Vienna Jewish Leader Testifies on Eichmann’s Crimes in Austria
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Vienna Jewish Leader Testifies on Eichmann’s Crimes in Austria

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Adolf Eichmann heard again today at his trial a first-hand recounting of his threats and terror tactics against European Jewish leaders during the Nazi period from one of the few who survived the former Gestapo colonel’s extermination program.

Taking over from Chief Prosecutor Gideon Hausner, Assistant Attorney General Jacob Baror put on the stand as an unscheduled prosecution witness 71-year-old Moritz Fleischmann, who had been one of the leaders of the Viennese Jewish community until the eve of the German invasion of Poland.

Mr. Fleischmann was a member of the Vienna City Council and the only survivor among the six Viennese Jewish leaders who were summoned in 1939 by Eichmann to comply with directives for evacuation of Viennese Jewry. The tiny, shrunken one-time Jewish leader – described the terror which engulfed the Jewish population when the Austrian people, particularly the Viennese, embraced nazism with unrestrained enthusiasm.

Looking directly at Eichmann in his bullet-proof dock, Mr. Fleischmann identified the defendant as the person who promised to make Austria. “judenrein.” The witness said Eichmann told the six-man delegation that he intended to solve the “Jewish problem” in the “quickest and most efficient manner possible.”

The witness said Eichmann surprised the Jewish delegation by quoting an entire page from memory from a history of Zionism written by Dr. Adolf Boehm, a member of the delegation. Clearly aware of the historic impact of the dramatic confrontation, the witness recited crime after crime he attributed to Eichmann. He described several acts of brutality which he personally experienced at the hands of SS men.


The witness recalled that on a visit to a Jewish Community Center in Vienna, an SS–guard at the entrance forced him to wash the floor with a pail of liquid which turned out to be–when he put his hand into it to begin his chore–a kind of acid which burned him. While he was still on the floor, another SS bully dragged out the 70-year-old Chief Rabbi, Dr. Taglich, who was forced to wear a prayer shawl for the occasion and also forced to wash the floor with the same liquid.

Later came the familiar story of mass arrests and deportations of Jews to the Dachau concentration camp and the death notices to wives asking payment of 10 marks for delivery of their husbands’ ashes. He listed by name several widows who showed him such notices.

He recalled with vivid detail a September pogrom when he happened to be in a Jewish community hospital. Suddenly at night, Jews with broken limbs and gaping bayonet wounds began to arrive and soon there was not even room on the floor for the victims.

There was open admiration during the three-and-a-half hours of testimony for the diminutive witness who eluded Eichmann’s clutches by taking the last train from Vienna to Belgium and then on to London. Dr. Robert Servatius, Eichmann’s chief defense counsel, waived cross-examination of Mr. Fleishchmann.


Dr. Franz Mayer, one of the last of the leaders of the Berlin Zionist Federation, was the next witness. He testified that he met Eichmann when he went with a group of other Berlin Jewish leaders ordered to proceed to Vienna to see the operation of the Jewish emigration office established by the Gestapo. Dr. Mayer said that the Eichmann he met then in Vienna was “a rude person behaving like a ruler having life and death power in his hands” The witness declined to repeat in court the obscenities used by Eichmann toward the Jewish leaders.

The leaders told Eichmann they opposed the establishment of such an emigration office in Berlin and a few weeks later Dr. Mayer was called before Eichmann in Berlin and told that the Gestapo had decided to establish a similar office in Berlin. Under that system, the witness said, a Jew entered as a free citizen with rights and property and emerged stateless and dispossessed, owning only an emigration passport stamped “jude” without any visas and with instructions to leave the country within two weeks or go to a concentration camp.

Dr. Servatius, Eichmann’s lawyer, suggested to the court that a special Israeli investigator should go to West Germany and Austria to take testimony from former Nazis. The Attorney General, Hausner, said that in view of the political, legal and security problems, he wanted to study the proposal. The court decided to postpone a ruling on admissibility of the disputed depositions until the Attorney General gave a reply to Dr. Servatius’ proposal.

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