Up to 2014, Alois Brunner was the most wanted Nazi war criminal. During World War Two, he was Adolf Eichmann’s (Bio Eichmann) closest associate and responsible for the deportation of tens of thousands of Jews to the extermination camps in Poland. In December 2005 it was assumend he was on holiday in Switzerland but he could not be tracked down.
Right hand man of Eichmann
Alois Brunner was born April 8, 1912 in Rohrbrunn, a little town in the Austrian province of Burgenland, son of the farmer Joseph Brunner and his wife Anna Brunner Kruiss. Alois attended school from 1948 to 1927, first the Volksschule (primary school) and later the Bürgerschule (secondary school). Next he graduated from trading school and he worked at various jobs such as salesman until 1932. May 29, 1931, he joined the Austrian branch of the NSDAP (National socialist German Workers Party) and on December 6, 1931 he joined the SA, causing him to lose his job in the department store where he worked.
After the Anscluß, the annexation of Austria by Germany on March 12, 1938, he joined the SS on November 15, 1938. In Vienna, he went to work for Adolf Eichmann, head of the Zentralstelle für Jüdische Auswanderung (Central Jewish Emigration Office). This office occupied itself with putting the Jewish community under pressure and so stimulating the Jews to emigrate from Austria. First of all Eichmann and his associates assembled all Austrian Jews in Vienna. An emigration quota was set and the Jewish community was subsequently ordered to meet this quota. The Jews were to pay for their emigration themselves and the richer Jews were to pay for the emigration of the poorer. Eichmann’s office charged high fees for emigration permits and in addition, the possessions the Jews left behind were confiscated, hence Eichmann’s Zentralstelle was a very lucrative enterprise for the SS.
Within the Zentralstelle, Brunner evolved into Eichmann’s right hand man. After the outbreak of war in September 1939, Brunner organized the deportation of Jews from Vienna and Moravia to Nisko in Poland in November and December. Around that time, Adolf Eichmann and Franz Stahlecker were working on the Nisko and Lublin plan which meant that Jews would be assembled in a transit camp in Nisko and subsequently be deported to the region of Lublin in the General Government in Poland. Here, a Jewish reservation under German rule was to be established. In 1940 though, the plan was abandoned and the camp in Nisko was closed down.
On January 1, 1941, Brunner succeeded Eichmann as chief of the emigration department in Vienna. In December 1939, Eichmann had been appointed chief of Referat IV D, a department within the RSHA which was responsible for Räumungsangelegenheiten - eviction – and Jüdische Auswanderiung (emigration). Meanwhile, emigration policy had been changed into a deportation policy as the Jews were being forcibly transferred to ghettoes in the east from where they would eventually be deported to the extermination camps. In addition, emigration was forbidden for Jews as from October 1941. In July, about 50,000 Jews were still living in Vienna and Brunner was ordered to remove them all. A large number of these Jews was deported to the extermination camps and others ended up in the ghettoes in the east. On October 9, 1942, Brunner could inform Eichmann, to the great satisfaction of the latter that Vienna was Judenfrei (free of Jews). Brunner had proved himself a gifted organizer and from 1942 onwards, he was deployed by Eichmann on locations where deportations of Jews faltered.