"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.


Postby admin » Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:47 am

by Hannah Arendt
© 1963, 1964 by Hannah Arendt
Originally published in 1963
Revised and enlarged edition published in 1964 by The Viking Press, Inc.
Compass Books edition issued in 1965
Published simultaneously in Canada by The Macmillan Company of Canada Limited
The contents of the original edition of this book, in slightly abbreviated and otherwise slightly different form, originally appeared as a series of articles in The New Yorker





O Germany -- Hearing the speeches that ring from your house, one laughs. But whoever sees you, reaches for his knife. -- Bertolt Brecht

Table of Contents:

• Note to the Reader
• 1. The House of Justice
• 2. The Accused
• 3. An Expert on the Jewish Question
• 4. The First Solution: Expulsion
• 5. The Second Solution: Concentration
• 6. The Final Solution: Killing
• 7. The Wannsee Conference, or Pontius Pilate
• 8. Duties of a Law-Abiding Citizen
• 9. Deportations from the Reich -- Germany, Austria, and the Protectorate
• 10. Deportations from Western Europe -- France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Italy
• 11. Deportations from the Balkans -- Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece, Rumania
• 12. Deportations from Central Europe -- Hungary and Slovakia
• 13. The Killing Centers in the East
• 14. Evidence and Witnesses
• 15. Judgment, Appeal, and Execution
• Epilogue
• Postscript
• Bibliography
• Index
Site Admin
Posts: 23142
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:48 am

Note to the Reader

This is a revised and enlarged edition of the book which first appeared in May, 1963. I covered the Eichmann trial at Jerusalem in 1961 for The New Yorker, where this account, slightly abbreviated, was originally published in February and March, 1963. The book was written in the summer and fall of 1962, and finished in November of that year during my stay as a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University.

The revisions for this edition concern about a dozen technical errors, none of which has any bearing on the analysis or argument of the original text. The factual record of the period in question has not yet been established in all its details, and there are certain matters on which an informed guess will probably never be superseded by completely reliable information. Thus the total number of Jewish victims of the Final Solution is a guess - between four and a half and six million - that has never been verified, and the same is true of the totals for each of the countries concerned. Some new material, especially on Holland, came to light after the publication of this book, but none of it was important for the event as a whole.

Most of the additions are also of a technical nature, clarifying a particular point, introducing new facts, or, in some instances, quotations from different sources. These new sources have been added to the Bibliography and are discussed in the new Postscript, which deals with the controversy that followed the original publication. Apart from the Postscript, the only non-technical addition concerns the German anti-Hitler conspiracy of July 20, 1944, which I had mentioned only incidentally in the original version. The character of the book as a whole is completely unaltered. Thanks are due to Richard and Clara Winston for their help in preparing the text of the Postscript for this edition.

June, 1964
Site Admin
Posts: 23142
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:48 am

1. The House of Justice

"Beth Hamishpath" - the House of Justice: these words shouted by the court usher at the top of his voice make us jump to our feet as they announce the arrival of the three judges, who, bareheaded, in black robes, walk into the courtroom from a side entrance to take their seats on the highest tier of the raised platform, Their long table, soon to be covered with innumerable books and more than fifteen hundred documents, is flanked at each end by the court stenographers. Directly below the judges are the translators, whose services are needed for direct exchanges between the defendant or his counsel and the court; otherwise, the German-speaking accused party, like almost everyone else in the audience, follows the Hebrew proceedings through the simultaneous radio transmission, which is excellent in French, bearable in English, and sheer comedy, frequently incomprehensible, in German. (In view of the scrupulous fairness of all technical arrangements for the trial, it is among the minor mysteries of the new State of Israel that, with its high percentage of German-born people, it was unable to find an adequate translator into the only language the accused and his counsel could understand. For the old prejudice against German Jews, once very pronounced in Israel, is no longer strong enough to account for it. Remains as explication the even older and still very powerful "Vitamin P," as the Israelis call protection in government circles and the bureaucracy.) One tier below the translators, facing each other and hence with their profiles turned to the audience, we see the glass booth of the accused and the witness box. Finally, on the bottom tier, with their backs to the audience, are the prosecutor with his staff of four assistant attorneys, and the counsel for the defense, who during the first weeks is accompanied by an assistant.

At no time is there anything theatrical in the conduct of the judges. Their walk is unstudied, their sober and intense attention, visibly stiffening under the impact of grief as they listen to the tales of suffering, is natural; their impatience with the prosecutor's attempt to drag out these hearings forever is spontaneous and refreshing, their attitude to the defense perhaps a shade over-polite, as though they had always in mind that "Dr. Servatius stood almost alone in this strenuous battle, in an unfamiliar environment," their manner toward the accused always beyond reproach. They are so obviously three good and honest men that one is not surprised that none of them yields to the greatest temptation to playact in this setting - that of pretending that they, all three born and educated in Germany, must wait for the Hebrew translation. Moshe Landau, the presiding judge, hardly ever withholds his answer until the translator has done his work, and he frequently interferes in the translation, correcting and improving, evidently grateful for this bit of distraction from an otherwise grim business. Months later, during the cross-examination of the accused, he will even lead his colleagues to use their German mother tongue in the dialogue with Eichmann - a proof, if proof were still needed, of his remarkable independence of current public opinion in Israel.

There is no doubt from the very beginning that it is Judge Landau who sets the tone, and that he is doing his best, his very best, to prevent this trial from becoming a show trail under the influence of the prosecutor's love of showmanship. Among the reasons he cannot always succeed is the simple fact that the proceedings happen on a stage before an audience, with the usher's marvelous shout at the beginning of each session producing the effect of the rising curtain. Whoever planned this auditorium in the newly built Beth Ha'am, the House of the People (now surrounded by high fences, guarded from roof to cellar by heavily armed police, and with a row of wooden barracks in the front courtyard in which all comers arc expertly frisked), had a theater in mind, complete with orchestra and gallery, with proscenium and stage, and with side doors for the actors' entrance. Clearly, this courtroom is not a bad place for the show trial David Ben-Gurion, Prime Minister of Israel, had in mind when he decided to have Eichmann kidnaped in Argentina and brought to the District Court of Jerusalem to stand trial for his role in the "final solution of the Jewish question." And Ben-Gurion, rightly called the "architect of the state," remains the invisible stage manager of the proceedings. Not once does he attend a session; in the courtroom he speaks with the voice of Gideon Hausner, the Attorney General, who, representing the government, does his best, his very best, to obey his master. And if, fortunately, his best often turns out not to be good enough, the reason is that the trial is presided over by someone who serves Justice as faithfully as Mr. Hausner serves the State of Israel. Justice demands that the accused be prosecuted, defended, and judged, and that all the other questions of seemingly greater import - of "How could it happen?" and "Why did it happen?," of "Why the Jews?" and "Why the Germans?," of "What was the role of other nations?" and "What was the extent of coresponsibility on the side of the Allies?," of "How could the Jews through their own leaders cooperate in their own destruction?" and "Why did they go to their death like lambs to the slaughter?" - be left in abeyance. Justice insists on the importance of Adolf Eichmann, son of Karl Adolf Eichmann, the man in the glass booth built for his protection: medium-sized, slender, middle-aged, with receding hair, ill-fitting teeth, and nearsighted eyes, who throughout the trial keeps craning his scraggy neck toward the bench (not once does he face the audience), and who desperately and for the most part successfully maintains his self-control despite the nervous tic to which his mouth must have become subject long before this trial started. On trial are his deeds, not the sufferings of the Jews, not the German people or mankind, not even anti-Semitism and racism.

And Justice, though perhaps an "abstraction" for those of Mr. Ben-Gurion's turn of mind, proves to be a much sterner master than the Prime Minister with all his power. The latter's rule, as Mr. Hausner is not slow in demonstrating, is permissive; it permits the prosecutor to give press-conferences and interviews for television during the trial (the American program, sponsored by the Glickman Corporation, is constantly interrupted - business as usual - by real-estate advertising), and even "spontaneous" outbursts to reporters in the court building - he is sick of cross-examining Eichmann, who answers all questions with lies; it permits frequent side glances into the audience, and the theatrics characteristic of a more than ordinary vanity, which finally achieves its triumph in the White House with a compliment on "a job well done" by the President of the United States. Justice does not permit anything of the sort; it demands seclusion, it permits sorrow rather than anger, and it prescribes the most careful abstention from all the nice pleasures of putting oneself in the limelight. Judge Landau's visit to this country shortly after the trial was not publicized, except among the Jewish organizations for which it was undertaken. Yet no matter how consistently the judges shunned the limelight, there they were, seated at the top of the raised platform, facing the audience as from the stage in a play. The audience was supposed to represent the whole world, and in the first few weeks it indeed consisted chiefly of newspapermen and magazine writers who had flocked to Jerusalem from the four corners of the earth. They were to watch a spectacle as sensational as the Nuremberg Trials, only this time "the tragedy of Jewry as a whole was to be the central concern." For "if we shall charge [Eichmann] also with crimes against non-Jews, . . . this is" not because he committed them, but, surprisingly, "because we make no ethnic distinctions." Certainly a remarkable sentence for a prosecutor to utter in his opening speech; it proved to be the key sentence in the case for the prosecution. For this case was` built on what the Jews had suffered, not on what Eichmann had done. And, according to Mr. Hausner, this distinction would be immaterial, because "there was only one man who had been concerned almost entirely with the Jews, whose business had been their destruction, whose role in the establishment of the iniquitous regime had been limited to them. That was Adolf Eichmann." Was it not logical to bring before the court all the facts of Jewish suffering (which, of course, were never in dispute) and then look for evidence which in one way or another would connect Eichmann with what had happened? The Nuremberg Trials, where the defendants had been "indicted for crimes against the members of various nations," had left the Jewish tragedy out of account for the simple reason that Eichmann had not been there. Did Mr. Hausner really believe the Nuremberg Trials would have paid greater attention to the fate of the Jews if Eichmann had been in the dock? Hardly. Like almost everybody else in Israel, he believed that only a Jewish court could render justice to Jews, and that it was the business of Jews to sit in judgment on their enemies. Hence the almost universal hostility in Israel to the mere mention of an international court which would have indicted Eichmann, not for crimes "against the Jewish people," but for crimes against mankind committed on the body of the Jewish people. Hence the strange boast: "We make no ethnic distinctions," which sounded less strange in Israel, where rabbinical law rules the personal status of Jewish citizens, with the result that no Jew can marry a non-Jew; marriages concluded abroad are recognized, but children of mixed marriages are legally bastards (children of Jewish parentage born out of wedlock are legitimate), and if one happens to have a non-Jewish mother he can neither be married nor buried. The outrage in this state of affairs has become more acute since 1953, when a sizable portion of jurisdiction in matters of family law was handed over to the secular courts. Women can now inherit property and in general enjoy equal status with men. Hence it is hardly respect for the faith or the power of the fanatically religious minority that prevents the government of Israel from substituting secular jurisdiction for rabbinical law in matters of marriage and divorce. Israeli citizens, religious and nonreligious, seem agreed upon the desirability of having a law which prohibits intermarriage, and it is chiefly for this reason - as Israeli officials outside the courtroom were willing to admit - that they are also agreed upon the undesirability of a written constitution in which such a law would embarrassingly have to be spelled out. ("The argument against civil marriage is that it would split the House of Israel, and would also separate Jews of this country from Jews of the Diaspora," as Philip Gillon recently put it in Jewish Frontier.) Whatever the reasons, there certainly was something breathtaking in the naiveté with which the prosecution denounced the infamous Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which had prohibited intermarriage and sexual intercourse between Jews and Germans. The better informed among the correspondents were well aware of the irony, but they did not mention it in their reports. This, they figured, was not the time to tell the Jews what was wrong with the laws and institutions of their own country.

If the audience at the trial was to be the world and the play the huge panorama of Jewish sufferings, the reality was falling short of expectations and purposes. The journalists remained faithful for not much more than two weeks, after which the audience changed drastically. It was now supposed to consist of Israelis, of those who were too young to know the story or, as in the case of Oriental Jews, had never been told it. The trial was supposed to show them what it meant to live among non-Jews, to convince them that only in Israel could a Jew be safe and live an honorable life. (For correspondents, the lesson was spelled out in a little booklet on Israel's legal system, which was handed to the press. Its author, Doris Lankin, cites a Supreme Court decision whereby two fathers who had "abducted their children and brought them to Israel" were directed to send them back to their mothers who, living abroad, had a legal right to their custody. And this, adds the author - no less proud of such strict legality than Mr. Hausner of his willingness to prosecute murder even when the victims were non-Jews - "despite the fact that to send the children back to maternal custody and care would be committing them to waging an unequal struggle against the hostile elements in the Diaspora.") But in this audience there were hardly any young people, and it did not consist of Israelis as distinguished from Jews. It was filled with "survivors," with middle-aged and elderly people, immigrants from Europe, like myself, who knew by heart all there was to know, and who were in no mood to learn any lessons and certainly did not need this trial to draw their own conclusions. As witness followed witness and horror was piled upon horror, they sat there and listened in public to stories they would hardly have been able to endure in private, when they would have had to face the storyteller. And the more "the calamity of the Jewish people in this generation" unfolded and the more grandiose Mr. Hausner's rhetoric became, the paler and more ghostlike became the figure in the glass booth, and no finger-wagging: "And there sits the monster responsible for all this," could shout him back to life. It was precisely the play aspect of the trial that collapsed under the weight of the hair-raising atrocities. A trial resembles a play in that both begin and end with the doer, not with the victim. A show trial needs even more urgently than an ordinary trial a limited and well-defined outline of what was done and how it was done. In the center of a trial can only be the one who did - in this respect, he is like the hero in the play - and if he suffers, he must suffer for what he has done, not for what he has caused others to suffer. No one knew this better than the presiding judge, before whose eyes the trial began to degenerate into a bloody show, "a rudderless ship tossed about on the waves." But if his efforts to prevent this were often defeated, the defeat was, strangely, in part the fault of the defense, which hardly ever rose to challenge any testimony, no matter how irrelevant and immaterial it might be. Dr. Servatius, as everybody invariably addressed him, was a bit bolder when it came to the submission of documents, and the most impressive of his rare interventions occurred when the prosecution introduced as evidence the diaries of Hans Frank, former Governor General of Poland and one of the major war criminals hanged at Nuremberg. "I have only one question. Is the name Adolf Eichmann, the name of the accused, mentioned in those twenty-nine volumes [in fact, there were thirty-eight]? . . . The name Adolf Eichmann is not mentioned in all those twenty-nine volumes. . . . Thank you, no more questions."

Thus, the trial never became a play, but the show Ben-Gurion had had in mind to begin with did take place, or, rather, the "lessons" he thought should be taught to Jews and Gentiles, to Israelis and Arabs, in short, to the whole world. These lessons to be drawn from an identical show were meant to be different for the different recipients. Ben-Gurion had outlined them before the trial started, in a number of articles designed to explain why Israel had kidnaped the accused. There was the lesson to the non-Jewish world: "We want to establish before the nations of the world how millions of people, because they happened to be Jews, and one million babies, because they happened to be Jewish babies, were murdered by the Nazis." Or, in the words of Davar, the organ of Mr. Ben-Gurion's Mapai party: "Let world opinion know this, that not only Nazi Germany was responsible for the destruction of six million Jews of Europe." Hence, again in Ben-Gurion's own words, "We want the nations of the world to know . . . and they should be ashamed." The Jews in the Diaspora were to remember how Judaism, "four thousand years old, with its spiritual creations and its ethical strivings, its Messianic aspirations," had always faced "a hostile world," how the Jews had degenerated until they went to their death like sheep, and how only the establishment of a Jewish state had enabled Jews to hit back, as Israelis had done in the War of Independence, in the Suez adventure, and in the almost daily incidents on Israel's unhappy borders. And if the Jews outside Israel had to be shown the difference between Israeli heroism and Jewish submissive meekness, there was a lesson for those inside Israel too: "the generation of Israelis who have grown up since the holocaust" were in danger of losing their ties with the Jewish people and, by implication, with their own history. "It is necessary that our youth remember what happened to the Jewish people. We want them to know the most tragic facts in our history." Finally, one of the motives in bringing Eichmann to trial was "to ferret out other Nazis - for example, the connection between the Nazis and some Arab rulers."

If these had been the only justifications for bringing Adolf Eichmann to the District Court of Jerusalem, the trial would have been a failure on most counts. In some respects, the lessons were superfluous, and in others positively misleading. Anti-Semitism has been discredited, thanks to Hitler, perhaps not forever but certainly for the time being, and this not because the Jews have become more popular all of a sudden but because, in Mr. Ben-Gurion's own words, most people have "realized that in our day the gas chamber and the soap factory are what anti-Semitism may lead to." Equally superfluous was the lesson to the Jews in the Diaspora, who hardly needed the great catastrophe in which one-third of their people perished to be convinced of the world's hostility. Not only has their conviction of the eternal and ubiquitous nature of anti-Semitism been the most potent ideological factor in the Zionist movement since the Dreyfus Affair; it was also the cause of the otherwise inexplicable readiness of the German Jewish community to negotiate with the Nazi authorities during the early stages of the regime.

(Needless to say, these negotiations were separated by an abyss from the later collaboration of the Judenräte. No moral questions were involved yet, only a political decision whose "realism" was debatable: "concrete" help, thus the argument ran, was better than "abstract" denunciations. It was Realpolitik without Machiavellian overtones, and its dangers came to light years later, after the outbreak of the war, when these daily contacts between the Jewish organizations and the Nazi bureaucracy made it so much easier for the Jewish functionaries to cross the abyss between helping Jews to escape and helping the Nazis to deport them.) It was this conviction which produced the dangerous inability of the Jews to distinguish between friend and foe; and German Jews were not the only ones to underestimate their enemies because they somehow thought that all Gentiles were alike. If Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, to all practical purposes the head of the Jewish State, meant to strengthen this kind of "Jewish consciousness," he was ill advised; for a change in this mentality is actually one of the indispensable prerequisites for Israeli statehood, which by definition has made of the Jews a people among peoples, a nation among nations, a state among states, depending now on a plurality which no longer permits the age-old and, unfortunately, religiously anchored dichotomy of Jews and Gentiles.

The contrast between Israeli heroism and the submissive meekness with which Jews went to their death - arriving on time at the transportation points, walking on their own feet to the places of execution, digging their own graves, undressing and making neat piles of their clothing, and lying down side by side to be shot - seemed a fine point, and the prosecutor, asking witness after witness, "Why did you not protest?," "Why did you board the train?," "Fifteen thousand people were standing there and hundreds of guards facing you - why didn't you revolt and charge and attack?," was elaborating it for all it was worth. But the sad truth of the matter is that the point was ill taken, for no non-Jewish group or people had behaved differently. Sixteen years ago, while still under the direct impact of the events, David Rousset, a former inmate of Buchenwald, described what we know happened in all concentration camps: "The triumph of the S.S. demands that the tortured victim allow himself to be led to the noose without protesting, that he renounce and abandon himself to the point of ceasing to affirm his identity. And it is not for nothing. It is not gratuitously, out of sheer sadism, that the S.S. men desire his defeat. They know that the system which succeeds in destroying its victim before he mounts the scaffold . . . is incomparably the best for keeping a whole people in slavery. In submission. Nothing is more terrible than these processions of human beings going like dummies to their deaths" (Les lours de notre mort, 1947). The court received no answer to this cruel and silly question, but one could easily have found an answer had he permitted his imagination to dwell for a few minutes on the fate of those Dutch Jews who in 1941, in the old Jewish quarter of Amsterdam, dared to attack a German security police detachment. Four hundred and thirty Jews were arrested in reprisal and they were literally tortured to death, first in Buchenwald and then in the Austrian camp of Mauthausen. For months on end they died a thousand deaths, and every single one of them would have envied his brethren in Auschwitz and even in Riga and Minsk. There exist many things considerably worse than death, and the S.S. saw to it that none of them was ever very far from their victims' minds and imagination. In this respect, perhaps even more significantly than in others, the deliberate attempt at the trial to tell only the Jewish side of the story distorted the truth, even the Jewish truth. The glory of the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto and the heroism of the few others who fought back lay precisely in their having refused the comparatively easy death the Nazis offered them-before the firing squad or in the gas chamber. And the witnesses in Jerusalem who testified to resistance and rebellion, to "the small place [it had] in the history of the holocaust," confirmed once more the fact that only the very young had been capable of taking "the decision that we cannot go and be slaughtered like sheep."

In one respect, Mr. Ben-Gurion's expectations for the trial were not altogether disappointed; it did indeed become an important instrument for ferreting out other Nazis and criminals, but not in the Arab countries, which had openly offered refuge to hundreds of them. The Grand Mufti's connections with the Nazis during the war were no secret; he had hoped they would help him in the implementation of some "final solution" in the Near East. Hence, newspapers in Damascus and Beirut, in Cairo and Jordan, did not hide their sympathy for Eichmann or their regret that he "had not finished the job"; a broadcast from Cairo on the day the trial opened even injected a slightly anti-German note into its comments, complaining that there was not "a single incident in which one German plane flew over one Jewish settlement and dropped one bomb on it throughout the last world war." That Arab nationalists have been in sympathy with Nazism is notorious, their reasons are obvious, and neither Ben-Gurion nor this trial was needed "to ferret them out"; they never were in hiding. The trial revealed only that all rumors about Eichmann's connection with Haj Amin el Husseini, the former Mufti of Jerusalem, were unfounded. (He had been introduced to the Mufti during an official reception, along with all other departmental heads.) The Mufti had been in close contact with the German Foreign Office and with Himmler, but this was nothing new.

If Ben-Gurion's remark about "the connection between Nazis and some Arab rulers" was pointless, his failure to mention present-day West Germany in this context was surprising. Of course, it was reassuring to hear that Israel does "not hold Adenauer responsible for Hitler," and that "for us a decent German, although he belongs to the same nation that twenty years ago helped to murder millions of Jews, is a decent human being." (There was no mention of decent Arabs.) The German Federal Republic, although it has not yet recognized the State of Israel - presumably out of fear that the Arab countries might recognize Ulbricht's Germany - has paid seven hundred and thirty-seven million dollars in reparation to Israel during the last ten years; these payments will soon come to an end, and Israel is now trying to negotiate a long-term loan from West Germany. Hence, the relationship between the two countries, and particularly the personal relationship between Ben-Gurion and Adenauer, has been quite good, and if, as an aftermath of the trial, some deputies in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, succeeded in imposing certain restraints on the cultural-exchange program with West Germany, this certainly was neither foreseen nor hoped for by Ben-Gurion. It is more noteworthy that he had not foreseen, or did not care to mention, that Eichmann's capture would trigger the first serious effort made by Germany to bring to trial at least those who were directly implicated in murder. The Central Agency for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes, belatedly founded by the West German state in 1958 and headed by Prosecutor Erwin Schüle, had run into all kinds of difficulties, caused partly by the unwillingness of German witnesses to cooperate and partly by the unwillingness of the local courts to prosecute on the basis of the material sent them from the Central Agency. Not that the trial in Jerusalem produced any important new evidence of the kind needed for the discovery of Eichmann's associates; but the news of Eichmann's sensational capture and of the impending trial had sufficient impact to persuade the local courts to use Mr. Schüle's findings, and to overcome the native reluctance to do anything about "murderers in our midst" by the time-honored means of posting rewards for the capture of well-known criminals.

The results were amazing. Seven months after Eichmann's arrival in Jerusalem - and four months before the opening of the trial - Richard Baer, successor to Rudolf Höss as Commandant of Auschwitz, could finally be arrested. In rapid succession, most of the members of the so-called Eichmann Commando - Franz Novak, who lived as a printer in Austria; Dr. Otto Hunsche, who had settled as a lawyer in West Germany; Hermann Krumey, who had become a druggist; Gustav Richter, former "Jewish adviser" in Rumania; and Willi Zöpf, who had filled the same post in Amsterdam - were arrested also; although evidence against them had been published in Germany years before, in books and magazine articles, not one of them had found it necessary to live under an assumed name. For the first time since the close of the war, German newspapers were full of reports on the trials of Nazi criminals, all of them mass murderers (after May, 1960, the month of Eichmann's capture, only first-degree murder could be prosecuted; all other offenses were wiped out by the statute of limitations, which is twenty years for murder), and the reluctance of the local courts to prosecute these crimes showed itself only in the fantastically lenient sentences meted out to the accused. (Thus, Dr. Otto Bradfisch, of the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile killing units of the S.S. in the East, was sentenced to ten years of hard labor for the killing of fifteen thousand Jews; Dr. Otto Hunsche, Eichmann's legal expert and personally responsible for a last-minute deportation of some twelve hundred Hungarian Jews, of whom at least six hundred were killed, received a sentence of five years of hard labor; and Joseph Lechthaler, who had "liquidated" the Jewish inhabitants of Slutsk and Smolevichi in Russia, was sentenced to three years and six months.) Among the new arrests were people of great prominence under the Nazis, most of whom had already been denazified by the German courts. One of them was S.S. General Karl Wolff, former chief of Himmler's personal staff, who, according to a document submitted in 1946 at Nuremberg, had greeted "with particular joy" the news that "for two weeks now a train has been carrying, every day, five thousand members of the Chosen People" from Warsaw to Treblinka, one of the Eastern killing centers. Another was Wilhelm Koppe, who had at first managed the gassing in Chelmno and then become successor to Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger in Poland. One of the most prominent among the Higher S.S. Leaders whose task it had been to make Poland judenrein, in postwar Germany Koppe was director of a chocolate factory. Harsh sentences were occasionally meted out, but were even less reassuring when they went to such offenders as Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, former General of the Higher S.S. and Police Leader Corps. He had been tried in 1961 for his participation in the Rohm rebellion in 1934 and sentenced to three and one half years; he was then indicted again in 1962 for the killing of six German Communists in 1933, tried before a jury in Nuremberg, and sentenced to life. Neither indictment mentioned that Bach-Zelewski had been anti-partisan chief on the Eastern front or that he had participated in the Jewish massacres at Minsk and Mogilev, in White Russia. Should German courts, on the pretext that war crimes are no crimes, make "ethnic distinctions"? Or is it possible that what was an unusually harsh sentence, at least in German postwar courts, was arrived at because Bach-Zelewski was among the very few who actually had suffered a nervous breakdown after the mass killings, had tried to protect Jews from the Einsatzgruppen, and had testified for the prosecution at Nuremberg? He was also the only one in this category who in 1952 had denounced himself publicly for mass murder, but he was never prosecuted for it.

There is little hope that things will change now, even though the Adenauer administration has been forced to weed out of the judiciary more than a hundred and forty judges and prosecutors, along with many police officers with more than ordinarily compromising pasts, and to dismiss Wolfgang Immerwahr Fränkel, the chief prosecutor of the Federal Supreme Court, because, his middle name notwithstanding, he had been less than candid when asked about his Nazi past. It has been estimated that of the eleven thousand five hundred judges in the Bundesrepublik, five thousand were active in the courts under the Hitler regime. In November, 1962, shortly after the purging of the judiciary and six months after Eichmann's name had disappeared from the news, the long awaited trial of Martin Fellenz took place at Flensburg in an almost empty courtroom. The former Higher S.S. and Police Leader, who had been a prominent member of the Free Democratic Party in Adenauer's Germany, was arrested in June, 1960, a few weeks after Eichmann's capture. He was accused of participation in and partial responsibility for the murder of forty thousand Jews in Poland. After more than six weeks of detailed testimony, the prosecutor demanded the maximum penalty - a life sentence of hard labor. And the court sentenced Fellenz to four years, two and a half of which he had already served while waiting in jail to be tried. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the Eichmann trial had its most far-reaching consequences in Germany. The attitude of the German people toward their own past, which all experts on the German question had puzzled over for fifteen years, could hardly have been more clearly demonstrated: they themselves did not much care one way or the other, and did not particularly mind the presence of murderers at large in the country, since none of them were likely to commit murder of their own free will; however, if world opinion - or rather, what the Germans called das Ausland, collecting all countries outside Germany into a singular noun - became obstinate and demanded that these people be punished, they were perfectly willing to oblige, at least up to a point.

Chancellor Adenauer had foreseen embarrassment and voiced his apprehension that the trial would "stir up again all the horrors" and produce a new wave of anti-German feeling throughout the world, as indeed it did. During the ten months that Israel needed to prepare the trial, Germany was busy bracing herself against its predictable results by showing an unprecedented zeal for searching out and prosecuting Nazi criminals within the country. But at no time did either the German authorities or any significant segment of public opinion demand Eichmann's extradition, which seemed the obvious move, since every sovereign state is jealous of its right to sit in judgment on its own offenders. (The official position of the Adenauer government that this was not possible because there existed no extradition treaty between Israel and Germany is not valid; that meant only that Israel could not have been forced to extradite. Fritz Bauer, Attorney General of Hessen, saw the point and applied to the federal government in Bonn to start extradition proceedings. But Mr. Bauer's feelings in this matter were the feelings of a German Jew, and they were not shared by German public opinion; his application was not only refused by Bonn, it was hardly noticed and remained totally unsupported. Another argument against extradition, offered by the observers the West German government sent to Jerusalem, was that Germany had abolished capital punishment and hence was unable to mete out the sentence Eichmann deserved. In view of the leniency shown by German courts to Nazi mass murderers, it is difficult not to suspect bad faith in this objection. Surely, the greatest political hazard of an Eichmann trial in Germany would have been acquittal for lack of mens rea, as J. J. Jansen pointed out in the Rheinischer Merkur [August 11, 1961].)

There is another, more delicate, and politically more relevant, side to this matter. It is one thing to ferret out criminals and murderers from their hiding places, and it is another thing to find them prominent and flourishing in the public realm - to encounter innumerable men in the federal and state administrations and, generally, in public office whose careers had bloomed under the Hitler regime. True, if the Adenauer administration had been too sensitive about employing officials with a compromising Nazi past, there might have been no administration at all. For the truth is, of course, the exact opposite of Dr. Adenauer's assertion that only "a relatively small percentage" of Germans had been Nazis, and that a "great majority [had been] happy to help their Jewish fellow-citizens when they could." (At least one German newspaper, the Frankfurter Rundschau, asked itself the obvious question, long overdue - why so many people who must have known, for instance, the record of the chief prosecutor had kept silent - and then came up with the even more obvious answer: "Because they themselves felt incriminated.") The logic of the Eichmann trial, as Ben-Gurion conceived of it, with its stress on general issues to the detriment of legal niceties, would have demanded exposure of the complicity of all German offices and authorities in the Final Solution - of all civil servants in the state ministries, of the regular armed forces, with their General Staff, of the judiciary, and of the business world. But although the prosecution as conducted by Mr. Hausner went as far afield as to put witness after witness on the stand who testified to things that, while gruesome and true enough, had no or only the slightest connection with the deeds of the accused, it carefully avoided touching upon this highly explosive matter - upon the almost ubiquitous complicity, which had stretched far beyond the ranks of Party membership. (There were widespread rumors prior to the trial that Eichmann had named "several hundred prominent personalities of the Federal Republic as his accomplices," but these rumors were not true. In his opening speech, Mr. Hausner mentioned Eichmann's "accomplices in the crime who were neither gangsters nor men of the underworld," and promised that we should "encounter them - doctors and lawyers, scholars, bankers, and economists - in those councils that resolved to exterminate the Jews." This promise was not kept, nor could it have been kept in the form in which it was made. For there never existed a "council that resolved" anything, and the "robed dignitaries with academic degrees" never decided on the extermination of the Jews, they only came together to plan the necessary steps in carrying out an order given by Hitler.) Still, one such case was brought to the attention of the court, that of Dr. Hans Globke, one of Adenauer's closest advisers, who, more than twenty-five years ago, was co-author of an infamous commentary on the Nuremberg Laws and, somewhat later, author of the brilliant idea of compelling all German Jews to take "Israel" or "Sarah" as a middle name. But Mr. Globke's name - and only his name - was inserted into the District Court proceedings by the defense, and probably only in the hope of "persuading" the Adenauer government to start extradition proceedings. At any rate, the former Ministerialrat of the Interior and present Staatssekretär in Adenauer's Chancellery doubtless had more right than the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem to figure in the history of what the Jews had actually suffered from the Nazis.

For it was history that, as far as the prosecution was concerned, stood in the center of the trial. "It is not an individual that is in the dock at this historic trial, and not the Nazi regime alone, but antiSemitism throughout history." This was the tone set by Ben-Gurion and faithfully followed by Mr. Hausner, who began his opening address (which lasted through three sessions) with Pharaoh in Egypt and Haman's decree "to destroy, to slay, and to cause them to perish." He then proceeded to quote Ezekiel: "And when I [the Lord] passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee: In thy blood, live," explaining that these words must be understood as "the imperative that has confronted this nation ever since its first appearance on the stage of history." It was bad history and cheap rhetoric; worse, it was clearly at cross-purposes with putting Eichmann on trial, suggesting that perhaps he was only an innocent executor of some mysteriously foreordained destiny, or, for that matter, even of anti-Semitism, which perhaps was necessary to blaze the trail of "the bloodstained road traveled by this people" to fulfill its destiny. A few sessions later, when Professor Salo W. Baron of Columbia University had testified to the more recent history of Eastern European Jewry, Dr. Servatius could no longer resist temptation and asked the obvious questions: "Why did all this bad luck fall upon the Jewish people?" and "Don't you think that irrational motives are at the basis of the fate of this people? Beyond the understanding of a human being?" Is not there perhaps something like "the spirit of history, which brings history forward . . . without the influence 'of men?" Is not Mr. Hausner basically in agreement with "the school of historical law" - an allusion to Hegel - and has he not shown that what "the leaders do will not always lead to the aim and destination they wanted? . . . Here the intention was to destroy the Jewish people and the objective was not reached and a new flourishing State came into being." The argument of the defense had now come perilously close to the newest anti-Semitic notion about the Elders of Zion, set forth in all seriousness a few weeks earlier in the Egyptian National Assembly by Deputy Foreign Minister Hussain Zulficar Sabri: Hitler was innocent of the slaughter of the Jews; he was a victim of the Zionists, who had "compelled him to perpetrate crimes that would eventually enable them to achieve their aim - the creation of the State of Israel." Except that Dr. Servatius, following the philosophy of history expounded by the prosecutor, had put History in the place usually reserved for the Elders of Zion. Despite the intentions of Ben-Gurion and all the efforts of the prosecution, there remained an individual in the dock, a person of flesh and blood; and if Ben-Gurion did "not care what verdict is delivered against Eichmann," it was undeniably the sole task of the Jerusalem court to deliver one.
Site Admin
Posts: 23142
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:48 am

2. The Accused

Otto Adolf, son of Karl Adolf Eichmann and Maria née Schefferling, caught in a suburb of Buenos Aires on the evening of May 11, 1960, flown to Israel nine days later, brought to trial in the District Court in Jerusalem on April 11, 1961, stood accused on fifteen counts: "together with others" he had committed crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity, and war crimes during the whole period of the Nazi regime and especially during the period of the Second World War. The Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law of 1950, under which he was tried, provides that "a person who has committed one of these . . . offenses . . . is liable to the death penalty." To each count Eichmann pleaded: "Not guilty in the sense of the indictment."

In what sense then did he think he was guilty? In the long cross-examination of the accused, according to him "the longest ever known," neither the defense nor the prosecution nor, finally, any of the three judges ever bothered to ask him this obvious question. His lawyer, Robert Servatius of Cologne, hired by Eichmann and paid by the Israeli government (following the precedent set at the Nuremberg Trials, where all attorneys for the defense were paid by the Tribunal of the victorious powers), answered the question in a press interview: "Eichmann feels guilty before God, not before the law," but this answer remained without confirmation from the accused himself. The defense would apparently have preferred him to plead not guilty on the grounds that under the then existing Nazi legal system he had not done anything wrong, that what he was accused of were not crimes but "acts of state," over which no other state has jurisdiction (par in parem imperium non habet.), that it had been his duty to obey and that, in Servatius' words, he had committed acts "for which you are decorated if you win and go to the gallows if you lose." (Thus Goebbels had declared in 1943: "We will go down in history as the greatest statesmen of all times or as their greatest criminals.") Outside Israel (at a meeting of the Catholic Academy in Bavaria, devoted to what the Rheinischer Merkur called "the ticklish problem" of the "possibilities and limits in the coping with historical and political guilt through criminal proceedings"), Servatius went a step farther, and declared that "the only legitimate criminal problem of the Eichmann trial lies in pronouncing judgment against his Israeli captors, which so far has not been done" - a statement, incidentally, that is somewhat difficult to reconcile with his repeated and widely publicized utterances in Israel, in which he called the conduct of the trial "a great spiritual achievement," comparing it favorably with the Nuremberg Trials. Eichmann's own attitude was different. First of all, the indictment for murder was wrong: "With the killing of Jews I had nothing to do. I never killed a Jew, or a non-Jew, for that matter - I never killed any human being. I never gave an order to kill either a Jew or a non-Jew; I just did not do it," or, as he was later to qualify this statement, "It so happened . . . that I had not once to do it" - for he left no doubt that he would have killed his own father if he had received an order to that effect. Hence he repeated over and over (what he had already stated in the so-called Sassen documents, the interview that he had given in 1955 in Argentina to the Dutch journalist Sassen, a former S.S. man who was also a fugitive from justice, and that, after Eichmann's capture, had been published in part by Life in this country and by Der Stern in Germany) that he could be accused only of "aiding and abetting" the annihilation of the Jews, which he declared in Jerusalem to have been "one of the greatest crimes in the history of Humanity." The defense paid no attention to Eichmann's own theory, but the prosecution wasted much time in an unsuccessful effort to prove that Eichmann had once, at least, killed with his own hands (a Jewish boy in Hungary), and it spent even more time, and more successfully, on a note that Franz Rademacher, the Jewish expert in the German Foreign Office, had scribbled on one of the documents dealing with Yugoslavia during a telephone conversation, which read:

"Eichmann proposes shooting." This turned out to be the only "order to kill," if that is what it was, for which there existed even a shred of evidence.

The evidence was more questionable than it appeared to be during the trial, at which the judges accepted the prosecutor's version against Eichmann's categorical denial - a denial that was very ineffective, since he had forgotten the "brief incident [a mere eight thousand people] which was not so striking," as Servatius put it. The incident took place in the autumn of 1941, six months after Germany had occupied the Serbian part of Yugoslavia. The Army had been plagued by partisan warfare ever since, and it was the military authorities who decided to solve two problems at a stroke by shooting a hundred Jews and Gypsies as hostages for every dead German soldier. To be sure, neither Jews nor Gypsies were partisans, but, in the words of the responsible civilian officer in the military government, a certain Staatsrat Harald Turner, "the Jews we had in the camps [anyhow]; after all, they too are Serb nationals, and besides, they have to disappear" (quoted by Raul Hilberg in The Destruction of the European Jews, 1961). The camps had been set up by General Franz Bohme, military governor of the region, and they housed Jewish males only. Neither General Bohme nor Staatsrat Turner waited for Eichmann's approval before starting to shoot Jews and Gypsies by the thousand. The trouble began when Bohme, without consulting the appropriate police and S.S. authorities, decided to deport all his Jews, probably in order to show that no special troops, operating under a different command, were required to make Serbia judenrein. Eichmann was informed, since it was a matter of deportation, and he refused approval because the move would interfere with other plans; but it was not Eichmann but Martin Luther, of the Foreign Office, who reminded General Bohme that "In other territories [meaning Russia] other military commanders have taken care of considerably greater numbers of Jews without even mentioning it." In any event, if Eichmann actually did "propose shooting," he told the military only that they should go on doing what they had done all along, and that the question of hostages was entirely in their own competence. Obviously, this was an Army affair, since only males were involved. The implementation of the Final Solution in Serbia started about six months later, when women and children were rounded up and disposed of in mobile gas vans. During crossexamination, Eichmann, as usual, chose the most complicated and least likely explanation:

Rademacher had needed the support of the Head Office for Reich Security, Eichmann's outfit, for his own stand on the matter in the Foreign Office, and therefore had forged the document. (Rademacher himself explained the incident much more reasonably at his own trial, before a West German court in 1952: "The Army was responsible for order in Serbia and had to kill rebellious Jews by shooting." This sounded more plausible but was a lie, for we know - from Nazi sources - that the Jews were not "rebellious.") If it was difficult to interpret a remark made over the phone as an order, it was more difficult to believe that Eichmann had been in a position to give orders to the generals of the Army.

Would he then have pleaded guilty if he had been indicted as an accessory to murder? Perhaps, but he would have made important qualifications. What he had done was a crime only in retrospect, and he had always been a law-abiding citizen, because Hitler's orders, which he had certainly executed to the best of his ability, had possessed "the force of law" in the Third Reich. (The defense could have quoted in support of Eichmann's thesis the testimony of one of the bestknown experts on constitutional law in the Third Reich, Theodor Maunz, currently Minister of Education and Culture in Bavaria, who stated in 1943 [in Gestalt and Recht der Polizei]: "The command of the Führer . . . is the absolute center of the present legal order.") Those who today told Eichmann that he could have acted differently simply did not know, or had forgotten, how things had been. He did not want to be one of those who now pretended that "they had always been against it," whereas in fact they had been very eager to do what they were told to do. However, times change, and he, like Professor Maunz, had "arrived at different insights." What he had done he had done, he did not want to deny it; rather, he proposed "to hang myself in public as a warning example for all anti-Semites on this earth." By this he did not mean to say that he regretted anything: "Repentance is for little children." (Sic!)

Even under considerable pressure from his lawyer, he did not change this position. In a discussion of Himmler's offer in 1944 to exchange a million Jews for ten thousand trucks, and his own role in this plan, Eichmann was asked: "Mr. Witness, in the negotiations with your superiors, did you express any pity for the Jews and did you say there was room to help them?" And he replied: "I am here under oath and must speak the truth. Not out of mercy did I launch this transaction" - which would have been fine, except that it was not Eichmann who "launched" it. But he then continued, quite truthfully: "My reasons I explained this morning," and they were as follows: Himmler had sent his own man to Budapest to deal with matters of Jewish emigration. (Which, incidentally, had become a flourishing business: for enormous amounts of money, Jews could buy their way out. Eichmann, however, did not mention this.) It was the fact that "here matters of emigration were dealt with by a man who did not belong to the Police Force" that made him indignant, "because I had to help and to implement deportation, and matters of emigration, on which I considered myself an expert, were assigned to a man who was new to the unit. . . . I was fed up. . . . I decided that I had to do something to take matters of emigration into my own hands."

Throughout the trial, Eichmann tried to clarify, mostly without success, this second point in his plea of "not guilty in the sense of the indictment." The indictment implied not only that he had acted on purpose, which he did not deny, but out of base motives and in full knowledge of the criminal nature of his deeds. As for the base motives, he was perfectly sure that he was not what he called an innerer Schweinehund, a dirty bastard in the depths of his heart; and as for his conscience, he remembered perfectly well that he would have had a bad conscience only if he had not done what he had been ordered to to - to ship millions of men, women, and children to their death with great zeal and the most meticulous care. This, admittedly, was hard to take. Half a dozen psychiatrists had certified him as "normal" - "More normal, at any rate, than I am after having examined him," one of them was said to have exclaimed, while another had found that his whole psychological outlook, his attitude toward his wife and children, mother and father, brothers, sisters, and friends, was "not only normal but most desirable" - and finally the minister who had paid regular visits to him in prison after the Supreme Court had finished hearing his appeal reassured everybody by declaring Eichmann to be "a man with very positive ideas." Behind the comedy of the soul experts lay the hard fact that his was obviously no case of moral let alone legal insanity. (Mr. Hausner's recent revelations in the Saturday Evening Post of things he "could not bring out at the trial" have contradicted the information given informally in Jerusalem. Eichmann, we are now told, had been alleged by the psychiatrists to be "a man obsessed with a dangerous and insatiable urge to kill," "a perverted, sadistic personality." In which case he would have belonged in an insane asylum.) Worse, his was obviously also no case of insane hatred of Jews, of fanatical anti-Semitism or indoctrination of any kind. He "personally" never had anything whatever against Jews; on the contrary, he had plenty of "private reasons" for not being a Jew hater. To be sure, there were fanatic anti-Semites among his closest friends, for instance Lászlo Endre, State Secretary in Charge of Political (Jewish) Affairs in Hungary, who was hanged in Budapest in 1946; but this, according to Eichmann, was more or less in the spirit of "some of my best friends are anti-Semites."

Alas, nobody believed him. The prosecutor did not believe him, because that was not his job. Counsel for the defense paid no attention because he, unlike Eichmann, was, to all appearances, not interested in questions of conscience. And the judges did not believe him, because they were too good, and perhaps also too conscious of the very foundations of their profession, to admit that an average, "normal" person, neither feeble-minded nor indoctrinated nor cynical, could be perfectly incapable of telling right from wrong. They preferred to conclude from occasional lies that he was a liar - and missed the greatest moral and even legal challenge of the whole case. Their case rested on the assumption that the defendant, like all "normal persons," must have been aware of the criminal nature of his acts, and Eichmann was indeed normal insofar as he was "no exception within the Nazi regime." However, under the conditions of the Third Reich only "exceptions" could be expected to react "normally." This simple truth of the matter created a dilemma for the judges which they could neither resolve nor escape.

He was born on March 19, 1906, in Solingen, a German town in the Rhineland famous for its knives, scissors, and surgical instruments. Fifty-four years later, indulging in his favorite pastime of writing his memoirs, he described this memorable event as follows: "Today, fifteen years and a day after May 8, 1945, I begin to lead my thoughts back to that nineteenth of March of the year 1906, when at five o'clock in the morning I entered life on earth in the aspect of a human being." (The manuscript has not been released by the Israeli authorities. Harry Mulisch succeeded in studying this autobiography "for half an hour," and the German-Jewish weekly Der Aufbau was able to publish short excerpts from it.) According to his religious beliefs, which had not changed since the Nazi period (in Jerusalem Eichmann declared himself to be a Gottgläubiger, the Nazi term for those who had broken with Christianity, and he refused to take his oath on the Bible), this event was to be ascribed to "a higher Bearer of Meaning," an entity somehow identical with the "movement of the universe," to which human life, in itself devoid of "higher meaning," is subject. (The terminology is quite suggestive. To call God a Höheren Sinnesträger meant linguistically to give him some place in the military hierarchy, since the Nazis had changed the military "recipient of orders," the Befehlsempfänger, into a "bearer of orders," a Befehlsträger, indicating, as in the ancient "bearer of ill tidings," the burden of responsibility and of importance that weighed supposedly upon those who had to execute orders. Moreover, Eichmann, like everyone connected with the Final Solution, was officially a "bearer of secrets," a Geheimnisträger, as well, which as far as self-importance went certainly was nothing to sneeze at. )/But Eichmann, not very much interested in metaphysics, remained singularly silent on any more intimate relationship between the Bearer of Meaning and the bearer of orders, and proceeded to a consideration of the other possible cause of his existence, his parents: "They would hardly have" been so overjoyed at the arrival of their first-born had they been able to watch how in the hour of my birth the Norn of misfortune, to spite the Norn of good fortune, was already spinning threads of grief and sorrow into my life. But a kind, impenetrable veil kept my parents from seeing into the future."

The misfortune started soon enough; it started in school. Eichmann's father, first an accountant for the Tramways and Electricity Company in Solingen and after 1913 an official of the same corporation in Austria, in Linz, had five children, four sons and a daughter, of whom only Adolf, the eldest, it seems, was unable to finish high school, or even to graduate from the vocational school for engineering into which he was then put. Throughout his life, Eichmann deceived people about his early "misfortunes" by hiding behind the more honorable financial misfortunes of his father. In Israel, however, during his first sessions with Captain Avner Less, the police examiner who was to spend approximately 35 days with him and who produced 3,564 typewritten pages from 76 recorder tapes, he was in an ebullient mood, full of enthusiasm about this unique opportunity "to pour forth everything . . . I know" and, by the same token, to advance to the rank of the most cooperative defendant ever. (His enthusiasm was soon dampened, though never quite extinguished, when he was confronted with concrete questions based on irrefutable documents.) The best proof of his initial boundless confidence, obviously wasted on Captain Less (who said to Harry Mulisch: "I was Mr. Eichmann's father confessor"), was that for the first time in his life he admitted his early disasters, although he must have been aware of the fact that he thus contradicted himself on several important entries in all his official Nazi records.

Well, the disasters were ordinary: since he "had not exactly been the most hard-working" pupil - or, one may add, the most gifted - his father had taken him first from high school and then from vocational school, long before graduation. Hence, the profession that appears on all his official documents: construction engineer, had about as much connection with reality as the statement that his birthplace was Palestine and that he was fluent in Hebrew and Yiddish - another outright lie Eichmann had loved to tell both to his S.S. comrades and to his Jewish victims. It was in the same vein that he had always pretended he had been dismissed from his job as salesman for the Vacuum Oil Company in Austria because of membership in the National Socialist Party. The version he confided to Captain Less was less dramatic, though probably not the truth either: he had been fired because it was a time of unemployment, when unmarried employees were the first to lose their jobs. (This explanation, which at first seems plausible, is not very satisfactory, because he lost his job in the spring of 1933, when he had been engaged for two full years to Veronika, or Vera, Liebl, who later became his wife. Why had he not married her before, when he still had a good job? He finally married in March, 1935, probably because bachelors in the S.S., as in the Vacuum Oil Company, were never sure of their jobs and could not be promoted.) Clearly, bragging had always been one of his cardinal vices.

While young Eichmann was doing poorly in school, his father left the Tramway and Electricity Company and went into business for himself. He bought a small mining enterprise and put his unpromising youngster to work in it as an ordinary mining laborer, but only until he found him a job in the sales department of the Oberösterreichischen Elektrobau Company, where Eichmann remained for over two years. He was now about twenty-two years old and without any prospects for a career; the only thing he had learned, perhaps, was how to sell. What then happened was what he himself called his first break, of which, again, we have two rather different versions. In a handwritten biographical record he submitted in 1939 to win a promotion in the S.S., he described it as follows: "I worked during the years of 1925 to 1927 as a salesman for the Austrian Elektrobau Company. I left this position of my own free will, as the Vacuum Oil Company of Vienna offered me the representation for Upper Austria." The key word here is "offered," since, according to the story he told Captain Less in Israel, nobody had offered him anything. His own mother had died when he was ten years old, and his father had married again. A cousin of his stepmother - a man he called "uncle" - who was president of the Austrian Automobile Club and was married to the daughter of a Jewish businessman in Czechoslovakia, had used his connection with the general director of the Austrian Vacuum Oil Company, a Jewish Mr. Weiss, to obtain for his unfortunate relation a job as traveling salesman. Eichmann was properly grateful; the Jews in his family were among his "private reasons" for not hating Jews. Even in 1943 or 1944, when the Final Solution was in full swing, he had not forgotten: "The daughter of this marriage, half-Jewish according to the Nuremberg Laws, . . . came to see me in order to obtain my permission for her emigration into Switzerland. Of course, I granted this request, and the same uncle came also to see me to ask me to intervene for some Viennese Jewish couple. I mention this only to show that I myself had no hatred for Jews, for my whole education through my mother and my father had been strictly Christian; my mother, because of her Jewish relatives, held different opinions from those current in S.S. circles."

He went to considerable lengths to prove his point: he had never harbored any ill feelings against his victims, and, what is more, he had never made a secret of that fact. "I explained this to Dr. Löwenherz [head of the Jewish Community in Vienna] as I explained it to Dr. Kastner [vicepresident of the Zionist Organization in Budapest]; I think I told it to everybody, each of my men knew it, they all heard it from me sometime. Even in elementary school, I had a classmate with whom I spent my free time, and he came to our house; a family in Linz by the name of Sebba. The last time we met we walked together through the streets of Linz, I already with the Party emblem of the N.S.D.A.P. [the Nazi Party] in my buttonhole, and he did not think anything of it." Had Eichmann been a bit less prim or the police examination (which refrained from cross-examination, presumably to remain assured of his cooperation) less discreet, his "lack of prejudice" might have shown itself in still another aspect. It seems that in Vienna, where he was so extraordinarily successful in arranging the "forced emigration" of Jews, he had a Jewish mistress, an "old flame" from Linz. Rassenschande, sexual intercourse with Jews, was probably the greatest crime a member of the S.S. could commit, and though during the war the raping of Jewish girls became a favorite pastime at the front, it was by no means common for a Higher S.S. officer to have an affair with a Jewish woman. Thus, Eichmann's repeated violent denunciations of Julius Streicher, the insane and obscene editor of Der Stürmer, and of his pornographic anti- Semitism, were perhaps personally motivated, and the expression of more than the routine contempt an "enlightened" S.S. man was supposed to show toward the vulgar passions of lesser Party luminaries.

The five and a half years with the Vacuum Oil Company must have been among the happier ones in Eichmann's life. He made a good living during a time of severe unemployment, and he was still living with his parents, except when he was out on the road. The date when this idyll came to an end - Pentecost, 1933 - was among the few he always remembered. Actually, things had taken a turn for the worse somewhat earlier. At the end of 1932, he was unexpectedly transferred from Linz to Salzburg, very much against his inclinations: "I lost all joy in my work, I no longer liked to sell, to make calls." From such sudden losses of Arbeitsfreude Eichmann was to suffer throughout his life. The worst of them occurred when he was told of the Führer's order for the "physical extermination of the Jews," in which he was to play such an important role. This, too, came unexpectedly; he himself had "never thought of . . . such a solution through violence," and he described his reaction in the same words: "I now lost everything, all joy in my work, all initiative, all interest; I was, so to speak, blown out." A similar blowing out must have happened in 1932 in Salzburg, and from his own account it is clear that he cannot have been very surprised when he was fired, though one need not believe his saying that he had been "very happy" about his dismissal.

For whatever reasons, the year 1932 marked a turning point of his life. It was in April of this year that he joined the National Socialist Party and entered the S.S., upon an invitation of Ernst Kaltenbrunner a young lawyer in Linz who later became chief of the Head Office for Reich Security (the Reichssicherheitshauptamt or R.S.H.A., as I shall call it henceforth), in one of whose six main departments- Bureau IV, under the command of Heinrich Müller - Eichmann was eventually employed as head of section B-4. In court, Eichmann gave the impression of a typical member of the lower middle classes, and this impression was more than borne out by every sentence he spoke or wrote while in prison. But this was misleading; he was rather the déclassé son of a solid middle-class family, and it was indicative of his comedown in social status that while his father was a good friend of Kaltenbrunner's father, who was also a Linz lawyer, the relationship of the two sons was rather cool: Eichmann was unmistakably treated by Kaltenbrunner as his social inferior. Before Eichmann entered the Party and the S.S., he had proved that he was a joiner, and May 8, 1945, the official date of Germany's defeat, was significant for him mainly because it then dawned upon him that thenceforward he would have to live without being a member of something or other. "I sensed I would have to live a leaderless and difficult individual life, I would receive no directives from anybody, no orders and commands would any longer be issued to me, no pertinent ordinances would be there to consult - in brief, a life never known before lay before me. When he was a child, his parents, uninterested in politics, had enrolled him in the Young Men's Christian Association, from which he later went into the German youth movement, the Wandervogel. During his four unsuccessful years in high school, he had joined the Jungfront-kämpfeverband, the youth section of the German-Austrian organzation of war veterans, which, though violently pro-German and anti-republican, was tolerated by the Austrian government. When Kaltenbrunner suggested that he enter the S.S., he was just on the point of becoming a member of an altogether different outfit, the Freemasons' Lodge Schlaraffia, "an association of businessmen, physicians, actors, civil servants, etc., who came together to cultivate merriment and gaiety. . . . Each member had to give a lecture from time to time whose tenor was to be humor, refined humor." Kaltenbrunner explained to Eichmann that he would have to give up this merry society because as a Nazi he could not be a Freemason - a word that at the time was unknown to him. The choice between the S.S. and Schlaraffia (the name derives from Schlaraffenland, the gluttons' Cloud-Cuckoo Land of German fairy tales) might have been hard to make, but he was "kicked out" of Schlaraffia anyhow; he had committed a sin that even now, as he told the story in the Israeli prison, made him blush with shame: "Contrary to my upbringing, I had tried, though I was the youngest, to invite my companions to a glass of wine."

A leaf in the whirlwind of time, he was blown from Schlaraffia, the Never-Never Land of tables set by magic and roast chickens that flew into your mouth - or, more accurately, from the company of respectable philistines with degrees and assured careers and "refined humor," whose worst vice was probably an irrepressible desire for practical jokes - into the marching columns of the Thousand-Year Reich, which lasted exactly twelve years and three months. At any rate, he did not enter the Party out of conviction, nor was he ever convinced by it - whenever he was asked to give his reasons, he repeated the same embarrassed clichés about the Treaty of Versailles and unemployment; rather, as he pointed out in court, "it was like being swallowed up by the Party against all expectations and without previous decision. It happened so quickly and suddenly." He had no time and less desire to be properly informed, he did not even know the Party program, he never read Mein Kampf. Kaltenbrunner had said to him: Why not join the S.S.? And he had replied, Why not? That was how it had happened, and that was about all there was to it. Of course, that was not all there was to it. What Eichmann failed to tell the presiding judge in cross-examination was that he had been an ambitious young man who was fed up with his job as traveling salesman even before the Vacuum Oil Company was fed up with him. From a humdrum life without significance' and consequence the wind had blown him into History, as he understood it, namely, into a Movement that always kept moving and in which somebody like him - already a failure in the eyes of his social class, of his family, and hence in his own eyes as well - could start from scratch and still make a career. And if he did not always like what he had to do (for example, dispatching people to their death by the trainload instead of forcing them to emigrate), if he guessed, rather early, that the whole business would come to a bad end, with Germany losing the war, if all his most cherished plans came to nothing (the evacuation of European Jewry to Madagascar, the establishment of a Jewish territory in the Nisko region of Poland, the experiment with carefully built defense installations around his Berlin office to repel Russian tanks), and if, to his greatest "grief and sorrow," he never advanced beyond the grade of S.S.

Obersturmbannführer (a rank equivalent to lieutenant colonel) - in short, if, with the exception of the year in Vienna, his life was beset with frustrations, he never forgot what the alternative would have been. Not only in Argentina, leading the unhappy existence of a refugee, but also in the courtroom in Jerusalem, with his life as good as forfeited, he might still have preferred - if anybody had asked him - to be hanged as Obersturmbannführer a.D. (in retirement) rather than living out his life quietly and normally as a traveling salesman for the Vacuum Oil Company. The beginnings of Eichmann's new career were not very promising. In the spring of 1933, while he was out of a job, the Nazi Party and all its affiliates were suspended in Austria, because of Hitler's rise to power. But even without this new calamity, a career in the Austrian Party would have been out of the question: even those who had enlisted in the S.S. were still working at their regular jobs; Kaltenbrunner was still a partner in his father's law firm. Eichmann therefore decided to go to Germany, which was all the more natural because his family had never given up German citizenship. (This fact was of some relevance during the trial. Dr. Servatius had asked the West German government to demand extradition of the accused and, failing this, to pay the expenses of the defense, and Bonn refused, on the grounds that Eichmann was not a German national, which was a patent untruth.) At Passau, on the German border, he was suddenly a traveling salesman again, and when he reported to the regional leader, he asked him eagerly "if he had perhaps some connection with the Bavarian Vacuum Oil Company." Well, this was one of his not infrequent relapses from one period of his life into another; whenever he was confronted with telltale signs of an unregenerate Nazi outlook, in his life in Argentina and even in the Jerusalem jail, he excused himself with "There I go again, the old song and dance [die alte Tour]." But his relapse in Passau was quickly cured; he was told that he had better enlist for some military training - "All right with me, I thought to myself, why not become a soldier?" - and he was sent in quick succession to two Bavarian S.S. camps, in Lechfeld and in Dachau (he had nothing to do with the concentration camp there), where the "Austrian Legion in exile" received its training. Thus he did become an Austrian after a fashion, despite his German passport. He remained in these military camps from August, 1933, until September, 1934, advanced to the rank of Scharführer (corporal) and had plenty of time to reconsider his willingness to embark upon the career of a soldier. According to his own account, there was but one thing in which he distinguished himself during these fourteen months, and that was punishment drill, which he performed with great obstinacy, in the wrathful spirit of "Serves my father right if my hands freeze, why doesn't he buy me gloves." But apart from such rather dubious pleasures, to which he owed his first promotion, he had a terrible time: "The humdrum of military service, that was something I couldn't stand, day after day always the same, over and over again the same." Thus bored to distraction, he heard that the Security Service of the Reichsführer S.S. (Himmler's Sicherheitsdienst, or S.D., as I shall call it henceforth) had jobs open, and applied immediately.
Site Admin
Posts: 23142
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:49 am

3. An Expert on the Jewish Question

In 1934, when Eichmann applied successfully for a job, the S.D. was a relatively new apparatus in the S.S., founded two years earlier by Heinrich Himmler to serve as the Intelligence service of the Party and now headed by Reinhardt Heydrich, a former Navy Intelligence officer, who was to become, as Gerald Reitlinger put it, "the real engineer of the Final Solution" (The Final Solution, 1961). Its initial task had been to spy on Party members, and thus to give the S.S. an ascendancy over the regular Party apparatus. Meanwhile it had taken on some additional duties, becoming the information and research center for the Secret State Police, or Gestapo. These were the first steps toward the merger of the S.S. and the police, which, however, was not carried out until September, 1939, although Himmler held the double post of Reichsführer S.S. and Chief of the German Police from 1936 on. Eichmann, of course, could not have known of these future developments, but he seems to have known nothing either of the nature of the S.D. when he entered it; this is quite possible, because the operations of the S.D. had always been top secret. As far as he was concerned, it was all a misunderstanding and at first "a great disappointment. For I thought this was what I had read about in the Münchener Illustrierten Zeitung; when the high Party officials drove along, there were commando guards with them, men standing on the running boards of the cars. . . . In short, I had mistaken the Security Service of the Reichsführer S.S. for the Reich Security Service . . . and nobody set me right and no one told me anything. For I had had not the slightest notion of what now was revealed to me." The question of whether he was telling the truth had a certain bearing on the trial, where it had to be decided whether he had volunteered for his position or had been drafted into it. His misunderstanding, if such it was, is not inexplicable; the S.S. or Schutzstaffeln had originally been established as special units for the protection of the Party leaders.

His disappointment, however, consisted chiefly in that he had to start all over again, that he was back at the bottom, and his only consolation was that there were others who had made the same mistake. He was put into the Information department, where his first job was to file all information concerning Freemasonry (which in the early Nazi ideological muddle was somehow lumped with Judaism, Catholicism, and Communism) and to help in the establishment of a Freemasonry museum. He now had ample opportunity to learn what this strange word meant that Kaltenbrunner had thrown at him in their discussion of Schlaraffia. (Incidentally, an eagerness to establish museums commemorating their enemies was very characteristic of the Nazis. During the war, several services competed bitterly for the honor of establishing anti-Jewish museums and libraries. We owe to this strange craze the salvage of many great cultural treasures of European Jewry.) The trouble was that things were again very, very boring, and he was greatly relieved when, after four or five months of Freemasonry, he was put into the brand-new department concerned with Jews. This was the real beginning of the career which was to end in the Jerusalem court.

It was the year 1935, when Germany, contrary to the stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles, introduced general conscription and publicly announced plans for rearmament, including the building of an air force and a navy. It was also the year when Germany, having left the League of Nations in 1933, prepared neither quietly nor secretly the occupation of the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland. It was the time of Hitler's peace speeches - "Germany needs peace and desires peace," "We recognize Poland as the home of a great and nationally conscious people," "Germany neither intends nor wishes to interfere in the internal affairs of Austria, to annex Austria, or to conclude an Anschluss" - and, above all, it was the year when the Nazi regime won general and, unhappily, genuine recognition in Germany and abroad, when Hitler was admired everywhere as a great national statesman. In Germany itself, it was a time of transition. Because of the enormous rearmament program, unemployment had been liquidated, the initial resistance of the working class was broken, and the hostility of the regime, which had at first been directed primarily against "anti-Fascists" - Communists, Socialists, left-wing intellectuals, and Jews in prominent positions - had not yet shifted entirely to persecution of the Jews qua Jews.

To be sure, one of the first steps taken by the Nazi government, back in 1933, had been the exclusion of Jews from the Civil Service (which in Germany included all teaching positions, from grammar school to university, and most branches of the entertainment industry, including radio, the theater, the opera, and concerts) and, in general, their removal from public offices. But private business remained almost untouched until 1938, and even the legal and medical professions were only gradually abolished, although Jewish students were excluded from most universities and were nowhere permitted to graduate. Emigration of Jews in these years proceeded in a not unduly accelerated and generally orderly fashion, and the currency restrictions that made it difficult, but not impossible, for Jews to take their money, or at least the greater part of it, out of the country were the same for non-Jews; they dated back to the days of the Weimar Republic. There were a certain number of Einzelaktionen, individual actions putting pressure on Jews to sell their property at often ridiculously low prices, but these usually occurred in small towns and, indeed, could be traced to the spontaneous, "individual" initiative of some enterprising Storm Troopers, the so-called S.A. men, who, except for their officer corps, were mostly recruited from the lower classes. The police, it is true, never stopped these "excesses," but the Nazi authorities were not too happy about them, because they affected the value of real estate all over the country. The emigrants, unless they were political refugees, were young people who realized that there was no future for them in Germany. And since they soon found out that there was hardly any future for them in other European countries either, some Jewish emigrants actually returned during this period. When Eichmann was asked how he had reconciled his personal feelings about Jews with the outspoken and violent anti-Semitism of the Party he had joined, he replied with the proverb: "Nothing's as hot when you eat it as when it's being cooked" - a proverb that was then on the lips of many Jews as well. They lived in a fool's paradise, in which, for a few years, even Streicher spoke of a "legal solution" of the Jewish problem. It took the organized pogroms of November, 1938, the so-called Kristallnacht or Night of Broken Glass, when seventy-five hundred Jewish shop windows were broken, all synagogues went up in flames, and twenty thousand Jewish men were taken off to concentration camps, to expel them from it.

The frequently forgotten point of the matter is that the famous Nuremberg Laws, issued in the fall of 1935, had failed to do the trick. The testimony of three witnesses from Germany, high-ranking former officials of the Zionist organization who left Germany shortly before the outbreak of the war, gave only the barest glimpse into the true state of affairs during the first five years of the Nazi regime. The Nuremberg Laws had deprived the Jews of their political but not of their civil rights; they were no longer citizens (Reichsbürger), but they remained members of the German state (Staatsangehörige). Even if they emigrated, they were not automatically stateless. Sexual intercourse between Jews and Germans, and the contraction of mixed marriages, were forbidden. Also, no German woman under the age of forty-five could be employed in a Jewish household. Of these stipulations, only the last was of practical significance; the others merely legalized a de facto situation. Hence, the Nuremberg Laws were felt to have stabilized the new situation of Jews in the German Reich. They had been second-class citizens, to put it mildly, since January 30, 1933; their almost complete separation from the rest of the population had been achieved in a matter of weeks or months - through terror but also through the more than ordinary connivance of those around them. "There was a wall between Gentiles and Jews," Dr. Benno Cohn of Berlin testified. "I cannot remember speaking to a Christian during all my journeys over Germany." Now, the Jews felt, they had received laws of their own and would no longer be outlawed. If they kept to themselves, as they had been forced to do anyhow, they would be able to live unmolested. In the words of the Reichsvertretung of the Jews in Germany (the national association of all communities and organizations, which had been founded in September, 1933, on the initiative of the Berlin community, and was in no way Nazi-appointed), the intention of the Nuremberg Laws was "to establish a level on which a bearable relationship between the German and the Jewish people [became] possible," to which a member of the Berlin community, a radical Zionist, added: "Life is possible under every law. However, in complete ignorance of what is permitted and what is not one cannot live. A useful and respected citizen one can also be as a member of a minority in the midst of a great people" (Hans Lamm, fiber die Entwicklung des deutschen Judentums, 1951). And since Hitler, in the Röhm purge in 1934, had broken the power of the S.A., the Storm Troopers in brown shirts who had been almost exclusively responsible for the early pogroms and atrocities, and since the Jews were blissfully unaware of the growing power of the black-shirted S.S., who ordinarily abstained from what Eichmann contemptuously called the ` Stürmer methods," they generally believed that a modus vivendi would be possible; they even offered to cooperate in "the solution of the Jewish question." In short, when Eichmann entered upon his apprenticeship in Jewish affairs, on which, four years later, he was to be the recognized "expert," and when he made his first contacts with Jewish functionaries, both Zionists and Assimilationists talked in terms of a great "Jewish revival," a "great constructive movement of German Jewry," and they still quarreled among themselves in ideological terms about the desirability of Jewish emigration, as though this depended upon their own decisions.

Eichmann's account during the police examination of how he was introduced into the new department - distorted, of course, but not wholly devoid of truth - oddly recalls this fool's paradise. The first thing that happened was that his new boss, a certain von Mildenstein, who shortly thereafter got himself transferred to Albert Speer's Organisation Todt, where he was in charge of highway construction (he was what Eichmann pretended to be, an engineer by profession), required him to read Theodor Herzl's Der Judenstaat, the famous Zionist classic, which converted Eichmann promptly and forever to Zionism. This seems to have been the first serious book he ever read and it made a lasting impression on him. From then on, as he repeated over and over, he thought of hardly anything but a "political solution" (as opposed to the later "physical solution," the first meaning expulsion and the second extermination) and how to "get some firm ground under the feet of the Jews." (It may be worth mentioning that, as late as 1939, he seems to have protested against desecrators of Herzl's grave in Vienna, and there are reports of his presence in civilian clothes at the commemoration of the thirty-fifth anniversary of Herzl's death. Strangely enough, he did not talk about these things in Jerusalem, where he continuously boasted of his good relations with Jewish officials.) In order to help in this enterprise, he began spreading the gospel among his S.S. comrades, giving lectures and writing pamphlets. He then acquired a smattering of Hebrew, which enabled him to read haltingly a Yiddish newspaper - not a very difficult accomplishment, since Yiddish, basically an old German dialect written in Hebrew letters, can be understood by any German-speaking person who has mastered a few dozen Hebrew words. He even read one more book, Adolf Böhm's History of Zionism (during the trial he kept confusing it with Herzl's Judenstaat), and this was perhaps a considerable achievement for a man who, by his own account, had always been utterly reluctant to read anything except newspapers, and who, to the distress of his father, had never availed himself of the books in the family library. Following up Böhm, he studied the organizational setup of the Zionist movement, with all its parties, youth groups, and different programs. This did not yet make him an "authority," but it was enough to earn him an assignment as official spy on the Zionist offices and on their meetings; it is worth noting that his schooling in Jewish affairs was almost entirely concerned with Zionism. His first personal contacts with Jewish functionaries, all of them well-known Zionists of long standing, were thoroughly satisfactory. The reason he became so fascinated by the "Jewish question," he explained, was his own "idealism"; these Jews, unlike the Assimilationists, whom he always despised, and unlike Orthodox Jews, who bored him, were "idealists," like him. An "idealist," according to Eichmann's notions, was not merely a man who believed in an "idea" or someone who did not steal or accept bribes, though these qualifications were indispensable. An "idealist" was a man who lived for his idea - hence he could not be a businessman - and who was prepared to sacrifice for his idea everything and, especially, everybody. When he said in the police examination that he would have sent his own father to his death if that had been required, he did not mean merely to stress the extent to which he was under orders, and ready to obey them; he also meant to show what an "idealist" he had always been. The perfect "idealist," like everybody else, had of course his personal feelings and emotions, but he would never permit them to interfere with his actions if they came into conflict with his "idea." The greatest "idealist" Eichmann ever encountered among the Jews was Dr. Rudolf Kastner, with whom he negotiated during the Jewish deportations from Hungary and with whom he came to an agreement that he, Eichmann, would permit the "illegal" departure of a few thousand Jews to Palestine (the trains were in fact guarded by German police) in exchange for "quiet and order" in the camps from which hundreds of thousands were shipped to Auschwitz. The few thousand saved by the agreement, prominent Jews and members of the Zionist youth organizations, were, in Eichmann's words, "the best biological material." Dr. Kastner, as Eichmann understood it, had sacrificed his fellow-Jews to his "idea," and this was as it should be. Judge Benjamin Halevi, one of the three judges at Eichmann's trial, had been in charge of the Kastner trial in Israel, at which Kastner had to defend himself for his cooperation with Eichmann and other high-ranking Nazis; in Halevi's opinion, Kastner had "sold his soul to the devil." Now that the devil himself was in the dock he turned out to be an "idealist," and though it may be hard to believe, it is quite possible that the one who sold his soul had also been an "idealist."

Long before all this happened, Eichmann was given his first opportunity to apply in practice what he had learned during his apprenticeship. After the Anschluss (the incorporation of Austria into the Reich), in March, 1938, he was sent to Vienna to organize a kind of emigration that had been utterly unknown in Germany, where up to the fall of 1938 the fiction was maintained that Jews if they so desired were permitted, but were not forced, to leave the country. Among the reasons German Jews believed in the fiction was the program of the N.S.D.A.P., formulated in 1920, which shared with the Weimar Constitution, the curious fate of never being officially abolished; its Twenty-Five Points had even been declared "unalterable" by Hitler. Seen in the light of later events, its anti-Semite provisions were harmless indeed: Jews could not be full-fledged citizens, they could not hold Civil Service positions, they were to be excluded from the press, and all those who had acquired German citizenship after August 2, 1914 - the date of the outbreak of the First World War - were to be denaturalized, which meant they were subject to expulsion.

(Characteristically, the denaturalization was carried out immediately, but the wholesale expulsion of some fifteen thousand Jews, who from one day to the next were shoved across the Polish border at Zbaszyn, where they were promptly put into camps, took place only five years later, when no one expected it any longer.) The Party program was never taken seriously by Nazi officials; they prided themselves on belonging to a movement, as distinguished from a party, and a movement could not be bound by a program. Even before the Nazis' rise to power, these Twenty-Five Points had been no more than a concession to the party system and to such prospective voters as were old-fashioned enough to ask what was the program of the party they were going to join. Eichmann, as we have seen, was free of such deplorable habits, and when he told the Jerusalem court that he had not known Hitler's program he very likely spoke the truth: "The Party program did not matter, you knew what you were joining." The Jews, on the other hand, were old-fashioned enough to know the Twenty-Five Points by heart and to believe in them; whatever contradicted the legal implementation of the Party program they tended to ascribe to temporary, "revolutionary excesses" of undisciplined members or groups.

But what happened in Vienna in March, 1938, was altogether different. Eichmann's task had been defined as "forced emigration," and the words meant exactly what they said: all Jews, regardless of their desires and regardless of their citizenship, were to be forced to emigrate - an act which in ordinary language is called expulsion. Whenever Eichmann thought back to the twelve years that were his life, he singled out his year in Vienna as head of the Center for Emigration of Austrian Jews as its happiest and most successful period. Shortly before, he had been promoted to officer's rank, becoming an Untersturmführer, or lieutenant, and he had been commended for his "comprehensive knowledge of the methods of organization and ideology of the opponent, Jewry." The assignment in Vienna was his first important job, his whole career, which had progressed rather slowly, was in the balance. He must have been frantic to make good, and his success was spectacular: in eight months, forty-five thousand Jews left Austria, whereas no more than nineteen thousand left Germany in the same period; in less than eighteen months, Austria was "cleansed" of close to a hundred and fifty thousand people, roughly sixty per cent of its Jewish population, all of whom left the country "legally"; even after the outbreak of the war, some sixty thousand Jews could escape. How did he do it? The basic idea that made all this possible was of course not his but, almost certainly, a specific directive by Heydrich, who had sent him to Vienna in the first place.

(Eichmann was vague on the question of authorship, which he claimed, however, by implication; the Israeli authorities, on the other hand, bound [as Yad Vashem's Bulletin put it] to the fantastic "thesis of the all-inclusive responsibility of Adolf Eichmann" and the even more fantastic "supposition that one [i.e., his] mind was behind it all," helped him considerably in his efforts to deck himself in borrowed plumes, for which he had in any case a great inclination.) The idea, as explained by Heydrich in a conference with Goring on the morning of the Kristallnacht, was simple and ingenious enough: "Through the Jewish community, we extracted a certain amount of money from the rich Jews who wanted to emigrate. By paying this amount, and an additional sum in foreign currency, they made it possible for poor Jews to leave. The problem was not to make the rich Jews leave, but to get rid of the Jewish mob." And this "problem" was not solved by Eichmann. Not until the trial was over was it learned from the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation that Erich Rajakowitsch, a "brilliant lawyer" whom Eichmann, according to his own testimony, "employed for the handling of legal questions in the central offices for Jewish emigration in Vienna, Prague, and Berlin," had originated the idea of the "emigration funds." Somewhat later, in April, 1941, Rajakowitsch was sent to Holland by Heydrich in order to "establish there a central office which was to serve as a model for the `solution of the Jewish question' in all occupied countries in Europe."

Still, enough problems remained that could be solved only in the course of the operation, and there is no doubt that here Eichmann, for the first time in his life, discovered in himself some special qualities. There were two things he could do well, better than others: he could organize and he could negotiate), immediately upon his arrival, he opened negotiations with the representatives of the Jewish community, whom he had first to liberate from prisons and concentration camps, since the "revolutionary zeal" in Austria, greatly exceeding the early "excesses" in Germany, had resulted in the imprisonment of practically all prominent Jews. After this experience, the Jewish functionaries did not need Eichmann to convince them of the desirability of emigration. Rather, they informed him of the enormous difficulties which lay ahead. Apart from the financial problem, already "solved," the chief difficulty lay in the number of papers every emigrant had to assemble before he could leave the country. Each of the papers was valid only for a limited time, so that the validity of the first had usually expired long before the last could be obtained. Once Eichmann understood how the whole thing worked, or, rather, did not work, he "took counsel with himself" and "gave birth to the idea which I thought would do justice to both parties." He imagined "an assembly line, at whose beginnings the first document is put, and then the other papers, and at its end the passport would have to come out as the end product." This could be realized if all the officers concerned - the Ministry of Finance, the income tax people, the police, the Jewish community, etc. - were housed under the same roof and forced to do their work on the spot, in the presence of the applicant, who would no longer have to run from office to office and who, presumably, would also be spared having some humiliating chicaneries practiced on him, and certain expenses for bribes. When everything was ready and the assembly line was doing its work smoothly and quickly, Eichmann "invited" the Jewish functionaries from Berlin to inspect it. They were appalled: "This is like an automatic factory, like a flour mill connected with some bakery. At one end you put in a Jew who still has some property, a factory, or a shop, or a bank account, and he goes through the building from counter to counter, from office to office, and comes out at the other end without any money, without any rights, with only a passport on which it says: `You must leave the country within a fortnight. Otherwise you will go to a concentration camp.' "

This, of course, was essentially the truth about the procedure, but it was not the whole truth. For these Jews could not be left "without any money," for the simple reason that without it no country at this date would have taken them. They needed, and were given, their Vorzeigegeld, the amount they had to show in order to obtain their visas and to pass the immigration controls of the recipient country. For this amount, they needed foreign currency, which the Reich had no intention of wasting on its Jews. These needs could not be met by Jewish accounts in foreign countries, which, in any event, were difficult to get at because they had been illegal for many years; Eichmann therefore sent Jewish functionaries abroad to solicit funds from the great Jewish organizations, and these funds were then sold by the Jewish community to the prospective emigrants at a considerable profit-one dollar, for instance, was sold for 10 or 20 marks when its market value was 4.20 marks. It was chiefly in this way that the community acquired not only the money necessary for poor Jews and people without accounts abroad, but also the funds it needed for its own hugely expanded activities. Eichmann did not make possible this deal without encountering considerable opposition from the German financial authorities, the Ministry and the Treasury, which, after all, could not remain unaware of the fact that these transactions amounted to a devaluation of the mark.

Bragging was the vice that was Eichmann's undoing. It was sheer rodomontade when he told his men during the last days of the war: "I will jump into my grave laughing, because the fact that I have the death of five million Jews [or "enemies of the Reich," as he always claimed to have said] on my conscience gives me extraordinary satisfaction." He did not jump, and if he had anything on his conscience, it was not murder but, as it turned out, that he had once slapped the face of Dr. Josef Löwenherz, head of the Vienna Jewish community, who later became one of his favorite Jews. (He had apologized in front of his staff at the time, but this incident kept bothering him.) To claim the death of five million Jews, the approximate total of losses suffered from the combined efforts of all Nazi offices and authorities, was preposterous, as he knew very well, but he had kept repeating the damning sentence ad nauseam to everyone who would listen, even twelve years later in Argentina, because it gave him "an extraordinary sense of elation to think that [he] was exiting from the stage in this way." (Former Legationsrat Horst Grell, a witness for the defense, who had known Eichmann in Hungary, testified that in his opinion Eichmann was boasting. That must have been obvious to everyone who heard him utter his absurd claim.) It was sheer boasting when he pretended he had "invented" the ghetto system or had "given birth to the idea" of shipping all European Jews to Madagascar. The Theresienstadt ghetto, of which Eichmann claimed "paternity," was established years after the ghetto system had been introduced into the Eastern occupied territories, and setting up a special ghetto for certain privileged categories was, like the ghetto system, the "idea" of Heydrich. The Madagascar plan seems to have been "born" in the bureaus of the German Foreign Office, and Eichmann's own contribution to it turned out to owe a good deal to his beloved Dr. Löwenherz, whom he had drafted to put down "some basic thoughts" on how about four million Jews might be transported from Europe after the war - presumably to Palestine, since the Madagascar project was top secret. (When confronted at the trial with the Löwenherz report, Eichmann did not deny its authorship; it was one of the few moments when he appeared genuinely embarrassed.) What' eventually led to his capture was his compulsion to talk big - he was "fed up with being an anonymous wanderer between the worlds" - and this compulsion must have grown considerably stronger as time passed, not only because he had nothing to do that he could consider worth doing, but also because the postwar-era had bestowed so much unexpected "fame" upon him.

But bragging is a common vice, and a more specific, and also more decisive, flaw in Eichmann's character was his almost total inability ever to look at anything from the other fellow's point of view. Nowhere was this flaw more conspicuous than in his account of the Vienna episode. He and his men and the Jews' were all "pulling together," and whenever there were any difficulties the Jewish functionaries would come running to him "to unburden their hearts," to tell him "all their grief and sorrow," and to ask for his help. The Jews "desired" to emigrate, and he, Eichmann, was there to help them, because it so happened that at the same time the Nazi authorities had expressed a desire to see their Reich judenrein. The two desires coincided, and he, Eichmann, could "do justice to both parties." At the trial, he never gave an inch when it came to this part of the story, although he agreed that today, when "times have changed so much," the Jews might not be too happy to recall this "pulling together" and he did not want "to hurt their feelings." The German text of the taped police examination, conducted from May 29, 1960, to January 17, 1961, each page corrected and approved by Eichmann, constitutes a veritable gold mine for a psychologist - provided he is wise enough to understand that the horrible can be not only ludicrous but outright funny. Some of the comedy cannot be conveyed in English, because it lies in Eichmann's heroic fight with the German language, which invariably defeats him. It is funny when he speaks, passim, of "winged words" (geflügelte Worte, a German colloquialism for famous quotes from the classics) when he means stock phrases, Redensarten, or slogans, Schlagworte. It was funny when, during the cross-examination on the Sassen documents, conducted in German by the presiding judge, he used the phrase "kontra geben" (to give tit for tat), to indicate that he had resisted Sassen's efforts to liven up his stories; Judge Landau, obviously ignorant of the mysteries of card games, did not understand, and Eichmann could not think of any other way to put it. Dimly aware of a defect that must have plagued him even in school - it amounted to a mild case of aphasia - he apologized, saying, "Officialese [Amtssprache] is my only language." But the point here is that officialese became his language because he was genuinely incapable of uttering a single sentence that was not a cliché. (Was it these clichés that the psychiatrists thought so "normal" and "desirable"? Are these the "positive ideas" a clergyman hopes for in those to whose souls he ministers? Eichmann's best opportunity to show this positive side of his character in Jerusalem came when the young police officer in charge of his mental and psychological well-being handed him Lolita for relaxation. After two days Eichmann returned it, visibly indignant; "Quite an unwholesome book" - "Das ist aber ein sehr unerfreuliches Buch" - he told his guard.) To be sure, the judges were right when they finally told the accused that all he had said was "empty talk" - except that they thought the emptiness was feigned, and that the accused wished to cover up other thoughts which, though hideous, were not empty. This supposition seems refuted by the striking consistency with which Eichmann, despite his rather bad memory, repeated word for word the same stock phrases and self-invented clichés (when he did succeed in constructing a sentence of his own, he repeated it until it became a cliché) each time he referred to an incident or event of importance to him. Whether writing his memoirs in Argentina or in Jerusalem, whether speaking to the police examiner or to the court, what he said was always the same, expressed in the same words. The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else. No communication was possible with him, not because he lied but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against the words and the presence of others, and hence against reality as such.

Thus, confronted for eight months with the reality of being examined by a Jewish policeman, Eichmann did not have the slightest hesitation in explaining to him at considerable length, and repeatedly, why he had been unable to attain a higher grade in the S.S., that this was not his fault. He had done everything, even asked to be sent to active military duty - "Off to the front, I said to myself, then the Standartenführer [colonelcy] will come quicker." In court, on the contrary, he pretended he had asked to be transferred because he wanted to escape his murderous duties. He did not insist much on this, though, and, strangely, he was not confronted with his utterances to Captain Less, whom he also told that he had hoped to be nominated for the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile killing units in the East, because when they were formed, in March, 1941, his office was "dead" - there was no emigration any longer and deportations had not yet been started.

There was, finally, his greatest ambition - to be promoted to the job of police chief in some German town; again, nothing doing. What makes these pages of the examination so funny is that all this was told in the tone of someone who was sure of finding "normal, human" sympathy for a hard-luck story. "Whatever I prepared and planned, everything went wrong, my personal affairs as well as my years-long efforts to obtain land and soil for the Jews. I don't know, everything was as if under an evil spell; whatever I desired and wanted and planned to do, fate prevented it somehow. I was frustrated in everything, no matter what." When Captain Less asked his opinion on some damning and possibly lying evidence given by a former colonel of the S.S., he exclaimed, suddenly stuttering with rage: "I am very much surprised that this man could ever have been an S.S. Standartenführer, that surprises me very much indeed. It is altogether, altogether unthinkable. I don't know what to say." He never said these things in a spirit of defiance, as though he wanted, even now, to defend the standards by which he had lived in the past. The very words "S.S.," or "career," or "Himmler" (whom he always called by his long official title: Reichsführer S.S. and Chief of the German Police, although he by no means admired him) triggered in him a mechanism that had become completely unalterable. The presence of Captain Less, a Jew from Germany and unlikely in any case to think that members of the S.S. advanced in their careers through the exercise of high moral qualities, did not for a moment throw this mechanism out of gear.

Now and then, the comedy breaks into the horror itself, and results in stories, presumably true enough, whose macabre humor easily surpasses that of any Surrealist invention. Such was the story told by Eichmann during the police examination about the unlucky Kommerzialrat Storfer of Vienna, one of the representatives of the Jewish community. Eichmann had received a telegram from Rudolf Höss, Commandant of Auschwitz, telling him that Storfer had arrived and had urgently requested to see Eichmann. "I said to myself: O.K., this man has always behaved well, that is worth my while . . . I'll go there myself and see what is the matter with him. And I go to Ebner [chief of the Gestapo in Vienna], and Ebner says - I remember it only vaguely - If only he had not been so clumsy; he went into hiding and tried to escape,' something of the sort. And the police arrested him and sent him to the concentration camp, and, according to the orders of the Reichsführer (Himmler], no one could get out once he was in. Nothing could be done, neither Dr. Ebner nor I nor anybody else could do anything about it. I went to Auschwitz and asked Höss to see Storfer. `Yes, yes [Höss said], he is in one of the labor gangs.' With Storfer afterward, well, it was normal and human, we had a normal, human encounter. He told me all his grief and sorrow: I said: `Well, my dear old friend [Ja, mein lieber guter Storfer], we certainly got it! What rotten luck!' And I also said: `Look, I really cannot help you, because according to orders from the Reichsführer nobody can get out. I can't get you out. Dr. Ebner can't get you out. I hear you made a mistake, that you went into hiding or wanted to bolt, which, after all, you did not need to do.' [Eichmann meant that Storfer, as a Jewish functionary, had immunity from deportation.] I forget what his reply to this was. And then I asked him how he was. And he said, yes, he wondered if he couldn't be let off work, it was heavy work. And then I said to Höss: 'Work-Storfer won't have to work!' But Höss said: `Everyone works here.' So I said: 'O.K.,' I said, `I'll make out a chit to the effect that Storfer has to keep the gravel paths in order with a broom,' there were little gravel paths there, `and that he has the right to sit down with his broom on one of the benches.' [To Storfer] I said: `Will that be all right, Mr. Storfer? Will that suit you?' Whereupon he was very pleased, and we shook hands, and then he was given the broom and sat down on his bench. It was a great inner joy to me that I could at least see the man with whom I had worked for so many long years, and that we could speak with each other." Six weeks after this normal human encounter, Storfer was dead - not gassed, apparently, but shot.

Is this a textbook case of bad faith, of lying self-deception combined with outrageous stupidity? Or is it simply the case of the eternally unrepentant criminal (Dostoevski once mentions in his diaries that in Siberia, among scores of murderers, rapists, and burglars, he never met a single man who would admit that he had done wrong) who cannot afford to face reality because his crime has become part and parcel of it? Yet Eichmann's case is different from that of the ordinary criminal, who can shield himself effectively against the reality of a non-criminal world only within the narrow limits of his gang. Eichmann needed only to recall the past in order to feel assured that he was not lying and that he was not deceiving himself, for he and the world he lived in had once been in perfect harmony. And that German society of eighty million people had been shielded against reality and factuality by exactly the same means, the same self-deception, lies, and stupidity that had now become ingrained in Eichmann's mentality. These lies changed from year to year, and they frequently contradicted each other; moreover, they were not necessarily the same for the various branches of the. Party hierarchy or the people at large. But the practice of self deception had become so common, almost a moral prerequisite for survival, that even now, eighteen years after the collapse of the Nazi regime, when most of the specific content of its lies has been forgotten, it is sometimes difficult not to believe that mendacity has become an integral part of the German national character. During the war, the lie most effective with the whole of the German people was the slogan of "the battle of destiny for the German people" [der Schicksalskampf des deutschen Volkes], coined either by Hitler or by Goebbels, which made self-deception easier on three counts: it suggested, first, that the war was no war; second, that it was started by destiny and not by Germany; and, third, that it' was a matter of life and death for the Germans, who must annihilate their enemies or be annihilated.

Eichmann's astounding willingness, in Argentina as well as in, Jerusalem, to admit his crimes was due less to his own criminal capacity for self-deception than to the aura of systematic mendacity that had constituted the general, and generally accepted, atmosphere of the Third Reich. "Of course" he had played a role in the extermination of the Jews; of course if he "had not transported them, they would not have been delivered to the butcher."

"What," he asked, "is there to `admit'?" Now, he proceeded, he "would like to find peace with [his] former enemies" - a sentiment he shared not only with Himmler, who had expressed it during the last year of the war, or with the Labor Front leader Robert Ley (who, before he committed suicide in Nuremberg, had proposed the establishment of a "conciliation committee" consisting of the Nazis responsible for the massacres and the Jewish survivors) but also, unbelievably, with many ordinary Germans, who were heard to express themselves in exactly the same terms at the end of the war. This outrageous cliché was no longer issued to them from above, it was a self-fabricated stock phrase, as devoid of reality as those clichés by which the people had lived for twelve years; and you could almost see what an "extraordinary sense of elation" it gave to the speaker the moment it popped out of his mouth.

Eichmann's mind was filled to the brim with such sentences. His memory proved to be quite unreliable about what had actually happened; in a rare moment of exasperation, Judge Landau asked the accused: "What can you remember?" (if you don't remember the discussions at the socalled Wannsee Conference, which dealt with the various methods of killing) and the answer, of course, was that Eichmann remembered the turning points in his own career rather well, but that they did not necessarily coincide with the turning points in the story of Jewish extermination or, as a matter of fact, with the turning points in history. (He always had trouble remembering the exact date of the outbreak of the war or of the invasion of Russia.) But the point of the matter is that he had not forgotten a single one of the sentences of his that at one time or another had served to give him a "sense of elation." Hence, whenever, during the cross-examination, the judges tried to appeal to his conscience, they were met with "elation," and they were outraged as well as disconcerted when they learned that the accused had at his disposal a different elating cliché for each period of his life and each of his activities. In his mind, there was no contradiction between "I will jump into my grave laughing," appropriate for the end of the war, and "I shall gladly hang myself in public as a warning example for all anti-Semites on this earth," which now, under vastly different circumstances, fulfilled exactly the same function of giving him a lift.

These habits of Eichmann's created considerable difficulty during the trial - less for Eichmann himself than for those who had come to prosecute him, to defend him, to judge him, and to report on him. For all this, it was essential that one take him seriously, and this was very hard to do, unless one sought the easiest way out of the dilemma between the unspeakable horror of the deeds and the undeniable ludicrousness of the man who perpetrated them, and declared him a clever, calculating liar - which he obviously was not. His own convictions in this matter were far from modest: "One of the few gifts fate bestowed upon me is a capacity for truth insofar as it depends upon myself." This gift he had claimed even before the prosecutor wanted to settle on him crimes he had not committed. In the disorganized, rambling notes he made in Argentina in preparation for the interview with Sassen, when he was still, as he even pointed out at the time, "in full possession of my physical and psychological freedom," he had issued a fantastic warning to "future historians to be objective enough not to stray from the path of this truth recorded here" - fantastic because every line of these scribblings shows his utter ignorance of everything that was not directly, technically and bureaucratically, connected with his job, and also shows an extraordinarily faulty memory.

Despite all the efforts of the prosecution, everybody could see that this man was not a "monster," but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he was a clown. And since this suspicion would have been fatal to the whole enterprise, and was also rather hard to sustain in view of the sufferings he and his like had caused to millions of people, his worst clowneries were hardly noticed and almost never reported. What could you do with a man who first declared, with great emphasis, that the one thing he had learned in an ill-spent life was that one should never take an oath ("Today no man, no judge could ever persuade me to make a sworn statement, to declare something under oath as a witness. I refuse it, I refuse it for moral reasons. Since my experience tells me that if one is loyal to his oath, one day he has to take the consequences, I have made up my mind once and for all that no judge in the world or any other authority will ever be capable of making me swear an oath, to give sworn testimony. I won't do it voluntarily and no one will be able to force me"), and then, after being told explicitly that if he wished to testify in his own defense he might "do so under oath or without an oath," declared without further ado that he would prefer to testify under oath? Or who, repeatedly and with a great show of feeling, assured the court, as he had assured the police examiner, that the worst thing he could do would be to try to escape his true responsibilities, to fight for his neck, to plead for mercy - and then, upon instruction of his counsel, submitted a handwritten document, containing his plea for mercy?

As far as Eichmann was concerned, these were questions of changing moods, and as long as he was capable of finding, either in his memory or on the spur of the moment, an elating stock phrase to go with them, he was quite content, without ever becoming aware of anything like "inconsistencies.". As we shall see, this horrible gift for consoling himself with clichés did not leave him in the hour of his death.
Site Admin
Posts: 23142
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:49 am

4. The First Solution: Expulsion

Had this been an ordinary trial, with the normal tug of war between prosecution and defense to bring out the facts and do justice to both sides, it would be possible to switch now to the version of the defense and find out whether there was not more to Eichmann's grotesque account of his activities in Vienna than meets the eye, and whether his distortions of reality could not really be ascribed to more than the mendacity of an individual. The facts for which Eichmann was to hang had been established "beyond reasonable doubt" long before the trial started, and they were generally known to all students of the Nazi regime. The additional facts that the prosecution tried to establish were, it is true, partly accepted in the judgment, but they would never have appeared to be "beyond reasonable doubt" if the defense had brought its own evidence to bear upon the proceedings. Hence, no report on the Eichmann case, perhaps as distinguished from the Eichmann trial, could be complete without paying some attention to certain facts that are well enough known but that Dr. Servatius chose to ignore.

This is especially true of Eichmann's muddled general outlook and ideology with respect to "the Jewish question." During cross-examination, he told the presiding judge that in Vienna he "regarded the Jews as opponents with respect to whom a mutually acceptable, a mutually fair solution had to be found.

. . . That solution I envisaged as putting firm soil under their feet so that they would have a place of their own, soil of their own. And I was working in the direction of that solution joyfully. I cooperated in reaching such a solution, gladly and joyfully, because it was also the kind of solution that was approved by movements among the Jewish people themselves, and I regarded this as the most appropriate solution to this matter."

This was the true reason they had all "pulled together," the reason their work had been "based upon mutuality." It was in the interest of the Jews, though perhaps not all Jews understood this, to get out of the country; "one had to help them, one had to help these functionaries to act, and that's what I did." If the Jewish functionaries were "idealists," that is, Zionists, he respected them, "treated them as equals," listened to all their "requests and complaints and applications for support," kept his "promises" as far as he could - "People are inclined to forget that now." Who but he, Eichmann, had saved hundreds of thousands of Jews? What but his great zeal and gifts of organization had enabled them to escape in time? True, he could not foresee at the time the coming Final Solution, but he had saved them, that was a "fact." (In an interview given in this country during the trial, Eichmann's son told the same story to American reporters. It must have been a family legend.)

In a sense, one can understand why counsel for the defense did nothing to back up Eichmann's version of his relations with the Zionists. Eichmann admitted, as he had in the Sassen interview, that he "did not greet his assignment with the apathy of an ox being led to his stall," that he had been very different from those colleagues "who had never read a basic book [i.e., Herzl's Judenstaat], worked through it, absorbed it, absorbed it with interest," and who therefore lacked "inner rapport with their work." They were "nothing but office drudges," for whom everything was decided "by paragraphs, by orders, who were interested in nothing else," who were, in short, precisely such "small cogs" as, according to the defense, Eichmann himself had been. If this meant no more than giving unquestioning obedience to the Führer's orders, then they had all been small cogs - even Himmler, we are told by his masseur, Felix Kersten, had not greeted the Final Solution with great enthusiasm, and Eichmann assured the police examiner that his own boss, Heinrich Müller, would never have proposed anything so "crude" as "physical extermination." Obviously, in Eichmann's eyes the small-cog theory was quite beside the point. Certainly he had not been as big as Mr. Hausner tried to make him; after all, he was not Hitler, nor, for that matter, could he compare himself in importance, as far as the "solution" of the Jewish question was concerned, with Müller, or Heydrich, or Himmler; he was no megalomaniac. But neither was he as small as the defense wished him to be.

Eichmann's distortions of reality were horrible because of the horrors they dealt with, but in principle they were not very different from things current in post-Hitler Germany. There is, for instance, Franz-Josef Strauss, former Minister of Defense, who recently conducted an election campaign against Willy Brandt, now mayor of West Berlin, but a refugee in Norway during the Hitler period. Strauss asked a widely publicized and apparently very successful question of Mr. Brandt "What were you doing those twelve years outside Germany? We know what we were doing here in Germany" - with complete impunity, without anybody's batting an eye, let alone reminding the member of the Bonn government that what Germans in Germany were doing during those years has become notorious indeed. The same "innocence" is to be found in a recent casual remark by a respected and respectable German literary critic, who was probably never a Party member; reviewing a study of literature in the Third Reich, he said that its author belonged with "those intellectuals who at the outbreak of barbarism deserted us without exception." This author was of course a Jew, and he was expelled by the Nazis and himself deserted by Gentiles, people like Mr. Heinz Beckmann of the Rheinischer Merkur. Incidentally, the very word "barbarism," today frequently applied by Germans to the Hitler period, is a distortion of reality; it is as though Jewish and non-Jewish intellectuals had fled a country that was no longer "refined" enough for them.

Eichmann, though much less refined than statesmen and literary critics, could, on the other hand, have cited certain indisputable facts to back up his story if his memory had not been so bad, or if the defense had helped him. For "it is indisputable that during the first stages of their Jewish policy the National Socialists thought it proper to adopt a pro-Zionist attitude" (Hans Lamm), and it was during these first stages that Eichmann learned his lessons about Jews. He was by no means alone in taking this "pro-Zionism" seriously; the German Jews themselves thought it would be sufficient to undo "assimilation" through a new process of "dissimilation," and flocked into the ranks of the Zionist movement. (There are no reliable statistics on this development, but it is estimated that the circulation of the Zionist weekly Die Jüdische Rundschau increased in the first months of the Hitler regime from approximately five to seven thousand to nearly forty thousand, and it is known that the Zionist fund-raising organizations received in 1935-36, from a greatly diminished and impoverished population, three times as much as in 1931-32.) This did not necessarily mean that the Jews wished to emigrate to Palestine; it was more a matter of pride: "Wear it with Pride, the Yellow Star!," the most popular slogan of these years, coined by Robert Weltsch, editor-in-chief of the Jüdische Rundschau, expressed the general emotional atmosphere. The polemical point of the slogan, formulated as a response to Boycott Day, April 1, 1933 - more than six years before the Nazis actually forced the Jews to wear a badge, a sixpointed yellow star on a white ground - was directed against the "assimilationists" and all those people who refused to be reconciled to the new "revolutionary development," those who "were always behind the times" (die ewig Gestrigen). The slogan was recalled at the trial, with a good deal of emotion, by witnesses from Germany. They forgot to mention that Robert Weltsch himself, a highly distinguished journalist, had said in recent years that he would never have issued his slogan if he had been able to foresee developments.

But quite apart from all slogans and ideological quarrels, it was in those years a fact of everyday life that only Zionists had any chance of negotiating with the German authorities, for the simple reason that their chief Jewish adversary, the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith, to which ninety-five per cent of organized Jews in Germany then belonged, specified in its bylaws that its chief task was the "fight against anti-Semitism"; it had suddenly become by definition an organization "hostile to the State," and would indeed have been persecuted - which it was not - if it had ever dared to do what it was supposed to do. During its first few years, Hitler's rise to power appeared to the Zionists chiefly as "the decisive defeat of assimilationism." Hence, the Zionists could, for a time, at least, engage in a certain amount of non-criminal cooperation with the Nazi authorities; the Zionists too believed that "dissimilation," combined with the emigration to Palestine of Jewish youngsters and, they hoped, Jewish capitalists, could be a "mutually fair solution." At the time, many German officials held this opinion, and this kind of talk seems to have been quite common up to the end. A letter from a survivor of Theresienstadt, a German Jew, relates that all leading positions in the Nazi-appointed Reichsvereinigung were held by Zionists (whereas the authentically Jewish Reichsvertretung had been composed of both Zionists and non-Zionists), because Zionists, according to the Nazis, were "the `decent' Jews since they too thought in `national' terms." To be sure, no prominent Nazi ever spoke publicly in this vein; from beginning to end, Nazi propaganda was fiercely, unequivocally, uncompromisingly anti-Semitic, and eventually nothing counted but what people who were still without experience in the mysteries of totalitarian government dismissed as "mere propaganda." There existed in those first years a mutually highly satisfactory agreement between the Nazi authorities and the Jewish Agency for Palestine - a Ha'avarah, or Transfer Agreement, which provided that an emigrant to Palestine could transfer his money there in German goods and exchange them for pounds upon arrival. It was soon the only legal way for a Jew to take his money with him (the alternative then being the establishment of a blocked account, which could be liquidated abroad only at a loss of between fifty and ninety-five per cent). The result was that in the thirties, when American Jewry took great pains to organize a boycott of German merchandise, Palestine, of all places, was swamped with all kinds of goods "made in Germany."

Of greater importance for Eichmann were the emissaries from Palestine, who would approach the Gestapo and the S.S. on their own initiative, without taking orders from either the German Zionists or the Jewish Agency for Palestine. They came in order to enlist help for the illegal immigration of Jews into British-ruled Palestine, and both the Gestapo and the S.S. were helpful. They negotiated with Eichmann in Vienna, and they reported that he was "polite," "not the shouting type," and that he even provided them with farms and facilities for setting up vocational training camps for prospective immigrants. ("On one occasion, he expelled a group of nuns from a convent to provide a training farm for young Jews," and on another "a special train [was made available] and Nazi officials accompanied" a group of emigrants, ostensibly headed for Zionist training farms in Yugoslavia, to see them safely across the border.) According to the story told by Jon and David Kimche, with "the full and generous cooperation of all the chief actors" (The Secret Roads: The "Illegal" Migration of a People, 1938-1948, London, 1954), these Jews from Palestine spoke a language not totally different from that of Eichmann. They had been sent to Europe by the communal settlements in Palestine, and they were not interested in rescue operations: "That was not their job." They wanted to select "suitable material," and their chief enemy, prior to the extermination program, was not those who made life impossible for Jews in the old countries, Germany or Austria, but those who barred access to the new homeland; that enemy was definitely Britain, not Germany. Indeed, they were in a position to deal with the Nazi authorities on a footing amounting to equality, which native Jews were not, since they enjoyed the protection of the mandatory power; they were probably among the first Jews to talk openly about mutual interests and were certainly the first to be given permission "to pick young Jewish pioneers" from among the Jews in the concentration camps. Of course, they were unaware of the sinister implications of this deal, which still lay in the future; but they too somehow believed that if it was a question of selecting Jews for survival, the Jews should do the selecting themselves. It was this fundamental error in judgment that eventually led to a situation in which the non-selected majority of Jews inevitably found themselves confronted with two enemies - the Nazi authorities and the Jewish authorities. As far as the Viennese episode is concerned, Eichmann's preposterous claim to have saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives, which was laughed out of court, finds strange support in the considered judgment of the Jewish historians, the Kimches: "Thus what must have been one of the most paradoxical episodes of the entire period of the Nazi regime began: the man who was to go down in history as one of the arch-murderers of the Jewish people entered the lists as an active worker in the rescue of Jews from Europe."

Eichmann's trouble was that he remembered none of the facts that might have supported, however faintly, his incredible story, while the learned counsel for the defense probably did not even know that there was anything to remember. (Dr. Servatius could have called as witnesses for the defense the former agents of Aliyah Beth, as the organization for illegal immigration into Palestine was called; they certainly still remembered Eichmann, and they were now living in Israel.) Eichmann's memory functioned only in respect to things that had had a direct bearing upon his career. Thus, he remembered a visit he had received in Berlin from a Palestinian functionary who told him about life in the collective settlements, and whom he had twice taken out to dinner, because this visit ended with a formal invitation to Palestine, where the Jews would show him the country. He was delighted; no other Nazi official had been able to go "to a distant foreign land," and he received permission to make the trip. The judgment concluded that he had been sent "on an espionage mission," which no doubt was true, but this did not contradict the story Eichmann had told the police. (Practically nothing came of the enterprise. Eichmann, together with a journalist from his office, a certain Herbert Hagen, had just enough time to climb Mount Carmel in Haifa before the British authorities deported both of them to Egypt and denied them entry permits for Palestine; according to Eichmann, "the man from the Haganah" - the Jewish military organization which became the nucleus of the Israeli Army - came to see them in Cairo, and what he told them there became the subject of a "thoroughly negative report" Eichmann and Hagen were ordered by their superiors to write for propaganda purposes; this was duly published.)

Apart from such minor triumphs, Eichmann remembered only moods and the catch phrases he made up to go with them; the trip to Egypt had been in 1937, prior to his activity in Vienna, and from Vienna he remembered no more than the general atmosphere and how "elated" he had felt. In view of his astounding virtuosity in never discarding a mood and its catch phrase once and for all when they became incompatible with a new era, which required different moods and different "elating" phrases - a virtuosity that he demonstrated over and over during the police examination - one is tempted to believe in his sincerity when he spoke of the time in Vienna as an idyll. Because of the complete lack of consistency in his thoughts and sentiments, this sincerity is not even undermined by the fact that his year in Vienna, from the spring of 1938 to March, 1939, came at a time when the Nazi regime had abandoned its pro-Zionist attitude. It was in the nature of the Nazi movement that it kept moving, became more radical with each passing month, but one of the outstanding characteristics of its members was that psychologically they tended to be always one step behind the movement - that they had the greatest difficulty in keeping up with it, or, as Hitler used to phrase it, that they could not "jump over their own shadow."

More damning, however, than any objective fact was Eichmann's own faulty memory. There were certain Jews in Vienna whom he recalled very vividly - Dr. Löwenherz and Kommerzialrat Storfer - but they were not those Palestinian emissaries, who might have backed up his story. Josef Löwenherz, who after the war wrote a very interesting memorandum about his negotiations with Eichmann (one of the few new documents produced by the trial, it was shown in part to Eichmann, who found himself in complete agreement with its main statements), was the first Jewish functionary actually to organize a whole Jewish community into an institution at the service of the Nazi authorities. And he was one of the very, very few such functionaries to reap a reward for his services - he was permitted to stay in Vienna until the end of the war, when he emigrated to England and the United States; he died shortly after Eichmann's capture, in 1960. Storfer's fate, as we have seen, was less fortunate, but this certainly was not Eichmann's fault. Storfer had replaced the Palestinian emissaries, who had become too independent, and his task, assigned to him by Eichmann, was to organize some illegal transports of Jews into Palestine without the help of the Zionists. Storfer was no Zionist and had shown no interest in Jewish matters prior to the arrival of the Nazis in Austria. Still, with the help of Eichmann he succeeded in getting some thirty-five hundred Jews out of Europe, in 1940, when half of Europe was occupied by the Nazis, and it seems that he did his best to clear things with the Palestinians. (That is probably what Eichmann had in mind when he added to his story about Storfer in Auschwitz the cryptic remark: "Storfer never betrayed Judaism, not with a single word, not Storfer.") A third Jew, finally, whom Eichmann never failed to recall in connection with his prewar activities was Dr. Paul Eppstein, in charge of emigration in Berlin during the last years of the Reichsvereinigung - a Naziappointed Jewish central organization, not to be confused with the authentically Jewish Reichsvertretung, which was dissolved in July, 1939. Dr. Eppstein was appointed by Eichmann to serve as Judenältester (Jewish Elder) in Theresienstadt, where he was shot in 1944.

In other words, the only Jews Eichmann remembered were those who had been completely in his power. He had forgotten not only the Palestinian emissaries but also his earlier Berlin acquaintances, whom he had known well when he was still engaged in intelligence work and had no executive powers. He never mentioned, for instance, Dr. Franz Meyer, a former member of the Executive of the Zionist Organization in Germany, who came to testify for the prosecution about his contacts with the accused from 1936 to 1939. To some extent, Dr. Meyer confirmed Eichmann's own story: in Berlin, the Jewish functionaries could "put forward complaints and requests," there was a kind of cooperation. Sometimes, Meyer said, "we came to ask for something, and there were times when he demanded something from us"; Eichmann at that time "was genuinely listening to us and was sincerely trying to understand the situation"; his behavior was "quite correct" - "he used to address me as `Mister' and to offer me a seat." But in February, 1939, all this had changed. Eichmann had summoned the leaders of German Jewry to Vienna to explain to them his new methods of "forced emigration." And there he was, sitting in a large room on the ground floor of the Rothschild Palais, recognizable, of course, but completely changed: "I immediately told my friends that I did not know whether I was meeting the same man. So terrible was the change. . . . Here I met a man who comported himself as a master of life and death. He received us with insolence and rudeness. He did not let us come near his desk. We had to remain standing." Prosecution and judges were in agreement that Eichmann underwent a genuine and lasting personality change when he was promoted to a post with executive powers. But the trial showed that here, too, he had "relapses," and that the matter could never have been as simple as that. There was the witness who testified to an interview with him at Theresienstadt in March, 1945, when Eichmann again showed himself to be very interested in Zionist matters - the witness was a member of a Zionist youth organization and held a certificate of entry for Palestine. The interview was "conducted in very pleasant language and the attitude was kind and respectful." (Strangely, counsel for the defense never mentioned this witness's testimony in his plaidoyer. ) Whatever doubts there may be about Eichmann's personality change in Vienna, there is no doubt that this appointment marked the real beginning of his career. Between 1937 and 1941, he won four promotions; within fourteen months he advanced from Untersturmführer to Hauptsturmführer (that is, from second lieutenant to captain); and in another year and a half he was made Obersturmbannführer, or lieutenant colonel. That happened in October, 1941, shortly after he was assigned the role in the Final Solution that was to land him in the District Court of Jerusalem. And there, to his great grief, he "got stuck"; as he saw it, there was no higher grade obtainable in the section in which he worked. But this he could not know during the four years in which he climbed quicker and higher than he had ever anticipated. In Vienna, he had shown his mettle, and now he was recognized not merely as an expert on "the Jewish question," the intricacies of Jewish organizations and Zionist parties, but as an "authority" on emigration and evacuation, as the "master" who knew how to make people move. His greatest triumph came shortly after the Kristallnacht, in November, 1938, when German Jews had become frantic in their desire to escape. Göring, probably on the initiative of Heydrich, decided to establish in Berlin a Reich Center for Jewish Emigration, and in the letter containing his directives Eichmann's Viennese office was specifically mentioned as the model to be used in the setting up of a central authority. The head of the Berlin office was not to be Eichmann, however, but his later greatly admired boss Heinrich Müller, another of Heydrich's discoveries. Heydrich had just taken Müller away from his job as a regular Bavarian police officer (he was not even a member of the Party and had been an opponent until 1933), and called him to the Gestapo in Berlin, because he was known to be an authority on the Soviet Russian police system. For Müller, too, this was the beginning of his career, though he had to start with a comparatively small assignment. (Müller, incidentally, not prone to boasting like Eichmann and known for his "sphinxlike conduct," succeeded in disappearing altogether; nobody knows his whereabouts, though there are rumors that first East Germany and now Albania have engaged the services of the Russian-police expert.)

In March, 1939, Hitler moved into Czechoslovakia and erected a German protectorate over Bohemia and Moravia. Eichmann was immediately appointed to set up another emigration center for Jews in Prague. "In the beginning I was not too happy to leave Vienna, for if you have installed such an office and if you see everything running smoothly and in goody order, you don't like to give it up." And indeed, Prague was somewhat disappointing, although the system was the same as in Vienna, for "The functionaries of the Czech Jewish organizations went to Vienna and the Viennese people came to Prague, so that I did not have to intervene at all. The model in Vienna was simply copied and carried to Prague. Thus the whole thing got started automatically." But the Prague center was much smaller, and "I regret to say there were no people of the caliber and the energy of a Dr. Löwenherz." But these, as it were, personal reasons for discontent were minor compared to mounting difficulties of another, entirely objective nature. Hundreds of thousands of Jews had left their homelands in a matter of a few years, and millions waited behind them, for the Polish and Rumanian governments left no doubt in their official proclamations that they, too, wished to be rid of their Jews. They could not understand why the world should get indignant if they followed in the footsteps of a "great and cultured nation." (This enormous arsenal of potential refugees had been revealed during the Evian Conference, called in the summer of 1938 to solve the problem of German Jewry through intergovernmental action. It was a resounding fiasco and did great harm to German Jews.) The avenues for emigration overseas now became clogged up, just as the escape possibilities within Europe had been exhausted earlier, and even under the best of circumstances, if war had not interfered with his program, Eichmann would hardly have been able to repeat the Viennese "miracle" in Prague. He knew this very well, he really had become an expert on matters of emigration, and he could not have been expected to greet his next appointment with any great enthusiasm. War had broken out in September, 1939, and one month later Eichmann was called back to Berlin to succeed Müller as head of the Reich Center for Jewish Emigration. A year before, this would have been a real promotion, but now was the wrong moment. No one in his senses could possibly think any longer of a solution of the Jewish question in terms of forced emigration; quite apart from the difficulties of getting people from one country to another in wartime, the Reich had acquired, through the conquest of Polish territories, two or two and a half million more Jews. It is true that the Hitler government was still willing to let its Jews go (the order that stopped all Jewish emigration came only two years later, in the fall of 1941), and if any "final solution" had been decided upon, nobody had as yet given orders to that effect, although Jews were already concentrated in ghettos in the East and were also being liquidated by the Einsatzgruppen. It was only natural that emigration, however smartly organized in Berlin in accordance with the "assembly line principle," should peter out by itself - a process Eichmann described as being "like pulling teeth . . . listless, I would say, on both sides. On the Jewish side because it was really difficult to obtain any emigration possibilities to speak of, and on our side because there was no bustle and no rush, no coming and going of people. There we were, sitting in a great and mighty building, amid a yawning emptiness." Evidently, if Jewish matters, his specialty, remained a matter of emigration, he would soon be out of a job.
Site Admin
Posts: 23142
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:50 am

5. The Second Solution: Concentration

It was not until the outbreak of the war, on September 1, 1939, that the Nazi regime became openly totalitarian and openly criminal. One of the most important steps in this direction, from an organizational point of view, was a decree, signed by Himmler, that fused the Security Service of the S.S., to which Eichmann had belonged since 1934, and which was a Party organ, with the regular Security Police of the State, in which the Secret State Police, or Gestapo, was included. The result of the merger was the Head Office for Reich Security (R.S.H.A.), whose chief was first Reinhardt Heydrich; after Heydrich's death in 1942, Eichmann's old acquaintance from Linz, Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner, took over. All officials of the police, not only of the Gestapo but also of the Criminal Police and the Order Police, received S.S. titles corresponding to their previous ranks, regardless of whether or not they were Party members, and this meant that in the space of a day a most important part of the old civil services was incorporated into the most radical section of the Nazi hierarchy. No one, as far as I know, protested, or resigned his job. (Though Himmler, the head and founder of the S.S., had since 1936 been Chief of the German Police as well, the two apparatuses had remained separate until now.) The R.S.H.A., moreover, was only one of twelve Head Offices in the S.S., the most important of which, in the present context, were the Head Office of the Order Police, under General Kurt Daluege, which was responsible for the rounding up of Jews, and the Head Office for Administration and Economy (the S.S.-Wirtschafts- Verwaltungshauptamt, or W.V.H.A.), headed by Oswald Pohl, which was in charge of concentration camps and was later to be in charge of the "economic" side of the extermination. This "objective" attitude - talking about concentration camps' in terms of "administration" and about extermination camps in terms of "economy" - was typical of the S.S. mentality, and something Eichmann, at the trial, was still very proud of. By its "objectivity" (Sachlichkeit), the S.S. dissociated itself from such "emotional" types as Streicher, that "unrealistic fool," and also from certain "Teutonic-Germanic Party bigwigs who behaved as though they were clad in horns and pelts." Eichmann admired Heydrich greatly because he did not like such nonsense at all, and he was out of sympathy with Himmler because, among other things, the Reichsführer S.S. and Chief of the German Police, though boss of all the S.S. Head Offices, had permitted himself "at least for a long time to be influenced by it." During the trial, however, it was not the accused, S.S. Obersturmbannführer a.D., who was to carry off the prize for "objectivity"; it was Dr. Servatius, a tax and business lawyer from Cologne who had never joined the Nazi Party and who nevertheless was to teach the court a lesson in what it means not to be "emotional" that no one who heard him is likely to forget. The moment, one of the few great ones in the whole trial, occurred during the short oral plaidoyer of the defense, after which the court withdrew for four months to write its judgment. Servatius declared the accused innocent of charges bearing on his responsibility for "the collection of skeletons, sterilizations, killings by gas, and similar medical matters," where upon Judge Halevi interrupted him: "Dr. Servatius, I assume you made a slip of the tongue when you said that killing by gas was a medical matter." To which Servatius replied: "It was indeed a medical matter, since it was prepared by physicians; it was a matter of killing, and killing, too, is a medical matter." And, perhaps to make absolutely sure that the judges in Jerusalem would not forget how Germans - ordinary Germans, not former members of the S.S. or even of the Nazi Party - even today can regard acts that in other countries are called murder, he repeated the phrase in his "Comments on the Judgment of the First Instance," prepared for the review of the case before the Supreme Court; he said again that not Eichmann, but one of his men, Rolf Günther, "was always engaged in medical matters." (Dr. Servatius is well acquainted with "medical matters" in the Third Reich. At Nuremberg he defended Dr. Karl Brandt, Hitler's personal physician, Plenipotentiary for "Hygiene and Health," and chief of the euthanasia program.)

Each of the Head Offices of the S.S., in its wartime organization, was divided into sections and subsections, and the R.S.H.A. eventually contained seven main sections. Section IV was the bureau of the Gestapo, and it was headed by Gruppenführer (major general) Heinrich Müller, whose rank was the one he had held in the Bavarian police. His task was to combat "opponents hostile to the State," of which there were two categories, to be dealt with by two sections: Subsection IV-A handled "opponents" accused of Communism, Sabotage, Liberalism, and Assassinations, and Subsection IV-B dealt with "sects," that is, Catholics, Protestants, Freemasons (the post remained vacant), and Jews. Each of the categories in these subsections received an office of its own, designated by an arabic numeral, so that Eichmann eventually - in 1941 - was appointed to the desk of IV-B-4 in the R.S.H.A. Since his immediate superior, the head of IV-B, turned out to be a nonentity, his real superior was always Müller. Müller's superior was Heydrich, and later Kaltenbrunner, each of whom was, in his turn, under the command of Himmler, who received his orders directly from Hitler.

In addition to his twelve Head Offices, Himmler presided over an altogether different organizational setup, which also played an enormous role in the execution of the Final Solution. This was the network of Higher S.S. and Police Leaders who were in command of the regional organizations; their chain of command did not link them with the R.S.H.A., they were directly responsible to Himmler, and they always outranked Eichmann and the men at his disposal. The Einsatzgruppen, on the other hand, were under the command of Heydrich and the R.S.H.A. - which, of course, does not mean that Eichmann necessarily had anything to do with them. The commanders of the Einsatzgruppen also invariably held a higher rank than Eichmann. Technically and organizationally, Eichmann's position was not very high; his post turned out to be such an important one only because the Jewish question, for purely ideological reasons, acquired a greater importance with every day and week and month of the war, until, in the years of defeat - from 1943 on - it had grown to fantastic proportions. When that happened, his was still the only office that officially dealt with nothing but "the opponent, Jewry," but in fact he had lost his monopoly, because by then all offices and apparatuses, State and Party, Army and S.S., were busy "solving" that problem. Even if we concentrate our attention only upon the police machinery and disregard all the other offices, the picture is absurdly complicated, since we have to add to the Einsatzgruppen and the Higher S.S. and Police Leader Corps the Commanders and the Inspectors of the Security Police and the Security Service. Each of these groups belonged in a different chain of command that ultimately reached Himmler, but they were equal with respect to each other and no one belonging to one group owed obedience to a superior officer of another group. The prosecution, it must be admitted, was in a most difficult position in finding its way through this labyrinth of parallel institutions, which it had to do each time it wanted to pin some specific responsibility on Eichmann. (If the trial were to take place today, this task would be much easier, since Raul Hilberg in his The Destruction of the European Jews has succeeded in presenting the first clear description of this incredibly complicated machinery of destruction.) Furthermore, it must be remembered that all these organs,` wielding enormous power, were in fierce competition with one another - which was no help to their victims, since their ambition was always the same: to kill as many Jews as possible. This competitive spirit, which, of course, inspired in each man a great loyalty to his own outfit, has survived the war, only now it works in reverse: it has become each man's desire "to exonerate his own outfit" at the expense of all the others. This was the explanation Eichmann gave when he was confronted with the memoirs of Rudolf Höss, Commander of Auschwitz, in which Eichmann is accused of certain things that he claimed he never did and was in no position to do. He admitted easily enough that Höss had no personal reasons for saddling him with acts of which he was innocent, since their relations had been quite friendly; but he insisted, in vain, that Höss wanted to exculpate his own outfit, the Head Office for Administration and Economy, and to put all the blame on the R.S.H.A. Something of the same sort happened at Nuremberg, where the various accused presented a nauseating spectacle by accusing each other - though none of them blamed Hitler! Still, no one did this merely to save his own neck at the expense of somebody else's; the men on trial there represented altogether different organizations, with long-standing, deeply ingrained hostility to one another. Dr. Hans Globke, whom we met before, tried to exonerate his own Ministry of the Interior at the expense of the Foreign Office, when he testified for the prosecution at Nuremberg. Eichmann, on the other hand, always tried to shield Müller, Heydrich, and Kaltenbrunner, although the latter had treated him quite badly. No doubt one of the chief objective mistakes of the prosecution at Jerusalem was that its case relied too heavily on sworn or unsworn affidavits of former high-ranking Nazis, dead or alive; it did not see, and perhaps could not be expected to see, how dubious these documents were as sources for the establishment of facts. Even the judgment, in its evaluation of the damning testimonies of other Nazi criminals, took into account that (in the words of one of the defense witnesses) "it was customary at the time of the war-crime trials to put as much blame as possible on those who were absent or believed to be dead." When Eichmann entered his new office in Section IV of the R.S.H.A., he was still confronted with the uncomfortable dilemma that on the one hand "forced emigration" was the official formula for the solution of the Jewish question, and, on the other hand, emigration was no longer possible. For the first (and almost the last) time in his life in the S.S., he was compelled by circumstances to take the initiative, to see if he could not "give birth to an idea." According to the version he gave at the police examination, he was blessed with three ideas. All three of them, he had to admit, came to naught; everything he tried on his own invariably went wrong - the final blow came when he had "to abandon" his private fortress in Berlin before he could try it out against Russian tanks. Nothing but frustration; a hard luck story if there ever was one. The inexhaustible source of trouble, as he saw it, was that he and his men were never left alone, that all these other State and Party offices wanted their share in the "solution," with the result that a veritable army of "Jewish experts" had cropped up everywhere and were falling over themselves in their efforts to be first in a field of which they knew nothing. For these people, Eichmann had the greatest contempt, partly because they were Johnnies-come-lately, partly because they tried to enrich themselves, and often succeeded in getting quite rich in the course of their work, and partly because they were ignorant, they had not read the one or two "basic books."

His three dreams turned out to have been inspired by the "basic books," but it was also revealed that two of the three were definitely not his ideas at all, and with respect to the third - well, "I do not know any longer whether it was Stahlecker [his superior in Vienna and Prague] or myself who gave birth to the idea, anyhow the idea was born." This last idea was the first, chronologically; it was the "idea of Nisko," and its failure was for Eichmann the clearest possible proof of the evil of interference. (The guilty person in this case was Hans Frank, Governor General of Poland.) In order to understand the plan, we must remember that after the conquest of Poland and prior to the German attack on Russia, the Polish territories were divided between Germany and Russia; the German part consisted of the Western Regions, which were incorporated into the Reich, and the so-called Eastern Area, including Warsaw, which was known as the General Government. For the time being, the Eastern Area was treated as occupied territory. As the solution of the Jewish question at this time was still "forced emigration," with the goal of making Germany judenrein, it was natural that Polish Jews in the annexed territories, together with the remaining Jews in other parts of the Reich, should be shoved into the General Government, which, whatever it may have been, was not considered to be part of the Reich. By December, 1939, evacuations eastward had started and roughly one million Jews-six hundred thousand from the incorporated area and four hundred thousand from the Reich - began to arrive in the General Government.

If Eichmann's version of the Nisko adventure is true - and there is no reason not to believe him - he or, more likely, his Prague and Vienna superior, Brigadeführer (brigadier general) Franz Stahlecker must have anticipated these developments by several months. This Dr. Stahlecker, as Eichmann was careful to call him, was in his opinion a very fine man, educated, full of reason, and "free of hatred and chauvinism of any kind" - in Vienna, he used to shake hands with the Jewish functionaries. A year and a half later, in the spring of 1941, this educated gentleman was appointed Commander of Einsatzgruppe A, and managed to kill by shooting, in little more than a year (he himself was killed in action in 1942), two hundred and fifty thousand Jews - as he proudly reported to Himmler himself, although the chief of the Einsatzgruppen, which were police units, was the head of the Security Police and the S.D., that is, Reinhardt Heydrich. But that came later, and now, in September, 1939, while the German Army was still busy occupying the Polish territories, Eichmann and Dr. Stahlecker began to think "privately" about how the Security Service might get its share of influence in the East. What they needed was "an area as large as possible in Poland, to be carved off for the erection of an autonomous Jewish state in the form of a protectorate. . . . This could be the solution." And off they went, on their own initiative, without orders from anybody, to reconnoiter. They went to the Radom District, on the San River, not far from the Russian border, and they "saw a huge territory, villages, market places, small towns," and "we said to ourselves: that is what we need and why should one not resettle Poles for a change, since people are being resettled everywhere"; this will be "the solution of the Jewish question" - firm soil under their feet - at least for some time.

Everything seemed to go very well at first. They went to Heydrich, and Heydrich agreed and told them to go ahead. It so happened - though Eichmann, in Jerusalem, had completely forgotten it - that their project fitted very well in Heydrich's overall plan at this stage for the solution of the Jewish question. On September 21, 1939, he had called a meeting of the "heads of departments" of the R.S.H.A. and the Einsatzgruppen (operating already in Poland), at which general directives for the immediate future had been given: concentration of Jews in ghettos, establishment of Councils of Jewish Elders, and the deportation of all Jews to the General Government area. Eichmann had attended this meeting setting up the "Jewish Center of Emigration" - as was proved at the trial through the minutes, which Bureau 06 of the Israeli police had discovered in the National Archives in Washington. Hence, Eichmann's, or Stahlecker's, initiative amounted to no more than a concrete plan for carrying out Heydrich's directives. And now thousands of people, chiefly from Austria, were deported helter-skelter into this God-forsaken place which, an S.S. officer -Erich Rajakowitsch, who later was in charge of the deportation of Dutch Jews - explained to them, "the Führer has promised the Jews as a new homeland. There are no dwellings, there are no houses. If you build, there will be a roof over your heads. There is no water, the wells all around carry disease, there is cholera, dysentery, and typhoid. If you bore and find water, you will have water." As one can see, "everything looked marvelous," except that the S.S. expelled some of the Jews from this paradise, driving them across the Russian border, and others had the good sense to escape of their own volition. But then, Eichmann complained, "the obstructions began on the part of Hans Frank," whom they had forgotten to inform, although this was "his" territory. "Frank complained in Berlin and a great tug of war started. Frank wanted to solve his Jewish question all by himself. He did not want to receive any more Jews in his General Government. Those who had arrived should disappear immediately." And they did disappear; some were even repatriated, which had never happened before and never happened again, and those who returned to Vienna were registered in the police records as "returning from vocational training" - a curious relapse into the pro-Zionist stage of the movement.

Eichmann's eagerness to acquire some territory for "his" Jews is best understood in terms of his own career. The Nisko plan was "born" during the time of his rapid advancement, and it is more than likely that he saw himself as the future Governor General, like Hans Frank in Poland, or the future Protector, like Heydrich in Czechoslovakia, of a "Jewish State." The utter fiasco of the whole enterprise, however, must have taught him a lesson about the possibilities and the desirability of "private" initiative. And since he and Stahlecker had acted within the framework of Heydrich's directives and with his explicit consent, this unique repatriation of Jews, clearly a temporary defeat for the police and the S.S., must also have taught him that the steadily increasing power of his own outfit did not amount to omnipotence, that the State Ministries and the other Party institutions were quite prepared to fight to maintain their own shrinking power. Eichmann's second attempt at "putting firm ground under the feet of the Jews" was the Madagascar project. The plan to evacuate four million Jews from Europe to the French island off the southeast coast of Africa - an island with a native population of 4,370,000 and an area of 227,678 square miles of poor land - had originated in the Foreign Office and was then transmitted to the R.S.H.A. because, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther, who was in charge of Jewish affairs in the Wilhelmstrasse, only the police "possessed the experiences and the technical facilities to execute an evacuation of Jews en masse and to guarantee the supervision of the evacuees." The "Jewish State" was to have a police governor under the jurisdiction of Himmler. The project itself had an odd history. Eichmann, confusing Madagascar with Uganda, always claimed to having dreamed "a dream once dreamed by the Jewish protagonist of the Jewish State idea, Theodor Herzl," but it is true that his dream had been dreamed before - first by the Polish government, which in 1937 went to much trouble to look into the idea, only to find that it would be quite impossible to ship its own nearly three million Jews there without killing them, and, somewhat later, by the French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet, who had the more modest plan of shipping France's foreign Jews, numbering about two hundred thousand, to the French colony. He even consulted his German opposite number, Joachim von Ribbentrop, on the matter in 1938.

Eichmann at any rate was told in the summer of 1940, when his emigration business had come to a complete standstill, to work out a detailed plan for the evacuation of four million Jews to Madagascar, and this project seems to have occupied most of his time until the invasion of Russia, a year later. (Four million is a strikingly low figure for making Europe judenrein. It obviously did not include three million Polish Jews who, as everybody knew, had been being massacred ever since the first days of the war.) That anybody except Eichmann and some other lesser luminaries ever took the whole thing seriously seems unlikely, for - apart from the fact that the territory was known to be unsuitable, not to mention the fact that it was, after all, a French possession - the plan would have required shipping space for four million in the midst of a war and at a moment when the British Navy was in control of the Atlantic. The Madagascar plan was always meant to serve as a cloak under which the preparations for the physical extermination of all the Jews of Western Europe could be carried forward (no such cloak was needed for the extermination of Polish Jews!), and its great advantage with respect to the army of trained anti- Semites, who, try as they might, always found themselves one step behind the Führer, was that it familiarized all concerned with the preliminary notion that nothing less than complete evacuation from Europe would do - no special legislation, no "dissimilation," no ghettos would suffice. When, a year later, the Madagascar project was declared to have become "obsolete," everybody was psychologically, or rather, logically, prepared for the next step: since there existed no territory to which one could "evacuate," the only "solution" was extermination.

Not that Eichmann, the truth-revealer for generations to come, ever suspected the existence of such sinister plans. What brought the Madagascar enterprise to naught was lack of time, and time was wasted through the never-ending interference from other offices. In Jerusalem, the police as well as the court tried to shake him out of his complacency. They confronted him with two documents concerning the meeting of September 21, 1939, mentioned above; one of them, a teletyped letter written by Heydrich and containing certain directives to the Einsatzgruppen, distinguished for the first time between a "final aim, requiring longer periods of time" and to be treated as "top secret," and "the stages for achieving this final aim." The phrase "final solution" did not yet appear, and the document is silent about the meaning of a "final aim." Hence, Eichmann could have said, all right, the "final aim" was his Madagascar project, which at this time was being kicked around all the German offices; for a mass evacuation, the concentration of all Jews was a necessary preliminary "stage." But Eichmann, after reading the document carefully, said immediately that he was convinced that "final aim" could only mean "physical extermination," and concluded that "this basic idea was already rooted in the minds of the higher leaders, or the men at the very top." This might indeed have been the truth, but then he would have had to admit that the Madagascar project could not have been more than a hoax. Well, he did not; he never changed his Madagascar story, and probably he just could not change it. It was as though this story ran along a different tape in his memory, and it was this taped memory that showed itself to be proof against reason and argument and information and insight of any kind.

His memory informed him that there had existed a lull in the activities against Western and Central European Jews between the outbreak of the war (Hitler, in his speech to the Reichstag of January 30, 1939, had "prophesied" that war would bring "the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe") and the invasion of Russia. To be sure, even then the various offices in the Reich and in the occupied territories were doing their best to eliminate "the opponent, Jewry," but there was no unified policy; it seemed as though every office had its own "solution" and might be permitted to apply it or to pit it against the solutions of its competitors. Eichmann's solution was a police state, and for that he needed a sizable territory. All his "efforts failed because of the lack of understanding of the minds concerned," because of "rivalries," quarrels, squabbling, because everybody "vied for supremacy." And then it was too late; the war against Russia "struck suddenly, like a thunderclap." That was the end of his dreams, as it marked the end of "the era of searching for a solution in the interest of both sides." It was also, as he recognized in the memoirs he wrote in Argentina, "the end of an era in which there existed laws, ordinances, decrees for the treatment of individual Jews." And, according to him, it was more than that, it was the end of his career, and though this sounded rather crazy in view of his present "fame," it could not be denied that he had a point. For his outfit, which either in the actuality of "forced emigration" or in the "dream" of a Nazi-ruled Jewish State had been the final authority in all Jewish matters, now "receded into the second rank so far as the Final Solution of the Jewish question was concerned, for what was now initiated was transferred to different units, and negotiations were conducted by another Head Office, under the command of the former Reichsführer S.S. and Chief of the German Police." The "different units" were the picked groups of killers, who operated in the rear of the Army in the East, and whose special duty consisted of massacring the native civilian population and especially the Jews; and the other Head Office was the W.V.H.A., under Oswald Pohl, to which Eichmann had to apply to find out the ultimate destination of each shipment of Jews. This was calculated according to the "absorptive capacity" of the various killing installations and also according to the requests for slave workers from the numerous industrial enterprises that had found it profitable to establish branches in the neighborhood of some of the death camps. (Apart from the not very important industrial enterprises of the S.S., such famous German firms as I.G. Farben, the Krupp Werke, and Siemens-Schuckert Werke had established plants in Auschwitz as well as near the Lublin death camps. Cooperation between the S.S. and the businessmen was excellent; Höss of Auschwitz testified to very cordial social relations with the I.G. Farben representatives. As for working conditions, the idea was clearly to kill through labor; according to Hilberg, at least twenty-five thousand of the approximately thirty-five thousand Jews who worked for one of the I.G. Farben plants died.) As far as Eichmann was concerned, the point was that evacuation and deportation were no longer the last stages of the "solution." His department had become merely instrumental. Hence he had every reason to be very "embittered and disappointed" when the Madagascar project was shelved; and the only thing he had to console him was his promotion to Obersturmbannführer,, which came in October, 1941.

The last time Eichmann recalled having tried something on his own was in September, 1941, three months after the invasion of Russia. This was just after Heydrich, still chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, had become Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. To celebrate the occasion, he had called a press conference and had promised that in eight weeks the Protectorate would be judenrein. After the conference, he discussed the matter with those who would have to make his word good - with Franz Stahlecker, who was then local commander of the Security Police in Prague, and with the Undersecretary of State, Karl Hermann Frank, a former Sudeten leader who soon after Heydrich's death was to succeed him as Reichsprotektor. Frank, in Eichmann's opinion, was a low type, a Jew-hater of the "Streicher kind" who "didn't know a thing about political solutions," one of those people who, "autocratically and, let me say, in the drunkenness of their power simply gave orders and commands." But otherwise the conference was enjoyable. For the first time, Heydrich showed "a more human side" and admitted, with beautiful frankness, that he had "allowed his tongue to run away with him" - "no great surprise to those who knew Heydrich," an "ambitious and impulsive character," who "often let words slip through the fence of his teeth more quickly than he later might have liked." So Heydrich himself said: "There is the mess, and what are we going to do now?" Whereupon Eichmann said: "There exists only one possibility, if you cannot retreat from your announcement. Give enough room into which to transfer the Jews of the Protectorate, who now live dispersed." (A Jewish homeland, a gathering - in of the exiles in the Diaspora.) And then, unfortunately, Frank - the Jew-hater of the Streicher kind - made a concrete proposal, and that was that the room be provided at Theresienstadt. Whereupon Heydrich, perhaps also in the drunkenness of his power, simply ordered the immediate evacuation of the native Czech population from Theresienstadt, to make room for the Jews.

Eichmann was sent there to look things over. Great disappointment: the Bohemian fortress town on the banks of the Eger was far too small; at best, it could become a transfer camp for a certain percentage of the ninety thousand Jews in Bohemia and Moravia. (For about fifty thousand Czech Jews, Theresienstadt indeed became a transfer camp on the way to Auschwitz, while an estimated twenty thousand more reached the same destination directly.) We know from better sources than Eichmann's faulty memory that Theresienstadt, from the beginning, was designed by Heydrich to serve as a special ghetto for certain privileged categories of Jews, chiefly, but not exclusively, from Germany - Jewish functionaries, prominent people, war veterans with high decorations, invalids, the Jewish partners of mixed marriages, and German Jews over sixty-five years of age (hence the nickname Altersghetto). The town proved too small even for these restricted categories, and in 1943, about a year after its establishment, there began the "thinning out" or "loosening up" (Auflockerung) processes by which overcrowding was regularly relieved - by means of transport to Auschwitz. But in one respect, Eichmann's memory did not deceive him. Theresienstadt was in fact the only concentration camp that did not fall under the authority of the W.V.H.A. but remained his own responsibility to the end. Its commanders were men from his own staff and always his inferiors in rank; it was the only camp in which he had at least some of the power which the prosecution in Jerusalem ascribed to him.

Eichmann's memory, jumping with great ease over the years - he was two years ahead of the sequence of events when he told the police examiner the story of Theresienstadt - was certainly not controlled by chronological order, but it was not simply erratic. It was like a storehouse, filled with human-interest stories of the worst type. When he thought back to Prague, there emerged the occasion when he was admitted to the presence of the great Heydrich, who showed himself to have a "more human side." A few sessions later, he mentioned a trip to Bratislava, in Slovakia, where he happened to be at the time when Heydrich was assassinated. What he remembered was that he was there as the guest of Sano Mach, Minister of the Interior in the German-established Slovakian puppet government. (In that strongly anti-Semitic Catholic government, Mach represented the German version of anti-Semitism; he refused to allow exceptions for baptized Jews and he was one of the persons chiefly responsible for the wholesale deportation of Slovak Jewry.) Eichmann remembered this because it was unusual for him to receive social invitations from members of governments; it was an honor. Mach, as Eichmann recalled, was a nice, easygoing fellow who invited him to bowl with him. Did he really have no other business in Bratislava in the middle of the war than to go bowling with the Minister of the Interior? No, absolutely no other business; he remembered it all very well, how they bowled, and how drinks were served just before the news of the attempt on Heydrich's life arrived. Four months and fiftyfive tapes later, Captain Less, the Israeli examiner, came back to this point, and Eichmann told the same story in nearly identical words, adding that this day had been "unforgettable," because his "superior had been assassinated." This time, however, he was confronted with a document that said he had been sent to Bratislava to talk over "the current evacuation action against Jews from Slovakia." He admitted his error at once: "Clear, clear, that was an order from Berlin, they did not send me there to go bowling." Had he lied twice, with great consistency? Hardly. To evacuate and deport Jews had become routine business; what stuck in his mind was bowling, being the guest of a Minister, and hearing of the attack on Heydrich. And it was characteristic of his kind of memory that he could absolutely not recall the year in which this memorable day fell, on which "the hangman" was shot by Czech patriots.

Had his memory served him better, he would never have told the Theresienstadt story at all. For all this happened when the time of "political solutions" had passed and the era of the "physical solution" had begun. It happened when, as he was to admit freely and spontaneously in another context, he had already been informed of the Führer's order for the Final Solution. To make a country judenrein at the date when Heydrich promised to do so for Bohemia and Moravia could mean only concentration and deportation to points from which Jews could easily be shipped to the killing centers. That Theresienstadt actually came to serve another purpose, that of a showplace for the outside world - it was the only ghetto or camp to which representatives of the International Red Cross were admitted - was another matter, one of which Eichmann at that moment was almost certainly ignorant and which, anyhow, was altogether outside the scope of his competence.
Site Admin
Posts: 23142
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:50 am


6. The Final Solution: Killing

On June 22, 1941, Hitler launched his attack on the Soviet Union, and six or eight weeks later Eichmann was summoned to Heydrich's office in Berlin. On July 31, Heydrich had received a letter from Reichsmarschall Hermann Goring, Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, Prime Minister of Prussia, Pleinipotentiary for the Four-Year-Plan, and, last but not least, Hitler's Deputy in the State (as distinguished from the Party) hierarchy. The letter commissioned Heydrich to prepare "the general solution [Gesamtlosung] of the Jewish question within the area of German influence in Europe," and to submit "a general proposal . . . for the implementation of the desired final solution [Endlosung] of the Jewish question." At the time Heydrich received these instructions, he had already been - as he was to explain to the High Command of the Army in a letter dated November 6, 1941 - "entrusted for years with the task of preparing the final solution of the Jewish problem" (Reitlinger), and since the beginning of the war with Russia, he had been in charge of the mass killings by the Einsatzgruppen in the East.

Heydrich opened his interview with Eichmann with "a little speech about emigration" (which had practically ceased, though Himmler's formal order prohibiting all Jewish emigration except in special cases, to be passed upon by him personally, was not issued until a few months later), and then said: "The Führer has ordered the physical extermination of the Jews." After which, "very much against his habits, he remained silent for a long while, as though he wanted to test the impact of his words. I remember it even today. In the first moment, I was unable to grasp the significance of what he had said, because he was so careful in choosing his words, and then I understood, and didn't say anything, because there was nothing to say any more. For I had never thought of such a thing, such a solution through violence. I now lost everything, all joy in my work, all initiative, all interest; I was, so to speak, blown out. And then he told me: 'Eichmann, you go and see Globocnik [one of Himmler's Higher S.S. and Police Leaders in the General Government] in Lublin, the Reichsführer [Himmler] has already given him the necessary orders, have a look at what he has accomplished in the meantime. I think he uses the Russian tank trenches for the liquidation of the Jews.' I still remember that, for I'll never forget it no matter how long I live, those sentences he said during that interview, which was already at an end." Actually - as Eichmann still remembered in Argentina but had forgotten in Jerusalem, much to his disadvantage, since it had bearing on the question of his own authority in the actual killing process - Heydrich had said a little more: he had told Eichmann that the whole enterprise had been "put under the authority of the S.S. Head Office for Economy and Administration" - that is, not of his own R.S.H.A. - and also that the official code name for extermination was to be "Final Solution."

Eichmann was by no means among the first to be informed of Hitler's intention. We have seen that Heydrich had been working in this direction for years, presumably since the beginning of the war, and Himmler claimed to have been told (and to have protested against) this "solution" immediately after the defeat of France in the summer of 1940. By March, 1941, about six months before Eichmann had his interview with Heydrich, "it was no secret in higher Party circles that the Jews were to be exterminated," as Viktor Brack, of the Führer's Chancellery, testified at Nuremberg. But Eichmann, as he vainly tried to explain in Jerusalem, had never belonged to the higher Party circles; he had never been told more than he needed to know in order to do a specific, limited job. It is true that he was one of the first men in the lower echelons to be informed of this "top secret" matter, which remained top secret even after the news had spread throughout all the Party and State offices, all business enterprises connected with slave labor, and the entire officer corps (at the very least) of the Armed Forces. Still, the secrecy did have a practical purpose. Those who were told explicitly of the Führer's order were no longer mere "bearers of orders," but were advanced to "bearers of secrets," and a special oath was administered to them. (The members of the Security Service, to which Eichmann had belonged since 1934, had in any case taken an oath of secrecy.)

Furthermore, all correspondence referring to the matter was, subject to rigid "language rules," and, except in the reports from the Einsatzgruppen, it is rare to find documents in which such bald words as "extermination," "liquidation," or "killing" occur. The prescribed code names for killing were "final solution," "evacuation" (Aussiedlung), and "special treatment" (Sonderbehandlung); deportation - unless it involved Jews directed to Theresienstadt, the "old people's ghetto" for privileged Jews, in which case it was called "change of residence" - received the names of "resettlement" (Umsiedlung) and "labor in the East" (Arbeitseinsatz im Osten), the point of these latter names being that Jews were indeed often temporarily resettled in ghettos and that a certain percentage of them were temporarily used for labor. Under special circumstances, slight changes in the language rules became necessary. Thus, for instance, a high official in the Foreign Office once proposed that in all correspondence with the Vatican the killing of Jews be called the "radical solution"; this was ingenious, because the Catholic puppet government of Slovakia, with which the Vatican had intervened, had not been, in the view of the Nazis, "radical enough" in its anti-Jewish legislation, having committed the "basic error" of excluding baptized Jews. Only among themselves could the "bearers of secrets" talk in uncoded language, and it is very unlikely that they did so in the ordinary pursuit of their murderous duties - certainly not in the presence of their stenographers and other office personnel. For whatever other reasons the language rules may have been devised, they proved of enormous help in the maintenance of order and sanity in the various widely diversified services whose cooperation was essential in this matter. Moreover, the very term "language rule" (Sprachregelung) was itself a code name; it meant what in ordinary language would be called a lie. For when a "bearer of secrets" was sent to meet someone from the outside world - as when Eichmann was sent to show the Theresienstadt ghetto to International Red Cross representatives from Switzerland - he received, together with his orders, his "language rule," which in this instance consisted of a lie about a nonexistent typhus epidemic in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen, which the gentlemen also wished to visit. The net effect of this language system was not to keep these people ignorant of what they were doing, but to prevent them from equating it with their old, "normal" knowledge of murder and lies. Eichmann's great susceptibility to catch words and stock phrases, combined with his incapacity for ordinary speech, made him, of course, an ideal subject for "language rules."

The system, however, was not a foolproof shield against reality, as Eichmann was soon to find out. He went to Lublin to see Brigadeführer Odilo Globocnik, former Gauleiter of Vienna - though not, of course, despite what the prosecution maintained, "to convey to him personally the secret order for the physical extermination of the Jews," which Globocnik certainly knew of before Eichmann did - and he used the phrase "Final Solution" as a kind of password by which to identify himself. (A similar assertion by the prosecution, which showed to what degree it had got lost in the bureaucratic labyrinth of the Third Reich, referred to Rudolf Höss, Commander of Auschwitz, who it believed had also received the Führer's order through Eichmann. This error was at least mentioned by the defense as being "without corroborative evidence." Actually, Höss himself testified at his own trial that he had received his orders directly from Himmler, in June, 1941, and added that Himmler had told him Eichmann would discuss with him certain "details." These details, Höss claimed in his memoirs, concerned the use of gas - something Eichmann strenuously denied. And he was probably right, for all other sources contradict Höss's story and maintain that written or oral extermination orders in the camps always went through the W.V.H.A. and were given either by its chief, Obergruppenführer [lieutenant general] Oswald Pohl, or by Brigadefuhrer Richard Glücks, who was Hiss's direct superior. (Concerning the doubtful reliability of Höss's testimony see also R. Pendorf, Mörder and Ermordete, 1961.) And with the use of gas Eichmann had nothing whatever to do. The "details" that he went to discuss with Höss at regular intervals concerned the killing capacity of the camp - how many shipments per week it could absorb - and also, perhaps, plans for expansion.) Globocnik, when Eichmann arrived at Lublin, was very obliging, and showed him around with a subordinate. They came to a road through a forest, to the right of which there was an ordinary house where workers lived. A captain of the Order Police (perhaps Kriminalkommissar Christian Wirth himself, who had been in charge of the technical side of the gassing of "incurably sick people" in Germany, under the auspices of the Führer's Chancellery) came to greet them, led them to a few small wooden bungalows, and began, "in a vulgar uneducated harsh voice," his explanations: "how he had everything nicely insulated, for the engine of a Russian submarine will be set to work and the gases will enter this building and the Jews will be poisoned. For me, too, this was monstrous. I am not so tough as to be able to endure something of this sort without any reaction.... If today I am shown a gaping wound, I can't possibly look at it. I am that type of person, so that very often I was told that I couldn't have become a doctor. I still remember how I pictured the thing to myself, and then I became physically weak, as though I had lived through some great agitation. Such things happen to everybody, and it left behind a certain inner trembling."

Well, he had been lucky, for he had still seen only the preparations for the future carbon-monoxide chambers at Treblinka, one of the six death camps in the East, in which several hundred thousand people were to die. Shortly after this, in the autumn of the same year, he was sent by his direct superior Muller to inspect the killing center in the Western Regions of Poland that had been incorporated into the Reich, called the Warthegau. The death camp was at Kulm (or, in Polish, Chelmno), where, in 1944, over three hundred thousand Jews from all over Europe, who had first been "resettled" in the Lodz ghetto, were killed. Here things were already in full swing, but the method was different; instead of gas chambers, mobile gas vans were used. This is what Eichmann saw: The Jews were in a large room; they were told to strip; then a truck arrived, stopping directly before the entrance to the room, and the naked Jews were told to enter it. The doors were closed and the truck started off. "I cannot tell [how many Jews entered], I hardly looked. I could not; I could not; I had had enough. The shrieking, and . . . I was much too upset, and so on, as I later told Muller when I reported to him; he did not get much profit out of my report. I then drove along after the van, and then I saw the most horrible sight I had thus far seen in my life. The truck was making for an open ditch, the doors were opened, and the corpses were thrown out, as though they were still alive, so smooth were their limbs. They were hurled into the ditch, and I can still see a civilian extracting the teeth with tooth pliers. And then I was off-jumped into my car and did not open my mouth any more. After that time, I could sit for hours beside my driver without exchanging a word with him. There I got enough. I was finished. I only remember that a physician in white overalls told me to look through a hole into the truck while they were still in it. I refused to do that. I could not. I had to disappear."

Very soon after that, he was to see something more horrible. This happened when he was sent to Minsk, in White Russia, again by Müller, who told him: "In Minsk, they are killing Jews by shooting. I want you to report on how it is being done." So he went, and at first it seemed as though he would be lucky, for by the time he arrived, as it happened, "the affair had almost been finished," which pleased him very much. "There were only a few young marksmen who took aim at the skulls of dead people in a large ditch." Still, he saw, "and that was quite enough for me, a woman with her arms stretched backward, and then my knees went weak and off I went." While driving back, he had the notion of stopping at Lwów; this seemed a good idea, for Lwów (or Lemberg) had been an Austrian city, and when he arrived there he "saw the first friendly picture after the horrors. That was the railway station built in honor of the sixtieth year of Franz Josef's reign" - a period Eichmann had always "adored," since he had heard so many nice things about it in his parents' home, and had also been told how the relatives of his stepmother (we are made to understand that he meant the Jewish ones) had enjoyed a comfortable social status and had made good money. This sight of the railway station drove away all the horrible thoughts, and he remembered it down to its last detail - the engraved year of the anniversary, for instance. But then, right there in lovely Lwów, he made a big mistake. He went to see the local S.S. commander, and told him: "Well, it is horrible what is being done around here; I said young people are being made into sadists.

How can one do that? Simply bang away at women and children? That is impossible. Our people will go mad or become insane, our own people." The trouble was that at Lwów they were doing the same thing they had been doing in Minsk, and his host was delighted to show him the sights, although Eichmann tried politely to excuse himself. Thus, he saw another "horrible sight. A ditch had been there, which was already filled in. And there was, gushing from the earth, a spring of blood like a fountain. Such a thing I had never seen before. I had had enough of my commission, and I went back to Berlin and reported to Gruppenführer Müller."

This was not yet the end. Although Eichmann told him that he was not "tough enough" for these sights, that he had never been a soldier, had never been to the front, had never seen action, that he could not sleep and had nightmares, Müller, some nine months later, sent him back to the Lublin region, where the very enthusiastic Globocnik had meanwhile finished his preparations. Eichmann said that this now was the most horrible thing he had ever seen in his life. When he first arrived, he could not recognize the place, with its few wooden bungalows. Instead, guided by the same man with the vulgar voice, he came to a railway station, with the sign "Treblinka" on it, that looked exactly like an ordinary station anywhere in Germany - the same buildings, signs, clocks, installations; it was a perfect imitation. "I kept myself back, as far as I could, I did not draw near to see all that. Still, I saw how a column of naked Jews filed into a large hall to be gassed. There they were killed, as I was told, by something called cyanic acid."

The fact is that Eichmann did not see much. It is true, he repeatedly visited Auschwitz, the largest and most famous of the death camps, but Auschwitz, covering an area of eighteen square miles, in Upper Silesia, was by no means only an extermination camp; it was a huge enterprise with up to a hundred thousand inmates, and all kinds of prisoners were held there, including non-Jews and slave laborers, who were not subject to gassing. It was easy to avoid the killing installations, and Höss, with whom he had a very friendly relationship, spared him the gruesome sights. He never actually attended a mass execution by shooting, he never actually watched the gassing process, or the selection of those fit for work - about twenty-five per cent of each shipment, on the average - that preceded it at Auschwitz. He saw just enough to be fully informed of how the destruction machinery worked: that there were two different methods of killing, shooting and gassing; that the shooting was done by the Einsatzgruppen and the gassing at the camps, either in chambers or in mobile vans; and in the camps elaborate precautions were taken to fool the victims right up to the end.

The police tapes from which I have quoted were played in court during the tenth of the trial's hundred and twenty-one sessions, on the ninth day of the almost nine months it lasted. Nothing the accused said, in the curiously disembodied voice that came out of the tape-recorder - doubly disembodied, because the body that owned the voice was present but itself also appeared strangely disembodied through the thick glass walls surrounding it - was denied either by him or by the defense. Dr. Servatius did not object, he only mentioned that "later, when the defense will rise to speak," he, too, would submit to the court some of the evidence given by the accused to the police; he never did. The defense, one felt, could rise right away, for the criminal proceedings against the accused in this "historic trial" seemed complete, the case for the prosecution established. The facts of the case, of what Eichmann had done - though not of everything the prosecution wished he had done - were never in dispute; they had been established long before the trial started, and had been confessed to by him over and over again. There was more than enough, as he occasionally pointed out, to hang him. ("Don't you have enough on me?" he objected, when the police examiner tried to ascribe to him powers he never possessed.) But since he had been employed in transportation and not in killing, the question remained, legally, formally, at least, of whether he had known what he was doing; and there was the additional question of whether he had been in a position to judge the enormity of his deeds - whether he was legally responsible, apart from the fact that he was medically sane. Both questions now were answered in the affirmative: he had seen the places to which the shipments were directed, and he had been shocked out of his wits. One last question, the most disturbing of all, was asked by the judges, and especially by the presiding judge, over and over again: Had the killing of Jews gone against his conscience? But this was a moral question, and the answer to it may not have been legally relevant.

But if the facts of the case were now established, two more legal questions arose. First, could he be released from criminal responsibility, as Section 10 of the law under which he was tried provided, because he had done his acts "in order to save himself from the danger of immediate death"? And, second, could he plead extenuating circumstances, as Section 11 of the same law enumerated them: had he done "his best to reduce the gravity of the consequences of the offense" or "to avert consequences more serious than those which resulted"? Clearly, Sections 10 and 11 of the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law of 1950 had been drawn up with Jewish "collaborators" in mind. Jewish Sonderkommandos (special units) had everywhere been employed in the actual killing process, they had committed criminal acts "in order to save themselves from the danger of immediate death," and the Jewish Councils and Elders had cooperated because they thought they could "avert consequences more serious than those which resulted." In Eichmann's case, his own testimony supplied the answer to both questions, and it was clearly negative. It is true, he once said his only alternative would have been suicide, but this was a lie, since we know how surprisingly easy it was for members of the extermination squads to quit their jobs without serious consequences for themselves; but he did not insist on this point, he did not mean to be taken literally. In the Nuremberg documents "not a single case could be traced in which an S.S. member had suffered the death penalty because of a refusal to take part in an execution" [Herbert Jäger, "Betrachtungen zum Eichmann-Prozess," in Kriminologie and Strafrechtsreform, 1962]. And in the trial itself there was the testimony of a witness for the defense, von dem Bach-Zelewski, who declared: "It was possible to evade a commission by an application for transfer. To be sure, in individual cases, one had to be prepared for a certain disciplinary punishment. A danger to one's life, however, was not at all involved." Eichmann knew quite well that he was by no means in the classical "difficult position" of a soldier who may "be liable to be shot by a court-martial if he disobeys an order, and to be hanged by a judge and jury if he obeys it" - as Dicey once put it in his famous Law of the Constitution - if only because as a member of the S.S. he had never been subject to a military court but could only have been brought before a Police and S.S. Tribunal. In his last statement to the court, Eichmann admitted that he could have backed out on one pretext or another, and that others had done so. He had always thought such a step was "inadmissible," and even now did not think it was "admirable"; it would have meant no more than a switch to another well-paying job. The postwar notion of open disobedience was a fairy tale: "Under the circumstances such behavior was impossible. Nobody acted that way." It was "unthinkable." Had he been made commander of a death camp, like his good friend Höss, he would have had to commit suicide, since he was incapable of killing. (Höss, incidentally, had committed a murder in his youth. He had assassinated a certain Walter Kadow, the man who had betrayed Leo Schlageter - a nationalist terrorist in the Rhineland whom the Nazis later made into a national hero - to the French Occupation authorities, and a German court had put him in jail for five years. In Auschwitz, of course, Höss did not have to kill.) But it was very unlikely that Eichmann would have been offered this kind of a job, since those who issued the orders "knew full well the limits to which a person can be driven." No, he had not been in "danger of immediate death," and since he claimed with great pride that he had always "done his duty," obeyed all orders as his oath demanded, he had, of course, always done his best to aggravate "the consequences of the offense," rather than to reduce them. The only "extenuating circumstance" he cited was that he had tried to "avoid unnecessary hardships as much as possible" in carrying out his work, and, quite apart from the question of whether this was true, and also apart from the fact that if it was, it would hardly have been enough to constitute extenuating circumstances in this particular case, the claim was not valid, because "to avoid unnecessary hardships" was among the standard directives he had been given.

Hence, after the tape-recorder had addressed the court, the death sentence was a foregone conclusion, even legally, except for the possibility that the punishment might be mitigated for acts done under superior orders - also provided for in Section 11 of the Israeli law, but this was a very remote possibility in view of the enormity of the crime. (It is important to remember that counsel for the defense pleaded not superior orders but "acts of state," and asked for acquittal on that ground - a strategy Dr. Servatius had already tried unsuccessfully at Nuremberg, where he defended Fritz Sauckel, Plenipotentiary for Labor Allocation in Göring's Office of the Four-Year Plan, who had been responsible for the extermination of tens of thousands of Jewish workers in Poland and who was duly hanged in 1946. "Acts of state," which German jurisprudence even more tellingly calls gerichtsfreie or justizlose Hoheitsakte, rest on "an exercise of sovereign power" [E. C. S. Wade in the British Year Book for International Law, 1934] and hence are altogether outside the legal realm, whereas all orders and commands, at least in theory, are still under judicial control. If what Eichmann did had been acts of state, then none of his superiors, least of all Hitler, the head of state, could be judged by any court. The "act of state" theory agreed so well with Dr. Servatius' general philosophy that it was perhaps not surprising that he should have tried it out again; what was surprising was that he did not fall back on the argument of superior orders as an extenuating circumstance after the judgment had been read and before the sentence was pronounced.) At this point, one was perhaps entitled to be glad that this was no ordinary trial, where statements without bearing on the criminal proceedings must be thrown out as irrelevant and immaterial. For, obviously, things were not so simple as the framers of the laws had imagined them to be, and if it was of small legal relevance, it was of great political interest to know how long it takes an average person to overcome his innate repugnance toward crime, and what exactly happens to him once he has reached that point. To this question, the case of Adolf Eichmann supplied an answer that could not have been clearer and more precise.

In September, 1941, shortly after his first official visits to the killing centers in the East, Eichmann organized his first mass deportations from Germany and the Protectorate, in accordance with a "wish" of Hitler, who had told Himmler to make the Reich judenrein as quickly as possible. The first shipment contained twenty thousand Jews from the Rhineland and five thousand Gypsies, and in connection with this first transport a strange thing happened. Eichmann, who never made a decision on his own, who was extremely careful always to be "covered" by orders, who - as freely given testimony from practically all the people who had worked with him confirmed - did not even like to volunteer suggestions and always required "directives," now, "for the first and last time," took an initiative contrary to orders: instead of sending these people to Russian territory, Riga or Minsk, where they would have immediately been shot by the Einsatzgruppen, he directed the transport to the ghetto of Lódz, where he knew that no preparations for extermination had yet been made - if only because the man in charge of the ghetto, a certain Regierungsprasident Uebelhör, had found ways and means of deriving considerable profit from "his" Jews. (Lódz, in fact, was the first ghetto to be established and the last to be liquidated; those of its inmates who did not succumb to disease or starvation survived until the summer of 1944.) This decision was to get Eichmann into considerable trouble. The ghetto was overcrowded, and Mr. Uebelhör was in no mood to receive newcomers and in no position to accommodate them. He was angry enough to complain to Himmler that Eichmann had deceived him and his men with "horsetrading tricks learned from the Gypsies." Himmler, as well as Heydrich, protected Eichmann and the incident was soon forgiven and forgotten.

Forgotten, first of all, by Eichmann himself, who did not once mention it either in the police examination or in his various memoirs. When he had taken the stand and was being examined by his lawyer, who showed him the documents, he insisted he had a "choice": "Here for the first and last time I had a choice... . One was Lódz. . . . If there are difficulties in Lódz, these people must be sent onward to the East. And since I had seen the preparations, I was determined to do all I could to send these people to Lódz by any means at my disposal." Counsel for the defense tried to conclude from this incident that Eichmann had saved Jews whenever he could - which was patently untrue. The prosecutor, who cross-examined him later with respect to the same incident, wished to establish that Eichmann himself had determined the final destination of all shipments and hence had decided whether or not a particular transport was to be exterminated - which was also untrue. Eichmann's own explanation, that he had not disobeyed an order but only taken advantage of a "choice," finally, was not true either, for there had been difficulties in Lódz, as he knew full well, so that his order read, in so many words: Final destination, Minsk or Riga. Although Eichmann had forgotten all about it, this was clearly the only instance in which he actually had tried to save Jews. Three weeks later, however, there was a meeting in Prague, called by Heydrich, during which Eichmann stated that "the camps used for the detention of [Russian] Communists [a category to be liquidated on the spot by the Einsatzgruppen] can also include Jews" and that he had "reached an agreement" to this effect with the local commanders; there was also some discussion about the trouble at Lodz, and it was finally resolved to send fifty thousand Jews from the Reich (that is, including Austria, and Bohemia and Moravia) to the centers of the Einsatzgruppen operations at Riga and Minsk. Thus, we are perhaps in a position to answer Judge Landau's question - the question uppermost in the minds of nearly everyone who followed the trial - of whether the accused had a conscience: yes, he had a conscience, and his conscience functioned in the expected way for about four weeks, whereupon it began to function the other way around.

Even during those weeks when his conscience functioned normally, it did its work within rather odd limits. We must remember that weeks and months before he was informed of the Führer's order, Eichmann knew of the murderous activities of the Einsatzgruppen in the East; he knew that right behind the front lines all Russian functionaries ("Communists"), all Polish members of the professional classes, and all native Jews were being killed in mass shootings. Moreover, in July of the same year, a few weeks before he was called to Heydrich, he had received a memorandum from an S.S. man stationed in the Warthegau, telling him that "Jews in the coming winter could no longer be fed," and submitting for his consideration a proposal as to "whether it would not be the most humane solution to kill those Jews who were incapable of work through some quicker means. This, at any rate, would be more agreeable than to let them die of starvation." In an accompanying letter, addressed to "Dear Comrade Eichmann," the writer admitted that "these things sound sometimes fantastic, but they are quite feasible." The admission shows that the much more "fantastic" order of the Führer was not yet known to the writer, but the letter also shows to what extent this order was in the air. Eichmann never mentioned this letter and probably had not been in the least shocked by it. For this proposal concerned only native Jews, not Jews from the Reich or any of the Western countries. His conscience rebelled not at the idea of murder but at the idea of German Jews being murdered. ("I never denied that I knew that the Einsatzgruppen had orders to kill, but I did not know that Jews from the Reich evacuated to the East were subject to the same treatment. That is what I did not know.") It was the same with the conscience of a certain Wilhelm Kube, an old Party member and Generalkommissar in Occupied Russia, who was outraged when German Jews with the Iron Cross arrived in Minsk for "special treatment." Since Kube was more articulate than Eichmann, his words may give us an idea of what went on in Eichmann's head during the time he was plagued by his conscience: "I am certainly tough and I am ready to help solve the Jewish question," Kube wrote to his superior in December, 1941, "but people who come from our own cultural milieu are certainly something else than the native animalized hordes." This sort of conscience, which, if it rebelled at all, rebelled at murder of people "from our own cultural milieu," has survived the Hitler regime; among Germans today, there exists a stubborn "misinformation" to the effect that "only" Ostjuden, Eastern European Jews, were massacred.
Site Admin
Posts: 23142
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:51 am


Nor is this way of thinking that distinguishes between the murder of "primitive" and of "cultured" people a monopoly of the German people. Harry Mulisch relates how, in connection with the testimony given by Professor Salo W. Baron about the cultural and spiritual achievements of the Jewish people, the following questions suddenly occurred to him: "Would the death of the Jews have been less of an evil if they were a people without a culture, such as the Gypsies who were also exterminated? Is Eichmann on trial as a destroyer of human beings or as an annihilator of culture? Is a murderer of human beings more guilty when a culture is also destroyed in the process?" And when he put these questions to the Attorney General, it turned out "He [Hausner] thinks yes, I think no." How ill we can afford to dismiss this matter, bury the troublesome question along with the past, came to light in the recent film Dr. Strangelove, where the strange lover of the bomb-characterized, it is true, as a Nazi type - proposes to select in the coming disaster some hundred thousand persons to survive in underground shelters. And who are to be the happy survivors? Those with the highest I.Q.!

This question of conscience, so troublesome in Jerusalem, had by no means been ignored by the Nazi regime. On the contrary, in view of the fact that the participants in the anti-Hitler conspiracy of July, 1944, very rarely mentioned the wholesale massacres in the East in their correspondence or in the statements they prepared for use in the event that the attempt on Hitler's life was successful, one is tempted to conclude that the Nazis greatly overestimated the practical importance of the problem. We may here disregard the early stages of the German opposition to Hitler, when it was still anti-Fascist and entirely a movement of the Left, which as a matter of principle accorded no significance to moral issues and even less to the persecution of the Jews - a mere "diversion" from the class struggle that in the opinion of the Left determined the whole political scene. Moreover, this opposition had all but disappeared during the period in question - destroyed by the horrible terror of the S.A. troops in the concentration camps and Gestapo cellars, unsettled by full employment made possible through rearmament, demoralized by the Communist Party's tactic of joining the ranks of Hitler's party in order to install itself there as a "Trojan horse." What was left of this opposition at the beginning of the war - some trade-union leaders, some intellectuals of the "homeless Left" who did not and could not know if there was anything behind them - gained its importance solely through the conspiracy which finally led to the 20th of July. (It is of course quite inadmissible to measure the strength of the German resistance by the number of those who passed through the concentration camps. Before the outbreak of the war, the inmates belonged in a great number of categories, many of which had nothing whatsoever to do with resistance of any kind: there were the wholly "innocent" ones, such as the Jews; the "asocials," such as confirmed criminals and homosexuals; Nazis who had been found guilty of something or other; etc. During the war the camps were populated by resistance fighters from all over occupied Europe.)

Most of the July conspirators were actually former Nazis or had held high office in the Third Reich. What had sparked their opposition had been not the Jewish question but the fact that Hitler was preparing war, and the endless conflicts and crises of conscience under which they labored hinged almost exclusively on the problem of high treason and the violation of their loyalty oath to Hitler. Moreover, they found themselves on the horns of a dilemma which was indeed insoluble: in the days of Hitler's successes they felt they could do nothing because the people would not understand, and in the years of German defeats they feared nothing more than another "stab-in-the-back" legend. To the last, their greatest concern was how it would be possible to prevent chaos and to ward off the danger of civil war. And the solution was that the Allies must be "reasonable" and grant a "moratorium" until order was restored - and with it, of course, the German Army's ability to offer resistance. They possessed the most precise knowledge of what was going on in the East, but there is hardly any doubt that not one of them would have dared even to think that the best thing that could have happened to Germany under the circumstances would have been open rebellion and civil war. The active resistance in Germany came chiefly from the Right, but in view of the past record of the German Social Democrats, it may be doubted that the situation would have been very different if the Left had played a larger part among the conspirators. The question is academic in any case, for no "organized socialist resistance" existed in Germany during the war years - as the German historian, Gerhard Ritter, has rightly pointed out.

In actual fact, the situation was just as simple as it was hopeless: the overwhelming majority of the German people believed in Hitler - even after the attack on Russia and the feared war on two fronts, even after the United States entered the war, indeed even after Stalingrad, the defection of Italy, and the landings in France. Against this solid majority, there stood an indeterminate number of isolated individuals who were completely aware of the national and of the moral catastrophe; they might occasionally know and trust one another, there were friendships among them and an exchange of opinions, but no plan or intention of revolt. Finally there was the group of those who later became known as the conspirators, but they had never been able to come to an agreement on anything, not even on the question of conspiracy. Their leader was Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, former mayor of Leipzig, who had served three years under the Nazis as price-controller but had resigned rather early -in 1936. He advocated the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, and Wilhelm Leuschner, a representative of the Left, a former trade-union leader and Socialist, assured him of "mass support"; in the Kreisau circle, under the influence of Helmuth von Moltke, there were occasional complaints raised that the rule of law was "now trampled under foot," but the chief concern of this circle was the reconciliation of the two Christian churches and their "sacred mission in the secular state," combined with an outspoken stand in favor of federalism. (On the political bankruptcy of the resistance movement as a whole since 1933 there is a well-documented, impartial study, the doctoral dissertation of George K. Romoser, soon to be published.)

As the war went on and defeat became more certain, political differences should have mattered less and political action become more urgent, but Gerhard Ritter seems right here too: "Without the determination of [Count Klaus von] Stauffenberg, the resistance movement would have bogged down in more or less helpless inactivity." What united these men was that they saw in Hitler a "swindler," a "dilettante," who "sacrificed whole armies against the counsel of his experts," a "madman" and a "demon," "the incarnation of all evil," which in the German context meant something both more and less than when they called him a "criminal and a fool," which they occasionally did. But to hold such opinions about Hitler at this late date "in no way precluded membership in the S.S. or the Party, or the holding of a government post" [Fritz Hesse], hence it did not exclude from the circle of the conspirators quite a number of men who themselves were deeply implicated in the crimes of the regime - as for instance Count Helldorf, then Police Commissioner of Berlin, who would have become Chief of the German Police if the coup d'etat had been successful (according to one of Goerdeler's lists of prospective ministers); or Arthur Nebe of the R.S.H.A., former commander of one of the mobile killing units in the East! In the summer of 1943, when the Himmler-directed extermination program had reached its climax, Goerdeler was considering Himmler and Goebbels as potential allies, "since these two men have realized that they are lost with Hitler." (Himmler indeed became a "potential ally" - though Goebbels did not - and was fully informed of their plans; he acted against the conspirators only after their failure.) I am quoting from the draft of a letter by Goerdeler to Field Marshal von Kluge; but these strange alliances cannot be explained away by "tactical considerations" necessary visà- vis the Army commanders, for it was, on the contrary, Kluge and Rommel who had given "special orders that those two monsters [Himmler and Goring] should be liquidated" [Ritter] - quite apart from the fact that Goerdeler's biographer, Ritter, insists that the above - quoted letter "represents the most passionate expression of his hatred against the Hitler regime."

No doubt these men who opposed Hitler, however belatedly, paid with their lives and suffered a most terrible death; the courage of many of them was admirable, but it was not inspired by moral indignation or by what they knew other people had been made to suffer; they were motivated almost exclusively by their conviction of the coming defeat and ruin of Germany. This is not to deny that some of them, such as Count York von Wartenburg, may have been roused to political opposition initially by "the revolting agitation against the Jews in November, 1938" [Ritter]. But that was the month when the synagogues went up in flames and the whole population seemed in the grip of some fear: houses of God had been set on fire, and believers as well as the superstitious feared the vengeance of God. To be sure, the higher officer corps was disturbed when Hitler's so-called "commissar order" was issued in May, 1941, and they learned that in the coming campaign against Russia all Soviet functionaries and naturally all Jews were simply to be massacred. In these circles, there was of course some concern about the fact that, as Goerdeler said, "in the occupied areas and against the Jews techniques of liquidating human beings and of religious persecution are practiced . . . which will always rest as a heavy burden on our history." But it seems never to have occurred to them that this signified something more, and more dreadful, than that "it will make our position [negotiating a peace treaty with the Allies] enormously difficult," that it was a "blot on Germany's good name" and was undermining the morale of the Army. "What on earth have they made of the proud army of the Wars of Liberation [against Napoleon in 1814] and of Wilhelm I [in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870]," Goerdeler cried when he heard the report of an S.S. man who "nonchalantly related that it `wasn't exactly pretty to spray with machine-gun fire ditches crammed with thousands of Jews and then to throw earth on the bodies that were still twitching.' " Nor did it occur to them that these atrocities might be somehow connected with the Allies' demand for unconditional surrender, which they felt free to criticize as both "nationalistic" and "unreasonable," inspired by blind hatred. In 1943, when the eventual defeat of Germany was almost a certainty, and indeed even later, they still believed that they had a right to negotiate with their enemies "as equals" for a "just peace," although they knew only too well what an unjust and totally unprovoked war Hitler had started. Even more startling are their criteria for a "just peace." Goerdeler stated them again and again in numerous memoranda: "the re-establishment of the national borders of 1914 [which meant the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine], with the addition of Austria and the Sudetenland"; furthermore, a "leading position for Germany on the Continent" and perhaps the regaining of South Tyrol!

We also know from statements they prepared how they intended to present their case to the people. There is for instance a draft proclamation to the Army by General Ludwig Beck, who was to become chief of state, in which he talks at length about the "obstinacy," the "incompetence and lack of moderation" of the Hitler regime, its "arrogance and vanity." But the crucial point, "the most unscrupulous act" of the regime, was that the Nazis wanted to hold "the leaders of the armed forces responsible" for the calamities of the coming defeat; to which Beck added that crimes had been committed "which are a blot on the honor of the German nation and a defilement of the good reputation it had gained in the eyes of the world." And what would be the next step after Hitler had been liquidated? The German Army would go on fighting "until an honorable conclusion of the war has been assured" - which meant the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, Austria, and the Sudetenland. There is indeed every reason to agree with the bitter judgment on these men by the German novelist Friedrich P. Reck-Malleczewen, who was killed in a concentration camp on the eve of the collapse and did not participate in the anti-Hitler conspiracy. In his almost totally unknown "Diary of a Man in Despair," [Tagebuch eines Verzweifelten, 1947], Reck-Malleczewen wrote, after he had heard of the failure of the attempt on Hitler's life, which of course he regretted: "A little late, gentlemen, you who made this archdestroyer of Germany and ran after him, as long as everything seemed to be going well; you who . . . without hesitation swore every oath demanded of you and reduced yourselves to the despicable flunkies of this criminal who is guilty of the murder of hundreds of thousands, burdened with the lamentations and the curse of the whole world; now you have betrayed him. . . . Now, when the bankruptcy can no longer be concealed, they betray the house that went broke, in order to establish a political alibi for themselves - the same men who have betrayed everything that was in the way of their claim to power."

There is no evidence, and no likelihood, that Eichmann ever came into personal contact with the men of July 20, and we know that even in Argentina he still considered them all to have been traitors and scoundrels. Had he ever had the opportunity, though, to become acquainted with Goerdeler's "original" ideas on the Jewish question, he might have discovered some points of agreement. To be sure, Goerdeler proposed "to pay indemnity to German Jews for their losses and mistreatment" - this in 1942, at a time when it was not only a matter of German Jews, and when these were not just being mistreated and robbed but gassed; but in addition to such technicalities, he had something more constructive in mind, namely, a "permanent solution" that would "save [all European Jews] from their unseemly position as a more or less undesirable `guest nation' in Europe." (In Eichmann's jargon, this was called giving them "some firm ground under their feet.") For this purpose, Goerdeler claimed an "independent state in a colonial country" - Canada or South America - a sort of Madagascar, of which he certainly had heard. Still, he made some concessions; not all Jews would be expelled. Quite in line with the early stages of the Nazi regime and the privileged categories which were then current, he was prepared "not to deny German citizenship to those Jews who could produce evidence of special military sacrifice for Germany or who belonged to families with long-established traditions." Well, whatever Goerdeler's "permanent solution of the Jewish question" might have meant, it was not exactly "original" - as Professor Ritter, even in 1954 full of admiration for his hero, called it - and Goerdeler would have been able to find plenty of "potential allies" for this part of his program too within the ranks of the Party and even the S.S.

In the letter to Field Marshal von Kluge, quoted above, Goerdeler once appealed to Kluge's "voice of conscience." But all he meant was that even a general must understand that "to continue the war with no chance for victory was an obvious crime," From the accumulated evidence one can only conclude that conscience as such had apparently got lost in Germany, and this to a point where people hardly remembered it and had ceased to realize that the surprising "new set of German values" was not shared by the outside world. This, to be sure, is not the entire truth. For there were individuals in Germany who from the very beginning of the regime and without ever wavering were opposed to Hitler; no one knows how many there were of them - perhaps a hundred thousand, perhaps many more, perhaps many fewer - for their voices were never heard. They could be found everywhere, in all strata of society, among the simple people as well as among the educated, in all parties, perhaps even in the ranks of the N.S.D.A.P. Very few of them were known publicly, as were the aforementioned Reck-Malleczewen or the philosopher Karl Jaspers. Some of them were truly and deeply pious, like an artisan of whom I know, who preferred having his independent existence destroyed and becoming a simple worker in a factory to taking upon himself the "little formality" of entering the Nazi Party. A few still took an oath seriously and preferred, for example, to renounce an academic career rather than swear by Hitler's name. A more numerous group were the workers, especially in Berlin, and Socialist intellectuals who tried to aid the Jews they knew. There were finally, the two peasant boys whose story is related in Günther Weisenborn's Der lautlose Aufstand (1953), who were drafted into the S.S. at the end of the war and refused to sign; they were sentenced to death, and on the day of their execution they wrote in their last letter to their families: "We two would rather die than burden our conscience with such terrible things. We know what the S.S. must carry out." The position of these people, who, practically speaking, did nothing, was altogether different from that of the conspirators. Their ability to tell right from wrong had remained intact, and they never suffered a "crisis of conscience." There may also have been such persons among the members of the resistance, but they were hardly more numerous in the ranks of the conspirators than among the people at large. They were neither heroes nor saints, and they remained completely silent. Only on one occasion, in a single desperate gesture, did this wholly isolated and mute element manifest itself publicly: this was when the Scholls, two students at Munich University, brother and sister, under the influence of their teacher Kurt Huber distributed the famous leaflets in which Hitler was finally called what he was - a "mass murderer."

If, however, one examines the documents and prepared statements of the so-called "other Germany" that would have succeeded Hitler had the July 20 conspiracy succeeded, one can only marvel at how great a gulf separated even them from the rest of the world. How else can one explain the illusions of Goerdeler in particular or the fact that Himmler, of all people, but also Ribbentrop, should have started dreaming, during the last months of the war, of a magnificent new role as negotiators with the Allies for a defeated Germany. And if Ribbentrop certainly was simply stupid, Himmler, whatever else he might have been, was no fool.

The member of the Nazi hierarchy most gifted at solving problems of conscience was Himmler. He coined slogans, like the famous watchword of the S.S., taken from a Hitler speech before the S.S. in 1931, "My Honor is my Loyalty" - catch phrases which Eichmann called "winged words" and the judges "empty talk" - and issued them, as Eichmann recalled, "around the turn of the year," presumably along with a Christmas bonus. Eichmann remembered only one of them and kept repeating it: "These are battles which future generations will not have to fight again," alluding to the "battles" against women, children, old people, and other "useless mouths." Other such phrases, taken from speeches Himmler made to the commanders of the Einsatzgruppen and the Higher S.S. and Police Leaders, were: "To have stuck it out and, apart from exceptions caused by human weakness, to have remained decent, that is what has made us hard. This is a page of glory in our history which has never been written and is never to be written." Or: "The order to solve the Jewish question, this was the most frightening order an organization could ever receive." Or: We realize that what we are expecting from you is "superhuman," to be "superhumanly inhuman." All one can say is that their expectations were not disappointed. It is noteworthy, however, that Himmler hardly ever attempted to justify in ideological terms, and if he did, it was apparently quickly forgotten. What stuck in the minds of these men who had become murderers was simply the notion of being involved in something historic, grandiose, unique ("a great task that occurs once in two thousand years"), which must therefore be difficult to bear. This was important, because the murderers were not sadists or killers by nature; on the contrary, a systematic effort was made to weed out all those who derived physical pleasure from what they did. The troops of the Einsatzgruppen had been drafted from the Armed S.S., a military unit with hardly more crimes in its record than any ordinary unit of the German Army, and their commanders had been chosen by Heydrich from the S.S. elite with academic degrees. Hence the problem was how to overcome not so much their conscience as the animal pity by which all normal men are affected in the presence of physical suffering. The trick used by Himmler - who apparently was rather strongly afflicted with these instinctive reactions himself - was very simple and probably very effective; it consisted in turning these instincts around, as it were, in directing them toward the self. So that instead of saying: What horrible things I did to people!, the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!

Eichmann's defective memory where Himmler's ingenious watchwords were concerned may be an indication that there existed other and more effective devices for solving the problem of conscience. Foremost among them was, as Hitler had rightly foreseen, the simple fact of war. Eichmann insisted time and again on the "different personal attitude" toward death when "dead people were seen everywhere," and when everyone looked forward to his own death with indifference: "We did not care if we died today or only tomorrow, and there were times when we cursed the morning that found us still alive." Especially effective in this atmosphere of violent death was the fact that the Final Solution, in its later stages, was not carried out by shooting, hence through violence, but in the gas factories, which, from beginning to end, were closely connected with the "euthanasia program" ordered by Hitler in the first weeks of the war and applied to the mentally sick in Germany up to the invasion of Russia. The extermination program that was started in the autumn of 1941 ran, as it were, on two altogether different tracks. One track led to the gas factories, and the other to the Einsatzgruppen, whose operations in the rear of the Army, especially in Russia, were justified by the pretext of partisan warfare, and whose victims were by no means only Jews. In addition to real partisans, they dealt with Russian functionaries, Gypsies, the asocial, the insane, and Jews. Jews were included as "potential enemies," and, unfortunately, it was months before the Russian Jews came to understand this, and then it was too late to scatter. (The older generation remembered the First World War, when the German Army had been greeted as liberators; neither the young nor the old had heard anything about "how Jews were treated in Germany, or, for that matter, in Warsaw"; they were "remarkably ill-informed," as the German Intelligence service reported from White Russia [Hilberg]. More remarkable, occasionally even German Jews arrived in these regions who were under the illusion they had been sent here as "pioneers" for the Third Reich.) These mobile killing units, of which there existed just four, each of battalion size, with a total of no more than three thousand men, needed and got the close cooperation of the Armed Forces; indeed, relations between them were usually "excellent" and in some instances "affectionate" (herzlich). The generals showed a "surprisingly good attitude toward the Jews"; not only did they hand their Jews over to the Einsatzgruppen, they often lent their own men, ordinary soldiers, to assist in the massacres. The total number of their Jewish victims is estimated by Hilberg to have reached almost a million and a half, but this was not the result of the Führer's order for the physical extermination of the whole Jewish people. It was the result of an earlier order, which Hitler gave to Himmler in March, 1941, to prepare the S.S. and the police "to carry out special duties in Russia."

The Führer's order for the extermination of all, not only Russian and Polish, Jews, though issued later, can be traced much farther back. It originated not in the R.S.H.A. or in any of Heydrich's or Himmler's other offices, but in the Führer's Chancellery, Hitler's personal office. It had nothing to do with the war and never used military necessities as a pretext. It is one of the great merits of Gerald Reitlinger's The Final Solution to have proved, with documentary evidence that leaves no doubt, that the extermination program in the Eastern gas factories grew out of Hitler's euthanasia program, and it is deplorable that the Eichmann trial, so concerned with "historical truth," paid no attention to this factual connection. This would have thrown some light on the much debated question of whether Eichmann, of the R.S.H.A., was involved in Gasgeschichten. It is unlikely that he was, though one of his men, Rolf Günther, might have become interested of his own accord. Globocnik, for instance, who set up the gassing installations in the Lublin area, and whom Eichmann visited, did not address himself to Himmler or any other police or S.S. authority when he needed more personnel; he wrote to Viktor Brack, of the Führer's Chancellery, who then passed the request on to Himmler.

The first gas chambers were constructed in 1939, to implement a Hitler decree dated September 1 of that year, which said that "incurably sick persons should be granted a mercy death." (It was probably this "medical" origin of gassing that inspired Dr. Servatius's amazing conviction that killing by gas must be regarded as "a medical matter.") The idea itself was considerably older. As early as 1935, Hitler had told his Reich Medical Leader Gerhard Wagner that "if war came, he would take up and carry out this question of euthanasia, because it was easier to do so in wartime." The decree was immediately carried out in respect to the mentally sick, and between December, 1939, and August, 1941, about fifty thousand Germans were killed with carbon-monoxide gas in institutions where the death rooms were disguised exactly as they later were in Auschwitz - as shower rooms and bathrooms. The program was a flop. It was impossible to keep the gassing a secret from the surrounding German population; there were protests on all sides from people who presumably had not yet attained the "objective" insight into the nature of medicine and the task of a physician. The gassing in the East - or, to use the language of the Nazis, "the humane way" of killing "by granting people a mercy death" - began on almost the very day when the gassing in Germany was stopped. The men who had been employed in the euthanasia program in Germany were now sent east to build the new installations for the extermination of whole peoples - and these men came either from Hitler's Chancellery or from the Reich Health Department and were only now put under the administrative authority of Himmler. None of the various "language rules," carefully contrived to deceive and to camouflage, had a more decisive effect on the mentality of the killers than this first war decree of Hitler, in which the word for "murder" was replaced by the phrase "to grant a mercy death." Eichmann, asked by the police examiner if the directive to avoid "unnecessary hardships" was not a bit ironic, in view of the fact that the destination of these people was certain death anyhow, did not even understand the question, so firmly was it still anchored in his mind that the unforgivable sin was not to kill people but to cause unnecessary pain. During the trial, he showed unmistakable signs of sincere outrage when witnesses told of cruelties and atrocities committed by S.S. men - though the court and much of the audience failed to see these signs, because his single-minded effort to keep his self-control had misled them into believing that he was "unmovable" and indifferent - and it was not the accusation of having sent millions of people to their death that ever caused him real agitation but only the accusation (dismissed by the court) of one witness that he had once beaten a Jewish boy to death. To be sure, he had also sent people into the area of the Einsatzgruppen, who did not "grant a mercy death" but killed by shooting, but he was probably relieved when, in the later stages of the operation, this became unnecessary because of the ever-growing capacity of the gas chambers. He must also have thought that the new method indicated a decisive improvement in the Nazi government's attitude toward the Jews, since at the beginning of the gassing program it had been expressly stated that the benefits of euthanasia were to be reserved for true Germans. As the war progressed, with violent and horrible death raging all around - on the front in Russia, in the deserts of Africa, in Italy, on the beaches of France, in the ruins of the German cities - the gassing centers in Auschwitz and Chelmno, in Majdanek and Belzek, in Treblinka and Sobibor, must actually have appeared the "Charitable Foundations for Institutional Care" that the experts in mercy death called them. Moreover, from January, 1942, on, there were euthanasia teams operating in the East to "help the wounded in ice and snow," and though this killing of wounded soldiers was also "top secret," it was known to many, certainly to the executors of the Final Solution.

It has frequently been pointed out that the gassing of the mentally sick had to be stopped in Germany because of protests from the population and from a few courageous dignitaries of the churches, whereas no such protests were voiced when the program switched to the gassing of Jews, though some of the killing centers were located on what was then German territory and were surrounded by German populations. The protests, however, occurred at the beginning of the war; quite apart from the effects of "education in euthanasia," the attitude toward a "painless death through gassing" very likely changed in the course of the war. This sort of thing is difficult to prove; there are no documents to support it, because of the secrecy of the whole enterprise, and none of the war criminals ever mentioned it, not even the defendants in the Doctors' Trial at Nuremberg, who were full of quotations from the international literature on the subject. Perhaps they had forgotten the climate of public opinion in which they killed, perhaps they never cared to know it, since they felt, wrongly, that their "objective and scientific" attitude was far more advanced than the opinions held by ordinary people. However, a few truly priceless stories, to be found in the war diaries of trustworthy men who were fully aware of the fact that their own shocked reaction was no longer shared by their neighbors, have survived the moral debacle of a whole nation.

Reck-Malleczewen, whom I mentioned before, tells of a female "leader" who came to Bavaria to give the peasants a pep talk in the summer of 1944. She seems not to have wasted much time on "miracle weapons" and victory, she faced frankly the prospect of defeat, about which no good German needed to worry because the Führer "in his great goodness had prepared for the whole German people a mild death through gassing in case the war should have an unhappy end." And the writer adds: "Oh, no, I'm not imagining things, this lovely lady is not a mirage, I saw her with my own eyes: a yellow-skinned female pushing forty, with insane eyes. . . . And what happened? Did these Bavarian peasants at least put her into the local lake to cool off her enthusiastic readiness for death? They did nothing of the sort. They went home, shaking their heads." My next story is even more to the point, since it concerns someone who was not a "leader," may not even have been a Party member. It happened in Königsberg, in East Prussia, an altogether different corner of Germany, in January, 1945, a few days before the Russians destroyed the city, occupied its ruins, and annexed the whole province. The story is told by Count Hans von Lehnsdorff, in his Ostpreussisches Tagebuch (1961). He had remained in the city as a physician to take care of wounded soldiers who could not be evacuated; he was called to one of the huge centers for refugees from the countryside, which was already occupied by the Red Army. There he was accosted by a woman who showed him a varicose vein she had had for years but wanted to have treated now, because she had time. "I try to explain that it is more important for her to get away from Königsberg and to leave the treatment for some later time. Where do you want to go? I ask her. She does not know, but she knows that they will all be brought into the Reich. And then she adds, surprisingly: `The Russians will never get us. The Führer will never permit it. Much sooner he will gas us.' I look around furtively, but no one seems to find this statement out of the ordinary." The story, one feels, like most true stories, is incomplete. There should have been one more voice, preferably a female one, which, sighing heavily, replied: And now all that good, expensive gas has been wasted on the Jews!
Site Admin
Posts: 23142
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:51 am

7. The Wannsee Conference, or Pontius Pilate

My report on Eichmann's conscience has thus far followed evidence which he himself had forgotten. In his own presentation of the matter, the turning point came not four weeks but four months later, in January, 1942, during the Conference of the Staatssekretäre (Undersecretaries of State), as the Nazis used to call it, or the Wannsee Conference, as it now is usually called, because Heydrich had invited the gentlemen to a house in that suburb of Berlin. As the formal name of the conference indicates, the meeting had become necessary because the Final Solution, if it was to be applied to the whole of Europe, clearly required more than tacit acceptance from the Reich's State apparatus; it needed the active cooperation of all Ministries and of the whole Civil Service. The Ministers themselves, nine years after Hitler's rise to power, were all Party members of long standing - those who in the initial stages of the regime had merely "coordinated" themselves, smoothly enough, had been replaced. Yet most of them were not completely trusted, since few among them owed their careers entirely to the Nazis, as did Heydrich or Himmler; and those who did, like Joachim von Ribbentrop, head of the Foreign Office, a former champagne salesman, were likely to be nonentities. The problem was much more acute, however, with respect to the higher career men in the Civil Service, directly under the Ministers, for these men, the backbone of every government administration, were not easily replaceable, and Hitler had tolerated them, just as Adenauer was to tolerate them, unless they were compromised beyond salvation. Hence the undersecretaries and the legal and other experts in the various Ministries were frequently not even Party members, and Heydrich's apprehensions about whether he would be able to enlist the active help of these people in mass murder were quite comprehensible. As Eichmann put it, Heydrich "expected the greatest difficulties." Well, he could not have been more wrong.

The aim of the conference was to coordinate all efforts toward the implementation of the Final Solution. The discussion turned first on "complicated legal questions," such as the treatment of half- and quarter-Jews - should they be killed or only sterilized? This was followed by a frank discussion of the "various types of possible solutions to the problem," which meant the various methods of killing, and here, too, there was more than "happy agreement on the part of the participants"; the Final Solution was greeted with "extraordinary enthusiasm" by all present, and particularly by Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart, Undersecretary in the Ministry of the Interior, who was known to be rather reticent and hesitant in the face of "radical" Party measures, and was, according to Dr. Hans Globke's testimony at Nuremberg, a staunch supporter of the Law. There were certain difficulties, however. Undersecretary Josef Bühler, second in command in the General Government in Poland, was dismayed at the prospect that Jews would be evacuated from the West to the East, because this meant more Jews in Poland, and he proposed that these evacuations be postponed and that "the Final Solution be started in the General Government, where no problems of transport existed." The gentlemen from the Foreign Office appeared with their own carefully elaborated memorandum, expressing "the desires and ideas of the Foreign Office with respect to the total solution of the Jewish question in Europe," to which nobody paid much attention. The main point, as Eichmann rightly noted, was that the members of the various branches of the Civil Service did not merely express opinions but made concrete propositions. The meeting lasted no more than an hour or an hour and a half, after which drinks were served and everybody had lunch - "a cozy little social gathering," designed to strengthen the necessary personal contacts. It was a very important occasion for Eichmann, who had never before mingled socially with so many "high personages"; he was by far the lowest in rank and social position of those present. He had sent out the invitations and had prepared some statistical material (full of incredible errors) for Heydrich's introductory speech - eleven million Jews had to be killed, an undertaking of some magnitude - and later he was to prepare the minutes. In short, he acted as secretary of the meeting. This was why he was permitted, after the dignitaries had left, to sit down near the fireplace with his chief Müller and Heydrich, "and that was the first time I saw Heydrich smoke and drink." They did not "talk shop, but enjoyed some rest after long hours of work," being greatly satisfied and, especially Heydrich, in very high spirits.

There was another reason that made the day of this conference unforgettable for Eichmann. Although he had been doing his best right along to help with the Final Solution, he had still harbored some doubts about "such a bloody solution through violence," and these doubts had now been dispelled. "Here now, during this conference, the most prominent people had spoken, the Popes of the Third Reich." Now he could see with his own eyes and hear with his own ears that not only Hitler, not only Heydrich or the "sphinx" Müller, not just the S.S. or the Party, but the elite of the good old Civil Service were vying and fighting with each other for the honor of taking the lead in these "bloody" matters. "At that moment, I sensed a kind of Pontius Pilate feeling, for I felt free of all guilt." Who was he to judge? Who was he "to have [his] own thoughts in this matter"? Well, he was neither the first nor the last to be ruined by modesty.

What followed, as Eichmann recalled it, went more or less smoothly and soon became routine. He quickly became an expert in "forced evacuation," as he had been an expert in "forced emigration." In country after country, the Jews had to register, were forced to wear the yellow badge for easy identification, were assembled and deported, the various shipments being directed to one or another of the extermination centers in the East, depending on their relative capacity at the moment; when a trainload of Jews arrived at a center, the strong among them were selected for work, often operating the extermination machinery, all others were immediately killed. There were hitches, but they were minor. The Foreign Office was in contact with the authorities in those foreign countries that were either occupied or allied with the Nazis, to put pressure on them to deport their Jews, or, as the case might be, to prevent them from evacuating them to the East helter-skelter, out of sequence, without proper regard for the absorptive capacity of the death centers. (This was how Eichmann remembered it; it was in fact not quite so simple.) The legal experts drew up the necessary legislation for making the victims stateless, which was important on two counts: it made it impossible for any country to inquire into their fate, and it enabled the state in which they were resident to confiscate their property. The Ministry of Finance and the Reichsbank prepared facilities to receive the huge loot from all over Europe, down to watches and gold teeth, all of which was sorted out in the Reichsbank and then sent to the Prussian State Mint. The Ministry of Transport provided the necessary railroad cars, usually freight cars, even in times of great scarcity of rolling stock, and they saw to it that the schedule of the deportation trains did not conflict with other timetables. The Jewish Councils of Elders were informed by Eichmann or his men of how many Jews were needed to fill each train, and they made out the list of deportees. The Jews registered, filled out innumerable forms, answered pages and pages of questionnaires regarding their property so that it could be seized the more easily; they then assembled at the collection points and boarded the trains. The few who tried to hide or to escape were rounded up by a special Jewish police force. As far as Eichmann could see, no one protested, no one refused to cooperate. "Immerzu fahren hier die Leute zu ihrem eigenen Begräbnis" (Day in day out the people here leave for their own funeral), as a Jewish observer put it in Berlin in 1943.

Mere compliance would never have been enough either to smooth out all the enormous difficulties of an operation that was soon to cover the whole of Nazi-occupied and Nazi-allied Europe or to soothe the consciences of the operators, who, after all, had been brought up on the commandment "Thou shalt not kill," and who knew the verse from the Bible, "Thou hast murdered and thou hast inherited," that the judgment of the District Court of Jerusalem quoted so appropriately. What Eichmann called the "death whirl" that descended upon Germany after the immense losses at Stalingrad - the saturation bombing of German cities, his stock excuse for killing civilians and still the stock excuse offered in Germany for the massacres - making an everyday experience of sights different from the atrocities reported at Jerusalem but no less horrible, might have contributed to the easing, or, rather, to the extinguishing, of conscience, had any conscience been left when it occurred, but according to the evidence such was not the case. The extermination machinery had been planned and perfected in all its details long before the horror of war struck Germany herself, and its intricate bureaucracy functioned with the same unwavering precision in the years of easy victory as in those last years of predictable defeat. Defections from the ranks of the ruling elite and notably from among the Higher S.S. officers hardly occurred at the beginning, when people might still have had a conscience; they made themselves felt only when it had become obvious that Germany was going to lose the war. Moreover, such defections were never serious enough to throw the machinery out of gear; they consisted of individual acts not of mercy but of corruption, and they were inspired not by conscience but by the desire to salt some money or some connections away for the dark days to come. Himmler's order in the fall of 1944 to halt the extermination and to dismantle the installations at the death factories sprang from his absurd but sincere conviction that the Allied powers would know how to appreciate this obliging gesture; he told a rather incredulous Eichmann that on the strength of it he would be able to negotiate a Hubertusburger-Frieden - an allusion to the Peace Treaty of Hubertusburg that concluded the Seven Years' War of Frederick II of Prussia in 1763 and enabled Prussia to retain Silesia, although she had lost the war.

As Eichmann told it, the most potent factor in the soothing of his own conscience was the simple fact that he could see no one, no one at all, who actually was against the Final Solution. He did encounter one exception, however, which he mentioned several times, and which must have made a deep impression on him. This happened in Hungary when he was negotiating with Dr. Kastner over Himmler's offer to release one million Jews in exchange for ten thousand trucks. Kastner, apparently emboldened by the new turn of affairs, had asked Eichmann to stop "the death mills at Auschwitz," and Eichmann had answered that he would do it "with the greatest pleasure" (herzlich gern) but that, alas, it was outside his competence and outside the competence of his superiors - as indeed it was. Of course, he' did not expect the Jews to share the general enthusiasm over their destruction, but he did expect more than compliance, he expected - and received, to a truly extraordinary degree - their cooperation. This was "of course the very cornerstone" of everything he did, as it had been the very cornerstone of his activities in Vienna. Without Jewish help in administrative and police work - the final rounding up of Jews in Berlin was, as I have mentioned, done entirely by Jewish police - there would have been either complete chaos or an impossibly severe drain on German manpower. ("There can be no doubt that, without, the cooperation of the victims, it would hardly have been possible for a few thousand people, most of whom, moreover, worked in offices, to liquidate many hundreds of thousands of other people. . . . Over the whole way to their deaths the Polish Jews got to see hardly more than a handful of Germans." Thus R. Pendorf in the publication mentioned above. To an even greater extent this applies to those Jews who were transported to Poland to find their deaths there.) Hence, the establishing of Quisling governments in occupied territories was always accompanied by the organization of a central Jewish office, and, as we shall see later, where the Nazis did not succeed in setting up a puppet government, they also failed to enlist the cooperation of the Jews. But whereas the members of the Quisling governments were usually taken from the opposition parties, the members of the Jewish Councils were as a rule the locally recognized Jewish leaders, to whom the Nazis gave enormous powers - until they, too, were deported, to Theresienstadt or Bergen-Belsen, if they happened to be from Central or Western Europe, to Auschwitz if they were from an Eastern European community.

To a Jew this role of the Jewish leaders in the destruction of their own people is undoubtedly the darkest chapter of the whole dark story. It had been known about before, but it has now been exposed for the first time in all its pathetic and sordid detail by Raul Hilberg, whose standard work The Destruction of the European Jews I mentioned before. In the matter of cooperation, there was no distinction between the highly assimilated Jewish communities of Central and Western Europe and the Yiddish-speaking masses of the East. In Amsterdam as in Warsaw, in Berlin as in Budapest, Jewish officials could be trusted to compile the lists of persons and of their property, to secure money from the deportees to defray the expenses of their deportation and extermination, to keep track of vacated apartments, to supply police forces to help seize Jews and get them on trains, until, as a last gesture, they handed over the assets of the Jewish community in good order for final confiscation. They distributed the Yellow Star badges, and sometimes, as in Warsaw, "the sale of the armbands became a regular business; there were ordinary armbands of cloth and fancy plastic armbands which were washable." In the Nazi-inspired, but not Nazidictated, manifestoes they issued, we still can sense how they enjoyed their new power - "The Central Jewish Council has been granted the right of absolute disposal over all Jewish spiritual and material wealth and over all Jewish manpower," as the first announcement of the Budapest Council phrased it. We know how the Jewish officials felt when they became instruments of murder - like captains "whose ships were about to sink and who succeeded in bringing them safe to port by casting overboard a great part of their precious cargo"; like saviors who "with a hundred victims save a thousand people, with a thousand ten thousand." The truth was even more gruesome. Dr. Kastner, in Hungary, for instance, saved exactly 1,684 people with approximately 476,000 victims. In order not to leave the selection to "blind fate," "truly holy principles" were needed "as the guiding force of the weak human hand which puts down on paper the name of the 'unknown person and with this decides his life or death." And whom did these "holy principles" single out for salvation? Those "who had worked all their lives for the zibur [community]" - i.e., the functionaries - and the "most prominent Jews," as Kastner says in his report.

No one bothered to swear the Jewish officials to secrecy; they were voluntary "bearers of secrets," either in order to assure quiet and prevent panic, as in Dr. Kastner's case, or out of "humane" considerations, such as that "living in the expectation of death by gassing would only be the harder," as in the case of Dr. Leo Baeck, former Chief Rabbi of Berlin. During the Eichmann trial, one witness pointed out the unfortunate consequences of this kind of "humanity" - people volunteered for deportation from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz and denounced those who tried to tell them the truth as being "not sane." We know the physiognomies of the Jewish leaders during the Nazi period very well; they ranged all the way from Chaim Rumkowski, Eldest of the Jews in Lódz, called Chaim I, who issued currency notes bearing his signature and postage stamps engraved with his portrait, and who rode around in a broken-down horse-drawn carriage; through Leo Baeck, scholarly, mild-mannered, highly educated, who believed Jewish policemen would be "more gentle and helpful" and would "make the ordeal easier" (whereas in fact they were, of course, more brutal and less corruptible, since so much more was at stake for them); to, finally, a few who committed suicide - like Adam Czerniakow, chairman of the Warsaw Jewish Council, who was not a rabbi but an unbeliever, a Polish-speaking Jewish engineer, but who must still have remembered the rabbinical saying: "Let them kill you, but don't cross the line."

That the prosecution in Jerusalem, so careful not to embarrass the Adenauer administration, should have avoided, with even greater and more obvious justification, bringing this chapter of the story into the open was almost a matter of course. (These issues, however, are discussed quite openly and with astonishing frankness in Israeli schoolbooks - as may conveniently be gathered from the article "Young Israelis and Jews Abroad - A Study of Selected History Textbooks" by Mark M. Krug, in Comparative Education Review, October, 1963.) The chapter must be included here, however, because it accounts for certain otherwise inexplicable lacunae in the documentation of a generally over-documented case. The judges mentioned one such instance, the absence of H. G. Adler's book Theresienstadt 1941-1945 (1955), which the prosecution, in some embarrassment, admitted to be "authentic, based on irrefutable sources." The reason for the omission was clear. The book describes in detail how the feared "transport lists" were put together by the Jewish Council of Theresienstadt after the S.S. had given some general directives, stipulating how many should be sent away, and of what age, sex, profession, and country of origin. The prosecution's case would have been weakened if it had been forced to admit that the naming of individuals who were sent to their doom had been, with few exceptions, the job of the Jewish administration. And the Deputy State Attorney, Mr. Ya'akov Baror, who handled the intervention from the bench, in a way indicated this when he said: "I am trying to bring out those things which somehow refer to the accused without damaging the picture in its entirety." The picture would indeed have been greatly damaged by the inclusion of Adler's book, since it would have contradicted testimony given by the chief witness on Theresienstadt, who claimed that Eichmann himself had made these individual selections. Even more important, the prosecution's general picture of a clear-cut division between persecutors and victims would have suffered greatly. To make available evidence that does not support the case for the prosecution is usually the job of the defense, and the question why Dr. Servatius, who perceived some minor inconsistencies in the testimony, did not avail himself of such easily obtainable and widely known documentation is difficult to answer. He could have pointed to the fact that Eichmann, immediately upon being transformed from an expert in emigration into an expert in "evacuation," appointed his old Jewish associates in the emigration business - Dr. Paul Eppstein, who had been in charge of emigration in Berlin, and Rabbi Benjamin Murmelstein, who had held the same job in Vienna - as "Jewish Elders" in Theresienstadt. This would have done more to demonstrate the atmosphere in which Eichmann worked than all the unpleasant and often downright offensive talk about oaths, loyalty, and the virtues of unquestioning obedience.

The testimony of Mrs. Charlotte Salzberger on Theresienstadt, from which I quoted above, permitted us to cast at least a glance into this neglected comer of what the prosecution kept calling the "general picture." The presiding judge did not like the term and he did not like the picture. He told the Attorney General several times that "we are not drawing pictures here," that there is "an indictment and this indictment is the framework for our trial," that the court "has its own view about this trial, according to the indictment," and that "the prosecution must adjust to what the court lays down" - admirable admonitions for criminal proceedings, none of which was heeded. The prosecution did worse than not heed them, it simply refused to guide its witnesses - or, if the court became too insistent, it asked a few haphazard questions, very casually - with the result that the witnesses behaved as though they were speakers at a meeting chaired by the Attorney General, who introduced them to the audience before they took the floor. They could talk almost as long as they wished, and it was a rare occasion when they were asked a specific question.

This atmosphere, not of a show trial but of a mass meeting, at which speaker after speaker does his best to arouse the audience, was especially noticeable when the prosecution called witness after witness to testify to the rising in the Warsaw ghetto and to the similar attempts in Vilna and Kovno - matters that had no connection whatever with the crimes of the accused. The testimony of these people would have contributed something to the trial if they had told of the activities of the Jewish Councils, which had played such a great and disastrous role in their own heroic efforts. Of course, there was some mention of this - witnesses speaking of "S.S. men and their helpers" pointed out that they counted among the latter the "ghetto police which was also an instrument in the hands of the Nazi murderers" as well as "the Judenrat" - but they were only too glad not to "elaborate" on this side of their story, and they shifted the discussion to the role of real traitors, of whom there were few, and who were "nameless people, unknown to the Jewish public," such as "all undergrounds which fought against the Nazis suffered from." (The audience while these witnesses testified had changed again; it consisted now of Kibbuzniks, members of the Israeli communal settlements to which the speakers belonged.) The purest and clearest account came from Zivia Lubetkin Zuckerman, today a woman of perhaps forty, still very beautiful, completely free of sentimentality or self-indulgence, her facts well organized, and always quite sure of the point she wished to make. Legally, the testimony of these witnesses was immaterial - Mr. Hausner did not mention one of them in his last plaidoyer - except insofar as it constituted proof of close contacts between Jewish partisans and the Polish and Russian underground fighters, which, apart from contradicting other testimony ("We had the whole population against us"), could have been useful to the defense, since it offered much better justification for the wholesale slaughter of civilians than Eichmann's repeated claim that "Weizmann had declared war on Germany in 1939." (This was sheer nonsense. All that Chaim Weizmann had said, at the close of the last prewar Zionist Congress, was that the war of the Western democracies "is our war, their struggle is our struggle." The tragedy, as Hausner rightly pointed out, was precisely that the Jews were not recognized by the Nazis as belligerents, for if they had been they would have survived, in prisoner-of-war or civilian internment camps.) Had Dr. Servatius made this point, the prosecution would have been forced to admit how pitifully small these resistance groups had been, how incredibly weak and essentially harmless - and, moreover, how little they had represented the Jewish population, who at one point even took arms against them.

While the legal irrelevance of all this very time-consuming testimony remained pitifully clear, the political intention of the Israeli government in introducing it was also not difficult to guess. Mr. Hausner (or Mr. Ben-Gurion) probably wanted to demonstrate that whatever resistance there had been had come from Zionists, as though, of all Jews, only the Zionists knew that if you could not save your life it might still be worth while to save your honor, as Mr. Zuckerman put it; that the worst that could happen to the human person under such circumstances was to be and to remain "innocent," as became clear from the tenor and drift of Mrs. Zuckerman's testimony. However, these "political" intentions misfired, for the witnesses were truthful and told the court that all Jewish organizations and parties had played their role in the resistance, so the true distinction was not between Zionists and non-Zionists but between organized and unorganized people, and, even more important, between the young and the middle-aged. To be sure, those who resisted were a minority, a tiny minority, but under the circumstances "the miracle was," as one of them pointed out, "that this minority existed."

Legal considerations aside, the appearance in the witness box of the former Jewish resistance fighters was welcome enough. It dissipated the haunting specter of universal cooperation, the stifling, poisoned atmosphere which had surrounded the Final Solution. The well-known fact that the actual work of killing in the extermination centers was usually in the hands of Jewish commandos had been fairly and squarely established by witnesses for the prosecution - how they had worked in the gas chambers and the crematories, how they had pulled the gold teeth and cut the hair of the corpses, how they had dug the graves and, later, dug them up again to extinguish the traces of mass murder; how Jewish technicians had built gas chambers in Theresienstadt, where the Jewish "autonomy" had been carried so far that even the hangman was a Jew. But this was only horrible, it was no moral problem. The selection and classification of workers in the camps was made by the S.S., who had a marked predilection for the criminal elements; and, anyhow, it could only have been the selection of the worst. (This was especially true in Poland, where the Nazis had exterminated a large proportion of the Jewish intelligentsia at the same time that they killed Polish intellectuals and members of the professions - in marked contrast, incidentally, to their policy in Western Europe, where they tended to save prominent Jews in order to exchange them for German civilian internees or prisoners of war; Bergen-Belsen was originally a camp for "exchange Jews.") The moral problem lay in the amount of truth there was in Eichmann's description of Jewish cooperation, even under the conditions of the Final Solution: "The formation of the Jewish Council [at Theresienstadt] and the distribution of business was left to the discretion of the Council, except for the appointment of the president, who the president was to be, which depended upon us, of course. However, this appointment was not in the form of a dictatorial decision. The functionaries with whom we were in constant contact - well, they had to be treated with kid gloves. They were not ordered around, for the simple reason that if the chief officials had been told what to do in the form of: you must, you have to, that would not have helped matters any. If the person in question does not like what he is doing, the whole works will suffer. . . . We did our best to make everything somehow palatable." No doubt they did; the problem is how it was possible for them to succeed.

Thus, the gravest omission from the "general picture" was that of a witness to testify to the cooperation between the Nazi rulers and the Jewish authorities, and hence of an opportunity to raise the question: "Why did you cooperate in the destruction of your own people and, eventually, in your own ruin?" The only witness who had been a prominent member of a Judenrat was Pinchas Freudiger, the former Baron Philip von Freudiger, of Budapest, and during his testimony the only serious incidents in the audience took place; people screamed at the witness in Hungarian and in Yiddish, and the court had to interrupt the session. Freudiger, an Orthodox Jew of considerable dignity, was shaken: "There are people here who say they were not told to escape. But fifty per cent of the people who escaped were captured and killed" - as compared with ninety-nine per cent, for those who did not escape. "Where could they have gone to? Where could they have fled?" - but he himself fled, to Rumania, because he was rich and Wisliceny helped him. "What could we have done? What could we have done?" And the only response to this came from the presiding judge: "I do not think this is an answer to the question" - a question raised by the gallery but not by the court.

The matter of cooperation was twice mentioned by the judges; Judge Yitzak Raveh elicited from one of the resistance witnesses an admission that the "ghetto police" were an "instrument in the hands of murderers" and an acknowledgment of "the Judenrat's policy of cooperating with the Nazis"; and Judge Halevi found out from Eichmann in cross-examination that the Nazis had regarded this cooperation as the very cornerstone of their Jewish policy. But the question the prosecutor regularly addressed to each witness except the resistance fighters which sounded so very natural to those who knew nothing of the factual background of the trial, the question "Why did you not rebel?," actually served as a smoke screen for the question that was not asked. And thus it came to pass that all answers to the unanswerable question Mr. Hausner put to his witnesses were considerably less than "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." True it was that the Jewish people as a whole had not been organized, that they had possessed no territory, no government, and no army, that, in the hour of their greatest need, they had no government-in-exile to represent them among the Allies (the Jewish Agency for Palestine, under Dr. Weizmann's presidency, was at best a miserable substitute), no caches of weapons, no youth with military training. But the whole truth was that there existed Jewish community organizations and Jewish party and welfare organizations on both the local and the international level. Wherever Jews lived, there were recognized Jewish leaders, and this leadership, almost without exception, cooperated in one way or another, for one reason or another, with the Nazis. The whole truth was that if the Jewish people had really been unorganized and leaderless, there would have been chaos and plenty of misery but the total number of victims would hardly have been between four and a half and six million people. (According to Freudiger's calculations about half of them could have saved themselves if they had not followed the instructions of the Jewish Councils. This is of course a mere estimate, which, however, oddly jibes with the rather reliable figures we have from Holland and which I owe to Dr. L. de Jong, the head of the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation. In Holland, where the Joodsche Raad like all the Dutch authorities very quickly became an "instrument of the Nazis," 103,000 Jews were deported to the death camps and some five thousand to Theresienstadt in the usual way, i.e., with the cooperation of the Jewish Council. Only five hundred and nineteen Jews returned from the death camps. In contrast to this figure, ten thousand of those twenty to twenty-five thousand Jews who escaped the Nazis - and that meant also the Jewish Council - and went underground survived; again forty to fifty per cent. Most of the Jews sent to Theresienstadt returned to Holland.)

I have dwelt on this chapter of the story, which the Jerusalem trial failed to put before the eyes of the world in its true dimensions, because it offers the most striking insight into the totality of the moral collapse the Nazis caused in respectable European society - not only in Germany but in almost all countries, not only among the persecutors but also among the victims. Eichmann, in contrast to other elements in the Nazi movement, had always been overawed by "good society," and the politeness he often showed to German-speaking Jewish functionaries was to a large extent the result of his recognition that he was dealing with people who were socially his superiors. He was not at all, as one witness called him, a "Landsknechtnatur," a mercenary, who wanted to escape to regions where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst. What he fervently believed in up to the end was success, the chief standard of "good society" as he knew it. Typical was his last word on the subject of Hitler - whom he and his comrade Sassen had agreed to "shirr out" of their story; Hitler, he said, "may have been wrong all down the line, but one thing is beyond dispute: the man was able to work his way up from lance corporal in the German Army to Führer of a people of almost eighty million. . . . His success alone proved to me that I should subordinate myself to this man." His conscience was indeed set at rest when he saw the zeal and eagerness with which "good society" everywhere reacted as he did. He did not need to "close his ears to the voice of conscience," as the judgment has it, not because he had none, but because his conscience spoke with a "respectable voice," with the voice of respectable society around him.

That there were no voices from the outside to arouse his conscience was one of Eichmann's points, and it was the task of the prosecution to prove that this was not so, that there were voices he could have listened to, and that, anyhow, he had done his work with a zeal far beyond the call of duty. Which turned out to be true enough, except that, strange as it may appear, his murderous zeal was not altogether unconnected with the ambiguity in the voices of those who at one time or another tried to restrain him. We need mention here only in passing the so-called "inner emigration" in Germany - those people who frequently had held positions, even high ones, in the Third Reich and who, after the end of the war, told themselves and the world at large that they had always been "inwardly opposed" to the regime. The question here is not whether or not they are telling the truth; the point is, rather, that no secret in the secret-ridden atmosphere of the Hitler regime was better kept than such "inward opposition." This was almost a matter of course under the conditions of Nazi terror; as a rather well-known "inner emigrant," who certainly believed in his own sincerity, once told me, they had to appear "outwardly" even more like Nazis than ordinary Nazis did, in order to keep their secret. (This, incidentally, may explain why the few known protests against the extermination program came not from the Army commanders but from old Party members.) Hence, the only possible way to live in the Third Reich and not act as a Nazi was not to appear at all: "Withdrawal from significant participation in public life" was indeed the only criterion by which one might have measured individual guilt, as Otto Kirchheimer recently remarked in his Political Justice (1961). If the term was to make any sense, the "inner emigrant" could only be one who lived "as though outcast among his own people amidst blindly believing masses," as Professor Hermann Jahrreiss pointed out in his "Statement for All Defense Attorneys" before the Nuremberg Tribunal. For opposition was indeed "utterly pointless" in the absence of all organization. It is true that there were Germans who lived for twelve years in this "outer cold," but their number was insignificant, even among the members of the resistance. In recent years, the slogan of the "inner emigration" (the term itself has a definitely equivocal flavor, as it can mean either an emigration into the inward regions of one's soul or a way of conducting oneself as though he were an emigrant) has become a sort of a joke. The sinister Dr. Otto Bradfisch, former member of one of the Einsatzgruppen, who presided over the killing of at least fifteen thousand people, told a German court that he had always been "inwardly opposed" to what he was doing. Perhaps the death of fifteen thousand people was necessary to provide him with an alibi in the eyes of "true Nazis." (The same argument was advanced, though with considerably less success, in a Polish court by former Gauleiter Arthur Greiser of the Warthegau: only his "official soul" had carried out the crimes for which he was hanged in 1946, his "private soul" had always been against them.)

While Eichmann may never have encountered an "inner emigrant," he must have been well acquainted with many of those numerous civil servants who today assert that they stayed in their jobs for no other reason than to "mitigate" matters and to prevent "real Nazis" from taking over their posts. We mentioned the famous case of Dr. Hans Globke, Undersecretary of State and from 1953 to 1963 chief of the personnel division in the West German Chancellery. Since he was the only civil servant in this category to be mentioned during the trial, it may be worth while to look into his mitigating activities. Dr. Globke had been employed in the Prussian Ministry of the Interior before Hitler's rise to power, and had shown there a rather premature interest in the Jewish question. He formulated the first of the directives in which "proof of Aryan descent" was demanded, in this case of persons who applied for permission to change their names. This circular letter of December, 1932 - issued at a time when Hitler's rise to power was not yet a certainty, but a strong probability - oddly anticipated the "top secret decrees," that is, the typically totalitarian rule by means of laws that are not brought to the attention of the public, which the Hitler regime introduced much later, in notifying the recipients that "these directives are not for publication." Dr. Globke, as I have mentioned, kept his interest in names, and since it is true that his Commentary on the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 was considerably harsher than the earlier interpretation of Rassenschande by the Ministry of the Interior's expert on Jewish affairs, Dr. Bernhard Lösener, an old member of the Party, one could even accuse him of having made things worse than they were under "real Nazis." But even if we were to grant him all his good intentions, it is hard indeed to see what he could have done under the circumstances to make things better than they would otherwise have been. Recently, however, a German newspaper, after much searching, came up with an answer to this puzzling question. They found a document, duly signed by Dr. Globke, which decreed that Czech brides of German soldiers had to furnish photographs of themselves in bathing suits in order to obtain a marriage license. And Dr. Globke explained: "With this confidential ordinance a three-year-old scandal was somewhat mitigated"; for until his intervention, Czech brides had to furnish snapshots that showed them stark naked.

Dr. Globke, as he explained at Nuremberg, was fortunate in that he worked under the orders of another "mitigator," Staatssekretär (Undersecretary of State) Wilhelm Stuckart, whom we met as one of the eager members of the Wannsee Conference. Stuckart's attenuation activities concerned half-Jews, whom he proposed to sterilize. (The Nuremberg court, in possession of the minutes of the Wannsee Conference, may not have believed that he had known nothing of the extermination program, but it sentenced him to time served on account of ill health. A German denazification court fined him five hundred marks and declared him a "nominal member of the Party" - a Mitläufer - although they must have known at least that Stuckart belonged to the "old guard" of the Party and had joined the S.S. early, as an honorary member.) Clearly, the story of the "mitigators" in Hitler's offices belongs among the postwar fairy tales, and we can dismiss them, too, as voices that might possibly have reached Eichmann's conscience.

The question of these voices became serious, in Jerusalem, with the appearance in court of Propst Heinrich Grüber, a Protestant minister, who had come to the trial as the only German (and, incidentally, except for Judge Michael Musmanno from the United States, the only non- Jewish) witness for the prosecution. (German witnesses for the defense were excluded from the outset, since they would have exposed themselves to arrest and prosecution in Israel under the same law as that under which Eichmann was tried.) Propst Grüber had belonged to the numerically small and politically irrelevant group of persons who were opposed to Hitler on principle, and not out of nationalist considerations, and whose stand on the Jewish question had been without equivocation. He promised to be a splendid witness, since Eichmann had negotiated with him several times, and his mere appearance in the courtroom created a kind of sensation. Unfortunately, his testimony was vague; he did not remember, after so many years, when he had spoken with Eichmann, or, and this was more serious, on what subjects. All he recalled clearly was that he had once asked for unleavened bread to be shipped to Hungary for Passover, and that l e had traveled to Switzerland during the war to tell his Christian friends how dangerous the situation was and to urge that more opportunities for emigration be provided. (The negotiations must have taken place prior to the implementing of the Final Solution, which coincided with Himmler's decree forbidding all emigration; they probably occurred before the invasion of Russia.) He got his unleavened bread, and he got safely to Switzerland and back again. His troubles started later, when the deportations had begun. Propst Grüber and his group of Protestant clergymen first intervened merely "on behalf of people who had been wounded in the course of the First World War and of those who had been awarded high military decorations; on behalf of the old and on behalf of the widows of those killed in World War I." These categories corresponded to those that had originally been exempted by the Nazis themselves. Now Grüber was told that what he was doing "ran counter to the policy of the government," but nothing serious happened to him. But shortly after this, Propst Grüber did something really extraordinary: he tried to reach the concentration camp of Gurs, in southern France, where Vichy France had interned, together with German Jewish refugees, some seventy-five hundred Jews from Baden and the Saarpfalz whom Eichmann had smuggled across the German-French border in the fall of 1940, and who, according to Propst Grüber's information, were even worse off than the Jews deported to Poland. The result of this attempt was that he was arrested and put in a concentration camp - first in Sachsenhausen and then in Dachau. (A similar fate befell the Catholic priest Dompropst Bernard Lichtenberg, of St. Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin; he not only had dared to pray publicly for all Jews, baptized or not - which was considerably more dangerous than to intervene for "special cases" - but he had also demanded that he be allowed to join the Jews on their journey to the East. He died on his way to a concentration camp.)

Apart from testifying to the existence of "another Germany," Propst Grüber did not contribute much to either the legal or the historical significance of the trial. He was full of pat judgments about Eichmann - he was like "a block of ice," like "marble," a "Landsknechtsnatur," a "bicycle rider" (a current German idiom for someone who kowtows to his superiors and kicks his subordinates) - none of which showed him as a particularly good psychologist, quite apart from the fact that the "bicycle rider" charge was contradicted by evidence which showed Eichmann to have been rather decent toward his subordinates. Anyway, these were interpretations and conclusions that would normally have been stricken from any court record - though in Jerusalem they even found their way into the judgment. Without them Propst Grüber's testimony could have strengthened the case for the defense, for Eichmann had never given Grüber a direct answer, he had always told him to come back, as he had to ask for further instructions. More important, Dr. Servatius for once took the initiative and asked the witness a highly pertinent question: "Did you try to influence him? Did you, as a clergyman, try to appeal to his feelings, preach to him, and tell him that his conduct was contrary to morality?" Of course, the very courageous Propst had done nothing of the sort, and his answers now were highly embarrassing. He said that "deeds are more effective than words," and that "words would have been useless"; he spoke in clichés that had nothing to do with the reality of the situation, where "mere words" would have been deeds, and where it had perhaps been the duty of a clergyman to test the "uselessness of words."

Even more pertinent than Dr. Servatius' question was what Eichmann said about this episode in his last statement: "Nobody," he repeated, "came to me and reproached me for anything in the performance of my duties. Not even Pastor Grüber claims to have done so." He then added: "He came to me and sought alleviation of suffering, but did not actually object to the very performance of my duties as such." From Propst Grüber's own testimony, it appeared that he sought not so much "alleviation of suffering" as exemptions from it, in accordance with well-established categories recognized earlier by the Nazis. The categories had been accepted without protest by German Jewry from the very beginning. And the acceptance of privileged categories - German Jews as against Polish Jews, war veterans and decorated Jews as against ordinary Jews, families whose ancestors were German-born as against recently naturalized citizens, etc. - had been the beginning of the moral collapse of respectable Jewish society. (In view of the fact that today such matters are often treated as though there existed a law of human nature compelling everybody to lose his dignity in the face of disaster, we may recall the attitude of the French Jewish war veterans who were offered the same privileges by their government, and replied: "We solemnly declare that we renounce any exceptional benefits we may derive from our status as ex-servicemen" [American Jewish Yearbook, 1945].) Needless to say, the Nazis themselves never took these distinctions seriously, for them a Jew was a Jew, but the categories played a certain role up to the very end, since they helped put to rest a certain uneasiness among the German population: only Polish Jews were deported, only people who had shirked military service, and so on. For those who did not want to close their eyes it must have been clear from the beginning that it "was a general practice to allow certain exceptions in order to be able to maintain the general rule all the more easily" (in the words of Louis de Jong in an illuminating article on "Jews and Non-Jews in Nazi-Occupied Holland").

What was morally so disastrous in the acceptance of these privileged categories was that everyone who demanded to have an "exception" made in his case implicitly recognized the rule, but this point, apparently, was never grasped by these "good men," Jewish and Gentile, who busied themselves about all those "special cases" for which preferential treatment could be asked. The extent to which even the Jewish victims had accepted the standards of the Final Solution is perhaps nowhere more glaringly evident than in the so-called Kastner Report (available in German, Der Kastner-Bericht über Eichmanns Menschenhandel in Ungarn, 1961). Even after the end of the war, Kastner was proud of his success in saving "prominent Jews," a category officially introduced by the Nazis in 1942, as though in his view, too, it went without saying that a famous Jew had more right to stay alive than an ordinary one; to take upon himself such "responsibilities" - to help the Nazis in their efforts to pick out "famous" people from the anonymous mass, for this is what it amounted to - "required more courage than to face death." But if the Jewish and Gentile pleaders of "special cases" were unaware of their involuntary complicity, this implicit recognition of the rule, which spelled death for all non-special cases, must have been very obvious to those who were engaged in the business of murder. They must have felt, at least, that by being asked to make exceptions, and by occasionally granting them, and thus earning gratitude, they had convinced their opponents of the lawfulness of what they were doing.

Moreover, Propst Grüber and the Jerusalem court were quite mistaken in assuming that requests for exemptions originated only with opponents of the regime. On the contrary, as Heydrich explicitly stated during the Wannsee Conference, the establishment of Theresienstadt as a ghetto for privileged categories was prompted by the great number of such interventions from all sides. Theresienstadt later became a showplace for visitors from abroad and served to deceive the outside world, but this was not its original raison d'être. The horrible thinning-out process that regularly occurred in this "paradise" - "distinguished from other camps as day is from night," as Eichmann rightly remarked - was necessary because there was never enough room to provide for all who were privileged, and we know from a directive issued by Ernst Kaltenbrunner, head of the R.S.H.A., that "special care was taken not to deport Jews with connections and important acquaintances in the outside world." In other words, the less "prominent" Jews were constantly sacrificed to those whose disappearance in the East would create unpleasant inquiries. The "acquaintances in the outside world" did not necessarily live outside Germany; according to Himmler, there were "eighty million good Germans, each of whom has his decent Jew. It is clear, the others are pigs, but this particular Jew is first-rate" (Hilberg). Hitler himself is said to have known three hundred and forty "first-rate Jews," whom he had either altogether assimilated to the status of Germans or granted the privileges of half-Jews. Thousands of half-Jews had been exempted from all restrictions, which might explain Heydrich's role in the S.S. and Generalfeldmarschall Erhard Milch's role in Göring's Air Force, for it was generally known that Heydrich and Milch were half-Jews. (Among the major war criminals, only two repented in the face of death: Heydrich, during the nine days it took him to die from the wounds inflicted by Czech patriots, and Hans Frank in his death cell at Nuremberg. It is an uncomfortable fact, for it is difficult not to suspect that what Heydrich at least repented of was not murder but that he had betrayed his own people.) If interventions on behalf of "prominent" Jews came from "prominent" people, they often were quite successful. Thus Sven Hedin, one of Hitler's most ardent admirers, intervened for a well-known geographer, a Professor Philippsohn of Bonn, who was "living under undignified conditions at Theresienstadt"; in a letter to Hitler, Hedin threatened that "his attitude to Germany would be dependent upon Philippsohn's fate," whereupon (according to H. G. Adler's book on Thercsienstadt) Mr. Philippsohn was promptly provided with better quarters.

In Germany today, this notion of "prominent" Jews has not yet been forgotten. While the veterans and other privileged groups are no longer mentioned, the fate of "famous" Jews is still deplored at the expense of all others. There are more than a few people, especially among the cultural élite, who still publicly regret the fact that Germany sent Einstein packing, without realizing that it was a much greater crime to kill little Hans Cohn from around the corner, even though he was no genius.
Site Admin
Posts: 23142
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Return to Political Science

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest