Newsgroups: alt.revisionism Subject: Eichmann arrives in Prague (January 1939) Followup-To: alt.revisionism Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/eichmann.008 Last-Modified: 1994/09/15 "Significant changes had meanwhile taken place in Prague. In the middle of July, Fuchs, the SS officer with the Berlin accent, suddenly vanished. The next day, the Gestapo summoned Edelstein to the Pecek Palais. When he returned, he told the usual crowd which had gathered around him at the Palestine office that a center for Jewish emigration would be set up in Prague as well; Eichmann, who until then had been based in Vienna and made only guest appearances in Prague, had moved here with his staff. The establishment of a Zentralstelle for Jewish emigration in Prague was part of overall German policy: in January 1939, Interior Minister Goering instructed Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Security Head Office, to solve the Jewish question as efficiently as possible through emigration or expulsion, given present circumstances. On July 15, the Reichsprotektor published his orders: all Jews wishing to emigrate must in future request permission from the central authority in Prague; it alone could organize emigration, issue the necessary permits, and supervise the collection of taxes from emigrants. The weekly report put out by the Jewish community office shed light on the practical measures involved: up to now the community had not been organized to handle emigration. However, that week the community had been instructed to open an emigration department, which would employ ninety people. On July 28, the community secretary traveled to Vienna to learn from the Austrian experience of an emigration department so that a similar one could be instituted in Prague. At the same time, Richard Israel Friedmann, a tenty-eight-year-old batchelor who worked for the Viennese Jewish community, was transferred to Prague. After the Anschluss Friedmann had concluded that there was no point in fighting for Jewish civil rights within the Reich. The only hope, he felt, lay in emigration, and he had organized the Viennese community to accelerate the process, deal with visas, and attain the necessary foreign currency for travel fare. Friedmann, who out of a perverse sense of Jewish pride insisted on being called 'Israel,' a name that all male Jews in the Reich had been required to take since August 1939 (women had to add 'Sarah' to their names), tried to impress on the Jews of the Protectorate the urgency of the situation. He pressed them to emigrate quickly and to disregard their property and real estate at all costs, and to forget about income and possessions. Very few understood his anxiety; some even wondered if there was any point in emigrating at all - Hitler was bound to fall soon. Prague was not Vienna, as Eichmann pointed out twenty years later. In his view, Prague lacked a capable Jewish activist such as Dr. Lo"wenherz, the chaiman of the Viennese Jewish community. In Prague, things moved slower and less successfully. The reason for the slow trickle of emigration from Prague lay perhaps in the fact that the mass exodus from Austria had swallowed up most of the resources, energy, and initiative of the world's Jewish welfare organizations, and decreased the available absorption sites. two hundred emigration candidates were suppose to report every day to the Zentralstelle, which had taken over a handsome villa in Prague's quiet suburb of Stresovice. But the number of applicants who came was in fact much less - about half this figure. Perhaps the reasons were more personal: Eichmann never found a common language with the Prague functionaries, whose German was different, harder, foreign. Eichmann left Vienna's Zentralstelle in the hands of Rolf Gu"nther and Alois Brunner, and devoted most of his time to managing the emigration center in Prague along with his assistant, Hans Gu"nther, twenty-nine years old, tall, and slim, an indisputably Aryan figure in keeping with the prevailing ideal. Gu"nther was one of the few people in Eichmann's operation who was not Austrian by birth (he and his brother, Rolf, were sons of a distinguished family: their father, Dr. Hans Gu"nther, was one of the major ideologues of the race theory on which National Socialism was based). Eichmann brought with him to Prague four SS officers and half a dozen lower-ranking officials whose basic job was to guard everybody. During the first few days that emigration files were submitted, the guards began to amuse themselves, as they had in Vienna, by beating up the Jews who had been waiting on line since the early hours of the morning. Jewish representatives intervened with Eichmann, and the people queueing up were no longer molested. Henceforth, Jews were subjected to blows only behind walls, and the violence was used for specific purposes of persuaion rather than indiscriminately. Everything was more complicated in Prague than in Vienna. Eichmann had to contend not only with the Reich's institutions but also with the government of the Protectorate. Struggles took place behind the scenes with on one side the Protectorate administration and the military, who generally exerted a more moderate influence, and on the other the security services and the National Socialist Party activists, who sought to adopt a more radical line. The zealots included the Sudetenites, led by Karl Hermann Frank, who hated the Czechs as much as he hated the Jews, and wanted them both evacuated. The regulations issued by the general staff of the security police at the Pecek Palais contradicted the orders of the Zentralstelle, and the various arms of the German regime were divided by conflict and latent competition. Edelstein was quick to discern all of this, but most Jews understood nothing about the hierarchy of power in the German mechanism of darkness; even the name Eichmann meant nothing to them. Eichmann also brought to Prague the erstwhile business consultant Bertold Storfer, a Viennese Jew who had formerly supplied the Austrian army. A businessman with international contacts, Storfer had a great deal of self-confidence, and he had placed his talents at the disposal of the German authorities, organizing rapid mass emigration from Austria. On the whole, Storfer did justice to his position. He made connections with shipowners and competed with the Mossad (the Jewish organization dealing with illegal immigration to Palestine), without worry too much about whether or not the passengers could actually reach the shores of Palestine. His job was simply to ensure that they left Austria. Now he had come to organize illegal immigration from the Protectorate officially, and the local Jews regarded him with a great deal of suspicion. He immediately called a meeting with the representatives of the Bru"nn Jewish community to discuss the transport organized by the Revisionists which was about to leave: in future the composition of the transports would be decided according to German interests, with no reference to Palestine or local Jewish purposes. The old and sick would also be included, and payments would be raised substantially. Edelstein first met Storfer at Eichmann's office. Storfer, who knew Eichmann well from Vienna, went straight up to his desk, to be greeted with the shout of: 'Three paces away from me!' Describing this incident to the staff of the Palestine office, Edelstein remarked, 'If Eichmann had treated me like that, he would not have extracted another word from me.' The most important quality in dealing with the Germans, he said, was to preserve one's dignity. During one conversation, Eichmann told Edelstein that he (Eichmann) had informed the Viennese Jewish community that he was willing to let them have Herzl's remains in return for a greater number of immigration certificates; let it be known, therefore, that the deal applied also to Prague. Eichmann insisted that between sixty and seventy thousand emigrants had to leave within one year; he did not care how. When Emil Kafka, chairman of the Prague Jewish community, pointed out the difficulties and expense of carrying out such a plan, Eichmann threatened to arrest three hundred Jews every day and send them to Dachau, where they would soon 'show a keen interest in emigration.'" (Bondy, 141-44) Work Cited Bondy, Ruth. Elder of the Jews. New York: Grove Press, 1989. (Translated from "Edelshtain neged had-zeman". Zmora, Bitan, Modan, publishers, 1981
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