Eichmann 08, Eichmann Adolf

“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

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

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

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
Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Eichmann arrives in Prague (January 1939)
Followup-To: alt.revisionism

Last-Modified: 1994/09/15