Adolf Eichmann’s defense counsel introduced documents at the Nazi’s trial today to show that Hitler worked out the Nazi genocide plan. But the SS files also demonstrated that it was Eichmann who was the chosen instrument to implement the mass murder campaign.
When Eichmann finished his testimony for the day, it was indicated that his defense counsel, Dr. Robert Servatius, would complete questioning Eichmann on the testimony by proxy of his former Nazi associates tomorrow. The cross-examination of the defendant would begin at the end of Eichmann’s replies to such testimony.
Dr. Servatius submitted affidavits taken at the Nuremberg trials from Major Konrad Morgan, a judge in the SS legal branch. Attorney General Gideon Hausner, the chief prosecutor, not only made no objection to the introduction of the Morgan statements, but urged the three-man tribunal to accept them in their entirety.
Eichmann listened closely as the Morgan affidavits were read. In the sworn statements, the SS judge had blamed Hitler, Police Commissioner Christian Wirth, SS Chief Heinrich Himmler and others for the extermination plan. Morgan was quoted as saying that, when he learned of the annihilation plot, he felt that, as an SS judge, he had to bring Eichmann before a special SS tribunal in 1944.
SHIELDED FROM ARREST, FUNCTIONED UNDER FUEHRER HIMSELF
Morgan had testified that the matter was referred to Gestapo Chief Ernest Kaltenbrunner “who received my order for the arrest of Eichmann. ” Morgan testified that Kalten brunner called Gan. Heinrich Mueller, Eichmann’s superior in the Gestapo bureau, and that the two Gestapo officials “declared to the court that the arrest of Eichmann was out of the question, because Eichnann was fulfilling a special, secret function given to him by the Fuehrer himself.”
Morgan had confirmed in his Nuremberg trial testimony that Eichmann’s IV-B-4 department for Jewish affairs had the job of transporting Jews to the death camps. But he also maintained that “Eichmann was the head of the whole action” against the Jews. He repeated this in another part of his testimony in which he said “Hitler ordered a system devised to spare the victims worry and pain, and the man to head this action was Eichmann.”
Eichmann also was named by Morgan as the man dealing with all problems involving the Jews, as liaison with all Reich security agents in the field and as a negotiator with governments of occupied territories for round-ups and deportations of Jews. The Morgan portrayal virtually documented the main charges in the prosecution indictment, and was in total contradiction with Eichmann’s consistent description of himself as a minor cog in the Nazi bureaucracy for the mass murder of Jews.
PRISONER DENIES JOB DESCRIPTION; SHARED SPOTLIGHT WITH HOESS, BORMANN
Presiding Justice Moshe Landau, at the close of the affidavit reading, asked the sallow defendant if the description was accurate. The agitated defendant sprang to his feet in his glass-enclosed prisoner’s dock and replied:
“I learn this here for the first time. That is not correct and it is not true. In the hierarchy at time this was not possible in my position. I headed an office and I had to receive orders and instructions from Mueller.”
Morgan had also testified that, along with Eichmann, Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess, Poland Governor-General Hans Frank and concentration camp chief Oswald Pohl, were all part of the “small circle” entrusted with the task of handling the development of the mass murder machinery. According to Morgan, they all drew their authority directly from Hitler’s office, then headed by Martin Bormann, Hitler’s deputy.
Eichmann began his testimony today with a flat denial that he had helped to beat to death a Jewish boy in the garden of his Budapest headquarters for allegedly stealing fruit from a tree. This is the only direct killing charged to Eichmann. He said he had never beaten, abused or killed anyone and that his aide, who was charged with participating in the killing, “would never dare do a thing like that.”
Asked if he believed the witness who had testified to seeing the murder had lied, Eichmann replied that he could not say a witness was guilty of perjury, but that he had probably “confounded this with something else.”
GRUESOME DEATH CAMP DETAILS REITERATED IN TESTIMONY
The incredible horrors of the Nazi holocaust, which dominated the first stage of the trial and which had been clouded over by the complicated and interminable Eichmann attention to the minutest of bureaucratic details, once again came to the fore in defense questioning of Eichmann’s visits to death centers.
Dr. Servatius brought up a document dealing with “Operation Evidence Elimination” which was carried out in 1943 and 1944 to destroy the skeletons of victims of the Nazi commando groups who followed in the wake of the victorious German legions and executed Jews, Gypsies and partisans by mass shootings. Eichmann denied he had anything to do with the gruesome operation, including any special connection with the mills which ground to a powder the bones of the exhumed victims.
Admitting visits to the death camps, Eichmann reiterated in court today his statements to Israeli police interrogators during the months before he was brought to trial on April 11, saying this was the most “distasteful” detail of his Gestapo career.
Again, he insisted that he went only on specific orders from his superiors, either Reinhardt Heydrich, or Gen. Mueller. He insisted he begged repeatedly to be assigned to “something else” and that he “did all that I could to wiggle out of this job because this was most grievous to me.”
SHOWS EXTREME CONTRITION, PICTURES SELF AS HATING VIOLENCE
He begged the judges to understand that he, the Nazi who had developed the idea of settling Jewish expellees on the French island of Madagascar, who had cherished “a constructive solution, “found the orders to visit the camps “most grievous.”
“This,” he said, “had to happen to me, to me who had never dreamed of violence, to whom these gruesome methods were so repugnant to my feelings.”
These protestations were made in comment on documents containing long extracts from the war crimes trial of Rudolf Hoess, in which Hoess–who was hanged by the Poles–testified that Eichmann gave him instructions regarding the annihilations. Hoess had testified that about a month after he was named commandant at the Auschwitz camp, which he was ordered to set up as a high-speed machine for the killing of Jews, Eichmann arrived at the camp with instructions from Himmler to discuss means of implementing the murder machinery orders.
When Dr. Servatius asked the purpose of his visits to Auschwitz, Eichmann replied that these were merely service trips to gather information and report “and nothing else.” He insisted he gave neither orders nor advice to the murder camp heads, and that every thing to the contrary from Hoess was false.
TELLS OF ‘VISIT’ TO MINSK; ‘FOUNTAINS OF BLOOD’
He recounted again his visit to Minsk in the winter of 1941-42 when the slaughter of Jews was in full swing. He recalled again seeing victims standing before prepared ditches into which they fell when they were moved down by machineguns. He said that he returned to Berlin and begged Mueller to send somebody else “because I was unsuited to this kind of work” but that Mueller had told him that even a soldier at the front must go where he was ordered.
He told again of his trip to Lemberg in the fall of 1942 when he was told to hand personally to SS General Globocnik written orders to kill 100, 000 Jews, which he said Globocnik had sought after the killings were almost completed. Again he told how he saw “a gusher of blood where masses were being killed and buried, creating a fountain of blood spurting up from the ground.”
He denied that he had any knowledge of mass murder statistics. Confronted with testimony of former associates, both those who were hanged for their war crimes and those who testified by proxy, to the contrary, he said this was “most strange.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.