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The Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna and the Wilhem Hoettl Testimony

Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna

Wilhelm Hoettl – Testimony Given for the Trial of Adolf Eichmann

 

Wilhelm Hoettl

My name is Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl, I am forty-six years old, Roman Catholic, married, administrator of the Bad Aussee Private Secondary School (Privatmittelschule).  I was born on 19 March 1915 in Vienna, Esterhazygasse 1, Vienna 6, the son of Johann and Maria Hoettl, nee Renner. My father was an employee in the private sector, and my mother was a housewife.

 

In Vienna I attended four classes at primary school, eight at secondary school Reinprechtsdorferstrasse 24, Vienna 6, Natural Sciences Trend) and obtained my Certificate of Maturity in the summer of 1933. I then studied History, German and Geography at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Vienna, graduating in the autumn of 1937 with a doctorate in philosophy. I then taught German, mathematics and correspondence at the Vienna Technical School until, in the spring of 1938, I received a grant from the German Research Association which was to permit me enough time to qualify as a lecturer at the University of Vienna.

 

My academic pursuits were interrupted in the spring of 1938 when the Historical Institute at the University of Vienna was looking for experts on South-Eastern Europe. In reference to my activities at that time on behalf of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party), I would refer to the content of the de-Nazification proceedings opened for me by the Salzburg authorities.

 

In any case, I can state definitely that until spring 1938 there was no connection with Adolf Eichmann, and at that time I also knew nothing of him. In the course of my subsequent activities in the Foreign Secret Service, I met Adolf Eichmann, as far as I remember, in March or at the beginning of April 1938. In order to obtain an exit permit to Hungary for a Jewish colleague of mine, Dr. Kauders, a lawyer who, I believe, had his office in Mistelbach, I was directed by the Vienna Secret Police (Geheime Staatspolizei: hereinafter - Gestapo) to Eichmann, who was said to be able to issue such exit permits expeditiously.

 

Subsequently, I had frequent dealings with Eichmann in similar cases, and on each occasion he granted my requests. My academic pursuits, which had been made possible by a grant from the German Research Association, were also designed to carry out purely historical research on South-Eastern Europe, and in this context I made several trips to Hungary and Romania, in the first half of 1938, particularly to the areas of German Folkdom (Volkstum) there (Banat, Transylvania).

 

In the course of this work, I received a great deal of support from Professor Dr. Heinrich von Srbik, who held the Chair in Modern History at the University of Vienna. However, this academic activity became of minor, merely supplementary, importance, as compared with my new task: research of the states of South- Eastern Europe for the Secret Service.

 

The grant I have referred to had nothing to do with political matters. The German Research Association was not a political institution. What actually happened was that, because of my prior knowledge of the area, I was approached by the Bureau of the District Office of the Security Service in Vienna 4, Theresianumstrasse, with an offer to work with them. I then became an employee on contract and gave up my university career, or rather as of then worked mainly for this office as my chief occupation.

 

Letter from Eichmann outlining the deportation of Austrian Jews

Eichmann also worked in the Fourth District, in a similar office, situated in Prinz Eugen Strasse. It was in this building that Eichmann at that time set up the Central Office for Jewish Emigration, with which I intervened on various occasions over the following year, including contacts with Eichmann himself.  I was basically interested in enabling Jews with Austrian nationality, with whom I had become acquainted both officially and privately, to leave the country expeditiously.

 

On one of these occasions - I should think it was in the autumn of 1938 - Eichmann outlined to me his plan which he had implemented by setting up the Central Office. He explained to me that, because of the red tape of the various authorities, and particularly their lack of co-ordination, Jews who were prepared to emigrate found it extremely difficult to leave the country.

 

For example, when the Revenue Office had issued the requisite certificate of lack of impediment, the exit visa from the passport police would, in the meanwhile, have expired, or it was no longer possible to obtain passage by sea.

 

It was because of such experiences that he (Eichmann) had for the first time set up in Vienna such a Central Office for Jewish Emigration, at which all authorities and offices which had anything at all to do with emigration, but also travel agencies, shipping companies and so on, had to have a representative.

 

He claimed that in this fashion he had managed to do away entirely with all red tape in connection with the emigration of the Austrian Jews and to speed up such emigration immensely. This field of Eichmann's activity extended certainly beyond Vienna, probably covering the whole of Austria, particularly since, as far as I am aware, there were no such Central Offices in other regional capitals.

 

Eichmann presented himself to me as an Austrian - from Linz; but he spoke with a marked north German accent, in a very cheeky style. At the time, as far as I remember, Eichmann was an SS Untersturmführer or Obersturmführer (second lieutenant or lieutenant), and wore the appropriate uniform with the relevant insignia. The office, which was housed in a large mansion, probably had a staff of some thirty or forty, including numerous female clerks and some civilians who, in my opinion, were representatives of travel agencies, shipping companies and so on.

 

The only name I remember of the staff or others who worked there is that of Guenther, with whom I intervened later at a similar office for Jewish emigrants in Prague, and also in Berlin. However, judging from his manner of speech, he was not from Vienna, but rather from Saxony or Thuringia. At this Central Office for Jewish Emigrants in Vienna, I met the owner of a Hamburg travel agency by the name of Schlie. During my talks with Eichmann, I gained the impression that he considered it to be his main task to make Austria Judenfrei, but obviously without any idea of using actual force.

Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/nazioccupation/hoetll.html

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

www.HolocaustResearchProject.org

Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2009

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