatment” meant death?
E. Everyone knew that, for sure, Captain.
Attorney General: 03Page 369 to 374, please. On page 369
beginning with the words “Wie viele Juden.”
L. How many Jews were sent by you to Auschwitz to be
E. This I took the liberty of including in the
questions…in the points which I sought to put
together, from which it would have been possible to get
reliable documented material here, and it seems to me
that one of the most important points here was to
obtain some…to obtain the transport schedules which
the Reich Ministry of Transport had drawn up at that
time. For today after…firstly it was not I who
initiated the drawing up of transport schedules, I did
not even telephone, as I have already said. And
secondly even if I had done so, even then I wouldn’t be
able to recall that today. I would be obliged to
mention some figure or other, and this is not likely to
be helpful to anyone.
L. How many Jews were exterminated by gas and killed
E. Captain, I have read that Hoess is alleged to have
said that he had killed a million Jews. I personally
thought this number to be greatly exaggerated. If,
generally, we would want now to speak about
figures…then if it were one million, or if they were
four millions, if they were 100, in principle it makes
no difference, I simply mean: if I were asked about
“numbers”…I myself have already reflected on this
during all these 15 years…I said recently that on the
eve of the conclusion of the War I spoke to my officers
– who actually was present I do not know, obviously not
all of them – about a figure of five millions, which I
could visualize approximately and vaguely. In…well,
how can I term it, in this “short end-of-the-world
speech,” or however one would like to call it, in fact
the numbers did not seem to me to be vital, for on that
occasion I was dealing with millions, whether friend or
foe, on our side as well as that of our enemies. Today,
I don’t know exactly any more if the Jewish Year Book
for Europe then recorded the number of 10 million Jews.
Whether we include in this total figure also the part
of the Russian territories occupied by German forces,
or not, nevertheless I tried to prepare a basis for
myself and I read that the Allies at the end of the War
– certainly a few months afterwards – found 2,400,000
in existence – this I read.
I myself don’t know any longer today the total of the
emigration from Austria, from Germany and from
Czechoslovakia; at that time I said to myself “well,
good- one million, one million two hundred thousand, or
something like that evidently emigrated – two million
four hundred thousand, plus the number of natural
deaths – I am not a statistician. Once I said this.
When I said, yes, somehow there must have been about
six million Jews killed, so I said in my heart. If I
was correct in this, Captain, I do not know, but all
this had to be on the basis of the report of the
And, further, what happened since that time until 1945
– for that I thought you could use the list which I
gave, if one could obtain these documents to the extent
that they are not already available, I am searching
here amongst my [assumptions]…one has to take account
of this, then it would be possible to arrive at the
In fact these numbers were not fixed, of course, from
the point of view of the transport schedules, between
the Reich Ministry and IVB4, since the East, the area
of the Generalgouvernement was not taken into
consideration in the transport schedules at all.
Thus the Department IVB4 had nothing to do with this at
L. Did you speak to Hoess about the number of Jews who
were exterminated at Auschwitz?
E. No, never. He only said to me on one single
occasion, he said to me, that here they had prepared
“new buildings” and that here he could “put to death
10,000 daily”. Something of this kind I remember. If I
imagine this to myself today, I do not know but almost
certainly I do not believe that I am only imagining
this, for I can no longer recall when he said it to me,
how he said this to me and what the appearance was of
the place where he said it to me. For this reason I do
not know this any more.
Possibly I read it and I now imagine to myself that I
heard him saying what I read. This, too, would be
L. Give me the dates of your various visits to
E. Well, first and foremost, the matter began when I
was sent there by Mueller. Thereafter nothing happened
for a long time; subsequently I was in Auschwitz,
twice, it seems, but not on duty, but when I was in
Kattowitz, then I …or once I travelled with Mildner
to Hoess…no, then I was not at Auschwitz, then Hoess
arrived after us…now I can remember this point, about
which you asked me, Captain, whether I met Hoess in
other places, now I remember it; I was in Kattowitz, I
was in Kattowitz and Mildner…Hoess came to Mildner
and we went…in the evening we went to a restaurant,
to a Polish restaurant, the owner [of the restaurant]
knew Mildner, and we were together there, but at that
time it was not at the camp, for Kattowitz and the camp
are far away from each other – I don’t know how many
Afterwards I was at Auschwitz at the time of the matter
of Hungary, once because of the Kommerzialrat Storfer –
this was the Storfer case – subsequently I was once in
Auschwitz when it was described to me that the
Hungarian gendarmerie had loaded the transports in a
way which did not correspond to the directives,
hereafter I was in Auschwitz – I was, therefore, in
Auschwitz three times…three times in Auschwitz also
during that period…also during that period, but what
the reason was I do not know any longer today and if I
cannot remember, then I can surely suppose that at the
time of my first visit until…until Hungary…which
was before the Hungarian matter, I was in Auschwitz
once or twice, or I met with Hoess in Kattowitz.
At all events, I presume so.
L. During your first visit did you transmit any orders
E. No, nothing, except this, that I had an order to
observe what was going on and to report to Mueller.
This was the only thing. The people in Auschwitz,
themselves, always carefully kept their distance – even
Hoess at the beginning, seeing that they did not want
to reveal their cards to anyone, and I was from a
different authority from theirs, they wore the “death-
head” symbol on their coat collars and I had nothing on
L. Did Hoess take you around the area on the occasion
of your first visit?
E. Yes, he took me around on a tour, but then it was
still very small, I reported this as well to
Gruppenfuehrer Mueller. This was in the same way as it
was then in that wooded area…in the same wooded area
of which I spoke, also there were these huts. There
had, therefore, to be some general command from above,
as a result of which the buildings were subsequently
erected with a uniform design.
L. In the course of this, did you discuss the
installations for killing by gas?
E. Hoess showed me this, there were the huts as I saw
them, but by then I had seen enough, and I reported to
Mueller. I did not watch the actual process of killing
at which they also wanted me to be present.
L. Was there a discussion and a decision between you
and Hoess on the question of disposing of those killed
E. No, on this matter Hoess had his own orders, or it
was left within the scope of his authority, this I do
not know – IVB4 was not involved in this. The disposal
of those poisoned by gas, the disposal of those killed,
namely by burial or burning, no, never.
L. Was the method of killing by gas discussed on this
occasion between you and Hoess?
E. Yes, this he already mentioned to me the first time,
namely about the cartons with those…how do you call
them…with those acids, the cartons of cyanide acid, I
actually passed this on to Mueller. That was perhaps
the only difference between Auschwitz and that place up
there, the place where the Captain of the Police told
me that it was a submarine engine.
L. What parts of Auschwitz did you visit on the later
E. The headquarters.
L. Who, apart from Hoess, was present at the time of
E. Apart from Hoess: All this affair happened there in
a most military fashion; one would think that his 1A,
or that is how he was referred to by us, I think that
1A was present although not all the time, I presume. I
did not… I did not recognize anyone in Auschwitz. I
had no personal acquaintance there and I did not get to
know, in the course of the time, any of the SS men
personally to such an extent that he is engraved in my
memory – or with whom I discussed, let us say, anything
private; I had none.
L. Did you visit the gas chambers and the incinerators?
E. In front of the buildings, which I looked at for the
sake of the report to Mueller, as I have said, as I
have already said, that they were the same huts as in
that wood in Poland, and we were in the area of the
Generalgouvernement , and afterwards in front of this
installation into which groups were being conveyed
somehow exactly at that time, but I did not go inside,
and I did not watch anything, but I walked away from
there as I have already described. Apart from this I
did not watch anything. And, thirdly, the place which
he showed me, where the dead were burned.
Dr. Servatius: I would ask to be allowed to put a question
to the witness now, as it has been said that documents and
books were supplied to the Accused. As far as it was
explained to me, the documents and books were only given to
him a few months later, and then his evidence was given in
greater clarity, as far as I was told by the Accused
himself. I would, therefore, request to put the question to
Attorney General: Obviously Defence Counsel will be able to
cross-examine the witness.
Presiding Judge: Perhaps you would ask the witness this
Attorney General: Mr. Less, you heard the question. When, as
far as you know, were the books supplied to the Accused?
Witness Less: At a later stage. Actually the list to which I
referred previously was of books kept in existing archives,
and he also subsequently added to it the names of books upon
which he wanted to rely, such as Reitlinger, Poliakov and
Presiding Judge: The evidence which we have now heard, was
this before the books were supplied, or after it?
Attorney General: What has been heard was Reel 9.
Witness Less: In Reel 9 there were documents which I
produced, so I believe, from his personal file. But the
books had not yet been supplied.
Presiding Judge: Would you be able to ascertain more precise
Witness Less: Yes.
Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, when your turn comes to
cross-examine, you can raise this matter again. In the
meantime the witness will have full particulars on the
point. Do you have anything to add on this matter?
Dr. Servatius: No, I have nothing to add.
Attorney General: In the course of the interrogation, did
you submit documents to the Accused?
Witness Less: Yes.
Attorney General: The last excerpt is a short section
summing up this episode.
Presiding Judge: Is this the last excerpt you wish to quote?
Attorney General: No, but I thought that the Court wanted to
conclude the session.
Presiding Judge: Yes, it is already time to do so.
Attorney General: If the Court will allow me, I shall
produce a short extract of two or three minutes. On page
The next extract is from Reel 9, page 380:
L. On page 444 Hoess was asked:”I ask you: did Himmler
examine the camp and was he present himself during the
extermination processes? Hoess: Yes, certainly, in 1942
Himmler visited the camp and watched a process such as
this from beginning to end. Dr. Kaufmann: Is the same
true of Eichmann? Hoess: Eichmann was in Auschwitz
repeatedly and knew about the processes exactly.”
E. I knew no more, Captain, than I have said. I did see
the small buildings at the beginning, I knew that they
were putting them to death with these round cardboard
objects, this is what Hoess told me, he even showed me
one – I also reported it to Mueller – afterwards I saw
this big building, from the outside. I did not observe
the process of extermination, not at Auschwitz nor in
any other place. Only in Minsk did I come across it
when they were shooting. Apart from this case, I
declined it, or I could not and I did not want to do
so. I kept away from this because the burning of the
corpses…had already aroused within me…a feeling…
I was not capable of bearing this.
Hoess… I also said now, Captain, that Hoess told me
that Himmler had been there and had said: “These are
battles which the coming generations will no longer be
required to fight.” Then he also told me that Himmler
had watched the entire process and what I gathered from
him then somehow with disbelief, he said to me that “he
was shaking at the knees.” I said to myself “Very well
but I don’t want my knees to shake – I am not going to
watch this.” For, as far as I was concerned, it was
sufficient to have seen the burning of the bodies, the
burning of the bodies.
Presiding Judge: If you have a question relating to the last
excerpt, please go on; otherwise – we shall adjourn.
Attorney General: The book from which you read to the
Accused that excerpt referred to at the beginning of the
extract quoted here, what book was it from?
Witness Less: It referred to page 375 which is volume II of
the Blue Series – the official German edition.
Q. It says here that it is on page 444.
Presiding Judge: We shall now adjourn. The next Session will
be on Friday, at nine o’clock in the morning.