Eichmann on Stand for Second Week; Declares Self Free of All Guilt
Menu JTA Search

Eichmann on Stand for Second Week; Declares Self Free of All Guilt

Download PDF for this date

Adolf Eichmann today went into his second week of direct testimony at his trial here, continuing along the same lines he had apparently worked out with the chief of his defense, Dr. Robert Servatius of Cologne. As he has done until now, he spent the entire day telling the three-judge tribunal he had only acted as a subordinate carrying out orders from superiors. He insisted several times today that his conscience is clear in regard to the charges that he had directed the annihilation of 6,000,000 European Jews during the Nazi regime.

Dr. Servatius notified the court today that direct examination of the prisoner will last at least through the end of this week, possibly until the middle of next week. It was believed that Eichmann’s testimony on his own behalf may last a full three weeks. After the direct testimony, Attorney General Gideon Hausner, as chief of the prosecution, is expected to take at least three, possibly four days, for cross-examination. Three or four days will then be spent in summation by both the defense and the prosecution. Thus, it is expected, it will be at least the middle of July before the case goes to the three judges for consideration of a verdict.

All day today, Eichmann continued his posture as the careful, thorough efficient bureaucrat, who expedited orders and took pride in their swift accomplishment. When he was asked about an order given by one of his assistants for the murder of 100 children captured by the Nazis in the Czechoslovakian village of Lidice, he pointed out to the court that it had taken 24 days to carry out the order. That fact proved, he said, that the order was carried out by a zealous subordinate. “If I had handled the matter, he said, “it would not have taken 24 days.”


Previously, he had been questioned by Dr. Servatius about a document showing that a Nazi officer had contacted him about supplying skeletons of dead Jews for “anthropological examinations” at the Nazi Institute for Research in Ancestry. He replied that, if he had been contacted by the officer given the assignment of getting the skeletons, “I must have referred him to my chief, Gen, Heinrich Mueller. ” And he added: ” If I had handled this matter, certainly it would not have taken six months.”

When he brought up the time-lag a second time, to prove that he did not do the deeds charged. Presiding Justice Moshe Landau asked him: “You mean to indicate you were more efficient?”

Several times today, spectators burst out in loud, ironic laughter while Eichmann was testifying. At one time, such laughter greeted Eichmann’s explanation when he was asked why he had assigned 1,000 Jews to trains earmarked for a capacity of only 700 persons. He said that the 700 capacity referred to military personnel, whereas the Jews placed on those trains had no need for luggage space. Justice Landau rapped sternly for order and warned the spectators he would have “to take steps” against them if they continued showing such reactions.

Today, as all of last week, Eichmann’s testimony was related to documents previously introduced by the prosecution. In each instance, he had his own explanations.


He was asked about the Wannsee conference held at a Berlin suburb in January 1942, for firming up the Nazi line on “the final solution” of the Jewish question. That was Reinhard Heydrich’s fault, he answered, and Eichmann said he knew after that parley he had to carry out orders, since Heydrich was chief of the SS.

On the Nazi decision to requisition gas and other paraphernalia for the annihilation of Jews, Eichmann said that was the decision of General Mueller.

Sterilization of Jews, said Eichmann, was not his Job, since he was responsible only for “technical functions.”

Deportation of elderly Jews–that was done by “local officials” who did not want elderly people on their hands, while younger Jews were being deported.

His signature on orders for the hanging of Jews was appended on orders of superiors, he said. In these cases, claimed Eichmann, he was “only a postman” relaying superior orders.


All in all, he testified, everything that was done in regard to the Jews, coming after the Wannsee conference which had arrived at “unexpected unanimity with boundless enthusiasm, was the work of others. As for him, Eichmann gave the court his credo, admitted that, in dictating his memoirs to a Dutch Nazi Journalist in Argentina, he had expressed “Joy” in the happenings. But, he said:

“My Joy is to be traced to an entirely different source. While Heydrich’s satisfaction was in regard to the factual results, my Joy was quite different. I examined and weighed my character and my personality in the light of the Wannsee Conference as background.

“As far as my own ego is concerned, I summed up the meaning of my satisfaction. I felt solace and comfort in the fact that I had done my best, my utmost, despite my low rank of lieutenant colonel, in seeking a final solution which was not repellent nor hideous, but was at the same time both feasible and possible.

“I had to draft certain proposals, and the truth of this statement can be verified. I did my level best to bring order and organization into all the havoc and turmoil. I left no stone unturned. What was done, was not my doing. That guilt did not rest with me. I felt I was not to blame because what was decided at Wannsee was decided by the Elite. I have the feeling of Pontius Pilate, The popes of the regime decided. I had to toe the line.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund