Annual 3 Chapter 1 Part 1

Alois Brunner:"Eichmann's Best Tool"

Mary Felstiner

SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Alois Brunner belonged to a small nucleus of deportation experts who helped Adolf Eichmann conduct the Final Solution. Scholarly and popular attention has rarely reached beyond Eichmann to these deputies. Among them Alois Brunner was singled out by his Jewish victims as "the most cold-blooded murderer in Eichmann's retinue,"1 and by Eichmann himself as "one of my best men."2 Now in his mid-seventies, Brunner has lived largely forgotten in Damascus for most of the last 30 years.

The postwar obscurity of Alois Brunner derives in part from Syrian protection, and in part from the way books on the Final Solution have neglected him or fused him with another deportation officer named Brunner. For example:

BRUNNER, Anton Alois. Eichmann's most successful Jewish deportation expert.... Hanged by sentence of Vienna People's Court (Russian sector) May 1946;3

BRUNNER, Alois (1911-1975);4

BRUNNER, Alois (?) ... Missing.5

Was he hanged, did he die, or has he been missing? And was his name actually Alois? Anton? Or both?

The published Nuremberg trial documents helped initiate the confusion. Their index lists a "Brunner, Anton (SS Hauptsturmfuhrer): Jews, deportation of, from Vienna; Sentence of death for execution of Jews."6 In fact, Anton Brunner worked as a deportation functionary in Vienna where he was condemned and put to death after the war; but he was apparently not a member of the SS, let alone an officer.7 The SS Captain was Alois Brunner, who directed the deportations from Vienna, but also from other locales. The two Brunners worked in the same organization in Vienna, the Central Office for Jewish Emigration, and were known as Brunner I (Alois, the Director) and Brunner 11 (Anton, a deputy). They were mistakenly called brothers after the war, and the Nuremberg trials, at least, did not attempt to sort them out. The impression, still current, that a condemned Nazi named A. Brunner received his just deserts right after the war has doubtless helped Alois Brunner stay at liberty.

In general, postwar trials gave his name very little public hearing. The chief of the Security Police and Security Service in Vienna, Wilhelm Hoettl, could not name at Nuremberg the SS official in charge of Viennese deportations, though Alois Brunner had sent him reports.8 The chief of the Security Police in France, Helmut Knochen, had signed crucial orders with Brunner, but in daily coverage of Knochen's 1954 trial, the public never read Brunner's name.9 Even Adolf Eichmann, under whom Brunner most often served, apparently stumbled over Brunner's identity in testimony at his 1961 trial: "I keep mixing the two Brunners up." Surely Eichmann was disassociating himself from Brunner's activities: "Whether this man was in France or whether he still belonged to department IVb4 (Eichmann's) or perhaps whether he had been reassigned to one of the local SD commanders, this I do not know."10

The defendants who did focus attention on Brunner were his co-workers or subordinates, those with culpability to dischargenamely SS deportation expert Dieter Wisliceny and Anton Brunner. Wisliceny named Brunner in many self- exonerating statements (e.g., "Brunner directed the entire action"),11 but his examiners did not press for details. Anton Brunner asserted "subordination to Brunner I" as his own defense, but the People's Court of Vienna played down Alois's culpability to highlight Antons.12 Anton was hanged, while his superior stayed out of sight. Although postwar trials and histories have left a nebulous image of Brunner, other sources-eyewitness accounts, signed orders, deportation statistics and so on-can testify to the signal breadth of his activity.

Party Member Alois Brunner
The questionnaires, resumes, and correspondence of Alois Brunner, collected in SS files, offer some clues to the formation of a Nazi.13 Born at Rohrbrunn in the Burgenland region of Austria on 8 April 1912, Brunner went to school until age 15 in the town of Furstenfeld, where he was then apprenticed to a merchant, took trade school courses, and worked in a department store. On 21 May 1931, at the age of 19, he joined the Nazi Party's Furstenfeld branch and the SA six months later. In a handwritten summary dated 15 November 1938 he claimed, "I had to resign my job [as salesman] in the department store because of my membership in the SA." After several months (October 1932-January 1933) in a private police academy in Graz, Brunner worked another few months at a savings and loan company in Hartberg. When that closed, he leased a cafe, but after four months "lost [his] entire inheritance." On an SS form four years later, he embellished the stories: he had been fired from a managerial post in the department store "because of my active membership in the SA," and he "had to give up [the cafe] because of my political activities."14 He knew the SS honored such sacrifices.

In September 1933 Brunner joined the Austrian Legion, an illegal paramilitary Nazi organization, and stayed active in it until the Anschluss in March 1938. But he had been dropped from the Nazi Party in April 1933 for not paying his dues. Brunner claimed that his Nazi group in Furstenfeld, had failed to forward his dues to the group in Hartberg where he had moved. Hartberg dues "had to be paid through a bank into the group's account. This was impossible for me because it would have given my company proof that I belonged to an undesirable party." Brunner's Nazi group leader requested Brunner's reinstatement in phrases that help elucidate why this hapless young man should ever have risen within the SS. Brunner was "tireless," ,'my most dependable colleague," the "main support of the Furstenfeld, SA," an "enthusiastic fighter for the idea, . . . [who] sacrificed all his free time to the movement." The Party took its time between cancelling his membership on 1 April 1933 and reinstating it on 17 May 1939.15 No doubt the years of claims and appeals for reinstatement marked Brunner: he could not take the Party's acceptance for granted; he would have to prove himself.

From Brunner's SS questionnaires we learn that he was without religious affiliation or volunteer activities, and that after 1936 he was managing SA intelligence and communications in Eisenstadt and Oberpullendorf. As of 1938 he was living in Vienna, where he joined the SS on 15 November 1938, just a week after Kristallnacht. By 20 April 1940 Brunner had become an officer in the SS Security Service [SD]. As of 15 November 1938 he listed his occupation as "employee of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna." A 1942 questionnaire explained: "My voluntary application to the SD was accepted; I was assigned to the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna where I now serve as Director." Since the Central Office opened on 26 August 1938, Brunner must have been among its earliest employees. According to his later co-worker, Dieter Wisliceny, Brunner started off as Adolf Eichmann's personal secretary in 1938.16

In July 1942 Brunner applied to the SS for permission to marry. His Fiancee, Anni Roder, had worked since 1939 as stenographer in the Central Office for Jewish Emigration, after a stretch as typist for the Hitler Youth propaganda office. Rigorous physical, political, and genealogical examinations declared her and Brunner fit to bear children by SS standards.17

What emerges from Brunner's SS file is a man able to defend his own interests with great persuasiveness, not above fabrication, and determined to achieve the place he believed he deserved; a man with little education but much experience suited to an emigration officepolice training, salesmanship, banking, communications; a man accustomed to taking orders and to engaging himself, with no side interests, in the Nazi cause.

Circumstantial evidence may suggest why an assignment involving anti- Jewish policies attracted him. He probably associated his financial setbacks with Jews-e.g., losing his job in a Jewish department store.18 No doubt he also received antisernitic indoctrination in the Austrian Legion and in his early contacts with Adolf Eichmann. Possibly he suffered from lack of the manly stature that counted for so much in SS imagery. At a height of 5'9" he weighed 123 pounds, which intrigued many of those who dealt with Brunner. "Brunner had an insignificant physique: small in size, poorly built, puny, with an expressionless look, wicked little eyes, and a monotonous voice."19 He appeared "small, dark, nervous, long and pointed nose, slightly bow-legged, slightly hunchbacked. "20 "Physically, he is not at all the German type."21 "To judge from his features, he could be Jewish."22 Even his colleague Dieter Wisliceny commented that Brunner had "bad posture, black kinky hair, dark eyes, thick lips, hook nose. Brunner obviously had some gypsy blood."23 "Among his SS cohorts Brunner had the nickname 'Jew Suss,'"24 the sleazy protagonist of an antisernitic film. As the butt of such comments, Brunner may have compensated by moving to get rid of all that could be called Jewish, which was precisely the task of the Central Office of Jewish Emigration where Brunner made his mark.

Vienna: November 1938-February 1943
From the time Germany incorporated Austria on 12 March 1938, Austrian Nazis like Alois Brunner presided over the destruction of the Viennese Jewish community. The earliest measures aimed to force rapid Jewish emigration. With the compliance of Jewish community leader Dr. Josef Loewenherz, who was anxious to protect potential emigres from official and mob harassment, Eichmann set up the Central Office for Jewish Emigration (Zentralstelle ffir judische Auswanderung) in Vienna on 26 August 1938.25 "An idea took shape in my mind: a conveyor belt. The initial application and all the rest of the required papers are put on at one end, and the passport falls off at the other end."26 What Eichmann didn't describe was how much Jews had to load onto the belt to make the passport fall off: the emigration tax, the Jewish tax, all real estate and other assets.

When Alois Brunner entered the Central Office in 1938, he became part of a unique experiment in emigration, one that linked the Nazi practice of persecution with the Jewish practice of protection. In May 1938 the Nazis reorganized Vienna's Jews into one community organization, the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien (referred to as the Kultusgemeinde), to handle emigration and welfare. As Eichmann reported on 8 May 1938, "All Jewish organizations in Austria ... are now entirely in my hands."27 Eichmann's experiment made most Jews dependent on a few, and these few dependent on the Central Office for Jewish Emigration.

In October 1939, one month after the onset of war, the idea arose of replacing emigration to various countries by another enterprise: "Give the Jews an autonomous territory, then the whole problem will be solved to the satisfaction of all."28 In mid-October 1939 the Vienna Jewish community provided, on orders, almost a thousand men to build a Jewish "reservation" at Nisko in southeastern Poland. Alois Brunner signed the memorandum of 17 October 1939 about Eichmann's projected "resettlements" in Poland, guaranteeing that "the first transport leaves on Friday, 20 October 1939" with five more transports to follow, each of a thousand people.29

The Nisko transports, now famous as the first organized convoys to Poland, became the pilot projects for mass deportation.30 At the time of these transports, Eichmann said, "Hauptsturmfuhrer Rolf Giinther and the future "Hauptsturmfuhrer Alois Brunner took over the Central Office in Vienna. I wasn't in charge there any more."31 Shortly after, Eichmann "brought Rolf Giinther from Vienna to Berlin as his second-in-command and turned the Vienna Central Office over to ... Alois Brunner."32 Thus Brunner, together with Eichmann and under his command, dispatched the first Jews of Europe to Poland.

In a progress report to Eichmann of 18 October 1939, Brunner wrote:

The resettlement to Poland is underway.... The transports are being put together by the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde in Vienna (as long as this is still possible), and a Jewish transport agency is responsible for the transport. Additionally, 25 security officers under the chief of police will accompany the transport, armed to prevent any escape. In the total resettlement action the gypsies who are now in the Ostmark are included in a separate wagon.

Though Brunner assured Eichmann that "further transports will be taking place every week, Tuesday and Friday, with 1,000 Jews,"33 he could not squeeze from the resistant Kultusgemeinde enough ablebodied men for building the reservation. So he pulled Jewish men from asylums and nursing homes for the second transport on 20 October 1939; and for the third, he rounded up women and children.34

While the Central Office claimed to be colonizing a "Lublin Reservation" approved by high Nazi echelons, Brunner's trains discharged Jews into a wasteland. After about 1,500 Viennese Jews had arrived in the Lublin area, deportations halted in spring 1940, partly because the idea of a Lublin reservation, an autonomous colony, never amounted to much more than fantasy.35

Brunner's unswerving thoroughness in deportations proved him worthy of Eichmann's trust. The lesson of Eichmann's own advancement-promoted because "in Vienna ... I did my job with unusual zeal"36 was hardly lost on Brunner. He rose by acting like Eichmann and by adhering to him.37 According to Wisliceny, Eichmann "very purposely kept the circle of his collaborators at a minimum. Most of them came from the Vienna Central Office."38 Possibly, in the period of illegality before the Anschluss Austrian Nazis became more cohesive and radical, which in turn accounted for their disproportionate prominence in the Nazi persecution program.39 For example, in organizing the deportation of Austrian Jews, Hitler and Eichmann gave orders from Berlin; Brunner assembled convoys in Vienna; Seidl, Burger, and Rahm received them in Theresienstadt (Czechoslovakia) as did Globocnik in Poland: all Austrians. Working with an Austrian brotherhood made deportation a smooth, inside operation.

And that operation presented unmistakable rewards. From cancelled Party member in the 1930s, Brunner advanced to SS-Unter sturmfuhrer on 20 April 1940 (after the successful deportations of fall 1939), then to Obersturmfuhrer on 9 November 1940; and on 30 January 1942 to "Hauptsturmfuhrer (after the massive deportations of November and December 1941).40 By 1942, as Captain in the SS Security Service, representative of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), and Director of the Vienna Central Office, Brunner was able to channel intramural persecution into transnational destruction.

The Fiihrer gave the order in late 1940 to deport "the 60,000 Jews still residing in Vienna."41 Eichmann, as head of RSHA IVb4, the Jewish Affairs section, would coordinate the "total evacuation of Jews" from Austria.42 Dr. Ebner, chief of the Vienna Security Service, issued, in Brunner's presence, the specific directives for deportation.43 And Brunner forced the Jews out. On Brunner's orders Jews with jobs or foreign citizenship lost the benefits of Kultusgemeinde welfare; on Brunner's orders the Kultusgemeinde evicted masses of Jews from their residences.44 As the Central Office coerced these Jews into transports, its emigration activities ground to a halt. As soon as Himmler abandoned the emigration policy, Viennese Jews witnessed the metamorphosis of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration into the central office to prevent it. By early November 1941 Brunner had closed off all destinations but Poland.45

By his daily initiatives, Brunner worked out the mechanisms for preempting Jewish resistance or escape. It was Brunner who turned the Jewish community organization into a funnel for the Central Office. The Central Office turned over its deportation lists to the Kultusgemeinde a few days before each transport; then the SS and the Jewish Order Service, created by the Central Office in 1941 with commissions signed by Brunner, rounded up the Jews for deportation.46 For instance, Brunner ordered the Kultusgemeinde to prepare 500 Jewish residents of old age homes for deportafion,47 and the Jewish Order Service had to help round up Jews at home and raid the Jewish hospital.48 What led the Kultusgemeinde to provide information and prepare transports for Brunner? His financial leverage, certainly: Brunner controlled the Jewish assets absorbed by the Central Office, so that all Kultusgemeinde welfare projects received their subventions from the Central Office; Dr. Loewenherz had to solicit Brunner for an Jewish needs.49 Bureaucratic leverage too: it was Brunner who inspected the Kultusgemeinde and allowed it to continue, or ordered it to reduce its staff, as in November 1940 and again in August 1941.50 Brunner exerted ultimate pressure by demonstrating that if the Kultusgemeinde refused to make selections and roundups, he would make them himself.51

Brunner developed the method for balancing threats against favors. He would get prisoners released from Dachau and Buchenwald if the Kultusgemeinde would put them on a transport to Poland; he would not "resettle" Jews with valid emigration papers if the Kultusgemeinde would assemble others punctually; he would exempt Kultusgemeinde employees from transports if they would make everyone else available.52

What enlisted the Kultusgemeinde was this power of Brunner's to permit exceptions and exemptions. On 30 September 1941, when Brunner announced a new wave of deportations, he demanded assistance from the Kultusgemeinde and promised in return not to deport orphans until the spring.53 To ensure Kultusgemeinde compliance, the Central Office in November 1941 agreed not to deport wounded or decorated veterans, Jewish administrators, residents of old age homes, complete invalids, those with emigration arrangements or in labor camps.54 In principle, Brunner permitted certain exemptions accepted by high-ranking police and SS officials such as Muller and Ebner, or requested by the German Army.55 in practice, Brunner disregarded exemptions at will: e.g., when the head of the Jewish War Invalids Organization pulled wounded war veterans off deportation trains, Brunner fired him.56

Brunner's practice of approving and then disregarding exemptions caused severe dissension within the Jewish community. The Organization of Jewish War Invalids learned to suspect the Kultusgemeinde, calling it "nothing but an institution to carry out the orders of the Central Office." In the Kultusgemeinde offices, Rabbi Murmelstein even told the veterans' representative, "Don't say anything, because whatever you say here, Brunner will know tomorrow."57

As for other presumably exempted categories, in fall 1942 the Central Office demanded a fixed number of Kultusgemeinde personnel for deportation, thereby annulling the community workers' exemption.58 Brunner was clearly approachable about canceling the exemptions of those with valid emigration visas.59 And as for those in old age homes, they went with the rest of the deportees over age 60-altogether 16,000 in 1942.60 Brunner's deputy Anton Brunner deported "Jews living in mixed marriages, even people of mixed race and of foreign nationality, all of whom were at that time exempted from evacuation."61 Sooner or later Brunner deported everyone, virtually without exception or exemption. By the end of summer 1942, the population of Viennese Jews had sunk below 10,000.62

Brunner's hard line on deportations derived from the conventions of German antisernitism. A Jewish veteran recalled Brunner's screaming: "We lost the first Jewish war, but the second Jewish war we will not lose."63 Brunner reveled in the topsy-turvy of Jewish impoverishment and SS enrichment-making Dr. Loewenherz beg for scanty allocations, while he confiscated Jewish possessions and set himself up in a "noble villa with the most modish furniture, like a museum."64 He turned his own behavior into an object lesson. In Berlin (fall 1942), he kept 500 Jews standing at attention for six hours while he sat casually before them with Eichmann and his assistant, Giinther, laughing, smoking, and looking "ridiculously young."65

In October 1942 a group of Gestapo officers and Jewish aides from Vienna, under Alois Brunner's command, arrived in Berlin, apparently to sharpen local Gestapo tactics.66 or as Brunner put it, to show "those damn Prussian pigs how to handle schweinhund Jews."67 As one Berlin Jew testified, "Things changed completely. Brunner in order to speed up the action started in broad daylight to catch and round up Jews."68 As in Vienna, he coerced Jewish functionaries into aiding in roundups; anyone who refused or who helped Jews would be shot and his family deported.69 Brunner threatened to shoot one Jewish leader for every Jew absent from collection centers: when 20 Jews escaped, he took 20 officials, shot eight, and sent their families the ashes before deporting them.70 Under such pressures one Jewish leader had a fatal heart attack in Brunner's presence, while Brunner yelled, "Get that Jew out of here. I don't like the way he's lying there."71 Long after "Brunner and his men disappeared" (in late 1942 or early 1943), the Berlin Gestapo retained his practices, such as humiliating Jews and arresting them openly on the streets.72

Clearly, Brunner's activities set precedents for Nazi persecution beyond Austria. The Viennese system became a model when it succeeded. "The Central Office for Jewish Emigration (in Vienna) was a first in the German administrative machine," according to Eichmann. "The Prague Central Office . . . simply followed the example of Vienna."73 Eichmann announced a Berlin Central Office "based on the example of Vienna,"74 while Heydrich recommended Vienna-style offices in other major German cities.75 It was Brunner who had developed the prototype. In Vienna the SS first established the Jewish community's collective responsibility. Though the cooptation of Jewish leaders began with Eichmann, it was under Brunner's leadership that the Central Office gained its stranglehold. It was Brunner who retooled the conveyor belt to discharge persons instead of passports, sending out the first wave of Europe's Jews to Poland. When, after a moratorium, Hitler insisted in mid-September 1941 that the Reich be cleared of Jews by year's end, it was Brunner who jumped the gun again, informing the Kultusgemeinde, three weeks before the official order, to get ready for new deportations. In the earliest deportations, of October 1939, to the Lublin Reservation, and those after October 1941 to the ghettos and camps of the East, Brunner's Central Office played the exemplary role.

"He was ... one of the best tools of Eichmann. He never had an opinion of his own and, as Eichmann himself described him, he was 'one of my best men.'"76 This description of Brunner by his SS colleague Dieter Wisliceny suggests that "the men who worked with Eichmann were accustomed to carry out orders blindly." Eichmann affirmed this: "I noticed no resistance."77 Brunner's personal responsibility, however, went beyond following Eichmann's orders. Brunner's deportations outdid the expectations of other officials. He deported orphans, the hospitalized, war wounded, spouses in mixed marriages, communal officials-all categories that might have received exemptions.

Moreover, Brunner's personal treatment of Jews exceeded the needs of his policy. He set the example for subordinates like Anton Brunner, allowing them to maltreat Jews because he did so himself. "As brutal as possible," witnesses called him.78 He wore a white glove on the hand that beat Jews.79 He "abused young and old women.... He poured cold water over them-in December 1942. The other abuses were so barbaric that the clerk, who was probably used to a lot, had to leave the room. I could give many examples of how this sadistic inhuman character worked."80

Finally, Brunner most certainly knew the fate of those he deported. He knew that deportation no longer meant "colonization" because the highest authorities had called off the Jewish reservation idea by summer 1940.81 He knew how few deportees ever returned, because he arrested those few when they did.82 If the Security Police and SD informed the Gauleiter of Vienna about exterminations, then surely they informed their own deportation expert.83 If Brunner's subordinates told deportees they would need nothing at all in Poland, then Brunner knew their destination.84 If in the summer of 1942 Eichmann told Wisliceny, his man in Slovakia, of the order to annihilate all Jews, then he was unlikely to keep it from his man in Vienna.85 Later testimony by Wisliceny stated that in fall 1942, "I ascertained that Eichmann had discussed this new order [for the Final Solution] with several of his staff. I can now indicate the names of those people." Brunner's name headed the list.86

Brunner understood the destination of his transports. According to the Commandant of Theresienstadt, Brunner was there at the time with Eichmann.87 Eyewitnesses also testified to Brunner's journey in February 1942 to the ghettos of Riga and Minsk. Travelling with a convoy from Vienna, Brunner tortured and killed a famous Viennese banker-philanthropist en route to Riga. Most of the other passengers went directly from the transport to mobile killing vans or mass execution graves in the nearby Rumbula Forest.88

From the above evidence, Brunner emerges as the person accountable for cancelling exemptions, conducting deportations, and comprehending the outcome. What Brunner combined in Viennabureaucratic centrality, Jewish cooptation, persistent deception, and unstinting terror-was noted by higher authorities and would be activated elsewhere.

47,000 deported from Vienna under Brunner's command.89

Salonica: February-May 1943
Brunner's next assignment proved his solid standing with Eichmann, who posted him as deportation expert to Salonica. When the Germans occupied Macedonia in April 1941, they placed a grid of anti-Jewish regulations over the occupied territory, but stopped short of deportations. As late as 1942 the mass of Jews-over 50,000 were still living in Salonica, Greece's third largest city and the center of Sephardic Jewish culture in Europe.90 Though Jews had suffered famine and typhus in 1941 as well as forced labor in 1942, yet at the peak of deportations in Europe, they could still call Salonica home.

Then Eichmann's office turned its attention to Greece. In late January 1943, Eichmann told Wisliceny that "Hauptsturmfuhrer Brunner had been named by him for the technical execution of all operations in Greece," while Wisliceny's job "was to make contacts with the authorities and governmental agencies."91 Wisliceny and Brunner left together for Salonica early in February 1943.

Their orders were "for preparing and carrying out the expulsion of Jews from the region of Salonica, as envisaged in the framework of the Final Solution of the Jewish problem in Europe."92 Six months earlier Eichmann had explained to Wislieny that "Final Solution" meant that Jews were "annihilated biologically."93 During interrogation, Eichmann confirmed Wisliceny's assertion: "Of course we discussed it."94 Without question, Brunner knew at least as much as Wisliceny.

Wisliceny and Brunner arrived in Salonica in February 1943 conscious of what their job involved. Wisliceny knew that "the Salonica Jews had lived in Greece since the fifteenth century when they had fled from the Inquisition in Spain."95 Reciprocally, one Jewish resident in Salonica easily identified the new arrival as "the Brunner who solved the Jewish problem in Vienna."96

Brunner and Wisliceny immediately set up a Sonderkommando for Jewish Affairs. It superseded all other German agencies, and Wisliceny even informed Jewish leaders that "not the Military Commander, but they, the SS Department, will be responsible for actions against the Jews."97 Brunner and Wisliceny issued orders for the imposition of Jewish stars and the creation of ghettos-a prelude to deportation. The SS forced Jews into the ghetto (a district built by Baron de Hirsch 50 years earlier for Jews fleeing Russian pogroms) and sealed it on I March 1943.98 A German observer noted that Brunner, Wisliceny, and their staff isolated the Jews "with overwhelming speed" and planned "an intensification of the measures against the Jews of the city."99

While Jews crowded into the Hirsch ghetto, the Jewish Affairs Sonderkommando settled into a spacious mansion, formerly a Jewish residence (as was the Central Office in Vienna) at 42 Velissariou Street. A black death's-head banner floated over the upper floor, where Wishceny and Brunner had sumptuous private quarters. Below, the offices and meeting rooms faced a garden, for which the new residents ordered rare plants brought from abroad. There "they strutted about, surrounded by flowers and objects of rare luxury"; there "the SS organized orgies."100 And there in the cellars they set up torture rooms.

Various survivors of the cellars have described Brunner as "an SS officer infamous for his cold and ferocious sadism ... true mastermind of the police."101

The most ferocious of the 12 executioners was Brunner, who personified teutonic sadism in all its horror. He flogged his victims with a horsewhip made of thin leather thongs threaded with iron wire. Then he terrorized them with a pistol which he aimed against their necks, foreheads, or temples.... Brunner rushes up. Fuming with rage, he interrogates them himself. The response he gets doesn't satisfy him. He holds a revolver in each hand. He orders the two patients to turn toward the wall and he levels his two weapons at their necks, fingers on the triggers. Terrorized, imploring, our two men make complete confessions. They are thoroughly thrashed and they leave this hen bathed in blood. 102

Along with torture, Brunner applied tactics he had perfected in Vienna for manipulating Jewish leadership. He and Wisliceny issued their commands (e.g., for a ghetto, curfew, collective bank account, and Jewish star) to Salonica's chief rabbi, who passed them on to the Jews. When Brunner wanted Jews collected for deportation, he also turned to the Jewish authorities, pressing Rabbi Koretz as he had Dr. Loewenherz.103 Then the SS took 25 Jewish leaders hostage; for the moment, no one tried to escape so as not to expose the hostages to reprisal.104

Altogether, only 3,400 of Salonica's 56,000 Jews fled to the relative safety of Athens.105 It could be that Brunner's careful sequence kept the Jews in place: reorganizing the community and working with its leaders, isolating it, keeping hostages, and going after Jewish property, so that the Jews "believed that this was all the Germans wanted, that they were not after their lives, but after their money."106

 

NOTES

I would like to thank the following individuals and institutions for their generosity in helping me to find material: Serge Klarsfeld, Paris; Agnes Peterson, Hoover Institution Library, Stanford University; Vidar Jacobsen, CDJC, Paris; Marek Web and Fruma Mohrer, YIVO Institute, New York; Andrea Schwab, DOW, Vienna; Denise Gluck, JDC Archives, New York; Gerald Margolis and Aaron Breitbart, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles; Daniel Simon, Berlin Document Center; John Mendelsohn, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Simon Wiesenthal, Documentation Center, Vienna; Alfred Streim, Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes, Ludwigsburg. I am especially grateful to the Stanford Center for Research on Women for the Visiting Scholars Program; to Ursula Berg-Lunk for translation assistance; to Sybil Milton and Henry Friedlander for editorial guidance equivalent to intensive seminars; and to John Felstiner for the readiness in discussion and childcare that made my work possible.

1. Eichmann quoted by Dieter Wisliceny, Wisliceny interrogation, 15 Nov. 1945, The Holocaust: Selected Documents, ed. John Mendelsohn, 18 vols. (New York, 1982), 8: 91.

2. Rudolph Kastner, Der Kastner-Bericht uber Eichmanns Menschenhandel in Ungarn (Munich, 1961), p. 185.

3. Gerald Reitlinger, The Final Solution: The Attempt to Exterminate the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945 (London, 1953), p. 507.

4. Ladislav Lipscher, Die Juden im Slowakischen Staat (Munich, 1979). p. 205.

5. Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (Chicago, 1961), p. 705. In the new and revised 3-vol. edition [continuously paginated] (New York, 1985), p. 1093, Hilberg clearly identified Brunner. All further citations are from the revised 1985 edition.

6. Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal [Blue Series], 42 vols. (Nuremberg, 1946-1951), 24: 321 [hereafter cited as TMWC I.

7. Anton Brunner was born on 8 Aug. 1898 and worked at the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna, 1939-1942, then at the Jewish Emigration Office in Prague, 1942-1945. He claimed not to be a member of the SS and has no SS file in the Berlin Document Center, nor was he referred to by an SS title. Vienna, Dokumentationsarchiv des osterreichischen Widerstandes [hereafter cited as DOW], file 9359: interrogation of Anton Brunner, 1 Oct. 1945.

8. DOW, file 854: Brunner to Hoettl, 5 Feb. 1941.

9. Le Monde's coverage of the Knochen-Oberg trial: 13 Sept. to 12 Oct. 1954.

10. The Attorney General of the Government of Israel v. Adolf, the Son of Adolf Karl Eichmann, Criminal Case No. 40/61, 121 sessions Jerusalem, 1961], Eichmann testimony, sess. 103, p. XI; sess. 100, p. Ul (the minutes of the Eichmann trial exist in mimeograph and on microfilm). The primary investigator for the Eichmann trial, Avner Less, also confused the careers of Alois and Anton Brunner: see pre-trial interrogations in Eichmann par Eichmann, ed. Pierre Joffroy and Karin Konigseder (Paris, 1970), pp. 281-82.

11. TMWC 4: 363, 364: Wisliceny testimony, 3 Jan. 1946.

12. DOW, file 9359: indictment of Anton Brunner, 12 Apr. 1946; judgment against Anton Brunner, 10 May 1946.

13. Berlin Document Center [hereafter cited as BDC], file of Alois Brunner.

14. Ibid., SS Questionnaire, 15 Nov. 1938; Personal Resume, 27 July 1942.

15. Ibid., Brunner to Reichsschatzmeister der NSDAP, 8 Mar. 1937; recommendation from Wilfried Hoffer to NSDAP Fluchtlingshilfswerk, Mitgliedschaftsamt, 11 May 1937; Brunner to Finanz- und Parteiverwaltung in Osterreich, 29 Aug. 1938; NSDAP report, Vienna representative to Gauschatzmeister des Gaues Niederdonau der NSDAP, 17 May 1939.

16. Wisliceny deposition, Bratislava, 11 Feb. 1947. A copy of this document was kindly provided by Serge Klarsfeld.

17. BDC, Alois Brunner file.

18. Kastner, Kastner-Bericht, p. 185.

19. Georges Wellers, De Drancy d Auschwitz (Paris, 1946), p. 94.

20. Paris, Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine [hereafter cited as CDJCJ, file CCXVI-66: account of Dr. A. Drucker, 15 Feb. 1946.

21. Jacques Darville and Simon Wichene, Drancy la Juive ou la Deuxieme Inquisition (Cachan, 1945), p. 62.

22. Georges Dunand, Ne perdez pas leur trace! (Neuchatel, 1950), p. 149.

23. Wisliceny deposition, 11 Feb. 1947 (see above, n. 16).

24. Deposition, 3 Oct. 1945, trial of Anton Brunner. A copy of this document was kindly provided by Serge Klarsfeld.

25. On the destruction of Austrian Jews, see Herbert Rosenkranz, "The Anschluss and the Tragedy of Austrian Jewry, 1934-45," in Joseph Fraenkel, ed., The Jews of Austria: Essays on Their Life, History, and Destruction (London, 1967), pp. 479-545; idem, "Austrian Jewry: Between Forced Emigration and Deportation," in Patterns of Jewish Leadership in Nazi Europe, ed. Yisrael Gutman and Cynthia J. Haft (Jerusalem, 1979), pp. 65-74.

26. Eichmann Interrogated: Transcripts from the Archives of the Israeli Police, ed. Jochen von Lang (New York, 1983), p. 52.

27. Eichmann Trial, sess. 18, pp.T1, Ul.

28. Eichmann Interrogated, p. 59.

29. Reproduced in Widerstand und Verfolgung in Wien 1934-1945: Eine Dokumentation, 3 vols. (Vienna, 1975), 3: 284-85.

30. See Jonny Moser, "Nisko: The First Experiment in Deportation," SWC Annual 2 (1985): 1-30.

31. Eichmann Trial, sess. 91, p. LI; Eichmann Interrogated, p. 58.

32. Wisliceny deposition [2 Dec. 1946, Bratislava], reproduced in Tuviah Friedman, The Hunter (Garden City, 1961), p. 157.

33. Reproduced in Jonny Moser, Die ludenverfoigung in Oesterreich, 1938-1945 (Vienna, 1966), p. 16.

34. Moser, "Nisko," 16-17.

35. Hilberg, Destruction, p. 457; Philip Friedman, "The Lublin Reservation and the Madagascar Plan (Two Aspects of Nazi Jewish Policy During the Second World War)," YIVO Annual 8 (1953): 151-65.

36. Eichmann Interrogated, p. 156.

37. DOW, file 9359: [Anton Brunner deposition, 24 Aug. 19451: "Organisation der Zentralstelle ffir jud. Auswanderung Wien."

38. Wisliceny deposition, 2 Dec. 1946, in Friedman, The Hunter, pp. 156-57.

39. See Peter Black, Ernst Kaltenbrunner: Ideological Soldier of the Third Reich (Princeton, 1984), p. 283; John M. Steiner, Power Politics and Social Change in National Socialist Germany (The Hague, 1976), pp. 70, 247; Radomir Luza, Austro-German Relations in the Anschluss Era (Princeton, 1975), pp. 226-27.

40. BDC, Alois Brunner file.

41. TMWC 5: 303: Hans Heinrich Lammers to Baldur von Schirach, 3 Dec. 1940 (Nuremberg Doc. PS-1950).

42. Memorandum of Dr. Loewenherz, 1 June 1942, in Documents on the Holocaust, ed. Yitzhak Arad and others (Jerusalem, 1981), pp. 159-61.

43. Nuremberg Doc. PS-3934: Wilhelm Bienenfeld Affidavit, pp. 41-46.

44. Ibid., pp. 33, 38.

45. Ibid., p. 52: Brunner informed Loewenherz of the cessation of emigration 5 Nov. 1941.

46. Ibid., pp. 41-42; order signed by Brunner, 7 Oct. 1941, in Widerstand und Verfolgung in Wien 3: 289-90, 565.

47. Nuremberg Doc. PS-3934, p. 61.

48. Rosenkranz, "Anschluss," p. 519.

49. Nuremberg Doc. PS-3934, pp. 40, 48, 66.

50. Ibid., pp. 38, 60.

51. Ibid., p. 61. For another example, see H. G. Adler, Der verwallete Mensch: Studien zur Deportation der Juden aus Deutschland (Tubingen, 1974), p. 210.

52. Nuremberg Doc. PS-3934, pp. 21, 45; Rosenkranz, "Anschluss," p. 513.

53. Nuremberg Doc. 3934, pp. 51-52.

54. Hilberg, Destruction, p. 433.

55. Report of Meeting, 12 Feb. 1941, reproduced in Widerstand und Verfolgung in Wien 3: 290-91; Hilberg, Destruction, p. 432.

56. Rosenkranz, "Anschluss," p. 519.

57. Hilberg, Destruction, p. 435; Rosenkranz, "Anschluss," p. 543.

58. Rosenkranz, "Anschluss," p. 522.

59. Dr. Christian to Brunner, 7 Mar. 1942, in Widerstand und Verfolgung in Wien 3: 244.

60. Rosenkranz, "Anschluss," p. 517.

61. DOW, file 9359: indictment of Anton Brunner, 12 Apr. 1946.

62. Norman Bentwich, "The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Austria, 1938- 42," in Fraenkel, ed., The Jews of Austria, p. 476.

63. DOW, file 9359: testimony of Albert Welt, 3 Sept. 1945.

64. Ibid., testimony of Max Waldemar, 6 Sept. 1945.

65. CDJC, file LXX-70: "Leben der Juden in Berlin in den Jahren 1940 bis 1943" [anonymous accounts gathered by Hans Klee, Geneva, ca. 19431.

66. New York, Leo Baeck Institute [hereafter cited as LBI], microfilm reel 239: indictment of Otto Bovensiepen (1969), p. 202.

67. CDJC, file LXX-70: "Leben der Juden in Berlin."

68. Eichmann Trial, sess. 37, p. Wwl: testimony of Hildegard Henschel.

69. LBI, microfilm reel 239: Dr. Martha Mosse cited in Bovensiepen indictment, p. 203.

70. CDJC, file LXX-70: "Leben der Juden in Berlin"; Eichmann Trial, sess. 37, p. Vvl.

71. CDJC, file LXX-70: "Leben der Juden in Berlin."

72. Witnesses cited in the Otto Bovensiepen indictment testified that Alois Brunner was in Berlin from Oct. 1942 through Jan. 1943. An anonymous account written around 1943 placed Brunner in Berlin from Sept. 1942 until at least the end of Feb. 1943, calling him responsible ("Brunner's last terrible deed") for the massive "Factory Action," 27 Feb. 1943, which swept up thousands of exempted Jewish workers (CDJC, file LXX-70). However, Wisliceny claimed to have travelled with Brunner to Salonica on 2 Feb. 1943 (Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression [Red Series], 8 vols. and 2 suppl. (Washington, 1946-1948), 8: 612 [hereafter cited as NCAJ). Jacob Robinson dates the "Brunner-Aktion" deportations from Berlin as Nov. and Dec. 1942 (And the Crooked Shall be Made Straight [New York, 19651, p. 280); and Hilberg (Destruction, p. 463) suggests that Brunner was in Berlin from late Oct. to late Nov. 1942. Hildegard Henschel, wife of the last head of the Berlin Jewish community, testified at the Eichmann trial that "Brunner No. 2" [the label given to Anton Brunner in Vienna] ran the deportations from Berlin. The prosecuting attorney identified this Brunner as "the brother of Alois Brunner. He was sentenced in Vienna" (Eichmann Trial, sess. 37, pp. VvI, Wwl). However, Anton Brunner claimed not to belong to the SS and did not mention a posting in Berlin (DOW, file 9359). Years earlier, Hildegard Henschel described an "SS Boss Brunner" in Berlin from late Nov. to late Dec. 1942, who brought with him "the Vienna method," i.e., street and house arrests (Hildegard Henschel, "Aus der Arbeit der judischen Gemeinde Berlin wahrend 1941-43 [1946], Zeitschrift ffir die Geschichte der Juden [Tel Aviv] 9, no. 1-2 [19721: 43-44). Other witnesses described him as "Sturmbannfuhrer Brunner from Vienna" (Martha Mosse in LBI, microfilm reel 239, p. 204) or "SS Obersturmfuhrer Brunner from Vienna" [Alois Brunner's rank at the time] (CDJC, file LXX-70).

73. Eichmann Interrogated, pp. 56, 58.

74. Eichmann Trial, sess. 15, p. Get: testimony of Benno Cohn.

75. Rosenkranz, "Anschluss," p. 500.

76. Holocaust: Selected Documents 8: 91: Wisliceny interrogation, 15 Nov. 1945.

77. Eichmann Interrogated, p. 198.

78. DOW, file 9359: Waldemar testimony, 6 Sept. 1945.

79. Rosenkranz, "Anschluss," p. 520.

80. DOW, file 9359: Regine Wiener testimony, 19 Sept. 1945.

81. Friedman, "The Lublin Reservation," p. 163.

82. Rosenkranz, "Anschluss," p. 517.

83. TMWC 1: 319: judgment of the IMT, Nuremberg, against Baldur von Schirach.

84, DOW, file 9359: Anton Brunner indictment, 12 Apr. 1946.

85. TMWC 4: 357: Wisliceny testimony, 3 Jan. 1946.

86, Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10 [Green Series], 15 vols. (Washington, 1950-1952), 5: 810-11 [hereafter cited as TWC]: Wisliceny testimony, 23 June 1947.

87. Eichmann Trial, sess. 45, pp. Eel, Ffl.

88. DOW, file 9359: Landesgericht Vienna, judgment against Anton Brunner, 10 May 1946; G. Schneider, "The Riga Ghetto, 1941-1943" (Ph.D. diss., City Univ. of New York, 1973), pp. 73, 75.

89. The Vienna Court estimated 48,000 people were deported by Anton Brunner 1939-1942 [i.e., under Alois Brunner's orders) (DOW, file 9359: judgment against Anton Brunner, 10 May 1946). Jonny Moser calculates (for the period of Brunner's control) 45 transports with 46,847 people; 2,142 of these survived (Moser, ludenverfolgung, pp. 51-52); Rosenkranz notes 1,747 deportation survivors who returned to Vienna afterward, and only 219 Jews who remained hidden in Vienna throughout the war. He calculates 43,421 people deported in 71 transports between 20 Oct. 1939 and 1 Sept. 1944. The last mass transports left Vienna in Sept. 1942 (Rosenkranz, "Anschluss," pp. 519, 522, 526). Brunner also left Vienna in late fall 1942: under his regime as director of the Central Office, the vast majority of deportations took place. I have chosen the figure 47,000 deportees, reflecting Moser and the Vienna Court. As it does not include any figures from Berlin, it is a conservative estimate of Brunner's deportations during this period.

90. See Michael Molho, In Memoriam: Homage aux victimes juives des Nazis en Grece, 2 vols. (Salonica, 1948-1949), 1: 3-25; Cecil Roth, "The Last Days of Jewish Salonica," Commentary 10 (1950): 49-50.

91. TMWC 4: 363: Wisliceny testimony, 3 Jan. 1946; NCA 8: 611: Wisliceny affidavit, 29 Nov. 1945.

92. Israel Police Document 1000: Memorandum from RSHA IVb4, 25 Jan. 1943.

93. TMWC 4: 366: Wisliceny testimony, 3 Jan. 1946.

94. Eichmann Interrogated, p. 95.

95. NCA 8: 612: Wisliceny affidavit, 29 Nov. 1945.

96. Yom Tov Yacoel diary, quoted in Eichmann Trial, sess. 47, p. MI.

97. NCA 8: 612: Wisliceny affidavit, 29 Nov. 1945; Eichmann Trial, sess. 51, p. Rrl, sess. 83, p. Bbl. See also Joseph Ben, "Jewish Leadership in Greece during the Holocaust," in Patterns of Jewish Leadership, p. 339.

98. Molho, In Memoriam 1: 72; Roth, "Last Days," p. 53.

99. Israel Police Document 1003; Consul General Schoenberg to German Foreign Office, 26 Feb. 1943.

100. MoIho, In Memoriam 1: 77-78; Account of Hella Cougno, in Le Passage des barbares: Contribution d l'histoire de la deportation et de la resistance des juifs grecs, ed. Miriam Novitch (Paris, 1967), p. 58.

101. Molho, In Memoriam 2: 28.

102. [bid., 1: 78.

103. Ben, "Jewish Leadership," pp. 339-40, 349-50; Eichmann Trial, sess. 49, p. Bbbl, sess. 51, p. Rrl: Yom Tov Yacoel diary.

104. Novitch, Le Passage, pp. 10-11.

105. Isaac Kabeli, "The Resistance of the Greek Jews," YIVO Annual 8 (1953): 283- 86.

106. Eichmann Trial, sess. 51, p. RrI: Yom Tov Yacoel diary.

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