Adolf Eichmann admitted here today, under continued, grueling cross-examination, that he knew early in the Hitler era that the Nazis’ “final solution” of the Jewish problem meant mass murder. He also admitted reluctantly that:
1. He could not prove from the records that all the damaging letters he had written were done under specific orders from superiors.
2. He was aware that the plan to settle Jews in Madagascar, of which he claims to have been the author, really involved creating in that African colony of France a giant concentration camp to be ruled as a Police State by a representative of the Hitler Security services.
Attorney General Gideon Hausner sparred and jousted with the prisoner for a long time before getting him to admit his “final solution” understanding long before Eichmann had previously claimed he knew what that term meant.
Under insistent questioning, Eichmann admitted he had personally learned the real meaning of the phrase “final solution” after the first deportation orders to Minsk and Riga had been issued, indicating that the Madagascar plan was dead. Hausner struck back with the comment that the Riga and Minsk deportations were in October 1941, a month before Eichmann’s November 1941 letters to the Foreign Ministry opposing requests for the emigration of individual Jews “because of the forthcoming final solution.” Retracting step by step from his previous statements about his ignorance of the meaning of the “final solution,” Eichmann wound up with a blanket statement of being unable to remember.
CONCEDES JEWS WOULD HAVE PAID FOR MADAGASCAR SETTLEMENT
The prosecution also pinned Eichmann down on what would have probably been involved for Jews if the Madagascar Plan had gone through. Mr. Hausner cited documents showing that plans drafted by Eichmann’s office for Madagascar would have set up a “police state” governed by a representative of the Reich Security office. Eichmann’s only explanation for this admission, that Madagascar would have been a typical Nazi concentration camp, was that it was intended only for a “transitory period” while the expulsion of the Jews from Europe continued.
Eichmann also conceded that the plan which he had said he had developed out of his concern to “put some ground” under the feet of the stripped Jews was to have been financed by property taken from the victims.
On the point of personal responsibility, Eichmann stuck to his story that certain initials he had placed on letters meant these letters were being written under orders of superiors. But Mr. Hausner finally got him to admit that those initials did not appear on many of the letters he had written.
Eichmann’s difficulties began almost as soon as the trial opened this morning, when he was forced to concede twice that he had no documentary proof to support specific claims that he was not directly involved in certain anti-Jewish activities.
The first of the day’s many admissions came during a series of statements in the morning, in which Eichmann denied that he had been responsible for the deportations of Jews to “Eastern territories,” that is Nazi-held Poland, during the first months of World War II. He claimed that he knew nothing–despite being head of the Gestapo department for Jewish affairs–about the activities of Nazi commando units in Poland who had the function of combing newly conquered areas for Jews and then shooting them en masse.
He denied three times having taken part in certain meetings dealing with deportations, as was indicated in documents of the Hitler Reich which fell into Allied hands at the end of the war.
NO DOCUMENTS TO PROVE CLAIMS
Hausner then began to question Eichmann about the Nissko camp in Poland, to which Eichmann himself took Jews. Eichmann replied with the contention that this had been the idea of Jewish leaders including Dr. Joseph Lowenhertz, then head of the Vienna Jewish Community, Hausner pounced on this reply with the question: “Can you point out a single document to prove this?” Eichmann did not reply.
Hausner then suggested that Eichmann had deported Jews from Czechoslovakia to Poland because he knew they would be killed there. To this, Eichmann first entered a character defense to the effect that “one of the few advantages given me by nature is that I tell the truth. I have come to more harm than good by this but the fact is that as far as my personal knowledge goes, I am truthful.”
He then pleaded innocent to Hausner’s suggestion, adding that Hans Frank, the Nazi Governor of Poland had ordered his arrest because he tried to set up a Jewish enclave in Poland Hausner immediately asked for documentary proof which the defendant was unable to produce. Under questioning, he admitted the arrest order allegedly issued against him was never carried out.
Eichmann insisted that while he believed a defendant was “entitled” to lie in his own defense, he did not apply this “principle” to himself. He said “I am not fighting for my head I only want the untruth that has gathered during the past 15 years” about his Gestapo career “to fall off and the real truth to be brought to light.”
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.