The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 81
(Part 3 of 5)

Accused: I had no executive authority, because for this there would have been the prior condition that I would have had to be placed above the Secret State Police District Office, either in terms of command, or in terms of transfer. But I belonged to the Security Service Main District Danube, having been transferred there by the Security Service Head Office. Naturally, the Security Service could be present at the securing of assets and at confiscations as well as detentions. However, the member of the Security Service was not permitted either to declare a confiscation, or to secure assets or to make an arrest. Therefore, in such cases, a member of the Security Service usually accompanied an official of the Secret State Police. The interest of the Security Service member in such an action was primarily one of intelligence service records, because this was the Alpha and Omega of the Security Service at that time.

Now, the main concern of the Central Office for Emigration in Vienna was certainly not intelligence service activities, although it dealt with these too, because all possibilities had to be examined concerning alternative opportunities for emigration. But the area of responsibilities and the tasks of the Central Bureau for Emigration of Jews, were determined by order of the Reich Commissioner for the Reunification of Austria with the German Reich. Furthermore, the position of Chief of the Security Service of the SS Main District Danube was identical with that of the Inspector of the Security Police of the Security Service. He could thus regard members of the Security Service, as well as members of the Secret State Police in the Central Bureau as his subordinates. This was actually the case, because if any person, Jew or non-Jew, wanted to emigrate at that time - I think even if he just wanted to travel abroad - a prior condition was that this would-be emigrant or would-be traveller abroad had to appear before the appropriate Secret State Bureau, in connection with the matter of his passport.

Dr. Servatius: I come now to two documents. They are T/135, document No. 1511, and T/149, document No. 1176. Both documents concern the financing of travel abroad and foreign currency, which is being received as aid for the Jews. The first is a minute which bears no date, a minute signed by Eichmann, regarding a visit by Reichsbankkrat (Bank Counsellor) Wolf at the Ministry of Economics and Finance in Vienna, and the second is a report about his journey to Vienna.

The question was what was to happen to the amount of one hundred thousand dollars which was generally cashed in foreign exchange offices, and very quickly converted into paper Schillings and Marks. This money could, of course, no longer serve anyone in order to emigrate. The first letter, paragraph 2, states:

"Because of the need to hand over to the target countries of emigration, together with the migrating Jews, a certain sum in foreign currency, permission was first of all envisaged for a sum of $100,000 in aid funds (which would be placed at the disposal of the Jewish community in Vienna as a gift by foreign Jewish aid organizations), this would, at the same time, be used for the emigration of the less-wealthy and those lacking capital. It was also suggested that further amounts of foreign currency, which presumably originate in the Altenfund , could also be used for the emigration of Jews from Austria."
Witness, would you first describe how these negotiations proceeded and what was their purpose?

Accused: First of all, I would like to clarify one point. In both cases, the reference is to the presence of the Reich Bank Counsellor Wolf in Vienna. A comma is missing here, otherwise it would be clearer. It was not a matter of one set of negotiations being held in Berlin in the Reich Ministry of Economics and Finance and the other in Vienna, but rather that both negotiations took place in Vienna.

I seem to remember that at that time, according to the foreign exchange regulations of the Reich Ministry of Economics and Finance, any foreign currency in the possession of an individual had to be offered for sale, that is to say it had to be delivered somehow, sold to the Reich. In any event, that was, at that time, the difficulty which Dr. Loewenherz submitted to me, that even if foreign Jewish aid organizations were to make available amounts of foreign currency by way of gift, if would be of no use for emigration, if these sums would have to be handed over to the Reich.

This, however, was a matter which had to be of the utmost concern to me, because this would mean the success or failure of opportunities for emigration. Therefore, I tried to present this matter of interest to the Reich Ministry of Economics and Finance through its branch office in Vienna - I no longer remember its name - and to request that an exceptional permission be granted in this case, according to which the Jewish community of Vienna be allowed to keep the foreign currency it received as a gift from abroad.

And not only allowed to keep it, but that the Jewish community, furthermore, might sell this foreign currency to its members, to Jews who were in the country and wished to emigrate, at the Reichsmark value, at a premium, so that the community could also use a part of it in order to balance and regularize its budget. This was an innovation at that time, and even Reich Bank Counsellor Wolf could not decide this matter on his own, but he promised to present the matter to his State Secretary. In fact, it was permitted later, so that a report could be drawn up which states, in Prosecution document No. 1176, on page 4, in the last sentence: "The foreign donors are being served, in that the community actually receives double the exchange value in Reichsmarks, and the emigration of persons without means is also served in a far-reaching way." The transfer of capital, this has been shown by other documents, that is something that was prohibited on the part of the Reich by the Foreign Ministry as well as by the Reich Ministry for Economics and Finance. That is as much as I can say about this from memory.

Dr. Servatius: Witness, to what extent were persons without means then helped by this procedure? Would you please explain that?

Accused: Yes, Sir. The countries which accepted Jews, I think all countries, demanded a qualifying amount of money in foreign currency. I don't think there was any country which did not demand this. Now, completely penniless Jews, who no longer had any means, could receive this money which they needed for emigration, from the Vienna Community as a loan. Later, in the country of destination, this loan was to be gradually repaid. I am not aware of the conditions.

I see now that exhibit 1176 on page 4, the last paragraph, describes these details quite accurately, and the question of the loan is also discussed here.

Dr. Servatius: Yes, it is the bottom paragraph which gives an exhaustive description. There is no need to make an oral presentation of this.

I would just like to read out here a short paragraph. On page 3 it says:

"Through the really clear method of presentation on the part of the Jewish organizations, which were appropriately instructed by SS Sturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, Reich Bank Counsellor Wolf was so impressed that he fully consented to the plan and promised to secure all that was necessary, in a positive sense, from the Secretary of State."
I come now to exhibit T/644, document No. 1633. It is a circular from Heydrich to all police office units, stating:
"All male Jews of Polish nationality are to be detained," and there follow further details. The last paragraph, on the next page, states: "Not to be detained, are those Jews of Polish nationality, or of former Polish nationality, who are required e.g. for the promotion of the general emigration of Jews from the Reich." Then it goes on: "Addendum for State Police District Office, Vienna: Contact is to be established with SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Eichmann, Main District Danube."
Witness, you are mentioned here specifically by name. Could you tell us why you are singled out in this document?

Accused: The reason is evident from the document itself, as the Jews having Polish nationality were to be detained. It was generally known that, particularly in the south- eastern areas, of which Austria was a part, a large number of Jews had not given up their Polish nationality, and since the staff of the Jewish community in Vienna, the Palestine Office, the other institutions, and the two funds which were able to function - in any event the entire Jewish organizational apparatus - employed a considerable percentage of Jews of Polish nationality, the State Police District Office had to request a report from me with the names and addresses of those Jews, so that, in any event, they would be exempt from this operation. Otherwise, I could, of course, no longer have carried out the emigration.

Dr. Servatius: I come now to the Reich Crystal Night.

Presiding Judge: In Austria, I assume?

Dr. Servatius: In Austria. The first document is T/37(124). I do not know whether I have to re-submit this document.

Presiding Judge: I think you should, in accordance with our practice. I mark this document No. N/34.

Dr. Servatius: It reads:

"Vienna, 10 November 1938. In the margin: 2:17, SD Sub- District Styria, Graz reports: 0:30. After the SA and SS had been sworn in, the synagogue in Graz, with outbuilding and office building, were completely demolished and set on fire. Further reports are to follow."
There is a handwritten remark: "At 2:20 transmitted to Eichmann." Perhaps I shall also have to read the last paragraph: "4:00 - call from Graz, from SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Jaskulski. The operation at 0:30 was not organized, but carried out by von Thadden, was, therefore, not connected with the directives mentioned in the telegram. The telegram arrived only after 0:30. The material was taken by the Sub- District, as far as possible. Among other things, three strongboxes were secured, the contents of which will be inspected during the day. At 4:30 a joint consultation between SD and Gestapo will take place."

To this document should be added exhibit T/151, document No. 91.

Witness, would you like to comment, and state what you did as a result of this telegram and whether you had been active in this matter prior to this.

Accused: I had just put the Jewish organizational structure on its feet, and as the handwritten letters, which have just been dealt with, show, with much joy and interest - and just then things were ruined for me. When I heard for the first time that orders had been given to set fire to office buildings, my first action was to secure immediately the entire file material which had been collected in the past close to six months - the entire correspondence with foreign countries - in a word, I wanted to rescue from the flames all that which had hitherto been laboriously built up.

In part, I was successful, in part I was not, for document No. 91 shows an overall report of the Security Service Main Section Danube on this entire affair, and it begins - I think on page 3 - and states: "the operations in the Ostmark (eastern border province) started almost everywhere before the Security Service and the State Police were informed" and I do not remember anymore today - I only read this in the files - and therefore the safeguarding operation within the Jewish religious communities must have come too late.

The reason that I was informed about this matter, is connected with the fact that the outbuilding and the office building were completely demolished and set afire, and thereby the interest which I had in the matter was also burned. Otherwise, I was not involved in this operation, nor did I issue any orders or directives other than solely and exclusively to save the archive material, that is to say to save that which was still possible.

Dr. Servatius: The next exhibit I shall discuss is T/139.

Presiding Judge: You are coming to a new chapter, are you not? We shall have to break now.


Dr. Servatius: Your Honour, the Presiding Judge, I would now like to submit exhibit T/37, document No. 124, which was missing earlier. Now I shall discuss exhibit T/139, document No. 784. This is a minute of 15 November 1938 and deals with the confiscation of bank accounts. It has been alleged against the Accused that he had caused this confiscation of accounts.

Witness, would you like to comment on this?

Accused: Yes, Sir. I dictated the minute in question at the time, as I can see from the dictation sign.

The facts were these: The Director of the Foreign Exchange Search Office informed me that in the past few days the Jews had been withdrawing money in large amounts from the banks. Well, this was no surprise, because it was a few days after the Crystal Night, and therefore understandable. It was the task of the Foreign Exchange Search Office to control the movement of movable property, and find out the purpose for which it was being used. The Foreign Exchange Search Office was not subordinate to me, neither was it subordinate to the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, but it was subordinate, as far as I know, to the Reich Ministry for Economics and Finance. It informed me, however, that the measure would not affect the financial transactions of the Jewish community in Vienna, and that was the essential point which interested me in the whole matter. The Jewish community of Vienna was, therefore, not handicapped by the measure taken by the Foreign Exchange Search Office.

Dr. Servatius: I will now discuss exhibit T/811, document No. 1634. It is a telegram, signed: "Eichmann, by order," and concerns the evacuation of the Jews from Vienna to the Generalgouvernement. It states: "In view of the special conditions obtaining in Vienna, the Fuehrer has ordered the evacuation of the Jews resident in Vienna." It then goes on: "The Gestapo Head Office in Vienna has already issued a decree," and the Vienna Central Office for the Emigration of Jews is also mentioned.

Witness, would you comment on this document?

Accused: This telegram, which was issued as a circular to all State Police Units, with the exception of the State Police Main Office at Vienna, and signed by me, at the instruction of the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, is dated 13 February 1941, that is to say, at a time when I was already employed in the Head Office for Reich Security. It was an order by Hitler, that is evident. Interestingly enough, however, is that the State Police Head Office of Vienna had already issued a decree on 1 February 1941, on its own initiative. That indicates to me, today, that the State Police Main Office in Vienna at that time had received information about this matter much earlier than the Head Office for Reich Security, namely a time difference of approximately thirteen days.

If I now take into account what I have read in the meantime, based on documents submitted to the Court, as quoted for example by Reitlinger, then I can put some order in my thinking on this matter. I can no longer remember the fact itself in detail today, after twenty years. But apparently, I have read repeatedly - at the time I surely knew this - that Schirach, as well as the other office holders, constantly pleaded with Hitler regarding permission for matters concerning Vienna. The Governor General, as we have seen here already, had strongly objected to any reception of Jews from the Reich area into the areas under his administration. For that a special order was now needed from Hitler, to whom the Governor General was naturally subordinate, in order to force Governor General Frank to agree. Nothing else is shown by this telegram.

Judge Halevi: Perhaps you know what the special circumstances in Vienna were?

Accused: As far as I can still remember, an order was given to the first Reich Commissioner for the Reunification of Austria and Germany, it was Buerckel at that time, to arrange for the speedy de-Judaization of the Ostmark. Now this order, this assignment, was certainly given by the highest Reich authorities, perhaps including Hitler himself - but this I do not know - since Austria was Hitler's native country. That is the only way in which I can make sense of the matter today.

Dr. Servatius: I come now to the next exhibit, T/143, which is document No. 1129. It is a letter from the Chairman of the Jewish community in Berlin to the Jewish religious community in Vienna and to the Palestine Office in Vienna, dated 1 March 1939. The Chairman comments on the establishment of the Center for Emigration of Jews which was set up by the Accused, and writes as follows:

"Dear Sirs, On my visit to Vienna I became convinced that the Central Office set up in Vienna for the promotion and acceleration of emigration of Jews is a thoroughly practical arrangement which considerably shortens the formalities of emigration."
He further states:
"On that occasion, I criticized the implementation of emigration through your office, and expressed the view that in this fashion the preconditions for opening up new opportunities for immigration, and the preservation of the existing, ones would be hampered. I would like to emphasize explicitly that I had no justification for this criticism."
Presiding Judge: This is, probably, T/142, Dr. Servatius, is it not?

Dr. Servatius: I have it marked as T/143.

Presiding Judge: Oh yes, this is the document which we divided into two at the time, if I remember correctly. Yes, you are right.

Dr. Servatius: Witness, did you induce the writer to compose this letter?

Accused: No, I see that this letter is dated 1 March 1939, and at that time I was in Vienna and not in Berlin, and I had no contact whatsoever with the Jewish institutions of Berlin at that time.

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