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From the files of MI5 in the Public Record Office, London: PRO file WO.208/685a, item 91B

Website note: From other evidence it is now clear that "Kastner" was Reszö Kasztner, Joel Brand's colleague in this enterprise; and "Willi" was Dieter Wisliceny, not Adolf Eichmann.

[Index to Joel Brand file on this website ]



Special Report No. 59

Recent Proposals for Rescue of Jews from Enemy and
Enemy-Occupied Territory.

NOTE: In order not to distract the reader, explanations of cryptic terms and of name used in the following Report are given as briefly as possible. Further information as to derivations is available if required.

Since the beginning of May, a vigorous telegraphic correspondence has been conducted between Nathan Schwalb, head of the World Hehalutz Bureau in Geneva, Zionist relief and rescue workers in Istanbul and leading Zionists and relief workers in Palestine. This has concerned what appears to be concrete proposals for the rescue of a certain number of Jews from Enemy and Enemy-Occupied Territory.

2. The following telegrams give the salient points of this correspondence:-



1.5.44: Nathan Schwalb, Geneva, to Melech Neustadt, Histadruth, Tel Aviv:

"Joel (Note: see paragraph 6) Kastner (Note: Hungary) and Shalis (Note: Delegate) wrote us 25.4. detailed stop Willy (Note: see paragraph 7) with him and demanded family proposition included Zyvia (Note: Poland) stop Wilhelm (Note: ?German authorities) ready for Aliyah (Note: emigration to Palestine) possibility stop Greater interest for Arye (Note: U.S.A.) especially if Stephen (Note: U.S.A,) would declare at once his willingness to place him stop Inquire and cable what to do with Szerita (Note: unidentified) Alfred's (Note: unidentified) friends answered because of Tijula (Note: deportation)."



18th May, 1944: Melech Neustadt to Nathan Schwalb:

"To extent Willi's suggestions serious and likely to facilitate rescue shall try to satisfy his demands. Do we understand correctly that he desires be assured housing with Stephen. Demand he arrange his representative meet Wenia (Note: Pomeranice, Histadruth delegate in Istanbul) in order we know all details measure security realisation promises….."



18th May 1944: Neustadt, Tel Aviv to Sarka Mandelblatt, Istanbul (cover for Histadruth relief workers there):

"Worried news about Kastner cable details what we must do here and with Stephen (Note: U.S.A.) and Zelig (Note: Great Britain) for their aid."



21st May, 1944, Haim Barlas, Istanbul (chief representative there of the Jewish Agency) to Moshe Shertok, Jerusalem (head of Political Department of the Jewish Agency):

"24627 on behalf Kraus Komzly (Note: Kraus is the head of the Palestine Office in Budapest) Community Joel arrived here for short stay stop Tragic report regarding situation Jewish persecutions continuing including deportations stop Submitted proposals regard rescue which cannot deal with here unless Executive decided regarding action to be taken with authorities stop Sending Wenia tomorrow purpose explaining problems involved stop Urging Executive discuss matter immediately on arrival stop Awaiting your cables Saturday stop Our joint opinion imperative member Executive should come immediately but contemplating also Joels journey to see Executive provided assurance given for his return this being condition stop Leaving tomorrow with Joel (a) to Avni (b) purpose information."

(Note: (a) and (b) identified by Barlas in reply to a servicegram as "Joel Brand" and an official in Ankara).


16th May, 1944, Nathan Schwalb to Melech Neustadt, Tel Aviv:

"According letters 4/4, 21/4 and 23.4 from Neumann (Note: Presumably Emmanuel Neumann, Zionist leader in the U,.S.) and Rabbanim (Note: presumably Rabbis Stephen Wise and Abe Hillel Silver, U.S.) they support affair Willi."

3. At the beginning of June, following the refusal of the Palestine authorities to allow Brand to enter Palestine and that of the Turkish authorities to permit Shertok to enter Turkey, the two met in Aleppo, the former being accompanied by Ehud Ueberall, one of the Histadruth delegates in Istanbul.

4. On the 15th June 1944, Shertok telegraphed from Jerusalem to Linton, of the Jewish Agency's London Executive, as follows:

"208 waited Aleppo four days for authority see friend who arrived Wednesday 7/6 stop Interviewed him Sunday six hours found him one hundred percent reliable was deeply impressed by his purity character spirit self-sacrifice factual exactness soberness stop. After interview friend transported Cairo myself returned Jerusalem Tuesday night reported executive Wednesday saw High Commissioner with Ben Gurion today. High Commissioner cabling London we asked him for transmission Weizman gist our evaluation and proposals including first immediate facilities for me flying London second arrangements for friends return home (see paragraph 12) stop You will learn our main proposal regarding line action from Colonial or Foreign stop High Commissioner informed us regarding Charles (Note: Dr. Chaim Weizman) interview stop Agreed line of keeping door open makes friends return absolutely imperative please do utmost your part expedite my journey stop Inform Nahum (Note: Dr Nahum Goldman, New York)".

Not yet reported: obtained through "Top Secret" channels."

5. The true interpretation of the telegram quoted in paragraph 2(i) is given in the following letter of the 6th May, 1944 (translated from Hebrew) from Nathan Schwalb to the "Committee", Istanbul, a copy of which has been sent to Melech Neustadt:-


"…. Immediately after the arrival of the messenger from Hagar (Note: Hungary) I cabled you on the 1st May as follows:-

I received the letter from Joel on the 25th April through a messenger. Willi is with him with his plan (the old one). They succeeded in postponing the deportation and got an answer that in principle there is no objection to the emigration (Note: to Palestine) of 600 persons and to an emigration to Arye (Note: the U.S.). In my second telegram I said:

In view of the fact that Wilhelm is in favour of an emigration to Arye, it is indispensable that Tartskower (American Government) should confirm that he is prepared to receive them. The messenger left today….. I transferred about half a million Swiss Francs as Uncle's present to Joel and Gizi (Note: Hungary and Slovakia - see paragraphs 9 and 10). Also Heini and Rolf sent them presents (Note: presumably Heini Bornstein, representative of Hashomer Hatzair in Basle and Rolf Schloss, Baden, formerly of Holland).

Not yet reported: obtained through "Top Secret" channels.

6. Joel (or Jena) Brand is a member of the Palestine Committee, Budapest. He belongs to the Dnor (or Liberty) Group. This is a left-wing labour group falling within the Zionist Pioneer Organisation in Poland, and is connected with Hakibutz Hameuhad in Palestine. In recent Zionist correspondence, he has been referred to as "Joel Kastner". "Kastner" however is often used to denote Hungary. It is understood that he is at present travelling under the name of "Eugen Band" (see also note to paragraph 4). His name and the fact that he writes in German suggests that he is of other than Hungarian origin, though he has been using Hungary as his headquarters for relief work in enemy territory for the past two years.

PAL/00845/45 (J/1733/43): obtained through "Top Secret" channels."]

7. "Willi, the Interceder", or "The Adviser" first became known to this Censorship in April 1943. In January, 1943, he held a position in Bratislava, in which he seemed to be capable, or responsible for arranging with (inter alia) Hitler that in return for very substantial bribes, Jews in Slovakia should not be deported, and that those already deported should not be massacred and might receive relief. In the course of these duties, he himself also received substantial bribes. In February 1943, his territory was extended to cover also Bulgaria and Greece for these purposes. (For full text, see Appendix).

Not yet reported: obtained through "Top Secret" channels.

8. "The following letter of the 4th April, 1944, (translated from German) addressed to Mr Dobkin of the Jewish Agency, confirms that "Willi" referred to in recent correspondence and "Willi" mentioned in paragraph 6 are one and the same person:-

"Bratislava…… Our collaboration with Willy, which was continued very actively during the whole time and has now become even more active has acquired even greater importance in connection with the events in Miklos (Note: Hungary) for the Klal (Note: Jewish Community) there. For Willy has been charged in Miklos with the task which he has previously performed here. He has already taken over his charge there. He talked over the whole problem with him on the very day on which he learnt that he had been put in charge. He has promised not to carry out Gerusz (Note: expulsions) etc. We have also tried to influence him as regards other measures which may effect our comrades. In a few days, one of our comrades will probably go with Willy to Miklos, arrange for contact between Willy and our comrades there and let the latter benefit by our long and hard experience……….." Signed "Oskar".


9. In a further letter of 21st April, 1944, the group in Bratislava again reported to Schwalb that before he left "Uncle Willi" had promised them that even though Jews might be imprisoned, they should not be deported, and that they were expecting a further visit from him, when he would report to them on affairs in Hungary. They further reported that the "60,000" sent to them through Joel had not been received (see paragraph 5).

Not yet reported: obtained through "Top Secret" channels.

10. "A copy is sent to Mr Itchak Gruenbaum, Jewish Agency, Jerusalem, of a very interesting letter written on 31st May, 1944, to Nathan Schwalb, Geneva, by "Joel" while he was in Istanbul. This letter is suggestive that "Willi's" surname is Eichmann. It reads:

"….1. Be careful! Do not write any letters containing political matter…….Do not trust anybody. Do not believe that you can find a messenger able to bring over the mail safely without its being opened. The last two despatches - the first containing 32,750 Stef. (Note: Dollars - term derived from name of Stephen Wise, U.S.?) and the other one 250,000 Nat. (Note: Sw. Frs. - term derived from name of Nathan Schwalb?) and 50,000 Stef. - were handed to me by - no less a person than - Mr Eichmann himself. I received the second despatch unopened, but had to give my word that in case it contained political matter I would communicate it. Thank God it did not…….

2. Whether my visit here will really render our situation more easy I shall see after my return. My impression is that also the partners at home mean it honestly and that we shall reach our goal…………… I shall preferably visit you very soon with another business partner of ours………….on our arrival and quickly because the possibility of rescue depends on the rapidity of our actions………………"

11. The Eichmann referred to above is undoubtedly identical with Hauptssturmführer Eichmann (sometimes called "Eichner" of the SS, founder and chief of the German Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna, who is said after the outbreak of war to have had a roving commission over German territory, and to have been for some time in Warsaw. He is therefore well-known to Austrian immigrants here, by whom he is said to have been born in Sarena and educated at the Herzl School In Tel Aviv, to have a good knowledge of Arabic and Hebrew - it seems to have been his practice to tease them in Vienna that he knew their language, while they did not! He is also stated to be a member of the Gestapo.

Not yet reported: obtained through "Top Secret" channels.

12. It was the intention of the Zionist Executive that after Brand's interview with Shertok, he and the agent who came with him from Hungary (Note: Andrew George or Gross) should return there. To this and Barlas contacted the US Ambassador, Mr Lawrence A. Steinhardt in Ankara, who on the 31st May, 1944, wrote to Barlas:

"On enquiring…………of the Foreign Office……….I was informed that it had been decided to extend the permit to remain in Istanbul for a brief period………….On endeavouring to obtain a definite commitment that no unfavourable action should be taken, without my knowledge………….it was implied that if I would bring the matter up again in a few days, I would be advised of the final decision of the Turkish authorities……………."
 [signature illegible]

For Chief Censor.

24th June, 1944.

NOTE: This new information may throw a different light on recorded information, which was ill-understood at the time of examination. These records are therefore being re-examined.


Director-General, Postal & Telegraph Censorship Department, London
Chief Secretary (through MLO, RAF)
DSO, HQ. Pal (through MLO, RAF)





 Related file:

Hebrew letters re rescue of Slovak Jews intercepted in 1943 by British Palestine Censorship authorities
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