The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 16
(Part 6 of 6)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
With the Court's permission I shall call Mr. Moritz Fleischmann. His evidence relates to the document in the series numbered 1096.

Presiding Judge: Do you speak Hebrew? Welche Sprache? Which language?

Witness: I prefer to testify in German - seeing that all these events occurred in Austria. And if the Court decides that I cannot testify in German, then in English. But I prefer to give evidence in German.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Moritz Fleischmann.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Where were you born?

Witness Fleischmann: In Vienna, Austria.

Q. In what year?

A. On June 2 1889.

Q. Did you hold any public offices in Jewish life in Vienna prior to the entry of the Nazis into Austria?

A. I did, constantly, until my departure from Austria.

Q. What were these offices?

A. Commissions of the Council of the Jewish Community, Zionist National Committee, President of Charitable Associations and of the Association of Furriers, and a former member of the Presidium of the Jewish National Fund. I also held public office outside the Jewish community.

Q. What were the bodies in which you were active?

A. I served on the executive of the Association of Austrian Fur Manufacturers and Merchants and I was a member of the City Council of Vienna - but not in the last period.

Q. Mr. Fleischmann, when did you leave Vienna?

A. On Sunday, 28 August 1939.

Q. Where were you bound for?

A. Without a permit, without a visa, without a transit visa - for England.

Q. And you remained there until this day?

A. Yes, until this day.

Q. Thank you. Please tell the Court what you remember and what you know since the day the Nazis entered Austria.

A. Upon the entry of the Nazis into Austria which was greeted with tremendous enthusiasm by the Austrians, and specially by the Viennese population, the Jewish institutions were closed immediately and transferred to the control of the Gestapo and the SS. The Jewish leaders were arrested, at once. There were the President of the Community, Dr. Desider Friedmann and Engineer Robert Stricker, Vice-President of the Jewish Community, publisher of the only Zionist Jewish daily newspaper Die Morgenzeitung and the only Jewish member of the Austrian Parliament.

Q. Who else?

A. Dr. Yaakov Ehrlich, the only Jewish representative on the City Council of Vienna and a member of the Executive of the Jewish Community of Vienna, Dr. Joseph Loewenherz, Director of the Jewish Community office in Vienna, and Dr. Oskar Gruenbaum, who was then President of the Zionist Organization of Austria.

Q. What happened to the Jewish Community services immediately after these offices were closed?

A. They were closed down and they had no possibility of meeting except in secret. Even the welfare office of the Community was prevented from taking any action. They couldn't give the poorest people any basic financial aid so as to keep their heads above water.

Q. Mr. Fleischmann, you and the few others who were not arrested - did you meet in those days, and how?

A. We met, my friend Dr. J.H. Koerner, who was the President of the Sports Club Hakoah and also Mr. Leopold Foerster, and Emil Engel, director of the Welfare Office of the community, and I.

Q. Do you remember where and how you met?

A. We met a few houses away from the Metropol Hotel, where the headquarters of the Gestapo were located. This was a place where, a few weeks previously, the emissaries from Israel and the Jewish Agency, Mr. Kurt Blumenfeld of the Keren Hayessod and Mr. Natan Bistritzky of the Jewish National Fund, had stayed. We met in the Cafe Rappaport and there secretly distributed welfare funds for the poorest people, who weren't able to receive anything from the Community. We did so with the aid funds that were available to us from private sources.

Q. Mr. Fleischmann, were you at the Headquarters of the Gestapo at the end of March 1938?

A. We met secretly.

Presiding Judge: Is this a reply to your question, State Attorney Bar-Or?

State Attorney Bar-Or: No

Presiding Judge: Then ask him to reply to the question.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Mr. Fleischmann, please pay attention to my question and please answer it directly.

Witness Fleischmann: I wanted to answer in this way, since the reply is connected with the month of March.

Presiding Judge: Sir, you must follow State Attorney Bar-Or who is questioning you.

Witness Fleischmann: Towards the end of March we received a notice that the representatives of the Jews of Vienna should appear at the Hotel Metropol in the principal offices of the Gestapo.

Q. Did you hear at that time about the object of the invitation?

A. No.

Q. Were particular people invited?

A. Six of us were invited.

Q. Who were they?

A. They were: Adolf Boehm, President of the Jewish National Fund, Dr. Leopold Plaschkes, who had been a member of the City Council on behalf of the Jewish National Party and a member of the Council of the Jewish Community, Dr. Leo Goldhammer, who had been the President of the Zionist Organization in Austria, Dr. Y.H. Kroerner, a member of the Council of the Community and President of the Hakoah Sports Club, Dr. Alois Rothenberg of the staff of the Palestine Office in Vienna, and myself.

Presiding Judge: State Attorney Bar-Or, can we possibly speed up this matter. I understand that the Witness would like all these names to be entered into the protocol. And clearly this is most understandable, but is it really necessary?

State Attorney Bar-Or: Several of these names will come up later on as well - and for good reason I have asked and permitted the Witness to complete the list. Mr. Fleischmann, who from amongst all these people is still alive?

Witness Flieschmann It is my sad lot to say that I am the only one of those who were in the delegation to have remained alive.

Q. At the end of March you appeared at the Hotel Metropol?

A. Yes.

Q. Whom did you meet there?

A. We were led by an SS man who told us the he was taking us to Adolf Eichmann. We entered. It seemed that he addressed him as "Sturmbannfuehrer." The man wore uniform and sat behind a large desk.

Q. Do you remember what was the nature of Eichmann's uniform?

A. A black SS uniform, which later became so well-known to us. We had previously discussed amongst ourselves, for we knew that something had to happen, that someone had to take over the direction of Jewish affairs. Eichmann sat behind a large desk. We had to stand. He asked our names and a description of the sphere of our activities in Jewish life. Adolf Boehm and the others introduced themselves. When Eichmann heard the name Adolf Boehm, he asked: Are you the Adolf Boehm who published the History of Zionism? When Adolf Boehm answered affirmatively, the Accused replied: "Very interesting. I studied this work in detail. In particular I was interested in that passage on a certain page," and he began to recite by heart the full contents of this page. We exchanged amazed glances. Thereupon Eichmann made some remarks in Hebrew, and said: "You should not be surprised, I speak Hebrew and Yiddish fluently, since I was born in Sarona" [German Templar Colony in Paletine].

Q. Did Eichmann speak some words in Hebrew?

A. Yes.

Presiding Judge: What did he say in Hebrew? Can you recollect?

Witness Fleischmann: No, I didn't understand them, but in particular my colleague Goldhammer, who spoke Hebrew fluently, understood them.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Did the conversation, or whatever it was that passed between you and Eichmann, begin with Eichmann's performance in connection with the reading of the page from the book, or did something take place previously?

Witness Fleischmann: First of all he brought to our notice the nature of his position. He was to administer and direct all Jewish affairs in Austria. He was charged with solving the Jewish Question in Austria completely. And he demanded unwavering obedience and unfailing cooperation and compliance with all his instructions and directives. He said he was warning us not to do anything against this and not to sabotage, for his unalterable intention was to perform what had been assigned to him in the shortest and most efficient manner. He would know how to deal and overcome any resistance, and he would react sharply to any pretence at concealment or evasion.

Q. Did he speak of Vienna in a special way?

A. He spoke of solving the Jewish Question in Austria and in Vienna.

Q. Did he talk of the nature of the solution?

A. No, not then. Only as we were leaving, he again warned us and told us he would do everything in order to solve the question in the speediest manner, by any means he considered appropriate.

Q. After quotating the extracts from Adolf Boehm's book, what happened?

A. He made the observation that several weeks previously, the second volume of that book had appeared, and he regretted that he had not yet had the time to read it, that he had been very busy. But he would hasten to correct that in a very short time.

Q. And what happened after that?

A. The influence of Eichmann's activities soon made itself felt and led to alarm and a feeling of fear on the part of Viennese Jewry. We sensed it at once.

Q. Was anyone from the delegation or someone else appointed to direct Jewish affairs after the meeting?

A. Eichmann wanted Adolf Boehm to be responsible, on behalf of the Jewish Community, for implementing his instructions. Boehm was at that time more than sixty years of age and was a sick man. And seeing that we had already discussed this matter previously, he asked to be released from this duty.

So we had agreed between ourselves on Dr. Alois Rothenberg who was the youngest amongst us, and he took upon himself to be responsible for the affairs of the Palestine Office before Eichmann.

Q. Were these matters concluded at the meeting with Eichmann?

A. At the same meeting with Eichmann.

Q. And since then Dr. Rothenberg was in charge of affairs?

A. In the Palestine Office.

Q. And in the Jewish Community?

A. Dr. Joseph Lowenherz - after he had been released from arrest.

Q. Did the meeting conclude with this?

A. The meeting concluded with this, but some days later...

Q. Did you see Eichmann at any other time after that?

A. I saw him, yes, but not directly in a personal conversation.

Presiding Judge: Have you any further questions for the Witness?

State Attorney Bar-Or: This evidence will continue on matters which followed this meeting. If Your Honour will permit me one more question in connection with this meeting, perhaps that would be a more convenient point to stop. Mr. Fleischmann, I want to return once again to this first meeting, at the end of March 1938, with Eichmann. Do you recall, in connection with the matters that were mentioned then, the word "judenrein"?

Witness Fleischmann: Definitely. His assignment was to make Vienna and the whole of Austria, in the shortest possible way "judenrein" (clean of Jews).

Q. When you say "his assignment," whose assignment was this, who said it?

A. He, Eichmann.

Q. Do you remember Eichmann's face?

A. Yes. His face looked younger and he didn't wear spectacles.

Q. When you say "younger," younger than what?

A. Younger than today.

Q. Do you see him today?

A. I believe he is here before me, and I also identify him.

Presiding Judge: We shall adjourn now. The Session will be resumed at 15.30 hours this afternoon.

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