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Shofar FTP Archive File: places//czechoslovakia/czech.002

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Eichmann arrives in Prague (January 1939)

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/eichmann.008
Last-Modified: 1994/09/15

   "Significant changes had meanwhile taken place in Prague. In the
   middle of July, Fuchs, the SS officer with the Berlin accent,
   suddenly vanished. The next day, the Gestapo summoned Edelstein to
   the Pecek Palais. When he returned, he told the usual crowd which
   had gathered around him at the Palestine office that a center for
   Jewish emigration would be set up in Prague as well; Eichmann, who
   until then had been based in Vienna and made only guest appearances
   in Prague, had moved here with his staff. The establishment of a
   Zentralstelle for Jewish emigration in Prague was part of overall
   German policy: in January 1939, Interior Minister Goering
   instructed Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Security Head
   Office, to solve the Jewish question as efficiently as possible
   through emigration or expulsion, given present circumstances. On
   July 15, the Reichsprotektor published his orders: all Jews wishing
   to emigrate must in future request permission from the central
   authority in Prague; it alone could organize emigration, issue the
   necessary permits, and supervise the collection of taxes from

   The weekly report put out by the Jewish community office shed light
   on the practical measures involved: up to now the community had not
   been organized to handle emigration. However, that week the
   community had been instructed to open an emigration department,
   which would employ ninety people. On July 28, the community
   secretary traveled to Vienna to learn from the Austrian experience
   of an emigration department so that a similar one could be
   instituted in Prague.

   At the same time, Richard Israel Friedmann, a tenty-eight-year-old
   batchelor who worked for the Viennese Jewish community, was
   transferred to Prague. After the Anschluss Friedmann had concluded
   that there was no point in fighting for Jewish civil rights within
   the Reich. The only hope, he felt, lay in emigration, and he had
   organized the Viennese community to accelerate the process, deal
   with visas, and attain the necessary foreign currency for travel
   fare. Friedmann, who out of a perverse sense of Jewish pride
   insisted on being called 'Israel,' a name that all male Jews in the
   Reich had been required to take since August 1939 (women had to add
   'Sarah' to their names), tried to impress on the Jews of the
   Protectorate the urgency of the situation. He pressed them to
   emigrate quickly and to disregard their property and real estate at
   all costs, and to forget about income and possessions. Very few
   understood his anxiety; some even wondered if there was any point
   in emigrating at all - Hitler was bound to fall soon.

   Prague was not Vienna, as Eichmann pointed out twenty years later.
   In his view, Prague lacked a capable Jewish activist such as Dr.
   Lo"wenherz, the chaiman of the Viennese Jewish community. In
   Prague, things moved slower and less successfully. The reason for
   the slow trickle of emigration from Prague lay perhaps in the fact
   that the mass exodus from Austria had swallowed up most of the
   resources, energy, and initiative of the world's Jewish welfare
   organizations, and decreased the available absorption sites. two
   hundred emigration candidates were suppose to report every day to
   the Zentralstelle, which had taken over a handsome villa in
   Prague's quiet suburb of Stresovice. But the number of applicants
   who came was in fact much less - about half this figure. Perhaps
   the reasons were more personal: Eichmann never found a common
   language with the Prague functionaries, whose German was different,
   harder, foreign.

   Eichmann left Vienna's Zentralstelle in the hands of Rolf Gu"nther
   and Alois Brunner, and devoted most of his time to managing the
   emigration center in Prague along with his assistant, Hans
   Gu"nther, twenty-nine years old, tall, and slim, an indisputably
   Aryan figure in keeping with the prevailing ideal. Gu"nther was one
   of the few people in Eichmann's operation who was not Austrian by
   birth (he and his brother, Rolf, were sons of a distinguished
   family: their father, Dr. Hans Gu"nther, was one of the major
   ideologues of the race theory on which National Socialism was
   based). Eichmann brought with him to Prague four SS officers and
   half a dozen lower-ranking officials whose basic job was to guard
   everybody. During the first few days that emigration files were
   submitted, the guards began to amuse themselves, as they had in
   Vienna, by beating up the Jews who had been waiting on line since
   the early hours of the morning. Jewish representatives intervened
   with Eichmann, and the people queueing up were no longer molested.
   Henceforth, Jews were subjected to blows only behind walls, and the
   violence was used for specific purposes of persuaion rather than

   Everything was more complicated in Prague than in Vienna. Eichmann
   had to contend not only with the Reich's institutions but also with
   the government of the Protectorate. Struggles took place behind the
   scenes with on one side the Protectorate administration and the
   military, who generally exerted a more moderate influence, and on
   the other the security services and the National Socialist Party
   activists, who sought to adopt a more radical line. The zealots
   included the Sudetenites, led by Karl Hermann Frank, who hated the
   Czechs as much as he hated the Jews, and wanted them both
   evacuated. The regulations issued by the general staff of the
   security police at the Pecek Palais contradicted the orders of the
   Zentralstelle, and the various arms of the German regime were
   divided by conflict and latent competition. Edelstein was quick to
   discern all of this, but most Jews understood nothing about the
   hierarchy of power in the German mechanism of darkness; even the
   name Eichmann meant nothing to them.

   Eichmann also brought to Prague the erstwhile business consultant
   Bertold Storfer, a Viennese Jew who had formerly supplied the
   Austrian army. A businessman with international contacts, Storfer
   had a great deal of self-confidence, and he had placed his talents
   at the disposal of the German authorities, organizing rapid mass
   emigration from Austria. On the whole, Storfer did justice to his
   position. He made connections with shipowners and competed with the
   Mossad (the Jewish organization dealing with illegal immigration to
   Palestine), without worry too much about whether or not the
   passengers could actually reach the shores of Palestine. His job
   was simply to ensure that they left Austria. Now he had come to
   organize illegal immigration from the Protectorate officially, and
   the local Jews regarded him with a great deal of suspicion. He
   immediately called a meeting with the representatives of the Bru"nn
   Jewish community to discuss the transport organized by the
   Revisionists which was about to leave: in future the composition of
   the transports would be decided according to German interests, with
   no reference to Palestine or local Jewish purposes. The old and
   sick would also be included, and payments would be raised

   Edelstein first met Storfer at Eichmann's office. Storfer, who knew
   Eichmann well from Vienna, went straight up to his desk, to be
   greeted with the shout of: 'Three paces away from me!' Describing
   this incident to the staff of the Palestine office, Edelstein
   remarked, 'If Eichmann had treated me like that, he would not have
   extracted another word from me.' The most important quality in
   dealing with the Germans, he said, was to preserve one's dignity.
   During one conversation, Eichmann told Edelstein that he (Eichmann)
   had informed the Viennese Jewish community that he was willing to
   let them have Herzl's remains in return for a greater number of
   immigration certificates; let it be known, therefore, that the deal
   applied also to Prague. Eichmann insisted that between sixty and
   seventy thousand emigrants had to leave within one year; he did not
   care how. When Emil Kafka, chairman of the Prague Jewish community,
   pointed out the difficulties and expense of carrying out such a
   plan, Eichmann threatened to arrest three hundred Jews every day
   and send them to Dachau, where they would soon 'show a keen
   interest in emigration.'" (Bondy, 141-44)

                            Work Cited

   Bondy, Ruth.  Elder of the Jews.  New York: Grove Press, 1989.
   (Translated from "Edelshtain neged had-zeman".  Zmora, Bitan,
   Modan, publishers, 1981

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