Session 113-04, Eichmann Adolf

Judge Halevi: To which count are you referring?

Attorney General: To the seventh count, which says: .”..the
Accused, together with others, caused the plunder of the
property of millions of Jews who were resident in these
countries, by means of inhuman coercion, robbery, terror,
and torture.” Then there follow the details.

I know that in some of the Nuremberg judgments there arose
doubts concerning the plunder of property, when it stood by
itself and was not linked to crimes against humanity. For
example, if Nazi Germany promulgated an order confiscating
property, confiscating assets, however hard and cruel, or if
the SS gangs broke in and looted property just as an act of
looting – then it may be said: Demand the return of the
property, try them for robbery. But when the robbery is
linked to murder – then there was no longer any doubt.
There was no doubt in the Nuremberg Trials either that
taking out gold teeth, cutting of hair, that this was
plunder linked to murder, and that it was therefore a crime
against humanity.

In Trial No. 11, the trial of the German Ministry of
Finance, the case of Schwerin von Krosigk, the former
Minister of Finance, was discussed, as the Court will see in
Volume 12, at the bottom of page 48, and he was accused,
inter alia, of having signed orders, together with Stuckart,
which deprived the Jews in Germany of their property,
permitted the police to punish them, and dealt with the
confiscation of Jewish assets.

The court, in a majority opinion, found him guilty of this
as well. In order to understand the conviction, it may be
best first to consider the minority opinion of Judge Powers,
who did not join the majority. It can be found in Volume
14, on page 930, and reads as follows:

“But disregarding all such considerations, the most
that can be claimed is that he participated in
depriving Jews of property. This cannot be a war
crime, because the victims were German nationals. It
cannot be a crime against humanity, because merely
depriving people of their property is not such a crime.
There must be some mistreatment of the person, as
previously pointed out. Schwerin von Krosigk is not
shown to have participated in any such mistreatment of
the person of Jews or anybody else.”

According to Powers’ ruling also, if the offence had been
committed concurrently with persecution of the individual
whose property was being confiscated, it would have been a
crime against humanity. But the majority decision, which
the Court will find in the same volume on page 675 ff., went
further, and on pages 679-680 the man was convicted of these
offences as well:

“The defendant was co-signer with Frick, Minister of
the Interior; Bormann, Chief of the Party Chancellery;
and Thierack, Minister of Justice – of the 13th
Regulation under the Reich Citizenship Law. By its
provisions, criminal acts by Jews were to be punished
by the police and not by judgment of the courts; the
provisions of the public penal law were no longer
applicable to Jews; on death, the property of a Jew was
confiscated to the Reich, and only his non-Jewish heirs
residing in Germany became entitled to compensation for
the loss of their inheritance; the Minister of the
Interior, with the concurrence of the higher
authorities of the Reich, was empowered to issue the
necessary administrative and enforcement regulations,
and to determine to what extent those provisions should
apply to Jewish nationals in foreign countries, and
finally the regulation was made applicable to Bohemia-
Moravia and to all Jewish citizens of the Protectorate.
This regulation was enacted in the midst of the
extermination program, and by it the bare shadow of
legal form was thrown over the confiscation of property
of Jews who were done to death in the East.

“The defendant asserts that his only part in the
program was to take possession and keep a record of the
property thus acquired; that Himmler told him that the
process had been in existence for some months and that
he, Schwerin von Krosigk, thought there was nothing he
could do, and he `was convinced that the official
promulgation would guarantee greater protection under
the law than if the police, as heretofore, had handled
it anonymously.’

“This is an explanation which does not explain, and a
justification which does not justify. It is difficult
to say what comfort it would be to a Jew who was about
to be murdered, or to his heirs who were about to be
disinherited, to know that he was being robbed
according to a tidy governmental regulation, and that
the receipts of the robbery were to go to the credit of
the Reich rather than into the hands and pockets of the

This is all the more true in our case, where all the
measures against the Jews were taken with the clear double
aim: to kill and also to take possession.* {*1 Kings 21, 19}

We have described a small part of these activities under the
seventh count, and in the Polish Report about Auschwitz the
Court will also find official confirmation of the horrifying
description of the remnants left behind, which they no
longer managed to remove from the huge “Canada Warehouses”:
348,820 men’s suits, 836,255 women’s outfits, men’s shoes,
children’s shoes, children’s coats. The Court will find
this in exhibit T/1358.

But I go further, I shall say more: When they expelled the
Jews from Slovakia, from Bulgaria, and from Hungary, causing
those states to inherit the Jewish property, they are guilty
of that plundering, they are partners to it, even if the
looted property remained in the hands of others. The Court
will remember the ingenious idea of the “territorial
principle,” whereby the satellite countries were to be
induced to hand over their Jews to them. Give us the Jews,
said the Germans, their money will remain with you, the
Slovaks, the Romanians, the Hungarians. He who did that –
was a partner to the looting. I shall go still further:
Even the confiscation of the Weiss-Manfred Works in Budapest
– which Eichmann did apparently not want confiscated because
he wanted to get hold of the Weiss family – which was
carried out because of the conditions he had created,
because of the laws and the orders and the decrees for which
he was responsible – for this, too, he bears responsibility.

Presiding Judge: You could also mention the payment which
was demanded for every deported Jew.

Attorney General: I am coming to that now. In Slovakia, the
Germans also collected money from the Slovak Government for
having expelled the Jews.

Presiding Judge: Not only there, also in Romania and in

Attorney General: Payments were made in Greece, money was
extorted from the Jews. There was Account “W.” The Jews
had to finance their own deportation. In the Protectorate
there was an emigration fund, out of which the Jew had to
finance his own expulsion and deportation to the
extermination camp. The Court will remember Eichmann’s
“clever device” when the Jews were needed for fortification
work in Vienna because Blaschke wanted to build
fortifications there. So Eichmann goes to Kasztner and
says: “I am saving these Jews, therefore you have to pay me
one hundred dollars per person.” Not only did he send them
to forced labour, not only did he place them in inhuman
living conditions – he still demanded, and received, money
from the Jews of Hungary. And when I asked him about this
he said: “If it is written in some reliable document, it
must be true, I do not remember.” Sure enough, this is
described in the Kasztner Report, and Hansi Brand gave
evidence about it in Session No. 58.

Judge Halevi: Mr. Attorney General, there is a legal
question here. In Section 1(b) of the law, under “war
crimes,” there is specific mention of “plunder of public or
private property,” but under “crimes against humanity” this
is not mentioned.

Attorney General: I am aware of that.

Judge Halevi: This is one observation. As for the
indictment, as far as I see just now, “war crimes” appears
only in the eighth count, and that does not relate to
plunder of property.

Attorney General: It relates to ill-treatment, deportation
and murder.

Judge Halevi: These are words which must certainly also
appear in the definition of “war crimes,” except for plunder
of public property, so that it is not possible to apply the
eighth count to the plunder of property.

Attorney General: That is correct, Your Honour.

Judge Halevi: And plunder of property, with which you are
dealing at this moment, in the present chapter, appears in
the indictment only under “crimes against humanity,”
although in the law it appears expressly as a war crime – at
any rate not explicitly. This is what I wanted to point

Attorney General: I can explain this. With the permission
of the Court, in connection with the seventh count of the
indictment – “plunder of the property of Jews and the
restriction of this offence as defined to war crimes” – I
should like to answer the question of the Court on this

“War crimes” does not go beyond its simple meaning, as
defined in international law. There is no war crime against
a local population. If we wanted to include “plunder of
property” under “war crimes,” we would have to absolve
Eichmann of the plunder of the Jews in Germany and in the
Reich, because against them he did not commit war crimes.
The plunder of Jewish communities, the “W” account, taking
over public and private property in the Reich itself – all
these could not be included under war crimes. But we wanted
the indictment to reflect this nefarious activity, as it was
carried out. They plundered Jewish property, not because it
was property in occupied territory, they plundered it
because it was Jewish property. And this is why we are
dealing specifically with this subject in the total
framework, because such was its true nature.

The Court is of course free to change matters as it sees fit
on the basis of the evidence, but I maintain also now that
the plunder of Jewish property was not carried out because
Germany seized control of other countries and peoples, and
committed offences against international law, but because it
committed crimes against the Jewish People and against
humanity. In this way the plunder is seen to be connected
with other crimes. It is true that there were confiscations
of property in the countries of occupation, houses, flats
and movable property were harmed, but this was not done
against the inhabitants because they had a special
character. Only the Jews were harmed as Jews, and this is
why we worded the seventh count as we did, because only thus
is the total picture reflected. For them there was no
difference whether it was a German, a French, a Belgian, or
a Norwegian Jew. And if we were to differentiate between
the Jews of Germany, and were to say: “there it was a crime
against humanity,” and the Jews in the occupied Polish,
French, or any other territory, on the basis that “there it
was a war crime,” then, I think, we would distort the Nazi
reality and the indictment would not reflect their

Judge Halevi: But is there not a danger that, by listing
“plunder of public or private property” in the definition of
“war crimes,” and the absence of “plunder of property” from
the definition of “crimes against humanity,” it will be
possible to interpret “crimes against humanity” as excluding

Attorney General: No, Your Honour, with all due respect. I
maintain that every “inhumane act against any civilian
population” – which forms part of the definition of “crimes
against humanity” – includes plunder of property in
connection with hunting-down, expulsion and deportation, and
thus the definition as contained in Section 1(b) of the
Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law is wide enough
to cover the plunder of property.

Furthermore, I maintain that plunder of property, which is
intended from the very beginning to injure only one specific
sector of the population, was carried out from the beginning
of Eichmann’s operation in Vienna, already before the War –
and he admitted this. Every Jew whom he caused to leave
Austria had his property automatically confiscated for the
benefit of the Reich – and he admitted this fully during his
interrogation – and thus every such case is plunder in
connection with “inhuman acts against the civilian
population.” Accordingly, I do not think that this plunder
falls between the various sections only because we did not
explicitly call it “war crimes.” We did not depart from the
straightforward meaning of the words. True, everything that
Eichmann did, everything that the Nazis did to the Jews, was
also a war crime as defined by the law. It was ill-
treatment, deportation and murder of a civilian population.
And, therefore, this section is also included in the
indictment. But the usurpation of the property of the Jews
was twin-brother to the usurpation of his body, the two went
together, you will find them both in all the manifestations
of everything they perpetrated – if I may use the paraphrase
of Justice Silberg in the judgment I have already quoted –
the two were Siamese twins, in a manner of speaking, they
constitute a unique act, which is defined in the law.

This is perhaps the place for another comment, so that there
may be no misunderstandings: The Court will no doubt
remember that, when the war criminals were tried in
Nuremberg, there arose the question of the wording of the
law, of their “Charter.” As you know, they defined, they
formulized, the offence. And because of the differences in
wording – the comma and the full stop, as against the full
stop and the comma – they decided that for a crime against
humanity, even if it was committed before the outbreak of
the War, they could only convict, if it was committed after
1 September 1939. The Israeli legislator was careful to
avoid this mistake. In our law, the reference is to the
entire period of Nazi rule, and this covers the period
before 1 September 1939 as well. Accordingly, what Eichmann
did – beginning with his activities in Vienna and later in
Berlin, plundering Jewish private and public property, both
inside Germany and outside – was all done for the same
purpose: to get rid of the Jews and get hold of their
property. And that is a crime against humanity.

Therefore, all confiscations which Becher carried out in
Hungary, the homes and the furniture which the Jews handed
over in Budapest, the suitcases full of money in Krumey’s
evidence, all the blackmail and extortion of Jewish property
handed over because of false promises of salvation and
misrepresentations – all this is included in this wide
framework. They are also responsible for what the
Hungarians took, because without them this property would
not have been plundered. They are equally responsible for
what the Slovaks took, and what others took; they created
the Territorialprinzip (the territorial principle).

The Court will remember that Eichmann was the man who called
for this initiative, which led to a decision in Germany to
leave the stolen Jewish property in its place. The
Hungarians permitted the property of the Hungarian Jews to
be transferred, and in return the Germans agreed
magnanimously to give up their claim to the property of
their nationals in those countries – who were also sent to
the furnaces, together with their brethren.

The Reinhardt Operation is mentioned in this count, and
although I already spoke about it this morning, I should
like to say a few more words now, because here it is
mentioned explicitly. Aktion Reinhardt is the code name for
the extermination of the Jews of the Generalgouvernement, an
operation which began before the murder of Heydrich, but
they decided to honour his memory and to perpetuate his name
by calling the operation after him.

Aktion Reinhardt did not begin in June or July 1942, when
Heydrich breathed his last after the attack on him by a
Czech underground fighter. It had started before that, long
before that. Eichmann had sent Jews from the West to
Globocnik in the Generalgouvernement prior to that, and
therefore the name of the operation should not mislead us,
as if it had begun only on the day of Heydrich’s death. We
remember – and I shall say only one sentence about this
because I have already spoken about it – that Eichmann’s
instructions and guidelines about the deportations from the
West were directed, among others, to Schoengarth, the
Commander of the Security Police in Cracow, i.e., the
representative of the Head Office for Reich Security. We
remember what the commander of the Security Police is, he
belongs to the Head Office for Reich Security, as we know
from the organization and operations chart, which also shows
Globocnik, the man under whom, or rather in whose district,
the death camps are located. That was the meaning of the
transports to Cholm, and Schoengarth, the man from the Head
Office for Reich Security, was one of the participants in
the Wannsee Conference. The letters for which Globocnik
asked Eichmann – according to his own statement – did not
all date to Heydrich’s time. The Court will remember that I
examined him about this, and he said that at least one of
the letters for which Globocnik asked was from the time
after the murder of Heydrich – which goes to show that the
Operation was continued by the same method and with the same
continuity throughout all that time, until the end.

Furthermore, when Globocnik finally reports about the
conclusion of the Operation, in T/1389 – this is the
document which begins with the words “Die Aussiedlung ist
erledigt und abgeschlossen” (the Resettlement is completed
and finished), and Eichmann admits that these words mean:
All the Jews have been deported to the camps, and he says
that he transferred the camps to Pohl, starting from the
second half of 1943. The transfer began in August 1943;
only then was the Trawniki camp transferred, and only in
October 1943 the camps of Lublin, Poniatowa, Plaszow and
Lemberg. In other words, these camps were not under the
Economic-Administrative Head Office until that date. And
when the monster, the Nazi monster, was about to retreat, it
gave the order, contained in T/1418, to make sure that the
prisoners and detainees did not fall alive into the hands of
the advancing Red Army. The BdS (Commander of the Security
Police), who belongs to the Head Office for Reich Security,
gives this order.

I shall now pass on to the fourth count, which speaks about
measures, the purpose of which was to prevent childbearing
among Jews. They intended to efface the memory of the
Jewish People from off the face of the earth, so that not a
drop of Jewish blood would remain in human veins in future
generations. And whoever did not deserve death on account
of his being Jewish deserved sterilization, lest he bring
offspring into the world, and thus, in the coming
generations, there would no longer be anyone descended
indirectly, however remotely, from the Jewish People.

The law speaks about determination of ways and means, and I
assume that when he promulgated the law, the legislator
knew, of course, what happened and what his intentions were,
for, after all, this law was issued post factum, and after
he already knew what had happened; he did not legislate in a
void, or in anticipation of future contingencies. This law
was retroactive, and therefore it speaks about determining
ways and means, although for some of the persons concerned
these had a very concrete meaning, e.g., for the two
witnesses who appeared before you incognito, in closed
session. The means used condemned them to permanent
sterility. And Dr. Beilin also testified before you about
those handsome young Jewish men from Greece, on whose
bodies he saw the sterilization experiments.

Last-Modified: 1999/06/14