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Eichmann Trial -- Session 114 -- Closing statement of the Defense

Film | Accession Number: 1999.A.0087 | RG Number: RG-60.2100.237 | Film ID: 2237

Session 114. Dr. Servatius says that Eichmann did not have a position that would allow him to become part of the higher order of leadership. He says that the Prosecution has attempted to make him a key figure in the execution when he is not. The accusations of making decisions about the extermination are then challenged, saying that he only saw orders that were nearly completely decided. The charges of conspiracy must be dropped on this evidence, he says.

00:11:09 Servatius says that the implementation of the deportations was left to Eichmann, but all of his underlings, as well as the Gestapo, would not let anybody tread on their jurisdiction, but would also not touch the Jewish problem. Dr. Servatius quotes something from a field manual which is not translated. The President of Court asks about the citation of this, and they argue for a bit (duplicate footage from Tape 2236). It is a passage from the British Field Manual that says that soldiers that work within orders cannot be punished for war crimes.

00:24:20 Dr. Servatius cites Israeli law saying that those following orders can only be charged if those orders are illegal at the time it happens. He then finds a loophole in the law concerning Nazis and their collaborators. He cites the Pentateuch, and what the state did to Moses. The leaders set who was the enemy, regardless of what state of war existed. Persecution is not new to the Jewish people, he says, even though what happened here was unprecedented. The murder of various other peoples, from Native Americans to Huguenots are mentioned, and how none of these peoples' deaths resulted in criminal prosecution (duplicate footage from Tape 2234).

00:34:47 Time code skips to 00:00:48. No jump in the footage is apparent. Servatius continues to say that these actions of the state are not rectified, and probably never will be. The difference between them and the Nazis is that the Nazis failed. "If this policy is not successful, then the order appears to the victim as a crime. Then the man who was obedient is unfortunate, and he has to pay the price for his loyalty. The gallows or a decoration, that is the question. To fail is base crime, to succeed is holy action," Servatius says.

00:05:18 Dr. Servatius says that obedience is the essential part of the state. The witness' claim that it was easy to disobey the state was nowhere near possible. If it was, resistance fighters would have had a better opportunity for success (duplicate footage from Tape 2236). Shirking duties was seen as traitorous, and abandoning one's comrades, and nowhere near as easy to accomplish as thought possible.

00:13:19 The President of Court asks Dr. Servatius if there is anything said by Eichmann in this court or his police testimony that says that he internally rejected the orders, whether or not he acted upon it. There does not seem to be any, with the statements that Eichmann simply accepted his orders without argument.

00:19:20 Tape jumps. Servatius says that the court has failed to show that an act of the state carries responsibility to the person, and it is refuted by the London charter. The punishment of the leadership reaches back to a fundamental wish to punish the losers of a conflict. These exceptional provisions apply directly to high ranking officials, not a low ranking person such as Eichmann.

Film Title
Eichmann Trial
Event:  1961 August 14
Production:  1961 August 14
Jerusalem, Israel
Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of The Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archives of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Record last modified: 2021-06-03 12:44:12
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