WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
 
 
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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 [1971] 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 that:
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 telephone.

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.
     
   
 
WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
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