Joel Brand

Joel Brand ( 25 of April of 1906 – 13 of July of 1964 ) was a Jewish Hungarian who became known for his role during the Holocaust while trying to save the Hungarian Jewish community from deportation to the concentration camp at Auschwitz . Described by historian Yehuda Bauer as a valiant adventurer who felt at home in “covert conspiracies and player circles,” Brand joined fellow Zionists in Budapest to form the Help and Rescue Committee, a group that helped refugees Nazis in Nazi Germany , to escape the relative security of Hungary before the Germans also invaded this country in March 1944 . 1

Shortly after the invasion, SS officer Adolf Eichmann asked Brand to help negotiate an agreement between the SS and the United States or the United Kingdom . Eichmann said he would free up to one million Hungarian Jews if the Allies supplied Germany with 10,000 trucks and large quantities of soap , tea and coffee . The negotiations, described by The Times as one of the most repugnant stories of the war , became known as the blood-for-merchandise proposal . This was nothing and historians can only guess whether or not Eichmann’s offer was genuine. 2 There are theories that it was a trick in order to persuade the Jewish community to approach the trains to Auschwitz with the false pretense that they would be resettled, or that it was a cover-up maneuver for high-ranking officers The SS negotiated a peace treaty with the United States and the United Kingdom to exclude the Soviet Union and even Adolf Hitler . 3

Whatever their purpose, the deal was thwarted by a suspicious British government and by the Jewish Agency for Israel , to Brand’s great sorrow. Their reasons have been the subject of bitter debate ever since, particularly among Hungarian Holocaust survivors, some of whom claimed that it was an unforgivable betrayal. 4 Brand himself said, “Rightly or wrongly, for good or ill, I have cursed the Jewish official leaders ever since.” All these things will haunt me to the last of my days, it is much more than a man can put up with.” 5


Early years

Brand was born in Năsăud , Transylvania , now Romania . In 1910 , he moved with his family to Erfurt in Germany, where he was raised and educated. He became a communist and worked for the Comintern as a sailor, spending time in the Philippines , Japan , China and South America , before returning to Germany, where he became a middle-ranking communist official. His charge led to his arrest after the Reichstag fire in 1933 , when the Nazis began to persecute the Socialists and the Communists. 6 When he was released in 1934 , left Germany and settled in Budapest , Hungary , where he obtained a job at the phone company in Budapest and became Zionist , joining the youth movement of Mapai (Israeli Labor Party). 7

Help and Rescue Committee

In 1935 Brand married another member of the Zionist movement in Budapest, Hansi Hartmann, who owned a factory for gloves, stockings and sweaters. 8 In July 1941 , Hansi’s sister 9 was caught during the so-called deportations of Kamenets Podolskiy , when the Hungarian government decided to deport between 18,000 10 and 25,000 11 Jews to the Ukraine occupied by Germany, because they could not prove that they had Hungarian citizenship . Between 14,000 and 16,000 10 of the deportees were shot by the SS on August 27 and 28, 1941, but Brand paid Josezf Krem, a Hungarian espionage agent, for Hansi’s sister to return unharmed. This incident was the beginning of Brand’s involvement in the covert transfer of Jewish refugees from Poland and Slovakia to the relative security of Hungary.

Yehuda Bauer, a professor of Holocaust Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem , wrote of Brand who lived an uncomplicated and adventurous life and who felt at home in cafes and bars, “secret conspiracies and player circles” and whose Sincerity “was not always impeccable,” but he was also a brave and intelligent operator who wanted to genuinely help the Jews to escape death. 1 When the situation for Jewish communities in Europe worsened, Brand formed a rescue team with Rudolf Kastner , a Zionist lawyer and journalist from Cluj , and with Samuel Springmann , a Polish Jew, a center-right Zionist who owned a Jewelry and that he began acting as the treasurer of the rescue committee.

In early 1943 , he joined the Ottó Komoly group , a Budapest engineer, reserve officer, war veteran and member of the Zionist Liberal Party, who was well known and respected among the Jewish community in Budapest. Komoly’s participation gave the group the credibility it needed. He became its president 12, and with it Va’adat Ezrah Vehatzalah ( Vaada ) – the Committee of Help and Rescue -, 13composed by Komoly, Kastner, Joel and Hansi Brand, Moshe Krausz and Eugen Frankl (both Jews Orthodox and Zionist) and Ernst Szilagyi, left wing Hashomer Hatzair . 14 Operating outside the structure of official Jewish institutions, the Committee embodied a “bold and militant ethos,” of which the Judenrat , the official Jewish Council established under Nazi instruction, was completely lacking. fifteen

Meeting with Eichmann

Adolf Eichmann during his trial in Jerusalem in 1961 , in which Brand told his story.

Sunday 19 as March as 1944 , the Germans invaded Hungary with relatively few forces met no resistance. Brand was kidnapped and hidden in a safe house by Josef Winninger, a messenger of the German Abwehr (military intelligence service), who had been accepting Brand money in exchange for information about Jewish refugees, and to whom Brand paid between 8,000 and $ 20,000 for a place to hide. 16

According to testimony Brand surrendered in 1954 before the District Court of Jerusalem in the context of a defamation case 17 -and he repeated during the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1961- 16 or April 25, 1944, 18 one of The German agents in Budapest, probably Winninger, told him to wait in a certain corner at a certain time to be taken to Eichmann’s meeting. 19


  1. ↑ Jump to:a b Bauer 1994, p. 194.
  2. Back to top↑ Hilberg 2003, p. 1219. Hilberg quotes Weissberg, Alexander (1956). Die Geschichte von Joel Brand , Cologne-Berlin; And Biss, Andreas (1966). Der Stopp des Endlösung , Stuttgart, pp. 40-49. He also notes that a series of smaller negotiations, led by Rudolf Kastner , led to the successful safe passage to Switzerland of 1,684 Hungarian Jews on the so-called Kastner train ; These negotiations are often included in the “blood for goods” proposals. Other names for the proposals are “Blood by Trucks” ( “Yehuda Bauer: Teaching about the Holocaust” , Online Dimensions: A Journal of Holocaust Studies , Volume 18, No. 2, Winter 2005) and “Blood and Cargo “( Hecht, Ben . Perfidy , Milah Press, 1999, p. 221).
  3. Back to top↑ Bauer 1994, p. 168.
  4. Back to top↑ For example, Vrba 1963.
  5. Back to top↑ Protocol, CC 124/53 in DC Jerusalem, quoted in: Hecht (1961), p. 229 and footnote 199, p. 280.
  6. Back to top↑ “Devil’s Poker: A True Story” , a script by Leo Zahn
  7. Back to top^ Bauer, Yehuda (1994). Jews for Sale: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933-1945 , Yale University Press, p. 152
  8. Back to top↑ “Testimony of Hansi Brand” , Judgment of Adolf Eichmann, Sesioón 58, part 2 of 5. Nizkor Project.
  9. Back to top^ Bauer, Yehuda (1994). Jews for Sale: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933-1945 , Yale University Press, p. 152. The sources differ on whether it was the sister or brother of Hansi Brand who was deported. Online Dimensions: A Journal of Holocaust Studies , published in Volume 18, No. 2 , claims that he was a brother; But, according to the Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer , it was his sister.
  10. ↑ Jump to:a b Bauer, Yehuda (1994). Jews for Sale: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933-1945 , Yale University Press, p. 148
  11. Back to top↑ “Hungary” , The Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance , retrieved May 8, 2006.
  12. Back to top↑ According webpage Memorial Rudolph (Rezsö) was the Brand himself who was the leader of the group, “because of his important contacts with Jozsef Krem, a service member Hungarian counterintelligence, and later with Bandi Grosz, An apostate Jew,associated with the Hungariansecret police and with the Abwehr , the German military intelligence service. ” His plan – January 1943 , Kasztner Memorial Site.
  13. Back to top↑ The Va’adat Ezrah Vehatzalah is known as the Relief and Rescue Committee, the Committee for Aid and Assistance and Rescue Committee of Budapest.
  14. Back to top^ Bauer, Yehuda (1994). Jews for Sale: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933-1945 , Yale University Press, p. 153
  15. Back to top↑ Zweig, Ronald W. (2002). The Gold Train: The Destruction of the Jews and the Looting of Hungary , Harper Collins, p. 224.
  16. Back to top^ Bauer, Yehuda (1994). Jews for Sale: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933-1945 , Yale University Press, p. 154
  17. Back to top↑ The case was the trial of Malchiel Greenwald 1953-5, a writer freelance who had accused Rudolf Kastner , partner of Brand in the Relief and Rescue Committee, and then a minister in the newly created state of Israel, of Collaborating with the Nazis. The government sued Greenwald for defamation on behalf of Kastner. The judge ruled against Kastner in a verdict that was overturned in part by the Supreme Court of Israel in January 1958 , but not before Kastner was assassinated in March 1957 in connection with these allegations.
  18. Back to top^ Bauer, Yehuda (1994). Jews for Sale: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933-1945 , Yale University Press, p. 163
  19. Back to top↑