The Manchester Guardian prints the following statement of a victim of the Nazi terror who fied to Austria, from which he sent the account of his experience to that English liberal daily. The Guardian, in an editorial note, points out that it refrained from publishing the statement until its chief correspondent in Austria had investigated, and authenticated, it. The Guardian has on its files the refugee’s full name and address. Naturally, every detail in the statement which might give a clue to the Nazis as to the identity of the writer is omitted. It was for publishing such evidence of the Nazi terror as this that the Guardian has been banned in Germany.
On the night of February 28 March 1 [the Reichstag had been burned on February 27] I was awakened by loud ringing and knocking. When my housekeeper asked who was there, she got the answer: “If you do not open, we shoot through the door. This is the police!” She then opened the door and a horde of heavily armed Storm Troopers rushed in.
While some of them burst into my housekeeper’s room, cut off the telephone, and searched the flat, the others threw me down on my bed. I was so beaten with revolver-butts, riding-whips and fists that my bed was quite full of blood. My bedroom was turned upside down, but without anything incriminating being found. A treatise on relativity was seized, along with all my private papers, including some tax receipts and a pawnbroker’s receipt for a clock worth 120 marks (Â£6). I would rather not repeat the abuse which went with the blows.
“THIS RELATIVITY JEW!”
I was then forced with blows to get up and enter a motor-car. I was taken to the Standartenbureau (Storm Troop unit headquarters) at â€”. I was driven with fists and whips up two flights of stairs to the office. I noticed many rifles and other weapons. Then the questioning began. The commander, who questioned me, threw my treatise on relativity into the corner with the words “This relativity Jew!” I was accused of the most monstrous thingsâ€”of assaults, espionage, and so on. I was then expected to make confessions about the Socialist and Communist movements. When I said that I had nothing to do with either, and when I demonstrated this, I was belabored with whips and fists at every denial.
When they had exhausted their fury I was again pushed into a motor-car with the usual abuse. We drove towards theâ€”(a wood); there were four armed Nazis in the car, two of whom held their revolvers continually to my head. I was made to get out and taken far into the wood. Then I was told that I would be shot. “Am I to be murdered without more ado?” I asked. “It is not murder,” said a Nazi, “it is judgment.”
BULLETS OR CASTOR OIL
I asked to speak to the leader, and said to him: “Have you not got a mother at home who is waiting for you? My mother is old and sickly and a widow, and I am her only son. This will mean her death.” After consulting with some of the others the leader came back and said: “I will give you your life on one condition.” I was amazed, and said: “Is that really true?” I got a blow in the face, with the words “A Storm Trooper keeps his word.” I was told to choose between drinking a litre (more than a quart) of castor oil and being shot. I naturally chose the first. I was told to break the bottle when I had drunk it. I drank the disgusting stuff, while two men held pistols to my head. Then I collapsed.
The Nazis disappeared in their car. I dragged myself to the road, where a taxi picked me up and took me to the dressing-station. I was afterwards taken to the hospital inâ€”. (The original of my hospital discharge is at your disposal).
Nazis have entered my flat several times since but have not touched me. I felt myself to be in danger and fled from Germany. Nothing has been alleged against me by the police.
I answer for the truth of my statements with my signature.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.