The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 36
(Part 1 of 6)

Session No. 36

25 Iyar 5721 (11 May 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the thirty-sixth Session of the trial open.

State Attorney Bach: Your Honours, yesterday we saw what happened in Denmark from the Danish and from the Jewish points of view. Now we shall show what it looked like from the German side in general, and especially in the eyes of the Accused. I shall first submit a document relating to the period before the August 1943 crisis. It is Prosecution document No. 1584. The Danish consulate has approached the Gestapo with a request to find out whether there are Jews of Danish nationality in Oldenburg, and if so, what are their addresses. Hunsche, one of the assistants of the Accused, informs the Foreign Ministry that there are no Jews there. He asks to communicate this to the Danish legation and to request it to refrain in future from addressing such questions to the German police, which is in any case already overworked.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/578.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is Prosecution document No. 1074. This relates to the period after August 1943. It is a note by an official in the Foreign Ministry saying that the Minister in Copenhagen has informed him by telephone that the new Commander of the Security Police and the SD, Standartenfuehrer Dr. Mildner, who arrived in Copenhagen a few days earlier, has expressed himself as being against the deportation of the Jews from Denmark and that, with permission from Dr. Best, he has approached the Reichsfuehrer about this matter.

Presiding Judge: Is that the German Minister in Denmark? Who is Grundherr whose signature appears here?

State Attorney Bach: Grundherr was Director of the Scandinavian Department in the Foreign Ministry. We shall see later what were the motives both of Best and of Mildner; apparently they did not want to spoil the good relations between Germany and Denmark.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/579.

State Attorney Bach: Our next document is No. 39. Von Thadden informs the Accused that the Plenipotentiary of the Reich in Denmark has informed the Foreign Ministry by telegram that the Commander of the German Forces in Denmark has refused to put the Secret Military Police and the Field Gendarmerie at the disposal of the German Security Police for the operation against the Jews. The reason given for the refusal is that the participation of such Wehrmacht forces in the operation against the Jews is forbidden by the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht - High Command of the Armed Forces). The Representative of the Reich had made it clear that, without the help of the Secret Military Police and the Military Police, the action against the Jews in Jutland and Fuenen could not be carried through, since all the forces of the German Order Police were needed to assist the German Security Police in Copenhagen. He was therefore asking that steps be taken to have the OKW order cancelled. The Foreign Ministry, on its part, suggested that the matter be followed up also at his (Eichmann's) end.

Presiding Judge: The document is marked T/580.

State Attorney Bach: Now, as you remember, the operation began on 1 October, during the night of 1-2 October. I now submit to you a telegram sent by Dr. Best on 1 October at 19.30, after he had received a letter from the Danish King. With the permission of the Court, I shall read this telegram, which Best sent "for the Reich Foreign Minister personally."

He says that the King has just transmitted to him - on 1 October 1943 - a letter dated the same day and reading as follows:

"Excellency, Although the executive power has passed to the German Wehrmacht in accordance with the communication transmitted to me by the Commander of the German troops in Denmark on 29 August last, I am nevertheless anxious - having learned of a plan according to which Germany is said to intend taking measures against the Jews in Denmark - to stress to you, not only because of humanitarian concern for the citizens of my country, but also because of fear of the far-reaching effects on the future relations between Germany and Denmark, that special measures against a group of people who have enjoyed full civic rights in Denmark for more than 100 years could have the gravest consequences. Christian X."
And Dr. Best adds:
"This step by the King was caused by rumours of an impending operation against the Jews which began immediately after the imposition of the state of emergency, and which intensified to the point of panic after 15 September, when the commander of the German troops informed the Delegate Head of the Danish Foreign Ministry that the state of emergency would be maintained until further notice.... From our side everything possible has been done in order to camouflage the impending operation, especially in the face of official and unofficial enquiries (e.g. through my telegraphic reply to Director Svenningen that I shall ask for instructions from my superiors regarding the denial requested by him about the rumours concerning the Jews). Nevertheless, the panic caused by these rumours will make the operation more difficult, since many Jews will not be staying in their own homes. The operation starts today at 21.00 hours."
Presiding Judge: The document is marked T/581.

State Attorney Bach: The next document is our No. 758, which was shown to the Accused and numbered T/37(232). It is a report by Dr. Best after the implementation of the operation. "The evacuation of the Jews from the Greater Copenhagen urban area was completed without incident. Information from Jutland and from the Isle of Fuenen has not yet been received because of difficulties in telephonic communications. In the Greater Copenhagen area 202 Jews were seized, among them Chief Rabbi Friediger. The steamship 'Wartheland' left Copenhagen at 10 o'clock today and will arrive..."

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, we are again beginning to read out the documents.

State Attorney Bach: I have two or three documents here, and they sum up this whole chapter.

Presiding Judge: But we are reading them ourselves. It is not that these documents are not before us. You carry on as if we had not said anything.

State Attorney Bach: I think Your Honours can see that I present the most basic facts.

Presiding Judge: This depends on what is your intention. If it is to bring this document to the knowledge of the Court - the document is before the Court. Now you can point to this or that place: "I direct your attention here or there." And after all, attention must be paid to remarks by the Court.

State Attorney Bach: In that case, I wish to draw the attention of the Court to the fact that the people who carried out the operation and accompanied the transport all belonged to the unit of the Accused, that is SS- Hauptsturmfuehrer Kryschak and others, men whom we shall later meet as personal representatives of the Accused.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/582.

State Attorney Bach: Prosecution document No. 756 is signed by Hencke, an official in the German Foreign Ministry. Here Best is informed that the Head Office for Reich Security has raised the question why the operation against the Jews did not succeed; rumour has it that so few Jews were arrested because it was not agreed to break down the doors of the homes of Jews who did not open up of their own free will. He asks for an explanation. I also draw your attention to the remark in the margin of this document that the information comes from the Head Office for Reich Security.

Presiding Judge: This document is marked T/583.

State Attorney Bach: I refer to this document chiefly because of my request to accept in evidence an additional document, No. 816, which was also shown to the Accused and was marked T/37(255). It is another sworn statement by Eberhard von Thadden, this time in connection with the Danish chapter. I ask the Court to accept this statement together with the other statements by von Thadden which we have already submitted. As a matter of fact, we already touched on this statement in the questionnaire which we have submitted to the Court.

Presiding Judge: By both sides?

State Attorney Bach: No, by our side. Because, for the time being, this was not yet before the Court. But of course, it is always possible to ask the witness questions about the present statement, too. Here von Thadden describes the attempts by Best and Mildner to prevent the operation, and on this point the statement receives full corroboration in documents which I have already brought to your attention and which confirm that Best tried to prevent the operation because of certain political considerations. And von Thadden says further that, immediately after the failure, there was a very angry reaction from the Head Office for Reich Security, and he was told by Guenther that Eichmann was asking for the head of the saboteur who was responsible for the doors not being broken down.

Presiding Judge: But before we deal with the contents in greater detail, we have here a question concerning the submission of the document.

State Attorney Bach: I think I have to explain the relevance of the document before I ask the Court to depart from the rules of evidence. Here von Thadden explains the document I submitted before, the document signed by Hencke. Von Thadden says that they wanted to warn Best that an investigation against him was likely because of Eichmann's efforts. "Be on your guard." The document I submitted to you separately supports the view that Best really attempted to alleviate matters, and there really was a complaint by the Head Office for Reich Security, and an attempt was really made to warn Best that he should give a plausible explanation for his actions. For an understanding also of those documents which I have already submitted, it seems very important to me that this statement be accepted. In any case, we have agreed to have this witness interrogated in Germany, and he can, of course, be questioned in connection with this statement, too. The statement was shown to the Accused, and he gave his reaction. I ask you to accept it, too, as evidence.

Presiding Judge: We have limited the oral examination to matters arising from the questions asked in the questionnaire.

State Attorney Bach: I think, Your Honours, that in the cross-examination Counsel for the Defence was in any case not limited to these questions, and he did also ask questions not connected with the questionnaire.

Presiding Judge: You have received a copy of the letter of request from this Court, have you not?

State Attorney Bach: I have to admit that I have not seen the letter.

Presiding Judge: But you did include questions on this matter in the questionnaire?

State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour. And in view of this, I should like to request you also to give leave to Counsel for the Defence to examine the witness.

Presiding Judge: In the meantime this has already been sent out.

State Attorney Bach: It may perhaps be possible to send an additional letter on this point. In order to demonstrate the importance of this matter, I might call your attention to a passage in the statement of the Accused which relates to Best's activities, and even to his present attitude towards the action taken by Dr. Best. This is why we attach importance to that whole chapter. If the Court will allow me, I shall draw its attention to pages 251 and 252 in the statement of the Accused. Referring to the Danish chapter, he says:

"Well, this must have been an order from Himmler, which met at first with the greatest difficulties in the Foreign Ministry; afterwards it must have been worked out somehow 'high up,' as the technical expressions were referred to on such matters. But the whole thing came up against new difficulties, namely from the Reich Plenipotentiary, SS-Gruppenfuehrer Dr. Best. I remember this exactly because, at the time, I was surprised and I said: 'But, Dr. Best was once Head of Bureau in the Head Office for Reich Security, and at that time he gave a long lecture about the tasks and aims of the police. To be sure, that was already years ago.' And then I said to myself, well, well, now he is in Denmark and now he is against the measures of his chief. And I was secretly surprised how people at first, how shall I put it - bootlicking - how they practice 'bootlicking' until they have reached their appropriate rank, and once they have reached their appropriate rank, they become autocratic."
Judge Raveh: Will there be more statements by von Thadden? We have to know, after all, where we stand concerning a given subject.

State Attorney Bach: No, Your Honour, this is the last statement by von Thadden which we shall submit.

Dr. Servatius: I think this affidavit should not be admitted. According to the rule of best evidence, oral evidence should be adduced in this case. The witness can be interrogated in Germany, and the Prosecution may ask there all the questions which seem important to it. But the oral evidence cannot be supplemented by the earlier written statement.

I have further objections against this statement by Herr von Thadden because this is, after all, a Defence document for Steengracht who was one of the accused at Nuremberg. If you look through the document, you will discover that as much as possible is taken off that accused, and more blame is thrown onto the other side.

State Attorney Bach: Permit me to make just two remarks concerning the two points made by Counsel for the Defence. As for the second point, it touches, of course, on the weight of the evidence, not its admissibility, especially as, in this case, I pointed out that there is additional independent corroboration of this statement by von Thadden in other items of evidence. And as for the first point, His Honour, the Presiding Judge, has explained to me that the examination, as it stands at present, is restricted to the other documents submitted, so that, in the ordinary course, there will be no possibility to interrogate von Thadden on this point. If, therefore, this matter is to arise at all - and we attach importance to it not only in connection with Denmark, but in the wider context - it is necessary for the Court to accept this statement as evidence and to enable both sides to interrogate the witness also on this point.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bach, is this the statement of 16 April 1948, before the attorney von der Trenck in Defence of Gustav Steengracht von Moyland?

State Attorney Bach: Yes.

Presiding Judge: And the accused is Gustav Steengracht von Moyland?

State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour.

Presiding Judge: Was this at the trial against Weizsaecker and others?

State Attorney Bach: Yes, Your Honour. It was for the defence of Steengracht.

Presiding Judge:

Decision No. 21

We accept the additional statement by von Thadden on the basis of what was stated in Decision No. 11 concerning his first statement. The Attorney General included this matter among his questions to von Thadden for his examination before a German Court, and thus the way is open also for Counsel for the Defence to interrogate the witness there on this subject.

Mr. Bach, if you have more documentation, written declarations, or other material relating to those witnesses who will be examined abroad, we should like you to let us know about it in concentrated form within a day or two, so that we shall not receive such information bit by bit, as we did today.

State Attorney Bach: I should also like to ask for guidance from the Court, if possible, about other witnesses whose statements we have not yet submitted, but whom we may have to ask for affidavits as part of the case for the Prosecution. Does the Court wish us to submit their names already now, or shall we wait until we get to those chapters?

Presiding Judge: You will have to give advance information concerning all such affidavits from witnesses still living, since otherwise, if you do it at a later stage, this will interfere with the course of the proceedings.

State Attorney Bach: That is what I thought.

Presiding Judge: We notified you, did we not, that, if there will be interrogations abroad, we should like to receive the transcripts here by the end of the hearing of the evidence, and you may have to submit similar advance information to the Court as soon as possible, if you have such affidavits.

State Attorney Bach: I shall do my best to submit this information with regard to all the witnesses with whom this question could arise, at the beginning of next week.

Presiding Judge: You will also have to supply some details, in order to enable the Court to deal with it if necessary.

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