It is clear from statistics, then, that our operation was not a battle fought with knives, pistols, carbines or poison gas. We used spiritual methods to reach our goal. Let is keep this distinction clear, because physical liquidation is a vulgar, coarse action.
Soon after we arrived in Budapest I met a Dr. Lászlo Endre, then a Budapest country official, who was eager to free Hungary of the Jewish "plague," as he put it. One evening he arranged a little supper for me and my assistant, Captain Deiter Wisliceny. Tow or three other Hungarian officials were present and an orderly in livery who stood at Dr. Endre's side. On this evening the fate of the Jews in Hungary was sealed.
As I got to know Dr. Endre, I noticed his energy and his ardent desire to serve his Hungarian fatherland. He made it clear that in his present position he was unable to do positive work toward solving the Jewish question. So, I suggested to Major General Winkelmann, the ranking SS officer in Hungary, that Dr. Endre be transferred to the Ministry of the Interior. The transfer took several weeks, which I spent conferring with various Jewish officials and learning about Jewish life in Hungary. Then one day Dr. Endre became second secretary in the Ministry of the Interior, and a certain Lászlo Baky became first secretary.
Over the years I had learned through practice which hooks to use to catch which fish, and I was now able to make the operation easy for myself. It was clear to me that I, as a German, could not demand the Jews from the Hungarians. We had had too much trouble with that in Denmark. So I left the entire matter to the Hungarian authorities. Dr. Endre, who became one of the best friends I have had in my life, put out the necessary regulations, and Bakay and his Hungarian Gendarmerie carried them out. Once these two secretaries gave their orders, the Minister of the Interior had to sign them. And so it was no miracle that the first transport trains were soon rolling toward Auschwitz.
The Hungarian police caught the Jews, brought them together and loaded them on the trains under the direct command of Lieut. Colonel Lászlo Ferenczy of the Gendarmerie, who came from an old, landed family. If I may digress for a moment, I remember that he invited me once to his country estate, where we had a little Hungarian snack of slices of bacon and onion stuck on sticks and roasted over a fire. We ate them with wine from the lieutenant colonel's vineyards. I since have read that he was hanged after 1945.
I never watched the Jews being loaded onto the trains. It was a minor matter for which I had no time. Since the job was the responsibility of the Gendarmerie, it would have constituted an interference with the internal affairs of Hungary if I had even observed the loadings. After all, the Hungarian government was still a sovereign power, although it had reached certain agreements with the Reich.
Himmler's instructions were for me to comb the Jews out of eastern Hungary first. The two secretaries gave the appropriate orders to the Hungarian police. I was also instructed to send almost all transports to the railroad station at Auschwitz, and I ordered Captain Novak to draw up a timetable and arrange for the necessary trains from the Reich's transportation ministry. To each train I assigned a squad of Orpos - uniformed German police - from the several hundred assigned to me.
My men had as one of their basic orders that all necessary harshness was to be avoided. This fundamental principle was also accepted by the Hungarian officials. In practice they may not have adhered to it 100%. But that did not and could not interest me, because it was not my responsibility.
June 14, 1998