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Adolf Eichmann: Memoirs

The following abstract of the unpublished memoirs of Final Solution architect Adolf Eichmann was released by the Israel State Archives. The original German text, written during the summer of 1961 while he waited for the verdict in his trial, is being released for use as evidence in a British libel suit brought by British Holocaust denier David Irving against Emory University professor and author Deborah Lipstadt. Israel will allow the public access to the 1,300-page, handwritten papers, which were penned in an Israeli prison and kept under wraps for nearly 40 years.

Five large envelopes with papers in German handwriting:

Envelopes 1-3 contain the three parts of a composition which was ready for print (A), parts I & II have lists of sources attached; almost every page is signed on the inner margin; each part is signed and dated (completed September 1961).

Envelopes 4-5 contain notes and rough copies (B).

(A) manuscript ready for print

The manuscript is not a diary, the writing is not private in character; there are no spontaneous expressions of emotions, almost every single passage is clearly connected with details presented during the trial. The composition was intended firstly for the Israeli court, secondly for publication.

The text is well organized; the account of parts I & II is accompanied throughout by reference to sources, i.e. documents that were accepted by the court on behalf of the prosecution or/and defense.

Part I presents a personal picture: The matter-of-fact report is interspersed with idyllic descriptions of towns and landscapes as well as with vivid accounts of single episodes. The author depicts his own personality using stereotypes: love for nature, simple, strongly connected with his family; strictly bound by discipline, void of personal ambition; of limited intellect, practical, a self-made man.

Time and again he stresses that he was never antisemitic nor hostile to foreigners. He expresses belief in manipulations of international Jewish leadership against Germany which he finds understandable as a reaction to the hardships which Jews suffered under the Germans (I 6).

Signs of serious deliberation found mainly in II 14 where he had intended to quote his final remarks at court; this passage exists in several versions, part of which are torn and/or made unreadable.

Apparently the composition of part III posed him more difficulties than the former parts, since part III is not based on facts and documents but deals with more abstract speculations. Part I (envelope #1) - 220 pages, divided into 20 chapters biographical account, arranged chronologically from childhood up to 1944; besides description of deportation and extermination of Jews from Germany and the Generalgouvernement; from ch. 15 onward chronology discontinued; the author attempts to refute several items of evidence against him.

Detailed outline:

9 technical remarks toward publication

ch. 1 (1-3) childhood/youth, growing up in Linz/Donau

ch. 2 (4-13) volunteered for SS April '32; complains about hardship of military training (no mention of his stay in Dachau); autumn 1934 Berlin, Sicherheitshauptamt

ch. 3 (14-29) lost mother early, stepmother with Jewish relatives (21); tells about private connections with Jews, non-Germans and dissidents (22-26) demonstrating personal lack of hatred and prejudice;

ch. 4 (29-34) being employed in a museum for free-masonry in Berlin he recalls early acquaintance with free-masons in Linz;

ch. 5 (34-36) claims to have been neither influenced by the NS-ideology nor antisemitic;

ch. 6 (36-40) since 1936 referent in section for Jewish affairs, collecting material and preparing reports, specialized in Orthodox Jewish associations; tried to learn Hebrew in order to gather information from the Jewish press

ch. 7 (40-46) attended NS-Parteitag Nüürnberg 1937 trying to recruit informants among the participants from abroad;

ch. 8 (46-57) trip to Palestine & Egypt winter 1937/38

ch. 9 (57-75) transferred to Vienna, spring 1938; promoted emigration of Jews, cooperation with Jewish functionaries in Vienna, esp. Dr. Lööwenherz (73-74);

ch. 10 (76-77h) expresses belief in conspiracy of international finance against Germany

ch. 11 (77-89) summer 1939 in Prague where he promoted emigration of Jews; author places responsibility for Theresienstadt on Himmler & Heydrich (visits by Red Cross representatives 1943, 1944 - p. 88);

ch. 12 (90-100) outbreak of world war II; transferred back to Berlin

ch. 13 (101-115) regrets being separated from his family; wife & three sons (1940-1952); deportations; Madagaskar-plan

ch. 14 (116-140) extermination of Jews; first visits at sites: Lublin, autumn 1941, still not active; Kulm by Posen, January 1942, witnessed killing of Jews by emission gas (126-128); Minsk, January 1942, witnessed shooting of Jews (136-137). Describes himself as being tense and shocked, consuming large quantities of alcohol as a kind of sedative.

ch. 15 (141-189) deportations which had ceased in order not to interfere with preparations for war with Russia resumed in autumn 1941; E. referred first transport of 20.000 Jews to Litzmannstadt (where they would not be killed); refutes 'Wetzel-Schreiben' which attributes suggestion to kill Jews by gas to him (147-149); prepared protocol of Wannsee-conference 20. January 1942 (150-153); first visit to Auschwitz to inform his superiors in spring 1942; E. refutes differing evidence offered by R. Hööss (163-165) ch. 16 (190-195) the term 'Sonderbehandlung' did not necessarily mean killing (only in connection with Jews)

ch. 17 (196-201) children from Lidice; philosophical speculations: women better than men

ch. 18 (202-204) draws analogy between himself and Socrates quoting a poem from his school-days; common denominator: helpless in front of state authority (leaves option to omit this chapter); ch. 19 (204-216) accusations & refutations; claims that he could not withdraw from his work, his requests to be transferred to a different office were rejected.

ch. 20 (217-220) speculations four pages of sources (62 items)

Part II (envelope number 2) - 193 pages, divided into 15 chapters description of deportation and extinction of European Jewry (outside of greater Germany) arranged geographically (according to proceedings of trial). Almost every chapter contains explications how little authority he possessed so that hardly any responsibility would fall on him. The most substantial chapter is number 13 (113-173) dealing with Hungary, where he was active from spring 1944 until the German withdrawal in December 1944; dominated by claims of his own innocence.

Chapters 13 & 14 are the chronological continuation of part I and lead up to his present days (summer 1961).

Detailed outline:

ch. 1 goal: 'objective' description in order to deny own guilt ch. 2 (1-39) France ch. 3 (40-48) Holland ch. 4 (49-53) Belgium ch. 5 (54-59) Italy ch. 6 (60) Norway ch. 7 (61-65) Denmark ch. 8 (66-76 ) Slovakia ch. 9 (77-81) Greece ch. 10 (82-97) a. Slovenia (82) b. Serbia (83) c. Croatia (95) ch. 11 (98-108) Rumania ch. 12 (109-112) Bulgaria ch. 13 (113-173) Hungary ch. 14 (174-188) retreat from Budapest to Berlin 24. 12. 44 - 1. 1. 45; sent to Tirol by Himmeler, tranfer of privileged Jews as hostages; experienced bomb attack at Brixlegg, mid-April 1945; no return to Berlin possible; on his (private) way north taken American prisoner of war (178); escaped January 1946 to north Germany, 1950 to Argentina relates to accusations (180); declaration as for feelings of guilt (183) closing remarks July 6, 1961 ch. 15 (189-193) pseudo-philosophical speculations: many pages crossed through, torn, several stages of draft (some in envelope #4) list of sources added (separate file, size A 5: 175 items)

Part III (envelope number 3) - 72 pages with omissions and additions divided into 14 chapters several drafts, different versions (some in envelope number 4) mostly general 'philosophical' remarks in the third person, indicating only indirectly that he is talking about himself. Presents his own philosophy of life which he characterizes as non-professional, 'home-made': his description how he served the 'false gods' intended as a warning for the younger generation - no clear message articulated. Refuses any acknowledgment of personal responsibility and/or guilt. Expresses vague expectation to continue after his death into further lives (on the earth - apparently belief in some kind of transmigration of souls)

(B) drafts

Envelope number 4 (174 pages - as stated on the outside) contains drafts and outlines to parts III, II, I; most of them numbered, can probably be attributed to their counterparts in the final version. formulation similar to final version, changes mostly structural, concern arrangement of passages, additions - material was meant to be destroyed; contents of envelope #4 were intended to be transferred to Dr. Servatius by December 1961.

Envelope number 5 (446 pages - as stated on the outside) extensive drafts to final statement in front of court, many different versions (some with blue-prints) point of departure: campaign in public opinion against him (witnesses in Nurenberg and other trials blaming him in order to clean themselves); from here, probably, originated plan and conception for the major composition. Last will (two pages, crossed through): distribution of his ashes among several persons (was not carried out).

Sources: Jerusalem Post, (Feb. 29, 2000)