JERUSALEM (Jul. 12)
Adolf Eichmann conceded today, during the fourth day of grueling cross-examination, that there was a sharp conflict between his self-portrayal as one sympathetic to the Jews caught in the Nazi machine and his zeal in hunting down and seizing the Jews who managed to get escape passports as nationals of other countries.
Prosecutor Gideon Hausner, fighting hard to pin down his evasive target, concentrated on Eichmann’s special status regarding Jewish affairs during the wartime period. The prosecutor confronted the defendant with a flood of documents and depositions, including some deeply incriminating statements taken from Eichmann’s own witnesses in West Germany. He then asked pointedly whether they were all liars and if only Eichmann is the truth-teller.
Eichmann replied that it could not be denied that he headed the Gestapo department charged with dealing with “Jewish affairs.” But he insisted that his was not the only department, and that it would be “stretching” the truth to say that he was the principal director of the handling of the Jews.
Mr. Hausner asked how this description explained the mention of Eichmann’s name in official German Foreign Ministry directives as being in charge of Jewish affairs, particularly in directives to and from Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. Eichmann attributed such appearances of his name to bureaucratic “sloppiness.” He urged this argument on each occasion when Mr. Hausner presented such a document.
REACHED OUT TO FOREIGN FRONTIERS TO SNUFF HOPES OF ESCAPE
The prosecutor then turned to documents showing how Eichmann reached out to the frontiers to bring back Dutch, Greek, French, Italian and Rumanian Jews who were on the verge of reaching freedom with passports, as well as documents showing that the former Gestapo colonel had a personal hand in frustrating the escape of Jews from Holland who had managed to get foreign passports.
Mr. Hausner summed up the presentation of these documents with the charge that, by “direct personal action, ” Eichmann “closed the doors and snuffed out the hopes of those who were about to be rescued from certain doom. ” Eichmann gave the predictable answer that his interventions in all such cases were not on his own initiative but from queries from superiors to his department.
He admitted that individual cases of Jews struggling desperately to escape the Nazi dragnet were brought to his attention and that there were “possibly” thousands of such cases. He also admitted the approached the Norwegian authorities with a request that they refuse exit permits to Jews who obtained Swedish passports because they, too, had to be launched in the “final solution” of the Jewish question–meaning being sent to the gas chambers of Nazi-held Poland.
He also confirmed that Nazi spy rings in Switzerland and elsewhere also “concerned themselves” with Jewish matters, such as reporting on attempts of German Jews to get South American passports through the German legation in Switzerland.
JEWISH VICTIMS LISTED BY NUMBERS BECAUSE THERE WERE TOO MANY NAMES
Under relentless questioning, Eichmann confirmed that he was sent lists of names of Jews deported to the Polish slaughter camps, but he said eventually the totals became so large that listing of names became pointless and from 1943 onward, only numbers were reported to his Gestapo department.
The prosecutor and the defendant, in one of the frequent clashes marking the cross-examination, tangled on the history of Eichmann’s contacts with the Auschwitz murder factory. Eichmann at first denied flatly that he had been in touch with Auschwitz to determine the rate at which the camp could “accept” deportees. Confronted with documents to the contrary, the 55-year-old Nazi admitted the had been in contact with Auschwitz officials.
He insisted that such contacts were not permanent but only “from time to time as occasions arose. ” He admitted that these contacts went on through the years, and that they included the period of the Hungarian holocaust “when half a million were deported within a few months. “
ADMISSIONS INCREASE, HAUSNER RELENTLESS
Hausner increased the frequency of the occasions when his questioning led Eichmann into traps of self-contradiction out of which the defendant tried to make his way by saying that he had acted under orders.
The prosecutor elicited an admission that there were different procedures as between transports to Auschwitz and to other destinations and that there was no need for Eichmann’s Gestapo bueau to report to the general administration of the SS, Hitler’s Elite guard, and of the concentration camps, on transports to Auschwitz, since such victims were meant for immediate destruction.
Mr. Hausner confronted the Nazi with deportation orders he had signed, according to which the departure of transports had to be reported, not to any central administration, but only to his Gestapo department and to General Odilo Globochnik, the chief of police for Eastern territories, whom Eichmann had admitted seeing on the scene simply murdering every Jew deported to him.