Eichmann Tripped by Own Lawyer’s Examination of Prosecution Documents
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Eichmann Tripped by Own Lawyer’s Examination of Prosecution Documents

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The defense plan to portray Adolf Eichmann as a minor functionary in the vast Nazi machinery for the destruction of European Jewry, an official totally lacking the authority to commit the crimes charged against him, ran into difficulties today during Eichmann’s third day of testimony in his own defense.

Dr. Robert Servatius is conducting the Eichmann defense testimony on the basis of examining damaging evidence brought into the trial during the weeks of the prosecution’s presentation, and asking Eichmann to give his version. The former Gestapo colonel has dealt with the charges in the prosecution documents by the use of various formula replies.

One has been that he never made anti-Jewish policy-that he only carried out orders from above. Another has been that he used his Gestapo post as head of Department 4 in Gestapo Bureau IV to help alleviate the plight of Jews marked for spoliation and expulsion.

It was inevitable that Dr. Servatius would have to introduce prosecution documents which the formula would not cover, and it happened today when the attorney brought up the record on the fate of property confiscated from the Jewish victims. At first, Eichmann claimed that a special account which was opened for deposit of confiscated funds was used to maintain the remaining Jewish community offices and staff in Germany.

Dr. Servatius then asked about a prosecution document which showed that this account was actually a source for payment of costs of transporting the Jewish expellees, so that they were actually paying the costs of throwing them out of Germany. Eichmann answered that “actually everything that should have been paid from the Government treasury” for the expulsions “was paid from this account.”

Having thus been caught in a flat contradiction, the witness then added that the confiscated Jewish funds were used only because obtaining funds from the Nazi financial authorities was a “too complicated procedure.”

This line of questioning by Dr. Servatius led Eichmann into explanations which bordered on the incredible. He was asked why Gestapo regulations required the sending in advance to local authorities of lists of Jews marked for expulsion. Eichmann’s explanation was that this was done “to enable Jews to donate their property” before it was confiscated. This reply immediately raised the question of the beneficiaries of such “donations.”

Eichmann said that the “donations” could not be made to Jewish organizations “of course,” but to the local Nazi security police unit which “would be able perhaps some time in the future to use it for the benefit of Jews.”


Unhappily for the witness, another document showed that, in addition to the special account, Jews marked for expulsion were required to pay directly for their transportation costs. Eichmann quickly offered another explanation-that these direct payments were made not to the security police, but for the expenses of “ordinary police” who accompanied some of the transports.

Dr. Servatius then asked the source of the more than 47,000 marks in the possession of a commander of one of the transports who had reported this to Eichmann’s office-since Eichmann was formally in charge of the transportations. The witness replied, “well, every Jew who was deported paid 50 marks.” His reply evoked a burst of hysterical laughter from a member of the audience.

In other phases of the testimony, Eichmann proceeded with his efforts to portray himself as one concerned for the welfare of the Jews he was expelling from Germany. He alluded again to the Madagascar plan, under which Jews would be sent to the French island as a “territorial solution.” He said that, after lengthy deliberation, he became convinced that this was the only permanent solution. Previously he had claimed in testimony that he had proposed the idea to his Nazi superiors, and that it was rejected.

Eichmann’s remarks about Madagascar evoked a loud hiss from a member of the audience. Presiding Judge Moshe Landau issued a stern “silence, please.” Judge Yitzhak Raveh then asked Eichmann if the Madagascar plan was “your final solution.” The witness launched into a lengthy recital of his efforts to provide the Jews a homeland on the French island.

He identified key portions of the plan as his own, including a study of climate and living conditions on the island. He said he went to Hamburg and talked to officials of the Tropical Hygiene Institute, but “then I received orders from my superiors to go on working on plans which would not be Utopian.”

The usually verbose witness pleaded inability to remember when he was asked about a prosecution exhibit in which Reinhardt Heydrich, the SS chief, asked Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop for an invitation to a meeting regarding the “final solution” of the Jewish problem.

The question, however, gave Eichmann another opportunity to blame others for what happened. He said the Foreign Ministry did not want the SS to have exclusive jurisdiction over implementation of the “final solution.” At this point, Eichmann reiterated that “they”-politicians and everybody except he and his department-were involved in giving and directing orders. He insisted that “they” sabotaged carefully worked out plans of the SS and interfered with the smooth execution of “emigration.”

He portrayed the entire SS organization as “frustrated” by the nationality law, which divested deportees of their German citizenship. He called the law a step backwards, not only for Jews but also for the Reich policy of “promoting emigration.” “My warnings against this suggestion were not heeded,” he declared.


The strategy of portraying him as a minor bureaucrat was applied in another portion of his testimony when he said that, on his arrival in Berlin to work in Bureau IV, he did not use his authority as head of Department 4 but always referred matters to his superiors for confirmation. He said “I was known as a man requiring confirmation not only in my division but in the entire office.”

Reflecting on this observation, as it was being translated, he corrected it to say that his authority as department head was only to implement orders, not to initiate them.

In a related line of questioning, Dr. Servatius asked Eichmann about a prosecution document showing that Eichmann apparently had wide authority on determining who was to be included in deportations. The witness used the question for a reply which denied the scope of the authority, and portrayed him as using the lesser authority to help Jews.

He said he tried to alleviate the transportation conditions, asserting he ordered nurses to be on the trains to care for the sick, and ordered the exclusion of certain persons who “volunteered” to go to the Theresienstadt camp because they were not among the categories destined for the camp, and “they should have remained in Germany.”

Eichmann’s repeated claims that, at this stage of his Nazi career, he had no knowledge about the camps in which Jews were already being beaten, degraded and starved. He was asked by his attorney why his department issued instructions that each transport should include a supply of barbed wire. He replied that this was done at the request of authorities at the reception end, and that “I could not imagine why they would need barbed wire at Theresienstadt.”


The issue of his role in the deportations was raised again by reference to a prosecution document in which he was mentioned as the principal participant in deportations. He repeated his claim that his part was simply to iron out difficulties and untangle hitches which arose from orders of higher officials. He said his part was not much more than “a transport official at a railroad station. “

He said that “the most important” difficulties and obstacles occurred “during the busy season when evacuating authorities required this to be done speedily, ” when transport trains piled up at stations.

In another part of the testimony. Eichmann slightly modified his charge yesterday that Dr. Hans Globke, now a West German State Secretary and aide to Chancellor Konrad Aderauer, formerly a section head in the Nazi Ministry of the Interior, had a key role in the Nazi program of creating a “legal” base for stripping German Jews of their property and citizenship.

Responding to questions from Dr. Servatius about a meeting at which “practical measures” for that program were discussed, Eichmann said that it was a Herr Hering ” or Globke” from the Ministry of the Interior who invited General Heinrich Mueller, as Division IV head, to attend the meeting. He said General Mueller sent to the meeting two attorneys from Eich-mann’s department but he insisted that the officials who handled such actions in his department were posted by the Interior Ministry, and were responsible directly to General Mueller,” I had no authority over them, ” he asserted.

Another question from Dr.Servatius used by Eichmann to prove his concern for the transported Jews dealt with orders under which local police authorities were required to report on each transport by telephone or cable directly to Eichmann’s office. He said these orders were issued to prevent “wildcat deportations” sometimes started by “local authorities in conflict with the schedules of his office.”

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