FROM THE CENTROPA ARCHIVE

Wilhelm Steiner

Photo title: Wilhelm Steiner chopping wood
Photo taken in: Switzerland (late 1930s)
Time of interview: 2002
Interviewee: Wilhelm Steiner
Interviewer Tanja Eckstein

The day after Kristallnacht a provisional administrator for the store arrived. This provisional administrator was Viennese and a thief. There were thieves everywhere, official and unofficial ones. This administrator took all the money he could find; he simply put everything into his own pocket. This triggered a discussion and I protested loudly, after all I couldn't assess what was really going on. I told him, ‘You're a pig. You're stealing everything here, how can you know what will happen in two years' time? How do you know? And who knows, things may change.' Whereupon this provisional administrator, this thief locked the store from the inside and called the police. He claimed that I had insulted the ‘Führer.'

Viennese policemen arrived, arrested me and took me to the police station. The detective superintendent said to me, ‘Tell me, boy, are you out of your mind? How can you say something like that?' I denied everything and asked him, ‘Would you be so kind as to call my parents and tell them that my bicycle is in front of the store?' He actually did it. From the station I was taken to the Gestapo where I was interrogated by this young fellow, a typical Viennese. He said to me, ‘What for God's sake do you think you are doing?' To which I replied, ‘But I didn't say anything, I said nothing at all. He was stealing everything there and he probably didn't like the idea that I saw it. And so he had me arrested.'