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Eichmann’s Orders to Hang Jews Presented at His Trial in Jerusalem

May 19, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Adolf Eichmann’s personal responsibility for anti-Jewish atrocities was spelled out further in his trial here today when the prosecution presented witnesses and documents showing:

He had personally ordered the hanging of 16 Jews at the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

In Yugoslavia, he ordered that Jews should be shot instead of being sent to Poland or to Russia.

In a forest outside Berlin he personally supervised the construction of 38 large barracks, containing about 1,000 rooms, which were being equipped with gas chambers.

He told Nazi war criminal Rademacher, an official in the Hitler Foreign Ministry, that Jews found by the German Army to be a threat to German security should be shot.

Those and other incriminations showing Eichmann’s direction of anti-Jewish atrocities featured a day in the trial which, for the first time, found the three-man court divided on a ruling. Deputy Attorney General Yaacov Baror had introduced, among many other documents, proof about Eichmann’s construction of a sham “model” ghetto at Theresienstadt to dupe a visiting team from the International Red Cross. The defense challenged the admissibility of this document.

After a half-hour recess, a majority of the court, consisting of Presiding Justice Moshe Landau and Justice Yitzhak Raveh, ruled that the document may be admitted only insofar as it proved there was such a Red Cross visit. But Justice Binyamin Halevi, in a dissenting opinion, held that the report may be judged as having proved the findings about Eichmann’s perpetration of a fraud on the Red Cross.

Eichmann’s personal order for the hanging of 16 Jews was shown through an order read into the court record from one of Eichmann’s colleagues. Captain Siegfried Seidl, the first commandant of the Theresienstadt camp, was hanged by Austria after the war as a war criminal. Seidl later was commander of the Bergen Belsen murder camp and finally a staff officer with Eichmann during the slaughter of Hungary’s 600,000 Jews.

Mr. Baror introduced an affidavit from Seidl in which it was reported that Eichmann in Prague began to hear rumors that Jews were trying to smuggle out word on what was actually going on in Theresienstadt. According to the affidavit, Eichmann gave Seidl orders to impose the death penalty on 16 Jews suspected of trying to smuggle letters out of the camp to the outside world.

Reading from the affidavit, Mr. Baror said that “a Jew named Fisher was drafted as the hangman.” The evidence also showed that Theresienstadt was set up in Czechoslovakia as an assembly point for transports to the Auschwitz murder factory under camouflage of being a ghetto for the aged.


Vineslav Diamant, an electrician who served at Theresienstadt, testified that he saw Eichmann as head of the camp command when he was summoned to the commandant’s office one day to be disciplined for a slight infraction of rules. He said that, in one month, in the fall of 1944, 24,000 of the Jews at Theresienstadt were sent to the death factory at Auschwitz.

Adolf Engelstein, a Jew who was sent from Theresienstadt to work on the construction of the barracks outside Berlin, told how he discovered the barracks were to be gas chambers. He said that the workers on the construction job found blueprints prescribing that the doors would be “gas proof.”

The system of handling property of Czech Jews confiscated by the Nazis was described by witness Ernst Recht who was not deported because he had a non-Jewish wife. A former employee of the Prague Jewish community, Recht said he was named manager of a “trustee board” which was commanded by SS officer Guenther. The trustee board’s Jewish employees were given the keys of homes of deported Jews, registered the contents, packed them and transported them to synagogues which were converted by the Nazis into warehouses. Some of the stolen property was shipped to Germany and some sold to local Germans.

The prosecutor submitted a document which contained a request from Gestapo Chief Mueller to Heinrich Himmler, asking approval for the transport of 10,000 Jews from Theresienstadt to the East. Himmler was reported in another document as disapproving the proposal. Justice Moshe Landau, one of the three presiding judges, commented that Himmler was less extreme than Bureau IV-B-4, the Gestapo section charged with handling the Jewish problem which was directed by Eichmann.


The order to shoot Jews in Yugoslavia was shown, through a document, to have been issued by Eichmann when the German Army command in Yugoslavia complained that the Jews in camps there were a danger to security, because the partisans were active in the area. The army men wanted to send the Jews to Poland or Russia, Eichmann informed them there was no room for more Jews in those countries, and ordered them to shoot the Jews instead.

Another document was an affidavit given at the Nuremberg trials by Col Rudolf Brardt, a leading SS surgeon, dealing with sterilization experiments on Jewish camp inmates. The prosecutor said the experiments were carried out “in the sphere of Adolf Eichmann’s command” and that he would demonstrate this with a witness to be presented later. Brandt was hanged as a war criminal in 1948.

Ernst Pecht, formerly of Prague, told the court about SS Officer Gunther, an aide of Eichmann, organizing the confiscation of Jewish property in Prague. He said a special warehouse containing 1,000,000 Jewish books was established at the Prague synagogue on Gunther’s orders, and German book dealers were allowed to buy many of those books. But, the witness said, Gunther hid about 20,000 rare books in a special cache, subject to what the Nazi called “special orders.”

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