By Adolf Eichmann

A yellow star on their clothing

In those days before the outbreak of the war, the former government of the Reich hoped to solve the Jewish problem by forced emigration. This was easier said than done, since one had to reckon here the difficulties of emigration as a mass project. The Jewish organizations with the widest experience in this had already been closed down as unacceptable to the government. There was also a tendency among Jews to wait it out on the theory that the Hitler regime would be of short duration. Of the 500,000 avowed Jews who were in Germany in 1933, plus a number who were considered Jews under the Nürnberg Laws, not more than 130,000 managed to leave before 1938.

It may have been the Propaganda Ministry that first thought up the idea of forcing all Jews to wear a yellow star on their clothing. I remember that when Julius Streicher heard about it he whinnied with delight. His newspaper, Der Stürmer, devoted an entire issue to this matter, I naturally took part in the administrative details, since as the department head for Jewish affairs in the Gestapo, my countersignature was required. In fact, I recall the day when I received bolts and bolts of yellow cloth to distribute. I issued the cloth to my Jewish functionaries and they trotted off with them.

We did not devise the yellow star to put pressure on the Jews themselves. On the contrary, its purpose was to control the natural tendency of our German people to come to the aid of someone in trouble. The marking was intended to hinder and such assistance to Jews who were being harassed. We wanted Germans to feel embarrassed, to feel afraid of having any contact with Jews. So our administration was quite happy to distribute these bolts of yellow cloth and to regulate the time limit by which the stars would have to be worn.

It was in 1938, at the reunion of Austria with the German Reich, that General Heydrich gave me the order, in my capacity as a specialist in Jewish affairs, to set the Jewish emigration in motion from Vienna.

I found Jewish life in Austria completely disorganized. Most Jewish organizations had already been closed down by the police and their leaders put under arrest. To speed up emigration I called in local Jewish leaders and established a central office for Jewish emigration. It was located in the Rothschild Palace in the Prinz Eugen Strasse.

As with the other, similar central offices, the Vienna office permitted emigrating Jews to take household goods with them. For the custody and administration of Jewish property so-called administrative and accounting centers were later created which worked with tidy accuracy and correctness. Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, who surprisingly enough often busied himself with the smallest details of the Jewish problem, personally set up the strict administrative standards which were observed in this field. In Vienna alone we were able to prepare as many as 1,000 Jews daily for emigration.

Life, Vol. 49, No. 22, November 28, 1960, pp. 22 - 23

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May 30, 1998
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