FRANKFURT (Jul. 21)
An expert on the Nazi program for the extermination of European Jewry testified on that program today for three hours at the trial of former SS officers Otto Hunsche and Herman Krumey, who had been Adolf Eichmann’s chief aides in the roundup and deportation to death camps of 450,000 Hungarian Jews.
The testimony by Dr. H.G. Adler, formerly of Prague and now of London, was delayed for several hours, first by a heart attack suffered by the prosecutor, who was sent home, and then by a campaign by defense attorneys for the two former Nazis against Dr. Adler’s appearance. On his first two trips to Frankfurt in June to testify, the defense attorneys were able to prevent his taking the stand. Today the court rejected the defense arguments with the statement that its task was not only to determine the role of the defendants in the tragedy but also the historical truth.
Dr. Adler described the arrangements at the Gestapo headquarters and the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, at which the final decision was reached to kill all Jews who had been seized in the Nazi sweep through Europe. He stressed the role of Reinhard Heydrich, a key figure in the Wannsee Conference, who was assassinated by the Czech underground, and then that of Heydrich’s successor, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, chief of the Nazi Security Police. He also cited the activities in the genocide program of Heinrich Muller, who was Eichmann’s chief.
The Gestapo set up a special office for handling the “Jewish Question,” which was assigned responsibility for emigration of Jews from Nazi Germany and from occupied Holland, Belgium and France. The special office set a “fee” of 150,000 marks for a Jew to emigrate, an arrangement that was abruptly halted on orders of Hermann Goering, the Nazi Air Force head. In one case, Dr. Adlertestified, Swedish political groups paid the “fee” for Prof. Meyers of The Hague, but the scientist was not permitted to leave.
Dr. Adler also reported on the Madagascar plan proposed by Alfred Rosenberg, ideologist of the Nazi movement and close friend of Hitler, according to which 400,000 Jews were to be transported to Madagascar in 1938, making the Polish city of Lublin, in the meantime, the assembly center for these Jews. That plan, too, was stopped, a decision possibly made by Hitler in anger against articles in New York newspapers criticizing his policies.
He testified that the Gestapo newspaper, Schwarze Korps, then published an article asserting that “Germans cannot live together with Jews under the same roof. Jews are without character and of a low race.” He said that systematic deportations started on October 16, 1941, to Chelmno in occupied Poland and that the first arrivals were gassed on December 8, 1941. This was done on special order from Heydrich dated September 20, 1939, followed by other special decrees.
Dr. Adler then discussed a scheme under which elderly intended victims gave all their money to the Nazis on the ostensible promise they would be given places in old age homes. It turned out, he said, that the “homes” were in Theresisenstadt, a concentration camp. The arriving Jews had no idea of what awaited them and they requested a “nice room with a balcony.”