I was finally able to get through to Kaltenbrunner. He ordered me to proceed to the resort town of Altaussee in the Austrian Alps. I arrived there, accordingly, at about the beginning of May and went directly to the slopes of the Loser, the mountain above the village. In one of the tidy summer villas in the Loser's slope, the chief of the Security Service was quartered.
I was received by his aide, an old and trusted friend of mine, Major Scheidler. I walked into the next room to report and found Kaltenbrunner himself sitting behind a table, clothed in the uniform blouse of an SS general and some wedge-shaped ski pants tucked into some wonderful ski boots. It was an odd costume for the "Last Days of Pompeii" feeling that then oppressed us all, at least it did me. It was after lunch and he was playing solitaire, with a small cognac on the table. I asked him how things had come out. "It's bad," he said, "the solitaire, I mean."
He had Scheidler bring me a cognac, the usual orderly was not around. The white snow of the Loser slope gleamed through the window. It had snowed heavily in the region, which would not be clear of snow until the end of May. The room was comfortably warm. The cognac tasted tasted awfully good despite my gloomy mood.
"What are you going to do now?" Kaltenbrunner said. You must realize this was not like those occasions when I had been ordered to report in the line of duty. Now the die had been cast and all these matters had become of secondary importance. One's brain was in a sense only half present. It was hard to concentrate on what was happening at the moment. This was the beginning of that nervous shock which a few days later hit me like a hammer. For it was now a fact that the Reich, for which we had feared and cared so much, was smashed in pieces.
Answering Kaltenbrunner's question, I told him that I was going into the mountains. "That's good," he said. "Good for Reichsführer Himmler, too. Now he can talk to Eisenhower differently in his negotiations, for he will know that if Eichmann is in the mountains he will never surrender, because he can't."
So we concluded our official business and I went off to become a partisan chief in Austria. I took my leave formally without any personal overtones, as did Kaltenbrunner. He remained sitting at his solitaire, only his expression revealing a certain friendliness to me. "It's all a lot of crap. The game is up." These were the last words I ever heard from my good friend Kaltenbrunner.
I had quartered my people at one of the large resort hotels in Altaussee. The hotel proprietor years afterward kept railing against "that dog Eichmann" who requisitioned his hotel and let his gang run it, inflicting all sorts of fancied damages. The complaint was merely something rooted in his wretched shopkeeper's mind. By no means did we wreck everything in his hotel. On the contrary, I finally yielded to the pressure of the doctor in charge of the neighboring field hospital, who had tearfully begged me to take my combat troops out of Altaussee so that he might declare it an open city. So we evacuated. Before my troops left, I personally saw the Red Cross nurses scrubbing and cleaning up, room by room, since the overcrowded hospital had to expand into this pig's hotel. It was set up as a hospital annex. The beneficiary of all this clean-up operation was thus enabled to feather his own nest.
Since Kaltenbrunner had given his orders, I collected all the heavy equipment we had there and set out to organize a resistance movement in the Totes Gebirge, above the town. The whole thing had now been dumped in my lap. Besides, the regularly assigned people in my department, I had some groups of Waffen SS soldiers and a wild bunch from Schellenberg's Intelligence Section of the SS. Schellenberg's crowd had been burned out of the Kremsmünster monastery. I think they set it on fire themselves, but they managed to get a few truckloads out with them. In the trucks were scattered piles of uniforms, all kinds of uniforms except winter equipment and ski gear. Instead they had down sleeping bags and emergency rations -- chocolate, hard sausage, etc., of the sort we hadn't seen for a long time. They also bought a small chest full of dollars, pounds and gold coins.
July 10, 1998