Protocol Nr. 3648
The person in question has given us the following information: As a start, I have to comment that all actions, processes, and negotiations that regard either the times before "Vadász Street" or the emigration, e.g. the letters of protection, the protected houses, etc. were initiated and thought out by the Budapest office (the Palestine Office) of the Jewish Agency and by the Palestine Committee. The key and the condition of the success of these activities was the good rapport that existed between the Swiss Consulate (e.g. the consul) and the Palestine Office. It was the Swiss Consulate, or more precisely, its special department called “Delegation of Foreign Interests” that represented the interests of both England and the US after they declared war and also the case of emigration to Palestine, that is, the interests of the people who wished to emigrate to Palestine. I have to add right away that as far as circumstances allowed the consulate, especially consul Charles Lutz, did a great work representing these interests. The friendship that evolved through the permanent contact between consul Lutz and the head of the Palestine Office, Miklós Krausz was of great use both concerning these initiations and their successful execution. This friendship let its beneficial influence felt in all activities of Vadász Street. The establishing of the Vadász Street office was in particular the merit of Miklós Krausz, which he – as a Zionist and the representative of Szochnut in Hungary - wanted to use for saving Zionist youth and cháluc figures, that is, people who were so important for the Jewish population and for Palestine. Around the end of May, 1944, it became obvious to all of us that the so-called Kasztner-group would not leave the country soon, or if it set off its way would not go through Romania and the destination would not be Palestine. We also understood that this kind of action would not lead to the rescue of great masses of Jews from the clutch of Germans and of the Arrow Cross. We had to find new ways for rescuing Jewish people without delay. Deportations in the country were already going on, and we already had testimonies regarding the dismay of Auschwitz, thanks to a few Polish and Slovakian chalucs who had successfully escaped. Therefore Krausz’s proposal regarding the awakening of the public opinion abroad as our most urgent duty was evident. He collected data concerning deportations in Hungary with details of all the misery involved and attached to them to the testimonies regarding Auschwitz. He sent these documents to various Swiss Embassies and had them delivered to the US, to England and to the Pope. He asked these governments to put pressure on the Nazi government to stop this horror and to intervene in the interest of the emigration of the Jews who remained still in Hungary. This was carried to abroad - thanks to consul Lutz – by a Swiss courier, and the results followed surprisingly fast. These data and testimonies got to Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Pope as we learnt from Swiss journals sent to us a few weeks later. (Some journals published our material word by word, like the Neue Züricher Zeitung on the deportation from Nyíregyháza.) The three governments commandingly intervened, and this reached the Hungarian government June the 17th. When in the following few weeks negotiations between the Swiss Embassy and the Hungarian government still did not have any result this intervention was forcefully reasserted. (By the great bombings of June and in particular of July.) The commanding ultimatum addressing the Hungarian government was mediated by the Swiss government. Consul Lutz received a long dispatch in which his government certified to have received our material and instructed him to personally deliver the aforementioned forceful letter of intervention from the part of the great political powers. Several of us were present when he asked for an urgent audience from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the phone. And when the deputy minister asked something we could not hear he forcefully answered: “No, Sir, exceptionally it regards not my government. I want to pass on information coming from the American government.” Consul Lutz’s intervention in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not meet considerable resistance. There were some people also there who could observe the state of affairs objectively and took forthcoming events into consideration. However, they emphasised that this case did not depend on the Hungarian government but on the Germans. But it appeared that similar actions had their effects also in Berlin. A few days later, a new dispatch came from Switzerland in which the Swiss government instructed Lutz to get prepared for the negotiations and start preparing the emigration since German Foreign Ministry in principle had given its consent. Already the day after the Hungarian government invited consul Lutz for an audience. Early in the morning a meeting started in the Ministry of the Interior which lasted until late afternoon, where only the head of the Palestine Office, Miklós Krausz was invited on behalf of the Jews. Almost all ministries together and also the National Central Authority for Controlling Foreigners were represented on this meeting, where the German ambassador’s deputy appeared as well. The infamous gendarme Lieutenant Colonel Ferenczy was also invited, probably as a known expert of transports. The foreign minister’s deputy officially confirmed that the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs had approved the emigration of those who had a certificate. Further, he announced the decision of the Hungarian government to halt deportations and labour service conscriptions till the alia was not concluded (till the 31st of August). Later, the number of emigrants and details of their travel were discussed. The idea of “protected houses” - as places where the people who intended to alia could be gathered - was first raised on this meeting. The story of "Vadász-Street" started here. We moved into the building in the middle of July. “Collective passport” and the “Schutzpass” that resulted from it were made here. Next to the 60-80,000 people saved by having a Schutzpass, this place gave asylum to 2,600 Jews, amongst them great masses of the Zionist youth, who organised and led illegal and underground actions. To be loyal to historical truth I also need to mention that among the protected people of “Vadász Street” there were quite a number of non-Jew leftists together with their numerous relatives. An evening in December, I witnessed how three women blue from the cold asked for asylum at least for a night at the gate claiming to have been relatives of hunted leftists. As several people of the leftist fraction confirmed their identity they were let in and it was only natural that no one asked them later to leave. We should not be surprised therefore that the terrorist attempts on the banquet of the Arrow Cross in the city theatre were claimed to have originated from “Vadász Street.” This was followed by the gendarmes’ raid the 4th of December at daybreak, which commenced with a long series of shots in the street, and men with the sickle-feather appeared on the roofs. Luckily, the main entrance to the street was well barred so they could not get in. The head of the gendarmes’ squad started a long debate and negotiation with our leaders – in particular with Artúr Weisz. The commander warned us that he would got the house searched by his own men unless we handed over the terrorists who attacked the City Theatre and all the available weapons. Although we did not know the men they wanted we did know about weapons. We started an endless number of telephone calls calling the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the city military headquarters and other places. Finally, we achieved that around noon the gendarmes temporarily left, but we could not foresee when we would meet them again. Although gendarmes did not return it became obvious that we would not be spared trouble. A sign of this was the visit of two detectives from the so-called “National Committee of for Calling to Account” one morning in “Vadász Street.” Their visit regarded again forged Schutzpasses but they were also deeply interested in the huge mass of people accommodated in the building. They did not hide their opinion that the whole building of the Embassy was just a great hiding place, and told us that they were going to give their report directly to the “leading brother of the nation” and we could hope for great clearing actions against us in the forthcoming days. At the same time our agents frequently reported that the Arrow Cross of the Garrison Albrecht was getting prepared for an action against “Vadász Street.” The first reports were quite fantastic. According to these the project was to lead us into the caves of Pálvölgy and then to kill us with grenades. Later, we heard about only the “killing.” Hence, it was not a great surprise for our leaders when a squad of the Arrow Cross entered the building shooting around with their machineguns and throwing grenades the 31st of December. This break-in resulted in the death of three and in 17 injuries and it was a fortune that we could save the people drove out of the house to the street of being taken away using our rapports to the city military headquarters and to the police headquarters. This way we particularly upset the Arrow Cross squad and this led to the capture of Artúr Weisz, a heroic figure and comrade, the day after. After this event, the bandits of the Arrow Cross broke in regularly. It is hard to tell how we could have saved the gathered mass if we had not been liberated January the 18th.