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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-056-03

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-056-03
Last-Modified: 1999/06/04

Attorney General: And so you were brought before him.  Now
tell us, please, what occurred there.

Witness Brand:  I was brought to his room in the Majestic
Hotel.  It was on the ground floor, his office.  The ground
floor, to be sure, but really on the second floor, because
this hotel is built on a hillside, with floors going above
and below...

Q. Was he in uniform?

A. Yes; he was wearing an elegant SS officer's uniform; a
civilian was also present - very elegantly attired.

Q. Did you know at that time who this civilian was?

A. At that time no, later.

Q. Do you know now?

A. Yes, now I know; it was Kurt Alexander Becher.

Q. What happened at this meeting?

A. There was a table between the anteroom and the room, by
the door.  I approached the table...Eichmann stood in front
of it, legs astride, with his hands on his hips...and
shouted, I would say, bellowed at me. you know who
I am?  I am in charge of the Aktion! (operation).  In
Europe, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria it has been
completed; now it is Hungary's turn...

Q. What Aktion, Mr. Brand?

A. He said "Aktion."  I knew what Aktion.  He said
Aktion...He continued: He had had me tested as a
representative of the Joint and the Jewish Agency and had
determined that I was still able to perform
(leistungsfaehig) - that was his word.

Q. What else did he say?

A. He had summoned me in order to propose a deal.  He was
prepared to sell me a million Jews - goods for blood, that
was his way of speech at that time.  Then he asked me a
question which included a verbal slip which sticks in my
mind until today.  He said: "Who do you want to have rescued
- women able to bear children, males able to produce
(erzeugungsfaehig), children, old men?"  He did not say
males "able to beget" (zeugungsfaehig).  That struck me
immediately.  "Speak!"  I was unable to conduct myself very
diplomatically, I was entirely beside myself because of this
proposition.  I said that I was not in a position to
determine who should live and who should not, I wanted to
have everyone rescued.

Q. What was Eichmann's reply?

A. Eichmann then said: "So what do you want, goods or
blood?"  More than a million he could not give me now,
perhaps later.

Q. Did he represent himself as a person impelled by definite
motives or idealistic motives in this transaction?

A. Yes, yes.  He called himself an idealistic German, and he
appointed me as an idealistic Jew with whom he could now sit
together at a table and negotiate a deal.  Tomorrow,
however, we could again meet on the battlefield.  So I
stammered that I had no goods, what goods there were the
Nazis had long since confiscated or could confiscate.  For
that he did not need me.  But I could offer him money, a lot
of money, foreign currency, a lot of foreign currency.  He
thereupon said that at that point he was not interested in
money; he wanted goods, and not Hungarian goods; on the
contrary, he was interested in foreign goods.  I was to go
abroad and establish direct contact with my people.  He
asked me where I would like to go.  I weighed the matter
quickly - should I go to Switzerland or Turkey? - and very
quickly decided upon Turkey, because I knew that the
delegations of the various Pioneer groups and of the Jewish
Agency etc., were there.

Q. Did you say, then, that you wanted to go to Turkey?

A. Yes.  He thereupon said yes, but he said he could not
specify what kind of goods he wanted.  He would have to go
again to Berlin, in order to receive definitive
instructions.  In the meantime I was to consider what kind
of goods I could offer him.  Next, he also asked me, or
merely put a statement in the form of a question.  "You also
have a wife, children and a mother here; they shall
naturally remain here as hostages until you return.  Nothing
will happen to them, I shall watch over them.  But that
gives me the certainty that you will return."

Q. Was anything said about the Hungarian Government?

A. Yes.  He warned me not to say a word to anyone about our
conversation.  Thereupon I told him that the whole thing was
illusory, if I could not report to my friends, my closest
friends the whole thing made no sense.  I would have to be
able to discuss it with my closest friends.  Moreover, I
didn't know at all whether I would be considered fit to take
to this road, perhaps someone else would be proposed.
Eichmann then replied that, yes, I could speak about the
matter within the circle of my closest friends.  But I would
pay with my head if any Hungarian were to find out about it,
since this offer was a state secret of the highest order.

Q. You brought this before the committee, and, after
deliberation, was it resolved that you pursue the matter

A. Yes, immediately.  The entire committee was waiting for
me when I came down.  I gave a precise, I would say almost
verbatim, report.  We discussed the matter at great length
and were all of the opinion that the proposal must be
thoroughly tested.  We clung to the belief, as to a straw,
that perhaps it would be the salvation of the Jewish People.
Kasztner, for his part, made several alternative proposals
as to who should be nominated for this mission.  These
alternative proposals were rejected, and I was unanimously
charged by all Zionist parties with this mission.

Q. And then a gentleman named Bandi Grosz came into the

A. No, excuse me, Bandi Grosz had already been the first
contact of Samu Springmann.

Q. I know, I know; but in connection with the deal with
Eichmann - who was this Bandi Grosz?

A. Bandi Grosz was originally a smuggler.  Then he became an
agent, a courier for Hungarian counter-espionage.  Then he
worked for every possible counter-espionage organization
which helped him.  I know that he was working for the
English and the Americans, but first of all he was working
for us.  I must say in favour of Bandi Grosz that he helped
us very much.  I might say that he is not the kind of person
with whom one goes out to dine, but he helped us very much;
without his help, we could not have achieved much of our

Q. How did he get involved in the negotiations with
Eichmann, the "Blood for Goods" negotiations?

A. He had established ties with SS espionage, with the Sixth
Section of the Head Office for Reich Security.  The chief of
this section in Budapest was a certain Klages, and one of
them was a certain Schroeder; Laufer was his real name.  He
collaborated with them, and in order to put himself in their
good books, he apparently had also betrayed to them his
previous friends from the German counter-espionage

Q. You mean Schmidt and Joszi?

A. Yes, Yes.

Q. What happened to Schmidt and Joszi?  What happened to

A. Schmidt and Joszi were opposed at first to any Jewish
mission to a neutral foreign country.  They wanted to carry
it out themselves, their department was responsible for such
matters; besides, they received their orders through the
embassy, or whatever, we were not to do it.  In any event,
Bandi worked against them, and the German counter-espionage
agents were suddenly arrested in my apartment, or, to be
more precise, in my illegal apartment which belonged to the
engineer Biss and which we had equipped as our illegal

Q. And so Bandi Grosz - let us proceed further - came into
the picture, is that not so?

A. Yes.

Q. And was in contact with you?

A. Yes.  At that time we were in almost daily contact with
Bandi Grosz, as well as with the German counter-espionage

Q. Was Himmler's name mentioned?

A. Yes. On one occasion Bandi arranged for me to be taken by
this Laufer, alias Schroeder, to a small house outside
Budapest; this Schroeder lived there.  Klausnitzer was also
present.  There I was treated to a lengthy lecture, during
which I got coffee and cake.  I was told that only through
Eichmann's offer could the Jews be rescued, that Himmler
wanted this to happen, that Himmler was really a decent
human being; Himmler no longer wants the Jews to be
executed, and it was our chance now to rescue the residue of
Jewry that still remained.

Q. After that you had your second meeting with Eichmann,
this time in the presence of Klages, is that not so?

A. Yes.

Q. Where was it held?

A. Also on the Schwabenberg, also in Eichmann's office.  It
is possible, though I can't say with certainty, that Becher
was also present at that time, but I can't say that with
certainty about this conversation.

Q. Did something surprising and remarkable occur there?

A. Yes.  As I entered the room, Eichmann and Klages were
already seated at this table at the door, between the
anteroom and the room.  Eichmann had a large parcel in front
of him, a parcel full of money.  Eichmann shoved it towards
me, with about fifty thousand dollars in it; there was, I
believe, fifty-two or fifty-three thousand dollars, though
it could also have been fifty-seven thousand dollars plus
two hundred and seventy thousand Swiss francs.  "This is for
your children's relief work; I have nothing against your
children's relief activities.  Here you have the money, and
there you have the letters.  Most of these letters are
written in Hebrew, Polish and Yiddish.  I have no time now
to censor them.  If they contain anything besides children's
relief, report to me about it."  And so I received the money
and the letters and was on tenterhooks.

Presiding Judge: How many Swiss francs did you say?

Witness Brand:  Two hundred and seventy thousand, in
addition to the dollars.  That was an enormous consignment
for those days.

Attorney General: Why were you "on tenterhooks?"

Witness Brand:  I was not accustomed to receiving money from
Nazi leaders, and I was not accustomed to having our illegal
mail handed over by them to me, to censor it for them.

Q. Who, in your opinion, transferred this consignment to

A. The money came from Switzerland.  Nathan Schwalb had
arranged with Saly Mayer that we receive a large sum and had
sent it.  The emissary, i.e., the envoy  (we called him
shaliach) was a relative of the Pope.  But Bandi Grosz had
delivered up this emissary into the hands of Klages, and
therefore of Section 6 of the SS espionage organization.
Bandi enhanced his importance with Klages in this way.  And
Klages, who apparently was very, very interested that these
negotiations should succeed - and not only apparently, that
could come perhaps later - the espionage department of the
Nazis was very interested in that - had apparently forced
Eichmann to transfer the money and the letters at once to
me, and to tell me that I should send a receipt at once to
the senders, who were my principals.  Perhaps they also
feared that if the money was stolen by them, then all the
negotiations which they had now launched would evaporate
into thin air.  It would then be seen that there was nothing
at all in it.  In any case, I received it.

Q. And after you received the letters and the money, was the
discussion about the transaction continued?

A. Yes. Eichmann asked at the outset whether I had already
given thought to what kind of goods I could offer him.  It
was my impression that he did not expect any answer; I, of
course, was unable to give one.  He said that in Berlin, in
the meantime, he had received complete assent to conduct
these negotiations with me, and he could also tell me what
he was interested in - "trucks, for example."  In that he
was interested most of all, he said.  Then he delivered a
long lecture to me to the effect that the truck fleet of his
front-line regiments was first-rate, but his own vehicles
were no longer good.  He would like to have the front-line
vehicles but could only get them if he would give them new
ones, better ones.

Q. Was the quantity of trucks mentioned?

A. Yes.  He said: "And so you want to have a million Jews?"
And I replied that I would like to have all of them.  He
said: "One million, that's what we're discussing now - ten
thousand trucks, one hundred Jews equals one truck.  You're
getting a bargain."  But the trucks must be new from the
factory, with accessories, with trailers, and equipped for
winter operation.  And if I were to do something special, he
would reciprocate suitably: If we should load the trucks
with a few tons of coffee, chocolate, tea, soap and such
things, he would reciprocate suitably.

Q. Did he say anything about the destination to which the
new trucks were to be sent?

A. No.  He mentioned the zone where they would be used.  He
said that he could give his word of honour to my allies -
"my allies" was the term he used - that these trucks would
not be used along the Westwall,* {*Westwall - the
fortifications along the Atlantic coast} but solely on the
Eastern Front.

Q. What was your reply to this proposal?

A. I was surprised, dumfounded, desperate and happy - all at
the same time.  I stammered something like: "Who will
believe me, who will give me ten thousand trucks?"  Happy,
unhappy - every feeling welled up in me.  Perhaps it was
possible to rescue the Jews; it was a fantastic offer.  I
cannot describe it.

Q. What did Eichmann say to you when you expressed your

A. He said that we all consider him a fraud, that we were
drawing conclusions regarding him from ourselves.  But a
German officer keeps his word.  Then he said he would,
however, now prove that he had more faith in me than I in
him; when I returned from Turkey and said yes, he was
prepared to blow up the installations in Auschwitz and to
send ten per cent of the one million Jews, namely one
hundred thousand Jews, to any border designated by us.  Only
then would we have to deliver the first ten per cent of the
trucks -  namely one thousand trucks.

Q. And then you went back to the Relief Committee?

A. Not yet, really.  The conversation went on a bit longer.
Pardon me, Mr. Hausner.

Q. I beg your pardon, the Court would like to hear what you
still have to say.

A. I was still confused.  I was thinking: "Who will believe
that I came with such an offer from Eichmann?"  And then he
snarled at me that he had already conceded the six hundred
Jews to me, no, he had already conceded the eight hundred
Jews to me - in any case, one or two hundred more, he said,
than we originally demanded.  But we had not given him the
lists.  And that somehow gave me the idea, in this split
second, that there was a real possibility for us to get one
hundred thousand Jews in advance and the gas chambers in
Auschwitz would be blown up.  In my naivete I estimated that
it would take months to ship these one hundred thousand to
the neutral borders, and there would be no more gassings in
Auschwitz; by then the War would be over, and a great part
of our people would be saved.

Presiding Judge: Which six or eight hundred Jews were those?

Witness Brand:  Those Jews of whom I spoke earlier, Your
Honour; I refused to provide the list of their names because
of my fear that they would be deported to Germany.

Attorney General: And at that time you arranged to meet

Witness Brand:  Yes.  "So, you will be going soon"; he would
have me summoned.

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