Plans for the annihilation of 11,000,000 Jews in Europe– the entire Jewish population of Europe from England to Russia and from Portugal to Rumania–were mapped out at the notorious “Wansee Conference” of top Nazi leaders in 1942, it was revealed today by Adolf Eichmann at the 100th session of his trial. Eichmann was one of the participants in the conference which took place in Wansee, a Berlin suburb, and at which the “final solution” for the “Jewish problem” was worked out.
The eighth day of cross-examination found the 55-year-old former Gestapo colonel as vigilant and as fresh as when the grilling began. He maintained his constant defense that he was not implicated in the initial actions against the Jews and that he merely carried out orders.
He said the liquidation of Polish Jewry was known as “Operation Reinhard, “named after SS leader Reinhard Heydrich, who convened the Wansee conference. Asked what he knew about this phase of the Nazi slaughter of 6,000,000 European Jews, Eichmann said neither he nor his department had anything to do with the operation, not even providing transport.
Prosecutor Gideon Hausner read from testimony at the trial of Rudolf Hoess, commandant at the Auschwitz murder camp, which showed that all Jews arriving at Ausch witz, including those from the German Government area–the Nazi phrase for German held Poland–came under documents marked IV-B-4, Eichmann’s Gestapo department for Jewish affairs. Eichmann said this was impossible, asserting that his department had no executive branches or offices in the General Government area and that transport matters were dealt with by the authorities directly, since it all took place within the Polish area.
Eichmann, under further questioning, denied he ever visited concentration camps in France or Holland but admitted he opposed the “interference” of German occupation authorities in those countries when they tried to exempt from deportation Jews working in the vital diamond industry. Eichmann said such “interference” was contrary to regulations issued by Gestapo head Heinrich Himmler.
The prosecutor also cited documents of the Nazi Interior Ministry’s legal department listing Reischauer and Eichmann with some others as “most zealous Jew-haters” who held an extremist position on the mixed marriage question. The defendant predictably commented that he could not imagine why anybody should have written this because “it is untrue.” He added that, in any case, he had no say in this matter which was purely legal. Judge Halevi commented “but you knew this matter was a question of life and death for many people.”
The Attorney General then cited a document demonstrating that Eichmann had visited the principality of Monaco and found 15,000 Jews there, mostly refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe and that he had demanded that the German Foreign Ministry take action against them. Eichmann, as usual, claimed he made the trip to Monaco under orders.
He was then cross-examined at length about his role in handling the partners of mixed marriages. He admitted he met frequently with an attorney, Reischauer, from the headquarters of the Nazi party. Eichmann asserted that Reischauer’s position on this subject was more extreme even than that of Hitler who wanted to leave alone half-Jewish relatives of Germans who had served in the German army. Eichmann contended today that he was opposed to Reischauer’s “extremism” in all mixed marriage questions because he felt that the Nuremberg laws forbidding any further mixed marriages would solve the “problem” automatically within a few decades.
EICHMANN TESTIFIES OUTSIDE OF GLASS-ENCLOSED PRISONER’S DOCK
The session today was marked for-the first time since the trial started by Eichmann’s stepping out of his bullet-proof, glass-enclosed prisoner’s dock. He did so to point out areas on a large wall map of Europe in 1944, showing Nazi Germany at the peak of its military expansion. The wall map was hung to help the three judges understanding the fine points of German terminology during the period, such as “eastern territories, ” General Government and so on.
When Eichmann denied transport responsibilities for some of the areas, Hausner called on him to point the sections out on the map. Eichmann replied he could not do so from the prisoner’s dock and Presiding Justice Moshe Landau told him he could step out of the dock. Judge Landau instructed the police officer stationed just outside the dock to accompany the defendant. Eichmann correctly pointed out Danzig on the map but failed to locate Bialy stok. He then returned to the dock.
Growing signs of strain and irritation marked the morning session today. Hausner, who has been handling the cross-examination entirely without aid from any other members of the prosecution team, plainly showed his irritation when Eichmann failed to respond precisely to a prosecution question as to whether Eichmann could cite the relevant laws for the killings at the death camps, death penalties and mass deportations. Eichmann replied that he was not a jurist.
Justice Landau also revealed the effects of exhaustion created by the marathon trial. Instead of the sporadic and veiled rebukes of earlier sessions, the judge indicated exasperation over Hausner’s repeated action in returning to subjects which had been discussed before in cross-examination. Justice Landau pointed out that such repeat questioning was a “waste of time. “
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.