Session 040-02, Eichmann Adolf

Q. If I understood you rightly, he denied his own
responsibility for the persecution of the Jews and the

A. I had not accused Ribbentrop of exterminating Jews. I was
there talking with him about Hitler – and whether Hitler was
alive or dead. And he immediately began to defend Hitler,
that Hitler wasn’t responsible for these terrible conditions
which were found in the concentration camps and he was not
responsible for the terrible things that the SS men did and
the man who was really responsible, he said, was Adolf
Eichmann and his great regret was that Hitler had placed
this unlimited faith in Adolf Eichmann. That was the motif
of his entire monologue.

Q. You were in Nuremberg for a long time during the hearing
of the trial before the International Military Tribunal and
long afterwards. Do you know whether documents were
submitted from which it appears that Ribbentrop himself
insistently demanded these measures?

A. I do not question that at all.

Q. If so, could I refresh your memory and read to you an
extract from a document dated 17 July 1944 – a message from
Ribbentrop that was sent to Ambassador Veesenmayer?

Presiding Judge: Has this already been submitted to us, Dr.

Attorney General: This apparently refers to the subject of

Dr. Servatius No, this has not yet been submitted. It says
here:”The Fuehrer expects that the Hungarian Government will
now implement, without any further delays, the measures
aimed against the Jews in Budapest, with the exceptions
which have been agreed upon, in principle by the Government
of the Reich on the suggestion of Ambassador Veesenmayer.
But these exceptions should not be allowed to give rise to
any delay in the practical steps directed against the Jews
in general, for otherwise it would be necessary to cancel
the consent to these exceptions which was given by the

Do you read this as something done by the Minister at
Eichmann’s urging?

Witness Musmanno: I certainly do not know the history of
the entire Foreign Ministry of the Third Reich, but I do
know this, Dr. Servatius, that in Ribbentrop’s attempt to
exculpate himself – as you apparently assume – by accusing
Eichmann, he failed in this – because he was hanged. Now,
what gave verisimilitude to the reply of Ribbentrop and the
reply of Goering and the reply of Hans Frank and all the
others that I mentioned this morning, in which they say that
Eichmann was the man who headed the extermination programme
of the Jews, was that they did not select – and if they were
really clever in that respect and were not spontaneously
speaking the truth – they did not select the man who might
have been more obviously acceptable as the culprit, and that
was General Mueller who was at the head of the Gestapo. So
therefore it was not a matter of logic; it was a matter of
telling just what the facts were; and it does not follow
that just because a criminal is accused and even convicted,
that everything he states must be erroneous and a falsehood,
because – as you well know, Dr. Servatius – in Nuremberg
practically all of the men who were convicted on their own
words, on their own statements, on their own confessions.

Q. If I understood you correctly, you spoke of Eichmann as
an SS General?

Presiding Judge: He was speaking about General Mueller, head
of the Gestapo. These were expressions of opinion – not

Witness Musmanno: Yes – I was attempting to show that what
these men said was to me true, because if they were merely
trying to exculpate themselves…

Dr. Servatius: Sir – that is sufficient for me. I should
like to read to you a portion of the Nuremberg Judgment and
to hear your opinion as to whether the statements made here
are correct or not.

“He (von Ribbentrop) played an important part in
Hitler’s Final Solution of the Jewish Question. In
September 1942 he ordered the German diplomatic
representatives accredited to various Axis satellites
to hasten the deportation of Jews to the East. In June
1942, the German Ambassador to Vichy requested Laval to
turn over 50,000 Jews for deportation to the East. On
25 February 1943 Von Ribbentrop protested to Mussolini
against Italian slowness in deporting Jews from the
Italian occupation zone of France. On 17 April 1943 he
took part in a conference between Hitler and Horthy on
the deportation of Jews from Hungary and informed
Horthy that the ‘Jews must either be exterminated or
taken to concentration camps.’ At the same conference
Hitler had likened the Jews to ‘tuberculosis bacilli’
and said if they did not work they were to be shot.”*
{*Trial of the Major War Criminals before the
International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 1947, Vol.
I, p. 287.}

Presiding Judge: After quoting this passage, what is your
question? What do you think of this, Judge Musmanno?

Witness Musmanno: There is no doubt, I think, about the
veracity of what has been read. There is no doubt whatsoever
about the wisdom which dictated those words. There is no
doubt about the justice embodied in all those words and
there is no doubt about the correctness of the decision that
was rendered against Ribbentrop which took him to the
gallows. He was hanged for what he did, as pointed out in
that judgment.

Presiding Judge: It seems to me that Defence Counsel’s
question was something else: How do these remarks fit in
with the questions that were asked about Eichmann’s pressure
on Hitler, and so on?
Witness Musmanno: Ribbentrop was speaking in the quicksands
of irrefutable guilt, and he tended to pull down those who
were guilty with him.

Dr. Servatius I understood that you spoke to Kaltenbrunner,
who was Chief of the Security Police of the SD after
Heydrich, and I believe that he, too – according to what you
stated – said that he had no connection whatever with the
persecution of Jews, that this was the responsibility of
someone else. Is that correct?

Witness Musmanno: I did not say that he said that he was
not guilty. I said that he said that the men mostly
responsible for the extermination of the Jews were Hitler,
Himmler, Bormann, Heydrich and Eichmann. After all, I was
not accusing these men. They were merely talking to me, and
telling me and, perhaps, out of a guilty conscience,
protesting that they were not the ones – although they did
not put it that way. They merely referred to Eichmann; they
all seemed to agree that Eichmann had a very powerful and
authoritative hand in this programme of the extermination of
the Jews.

Presiding Judge: You say they did not speak about their own
guilt regarding the extermination of the Jews. Is that
right? None of them?

Witness Musmanno: Yes.

Q. None of them?

A. No. They did not go into that.

Judge Halevi: Did you talk to them before their trial, or
after their trial?

Witness Musmanno: It was during the trial.

Q. During their own trial.

A. Well, yes. But it was not at the trial. You see, I
arrived there to enquire about the facts regarding Hitler.
And so I went from one to the other, trying to find out when
they saw Hitler last, what was his attitude and that time
there was a great deal of discussion about the…

Q. Before judgment was given by the International Court?

A. Oh yes.

Q. Thank you.

Dr. Servatius And this was when judgment had not yet been
passed, but you were there during the interrogations and you
were present at the sessions as an observer?

Witness Musmanno: Yes, I was an observer at the first

Q. Were you present at the interrogation of Kaltenbrunner?

A. You mean at the trial?

Q. Yes.

A. Yes.

Q. Did Kaltenbrunner not allege all the time that he had
never himself signed any order for executions and did he not
persist in that allegation when his own signature on such
orders were shown to him?

A. Yes, he did. And he was proved to be a liar over and

Q. You also spoke to Frank, who was Governor General of

A. Yes.
Q. If I understand correctly, Frank, too, declared that he
had nothing whatever to do with the persecution of Jews and

A. No, no! He did not say that. No – the contrary, he
admitted his guilt on the witness stand.

Q. How do you, then, account for the fact that the same
Frank who wrote a diary extending over 39 volumes, did not
at all mention Eichmann in one of them?

A. There were many things that Frank did not mention in his
diary. I remember reading the able speech of the Attorney
General in this very trial, in which he stated that Frank
made no reference to the forced march of the Jews into
Poland, of the tortures that they underwent, the privations
that they suffered. Of course his diary was quite extensive,
but I have no way of knowing what he put in or what he left
Q. And you said that Frank did not deny his guilt before the
American Tribunal at Nuremberg, but do you know what the
Tribunal itself said about this in the judgment? I am now
going to quote part of the judgment…

I.M.T. vol. 1, p. 298:

“At the beginning of the testimony, Frank stated that
he had a feeling of ‘terrible guilt’ for the atrocities
committed in the occupied territories. But his defence
was largely devoted to an attempt to prove that he was
not in fact responsible.”

Q. Was this a true admission of guilt or a false account,
which merely served to relieve him of the moral burden when
he saw that there was no way of escape for him because of
his own diary.?

A. Frank was a very volatile individual. He kept changing
his view. Professor Gustav Gilbert in his book Nuremberg
Diary tells how one day he would be very contrite and very
penitent and then the next day or a few days later he would
be defending what he did and would even in a way be
defending Hitler. I spoke to him in Italian. He spoke very
good Italian and he said to me that the greatest regret that
he would have as long as he would live was that he did not
shoot Hitler when he had the chance to do so. And yet later
on he would be defending Hitler. So I do not know what you
attempt to derive from these quotations.

Dr. Servatius This is not the moment for drawing
conclusions from the evidence. This should take place at a
later stage in the trial.

You spoke to the General of the Air Force, Koller, and he
said that during the last days he was together with the
Fuehrer Adolf Hitler in the bunker underneath the Reich
Chancellery. Is that correct?
A. Well, I do not mean by the last days right up to the day
that Hitler actually shot himself in the mouth and took
poison. But he was with Hitler in the bunker during the last
period. He left the bunker, I think, before General Ritter
von Grein arrived to supplant Goering. He travelled all over
Germany attempting to summon airplanes and so on. He was not
up there at the last moment, no.

Q. These were at any rate the last days of the battle for
Berlin. Therefore, I take it that military problems were
probably the focal point of the conversations?

A. Not when he was starting with me. It was all over.

Presiding Judge: No, no, he was referring to the
conversations between Koller and Hitler; that they would
have been likely to be talking about military problems.

Witness Musmanno: Hitler assumed this to be very much a
military problem to execute the flyers, to deter other
flyers from dropping bombs on Germany.

Dr. Servatius Was it not strange that precisely at that
time they should talk about the Jewish problem, as if it was
the most burning and pressing, at a time when the end was
upon them, because they were talking about Jewish pilots?

Witness Musmanno: The Jewish Question was uppermost in
Hitler’s mind all the time. In his last will and testament,
with his very final breath he blasphemed the Jews. There was
never a time when he had any vacation from his main object
in life to kill Jews.

Dr. Servatius And the Air Force General Koller, who was, in
those days, so close to Hitler, did he have any different
ideas? Was he a friend of the Jews? How am I to understand

Witness Musmanno: I do not know Koller’s feelings. I did
not know them, but certainly in my conversations with him he
made it very clear that he looked upon the shooting of the
Allied pilots, men in uniform, as sheer murder. And that
when Eichmann said, and mind you he had the approval of
Kaltenbrunner, even Kaltenbrunner went along with him and
said: Yes, it is not right to kill these men in uniform.”
And then Kaltenbrunner said: “But you know Eichmann is very
jealous of his prerogatives and his job is to kill Jews, and
if you are going to protect these fliers and save them you
cannot save those who are Jewish born, had Jewish parents,
were of Jewish lineage, were of Jewish blood.

Q. Who was then responsible for the war prisoners, was it
the civil authority, the party authority or the military

A. I would say the military. But so far as executing
prisoners, that was a matter of the SD and was incorporated
into Hitler’s orders, so regardless of where the competence
lay, when Hitler declared what should be done, that for them
at that time was the law.

Judge Halevi: Excuse me, Justice Musmanno, did I understand
you correctly that the subject of Jewish pilots, this
specific Jewish Question of pilots, did not come up in the
conversation between Koller and Hitler himself?

Witness Musmanno: No, no. Koller of course was very brave
in refusing to go along with this order and knowing that
there was the order, that the prisoners had been turned over
to the SD, he went to see Kaltenbrunner. And of course he
was very much surprised that Kaltenbrunner went along with
Dr. Servatius Was that not courage after the defeat? Could
not Koller who was constantly with Hitler have stated his
position to Hitler himself? Do you not believe that this was
a process of thought worked out by Koller after the War, in
order to shift the guilt on to Eichmann?

A. Koller was not accused of any crime – he did not have to
shift any guilt. I was talking to Koller about Hitler, and I
must repeat that that was the primary object of my
conversations with these various individuals whom I have

Last-Modified: 1999/05/28