The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Testimony-Abroad/Wilhelm_Hoettl-05

Last-Modified: 1999/06/14

I heard nothing about any planned persecution of the Jews or
of any pogroms against the Jews after the First World War,
apart from some violent incidents (particularly on the part
of students).

To return to the original question, I should like to say
that I know nothing definite as to who was originally
destined to be the head of what became later the Eichmann
Special Commando.  I have, however, heard in conversations
that an SS Sturmbannfuehrer Krumey was originally supposed
to be the head of the commando.  Krumey came to Hungary
later as Eichmann's deputy.

(26): I cannot answer the question why Eichmann was made
head of this commando.  I can only imagine that he found
this assignment such an important one that he asked his
chief to be detailed personally to Hungary.

(27): Dr. Kaltenbrunner no doubt considered the operation in
Hungary to be so important that he thought it necessary to
take part in it personally.  I remember that Dr.
Kaltenbrunner not only came to Budapest immediately, on 19
March, but also remained in Budapest for quite some time -
perhaps even several weeks.  In these circumstances,
Kaltenbrunner practically had to conduct his official
business as chief of the Head Office for Reich Security from

Dr. Kaltenbrunner had originally been a lawyer in Linz, and
as a result of his illegal activity with the SS, had
received an important position in 1938, when the annexation
of Austria took place.  However, despite the fact that both
Kaltenbrunner and Eichmann were from Linz, as far as I could
see Kaltenbrunner did not know Eichmann well.  It is
certainly not true that they used the familiar "du" form to
address each other.

When Dr. Kaltenbrunner occupied the post of State Secretary
for Security Matters in the government of Dr. Seyss-Inquart,
he became the Higher SS and Police Leader in Vienna.
Because of the Berlin offices' mania for centralization, to
which I have already referred, the position of a Higher SS
and Police Leader had lost a great deal of weight, however,
and it was therefore a great surprise even for those most in
the know when in January 1943, Hitler appointed
Kaltenbrunner Chief of the Security Police and the Security
Service, as successor to Heydrich, who had been
assassinated.  This position which, after Goering's loss of
power, was probably the most important one after those of
Hitler and Himmler, was handed over to Kaltenbrunner, who
was a decidedly average man.

(28): On this question I should like to refer to my previous
comments, in which I tried to explain how difficult it was
to have any clear view of the real chain of command in
Hungary.  Obviously, to some extent Eichmann was subordinate
to the Senior Commander of the Security Police and the
Security Service in Hungary, and thus, in turn, also to the
Higher SS and Police Leader in the country, but in practice
he really came under his Department Chief, Mueller, in
Berlin, and thus under Dr. Kaltenbrunner as well, as
Mueller's superior.

(29): I already  stated my view on this question yesterday,
when I gave a general description of conditions in Hungary.
In this context I should perhaps mention the fact that in my
job, although I was a member of the staff of the Head Office
for Reich Security, I was really not subordinate to any
German office in Hungary and answered only to my Berlin
chief, Schellenberg.  My official contacts with the Higher
SS and Police Leader in Hungary and the Senior Commander of
the Waffen-SS there were limited practically to some
courtesy visits and social invitations.

(30): I believe that I have already answered the question as
to who at this time was my superior.

(31): The anti-Jewish measures of the Hungarian Government
before the events in March 1944 were doubtless in the main
the result of Hungarian initiative, and are to be viewed
more or less as a gesture to the German allies. However, in
contrast, the anti-Jewish measures which occurred after the
entry of German troops were definitely the result of an
agreement between the German Reich Government and the newly
appointed Hungarian Government under Premier General
Sztojay.  The German Ambassador, Dr. Veesenmayer, was given
the assignment of advising the Hungarian Government on these
matters, and above all of trying to lay legal foundations
for the anti-Jewish measures which were about to be
enforced.  In this context it is worth mentioning that the
German legation exercised pressure from the very beginning
for the centralization of all anti-Jewish measures by the
Hungarians, to which end an appointment of a special state
secretary was to be made in the Ministry of the Interior.
The person appointed shortly afterwards to the post was the
former Vizegespan (Deputy District Commissioner), Dr. Laszlo
Endre.  The other State Secretary in the Ministry of the
Interior, the former Major of the Gendarmerie, Laszlo Baky,
as head of the executive, was also of the greatest
importance for anti-Jewish measures, from the German
occupying power's point of view.  The Hungarian Minister of
the Interior, Andor Jaross, himself had also always been
considered to be a radical anti-Semite, as a staunch
supporter of Goemboes.

The first anti-Jewish measures were still relatively
harmless, such as confiscation of radios and similar
matters.  The documents for such confiscation operations had
to be supplied by either the Hungarian Jewish Religious
Congregation or by the "Jewish Council of Elders"
(Aeltestenrat).  As far as I know, the actual operations
were carried out jointly by the Hungarian gendarmerie and
police, together with German police units.

After that there was the expropriation of Jewish law
offices, or deprivation of the right to practice, and this
was followed by the Aryanization of businesses and factories
(probably of real estate as well).  All these measures were
carried out on the basis of laws which, as far as I know,
were published in the Official Gazette.   There was no
opposition in the parliamentary preparation of these laws,
as far as I know, and most of them were passed unanimously
or by large majority.

Opposition to these anti-Jewish laws and measures came
primarily from the Church, both Catholic and Protestant, but
there was not a uniform reaction.  To a large extent, the
prevailing opinion was that, in order to avoid something
worse, to start with, it was better to give in and
accommodate the Germans.  There was no energetic reaction
either from the aristocracy, which up till then had been
influential.  As far as Horthy himself is concerned, he was
petitioned for help by the Jews affected, but would only
extend help to his closer acquaintances and friends from
Jewish circles.

As far as I remember, other typically discriminatory
measures along the German example were also introduced, such
as wearing the Jewish Star, marking of ration cards, and so

As far as the deportations are concerned, I can state the

During an official trip I made in May 1944 to the Carpatho-
Ukraine, I witnessed for the first time long processions of
Jews on an open country road, apparently being herded along
to collecting camps.  I saw these first transports not far
from the town of Khust in northern Hungary.  These
transports were guarded by Hungarian gendarmes.  People
carried their own hand luggage, and horse_drawn waggons with
larger items of baggage followed.  I saw two or three such
processions of Jews on foot, each consisting of several
hundred people of both sexes and all ages.  In the
relatively short time during which I observed what was going
on, I did not see any maltreatment by the escorts.  I
believe I remember with certainty that all in these marching
columns wore the Jewish Star.  As far as I could ascertain,
the persons in these columns of deportees came from the
immediate vicinity of Khust where, as far as I know, at that
time there were purely Jewish settlements.  The persons also
gave the impression of being farmers and generally simple

In the meanwhile I got to know that these deportations were
being carried out on the basis of a formal agreement between
the German Government, represented by its legation in
Budapest, and the Hungarian Government, through the two
State Secretaries in the Ministry of the Interior.

However, I could not discover any laws in the Hungarian
Official Gazette which would have given these deportations
any form of legal foundation.  It is, therefore, my opinion
that there were no laws on this whatsoever, and it was
simply a question of secret agreements between the German
and Hungarian Government authorities.  The general opinion
in the Hungarian populace was that the Jews were being
collected in ghettos in the north of the country.  I do not
know whether the Jews who were rounded up were immediately
moved out of the country to extermination camps, or whether
they remained temporarily in collection camps on Hungarian
territory.  I cannot state from my own knowledge whether the
responsible Hungarian authorities knew that, in any case,
these deported Jews would sooner or later get to
extermination camps.  However, from the frequently extremely
flippant tone of many highly and very highly placed
Hungarian Government functionaries when talking about the
matter, I would tend to think that one can more or less
safely say that these men probably knew what was the fate
intended for the Hungarian Jews.  As far as I could follow
in the Hungarian press, it did not refer to the deportation
measures at all and thus also did not criticize them.  The
general approach seems to have been to overlook these
atrocities, or rather not to take notice of them.

According to what was doubtless a very cleverly prepared
plan, the Jewish community of Budapest was to be deported
last - the idea apparently being to prevent their taking
refuge in the provinces, through advance warning.  As I
found out later, while those Hungarian Jews who did not live
in the capital were almost without exception caught by the
deportation measures, the events of the War in the summer of
1944 and the related deposition of the Sztojay government
led to a suspension of the deportations, which, in my
opinion, saved considerable parts of the Jewish community of

The session was adjourned at 12.30, to be resumed the same
day at 14.30.

Continued at 14.30.

Present: as at the morning session.

A further question was first put to the witness as to
whether there was perhaps a different understanding of the
notion of Jews in Hungary, as compared with the provisions
in Germany, and what other race characteristics were
relevant, such as Gypsy descent and so on.

I know nothing concrete about this; I also do not know
whether, and in what respect, there were other rules outside
Germany, in the Occupied Eastern and Western territories, or
whether the principles and individual provisions of the
so_called Nuremberg Racial Laws were simply adopted and made
law in Hungary, or whether no precise notions were defined
in that regard.  I also do not know whether racial
persecution also included Gypsies.

The witness was asked to explain also why his office
(Schellenberg) did not intervene - as it had in the case of
the "Operation Margarethe I" plan - against the measures for
the persecution of Jews, on grounds of a superior interest,
or if it did, with what success.

In accordance with the relevant provisions on allocation of
functions, I could not, as a representative of the Foreign
Intelligence Service, adopt any purely official position
against anti-Jewish legislation which was enacted in Hungary
under German pressure.  What I was able to do, however, was
to draw attention in my regular reports on the political,
military and economic situation in Hungary to the disastrous
consequences of all these anti-Jewish measures, and I made
full use of this possibility.  Schellenberg used to collate
situation reports from the Foreign Intelligence Service into
world situation reports, which, under the cover name "Egmont
Reports," were brought to Hitler's attention at certain
intervals.  Some of the Egmont Reports, which had apparently
been discovered in the Foreign Ministry, were submitted at
the Nuremberg Trial and used by the prosecution as
incriminating material against the so-called main war
criminals.  The idea was to prove in this way that the top
echelons of the German Reich were very well informed by
their secret service about the current situation abroad.  In
these Egmont Reports which I have mentioned -  which in fact
were produced by one of today's leading German journalists,
Dr. Giselher Wirsing, of the newspaper Christ und Welt - I
found in Nuremberg two paragraphs about the drawbacks of
Hungarian persecution of the Jews for the German conduct of
the War, and these are based on my reports.  Anyone who was
familiar with the frame of mind of Hitler and Himmler knows
that with them one could achieve nothing with moral
principles; the best one could do was to point to the
advantages or disadvantages which German measures had for
the conduct of the War.

Naturally foreign countries, particularly neutral states,
had not failed to notice that the anti-Jewish tendency
became noticeably more intense after March 1944.  A few
houses further on, in the Disz-ter, where my offices were,
was the Swedish legation, and also the Vatican Embassy.  I
know from my own observations what efforts these diplomatic
representatives made on behalf of persecuted Hungary Jewry,
as also did the Swiss Ambassador and members of his staff.
More particularly, these diplomats endeavoured to issue what
were called Schutzbriefe (letters of protection) for
Hungarian Jews, to protect them from deportation.  In the
last phase, before Budapest was occupied by the Red Army,
these diplomatic missions had even managed to extend
diplomatic immunity over entire houses and even blocks, and
thus to protect the Jews who lived there from any evacuation

In addition, the diplomatic missions of states allied with
Germany were also active in these rescue operations.  For
example, the Croatian Ambassador in Budapest, Dr. Benzon,
and an Italian consul, whose name I no longer remember,
handed over to me, in the course of time, several dozen
passports of their country, with the request to obtain exit
permits for Romania from the Hungarian authorities.  These
two gentlemen made it absolutely clear that the holders of
the passports were Hungarian Jews who were thus to be
rescued.  For the sake of historical justice it must
therefore be acknowledged that in Hungary there were many
individuals who, each in his own way, were active in helping
the persecuted Jews.  Here I should like to mention the fact
that, for example, the old_guard ministerial civil servants
in the Ministry of the Interior were very decent and
helpful, unlike those who received top level positions there
only after 19 March 1938. After seizure of power by the
Arrow Cross, however, there was another purge in the
ministries, probably also in order to make positions
available to the large numbers of party supporters, and that
made it far more difficult to provide useful help.  It was
only under the impact of the approaching Red Army that any
more concessions were made in this respect.

As to acts of violence: Similar to the destruction of the
synagogues in Vienna or forcing Jews in Vienna to sweep the
streets, I myself did not see anything of this kind in
Budapest until after the Arrow Cross revolt, and then, when
I was driving past with Premier Bardossy, I saw Jews being
maltreated on the street.  I thereupon wrote a report to
Kaltenbrunner, asking for redress against such occurrences,
and was able to convince Bardossy to cosign it.

(32): I have no information on the details, but through
State Secretary Baky, with whom I had dealings, since he was
also Chief of the Hungarian Central Office for State
Security, i.e., the police secret service, I know that the
decisive negotiations on behalf of Germany were conducted
every time by Ambassador Dr. Veesenmayer with the Hungarian
Minister of the Interior.  On the Hungarian side there were
State Secretaries Baky and Endre, as well as, I am sure, a
large team of specialists, the individual members of which I
did not, however, know.  The participants on the German side
varied, but I believe that Baky spoke about participation by
the "Adviser on Jewish Affairs" of the German legation, a
Mr. Grell, and by the Senior Commander of the German
Security Police in Hungary, Dr. Geschke, and also by
Eichmann.  I am sure that other specialists were also
present for the Germans, but I am unable to give any
details.  However, I must stress that this information is
second-hand, i.e. from State Secretary Baky, although I see
no reason why he would have told me an untruth.

(33): I cannot give any information about this, since I
never visited Eichmann at his quarters, and I also did not
hear whether he was in charge of military or police units.
However, I do not believe that what was called the
Sonderkommando Eichmann  was very large in terms of numbers.
The Krumeyer (sic) I mentioned yesterday who, as far as I
know was Eichmann's deputy in Hungary, is the only person
whose name I have seen in the newspapers in recent years, so
I assume he still lives in Germany.  I cannot give a figure,
in any case.

(34): I have already indicated what I myself know about the
functions of the Sonderkommando Eichmann.

(35): I cannot give any precise details on this.

From my own experience I know that - at least in North
Hungary - the Hungarian gendarmerie was responsible for
rounding up and assembling the Jews.  However, from all I
heard later, I believe that the deportations to
extermination camps were carried out by German units, and
that these were also responsible for supervising the
concentration of Jews.

As to the number of Hungarian Jews killed, the only
information I can give is what I have extracted from the
relevant literature in recent years.  According to this,
some two thirds of Hungarian Jewry probably died in
extermination camps.  Relative to Austria, where, according
to the same sources, half to two thirds were spared
annihilation, these figures for Hungary are particularly
unfavourable.  However, I believe that the percentage of
Jewry annihilated in other countries, such as Poland,
Belgium and Holland, is even more unfavourable than in
Hungary.  The relatively favourable result in Austria is a
result of the considerable pressure applied for emigration
in 1938 and 1939.  According to my information, of those
Jews who remained only a very small part survived the Second
World War.

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