Adolf Eichmann: Meeting with the Heads of the Reichsvertretung in Berlin
At the time of the pogroms of November 1938 in Germany, Eichmann reappeared in Berlin. Several weeks after 10 November he invited the heads of the Reichsvertretung to his office. During the meeting he used foul language, calling the 70 year old chairman of the Berlin Jewish Community, Heinrich Stahl, an old bag. He declared that this was the end of the Jewish organizations in Germany. He said he would create a Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Berlin following the Austrian example. He would see to it that passports were being issued rapidly and easily, and the Jewish organizations would have to find possible countries for emigration. He demanded that 200 Jews be directed to the Central Office for Emigration daily, i.e. 200 Jews who wish to emigrate would have to present themselves. The representatives of the Jewish organizations voiced reservations. They pointed out that America did not intend to enlarge their immigration quotas, there were hardly any certificates [for emigration] to Palestine available and all other countries created difficulties for emigrants. His reaction was very cool. The Jews will have to go, he said.
Dr. Paul Eppstein, the Reichsvertretung official responsible for emigration matters, who was later murdered in Theresienstadt, went for another meeting with Eichmann. He tried to explain to him that this new policy may in fact have the result that many Jews will obtain passports, but that they would not be able to emigrate. Eppstein and his colleagues came returned from this meeting broken men. I will never forget the meeting we had that evening in which Eppstein and his colleagues described the scenes they had witnessed. Eichmann screamed at them and threatened he would use severe measures against them personally and against all Jews, if they would not follow his instructions. The Jews had to go. No excuses would be permitted. The Central Office for Jewish Emigration… would become the organization to execute the expulsion of the Jews.
It became clear what fate awaited German Jewry. The leaders of the Jewish organizations who became hostages in the hands of the Gestapo officials, had no choice but to cooperate in the establishment of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration. Workers were quickly chosen and 150-200 Jews from various organizations, who had some kind of real or theoretical emigration possibilities were picked.
These people had to present themselves on the first day the Central Office opened. From this day on, the leaders of the various organizations had only one worry -- how to supply this apparatus with enough material, enough candidates. I did not witness further developments of the Central Office, because I was able to emigrate to Eretz Yisrael [then Palestine]. I was accompanied by a kind inquiry by the Gestapo only a few days before my departure, what, you are still around? But I knew exactly what Germany's Jews could expect from Eichmann….
Source: "Meetings With Eichmann", Yediot Hayom, 6 April 1956 in: Yad Vashem Archive, 01/125.
Sources: Yad Vashem