The reaction of the crowd that gathered in front of
Achenbach's offices during the twenty-five minutes the occupation lasted was
very typical of the clear conscience most German adults have regarding the Nazi
past of their country. They could not have missed the point of the
demonstration. Still, as the Frankfurter Rundschau wrote: "As the police
were taking them away, the young people were insulted by many bystanders, who
yelled: 'Dope fiends!' They wanted the police to beat them up or send them to
work camps." Their sympathies were obvious. |
There is no getting around
the fact that this is the majority opinion in Germany, where the rehabilitation
of "alleged" Nazi criminals is desired. But the German reporters were surprised
at the crowd's reaction. They told us that they had reported the incident all
the more fully, putting Achenbach in a negative light, because they had been so
struck by the negative attitude of the passers-by. In the heat of the moment,
the bystanders showed these reporters the true feelings of many of their fellow
Why didn't the many reporters who wrote stories about the
incident condemn it for being illegal? Because its moral legitimacy had
immediately been demonstrated by Achenbach's reaction. An innocent man would
have appealed to the public and insisted that the data on his activities during
the war be made public. He would have brought suit, not for the invasion of his
offices, but for libel. He could have sued us for forgery of documents on the
Jewish question in which his name appeared. Achenbach did nothing of the sort,
just stooped his shoulders.
The trial of the three LICA militants was
reported fairly in the German papers. Serge, Francis, and Raphy were sentenced
to a choice between twenty days in jail or a fine and one year's banishment
from the Federal Republic. They chose the latter.
Some days later,
while going through the Achenbach file, I glanced through the list of deportees
in the two convoys shipped to the East with Achenbach's collusion. I was moved
to find three familiar names on it:
Gilbert Hajdenberg, born January 1, 1911,
in Warsaw. Tailor.
Bernard Hajdenberg, born March 15, 1883, in Warsaw.
Lyon Lenczner, born October 14, 1899, in Szeskocin (USSR). Tailor.
They were the uncles of Serge Hajdenberg and Francis
Lenchener. That is how, after the Essen demonstration, they learned that
Achenbach had played a part in the liquidation of their family.