The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 17
(Part 5 of 5)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Q. Did you go upstairs?

A. No. On the ground floor, on the left-hand side there was a large room and there sat Eichmann.

Q. You spotted him immediately?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. Would you like to describe to the Court the impression you gained from him at this meeting? It was your last one, isn't that so?

A. No, there was another one. I remember saying immediately to my colleagues that I did not know whether I was meeting with the same man I had known. The change was so awful.

Q. How did this change express itself?

A. In his whole approach. As I have said before, I previously had thought that this was a minor official, the type people call a "clerk," or a "bureaucrat" who fulfils duties, writes reports and so on. Afterwards here was this man with the attitude of an autocrat controlling life and death; he received us impudently and crudely, and would not allow us to approach his desk. We had to stand all the time.

Q. Dr. Meyer, did each one of you, the members of the delegation, know him beforehand, or did most of you know him?

A. This I cannot say. I doubt whether all of them knew him.

Q. But besides yourself there were others who knew him?

A. I think so.

Q. Were there signs amongst your colleagues at this meeting in Vienna that there was this previous acquaintance with him?

A. No, there was no attitude of anyone saying: "Yes, I have spoken to you."

Q. Nothing?

A. No.

Q. What did you discuss?

A. The first meeting that morning was very short. He merely said: "You will move around throughout the building and see what I have arranged here. Afterwards in the afternoon, you will come back to me and give me your views on the subject."

Q. Do you recall the name of this arrangement that you were supposed to see?

A. Yes, certainly. It was the Central Office for the Emigration of the Jews.

Q. Perhaps you would give us the German name, if you remember it?

A. Yes, Zentralstelle fuer juedische Auswanderung.

Q. You took a look at the building?

A. Certainly.

Q. Did you also meet the leaders of Austrian Jewry?

A. Not in the same building but afterwards.

Q. Whom did you meet afterwards?

A. I don't remember names, but without committing myself while under oath, I know that I remember the name of Mr. Engel.

Q. What was your subsequent impression?

A. Most terrible, most terrible... I immediately said: this is like an automatic factory, let us say a flour mill connected to some bakery. You put in at the one end a Jew who still has capital and has, let us say, a factory or a shop or an account in a bank, and he passes through the entire building, from counter to counter, from office to office - he comes out at the other end, he has no money, he has no rights, only a passport in which is written: You must leave this country within two weeks; if you fail to do so, you will go to a concentration camp.

Q. Was this situation different from the situation in Berlin?

A. Completely different. Even if in Berlin they were not so considerate, nobody can say this; nevertheless there was some sort of recognition that there was some kind of body of people that had some sort of right to speak about their affairs. Here there was simply an order and an automatic implementation.

Q. Before you left Vienna, did you have another meeting with Eichmann?

A. Yes, in the afternoon.

Q. What happened?

A. He asked us then: "Well, what do you say about this?" At that time - I don't know whether today it would be possible to understand this - we still thought that it was possible to say to him: No. And we also said that such a thing, in our opinion, would be impossible to carry out in Berlin, under the conditions of German Jewry. We also argued that we were in favour of orderly emigration, namely that a person would leave with a passport, with an authorized passport and also with the visa of the country which would be admitting him, and if possible also with some money in his possession, so that he should not arrive as a pauper and a burden upon the foreign country, and also after a period of possible training and study etc. etc., as we had been doing all the preceding years.

Q. Did you receive an answer?

A. He said: "We shall talk about this in Berlin." Then he attacked us. Then there was another very awful incident where he insulted and rebuked Mr. Stahl who by chance put his hand into his coat pocket, and suddenly he shouted: "Take your hand out of your pocket, you old bag." And then he added another rude word, I don't recall exactly.

Q. Did you leave Vienna the next day?

A. We left Vienna in the evening. Mr. Stahl remained there for a day or a day and a half, and we heard from him that he had met Kuchmann. The office of the Gestapo was in a completely different place - near the Donau Canal.

Q. Is that where he found Kuchmann?

A. Yes.

Q. You recall another meeting with Eichmann in Berlin, isn't that so?

A. Yes.

Q. When was this?

A. I think it was in the first week of the month of March.

Q. 1939?

A. Yes.

Q. Who was with you?

A. If I am not mistaken, I was alone, and I was given the honour of appearing there. Incidentally I was registered as the responsible person for the Jewish National Fund.

Q. Where was the meeting?

A. On Prinz Albrecht Strasse.

Q. In an office which you already knew?

A. Yes, but in a different room.

Q. Was Eichmann there?

A. He was there, and there was another person or other persons I don't remember. I recall that there was an officer older than Eichmann, who also served as chairman, but he did not open the discussion; but Eichmann sat next to him and began in this way to introduce me: This is one of the Jews who had the impudence to incite the people of Austria, the Jews of Vienna or Austria, I don't remember, and this is how he began then.

Afterwards he said: "Whatever was decided, there will also be an office for the emigration of Jews in Berlin. There is a question of foreign exchange." We had also heard that in Vienna, contrary to what we had done all these years, the Jews of Austria were obliged to deliver to the Gestapo all their foreign currency that they had received as aid from Jewish institutions overseas such as the Joint or other such organizations. We did not do this, but had another plan: These organizations sent the money directly to the Funds in Palestine and in exchange for this we gave our German marks we had collected within the Reich to the coffers of the Reichsvertretung.

Q. And what was the demand now?

A. The demand was that he had heard that the Jewish National Fund had foreign currency and he insisted that I should sign a transfer of this currency over to the Gestapo.

Q. Did you agree or refuse?

A. No, I wanted to complain and to argue and to state: "We only collect marks." But he knew that there was something exceptional in fact - a kind of transfer of foreign currency of the Jewish National Fund from Germany, and then I managed to extricate myself from this mess by saying to the chairman: "You have the right to confiscate whatever you want but I ask your permission to telephone Duesseldorf." Then he asked me: "Why Duesseldorf?" Then I said: "There is a centre there for the metal industry and I have to cancel a transaction for pipes, where at a particular time the Jewish National Fund and also the Nir Company had ordered pipes from Germany..."

Presiding Judge: Dr. Meyer, there is no need to go into detail.

State Attorney Bar-Or: What happened then?

Witness Meyer: Then the man who presided said: "All right, we shall defer this point," and allowed me to leave. After this meeting I don't think that I saw Eichmann again.

Q. When did you leave Berlin?

A. On 15 March 1939.

Q. Before this, on 21 February 1937 you received a Judenkarte?

A. Yes.

Q. Is this the card that you received?

A. Exactly.

Q. I see fingerprints there. Were you obliged to give them?

A. Yes, all of us were.

Q. Every Jew had to receive a card like this?

A. Certainly, every Jew.

Q. I would ask permission to submit this document.

Presiding Judge: This will be T/92.

State Attorney Bar-Or: And with the Court's permission, there is one other document about which I should like the witness to testify. Did you receive a letter from the State Police Central Office in Berlin dated 3 February 1939?

Witness Meyer: Yes.

Q. Did you get this letter from the Gestapo?

A. Yes.

Q. What was its significance?

A. At that time, at the end of 1938, I was elected to the Executive of the ORT Organization and on that date I received a notice forbidding me to serve in this capacity.

Q. Were you obliged to give up the post?

A. Yes.

The letter is handed to the Presiding Judge.

Presiding Judge: This letter will be marked T/93.

State Attorney Bar-Or: With this I have concluded my examination.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions for the witness?

Dr. Servatius: I have two questions to ask.

[To the witness] This relates to the currency question in Vienna. Sir, do you know that there was a special arrangement there by which Jews had to hand over the foreign currency in their possession and that they were obliged to deliver it to a Fund and in this way to set up an independent Fund?

Witness Meyer: I do not know of this. I am not an expert on Austrian affairs. It was forbidden to us to be in touch with the Jews there from the time of the invasion of Austria, and we did not receive any information directly. What we heard were rumors, and certainly not on details such as these, and I am unable to reply.

Q. Didn't you talk there with representatives of the Jews about the way in which this conveyor belt worked?

A. Certainly. We had the opportunity to meet with these people. Afterwards Eichmann became very angry because we had done so, because there had been a general ban on coming into contact with them. But we thought that if we received an invitation to go there this also meant a natural opportunity for us to be able to speak to our brothers.

Q. I have one more question. The Centre for Jewish Emigration in Berlin - when was this Office established? Were you still in Berlin then?

A. I shall begin at the end. I was still in Berlin. If I am not mistaken, we opened this office in the second week of the month of March, on the 12th or 14th March - I don't remember exactly. But at no time did I ever see the arrangements there. I was lucky in that I did not personally have to undergo this arrangement, since I had previously received the certificate I required, according to the previous arrangements.

Q. Where was this centre located? Was this fact known to you?

A. Yes, in Berlin, on Kurfuersten Strasse, in the building called the "Fraternity Building" (Brueder-Vereinshaus).

Dr. Servatius: I do not have any more questions.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bar-Or, do you have any questions?

State Attorney Bar-Or: No, Your Honour.

Judge Halevi: Did the "Central Office" in Vienna not require visas to other countries for emigration? How did they arrange this factory, this conveyor belt to other countries without visas?

Witness Meyer: That was the centralized set-up. Perhaps this was the sole logic in this arrangement - a concentration of all the internal offices of Austria, and afterwards also of Germany, to which a Jew had to come in order to obtain all the confirmations: payment of taxes to the municipality, to the State, to hand over all his property and all kinds of papers that he needed to collect, and in addition to that he ultimately received there a certificate to the effect that there was no objection to his emigration.

Judge Halevi: I am referring to an entry visa to another country.

Witness Meyer: This did not interest them. They told them: "You must see to the way in which you are to leave the country." This was a question which hit us, for we asked "what will come out of this?" I was under the influence of the happenings at Beuthen and I said:"If they want people to cross the frontier into Hungary or Italy or any other country, what will be the outcome of this? This would only be a sudden one-time success, and afterwards these countries will close their borders even in the face of persons who previously were able to enter."

Presiding Judge: Thank you very much, Dr. Meyer, you have concluded your evidence.

Mr. Bar-Or, there is a need to brief the witnesses before they come to testify. We must prune any superfluous detail. It is difficult, but this must be done, since I myself would not like to interfere too much in the process of taking evidence.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Your Honour, I shall take this upon myself, from now on.

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