Commentator: More than once in his public speeches, Hitler announced his intention of exterminating the Jews. On 8 October 1942, addressing the ‘old warriors’ of the National Socialist Party at the Munich Löwenbräukeller, he said, ‘People have laughed at my prophecies. Countless numbers of those who laughed are no longer laughing today. And those who are still laughing may not be laughing for long.’ The chimneys of the crematoriums in the death camps were already smoking day and night. That speech was broadcast by every radio station in Germany and was printed word for word in the newspapers. Yet most Germans regarded those words as rhetorical threats designed to frighten Hitler’s enemies. Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler spoke much more concretely of the ‘extermination of the Jewish people’. On 4 October 1943, addressing the highest- ranking leaders of the SS in Posen, he said: ‘Most of you probably know what it is to see a hundred corpses lying together in one place, or to see five hundred or a thousand. To have gone through that and yet, aside from exceptions due to human weakness, to have preserved our decency – this is what has made us hard.’
Since neither the Führer nor the Reichsführer wanted to bloody their hands, they needed tools; in other words, an apparatus of commanders and followers, organizers and thugs, murderers and white-washers. Most of these were provided by the SS, the élite of the National Socialists; they were the most disciplined and the most unscrupulous. One of this breed was Adolf Eichmann, head of the Bureau for Jewish Affairs at the Reich Security Headquarters. In the Third Reich, Adolf Eichmann was as little known by the general public as ten thousand other high-level bureaucrats. But at the end of the war, his name came to be identified, all over the world, with genocide and murder.
The man chosen to interrogate him was Police Captain Avner Less, a one time Berliner, who was familiar with conditions in Germany before 1933 and could speak to Eichmann in his mother tongue. To throw the accused off balance, Less resorted in his questioning to the criminal investigator’s old trick of jumping from one set of crimes to another and back again. This makes the 3,564 pages of the transcript difficult reading. Jochen von Lang and Claus Sibyll have consequently collated the dispersed parts of the different complexes, so, to the best of their ability, presenting the record in logical and chronological order.
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