The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Testimony of Theodor Horst Grell (Part 2 of 2)

When problems arose, the Senior Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service in Hungary, Standartenführer Geschke, also intervened. I once learned in the course of my duties that the Special Operations Unit, behind the back of the legation and the top Hungarian Government authorities, had, in conjunction with the Hungarian gendarmerie and the State Secretaries at the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior, evacuated a camp outside Budapest, contrary to the agreement made at the time between the German Reich Government and the Hungarian Government.

The Reich Ambassador to Hungary, Veesenmayer, did not play any role in planning and implementing deportations of the Jews. I believe that in the first few months of his activities he made proposals and became active in taking the initiative. In this phase, Veesenmayer always stressed that the Jews were needed in Germany for war work. Later, against his own better judgment, he intervened with the Hungarian Government in order to advance anti-Semitic measures, in accordance with instructions from the Foreign Ministry. Veesenmayer's attitude to Eichmann was a negative one. There was no personal relationship between the two. The official relationship passed through me. Prosecution document 871,* {* exhibit N/89} a telegram, was not sent by me. I consider the form and the contents of the telegram to be correct.

I was never Adviser on Jewish Affairs at the German legation in Budapest. I had never previously dealt with Jewish matters. My task in Budapest was to single out Jews from neutral and enemy countries, and to provide regular reports to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. I would like in this respect to refer also to Prosecution document No. 985,** {** exhibit T/691} more precisely to my solemn statement of 31 May 1948, point two. There are several factual inaccuracies in Document No. 16. I stated this earlier in Nuremberg when I confronted its author. I was a Specialist Officer (Referent), and not an adviser nor a Head of Section (Dezernent). The author of Document No. 16 was chief witness for the American prosecution in the Wilhelmstrasse case, and unlike all the others, he was not in custody. This also explains the tenor of his statement. My written statement, dated 7 October 1957, in the case of Krumey before the Stuttgart Criminal Investigation Department, is correct.

In my view, the Reich Ambassador to Hungary conducted the negotiations with the Hungarian Government which were decisive for deportations, acting on instructions and on a diplomatic level. The term deportations was not common usage at that time. These operations were carried out under the heading of "anti-Jewish measures in Hungary." When I was stationed in Budapest, the introductory measures had already been completed. In a conversation, Veesenmayer once told me that the negotiations on this matter had been conducted without intermediaries at the highest level at Klessheim Castle.

I do not know who instigated what is called the Fussmarsch (foot march). I did in fact once - but I cannot say today when that was - inspect a trek of this type, not far from Budapest, in the direction of the Austrian border, acting on instructions from the Ambassador, to whom I subsequently submitted a report. I was not able at this inspection to confirm anything to which the witness Juettner has testified. I never saw Juettner in Budapest. In the case of the trek which I inspected, the people were Jewish families from Budapest. They were accompanied by wagons requisitioned from farmers for transporting luggage.

I believe that the order to disband the Eichmann Special Commando came from the Head Office for Reich Security. I cannot imagine anybody else disbanding it. I acknowledge Document No. 387 as being genuine. I became aware of the content of this document on the basis of information from Eichmann's office.

My statement of 31 May 1948 was formulated by the defence, for purposes of the defence, and is not in formal terms a solemn statement as defined in the Penal Code. Given these conditions, my statement is understandably somewhat tendentious, without this making it untrue. However, because of this it is also somewhat incomplete on certain matters. Moreover, because the matters were far fresher in my memory then, the statement I made at the time is more precise on various points than what I remember now. Also, at that time it was customary, under the impression of a one- sided victors' court, for the accused before the court to be cleared of guilt, to the detriment of persons not present or presumed dead.

I would wish to supplement my statement of 31 May 1948 as follows: Point 2, penultimate paragraph, is not true to the facts. It is not true that I drafted and dealt with all reports on Jewish matters. As proven by Document No. 871 and others, the higher echelons also carried out work in this area. I did write Document No. 973, on the basis of information from Eichmann's office. From its appearance, I would judge Document No. 525 to be authentic, but I did not write it. The minute reproduced in Document No. 104 was made by me on instructions from the Ambassador, and then presented to the Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Szalasi Government. The minute was designed to comply with the express wish of the Ambassador that in this area the new government should continue the previous line, and more particularly continue to recognize what was called the safe conduct operation, rather than - as we feared on the basis of its more radical approach - to exceed the methods practiced until then.

Under point 3, it seems to me that the figures are indicated as rather too definite. I was only able to estimate things; it was Veesenmayer's defence which put things in this form. However, basically I consider my statement to be correct. The concentration measures were based on regulations of the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior and publications in the Hungarian Official Gazettes (supplement to point 5). In the late autumn of 1944, Eichmann once said to me during a conversation that the enemy powers considered him to be war criminal number one, and that he had some six million people on his conscience. In this context, he was speaking not of Jews, but of enemies of the state. I understood this comment by Eichmann along the lines of "viel Feind, viel Ehr" (many enemies, much honour), and it was not until the American prosecution put it to me that I remembered it. As far as I was concerned, this statement was part of Eichmann's efforts to emphasize the importance of his position or of his own person. To the best of my memory, this conversation took place in late autumn of 1944, after Eichmann had returned from service at the front, on the Hungarian-Romanian border. During his service there, Eichmann had won the Iron Cross, Second Class. During this conversation, Eichmann was neither drunk nor tipsy.

I am utterly convinced that the crucial factor in carrying out the deportation of Jews from Hungary was that of the Hungarian Government of the day. The Hungarian Government was probably not informed of the final destination of the deportations.

The negotiations with Hungarian State Secretaries Endre and Baky on the deportation of Hungarian Jews and other anti-Semitic measures in Hungary were conducted by Security Service and SS offices, including the Eichmann Special Operations Unit. On a political level, where necessary - particularly after the measures to halt matters on instructions from the Foreign Ministry in Berlin - Veesenmayer negotiated with the Hungarian Government.

Eichmann never made any difficulties for me in my area of singling out foreign Jews in Hungary. The date of each transport was given to me at my request by his office or by Eichmann himself.

My Section - and in my opinion the legation, too - were not involved in negotiations on the exchange of Jews for money or goods. These negotiations were conducted behind the back of the legation in Budapest. I really cannot say anything about Eichmann's attitude to what was called the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question," and his participation in the destruction of European Jewry. I always talked to Eichmann only about the "Jewish measures" (Judenmassnahmen), as they were called, in Hungary. However, in conversation Eichmann did mention that he had worked in other countries as well. The conversation with Eichmann referred to above about the six million was not in reference to Jews specifically, but to people generally, including Germans, as I understood it.

Eichmann did not sabotage the protective measures - this relates to certificates of safe conduct - but neither was his attitude positive about them. The reason for his objection was that these certificates of safe conduct could be misused - and that is what actually happened - and also because he feared that he would be unable to cope with his assignment of sending all able-bodied Jews capable of labour to Germany for labour service. Eichmann never said that these people had to be exterminated, but that Hungary was to be rid of its Jews, and that they should be sent to the Reich for labour service, because, after Weizmann's declaration of war, all Jews were considered as enemies. For the rest, I stand by my written statements in the criminal proceedings against Krumey and Hunsche, letter d of 7 October 1957, of which the Prosecution has just shown me a photocopy.

In my opinion, Eichmann did not know the Swedish consul, Raoul Wallenberg at all. I did once try to get the two to meet, but without success. Wallenberg refused the invitation. Eichmann did not curse Wallenberg in my presence. I have absolutely no memory of Eichmann mentioning Wallenberg's name in my presence. Eichmann's attitude to Wallenberg's activities was the same as his attitude to protective measures generally.

In the period after what was called Horthy's "halt," we in the legation had the impression that, on instructions from the Head Office for Reich Security in Berlin, Eichmann was dealing independently with the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior, or at least was trying to do so.

In a conversation with the liaison officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Ferenczy, I heard that his chief, General of Gendarmerie Faragho, was directing Hungarian measures for concentrating the Jews entirely on his own responsibility and in a completely positive attitude. I met Waffen-SS Standartenführer Becher only once, in the course of my duties as the representative of the Economic Affairs Department of the legation. This was a discussion about labour service in the Weiss-Manfred Works. My own impression was that Becher and Eichmann were not on very friendly terms. The impression that we had at the time was that Becher had Himmler's ear, while Eichmann had Kaltenbrunner's ear.

I do consider Eichmann to have been the man in charge of his office in Budapest, but not a man who did, or was able to, act independently and decisively on his own initiative in his field. In view of what I know of the organizational structure before 1945 and of Eichmann's personality as I saw it while I was in Budapest, I consider that then, as well as today, Eichmann was simply a recipient of orders - a particularly good and ambitious one - who for this reason did his very utmost to cope with the assignment he received. I therefore consider it not unlikely that for this particular reason - as has already been stressed repeatedly - he acted on many matters on his own initiative, in opposition to the diplomatic viewpoint. However, he always acted on the basis of instructions from above. He did at least feel that he was covered from above. I consider it impossible for Eichmann to have ever acted in opposition to Kaltenbrunner's line, or to have deviated from this line. However, I do think it likely that he did not respect Ribbentrop's line. My impression was that Eichmann was a faithful follower of Kaltenbrunner.

I have given my testimony to the best of my knowledge and belief, but I must state explicitly that it is possible that, in terms of detail, but not the general trend, my powers of recollection have been affected firstly by the passage of time and the effect on me of the post-war period, and secondly by publications which have appeared since 1945. I would also refer to No. I in my written declaration in the case of Krumey and Hunsche of 17 October 1957.

I am prepared to take an oath upon my testimony.

Read by myself, approved and signed.
(-) Horst Grell

The judge announced the Decision that the witness should not have an oath administered to him.

The reasons for this are that preliminary proceedings against the witness are in progress on suspicion of aiding murder. These proceedings concern the subject of today's examination of the witness. The witness is therefore, in the opinion of the Frankfurt am Main prosecuting authorities, suspected of the act which is the object of the investigation, or of participating in such an act. Therefore, pursuant to Section 60, paragraph 3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, there were compelling reasons to refrain from administering an oath.

(-) Senft, Judge of First Instance
(-) Kain , Legal Assistant

Certified as a true copy of the original.
Berchtesgaden, 14 June 1961.

The Court of First Instance:
(Stamp of the Court of First Instance, Berchtesgaden)
(-) Senft, Judge of First Instance.

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