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136 SHOFAR Summer 1996 Vol. 14, No.4 Eichmann und seine Gehilfen, by Hans Safrian. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch, 1995. 362 pp. DM 19.90. It is sometimes remarked that Austrians have had a hard time discerning the conspicuous presence of their countrymen among the Holocaust perpetrators. Austrian scholar Hans Safrian, who lost a grandfather to the killers, sought to open some eyes in his book Die Eichmann Manner (Vienna, 1993). This retitled paperback edition ought to capture a wider readership. It traces the activities of Adolf Eichmann and his coworkers from the creation of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna through their deportation activities in Department N D 4 of the SS Reich Security Main Office. It ends with an examination of their postwar fates, which ranged from execution to successful concealment and flight. Throughout, Safrian reminds us that most of the members of Eichmann's inner circle were Austrians. Safrian's analysis of men such as Alois Brunner, Anton Burger, and Karl Rahm shows that virtually all of them came from Eastern Austria, were between 25 and 30 when World War II began, and had experienced long periods ofunemployment during the depression. All but three of them were "old fighters," average Austrian Nazis who expected jobs as rewards for their long services to the movement. Although Safrian makes no effort to account for the special virulence of Austrian antisemitism, he asserts that it fueled these men's political convictions and careers. This, of course, is a far cry from Hannah Arendt's still influential view ofEichmann and company as dispassionate bureaucrats rather than zealots. Time and again Safrian documents their sadism and determination to leave no Jew behind. Jews acquiring emigration papers at the Vienna Zentralstelle were gratuitously humiliated and manhandled. The Nisko "Jewish reservation" was chosen because it was a wasteland, not as a promising place for resettlement. Italian officials in Greece who tried to save relatively small numbers of Italian-born Greek Jews encountered formidable obstacles thrown up by the men of Department N D 4. These and other examples of barbaric policies lend plausibility to Safrian's dismissal of (admittedly self-serving) postwar testimony by Eichmann and his former colleagues. However, this line of reasoning is not likely to sway scholars who continue to stress the situational and adaptive features of official behavior in the Holocaust. The author's conviction that the subjects ofhis study were sincere and murderous antisemites also leads him into the treacherous subject of Holocaust origins. The men of the Eichmann Referat neither received nor needed orders to radicalize measures against the Jews, Safrian avers. In Book Reviews 137 1941 Eichmann himself certainly played a hand in planning the massacres ofJews in Serbia and the destruction of "superfluous" Jews from Lodz at Chelmno. Noting that leading Nazis expressed themselves in ways that suggest ignorance of plans for genocide even late in 1941, he doubts that any could have been made before German forces were well and truly bogged down in Russia. Like other functionalists, Safrian has little trouble discrediting postwar recollections of prominent Nazis that routinely have been used to date the decision for mass murder. However, Safrian's documentation of bureaucratic initiatives against the Jews, his most original contribution on this topic, will scarcely impress those who doubt that genocide could have happened without early involvement by Nazi officials at the highest level. The search for the genocidal "smoking gun" goes on. Hence this volume is likely to prove more useful to the general reader than to scholars. Safrian has diligently combed archives in five countries and enhanced our knowledge of the lesser-known figures in Eichmann's entourage. Distinguishing this volume, however, is its skillful synthesis of the secondary literature and its effective use of survivors' accounts to illuminate the deportation process. It is particularly strong on events in Eastern Europe and Greece where Safrian depicts representatives of the German Army and the Foreign Office cheerfully cooperating with the SS in sending Jews to their doom. There is much less material on Western Europe, and nothing at all on Holland. That is odd, given the prominence of Austrian Nazis in running the occupied Netherlands and the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 136-137
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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