Judge Halevi: Is this a sworn statement by Wisliceny? What
State Attorney Bach: This is actually not a sworn
statement. Before the day is over we will call to the stand
a witness who was in Bratislava during and after Wisliceny’s
trial; as a matter of fact, the documents that we have
submitted “Cell 133,” “Cell 106,” were brought to Israel by
this witness who, through the Czechoslovak prosecution,
asked Wisliceny to reply to questions concerning certain
specific subjects, such as the Mufti; one of these questions
was: “What do you know about the Fiala affair and the
article in the Grenzbote?”
Wisliceny gave his replies to these questions in writing;
the original document is in our possession, here.
Decision No. 49
We accept Wisliceny’s statement concerning the article that
appeared in the newspaper Grenzbote, on the grounds
mentioned in our Decision No. 7.
State Attorney Bach: Wisliceny states here that he has
known the editor of Grenzbote, Fritz Fiala, since 1940. In
the spring of 1942, during the deportation of the Jews of
Slovakia, he met Fiala who asked him for information where
the Jews were being expelled to, and said that it would
reassure the population if at some point a newspaperman
would be able to see a labour camp in Poland and would then
publish appropriate articles in the Slovak press. Wisliceny
mentioned this to Eichmann, who at that point did not take a
stand on Fiala’s request, but in the summer of 1942 Eichmann
called Wisliceny and told him that Himmler, with
Ribbentrop’s agreement, had ordered that articles be
published in the foreign press about the Jewish labour
camps, as counter-propaganda. Eichmann was considering a
visit to Theresienstadt, but still he asked what sort of
newspaperman that Slovak was. Wisliceny then gave Eichmann
the details, and Eichmann decided that they would also visit
Auschwitz and said that he would tell Hoess that Fiala be
permitted to talk to Slovak and French Jews in the labour
camp. The program for the journey was drawn up by Eichmann.
Wisliceny then describes the journey. First they went to
Zilina, where Fiala made a tour of the place, and from there
they proceeded to Katowice, where they had to report to the
Stapo post, to meet with a Kriminalkommissar whom Eichmann
had appointed to be their guide. From there they went to
Sosnowiec, and finally to Auschwitz. There they were
received by Hoess who showed them a sleeping hall, a wash
room, a very modern kitchen, and a hall in which the camp
orchestra was just at that time having a rehearsal. Fiala
was also given the opportunity to talk with some Jews from
Slovakia and France, and to take their photos. The tour
ended in the afternoon. Wisliceny adds: “We did not see
anything in Auschwitz that gave even the faintest hint of
the existence of gas chambers and crematoria.” On their
return to Bratislava Fiala mentioned to Wisliceny that he
was an honorary member of the Security Service, something
that Wisliceny had long been aware of.
The articles Fiala wrote were sent to Eichmann by courier,
and Eichmann passed them on to Himmler; Eichmann then sent
Regierungsrat Bosshammer, a member of the staff of his
Section, to Vienna, where he met with Wisliceny and demanded
that certain changes be made in Fiala’s articles. But
Fiala, as a well-known journalist, was reluctant to accept
stylistic changes, and Bosshammer waived most of the
objections. The articles were then published in the Slovak
press. Wisliceny is of the opinion that Fiala thus was a
victim of deception.
The next document is No. 143 which was handed to the Accused
and given No. T/37(70). This is the Accused’s reply to the
letter I submitted earlier, on the deportation of Slovakia’s
Jews, the pastoral letter of the Slovak bishops. In his
letter Eichmann informs von Thadden of the tour in which the
editor-in-chief of the Grenzbote, Fiala, had taken part on
the Slovak side, and of the article which was published in a
large number of newspapers; Eichmann lists them and adds
that the newspapers can be obtained from the Adviser,
Hauptsturmfuehrer Wisliceny. He then adds: “In addition, in
order to counter the atrocity legends about the fate of the
Jews who had been evacuated from Slovakia, one can also
point to the postal communication of these Jews with
Slovakia which pass centrally through the Adviser on Jewish
Affairs at the German legation in Bratislava which, e.g. in
February-March this year, added up to to over 1,000 letters
and postcards, for Slovakia only.” To quote the original
German: “Im uebrigen kann zur Abwehr der ueber das Schicksal
der evakuierten Juden in der Slowakei umgehenden
Greuelmaerchen auf den Postverkehr dieser Juden nach der
Slowakei verwiesen werden, der zentral ueber den Berater
fuer Judenfragen bei der Deutschen Gesandschaft in Pressburg
geleitet wird und fuer Februar-Maeerz ds. Jrs.
beispielsweise ueber 1,000 Briefe und Karten allein fuer die
Slowakei betrug.” He adds that, on the part of the
Accused’s office there are no objections to these letters
and postcards being read. Signed: Eichmann.
The Accused’s reaction to this document appears on page
1222. On page 1230 Inspector Less asks him: “Was it not the
practice that the expelled Jews who were brought to
extermination camps were forced to write postcards in which
they said that they were well, and then the Jews were killed
and the postcards arrived?” The Accused answered: “I, too,
have heard about that, but it was not done in every case.”
Question: “But such things were done?” Answer by the
Accused: “Yes, yes.”
Judge Halevi: The pastoral letter, the “Hirtenbrief, which
was attached to the document that you submitted – is that
State Attorney Bach: The pastoral letter itself is not
here, only its contents are given in that letter.
Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1108.
State Attorney Bach: Next is our document No. 144, which
was also handed to the Accused and given No. T/37(71). This
is a response to Eichmann’s above-mentioned letter, from
Ludin, who reports to the Foreign Ministry that Eichmann’s
letter, dated 2 June 1943, the last Exhibit, was not
satisfactory, and that Dr. Tuka insists on a visit to the
camps; Ludin asks whether it is nevertheless possible to
arrange for a visit to the camps in the East, in one way or
Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1109.
State Attorney Bach: Ludin writes that Tuka told him that
many of the members of the Council of Ministers are of the
opinion that sending Jews to camps outside Slovakia means
their physical liquidation. And now the final reply on this
subject, a letter signed by Eichmann – our document No. 145,
which was handed to the Accused and given No. T/37(72). In
this letter to von Thadden, in reply to the latter’s letter
of 30 November 1943, Eichmann states:
“Wisliceny, the Adviser on Jewish Affairs at the German
legation in Bratislava, who had been temporarily sent
to Greece, has been ordered to resume his duties in
Bratislava without delay. He has received appropriate
instructions and will again raise with Minister of the
Interior Mach the implementation of the deportation of
Slovakia’s Jews. After results of these talks will be
reported, the possibility of a Slovak Commission
visiting the Jewish camps will be reexamined.”
This is not the last letter on the subject; it is an interim
reply, in which Eichmann says that he will again look into
Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1110.
State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 1017.
This is again a reply by von Thadden to Eichmann’s letter,
in which he states that refusal to permit visits to the
camps or delay in giving a reply to that request will hamper
the further deportation of Jews and may put an end to any
further deportation of Jews to the East.
Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1111.
State Attorney Bach: And now the final document I referred
to earlier, our No. 146, which was handed to the Accused and
given No. T/37(73). Here the Accused says that a visit to
the Jewish camps would be difficult to arrange, but there
would be no objections to a visit by a Slovak commission
elsewhere, for example to Theresienstadt, and the date for
such a visit could be fixed. Let me quote the final
sentence, which is characteristic:
“It may be assumed that this will allay the concerns
voiced by various members of the Slovak Government –
which in themselves are completely unjustified – and
that the negotiations that are now envisaged will be
brought to an appropriate conclusion” (entsprechenden
Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1112.
State Attorney Bach: I had intended to call a witness, but
perhaps first I should like to submit as evidence at this
stage the report of the Budapest Relief and Rescue
Committee, by Dr. Kasztner.
Presiding Judge: Are we now dealing with Hungary?
State Attorney Bach: Actually no; that report contains very
many facts relating to the Slovakian chapter. I am
submitting this document at the present stage for a further
purpose. The witness whom I intend to call next will be
asked to submit to the Court another Wisliceny document,
which contains Wisliceny’s comments on that report of the
Relief and Rescue Committee. I do not intend to submit that
document in order to confirm or contradict the report, but
the facts as related by Wisliceny add to the Kasztner report
and complement it. Logic dictates, however, that before
submitting to the Court comments on a report, the report
itself should first be submitted. The report, of course,
deals primarily with the Hungarian chapter, but it contains
many facts on the course of the negotiations with the
Germans that began in Slovakia, Rabbi Weissmandel’s
negotiations, of which we have heard, and the entire chapter
of Gisi Fleischmann, her activities, her ultimate fate, and
the efforts made by various quarters to save her life.
The report was also handed to the Accused, and he commented
on it; it is already before the Court and was marked as
Exhibit No. T/37(237). The Accused made comments on certain
parts of the report that were pointed out to him. I believe
it is hardly necessary for me to ask the Court to base
itself on Section 15. We are speaking of the author of a
report which was actually submitted by the person heading
that committee, by virtue of his office, to the Zionist
institutions who had appointed him, and who is no longer
alive. The only thing that could perhaps in the ordinary
way make the report not admissible as evidence is the fact
that the law demands that such a report has to be
contemporaneous with the events it describes.
Presiding Judge: When was this report written?
State Attorney Bach: The report was written in 1946, and it
contains a wealth of details – first of all, of course,
about Dr. Kasztner’s own activities, but also about the
activities of the German authorities, the activities of the
Accused and of Wisliceny and all those who operated in
Hungary and Slovakia, about the struggle against these
forces, and about the Holocaust of Hungarian Jewry. With
the help of the report, we shall endeavour to present to the
Court a very broad and exceedingly detailed description of
those events, all the more so because the documents that we
shall submit to the Court accord with the facts contained in
the report. I will mention, for example, something to which
I had not attached importance on first reading. For
example, Dr. Kasztner mentions that Wisliceny came to see
him on a certain day and made a certain announcement to him;
we have in our possession telegrams that the German
authorities had received that same morning – telegrams that
Kasztner could not have known about, but which together
illustrate Wisliceny’s trustworthiness, and also the meaning
of the events that were taking place at the time.
I mentioned earlier that generally such a report is accepted
as evidence. I should now like to quote from Archbold, 33rd
Edition, page 396: “Declarations by deceased persons in the
course of duty or business,” where it says that such
declarations and reports are admissible as evidence. “But
such statement or entry is only admissible to prove those
acts which it was the duty of the person making the
statement or entry to include in it.” There is no doubt
that it was Dr. Kasztner’s duty to report on his mission and
the actions that he took; but, as I said, it is there stated
that the report actually has to be contemporaneous. It is
always a question of appraisal and of the discretion of the
Court, what exactly does the term “contemporaneous” mean,
and there, in order to be sure, I am asking the Court here,
too, to base itself on the authority it has under Section 15
of the Nazi and Nazi Collaborators Law.
Actually, in a decision in Criminal Appeal to which the
attention of this Court has already been called, the Supreme
Court has held that in crimes of this nature hearsay
evidence and other types of evidence are admissible, which
otherwise would not be admissible. That decision concerned
this very report, by Kasztner himself.
Presiding Judge: On which page is that?
State Attorney Bach: I refer to Piskei-Din, Volume 12, pp.
2084-2088. The Court also considered the date of the report
and found that the date was close enough to the actual
events, and that there was therefore no risk in admitting it
as evidence. The Court decided to accept it. If this
applied in a case of libel, it applies all the more in the
case of crimes of the kind we are dealing with here, when
the reference is to the very same activities, the same
events, that Dr. Kasztner’s report deals with, and when the
Accused has already commented on very important portions of
the report. I am therefore asking the Court to admit the
report as evidence.
If the Court will accept the report in principle, I will
also submit a Certificate by a Public Official, made by the
Deputy District Attorney, Jerusalem District, Mr. Tel, who
had submitted the report in the case I mentioned, Criminal
Case No. 124/53, before the District Court of Jerusalem.
Mr. Tel, through me, passed a copy of the report on to
Presiding Judge: Where is the original now? Is it T/37?
State Attorney Bach: The copy that was handed over to
Bureau 06 by Mr Tel – which is a photostatic copy of the
original – is the one that is now in the Court file, under
T/37, the original that was submitted to the District Court
at the time is still in that District Court’s file, but the
Court will note that the photostatic copy, which bears Mr.
Tel’s signature on many of its pages, was delivered to
Bureau 06, which fact is certified by the Certificate by a
Public Official that was submitted to the Court together
with the statement made by the Accused.
Presiding Judge: Did Mr. Tel appear in Criminal Case..?
State Attorney Bach: Mr. Tel appeared in Criminal Case
124/53 in the District Court of Jerusalem, and there the
report was submitted as an exhibit; Mr. Tel confirms that
the report that was submitted to this Court is a correct
copy of that report.
Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any comment to
Dr. Servatius: I have doubts about this document being
admitted as evidence. First, it is not clear from the
report itself who is the person making this report. It says
in the introduction that the Budapest Committee is hereby
submitting a report on its activities. I do not know who
bears the responsibility for the whole of the report. I
hear from the State Attorney that it was Dr. Kasztner only;
it also says in the document “presented by Dr. Kasztner.”
But it is not a report that was made at the time in the
performance of a duty, but it appears to me that the report
was prepared rather in order to justify one single person.
This is also borne out by the last pages of the report,
which mention other reports by Philipp von Freudiger and
Ludwig Levai – which are said to contain contradictions to
this document of justification. These two reports should be
produced here, so that it can be established whether Dr.
Kasztner was authorized to submit such a report as a report
on behalf of a committee. In addition, it is my opinion
that this report is largely irrelevant to these proceedings.
We are not concerned here with disputes between various
groups on the Jewish side – we are concerned with the
Accused Eichmann and not with disputes and differences that
may have arisen at a time of distress. I therefore think
that it would be better to do without this report in large
measure, and to rely on the other testimonies that are
supported by documents. In any case, I object to the
admission of this report.
Presiding Judge: [ to State Attorney Bach] We do not usually
hear you in reply.
State Attorney Bach: That was an objection, and I wish to
Presiding Judge: Only by way of exception, if you have
something to observe.
I have a question, Mr. Bach: Do you have any proof that this
document was composed by Dr. Kasztner and not by anyone
State Attorney Bach: Dr. Kasztner testified on that point
in that trial. We can submit evidence on that, too. Apart
from that, there is clear evidence that he was chairman of
the committee, and that the report was submitted by him –
not only submitted, but that he also bore the reponsibility
for it. When a committee submits a report, then it is clear
that, whether or not he wrote the report in its entirety or
in part, it is the chairman who, of course, bears the
responsibility for the report as such. He submits it, and
he is responsible for it. Moreover, we know that he did, in
fact, write the whole report. Counsel for the Defence
admits as much. I do not want to touch upon the question of
credibility. Counsel for the Defence mentioned the report
by Philipp von Freudiger. Mr. Freudiger will be a witness
in this Court, maybe already today, and Counsel for the
Defence will have the opportunity, of course, to question
him also about the credibility of the report – so that he
should have no problem with that.
Presiding Judge: What about Levai?