Newsgroups: alt.revisionism Subject: Holocaust Almanac - Eichmann's testimony (Vienna/Emigration) Followup-To: alt.revisionism Organization: The Nizkor Project, Vancouver Island, CANADA Keywords: austria,eichmann,vienna,emigration Archive/File: pub/people/e/eichmann eichmann.001 Last-modified: 1993/08/09 Notes: Captain Avner W. Less was the Israeli police officer who interrogated Adolf Eichmann, prior to his trial and subsequent conviction in Jerusalem. Comments, designated by brackets , are those of the editor, Jochen von Lang. Typos are mine, not the author's. ~~~ Adolf Eichmann is being interrogated regarding his early work with the Nazi government in Vienna, particularly as it related to the emigration of Jews. ~~~ EICHMANN: I didn't know my way around Vienna. ... The first thing I did was go to the headquarters of the Secret State Police and ask them who could give me information about Jewish affairs. Then I was - oh, I forgot to tell you, I'd meanwhile been promoted, on January 30, 1938, to Untersturmfu"hrer - and then I was taken to see a so-called Journalbeamter (duty officer), an old term from old Austria, a jurist, who introduced himself as Dr. Ebner. At the time he was still in Austrian uniform ... of the Security Police. I told him I'd been sent down there to take charge of Jewish affairs, I had no idea what was going on and would he fill me in on the situation. LESS: Well, what was the situation at the end of March, 1938, exactly two weeks after the so-called seizure of power in Vienna? EICHMANN: It was very simple. He told me they were all under lock and key, the Jewish officials were all in detention. For the first time, I was thrown into practical activity. Up until then, I'd been sitting at a desk. I told Dr. Ebner that in the Old Reich - as we called it at the time - the policy was to encourage emigration. And I told him that somehow Jewish political life had to be set in motion again in Vienna and Ostmark, as Austria was then called. He gave me a list of the former Jewish political functionaries, who were under arrest, and I asked him to bring me certain ones whom I judged to be the ranking leaders. You see, I wanted to talk to them, but I was still in the SD and had no authority to send for anybody on my own. When I wanted something, I had to go down on my knees to the Secret State Police. I don't know who it was who came; a few gentlemen, but they struck me as too old, not sufficiently energetic or intelligent. Anyway, that was my first impressing. Until I came accross Dr. Lo"wenherz, Dr. Richard Lo"wenherz. Those first gentlemen, I can still see them standing in front of me, were let go, because they hadn't been locked up ... hadn't been locked up ... to stay locked up. They had been arrested in the exceitment of the first week, during the days of upheaval, of revolution. I gave Dr. Lo"wenherz paper and pencil and said: "Please go back for one more night and write up a memo telling me how you would organize this whole thing, how you would run it. Object: stepped-up emigration." ... [From March 14 on, the supreme political authority in Austria was Josef Bu"rckel, Gauleiter of the Saar and the Platinate. To the dismay of the Austrian party leaders, already devoured by "Piefkes" - as the Austrians called North Germans, especially Prussians - sent from Berlin. All the German anti-Jewish laws and decrees now became valid for "Ostmark." New ones were continually added. On March 28, the Jewish congregations lost their coporation status and were obliged to register as private associations. Persons regarded as Jews according to the Nuremberg Laws were obliged to declare all property, holdings, and liquidities to the authorities, and in August all Jews were required to indicate their origin by appending the first name Israel or Sarah to their family names.] EICHMANN: The next day, this Dr. Lo"wenherz brought me his draft. I found it excellent and we immediately took action on his suggestions. Dr. Lo"wenherz himself asked to be appointed director of the Jewish community, and I backed his proposal. I myself could not make the appointment, only the Secret State Police could do that. As was to be expected, the first days of the reorganziation of Jewish life brought requests from Dr. Lo"wenherz and his associates. If I remember correctly, the funds that were still extant but under sequester were returned to their owners. Youth organizations were approved. The community's education section was revived. Religious life was restored. In short, conditions were normalized, but of course everything was subordinated to the promotion of emigration. Emigration increased as the Jews wishing to emigrate became more nervous, more intent on escaping the pressure of the party and also in a certain sense of the government authorities. Because of this nervousness, many useless applications were made; it must be said, however, that from sadistic motives certain government officials, and unofficial employees as well, went out of their way to make it harder for a Jew wishing to emigrate. He'd be sent home on some stupid pretext. One day Dr. Lo"wenherz and some of his associates said to me: Hauptsturmf"hrer - or was I an Oberstumfu"hrer at the time? - this can't go on. And they suggested that I should somehow centralize the work, or that I myself should speak with certain officials and arrange to make things easier for Jewish petitioners. That same afternoon an idea took shape in my mind: a conveyor belt. The initial application and all the rest of the required papers are put on at one end, and the passport falls off at the other end. I then suggested to Regierungsdirektor Dr. Stahlecker, my immediate superior, that he should persuade Reich Commissar Bu"rkel to issue a decree establishing in Vienna a Central Office for Jewish Emigration to which the government departments - Police Presidium, Finance Ministry, State Police, Currency Control, in short, all departments concerned - should send representatives. They would all sit side by side at this long conveyor belt, under the supervision of a member of the Vienna section of the SD; namely, myself. After the decree was signed, vetoes came in from Berlin, because no such thing had ever been seen in the whole history of the German bureaucracy. They compared me ... in Berlin there was talk of a mini-council of state, where delegates of all the different departments would work together under police supervision. But these difficulties were ironed out in Berlin. In Vienna we didn't even notice there difficulties. All the departments worked together. The Israelite community was also present at the conveyor belt, represented by six to fourteen delegates, depending on the amount of business to be handled. Some days we had as many as a thousand cases. A lot of people tried to make a good thing out of this stepped-up emigration. For instance, there were the lawyers of the National Socialist Jurists Association, who didn't want the Jews to come to the conveyor belt unattended; they wanted to be brought in as council, for an appropriate fee, it goes without saying. And there were the Aryanizers, who swooped down on Jewish businesses, ready to take them over. It was therefore suggested that a so-called emigration fund should be built up from property that emigrants were not permitted to take with them, and that it should be entitled to incorporation. LESS: Who financed - who provided the money for this emigration fund? EICHMANN: The money came out of the property that wealthy Jews had to hand over. And I sent Dr. Lo"wenherz and other gentlemen, I don't remember their names, abroad at regular intervals to work out new avenus of emigration and to bring back foreign currency by giving lectures, which they did. I made an arrangement with the Vienna exchange office that the foreign currency brought back from abroad by these Jewish officials should be tax exempt. This foreign currency was to be sold by the Israelite community under the supervision of the exchange office at a rate that varied with the wealth of the emigrating Jew. If he had a great many schillings or marks, Dr. Lo"wenherz would demand a rate, let's say, of tenty marks to the dollar. With a poorer emigrant, he would demand proportionately less. In any case, the emigrant could buy his presentation money (the sum he would be required to show on arriving in certain foreign countries as proof that he would not become a public charge) from the community with internal currency, and the community received a very, a relatively high yield for its foreign currency, with which to help finance its operations. LESS: Was Dr. Lo"wenherz's dollar exchange rate fixed by the Finance Ministry? EICHMANN: It was fixed by Dr. Lo"wenherz, because he knew the financial circumstances of the Jewish candidates for emigration. [Before a Jew could leave German, he was once again thoroughly milked. He was required to provide that he owed nothing to the state and that he had not made a scret of any property, by producing a tax-clearance certificate; and he was subjected to still other extractions. Because of the chronic shortage of hard currency in the Reich, he was made to surrender all foreign currency, and he needed special authorization to take German marks out of the country. A Jew selling his belongings was often beaten down by threats. If he wished to take valuable furniture with him, authorization was required. Since the host countries were unwilling to accept poor immigrants who would immediately become public charges, an immigrant was required to produce a certain sum of money in hard currency. The strict currency control prevailing in the Reich made it impossible to buy foreign currency from a bank. Consequently, the emigrant was obliged to buy at the extortionate rate which - under Eichmann's instructions - the Jewish community demanded of him.] LESS: Wasn't it the plan that the wealthier Jews should pay for the poorer ones? EICHMANN: That's right, yes yes, that's the correct way to look at it. LESS: In other words, this method was not Lo"wenherz's idea; it was imposed by you and your offices. EICHMANN: Yes, Herr Hauptmann. In a way, yes. The money was brought in by Lo"wenherz and other functionaries, or was donated by foreign sources. This money should have been handed over to the Reichsbank and to no one else; then Lo"wenherz would have received the equivalent in marks, according to the value of the dollar. But Dr. Lo"wenherz had said to me: We can't pay our team any more, we need more and more men. We have no bureau to take care of the poor Jews. If we were exempted from the obligation to turn in these dollars, we could sell them. I said to myself: This is perfect. With or without these dollars, the Reich will be no richer or poorer, but with them the apparatus the the Vienna community will be able to muddle along. That's how the system got started at the time. Later on, though, we had endless difficulties. People started saying: Just the Jews, of all people, don't bother to turn in their foreign currency. LESS: First, the Jews were compelled to raise foreign currency outside of Germany. Then at home they had to pay a staggering price for it. In the end, no one profited but the Reich government. The Jews were made poorer by having to pay thirty to forty thousand marks for a thousand poinds sterling, the true value of which was twleve thousand marks. EICHMANN: That is true, Herr Hauptmann. Yes, that is clear, quite clear. (von Lang, 49-55) Work Cited von Lang, Jochen, ed., in collaboration with Claus Sibyll. Eichmann Interrogated: Transcripts from the Archives of the Israeli Police. Translated from the German by Avner W. Less. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1983.
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