JERUSALEM (Jul. 24)
Adolf Eichmann, who is charged with directing the Nazi annihilation of 6,000,000 Jews in Europe, today finished testifying on his own behalf at his trial here. He has been on the witness stand for 25 days in the same glass-enclosed, bulletproof cubicle where he has been sitting since the trial started on April 11.
“You have now completed your testimony,” Presiding Justice Moshe Landau told Eichmann after questioning him briefly. Defense lawyer Dr. Robert Servatius, then went into the next stage, which consisted of reading depositions sworn in German and Austrian courts by defense witnesses who would not come to Israel to testify. All of these witnesses, former Gestapo men, feared arrest in Israel if they were to come here in person. Upon the completion of reading the depositions, the court is expected to take a week’s recess.
Throughout the reading of the depositions, Dr. Servatius tried, in each instance, to pick and choose from the sworn testimony those passages which he deemed favorable to the defense. However, Attorney General Gideon Hausner immediately brought other portions of the same depositions into the court records, often coming up with testimony from the ex-Nazis harmful to Eichmann.
One of Adolf Eichmann’s own defense witnesses, Prof. Franz Syx, a former SS officer in Nazi-occupied Russia, testified through a deposition read in court that Eichmann was not merely a subordinate of Gestapo Chief Heinrich Mueller but that his department had more jurisdiction than other departments. Prof. Syx pictured Eichmann as a man who did not always have to take orders from superior officers.
GESTAPO OFFICER TESTIFIES ON EICHMANN’S EXTREME ANTI-SEMITISM
Professor Syx said that Eichmann always acted in such a way as to interpret anti-Semitic doctrine in the most extreme manner. According to Syx, he avoided going to Eichmann whenever “I wanted to do a favor to a Jew on an individual level.” “I never went to Eichmann, but to his superiors, because he was an exponent of the severest measures.”
Another of the former SS officers, Max Merten, who had been the Nazi military commander in Macedonia, Greece, told the German court which interrogated him that, acting on legal advice, he would not incriminate anyone. But when Dr. Servatius went over to the deposition sworn by Hermann Krumey, former commander of the Lodz ghetto, and an aide to Eichmann, the prosecutor demanded that either all of Krumey’s affidavit be brought into the record, or none.
Dr. Servatius tried to bring in only that part of the Krumey deposition which sought to white wash Eichmann. But Mr. Hausner insisted on releasing into the record other parts of the Krumey deposition which made it clear that Krumey had to refer to Eichmann’s department all matters that had to do with deportation of Jews and messages dealing with the children of the Czechoslovakian town of Lidice.
EICHMANN ADMITS ‘FIXING’ THE MINUTES OF THE WANNSEE DECISION
Throughout much of the testimony by the ex-Nazis, it was shown that the true meaning of the “final solution” of the Jewish problem–complete annihilation–was known only to a limited number of Nazi officers. But it was also shown that Eichmann was among that limited number.
Perhaps the most damaging testimony of the day, however, came before the depositions had been read. That happened when Justice Landau questioned Eichmann. Asking his questions in Hebrew, then translating himself into German, Justice Landau tied Eichmann down to an admission that he had falsified the official records of the conference held in 1942, at Wannsee, a Berlin suburb, where the details of the final solution” were worked out by Nazi leaders.
Eichmann tried to answer Justice Landau’s questions in a rambling manner, but the presiding judge forced him to reply with straight answers. The judge brought out that, while stenographers had taken the minutes of the Wannsee session, it was Eichmann who prepared the formal reports on that parley.
Eichmann finally admitted that he had left out in the final report mention of the fact that “the means of extermination” of Jews was discussed at Wannsee. He claimed he deleted the record in that manner on order of Reinhardt Heydrich, chief of the Nazi security police.