I had plenty of the most modern weapons, however, I had never before seen assault rifles, and now I had piles of them. I had never seen as much ammunition as I had up here - bazookas lying in heaps. Nevertheless I gave the order to evacuate the Blaa-Alm and go farther away to the Rettenbachalm, which lies even higher.
Burger, who was my best skier, I sent on patrol ahead of us to investigate snow conditions and the chances for finding lodging. Meanwhile I had all the weapons we were not using thrown in a stream. I had decided the release the majority of the men. Discipline had suffered irreparably. I had 5,000 Reichsmark paid out to each one against his signature. I was hard and brusque with them. Each man,on hearing he was no longer needed, gladly took off down the mountain without further formalities. I was even hard on a little SS girl, an office worker, who had begged and implored me to take her along.Scorning all her feminine wiles, I said, "Pay out 5,000 marks. Dismissed."
While we were moving, an orderly arrived from Kalternbrunner with a directive from Reichsführer Himmler ordering us not to shoot at Americans or Englishmen. I countersigned it and the boy rushed off back to the valley. I later conveyed this order to the men. It looked like the end. The Americans were now sitting in Bad Ischl, not very far away, and we heard that our girls were already dancing with the Americans in the marketplace. Even the huntsmen were hostile to us. Gangs of them - home guardists they called themselves - were crawling around us in the hills, all of them punks. They were probably people who had shouted themselves hoarse yelling Heil Hitler in 1938. Now they prowled about us, with weapons of course. Whether or not my men shot at them I did not know, nor do I know now if they ever did. There was shooting everywhere at that confused time.
My driver Polanski asked me if I would give him a car and a truck or two so that he might go off and set up a peacetime trucking concern on his own. It occurred to me that I no longer needed any cars, so I decided to fulfill his wish. After all, he had served me loyally for many years. "Take a truck for yourself," I told him, "or whatever you need from the Blaa-Alm, and make off with my Fiat Topolino"
I later heard that he abandoned the Fiat in a ditch, but he did succeed in taking off with one truck. I wish him success in his trucking business. Ultimately, even my trusty Burger sought me out for a private conversation. "Obersturmbannführer," he said, "you are being sought as a war criminal. The rest of us are not. We have thoroughly discussed the matter. We feel that you would be doing your comrades a great service if you would leave us and appoint another commander."
I had already decided the answer myself. "Men," I said, "I will leave you alone on the Rettenbachalm. The war is over. You are not allowed to shoot at the enemy any longer. So take care of yourselves."
Lieutenant Jaenisch, my aide for many years, asked if he might accompany me. We drank a last Schnaps together.
There was only one thing I regretted. If I had not been in a state of shock at this time, I would have done more for my wife and children. Unfortunately I did not make provision for them ahead of time, unlike the gentlemen from the Intelligence Section of Schellenberg's, the so-called kid-glove boys of the SS. I, too, could have had my family securely wrapped in a very comfortable cocoon of foreign exchange and gold. In fact, I could easily have sent them on to the farthest, the most neutral of foreign countries. Long before the end, any of the Jews I dealt with would have set up foreign exchange for me in any country I had named, if I had promised any special privileges for them.
As it was, I was able to give my wife only a briefcase full of grapes and a sack of flour before going into the mountains from Altaussee. I had also given them poison capsules, on for my wife and one for each child, to be swallowed if they fell into the hands of the Russians.
September 10, 1998