absentia in Paris on May 3, 1954, but at that time
Alois Brunner was basking under the blue skies of Egypt. He had returned to
Egypt after a long period in the Syrian secret service, where he could still
make use of his talent for exterminating Jews. He is now  fifty-nine
years old. |
Heinz Röthke, who was just as guilty and just as
efficient as Brunner, died of natural causes in 1968 in Wolfsburg, West
Germany, where he had been a lawyer. Even though he too had been sentenced to
death in absentia, he had never spent a minute in prison. Röthke was
another one who could smile at tales of Nazi hunts.
I thought that
through his contacts with S.S. leaders like Brunner and Röthke, Dr.
Schendel might have been able to learn something about Barbie and what
knowledge the regional Gestapo chiefs had of the fate of Jews shipped to
Auschwitz. Had not Prosecutor Rabl offhandedly and indulgently concluded that
there was no proof that Barbie knew about the death of the people he shipped to
Drancy and Auschwitz? Luck was with us. There was a "K. Schendel" in the Paris
telephone directory. I called his number daily, but no one answered until the
evening of September 6. It was indeed the right Schendel. He had been on
vacation. He remembered Barbie, although he had never seen him. We met with
him, and on September 8 he sent us an affidavit in German, in which he stated
Even in official circles the word
"deportation" was seldom spoken; rather, it was "fit for work," "evacuation,"
or "family reuniting." In the course of the frequent meetings I was obliged to
have with Röthke and Brunner I soon realized that the word "deportation"
had dreadful connotations. On the several occasions when they did not keep an
appointment with me, I was told that they were "making reports in Berlin." When
they returned to Paris, there were many conferences attended by the executives
of IV-B [Bureau for Jewish Affairs], such as the Commander of Paris and the
commanders of other regions, with whom Röthke kept in constant touch by
Over the course of a year my observations of Department IV-B
and the numerous talks I had with its employees, as well as with workers in the
other German bureaus, completely convinced me that all of them, except perhaps
the ones at the very bottom but at least Röthke, Brunner, and the
executives of the regional S.D. Security Police Bureaus for Jewish Affairs
knew perfectly well what fate awaited the deportees.