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Eichmann to Plead He Was Only Obeying Orders, Says Attorney

February 20, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Dr. Robert Servatius, the Cologne attorney who will direct the defense of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in the trial in Jerusalem in April, said today in Haifa that Eichmann’s defense for his war crimes would be that he acted under orders.

Dr. Servatius told the Haifa correspondent of the Sunday Times that Eichmann had told him that “I neither know nor care what they will do to me, I followed the orders of my superiors just like a soldier. I took the oath of an SS’ officer and then another oath and I had to take orders.”

Dr. Servatius said he was “sure” the trial of the Gestapo colonel who directed the extermination of 6,000,000 European Jews would be a fair trial, adding that “the Israel Government must be anxious to assure this since any appearance of unfairness would be immediately exploited by anti-Semites the world over.”

Disclosing that he was “spending five to six hours daily with Eichmann in his place of detention in morning and afternoon sessions,” the West German attorney said he had not yet decided whether he would put Eichmann in the witness box and that he was still considering bringing defense witnesses from West Germany.

Asked whether he was going to advise Eichmann to plead guilty, Dr. Servatius said he would not get the charge sheet against the Nazi until next week and that he would decide that point before the opening of the trial on April 9.

Emphasizing that there was no denial that millions suffered and millions perished during the Nazi period, Dr. Servatius said that “from the viewpoint of justice, this is unimportant for Eichmann does not deny these facts. He only questions his responsibility for the deaths and the suffering.”

Explaining his own position, the attorney said that “we ourselves in Germany suffered from the Nazi party–those of us who did not belong to it and I did not–and now everybody wants to know the truth. I came here to determine the truth, not just to repeat somebody else’s version or opinions.”

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