Prosecution and Defense Conclude Cross-examinations at Eichmann Trial
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Prosecution and Defense Conclude Cross-examinations at Eichmann Trial

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The end of the Adolf Eichmann trial appeared insight today as the prosecution completed its cross-examination, and Eichmann’s defense attorney finished re-examination of his client in two hours. Members of the three-judge court then began questioning the defendant. The questioning will continue tomorrow, and will be followed by introduction of testimony from witnesses for the defense taken in West Germany.

The ten days of cross-examination of Eichmann by the prosecution ended with a qualified admission by the former Gestapo colonel of a key role in the death march of 50,000 Jews from Budapest to the Austrian frontier in the fall of 1944. Dr. Robert Servatius, Eichmann’s chief defense counsel, in the re-examination of his client, attempted to strengthen Eichmann’s argument that he had always acted under orders.

Among topics raised by the prosecutor in the final cross-examination session was the incident in a Budapest villa occupied by Eichmann where, a witness earlier in the trial had testified, Eichmann had taken part in beating a Jewish boy to death for stealing fruit from the villa garden.

Eichmann reiterated that he did not hear, see or commit the killing, and insisted that the witness had “undoubtedly” confused this with some other incident. The prosecutor then brought up the visit by the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem with an Arab deputation to Gestapo headquarters for a quick course in methods of the infamous unit in handling Jews. Eichmann admitted the visit took place.


The high point of the last cross-examination session was the “death march” questioning in which Mr. Hausner asked Eichmann point-blank whether he had proposed the march of the Jews from Hungary which took place in October and November of 1944. Eichmann firmly denied it. He was then presented with a clear photostat copy which stated in his handwriting that the death march was carried out “according to my proposal.”

Reluctantly, Eichmann admitted he visited the Auschwitz death camp during the Hungarian deportations to determine the rate at which the camp could accept deportees for gassing and burning, and that he attended a meeting at which a plan was worked out to concentrate all Budapest Jews on a nearby island in the Danube and then deported them in three trains of 3,000 victims daily.

Eichmann also admitted that when, at the request of the Vienna mayor, it was first decided to deport some Hungarian Jews for fortification work in Austria, rather than to Auschwitz, Eichmann presented this plan to Dr. Rudolph Kastner, the Hungarian Jewish leader, as an achievement to save Jews, and demanded money from the Budapest Jewish community for the upkeep of those deportees.

Eichmann claimed complete ignorance about a charge–made in several statements and depositions of Nazi war criminals–that, when Hungarian authorities ordered one of the last deportation trains to be returned to Hungary, the trainload of deportees was smuggled out in trucks, on Eichmann’s orders, behind the backs of the Hungarian officials.

Eichmann replied that his unit had no trucks at his disposal. He was brought up short by Justice Binyamin Halevi who said “but you said earlier that the Hungarian gendarmerie had plenty of trucks.” Eichmann could only reply: “I know nothing about the entire affair.”

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