Session No. 79
12 Tammuz 5721 (26 June 1961)
Presiding Judge: I declare the seventy-ninth Session of the
trial open. The Accused will continue with his testimony in
direct examination. I remind the Accused that he is still
testifying under oath. You may proceed, Dr. Servatius.
Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, at the last Session Your Honour
asked me to indicate how much longer I would require for the
Defence. I would estimate that I shall finish not this
week, but by the beginning or middle of next week.
The last document under discussion was exhibit T/185,
document No. 74, with reference to the aims of what is known
as the Wannsee Conference. The Accused gave his account
about the convening of the conference and said that he
drafted Heydrich’s address. He then said that a record of
proceedings was drawn up, which was modified several times,
and of which the final version is now before the Court.
Witness, does this record give a correct summary of the
content of the deliberations?
Accused: Before I go into this question, with your
permission, as Counsel for the Defence, I should like to add
a small point: You just said that I drafted Heydrich’s
address. This is only partly true, as I explained last
time. As to whether the record of proceedings summarizes
the result of the discussion, I believe that I answered
this, too, last time, in connection with another question,
and I said that this record summarizes the content of the
deliberations, although – how shall we put it – certain
vulgarisms – or, to put it another way – a certain amount of
jargon was worked over, and it was drafted in official
language, as a result of the record going back and forth in
draft form to Heydrich and back to myself.
Dr. Servatius: Witness, a record of this type cannot
reproduce the atmosphere of this conference, the basic
attitude of all the participants. Could you say something
Accused: Certainly. The atmosphere was characterized by
Heydrich’s relaxed, satisfied behaviour. He most definitely
expected the greatest difficulties at this conference.
Dr. Servatius: Witness, the point is what the other
participants in the conference expressed.
Accused: Yes, of course. Not only did everybody
willingly indicate agreement, but there was something else,
entirely unexpected, when they outdid and outbid each other,
as regards the demand for a Final Solution to the Jewish
Question. The biggest surprise, as far as I remember, was
not only Buehler, but above all Stuckart, who was always
cautious and hesitant, but who suddenly behaved there with
Dr. Servatius: Witness, before this conference, you
yourself saw something of the preparations being made in the
East for these extermination measures. Is that correct?
Dr. Servatius: Did the conference participants also already
know something about this form of the Final Solution?
Accused: I must assume that this was known, since, at the
time of the Wannsee Conference, the war against Russia had
been going on for six months and, as we have seen from the
documents, the Special Operations Units were in action in
these areas. And, of course, the central key figures in the
Reich Government were aware of these facts.
Dr. Servatius: How long did the conference last? And what
happened after the end of the conference?
Accused: The conference itself was relatively short. I
cannot give the precise length today, but I think that
somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half would be
about right. Before and afterwards, the gentlemen stood
around in groups, of course, clearly discussing the
conference and other matters, and I remember that
afterwards, when the guests had left, Heydrich and Mueller
stayed behind. I was also allowed to be present at this
informal get-together; I had received permission, and that
was when Heydrich briefly expressed his opinion about the
conference, and, as I have already said, his satisfaction
was quite obvious.
Dr. Servatius: But the comments on – I think – the Sassen
Documents seem to indicate that you were also extremely
satisfied. Would you care to comment?
Accused: Yes, indeed; but my satisfaction was related to
a totally different area from Heydrich’s satisfaction and,
if I might, I should like to make a few comments about this,
in order to explain my frame of mind at this time.
Heydrich’s satisfaction was connected to the result of the
conference, while my satisfaction was relative to my
personal self-examination as to the results of the Wannsee
I had to render an account to myself, to determine to what
extent I was personally connected with the result of the
Wannsee Conference. I was reassured by the thought that,
although I held a relatively low rank as Obertleutnant, and
even more junior rank before that, I had striven to be on
the look-out for possible solutions – possible peaceful
solutions – which would be acceptable to both parties, but
would not require such a violent and drastic solution of
I think that I can prove that I am not just saying this now
when I stand at the bar of an Israeli court, by referring to
my efforts to organize the otherwise chaotic nature of
compulsory and voluntary emigration. Further corroboration
is provided by what was called the Radom Project. Thirdly,
there were my efforts in connection with the Madagascar
Having thus made clear to some extent my own wishes, when it
came to the outcome of the Wannsee Conference, I felt
something of the satisfaction of Pilate, because I felt
entirely innocent of any guilt. The leading figures of the
Reich at the time had spoken at the Wannsee Conference, the
“Popes” had given their orders; it was up to me to obey, and
that is what I bore in mind over the future years. A clear
indication of how I felt and what I thought at this time can
be seen in the hand-written comments on Tape 17, which is
the only one from the so-called Sassen Documents which I
acknowledge, and which I wrote at a time when I was able to
record my thoughts in absolute security, on the edge of the
Argentinian pampas, and when I did not have the faintest
idea that one day I would be called upon to justify myself
before an Israeli court.
Dr. Servatius: I come now to exhibit T/1381, document No.
597. This is a comparison of the positions of the various
participants in the conference, drawn up by the Minister of
Justice on 5 April 1942. On page 1, column 1, under 6 and
7, there appear the hard-line proposals from the Minister of
the Interior, State Secretary Stuckart. Under 6 appears
divorce, Reich Minister of the Interior, compulsory divorce;
7, sterilization, Reich Minister of the Interior, State
Secretary Stuckart, compulsory sterilization.
On the next page, 9, “Timing”, Office of the Governor
General, State Secretary Dr. Buehler, starting with the
Government General, carriers of epidemics, black market,
majority unable to work.
The next document in the exhibit is a communication from the
Minister of Justice, dated 5 April 1942, to the relevant
departments. The Minister of Justice has only minor
reservations. The last document in the exhibit is a letter
from the Minister of the Interior, State Secretary Stuckart,
dated 16 March 1942, to the main participants in the
conference. The last sentence at the end of the letter
reiterates what his department had proposed, i.e., that
divorce should be pronounced either on application by the
State Prosecutor, or by operation of the law.
The next exhibit is T/730, document No. 1278. This is a
circular from Eichmann, dated 31 January 1942, to all police
regional headquarters, as well as to Vienna, to the Central
Office for Emigration in Vienna, and, for information, to
Security Police Inspectors in the Old Reich, as well as
Vienna. The communication deals with the forthcoming
measures for a final solution.
Witness, would you comment on how this communication came to
Accused: This communication is the first consequence of
the Wannsee Conference: It is basically designed to identify
the numbers of Jews in the relevant areas of the Reich and
the Protectorate, as a basis for drawing up the timetable.
Orders were given for this document: It had to be issued as
a basic decree. I have said that it was the first measure
of the Wannsee Conference. Further consequences resulted
from the conference and, while before the Wannsee Conference
I was not at all eager to take decisions, and indeed had no
desire to do so, after the Wannsee Conference I particularly
made it a point not to take any decisions, no matter how
minor, on my own initiative, and this became such an
ingrained habit, that my subordinates often criticized me at
this time because of my attitude, because I created extra
bureaucratic duties for them by so doing. Only a few days
ago Krumey, in his deposition, said that I was cautious to
the point of exaggeration, which is something which in
slightly different words Stuckart also stated in his report
to the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs, using a different
expression. And, finally, I would like to say that, even
more after the Wannsee Conference, I made absolutely sure to
get instructions from my chief, on even the most minor
Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit is T/245, document No.
1089. This is a letter from Mueller to Luther in the
Foreign Ministry, of 28 February 1942. The subject is
rumours about the measures against the Jews.
Witness, did you draft the letter for Mueller?
Accused: Today, so long after the event, I dare not
answer with a clear “yes” or “no.” In order to explain my
answer, I must state the following: Such communications
could be produced as follows – either my chief dictated the
general lines of the contents in a talk with me, or my chief
had his adjutant draft the general outlines of the matter
with instructions to send it to me through the official
channels, and then I was instructed to send the final
version, subsequently through the official channels to my
chief; or, the last possibility, Mueller might have dictated
it himself to his secretary, who would get the reference
number from the registry and enter it.
I think that there is something which may indicate that the
latter applied here, that is to say, Mueller drafted the
letter himself. It is a purely bureaucratic point. If I
had drafted the letter, I would never have forgotten to
indicate the reference and the subject after the addressee.
The first paragraph of the letter shows that Mueller is
referring to a communication dated 6 February 1942. This
sentence contains a form of words which I never used under
any circumstances, “in this way to escape his well-deserved
fate.” The other sentence which says that you cannot plane
a plank of wood without chips flying, was a favourite
quotation of the Department’s Chief, and, as the years went
by, it became a favourite saying in the entire Department.
I cannot, after such a long time, say anything more about
Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit has not yet been presented.
I submit it; it bears police number 763. It contains a note
from the files of the Foreign Ministry, for Rademacher’s
attention, and it shows that Hitler had decided that the
Jews were to be deported to the East, and the Madagascar
Plan was to be dropped.
Presiding Judge: The document will be marked N/14.
Dr. Servatius: It reads: “Envoy Bielfeld has informed me of
your communication of 10 February indicating that the
Fuehrer has decided that the Jews are to be deported not to
Madagascar, but to the East. Madagascar is no longer to be
considered for the Final Solution.”
I shall pass over the next document, No. 762 and come to
exhibit T/186, document No. 841. This is a letter from
Heydrich to Luther in the Foreign Ministry, dated 28
February 1942. It concerns an invitation to a first
experts’ discussion following the Wannsee Conference. At
the end, it reads: “I would ask you to have your officer in
charge contact my competent Specialist, SS
Judge Halevi: How did you come to be Heydrich’s Specialist
Officer responsible for this matter?
Accused: Because preparation for the Wannsee Conference
was something for which Department IV was made responsible.
That is why the Department Chief of IV himself took part in
the conference, but none of the other Department Chiefs
participated, as far as I am aware. At the Wannsee
Conference, it was decided that a more detailed opinion
should be given after the conference by the various State
Secretaries who had not been present. Moreover, in
Goering’s letter of appointment to Heydrich, Goering had
made the point and required of Heydrich that he provide him,
as soon as possible, with a report on the technical,
practical and other conditions. Now there was no final
outcome to the Wannsee Conference in terms of detailed
decisions in certain areas, such as the problem raised by
State Secretary Stuckart. This is why IVB4 was given the
task of handling this matter in administrative and
bureaucratic terms, and that is also why Heydrich gave the
order for these discussions to take place in the office
block in which my Section was situated. And that explains
the reference to “my authorized Specialist” for these
matters. This does not mean “the Specialist from the Head
Office for Reich Security responsible for these matters,”
but rather is a term which I would venture to say resulted
from the bureaucratic and administrative necessities.
Dr. Servatius: I shall omit the next exhibit – which is
Rademacher’s agreement to the conference – to appear at the
consultations, and the next exhibit, T/188, is simply a
covering letter for transmission of the record of the
discussion of 6 March 1942, which is the next exhibit. This
is exhibit T/100, document No. 446 – the record of the
discussion – about the first experts’ discussion on 6 March
1942. The list of participants does not include either the
Accused or Department IV. In the introduction, it says that
the discussion was held in Section IVB4 of the Head Office
for Reich Security.
Witness, did you, nevertheless, take part in the discussion?
Accused: No, what you have already said is correct, Sir;
neither I nor anyone from my staff took part in the
discussion. If anyone from amongst that staff had
participated, they would most certainly have been mentioned
under “Head Office for Reich Security.”
Dr. Servatius: It is the opinion of the Prosecution that
the reason why you were not present, was because another
discussion was held at the same time in the same building,
and you only appeared briefly for the most important items.
But you did, nevertheless, participate. Is that correct?
Accused: That is not at all correct, because… It is
true that a parallel meeting on another matter was taking
place at about the same time, but what indicates to me that
I was certainly not present at this meeting is that all, or
nearly all, to be absolutely accurate, the participants in
the discussion of the matter at hand were legal experts, and
also the sterilization programme and the mixed marriages
programme were examined and discussed from the legal point
of view, as well as being considered in the light of a
statement by the representative from the Ministry of the
Interior, Regierungsrat Feldscher, indicating the arguments
of his State Secretary, as is stated here. Which in no way
changes the fact that I did not participate in this
Judge Raveh: Which department did Regierungsrat Bilfinger
Accused: Your Honour, Oberregierungsrat Bilfinger was a
Group Chief, as shown in the organization chart, Chief of
Group IIIa or IIIb, or IIa or IIb in Department II of the
Head Office for Reich Security. And because this Group
Chief in Department II is the only one from the
Reichsfuehrer’s Head Office to be referred to in the record,
this is proof that the matters actually dealt with were the
responsibilty of Department II, not Department IV.
Dr. Servatius: On the last page of the document, at the
end, it says that the report of the discussion should be
notified to all departments for reaction. Did you receive
Accused: Certainly. Of course, I received the report.