Adolf Eichmann admitted here today, under relentless cross-examination, that he knew Adolf Hitler had proclaimed his intent to exterminate the Jews “regardless of who wins the war.”
Pale but calm and unruffled at this afternoon’s session of his trial, after the morning sitting was recessed because he claimed he had been ill and sleepless all night, the former Gestapo colonel also admitted that he came to Palestine in 1937 to confer with the anti-Jewish, former Grand Mufti. But, he insisted, reports that he had made derogatory remarks against Jews at the time were false.
When court opened this morning, Eichmann sent a note to his counsel, Dr. Robert Servatius, asserting that he was too weak to stand cross-examination Following a 15-minute conference in chambers between the three judges and counsel for both sides, the recess was
granted. Eichmann had said in his note that he had spent “a sleepless, depressive night.” A police physician confirmed the fact that the prisoner had not slept all night.
But when the court reconvened in the afternoon, Eichmann sparred lustily with Attorney General Gideon Hausner, making admissions now and then but always explaining his own good intent coupled with his zeal to perform faithfully the orders of his superiors.
Explaining his awareness of Hitler’s promise, early in World War II, that Jews would be exterminated, Eichmann said that, at that time, “extermination did not mean physical liquidation. ” In France and in England, he maintained, “we tried to reduce to zero our enemies’ resistance, so that they would fade into oblivion–but not physical oblivion.”
Eichmann pursued his main line of defense, claiming that he had been “pro-Zionist.” He said proof of his attitude was the fact that when he returned to Vienna from Palestine in 1937, he recommended the reopening of the Austrian offices of Keren Kayemeth and Keren Hayesod.
SAYS INCRIMINATING DOCUMENT WAS’FORGERY’
He dismissed as a “forgery” a document establishing that at Budapest, he had ordered his deputy to protest to the Nazi Foreign Ministry against permitting Hungarian Jews to emigrate to Palestine. The document, he explained, was false, since it bore no reference number or initials. Laughter broke out among the spectators crowding the court room at this exhibition of a bureaucrat’s meticulous concern for details, and presiding Justice Moshe Landau warned the public he would clear the premises if there were further demonstrations.
There were laughter, and gasps among the spectators several times during the dramatic afternoon when Eichmann sparred with Mr. Hausner, alternating what seemed like damaging admissions with sure, firm expressions of innocence of real guilt.
Eichmann, at one point, admitted that he had worked hard to get the German and Austrian Jews to emigrate, but he denied staunchly that the purpose was the enrichment of the Reich, which would benefit from confiscation of Jewish property. “I regret, ” he declared, “that I did not press even harder so that more Jews would have emigrated.”
At one point, Dr. Hausner asked the prisoner whether all the witnesses who had testified earlier had lied, while he alone told the truth. “No, ” he answered calmly, “the documents before us tell the truth and substantiate what I say.”
Returning to his claim that he had pressed hard for Jewish emigration, Mr. Hausner asked Eichmann about a letter he had written, asserting that he holds “the Jewish leaders in my hands, and they do not dare to do a thing without my approval. ” Eichmann explained this away as “only typical soldiers’ language, ” and insisted he forced rich Jews to surrender property only as an aid toward financing of emigration of poor Jews.
He admitted he had confiscated remittances sent by Jews abroad but said that the money was used “to the last cent” to finance Jewish emigration.
DENIES ‘CRYSTAL NIGHT’ INVOLVEMENT; CONCEDES SLAPPING JEWISH LEADER
Eichmann denied he had any part in the infamous “Crystal Night” occurrences of November, 1933. When Mr. Huasner quoted a report from Dr. Josef Loewenhertz, head of the Vienna Jewish community, that Eichmann had threatened a repetition of “Crystal Night, ” the defendant at first denied this report flatly, but retracted his denial when confronted with a statement he had made to the Israeli police. In that statement, he had said his conversation with Dr. Loewenhertz was “part of negotiation tactics, such as are employed everywhere.”
Mr. Hausner asked, then, when it was part of “negotiations” for Eichmann to slap Dr. Loewenhertz, as the latter reported. “That was a slap,” the prisoner replied, “for which the slapper later apologized, and is a private matter between the two men concerned.”
He denied another reported: threat in which he had promised to send someone to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Pressed further on the report from Dr. Loewenhertz, Eichmann said he simply refused to read it because it “seemed a fabrication made after 1945.”
At the opening of the afternoon session, Dr. Servatius requested that the court subpoena, as defense witnesses, two Israelis who had purportedly been involved in the abduction of Eichmann from Argentina in May, 1960. The men are Zvi Tohar, pilot of an El Al plane, and Gad Shimoni, at that time E1 A1’s representative in Argentina. The court took that request under advisement promising a ruling tomorrow morning.
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.