After I received Himmler's authorization I told my assistant Krumey to bring me Joel Brand, a Hungarian Jew whom we had chosen to send to Palestine to take a proposal to the Jewish leaders. Brand left on his trip some time before the grain was high., as an old country boy I remember the time well. Krumey brought him to Vienna, had him furnished with the proper papers and shipped him by plane to Istanbul, because Turkey was still neutral. When he got as far as Syria, he was arrested by the British, interrogated, and imprisoned in Cairo. The Jewish leaders never accepted our proposal [see box page 148].
I knew at the time that Brand was being held by the British because Kastner was giving me constant reports. But when I let Brand leave the country, I had made sure his family stayed in Budapest so that I could have a guarantee of his return. Then as the weeks went by I said to Kastner, "Kastner, you know what we agreed. Brand's family stays here because he must return. Why doesn't he come back?" And so for the first time I did use family pressure, but I never turned pressure into practice because Dr. Kastner's reports still held out some hope. I never took any steps to keep Brand's family from emigrating illegally. If they had, I would never have known it.
Meanwhile the deportations had to continue in spite of our pending deal. But the Jews were to a certain extent "put on ice, held in a camp ready to be moved at any time. Suppose Brand had come back and told me, "Obersturmbannführer, the matter is settled. Five or ten thousand trucks are on their way. Give me a half million or a million Jews. You promised me that if I brought you a positive report, you'd send 100,000 Jews to a neutral country as a deposit." Then it would have been easy for us to ship the Jews off.
If the deal had succeeded, I belive I could have arranged to ship the first 20,000 Jews in two days via Romania to Palestine or even via France to Spain. If there had been any delay it would have come from the side of the receivers. The plain fact was that there was no place on earth that would have been ready to accept the Jews, not even this one million.
We had a hearty, comradely relationship with the Hungarian secret police until they learned that we were letting Jews emigrate behind their backs. The the gentlemen reacted strongly. They refused to visit or consult with us, and it became my job to smooth things over. Fortunately I had formed a warm friendship with Dr. Lászlo Endre, the second secretary in the Ministry of the Interior. I had even given him my own machine pistol as a gift (naturally with the approval of my superiors). The two of us managed to restore good relations, and I even spent a few weeks on Dr. Endre's country estate. At the time I was virtually out of work for lack of further numbers to deport.
Meanwhile, as the Russians advanced and the first symptoms of the coming chaos were noticeable, the transports were halted. A series of Allied air raids had torn up the Budapest-Vienna railroad track so that for a time no trains could get through. This made Dr. Endre impatient. He wanted to get on with the solution of the Jewish problem. "So I resolved to teach our opponents a lesson, to say, Look, it does you no good when you bomb out our railroads, because your allies, the Jews, have to endure the consequences." I proposed a forced march of the Jews to the Reich's border. General Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the new chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, gave me orders to that effect.
June 21, 1998