Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
The IMT Series
Adolf Eichmann Testimony
The Fuhrer Order Witnessed
Interrogation of Eichmann by Avner Less (Used at Eichmann Trial)
Eichmann: May I now relate in short, Captain, what I know, from what I remember, of the things that happened since the beginning of the German-Russian War.
In June, I think, the war began, June or July, let us say the beginning of the war was in July. And I suppose two months later, possibly it was three months, at any rate it was towards the end of summer...I shall tell you presently why I know this - that it was towards the end of summer - at the time when Heydrich ordered me to come to him.
I presented myself and he said to me: "The Fuehrer..." for this was a matter of emigration etc. etc., accompanied by a short introductory speech..."the Fuehrer has given orders for the physical destruction of the Jews."
He uttered this sentence to me and it was as if he wanted to test the effect of his words. In definite contradiction to his manner - he made a long pause. To this day I remember it. At first I did not grasp the trend of his thoughts. Seeing that he was so meticulous in his choice of words, I subsequently understood and I didn't say a word in reply, for I had nothing to add to this.
For concerning these matters, such a brutal solution had never occurred to me. Here everything would be taken from me. All my work, all my efforts, all the interest that I had in the matter, it was as if the air had been taken out of me. And then he said to me: "Eichmann, go to Globocnik in Lublin." I knew he had been in Lublin before the Sudeten occupation.
Less: To whom?
Eichmann: Globocnik, I shall shortly come to more specific details, Captain, Sir. "Go to Globocnik, the Reichsfuehrer has already given appropriate instructions, and see how far he has progressed in his objective. He uses, so I believe, Russian tank trenches for the extermination of the Jews."
This, this I still remember, for this I shall never forget, even if I live a long time and become old, these sentences which he uttered to me in this conversation, but it did not end at that. The reference was to Globocnik, to the one who had previously been the Gauleiter Globocnik of Vienna, and who was afterwards transferred from Vienna, where to I don't recall at the present time.
For the administrator on behalf of the Reich, that is to say the Commissioner on behalf of the Reich, the Administrator on behalf of the Reich, Buerckel, came to Vienna, or the Commissioner on behalf of the Reich came to Vienna. The Gauleiter came from the Saar region.
And here I heard for the first time of Globocnik when he was SS and Police Leader in the Lublin district, in the Generalgouvernement subordinate to the Higher SS and Police Leader in Cracow.
As ordered, I went to Lublin and came to the office of the SS and Police Leader in Lublin, Globocnik. I reported to him, I told him the Chief of Security Police and the SD had sent me. And afterwards I repeated to him those sentences which I said just now, which the Gruppenfuehrer had said to me, that the Fuehrer had ordered the physical extermination of the Jews.
Less. The Gruppenfuehrer?
Eichmann. I beg your pardon?
Less. The Gruppenfuehrer?
Eichmann. The Fuehrer - of course the Fuehrer was Hitler, thus the reference was to Hitler. I repeated the words of Heydrich.
Eichmann. Of Heydrich, what he had said; he said "the Fuehrer has ordered - that is to say - and so Hitler had ordered the physical extermination of the Jews..."
Here I wanted to add something...yes, may I be allowed to add here: with the beginning of the Russian War Himmler forbade all emigration, even where possibilities existed. From the beginning of the war an order of closure was issued, even if there had been a possibility, on Himmler's behalf.
"Globocnik had a senior rank of SS-Gruppen...Brigadefueher or Gruppenfuehrer. Then Globocnik called in a certain Sturmbannfuehrer Hoefle, obviously from his headquarters. I did not know this man, I had never seen this man Hoefle, and later on we travelled from Lublin.
I no longer recall what was the name of that place. I am confusing this, for I am unable to say whether it was called Treblinka or otherwise. Truly I no longer have an idea where I was taken to then. This I don't know any more.
But this could have been established, I imagine, since there are other testimonies on this subject, and through them it would certainly be possible to check this. For I am not the only person to know of these matters. I reached this place and there was something in the form of a forest.
Eichmann. Things resembling a forest. A road passed through there, a Polish carriage road. Now I still remember, on the right of the road there was an ordinary house, a hostel in which men who were working there lived.
A certain Captain of the Security Police that is to say of the Order Police greeted us. There was also a number of workers there. The captain of the Order Police - this surprised me considerably - was without his uniform coat, and his sleeves were rolled up, and it seemed that he was somehow participating actively in the work.
This I still remember. And they were erecting wooden huts, possibly two, perhaps three, this I no longer know exactly. The size - a sort of house with two or three rooms, I would say of that size , not large; and apparently - but I do not know this any more - Hoefle had given instructions to this Police Captain that he should explain this installation to me.
And then he began. He was a man with a voice let us say ordinary, uncultured - perhaps he was accustomed to drinking, I do not know - with a gruff voice.
He spoke the dialect of the south-western region of Germany, and he told me how he had made everything here hermetically sealed, that everything had been sealed, since an engine of a Russian submarine was going to operate here and the gases of this engine were going to be directed inside and the Jews would be poisoned.
What Eichmann is describing is not Treblinka, but fits the description of the death camp at Belzec, which was constructed from November 1941. The Police Captain description also fits with that of Christian Wirth, from Stuttgart who was the first Commandant of Belzec.
This was terrible for me. I do not have such a steadfast nature for something of this kind… of this kind to pass over me without reaction.
If today I see the gaping injury of an open cut on a person, I cannot look at it. I belong to such a class of people and I am often told that I could never have been a doctor.
Even now, I still don't know how I immediately pictured the thing to myself, and that my demeanour became somewhat uncertain, as if I had gone through something upsetting...upsetting, as sometimes happens when we afterwards feel a slight inner shaking, or I would express it somewhat like that. With this my task was fulfilled and I went back to Berlin and reported on the matters to the Chief of the Security Police and the SD.
Eichmann. Mueller, too, of course.
Less. And Heydrich?
Eichmann. Yes, Heydrich, but Mueller was my immediate superior; so I had to inform him of my journey and I also reported to him. I told him what I have now said. Possibly now I am confusing several matters; may I be permitted perhaps...to make myself
Less. Yes, please go on.
Eichmann. Which were the years...to make myself notes possibly because of my attempts to keep some order. For it was...I said previously that it must have been at the end of the summer - in autumn, as I still remember, that these wooden huts were...they were in a region of deciduous trees, in a thickly wooded area of deciduous trees, large trees and their leaves were in full foliage.
On this point Eichmann may be confused – given that the gassing facilities were not built until late in 1941.
Less. In what year?
Eichmann. This was forty one.
Less. And so: after the...
Eichmann. After the outbreak of the German-Russian War, '41, it therefore must have been the autumn of '41 - for then I was sent on to Kulmhof in the Warthegau...now I must think: when was it in the Warthegau?
Eichmann. Kulmhof to Kulmhof.
Eichmann. Kulmhof in the Warthegau. I have to reflect on this: When was this, Kulmhof in the Warthegau? Then I...this was the first time that I had to watch something like this, but this time I was sent by Gruppenfuehrer Mueller.
*Note: Corrected by Author: report stated Kulm – should be Kulmhof (Chelmno)
Let me say this right away: Warthegau. 1941, this was, at all events, after this event, it was not winter, there was no snow, I remember that it was cold. I don't know whether it was autumn '41, or was it now '42.
But we can easily reconstruct this, as follows: There must certainly be other testimonies when the Ghetto of Litzmannstadt was dealt with and generally the matter of the Warthegau, when the Jews there were exterminated.
Because approximately at this initial period I received an order from Mueller to go to Litzmannstadt and to report to him on what was happening there. He did not say this to me as exactly, as crassly as did Heydrich, he said to me:
"There is a Jewish Operation going on over there." Mueller would never have expressed himself in such a blatantly cruel manner: a person like Mueller would never have done this: he said roughly as follows:
"A Jewish Operation is taking place there, Eichmann, go there; try to find out what is happening there. Report to me." I went there, I reported to the Stapoleit at Litzmannstadt, I enquired there and they gave me an account: this was a special unit which the Reichsfuehrer had detailed and it was under the command of...now I do not know whether the SS and Police Leader of the Warthegau or the Higher SS and Police Leader of the Warthegau.
This is as much as I remember, but I was given an exact description where Kulmhof was situated, where it was. Perhaps they also sent an official with me to find my way, certainly because I had to approach an authority which...which, let us say: this mediation, that it came from the Head Office of Reich Security on a mission on behalf of Gruppenfuehrer Mueller, that I should watch this in order to report to Gruppenfuehrer Mueller, this is no longer known to me today.
I only know this: that I saw what could be described as follows:
A room - if I remember correctly - possibly five times the size of this one, perhaps only four times as large. There were Jews inside, they were required to undress, and after that a completely closed truck arrived and the doors in front were opened and it came up to some kind of platform; and the naked Jews were obliged to go inside. Afterwards the truck was closed and began to move.
Less. How many people were in the truck?
Eichmann. I cannot tell you this exactly. I could not even watch what was going on exactly, all the time I did not look at it; I was far too upset. I told this to Mueller also, at the time I reported. He did not derive much benefit from my report. Afterwards I rode after the truck, certainly with one of the men who knew the way - and there I saw the most horrible thing that I had ever seen in my life:
It drove up to a long ditch, the doors were opened, and the bodies were thrown out, as if they were still alive - their limbs were so supple. They were thrown into the ditch - I could still see how a civilian was removing teeth with pliers, and then I moved away from there.
I entered the car and went away, and I did not speak at all. From then on I sat next to the driver for hours without exchanging a word with him. By then I was "fixed," then I was "finished."
I only know further that a doctor in a white coat said to me that I should look through the peephole in the partition to see how they were inside the vehicle. I refused to do this. I couldn't...I couldn't say another word. I had to get away. I came to Berlin, I reported to Gruppenfuehrer Mueller. I described those things to him exactly as I am doing now - more I couldn't say to him: More precisely I said to him...:
Terrible," I said, "the Inferno...I cannot...this is...that I cannot..." I said to him.
Less. What did Mueller say?
Eichmann. When I...Mueller was never in the habit of saying anything, never, not on these matters, nor on other matters. He was always very frugal with words and quiet and only said things that were the most essential. He said "yes" or "no" or when he said neither "yes" or "no" then generally he used to say "Comrade Eichmann" - that was, I didn't know, "yes" or "no." He was frugal with words.
Less. Did you hand in a written report on this?
Eichmann. No, I was not authorized to do so, I was specifically forbidden to do so.
Less. By Mueller?
Eichmann. But I...
Less. Mueller forbade you to do so?
Eichmann. Yes...no... I believe that it was Heydrich, Heydrich.
Less. Did you report to him at all?
Eichmann. Not on this, no, not on this. At that time I didn't reach...then Mueller sent me there...Mueller wanted to know first and foremost the time...how much time it took. This I was incapable of saying. I couldn't tell him how long...I could not...I could not... I couldn't hear this. This was beyond me, I could not do it...the time... I was obliged to travel there a second time, but then understandably, I did not volunteer and nothing was said to me.
This was, therefore, the second time I had something to do with these things; on the first occasion there were these hermetically sealed trucks, of some...exhaust gas from a submarine engine, this I heard, the second time I saw it. Because I related this experience to my deputy...to my permanent deputy.
Attorney General: Mr. Less - Would you be good enough to play to the Court the excerpt from page 210, which begins with the words "Herr Eichmann, Sie wollten..." and continue to page 221, up to the words "...dann hier diese Sache vertaten."
Less: Mr. Eichmann, you wanted to speak about your visits to...
Less ...the extermination camps
Eichmann Yes, surely, yes surely, I suppose that...And so, 3 and 4, Minsk and Lvov - because I was sent to Minsk and Lvov, certainly, for I have already said previously that I do not at all remember what I had to do at Lvov, and this surely I would have connected. Mueller said to me "In Linz...in Linz" I mean "In Minsk they are shooting Jews, I want a report on how this is taking place."
After this I went to Minsk. In Minsk there was nothing for me to do, nor did I get to know anyone there. I went across the first areas where the double battle had taken place, that which had been in two places: possibly it was...I imagine: Minsk and Bialystok.
I definitely went first to Bialystok and after that to Minsk, I presume - I do not know this exactly any more. I came to Minsk, going to the same authority - what was its name - how was it called? "The Commander of the Security Police" or it may have been called "Einsatzkommando."
Really I don't know how it was called, and there I asked for the Commander, and I still remember that he was not present. I spoke to someone else whose name altogether escapes me today and I told him that I had orders to watch it, in order to report to Gruppenfuehrer Mueller. That was that.
The next day - I remained in that city for the night - the next day I came there, but I came too late, because on that day in the morning the affair had already ended, was almost completed, a matter on which I, for myself, rejoiced.
When I got there I only managed to see how young marksmen, I think there were these marksmen with the death-heads on their coat collars...they were shooting into the pit, which was quite a large size, let us say four or five times this room, perhaps even six or seven times.
I have...I have...all my recollections of this instance are unreliable for I only saw this thing without any thoughts, without forming any thoughts about it whatsoever. I simply saw - and nothing more than that: they fired into the pit, and I can still see a woman...with her arms behind her...and then her knees buckled and I made off.
Less. You didn't look into the pit?
Eichmann . Yes, I stood there, they fired, I saw it and I went away to...
Less. The pit was full?
Less. Was the pit full of bodies?
Eichmann. It was full, it was full. I went away to my car. I got in and started driving - I drove to Lvov. I had no orders to go to Lvov...even this I remember now but apparently the road passed through Lvov. Somehow I came to Lvov and saw the first encouraging picture, after the awful things I had seen there: This was the railway station building, which had been erected to mark the Sixtieth Anniversary of the reign of the Emperor Franz Josef.
And seeing that I personally was overwhelmed with joy regarding this period of Franz Josef, possibly because I had heard an abundance of wonderful things in my parents' home about this period, or about events that occurred during this period. My relatives on the side of my step-mother were, at this time, as you would say, of a high social standing...It was painted yellow.
This chased away for the first time - I still remember this today otherwise I wouldn't have realized this, that this sixtieth jubilee...that the figures of this Jubilee were engraved on the wall of this station building - those terrible thoughts which had not yet departed from me since Minsk. I came there, and visited the local commander of the State Police...please...
I was...perhaps I even had an order, perhaps not, perhaps I went there only out of curiosity, and I paid a visit there to the commander since I was passing the place, and said to him: "Yes," I said to him "this is terrible, what is going on there," I said to him, "these young men are being brought up as sadists." This is exactly what I said, incidentally, to Mueller as well - later on.
I also said so to Guenther, I said it to everyone; I even said it to Suhr, I said it to all of them. I also said this to Hunsche... I did not have... I told this to everyone and I said: "How can it be possible? Simply fire away at a woman and children? How can this be possible?" I said: "This cannot be possible, these people must become crazy or sadists and they are our own people."
And then he said to me: "Exactly so, this is also happening with us here, they shoot here, too. Do you want to see it once? Do you want to see it once?" I said: "No, I don't want to see anything." He said "Anyhow we are going to pass by."
Then I saw something else which was terrible: there was a pit, perhaps it was already closed. There welled up like a geyser blood...how should I say this...a jet of blood. I have never seen anything like it. As far as I was concerned this assignment was enough and I drove to Berlin and related this to Gruppenfuehrer Mueller.
Less. Who travelled with you in Lvov. Who was he?
Eichmann. What, if you please...?
Less. Who was this in Lvov?
Eichmann. This was the Commander - I don't know whether he was called "Stapolei" - this could not be - it couldn't have been the Head of the State Police - it certainly must have been the Einsatzkommando, possibly the Einsatzkommando of Lemberg, the Einsatzkommando of the State Security and SD - it was an Einsatzkommando - this was its official name.
I am more inclined to believe this than that it was the State Police Office. State Police Offices were certainly not to be found at that time in Lvov but there were only operational units; surely Lvov used to belong to the Generalgouvernement? Or, at this moment I do not know if it belonged to the Generalgouvernement or to any other zone - I do not know, Captain. But at all events I said to Mueller, I said: "This is not a solution to the Jewish problem, this is not a solution."
I said that to him, above everything else we were bringing up people to be sadists - we should not be surprised at all, we should not be surprised if they became criminals - all of them criminals. I still remember that Mueller looked at me with an expression which I recognized, and in it I read what he was saying to me.
"Eichmann, you are right, this is not a solution." But he could do nothing, Mueller could do nothing about it. Mueller surely could not do anything, could do nothing, not a thing. I do not know any more who gave the order about those...about those things...gave the order...yes, gave the order...yes, of course the Chief of the Security Police and the SD gave the order - it was he who gave the order for this - this is absolutely clear.
But even he was obliged to receive an instruction from the Reichsfuehrer-SS - namely Himmler - he could never have done such a thing on his own. And Himmler too, must have had his detailed orders from Hitler otherwise, unless Hitler had ordered this, he would have been fired out of hand.
Less. But didn't Hitler give an order in writing about this final solution of the Jewish question?
Eichmann. In writing? ...For exterminating them? For exterminating them physically?
Less. For exterminating them physically?
Eichmann. I never saw such an order in writing, Captain. All I know is that Heydrich told me: "The Fuehrer has ordered the physical destruction of the Jews" - this he said clearly and as certainly in fact as I repeat it now. And these were now...these were the first consequences. These were...these were minor matters, these that I have now described. I even asked the Gruppenfuehrer,
I said to him: "Please do not send me there. Send someone else, someone stronger. You can see that on no occasion did they allow me to [go to] the front, I was never a soldier. There are plenty of others who can watch this; they do not collapse - I cannot see it." I said: "I cannot sleep at night. I dream - I cannot, Gruppenfuehrer!" But this was not granted.
Less. So after this you had to [go to] Auschwitz?
Eichmann. I returned and received the orders. I was forced also to visit Auschwitz...because...not in order to see this there, first and foremost...but also on that, incidentally, he obliged me to report. I told him that I would see it because they were building extensions there - I did not know at all that there were other buildings.
I had to report to him on this as well...yes, furthermore, I must also say this, Captain...these people, when you came to them, made a special amusement for themselves of the whole matter, to give a man who had come to them directly from an office desk the most horrifying description and to intimate the whole thing in as abrupt a fashion as possible and they rejoiced.
Obviously, from time to time, if here, from the point of view of his nerves...the person could not retain his composure as they were accustomed to call it, in the way they did, is that not so? Hoess once said...I think that I was there three times, two or three times in Auschwitz. Three times, I was there once because of Storfer...he had said to me, Hoess said to me that Himmler was there and took everything in, he watched everything exactly and that even his knees shook, Hoess said to me.
He raised this...he obviously intended it as a condemnation, for Hoess was very hardened. It was on the same day about which Hoess said to me that Himmler saw this, he said - surely also in order to encourage his own spirits and so that his SS men of the concentration camp should not notice his weakness - which in fact Hoess noticed, otherwise he couldn't surely have said this to me - he said that "these are battles which coming generations will not have to fight, will not have to fight."
I said, Captain, I was in Auschwitz three times. I was twice in Auschwitz because of the problem of Hungary, and I was in Auschwitz once, because in my absence while I was in Hungary the Kommerzialrat Storfer of Vienna was arrested by the Police Commander of the Vienna District, Ebner, and afterwards brought to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.
In Auschwitz I had to look at those installations yet once more. I told Hoess this and as a consequence he ordered a field car. We rode in the field car through some area - I didn't know my way around in Auschwitz.
This was a section - far from the headquarters. I had been there on my business several times only in the headquarters, near the main entrance, I had never been further inside - I also did not have any inclination to do so - and then I saw large buildings, large buildings, this was already in the guise of a factory, the enormous chimney, and Hoess said to me: "Yes," he said, "here there is a capacity of 10,000 - yes 10,000."..
Presiding Judge: Daily capacity, right?
And here, something was going on where they separated those who were fit to work from those who, as it were, were unfit for work. I did not look at the gassing, I could not, for almost certainly I would have collapsed - I did not want to do this - or I would have felt unwell.
I don't know what would have happened to me. I could not and already I thought: well once again I got out of it and then he drove me to the edge of a huge pit, huge - I cannot say what size it was - perhaps even 150 metres, or 180 metres, I do not know this, but the pit was very large.
There was an enormous grate, an iron grate and on it corpses were burning and then I felt bad, then I felt bad. I told this to Mueller that was my report...
Less What year was this?
Eichmann. This was in 1945. I said to Mueller, I said: "Why does this have to be, why does this have to be so? Surely Germany is sufficiently large, if Jews have to come in, namely the Jews of Hungary, of Hungary - everywhere there is a shortage of workers, this really does not have to be.
Eichmann. Then let me speak now about this last point of the most terrible thing I have ever seen in the course of my life: It was Treblinka.
I also received an order. With Globocnik...I went to Globocnik ...on this occasion for the second time and [had] to report to Mueller. Because the installation was in full operation.
Then I thought, thus I pictured it to myself: there is a wooden house here to the right, this I still remembered, to the left there were some additional ones. Two-three other wooden houses. Instead of this - again with a certain Sturmbannfuehrer Hoefle - instead of this I came to a station, which...to a station called Treblinka and which was put up as if it were a German railway station somewhere in Germany; with all the signs etc. - they imitated everything. I stayed there - far to the rear.
I did not come nearer in order to see all this. I saw how, on passages fenced in by barbed wire, a line of naked Jews were entering a house in front, entering....not a house - a big structure similar to a hall - to be exterminated by gases. A hall where they were put to death, as far as I was told, with ...how is it called -cyan...
Less. Potassium cyanide?
Less. Potassium cyanide [Zyankali].
Eichmann. Potassium cyanide or acid, it has the name of some acid, the acid of potassium cyanide. How this took place, this I did not watch, I submitted a report to Mueller and he received this report, as usual, without a word, without a comment.
Only his facial expression betrayed to me: "Truly I cannot do anything," and I am convinced, Captain, - perhaps this sounds funny, funny on my part, I know, but I am convinced that if Mueller had had the power of decision, this would not have happened at all, not as far as Mueller was concerned.
Eichmann. The last question yesterday was - it seems to me - the beginning of the Wannsee Conference, if I am not mistaken, or was it? ...
Less. It seems to me that you were speaking about the statistics.
Eichmann. Yes, the statistics. I have it here, also. Allow me before [speaking about] the statistics, which I have truly made a note of, to talk to you again about the Wannsee Conference, which came much earlier from the point of view of time.
Less. Yes, of course.
Eichmann. Accordingly, I took here the year 1942 or 1941. The Wannsee Conference took place, undoubtedly, a long time before Heydrich's death. Therefore, possibly, the date which I mention, which I can mention... well it is quite easy to verify it, the Conference of Wannsee was very important, for here Heydrich received his authority as the person in charge of the solution, or the final solution of the Jewish question.
From this point he regarded himself as having the authority in all these matters. All the central authorities were then invited to this Conference and this at a high level of representation namely, the Secretaries of State.
Of the Party functionaries, there was present the Gauamtsleiter Schacht, Goebbels' Deputy for the Capital of the Reich, Berlin. There were also present senior officials of the Fuehrer's Chancellery - I should say "the Fuehrer's Chancellery," for that was the name of that office. IVB4 received an order to prepare in writing a draft of the invitations which were sent afterwards in the normal way of outgoing mail, all of them initialled by Heydrich, because they bore the stamp of official invitations.
To each one of the Secretaries of State with a personal title at the head of the letter and with a personal ending to each letter. The date of the Conference subsequently had to be postponed because one or two of those invited were suddenly delayed. The invitations were then sent out again.
Heydrich then possessed written authority signed by Goering and on this basis he delivered a long speech on what had been done so far, and in it he asked (and this had been the real original reason for the invitation) for intensive cooperation. His second real reason was to indulge his well-known vanity that was his weakness and to boast with his authority, which now made him the unrestricted ruler of all the Jews of the areas under the influence and occupation of Germany, and to demonstrate clearly the broadening of his influence.
But also perhaps to use...by his use of - how can I put it - his clearly being in the good graces of the greatest people in the Reich, to further other personal tendencies about which he was also thinking of how he could combine them for his benefit. This was the policy followed by some of those leaders. It was widely believed, and Heydrich was known for it, that he was never satisfied with all that he was able to take hold of.
I can still remember that Globocnik who had that installation for extermination in Lublin received authority from him after the event to exterminate the Jews - this was the first case of this kind that I had heard of - despite the fact that Globocnik had for some time put people to death, and had certainly already sent very many to their deaths.
Globocnik asked in this connection to grant him authority after the event, signed by Heydrich. I can still see Mueller in front of me, how at the time we discussed this he shook his head, without saying a word. In addition to the death installation, about which I reported yesterday, the same Globocnik also maintained labour camps and several workshops, in Berlin - Lublin, where it seems to me, they somehow worked for the Waffen SS. Maybe for the Waffen SS but they worked there.
Possibly it was also for the Army but I am more inclined to think, seeing that this whole matter was under the over-all direction of the Economic Administrative Main Office that these matters were taken into account for the needs of the Waffen SS.
Less. Who passed on to Globocnik that instruction after the event? Was that instruction passed on further by you or by your Department?
Eichmann. Yes, at that time I received an order from Heydrich for Globocnik - as follows - to prepare the following letter for Globocnik: - Heydrich dictated it to me:
"I authorize you to bring another 150,000 to the Final Solution." But I do not know now whether he gave the order on the letterhead of the "Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police in the Reich Ministry of the Interior" and wrote this "By order, Heydrich" or whether he wrote on notepaper of the "Chief of the Security Police SD" I have...
Less. At the time when it said in the letter "to bring 250,000 Jews to the Final Solution"...
Eichmann. It seems to me 150 - or 250, I really do not know.
Less. Its implication at that time was extermination and death.
Eichmann. Yes, yes. Those Jews were already dead. For these, Globocnik requested to give him authorization after the event. I think that they numbered 250,000, so it seems to me. He asked for such an authorization a second time as well, Globocnik.
Less. This second order after the event was also passed on by your Department, by you?
Eichmann. Yes, that is certainly so - the same authorization after the event, on the grounds that what was now being done was by an authority based on the Wannsee Conference - in this way by Heydrich to Globocnik. This was the surprising thing to ask for authorization retrospectively...(that authorization) was dictated to me personally by Heydrich, as he had also done with the letters of invitation to the Secretaries of State, as he wanted it written subsequently, it was subsequently brought to him by his staff and signed by him.
Less. What was the purpose of the Wannsee Conference?
Eichmann. Heydrich's aim at the Wannsee Conference was to obtain authority enabling him, as he imagined to administer and himself to control the affairs of the Jews. And there was also this, please I do not know exactly, there was certainly, somehow, some kind of division that he achieved, or Himmler gave orders - how can I put it - for a division of functions by which the Economic Administrative Main Office had to implement all the affairs of the concentration camps, while at the same time the Security Police had to carry out the seizures and the transportation.
Less. Were you present at the Wannsee Conference?
Eichmann. Yes, I was obliged to be present too.
Less. Was a decision adopted there as to the way in which each office would be responsible for the final solution of the Jewish question, that is, for the extermination of the Jews? Was there a decision on the scope of your special Department?
Eichmann. No. There was no decision on this. This was not decided for this reason: firstly because it was not done in fact; and secondly, that this was a matter of details, which were not discussed at the Wannsee Conference, in the presence of the Secretaries of State.
Less. If that was the case, what was discussed there?
Eichmann. Heydrich described along general lines what had been done up to then, it is...of course also difficult how much of the particulars I can remember (possibly I can do so briefly), he then said that the solution of the Jewish question had encountered these and other difficulties. He pointed to many problems of competence arising out of the authorizations for work, to various conflicts of responsibility, and for this reason, therefore, for the sake of efficiency, he had asked Goering [for permission] to unite this matter under one authority.
Goering in his capacity as plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan, gave him, accordingly, that authorization, although, I don't know what it was called - whether this was given to the Reichsfuehrer and he, Heydrich implemented this by virtue of the authorization which had been given to him by Himmler.
This could also be possible, I do not know, this must be checked and it is possible to check it quite easily; for then Heydrich had to write "By order" since at that time that was the way it was done. I remember that afterwards, somehow, one or two of those present received permission to speak, and as was the practice - I took part for the first time in my life in such a Conference in which these senior officials participated, such as Secretaries of State.
It was conducted very quietly and with much courtesy, with much friendliness - politely and nicely, there was not much speaking and it did not last a long time, the waiters served cognac, and in this way it ended. This, more or less, was the course of the Wannsee Conference because it took place in the guest house of the Reich Security Head Office, which is located near the Wannsee Lake, close to Berlin.
Less. How many Jews were sent by you to Auschwitz to be exterminated there?
Eichmann. This I took the liberty of including in the questions...in the points which I sought to put together, from which it would have been possible to get reliable documented material here, and it seems to me that one of the most important points here was to obtain some...to obtain the transport schedules which the Reich Ministry of Transport had drawn up at that time.
For today after...firstly it was not I who initiated the drawing up of transport schedules, I did not even telephone, as I have already said. And secondly even if I had done so, even then I wouldn't be able to recall that today. I would be obliged to mention some figure or other, and this is not likely to be helpful to anyone.
Less. How many Jews were exterminated by gas and killed there?
Eichmann. Captain, I have read that Hoess is alleged to have said that he had killed a million Jews. I personally thought this number to be greatly exaggerated. If, generally, we would want now to speak about figures...then if it were one million, or if they were four millions, if they were 100, in principle it makes no difference, I simply mean: if I were asked about "numbers"...
I myself have already reflected on this during all these 15 years...I said recently that on the eve of the conclusion of the War I spoke to my officers - who actually was present I do not know, obviously not all of them - about a figure of five millions, which I could visualize approximately and vaguely.
In...well, how can I term it, in this "short end-of-the-world speech," or however one would like to call it, in fact the numbers did not seem to me to be vital, for on that occasion I was dealing with millions, whether friend or foe, on our side as well as that of our enemies.
Today, I don't know exactly any more if the Jewish Year Book for Europe then recorded the number of 10 million Jews. Whether we include in this total figure also the part of the Russian territories occupied by German forces, or not, nevertheless I tried to prepare a basis for myself and I read that the Allies at the end of the War - certainly a few months afterwards - found 2,400,000 in existence - this I read.
I myself don't know any longer today the total of the emigration from Austria, from Germany and from Czechoslovakia; at that time I said to myself "well, good- one million, one million two hundred thousand, or something like that evidently emigrated - two million four hundred thousand, plus the number of natural deaths - I am not a statistician.
Once I said this. When I said, yes, somehow there must have been about six million Jews killed, so I said in my heart. If I was correct in this, Captain, I do not know, but all this had to be on the basis of the report of the statistician...
And, further, what happened since that time until 1945 - for that I thought you could use the list which I gave, if one could obtain these documents to the extent that they are not already available, I am searching here amongst my [assumptions]...one has to take account of this, then it would be possible to arrive at the exact number.
In fact these numbers were not fixed, of course, from the point of view of the transport schedules, between the Reich Ministry and IVB4, since the East, the area of the Generalgouvernement was not taken into consideration in the transport schedules at all. Thus the Department IVB4 had nothing to do with this at all.
Less. Did you speak to Hoess about the number of Jews who were exterminated at Auschwitz?
Eichmann. No, never. He only said to me on one single occasion, he said to me, that here they had prepared "new buildings" and that here he could "put to death 10,000 daily". Something of this kind I remember. If I imagine this to myself today, I do not know but almost certainly I do not believe that I am only imagining this, for I can no longer recall when he said it to me, how he said this to me and what the appearance was of the place where he said it to me.
For this reason I do not know this any more. Possibly I read it and I now imagine to myself that I heard him saying what I read. This, too, would be possible.
Less. Give me the dates of your various visits to Auschwitz.
Eichmann. Well, first and foremost, the matter began when I was sent there by Mueller. Thereafter nothing happened for a long time; subsequently I was in Auschwitz, twice, it seems, but not on duty, but when I was in Kattowitz, then I ...or once I travelled with Mildner to Hoess...no, then I was not at Auschwitz, then Hoess arrived after us.
Now I can remember this point, about which you asked me, Captain, whether I met Hoess in other places, now I remember it; I was in Kattowitz, I was in Kattowitz and Mildner. Hoess came to Mildner and we went...in the evening we went to a restaurant, to a Polish restaurant, the owner [of the restaurant] knew Mildner, and we were together there, but at that time it was not at the camp, for Kattowitz and the camp are far away from each other - I don't know how many kilometres.
Afterwards I was at Auschwitz at the time of the matter of Hungary, once because of the Kommerzialrat Storfer - this was the Storfer case - subsequently I was once in Auschwitz when it was described to me that the Hungarian gendarmerie had loaded the transports in a way which did not correspond to the directives, hereafter I was in Auschwitz.
I was, therefore, in Auschwitz three times...three times in Auschwitz also during that period...also during that period, but what the reason was I do not know any longer today and if I cannot remember, then I can surely suppose that at the time of my first visit until...until Hungary...which was before the Hungarian matter, I was in Auschwitz once or twice, or I met with Hoess in Kattowitz. At all events, I presume so.
Less. During your first visit did you transmit any orders to Hoess?
Eichmann. No, nothing, except this, that I had an order to observe what was going on and to report to Mueller. This was the only thing. The people in Auschwitz, themselves, always carefully kept their distance - even Hoess at the beginning, seeing that they did not want to reveal their cards to anyone, and I was from a different authority from theirs, they wore the "death- head" symbol on their coat collars and I had nothing on my collar.
Less. Did Hoess take you around the area on the occasion of your first visit?
Eichmann. Yes, he took me around on a tour, but then it was still very small, I reported this as well to Gruppenfuehrer Mueller. This was in the same way as it was then in that wooded area...in the same wooded area of which I spoke, also there were these huts. There had, therefore, to be some general command from above, as a result of which the buildings were subsequently erected with a uniform design.
Less. In the course of this, did you discuss the installations for killing by gas?
Eichmann. Hoess showed me this, there were the huts as I saw them, but by then I had seen enough, and I reported to Mueller. I did not watch the actual process of killing at which they also wanted me to be present.
Less. Was there a discussion and a decision between you and Hoess on the question of disposing of those killed by gas?
Eichmann. No, on this matter Hoess had his own orders, or it was left within the scope of his authority, this I do not know - IVB4 was not involved in this. The disposal of those poisoned by gas, the disposal of those killed, namely by burial or burning, no, never.
Less. Was the method of killing by gas discussed on this occasion between you and Hoess?
Eichmann. Yes, this he already mentioned to me the first time, namely about the cartons with those...how do you call them...with those acids, the cartons of cyanide acid, I actually passed this on to Mueller. That was perhaps the only difference between Auschwitz and that place up there, the place where the Captain of the Police told me that it was a submarine engine.
Less. What parts of Auschwitz did you visit on the later visits?
Eichmann. The headquarters.
Less. Who, apart from Hoess, was present at the time of these visits?
Eichmann. Apart from Hoess: All this affair happened there in a most military fashion; one would think that his 1A, or that is how he was referred to by us, I think that 1A was present although not all the time, I presume. I did not... I did not recognize anyone in Auschwitz.
I had no personal acquaintance there and I did not get to know, in the course of the time, any of the SS men personally to such an extent that he is engraved in my memory - or with whom I discussed, let us say, anything private; I had none.
Less. Did you visit the gas chambers and the incinerators?
Eichmann. In front of the buildings, which I looked at for the sake of the report to Mueller, as I have said, as I have already said, that they were the same huts as in that wood in Poland, and we were in the area of the Generalgouvernement.
And afterwards in front of this installation into which groups were being conveyed somehow exactly at that time, but I did not go inside, and I did not watch anything, but I walked away from there as I have already described. Apart from this I did not watch anything. And thirdly the place which he showed me where the dead were burned.
Less. On page 444 Hoess was asked:"I ask you: did Himmler examine the camp and was he present himself during the extermination processes?
Hoess: Yes, certainly, in 1942 Himmler visited the camp and watched a process such as this from beginning to end. Dr. Kaufmann: Is the same true of Eichmann? Hoess: Eichmann was in Auschwitz repeatedly and knew about the processes exactly."
Eichmann. I knew no more, Captain, than I have said. I did see the small buildings at the beginning, I knew that they were putting them to death with these round cardboard objects, this is what Hoess told me, he even showed me one - I also reported it to Mueller.
Afterwards I saw this big building, from the outside. I did not observe the process of extermination, not at Auschwitz nor in any other place. Only in Minsk did I come across it when they were shooting. Apart from this case, I declined it, or I could not and I did not want to do so. I kept away from this because the burning of the corpses...had already aroused within me...a feeling... I was not capable of bearing this.
Hoess... I also said now, Captain, that Hoess told me that Himmler had been there and had said: "These are battles which the coming generations will no longer be required to fight." Then he also told me that Himmler had watched the entire process and what I gathered from him then somehow with disbelief, he said to me that "he was shaking at the knees."
I said to myself "Very well but I don't want my knees to shake - I am not going to watch this." For, as far as I was concerned, it was sufficient to have seen the burning of the bodies, the burning of the bodies.
Presiding Judge: We shall now adjourn. The next Session will be on Friday, at nine o'clock in the morning.
The Eichmann Trial Transcripts - State of Israel Ministry of Justince
Holocaust Historical Society
Copyright Chris Webb & June Rosenberg H.E.A.R.T 2009