Jews for Trucks

10,000 trucks for one million Jews


Hungarian Jews arrive at Auschwitz-Birkenau, May 26, 1944

Hungarian Jews arrive at Birkenau, May 1944

In the book entitled "The Last Days," David Cesarani wrote that an attempt to save the Hungarian Jews was made by Otto Komoly and Dr. Rezo (Rudolf) Kastner, two leading figures in the Jewish Relief and Rescue Committee in Hungary. In 1942, the Jewish Council of Slovakia had tried to bribe Dieter Wisliceny, an SS man, to stop the deportation of the Slovakian Jews. When Wisliceny arrived in Budapest, Komoly and Kastner revived the proposal first made to Wisliceny in Slovakia, offering him a $2 million bribe to save the Hungarian Jews from deportation to the death camps. Wisliceny suggested a down payment of $200,000 to show good faith, but while Komoly and Kastner were trying to raise the money, Wisliceny left Budapest to organize the deportation of the Jews in eastern Hungary to Auschwitz. According to Cesarani, the Jews confronted Wisliceny with his betrayal, and "he coolly offered to save 600 Jews of their choosing. Soon afterwards Eichmann himself took up the negotiations."

The following information is from the book "Auschwitz, a New History" by Laurence Reese:

On April 25, 1944, in his office at the Hotel Majestic in Budapest, Eichmann met with Joel Brand, another leading member of the Jewish Relief and Rescue Committee. Brand had already attended previous meetings with Eichmann and other SS officers in an attempt to bribe them to allow a number of Jews out of Hungary. Now Eichmann said to Brand, "I am prepared to sell one million Jews to you."

Eichmann proposed an exchange of "Blood for Goods," in which the British and the Americans would give the Nazis one new truck for every one hundred Jews. Eichmann promised that the trucks would only be used on the Eastern front where the Germans were fighting against the Communist Soviet Union. Brand was asked to go to Istanbul in Turkey to negotiate the deal. Eichmann hoped to obtain 10,000 trucks in exchange for one million Jews. But even before Brand reached Turkey on May 19, 1944, Eichmann had already ordered the deportation of the Hungarian Jews, which began on April 29, 1944.

According to Laurence Rees, SS officer Kurt Becher, who was a Lt. Col., equal in rank to Eichmann, was trying to blackmail the Weiss family, owners of the biggest industrial conglomerate in Hungary, into giving its shares to the SS in return for safe passage out of the country. Rees wrote:

By the time of his meeting with Brand, Eichmann knew that his rival Becher had successfully arranged for shares of the Manfred-Weiss works to be transferred to the Nazis; in return, about fifty members of the Weiss family were allowed to leave and head for neutral countries.

Brand was accompanied to Istanbul by another man named Bandi Grosz, a former agent of the Abwehr, the German intelligence agency, whose operations in Hungary had been taken over by an SS officer, Lt. Col. Gerhard Clages. At the last meeting with Brand, SS officers Clages, Becher and several other Nazis had been present.

The following quote is from the book by Laurence Rees:

It was not until May 26, 1944 that the head of the Jewish Agency in Palestine notified a British diplomat, Sir Harold MacMichael, of the Nazis' proposals. But it only took the British a matter of moments to reject the Brand mission, seeing it as an attempt to split the Western allies from the Soviets.


In mid-June, Grosz was interrogated in Cairo by British intelligence officers and the story that he told was a surprising one. He claimed that Brand's mission was only a camouflage for his own. Under the direct orders of Himmler, Grosz had been sent to facilitate a meeting in a neutral country between high-ranking British and American officers and two or three senior figures from the SD - Himmler's own intelligence service. The purpose of the assignation was to discuss a separate peace treaty with the Western allies so that - together - they could fight the Soviet Union.

Himmler's offer was immediately turned down. The British perceived Germany to be a threat to the British policy of "balance of power" and had refused all offers to become allies with Germany before the war; they had also refused several peace offers from Germany before the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Great Britain and America needed the help of the Soviet Union in their plan to destroy Germany and in return, Churchill and Roosevelt had promised eastern Europe to the Communists as early as 1943 at the Tehran Conference.

According to Wikipedia, at the Tehran Conference, Churchill and Roosevelt agreed to the following:

Poland's borders were declared to lie along the Oder and Neisse rivers and the Curzon line, despite protests of the Polish government-in-exile in London. Churchill and Roosevelt also gave Stalin free rein in his own country, and allowed the USSR to set up puppet communist governments in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Baltic states, Romania, and other Eastern European countries.

By turning down Himmler's offer of an alliance against the Soviet Union, the lives of a million Hungarian Jews were sacrificed; in the end, the British lost their empire and Hungary became a Communist country. Great Britain and America eventually became allies with Germany in 1948 against the Soviet Union in the Cold War, which lasted until 1989.

Rudolf Hoess and the Hungarian Jews

Hungarian Jews sent to Bergen-Belsen

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This page was last updated on September 25, 2007