Session 055-04, Eichmann Adolf

Attorney General: In view of the Court’s ruling, I will
change my question, and I will ask you, Professor, whether
you had any professional data on which to base any
conclusions – I’m not asking you what the conclusion was –
as to the veracity of Hoess’ statement.

Witness Gilbert: Yes, I did. I would like to point out
that as a scientifically trained psychologist I never jump
to conclusion merely from hearsay evidence. There are two
forms of validation – one is consensual validation, that is
what other people in the same situation say about it. I had
ample validation of that kind from the other SS Gestapo

Presiding Judge: Perhaps it is desirable that you should
know exactly the terms of the Court’s decision.

Witness Gilbert: Certainly.

Presiding Judge: We decided – to give you the essence of our
decision – to agree to hear the scientific data which you
had when you heard the statements from Hoess and the others
there, and their mental state. However, we will not allow
the conclusions which you drew in regard to the veracity of
their remarks.
Witness Gilbert: I see. All right, Sir.

Attorney General: So it is only the data we are interested

Witness Gilbert: Very well, then. The data are formed by
the psychological tests, the conversations that I had with
them, the corroborational conversations I had with others on
the same subject, and finally my own clinical impression as
an experienced psychologist, as to their veracity, sanity,
personality, and so on. Everything evaluated in totality
and finally backed up by written documentary evidence and
statements by the subjects of the study.

Q. I take it that, as a psychologist, you certainly
understand that sometimes there is a state of mind of the
accused which tends to drag down other people, as it were,
and to incriminate them.

A. Yes, I certainly understand that. It’s one of the common
guilt defences.

Q. Would you say that Rudolf Hoess was in that particular
state of mind when you were speaking to him?

A. No, definitely not. As I said before, he was a man who
was just automatically telling the facts as he knew them.
It apparently meant nothing to him that he had murdered
millions of people, he had no hesitation in describing
everything in detail, and without any attempt to share
blame, or to prepare a defence or anything, quite
spontaneously – certainly not with any urging on my part –
the name of Eichmann came into his statements again and
again and again, and finally I realized that this man was a
key figure in the extermination programme. May I amplify a
little further? By contrast, I saw that Kaltenbrunner was a
liar. When he tried to disclaim knowledge of the atrocities
and shove the blame onto someone else, I could see – and I
got corroboration from actual statements from the others –
that this was outright perjury, false testimony, outright
lies. So I was aware at all times that it is possible that
any one of these men might be lying, but Hoess definitely
was not.

Presiding Judge: This last part of your remarks is
inadmissible, but, of course, that is not your fault.

Witness Gilbert: Oh, I’m sorry.

Attorney General: Did Rudolf Hoess tell you anything more
about Eichmann in his conversation with you?

Witness Gilbert: Yes, the final statement that led to the
conclusion which I’m not allowed to draw was…

Presiding Judge: You are entitled to draw your own
conclusions, but we shall simply not accept your conclusions
as evidence.

Witness Gilbert: Thank you, Your Honour, now it is clear.
The final statement that Colonel Hoess made to me was in
connection with trying to explain his actions as following
orders, as they all did. This was the standard excuse for
all of them. But in one of my last conversations he said
that, after all, it was the same with Eichmann, who was the
chief of the extermination program.

Attorney General: Professor Gilbert, you spoke with the
leading personalities on the chapter of extermination. You
spoke to Ohlendorf, Pohl, Kaltenbrunner, Hoess. I should
like to know whether in your mind – the mind of the
psychologist – you somehow crystallized a picture of the
murderous personality of an SS officer? Whether you got
that picture crystallized in your mind after having spoken
to these people?

Witness Gilbert: Yes, that was one of the main challenges
of this entire study, and I wrote an analysis of what I
called “the murderous robots of the SS.” This appears in my
book The Psychology of Dictatorship. And I have a
formulation in my mind as a result of all these studies.

Q. Is this the book?

A. Yes, Mr. Hausner. I recognize it.

Presiding Judge: What is the purpose of these questions, Mr.

Attorney General: The witness, as an expert, has an

Presiding Judge: Perhaps I anticipated a little, ahead of
the translation.

Attorney General: I believe it is my duty to provide the
Court with some kind of explanation from the point of view
of the personality of the Accused.

Presiding Judge: Is it your intention to state that, if all
SS men were murderers, therefore the Accused is also a

Attorney General: No, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: Of course, this is put in a very extreme
way, in order to clarify the issue.

Attorney General: No, Your Honour. The question is: How can
it be that a man born of woman can perform such acts? How
can it be that a person can come to the stage of committing
these deeds which are now being revealed to us, day by day?
That is the purpose of my question. What is there lacking
in this personality? I know that I, and possibly many
others, have been looking at this glass cage for the past
six weeks and asking myself the question: How could this
have happened, from the point of view of the man himself? I
know that Professor Gilbert fashioned for himself – and he
is, perhaps, the most qualified expert in the world, for he
came into contact with these major criminals, he spoke to
them for months – he has fashioned for himself the pattern
of a personality that is not normal, that is not usual, and
he has a scientific explanation.

Presiding Judge: I naturally have the greatest respect for
this witness as a scientist; my question is simply this: In
the absence of this evidence – to turn the question around –
will some legal proof be lacking in the Prosecution’s case?
Do we really need a psychologist, in order to clarify the
question of the Accused’s guilt?

Attorney General: But I must provide an explanation of the
background, also the mental background of the man. I think
I shall not be fulfilling my task completely, if I were to
abandon the chance that has happened to come my way to
attempt to provide an explanation.

Judge Halevi: It should be clear that this expression of
opinion cannot serve as proof that this Accused indeed
committed the acts.

Attorney General: Certainly not.

Judge Halevi: However, if it should be proved by other
testimony, by evidence of a completely different nature,
that murder on such a large scale must be ascribed to him,
then, you maintain, there would still be lacking an
explanation of how a man could be capable of acting in this

Attorney General: Precisely so, Your Honour. I thank you
for your formulation. This is what I am attempting to
obtain from the witness. He wrote about it – he researched

Presiding Judge: Is this a legal question which interests us
here? It is a very interesting psychological question. But
let us imagine that the facts have been established; we
would be able to philosophize about the psychological aspect
of the matter, in the same way as anyone could do.
Professor Gilbert can do this much better than any of us.
But is it relevant to the issues that we have to determine?

Attorney General: Perhaps this touches mainly on one
question. How can one believe it? Because, ultimately, the
cumulative significance, the cumulative effects of these
matters, reach out to other qualitative considerations.
Such a quantity of acts over such a long period of time, and
to such a monstrous extent – all this is likely to give rise
in the mind of the Court to the following question: Is it at
all possible that a man can do such things? In respect of
this question – I believe it would be most relevant to
elucidate that this could be possible with a certain
personality, the like of whom I doubt whether we shall ever
have the opportunity of coming across again in our courts.

Presiding Judge: Very well.

Attorney General: This is the object of my question.

Presiding Judge: Let us hear Dr. Servatius’ views on the

Dr. Servatius: It is clear that there is noticeable here
the desire to hear evidence from this witness on the central
theme in this trial, and that is: Is it possible to imagine
that the Accused committed the acts with which he is
charged? This is the question which must be resolved, in
the light of documents and other testimonies from which the
responsibility for these acts emerges. This is not a
question which can be put to an expert. Furthermore, this
expert served in the International Military Tribunal in
Nuremberg as one of the prosecution staff, he acted as an
expert on behalf of the prosecution, and, as it appears from
Reitlinger’s book The Final Solution, with which the Court
is surely familiar, he was an expert who was most useful to
the case made out by the Allies. It must also be pointed
out that leading questions were put to this witness; for
instance: Was psychological pressure on the Accused
possible? All these are not matters which have to be put,
and the replies to which must be heard, in Court.
Accordingly, I ask that the witness should not be heard,
that we should not hear his replies to these questions.

Witness Gilbert: May I take exception to one statement – I
believe that Dr. Servatius said that I was there at the
behest of the prosecution. If that is so, it is false. I
was the official prison psychologist for the International
Military Tribunal – neither at the behest of the defence
counsel, nor the prosecution. I was on the prison staff
and, of course, as objective as it is humanly possible to be
in these circumstances.

Presiding Judge: We have no alternative but to adjourn the
session, in order to consider this matter.

Dr. Servatius: May I be permitted, Your Honour, the
Presiding Judge, to add one sentence, and to point out that
the witness said that he acted in the service of the
International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. It may be
assumed that his mission was restricted to the submission of
reports concerning the mental condition of the accused. It
cannot be supposed that the International Military Tribunal
would have accepted the opinion of the witness in respect of
the question of personal responsibility, and that on the
basis of this opinion it condemned the accused men there.

Attorney General: Naturally, I am not asking the witness to
speak about guilt or innocence. We are referring to people
who were found guilty by the Tribunal and whose sentences
were severe. I am asking the witness: Is he able to create
for himself a picture of the personalities of those
individuals? And the relevance of this matter in regard to
the Accused is, as I have already said, that I shall
endeavour to prove to the Court that the personality of the
Accused here is like the personality of the accused there.

Presiding Judge: That is clear.

Attorney General: Therefore, there is no question here of
guilt or innocence. This question is of no significance, if
I do not succeed in proving guilt.

Presiding Judge: Obviously, all this is intended to show to
the Court that the Accused was capable of committing these
acts – either this is important for the proof of his guilt,
or it does not affect the issue in any way. This is how it
appears to me.

Attorney General: Yes, surely.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 60

We shall not permit evidence tending to show that the
Accused was capable, from the point of view of his
character, of committing the acts attributed to him in the
indictment, because of his being a member of the SS. This
we decide on the general grounds which limit the admission
of evidence as to the character of an accused in a criminal

Attorney General: If that is the case, I have no further
questions, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions?

Dr. Servatius: No, I have none, but are the Prosecution’s
questions finished? If so – yes, I nevertheless have
questions. Witness, you said that the principal accused men
in Nuremberg declared in your hearing that a certain measure
of guilt rested upon the Accused here, and this allegation
gradually gained emphasis. Did I understand you correctly?

Witness Gilbert: Yes.

Q. Was a common front of those who were accused in Nuremberg
formed, so that no guilt should attach to any of them?

A. Do you mean to say that the principal accused men at
Nuremberg created a united front, in order to cast the blame
on Eichmann?

Q. No, I asked whether there was created in Nuremberg – if I
may use this expression – a conspiracy? Did they conspire
not to tell the truth? Would it be true to say that Goering
told them, this was a political matter and no one will be
convicted here? Was that the slogan?

A. No, it was a question of competence. It was clear to all
that the extermination as such had nothing to do with the
army but was exclusively in the hands of the SS.

Q. I put a general question to you. Is it true that the
accused stood there united so that no one of the accused
before the International Military Tribunal should bear the

A. Yes, this is what Goering tried to do but did not succeed
at all. Because everybody tried to put his own case
properly, and they did not want, because of Goering’s self-
serving views, to put the blame on others and exonerate him.

Q. Is there not a chapter in your book Nuremberg Diary with
the heading “United Front”?

A. Yes, Goering tried to do just this. You will see this at
the very early stages of the trial, but it failed, he did
not succeed.

Q. Was the witness Hoess a dangerous witness for the accused

A. Yes, you are right. Many wondered why Hoess appeared at
all to defend Kaltenbrunner.

Q. You said that he appeared as a defence witness for
Kaltenbrunner? Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Did he impute charges to Kaltenbrunner in his evidence?

A. Yes. I do not wish to express a legal opinion, but it
was very clear that he imputed blame to Kaltenbrunner,
because he described the facts for which Kaltenbrunner was

Q. Yes, but would it not be true to say that he only
mentioned the names of Heydrich and Mueller as those with
whom he was in touch, and did he not carefully avoid
mentioning the name of Kaltenbrunner?

A. This may be so.

Q. Thank you very much. Then I have no more questions.

Attorney General: Is there any explanation at all for the
fact – if indeed it is true – that Hoess did not mention the
name of Kaltenbrunner?

Witness Gilbert: It would certainly seem logical that the
defence counsel would have coached him not to cause his
client to be hanged because of his testimony before the

Dr. Servatius: May I be allowed to ask one more question
regarding the contact: How was there contact between
Kaltenbrunner and Hoess, so that he could know what Hoess
was going to testify?

Witness Gilbert: They certainly discussed the matter with
their defence counsel.

Last-Modified: 1999/06/02