JERUSALEM (Jul. 4)
A parade of Adolf Eichmann’s own Nazi colleagues testified by deposition here today, showing exactly what the prosecution had contended right along–that Eichmann was responsible for the annihilation of at least 6, 000, 000 European Jews during the Hitler era.
The bizarre twist came during a hiatus in Eichmann’s direct testimony under the guidance of his Cologne counsel, Dr. Robert Servatius. The court had halted the direct presentation of defense testimony to hear the depositions by the ex-Nazis, given under oath in German and Austrian courts, in recent weeks. These former members of the SS Elite Guard, all of whom feared coming to Israel lest they be arrested and prosecuted here for their war crimes and for crimes against Jews, were interrogated by German and Austrian judges and cross-examined by legal representatives of both the defense and the prosecution.
Dr. Theodor Horst Grell, now a West German Foreign Service counselor without an assigned post, was one of the witnesses via deposition. He had been the Jewish affairs adviser to the Nazi legation at Budapest during the war. He said under oath that Eichmann had told him he knew that he, Eichmann, was regarded as a “No. 1 war criminal, that he had on his conscience 6, 000, 000 killed enemies of the Reich. “
Grell did not quote Eichmann as having mentioned the word “Jews. ” But he cited Eichmann as having said that “he who has the most enemies has most respect.” Grell admitted during his interrogation that he had given “more damaging testimony” against Eichmann during the Nuremberg war crimes trials, but insisted that he was reacting then to “a tendency, without actually being untrue, ” to tell the Nuremberg trial what its prosecutors wanted to hear. Grell did concede, however, that his testimony 15 years ago “was more accurate as far as specific details were concerned. “
EICHMANN’S BREAKDOWN OF DEATHS: 4, 000, 000 IN CAMPS, 2, 000, 000 OTHERS
A former Nazi major, Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl, now living in Austria, gave his testimony via an 80-page deposition. He had headed the SS counter-espionage and counter-intelligence service at Budapest, at the time Eichmann was trying to put through his “trucks for blood” deal, envisaging an exchange of 1, 000,000 Jews for 10, 000 trucks.
Hoettl, too, said that Eichmann mentioned the figure of 6, 000, 000 Jews killed during the Nazi annihilation program. He said Eichmann broke down the figure to 4, 000, 000 Jews killed “in operations in various camps, ” while 2,000,000 Jews died from “shootings, hangings, starvation and diseases. ” Hoettl also said Eichmann considered himself “a major war criminal” in the eyes of the Allied powers.
A 17-page deposition was entered from Walter Huppenkothen, who had worked in the same department where Hoettl was employed. He was an SS major and counselor. He tried to help Eichmann by insisting that all orders in connection with the Jewish matters had really been the responsibility of Gen. Heinrich Mueller, Eichmann’s immediate chief.
ACCUSED CONDUCTED ‘AUTONOMOUS’ OPERATION; OUTDID EVEN HEINRICH HIMMLER
But from Eberhard von Thadden, former Nazi adviser on Jewish affairs to the Hitler Foreign Ministry, came another deposition, affirming definitely that Eichmann’s department was “autonomous” and had full responsibility for Jewish affairs as an “independent” office. He recalled that Eichmann had shown his independence by rejecting appeals from the Swedish Government for the emigration of a group of Jewish children.
Similar testimony was given by Kurt Becher, head of the economic department of the SS, and from Lt. Gen. Max Juettner, personal adjutant to Heinrich Himmler, head of the Gestapo.
Dr. Servatius tried to keep in the court record only part of Juettner’s testimony. But Mr. Hausner insisted on reading the whole record of Juettner’s sworn interrogation. Mr. Hausner showed that Juettner had stated that the Budapest police chief considered “Eichmann was entirely responsible” for the death march of Hungarian Jews.
Becher testified that Eichmann was “a dedicated National Socialist and a zealous anti-Semite. ” He said under oath that he had complained to Himmler that Eichmann “was trying to circumvent” Himmler’s own orders. He said Eichmann had confirmed to him that he, Eichmann, had countermanded a Himmler order for the sending of 1,700 Hungarian Jews to Switzerland, saying Eichmann admitted he had sent these people instead to the death camp of Bergen-Belsen.