Höttl, Wilhelm

Wilhelm Höttl
Wilhelm Höttl

Wilhelm Höttl (19 March 1915 – 27 June 1999), SS Sturmbannführer, was a German official working at the espionage section of the Germany’s Department of Homeland Security during the war (Reichssicherheitshauptamt). At the end of the war and afterwards, he was involved with U.S. intelligence services in various activities.

Together with Dieter Wisliceny, Höttl was instrumental in “establishing” for the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal that six million Jews had died as a result of National-Socialist persecution and extermination policy. Höttl claimed in an affidavit that he had heard that number from Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann, so Höttl claimed, was allegedly asked by Himmler to prepare a report, because the latter wanted to know how many Jews had been killed. Based on the report he had then prepared, Eichmann supposedly concluded that some 4 million Jews had been killed in various extermination camps, while two million more had died otherwise, most of them by execution behind the Eastern front (IMT, Vol. 31, pp. 85f.). Höttl’s affidavit is quoted to this day as “proof” for this 6-million claim, although Adolf Eichmann denied having had any knowledge of the total number of Jewish victims during his own trial at Jerusalem in 1961, and there is no trace of any such Eichmann report.

From March of 1944, Höttl served at the German embassy in Budapest under Edmund Veesenmayer, who at that time was spearheading Germany’s efforts to have some 400,000 Jews from Hungary deported to German forced-labor camps via Auschwitz. This action is said to have led to most of these Jews being exterminated there. As such, the Allies could have easily indicted Höttl for his collaboration in these efforts, but probably due to the pro-American espionage services he rendered (or promised) at that time, and because of his service “proving” the six-million figure, Höttl was never indicted for anything.

In his 1997 autobiography, Höttl tried to worm his way out of his Nuremberg lie by writing as follows (Höttl 1997, pp. 412f.):

“I do not know where Eichmann got this figure, […] which today belongs to the iron stock of historiography and which to doubt is forbidden by law. One can only assume: Eichmann also listened, as he confessed to me, to ‘enemy radio stations,’ in whose broadcasts this number certainly also appeared, and repeated it as his ‘official’ knowledge. The notorious chief of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp Höss also operated with numbers in the millions which were incorrect. Were these statements all just ‘hunter’s lore’?”

However, his Nuremberg affidavit explicitly refers to a report Eichmann had prepared for Himmler. That wasn’t just regurgitated enemy propaganda. Clearly, Höttl lied at Nuremberg in order to save his own life. (See Rudolf 2023, pp. 23f.).

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