Session No. 41
1 Sivan 5721 (16 May 1961)
Presiding Judge: I declare the forty-first Session of the
Attorney General: With the Court’s permission, my colleague,
Mr. Bach, will now give the Court the names of the other
declarants, whose statements have not yet been submitted,
since their turn has not yet been reached at the stage of
submitting the evidence, but the Prosecution intends to make
use of them. If the Defence wishes to make any comment, we
would ask the Court to decide whether they should be heard
in the same way as was decided in the case of other
State Attorney Bach: We have, in fact, reduced the number
of these witnesses – whose affidavits, or the record of
whose interrogations, we should like to submit; we have
reduced their number to three, and these three witnesses, in
fact, belong to the chapter of the holocaust of Hungarian
The first of the three is Kurt Becher, a former SS
Standartenfuehrer. He was interrogated a number of times by
the American military authorities at Nuremberg, and these
interrogations have been included by us in two documents,
bearing the Prosecution numbers 774 and 827. Document No.
774, which actually contains the majority of these
interrogations, was, in fact, also shown to the Accused, and
he made his comments on these interrogations. Hence the
document is already before you. It was given the number
T/37(235). He made his comments on these interrogations
from page 2888 onwards, and later on again from page 2903
Kurt Becher was, in 1944, the head of the economic office of
the SS in Budapest, and he was also Himmler’s accredited
representative in the negotiations with the Jewish
institutions in Budapest, in connection with the proposal to
grant exit permits to a certain number of Jews from the
German occupied areas, mainly Hungary, in exchange for the
payment of money and the supply of goods to the SS. He did
that while maintaining a measure of contact with the
Accused, as we shall prove. This statement, these
interrogations, of Becher are most relevant from a number of
points of view.
With the aid of what he stated, we want to prove, firstly,
that Himmler was the one who initiated this proposal. We
shall also see what were Himmler’s motives, mainly
political, for this plan. We shall show that, in fact,
Becher was required – as he himself put it – to promise the
Jews anything he liked; what would be fulfilled was a
totally different question. More important, as we shall
see, the Accused was opposed to this deal right from the
beginning and was very glad when it failed. We shall show
what were Himmler’s motives in August 1944 in giving orders
to stop the deportations and, in fact, to prevent the
deportation of the Jews of Budapest – what caused it, and
what preceded it; what caused Himmler’s order to stop the
extermination of the Jews in October 1944. We shall be able
to prove the attempts by the Accused to contravene and,
indeed, to sabotage this decision of Himmler’s. We shall
also prove here, by the same statement, that Becher actually
complained to Himmler about this conduct on the part of the
Accused and that Himmler, in fact, summoned the Accused
before him and rebuked him in the presence of Becher. I do
not wish to go into details here, but this episode is
exceedingly interesting in order to prove in which way the
Accused exercised the initiative which was open to him.
This evidence also has ample probative value, for we shall
be able to link it at almost each and every step, with all
sorts of other evidence, whether oral evidence or documents
we have discovered, mainly documents which have reached us
from Himmler’s personal archives, and those we have received
from the United States. We have here an exchange of
telegrams between Becher and Himmler, during those decisive
days, with the aid of which, and with the aid of this
interrogation – if the Court will admit it – and with the
aid of other reports we shall ask to submit, we shall be
able virtually to reconstruct the events of certain days
almost hour by hour, during those decisive days.
Presiding Judge: Is Becher alive?
State Attorney Bach: Becher is alive, and already at this
stage I wish to say that we shall not agree to summon Becher
to come to the State of Israel in order to appear here. We
shall not summon him to come here as a witness, and in fact
he will be treated in the same way as the Attorney General
has declared before you regarding other witnesses, such as
von Thadden, Bach-Zalewski and others. For our part, there
would be nothing to prevent the man from coming here, but he
will not be granted immunity.
Presiding Judge: I do not understand – there would be
nothing on your part to prevent him from coming; does that
mean that he would be given an entry visa?
State Attorney Bach: Actually, the Attorney General has
declared this in regard to other witnesses – that we shall
not object to their coming here, but we shall not promise
them immunity. He will be treated like all those others,
except for Hoettl and Huppenkothen, who fall into a special
category. The position of Becher in our opinion is exactly
the same as that of all the other witnesses whose
examination in Germany the Court has requested.
Presiding Judge: Has he been charged with having committed
State Attorney Bach: Yes, with offences under the Nazis
(Punishment) Law, both under section 1 and under other
sections as well.
Judge Halevi: Not only for membership of the Nazi
State Attorney Bach: Not only for his membership. I should
like to add here that, although we shall ask the Court to
consider Becher’s statement to be trustworthy, namely that
he was interested in the success of the notorious
transaction “life in exchange for goods,” and at a certain
stage also to the point of stopping the deportations, we
nevertheless see no reason to remove him from the list of
Nazis whom we regard as criminal offenders against the
Jewish people, as persons who committed crimes against
humanity. In our opinion, the difference between him and
the Accused lies in the fact that, whereas the murder of an
additional several hundred thousand Jews would have done
credit to the Accused as part of his task, in Becher’s case
this would not have been regarded actually as a success on
his part, but the plunder of further large sums of money
from the victims who were destined for extermination, and
the extortion of monies and goods – that would have been
regarded as an achievement. And we shall see, when we shall
ask the Court to admit the report of the Head of the
Committee for Relief and Rescue, Kasztner’s report, we shall
see how he mentions, for example, that when there were
negotiations about payment per head for each Jew allegedly
to be saved, then the Accused mentioned a sum of money even
smaller than Becher. It is true that the Accused was
opposed to the entire deal, but as long as he had to
negotiate in this sense, the amount of money was not so
important; it was important to Becher. For these reasons we
do not regard Becher as not being a criminal under our law,
and therefore we cannot promise him immunity.
Presiding Judge: Where does he live?
State Attorney Bach: I understand that he lives in Germany,
I believe in Bremen. If Defence Counsel so wishes, there
will be no objection on our part to his examination before a
German judge, in accordance with the arrangement which the
Court laid down in its Decision No. 11. Accordingly, I
would ask you at this stage – I think that would in fact be
the correct procedure – to admit these two documents in
evidence, and to give your decision along the lines of
Decision No. 11.
Presiding Judge: Perhaps you would first complete your whole
State Attorney Bach: The second witness is Horst Grell.
That is our document No. 985. Here, too, there is an
affidavit which was shown to the Accused.
Presiding Judge: Were both statements of Becher sworn
State Attorney Bach: In part, Your Honour. Here we have
interrogations, partly on oath, partly not. I believe that,
in fact, the interrogations that were tendered to the
Accused, for his comments, are – for the most part – not
sworn, whereas the second document contains sworn
The second document is that of Horst Grell, an affidavit
under oath, Prosecution document No. 985. It was submitted
to the Accused and was given the number T/37(267). The part
of the Accused’s statement referring to that document begins
on page 3193. Grell handled Jewish affairs in Budapest at
the agency of the German Foreign Ministry in Budapest. He
was a kind of liaison officer between Veesenmayer and the
Accused’s Section IVB4.
Presiding Judge: Under what circumstances did he make this
State Attorney Bach: He made this statement at the trial of
Veesenmayer, at the trial of members of the German Foreign
Ministry, in defence of Veesenmayer. This man, as I have
said, was the liaison officer between Veesenmayer and the
Accused. He describes in this statement the division of
authority between the holders of various posts, the
camouflage efforts of the Accused vis-a-vis the German
Foreign Ministry. And, most important of all, he mentions
an episode to which we shall attach special importance when
we come to the chapter of the holocaust of Hungarian Jewry.
That is the chapter of the Kistarcsa camp. That was an
episode which came after an order had been given by the
Regent Horthy, who forbade any further deportation of Jews
from Hungary. The Accused then made use of a ruse, and we
shall bring its details before the Court, mainly through
Jewish witnesses. By means of this ruse he succeeded in
taking 1,500 Jews from this camp, and in bringing them to
Auschwitz, despite the fact that they had previously been
returned to the same camp in compliance with Horthy’s order.
As I have said, these are witnesses from the Jewish side,
and we shall produce them before you. But Grell, in this
affidavit, mentions this trick of the Accused, and it proves
the existence of this trick. Details of the implementation
of this special operation were also known to some of the
Germans, and even to members of the German Foreign Ministry.
Presiding Judge: What was the name of that camp?
State Attorney Bach: Kistarcsa. That is, in brief, the
contents of this affidavit, and hence it is relevant; it
also has probative value – it links up with many of the
testimonies and documents, and the Court will be able to
assess its weight at the end of the trial.
Presiding Judge: Is his name Horst or Theodor Horst Grell?
State Attorney Bach: It says in the affidavit: Dr. Theodor
Presiding Judge: Where does he live today?
State Attorney Bach: I think he lives in Germany. I am
told that he lives in Frankfurt.
Judge Halevi: What would be his position in Israel?
State Attorney Bach: His position would be the same as that
of Becher and the other witnesses. There is no doubt that
he participated, very actively, in the operations that
brought about the deportation of the Jews of Hungary.
The last witness is Hans Juettner. He was an
Obergruppenfuehrer in the SS. He was a general in the
Waffen SS. He was Chef des Fuehrungshauptamts SS – that was
actually the same office of the SS as that of the
Reichsfuehrer SS, of the Fuehrungshauptamt.
Presiding Judge: The chief of Himmler’s secretariat.
State Attorney Bach: The chief of Himmler’s secretariat.
He was also the “Chief Adjutant” of Himmler himself. I
think that this is sufficient to substantiate our claim that
his position is similar to that of the two previous
witnesses as regards granting, or declining, immunity to
him. He also made an affidavit at Nuremberg. That is the
document which was given the number NG 6216.
Presiding Judge: What is your number?
State Attorney Bach: Our number is 1297; and this
affidavit, in fact, is submitted in respect to a limited
episode. This man, in November 1944…
Presiding Judge: For what purpose was it submitted at
State Attorney Bach: This is not so apparent here. I think
it was one of the interrogations that was also conducted –
so I presume – in relation to the Foreign Ministry, but not
necessarily so; it is very likely that they used it for a
number of cases. At any rate this does not emerge from the
body of the document itself.
Presiding Judge: Is this statement sworn or not?
State Attorney Bach: It is a sworn statement.
Judge Halevi: Was he sentenced at Nuremberg?
State Attorney Bach: No. I do not think he was sentenced –
I think he was not brought to trial. This man, in November
1944, visited Hungary in the course of his duties, and saw,
en route, the notorious “foot march” – that forced march
with the direction and execution of which we have charged
the Accused. He relates here that he was shocked by what he
saw, how his attention was directed to these atrocities by
Becher, how he tried to stop this thing, how he turned to
Winkelmann, and how he realized that Winkelmann was unable
to intervene, but referred him to the Accused and said that
only the Accused would be able to change matters. He also
described that he went to the Accused’s office, the
contemptuous attitude that he experienced on the part of the
Accused’s subordinates, and his reply. This evidence is
important, because it links up with other evidence, with the
statement of Hoess, which we are still going to submit
(Hoess is no longer alive, and no question about submitting
his statement arises). That was the testimony of the
commandant of Auschwitz, who also witnesses this “foot
march,” and he also gives his reaction to that episode.
Kasztner’s report also refers to that episode, and he
mentions the same Juettner, so that Juettner’s intervention
was known already then. Wisliceny also says the same in his
examination, in that statement which we have already
submitted. So that here, once again, it has become possible
to present the Court with a complete picture by means of
these testimonies, which is more reliable and more weighty
than is the evidence of witnesses who are able to come here
and testify as to what occurred sixteen years ago.
Accordingly, I apply to have this affidavit accepted in
Judge Raveh: Where is he now?
State Attorney Bach: Juettner, as far as I know, is in
Germany. I do not know where.
Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, what observations do you
have on these applications?
Dr. Servatius: I request to summon the witness Becher here
for the following reasons: Firstly, he was a leading figure
in the negotiations with Brand. Amongst the documents,
there is one of a special character. That is an examination
– I do not remember at the moment whether it is 774 or 827 –
the strangest examination that I have come across so far.
It is a conversation between Becher and Brand, in which they
exchange mutual compliments about their achievements in
rescuing Jews. Thereafter, each asks the other: Do you
remember that this is how it was? No? Perhaps you could
make a special effort? And so it goes on, over many pages.
Therefore, it becomes necessary to confront these witnesses
with each other.
Forgive me – I have been made aware of a mistake. The
document refers to Becher and Kasztner – and not to Becher
and Brand. Hence, what I have said about confrontation is
invalid. At all events, in my opinion this document should
not be admitted, but the witness Becher must be heard here.
With regard to the other witnesses, with regard to the
witnesses Grell and Juettner, their examination in Germany
will be sufficient for me, and I have submitted the
appropriate applications. It will not be worthwhile to
bring them to this Court, and in the known circumstances we
should not demand this of them.
State Attorney Bach: May I be permitted to add a certain
clarification? These interrogations of Becher were
conducted in the normal way by the American military
authorities, as appears from the transcript itself, by Curt
Ponger and other interrogators of the American army. The
fact is that some of these interrogations took place in the
presence of Dr. Rudolf Kasztner, upon the request of Becher
who said that Dr. Kasztner might know a substantial number
of facts that would be able to serve in his defence, since
he was present during some of Becher’s activities; and
therefore he asked the interrogator that Dr. Kasztner be
present, and Dr. Kasztner was actually present at some of
these interrogations. Since, at a later stage, we are also
going to ask the Court to admit the report of the Head of
the Rescue Committee, namely Dr. Kasztner, it seems to me
that the questions which were put by Dr. Kasztner can only
add to explaining the background and establishing the weight
of Becher’s evidence. At any rate, it was a perfectly
regular interrogation and a confrontation in the normal
Judge Halevi: What kind of interrogation was that? Was he
being interrogated as a suspect or an accused?
State Attorney Bach: He was being questioned both as a
suspect and as a witness. Here they question him both about
his own activities and also about the activities of others.
He covers the whole field and describes events that took
place during that period in Budapest. He did not ask at that
time to be confronted with the Accused – it was impossible
at that stage to have such a confrontation. And, as I have
said, it seems to me that this presence of Dr. Kasztner at
the time certainly does not detract from the value…
Presiding Judge: Let us not discuss now the weight of the
State Attorney Bach: It surely does not rule out the
admissibility of the document as evidence.