Session 055-03, Eichmann Adolf

Attorney General: It is an important matter. It will take
about ten minutes, not more. We have tested it.

Presiding Judge: It will take half an hour, together with
the translation. Do you have a translation?

Attorney General: We have an English translation.

Presiding Judge: Do you have a Hebrew translation?

Attorney General: We do not have a Hebrew translation. I
have handed over a copy in German.

Presiding Judge: Perhaps we can be satisfied with the Hebrew
translation, at least. I agree that these are very weighty
matters, but there are also other considerations.

Attorney General: As the Court pleases. I shall follow the
Court’s instructions.

Presiding Judge: We shall make do with the Hebrew

Witness Gilbert: This was Hoess’ reply:

“The freight trains with the Jews destined for extermination
moved along a special railroad installation which had been
laid down especially for this purpose right up to the
extermination installations. Notification of these trains
was given in advance by Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann of the
RSHA, and they were allocated consecutive numbers, together
with letters of the alphabet, in order to prevent a mix-up
with transports of other prisoners. Each cable relating to
these transports bore the reference: `In accordance with the
specified directives, and are to be subjected to special
treatment.’ These trains consisted of closed freight cars
and contained, on the average, about 2,000 persons. When
the trains arrived at the aforementioned ramp, the
accompanying railway personnel and the accompanying guard –
members of the Security or Order Police – had to leave the
area. Only the transport commander who had delivered it
remained until it had been completely handed over, and the
numbers checked, to the duty officer of the camp. After the
trains were off-loaded and the numbers determined (lists by
names were not drawn up), all the people had to file past
two SS duty doctors, and in the course of this, those who
were fit for work were separated from those who were unfit.
On the average about twenty-five per cent were found to be
fit for work. These were marched off immediately into the
camp, in order to change their clothes and be received
there. All the luggage remained on the ramp and, after
those unfit for work had also been sent off, it was brought
to the store of personal effects, to be sorted out. Those
unfit for work were classified according to sex – men, women
and children – and marched off to the nearest available
extermination installation. Those unable to walk and women
with small children were transported there on trucks. When
they arrived, all of them had to strip naked in rooms which
gave the impression of being delousing installations. The
permanent labour unit of prisoners who worked in these
installations – and who were also housed there and did not
come into contact with other inmates of the camp – helped
with the undressing and coaxed the hesitant to hurry up, so
that the others would not have to wait so long.

They were also told to take note where they put away their
clothes, so that they would be able to find them again
immediately after taking their bath. All this was done on
purpose, in order to dispel any fears which might arise.
After they had taken off their clothes, they were taken into
a nearby room – the gas chamber itself. It had been
prepared to look like a washroom – that is to say showers
and pipes were installed throughout, water drainage
channels, etc. The moment the entire transport had entered
the chamber, the door was closed, and simultaneously the gas
was forced in from above through a special aperture. It was
Zyklon `B’ gas, cyanide acid in the form of crystals, which
vaporized immediately, that is to say, it took effect
immediately upon coming into contact with oxygen. The
people were dazed already on taking their first breath, and
the process of killing took from thirteen to fifteen
minutes, depending upon the weather conditions and the
number of people locked up within. Thereafter, nothing
moved any more. Thirty minutes after the gas had been
released and had entered the chambers, they would be opened,
and the transfer of the bodies to the crematoria would
commence. Throughout all these years, I never came across a
single case of a person coming out of the gas chambers while
still alive. While the bodies were being taken out, the
women’s hair was still cut, and gold teeth and rings removed
by prisoner dentists who were employed in this unit.

“In Birkenau there were five installations – two large
crematoria, each of which had a capacity for receiving
2,000 persons in the course of 24 hours. That is to
say, it was possible in one gas chamber to put to death
up to 2,500 persons; in five double ovens heated with
coke it was possible to burn at the most 2,000 bodies
within 24 hours; two smaller installations could
eliminate about 1,500 people, with four bigger double
ovens to each of them. Furthermore, there was also one
open-air installation – that is, an old farmhouse was
sealed and turned into a gas chamber, which could also
contain 1,500 persons at one and the same time. The
incineration was carried out there in an open pit on
wood, and this was practically limitless. In my
estimation, it was possible to burn there, in 24 hours,
up to 8,000 persons in this way. Hence it was possible
to exterminate and eliminate up to 10,000 people within
24 hours in the installations described above. As far
as I am aware, this number was attained only once in
1944, when delays occurred in the arrival of trains,
and consequently five transports arrived together on
one day. The ashes of the burnt bodies were ground
into dust, which was poured into the Vistula in remote
places and swept away with the current.

“On the basis of the figure of 2.5 million, which is
the number of people who – according to Eichmann – were
brought to Auschwitz for extermination, it may be said
that, on the average, two transports arrived daily,
with a combined total of 4,000 persons, of whom twenty-
five per cent were fit for work, the balance of 3,000
were to be exterminated. The intervals in the various
operations can be computed together at nine months.
Thus there remain 27 months, with 90,000 people each
month – a total of 2,430,000 people. This is a
calculation of the technical potential. I have to keep
to the figure mentioned by Eichmann, for he was the
only SS officer who was allowed to keep records
concerning these liquidation operations, according to
the orders of the Reichsfuehrer-SS. All other units
which took part in any way had to destroy all records
immediately. Eichmann mentioned this number in my
presence when he was called upon, in April 1945, to
present a report to the Reichsfuehrer-SS. I had no
records whatsoever. But, to the best of my knowledge,
this number appears to me much too high. If I
calculate the total of the mass operations which I
still remember, and still make allowance for a certain
percentage of error, I arrive, in my calculation, at a
total of 1.5 million at the most, for the period from
the beginning of 1941 to the end of 1944. But these
are my computations which I cannot verify.

Nuremberg, 24 April 1946 (Signed) Rudolf Hoess

(At the bottom of the document): Hungary – 400,000;
Slovakia – 90,000; Greece – 65,000; Holland – 90,000;
France – 110,000; Belgium – 20,000; the region of the
Generalgouvernement and Upper Silesia – 250,000;
Germany and Terezin – 100,000. Total – 1,125,000.”

Presiding Judge: Do you have the original of this document?

Attorney General: Yes – I shall produce it right away.
Professor Gilbert – the original of this document has been
kept in your possession, from the time Hoess handed it to
you to this day – is that correct?

Witness Gilbert: That is correct.

Q. And, so far, it has not been published?

A. It has not been published as such, but there is also a
partial excerpt of it in my second book, in The Case of
Rudolf Hoess.

Attorney General: Please submit this to the Court.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1170.

Attorney General: What was the mental state of Hoess?

Presiding Judge: Have you finished with this document?

Attorney General: I am now asking questions appertaining to
this document.

Presiding Judge: Because there is something here which is
not clear – how did these detailed numbers at the end get
into it? What did he want to convey by this?

Witness Gilbert: He was trying to reconstruct the total
number of victims whom Colonel Eichmann had sent to him for
extermination; and there seemed to be a discrepancy in the
number he remembered and the number he had got from Colonel

Attorney General: What was the mental condition of Rudolf
Hoess at the time he wrote these words – at the time he was
imprisoned in Nuremberg?

Witness Gilbert: He was apathetic – as he always was, I
gathered from the psychological examination; he was resigned
to his death; he had no interest whatever in falsifying any
testimony; what he had already told me in his cell in
Nuremberg, in our conversations, he repeated again on the
witness stand. It was all an automatic culmination of a
career that was marked by death and must end in death, and
he had no particular feelings about any of this – he just
automatically wrote what he knew when asked.

Judge Halevi: What was the date he testified at Nuremberg?

Witness Gilbert: It was in April of 1946 – if I may look in
the diary I could give you the exact date…or Your Honours
could find it there. Yes, April 15th, Your Honours.

Judge Halevi: Was that before these two documents?

Attorney General: Immediately afterwards.

Witness Gilbert: I believe one was before and one was

Q. The autobiography was before the testimony – the document
that has been read in its entirety to the Court was after
the testimony.

A. I believe that is correct, yes – this testimony was on
the 15th of April.

Q. What Hoess wrote for you was in response to Goering’s
shock at Hoess’ evidence?

A. Let me say – if I may state it exactly as I recall it –
it was in reaction to the cynicism expressed by Goering in
reaction to the shock of the others who professed to be
horrified by the revelation of these mass murders to that

Q. As a professional practitioner, you certainly endeavour
to clarify for yourself whether what you hear is true or

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. What professional impression did these words of Hoess
make upon you, in the light of everything you knew about
him, about Hoess?

Presiding Judge: Mr. Hausner, is this permissible evidence?

Attorney General: As coming from an expert, yes, Your
Honour; what is his impression as a professional man.

Presiding Judge: The question as to whether this was
truthful evidence – that is a question for the Court.

Attorney General: Perhaps I could put the question in the
following way: In your opinion, was Hoess in such a mental
state as to be inclined to lie at that particular time?

Presiding Judge: That is the same question in another form,
and as far as I am concerned, at any rate, my question still
stands. I have not yet consulted my fellow judges. Do you
have anything to add as regards this question, which seems
to me an important one?

Attorney General: If there is anything I could add to my
question itself, I would ask: Was there any motive – as far
as the witness knows.

Presiding Judge: To the legal aspect.

Attorney General: Hoess is not alive, I cannot produce him
as a witness. There is an expert here. It is true that no
court, neither ours nor any other, has come to a stage where
it entrusts the weighing of evidence to psychiatrists. This
is still a prerogative which is preserved for the Court.
The Court will ultimately have to decide which evidence it
believes and which it does not believe. But here, in these
special circumstances, I have to put to the witness a
question concerning his professional impression, for he,
both as a psychiatrist and a psychologist, in the light of
what he heard from the witness, in the light of the manner
of relating the matter, in the light of the tests which he
conducted, is competent to assess the credibility of the
evidence, and thereafter the Court will evaluate the
evidence itself, together with the evaluation of the witness
himself, and will decide, in the light of all this, whether
the Court accepts it and attaches any weight to the
evidence. Alternatively, I fall back on Section 15 and
apply for a relaxation.

Presiding Judge: My colleague, Judge Halevi, reminds me
perhaps of a matter from which an analogy may be drawn,
namely the statements of children made to a Youth Examiner,
according to the Law of 5715 (1955), but actually in that
respect there is a judgment which emphasizes that even this
provision does not assign the task of weighing the
credibility to the Youth Examiner instead of to the Court.

Attorney General: I am also not asking the Court
automatically to say that, whatever the reply of the witness
may be, simply because it made the impression upon Professor
Gilbert of being truthful evidence, the Court must accept
it. But I believe that it is important for the Court to
hear what conclusions the expert psychologist formed from
the words the heard, and after that the Court will determine
whether or not to attach importance to that impression and
to the testimony, in the light of all the evidence and all
the circumstances.

Presiding Judge: Let us hear Dr. Servatius on this point.

Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, the expert
is, after all, an assistant to the Court, and if we are
going to hear him here on those facts on which he is likely
to express his opinion, he should, first of all, submit the
facts which may be tested by the Court. But such facts are
not being submitted here – only conclusions. Two documents,
two affidavits have been produced here. If he is going to
express his opinion only on these, the Court would be able
to test that. But all the other conversations, which the
witness conducted with the various accused persons there,
cannot serve as a basis for his opinion where the facts have
not been brought before the Court.

With regard to the witness’ statement – I was present at
Nuremberg, and I am able to confirm the extent to which the
accused men co-operated with him, and I can accept this as
being correct. But the Court will also note that
subsequently the accused men held conversations amongst
themselves, in which they made sarcastic references to their
discussions with the witness, and they even voiced a kind of
mocking comment on the “soul examiner.” They were under
the impression that the witness was acting as an expert for
a certain purpose, hence they also assumed that their words
to him were intended for a certain purpose.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, I did not quite understand
what you mean by facts that you have referred to in your
argument. For example, these statements that were recorded
by Hoess – are these facts in the sense in which you used
the word in your argument?

Dr. Servatius: The document which has been submitted here
can be regarded as a fact.

Presiding Judge: And, therefore, you say that the witness’
testimony is permissible also on the question whether
credibility can be attached to this document? Is that it?

Dr. Servatius: No. The witness can express his opinion as
to what he thought about it. But whether what he thought
about it is correct – the Court will have to decide.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 59

We shall admit evidence from the witness about the external
circumstances in which he heard the statements from the
Nuremberg prisoners, and also on the mental condition of the
prisoners at that time, but not about his conclusions
concerning the credibility of their remarks.

Attorney General: Perhaps the Court will allow me to speak
English at this stage?

Presiding Judge: Yes – it will be translated.

Last-Modified: 1999/06/02