Report about Anton Schmid, written by Lonka Kozybrocka, member of the Dror (Freiheit) youth movement

This report was found in the Ringelbum Archives – the underground archive that operated in Warsaw during the Holocaust where documents, diaries, testimonies and other reports were gathered about the destruction of the Jews so that the world should know. Lonka, who was in the underground and served as a currier, was caught and killed in summer 1942

…. Soon one could easily distinguish between the "good" bosses in Vilna, who had a fair attitude to their Jewish workers, and those who were like beasts in human skin. Jewish workers in Vilna would tell about one place where the supervisor was a decent German, who sympathized with the workers, helped them and provided different services. This working place was at the railway station, in the offices of the so-called Versprengtenstelle, the authority that connected the soldiers who had lost their units….. The Jews told each other about the German who headed this unit and said, for example, that when Lithuanians caught his workers in the street and brought them to Lukishki prison, he personally came to the jailhouse and obtained their release.

He also informed them of planned German activities and their where they would take place. He would come to the ghetto and advise Jews how to save themselves. (This was done also by some other German supervisors.) The supervisor I am talking about was Anton Schmid.

On Sylvester night he invited Jewish acquaintances to his apartment, while German officers were celebrating on the first floor. The table was laden with meat and other delicacies, but also doughnuts [to mark Hannukah] provided by the Pioneers [members of the Zionist movement]. For the entire evening Schmid sat with them and spoke freely of different topics. From time to time he would leave, and explained that he had to go upstairs, to the officers' club, so that his absence would not be noticed. Shortly afterwards he would return to his guests. He raised his glass and made a toast that the pioneers would see their dream come true. The Jews told him that in the Land of Israel he would receive the golden Magen David [Star of David] award. Schmid responded: "I will wear it with the greatest possible pride". He continuously stressed that he opposed the Nazis and that he was weary of people regarding him as a Nazi sympathizer. He never missed an opportunity to speak about the Fuehrer with irony ("you know, this is what the Fuehrer said…").

He had no resolute political views. His dream was a great and independent Austria within an economically united Central Europe. In order to prevent wars, he would say, countries needed to be connected by cultural and economic ties; so that all could live according to their convictions. He believed that an independent state of Israel would be established (he also believed in a new-old country and a big and independent Austria). He often convincingly argued that Hitler would loose the war. He urged the Pioneers to save themselves. Mostly he asked them to leave the ghetto, to find some shelter and then go to Warsaw ("after all, you have many friends there who will help you"), etc. "If I wanted to return to my homeland, no one could stop me from doing so", he said. He was not after money, and only after a certain time did the rich Jews begin to make gifts to him. He trusted the Pioneers and respected them. When they would thank him, he would respond: "But we are human beings…" He wasn't a socialist, he loved free enterprise and stressed commerce developed the will and professional capability.

Schnid knew for some time that he was being followed, especially in the final period, when he expanded his activity. On 15 January [1942] he was in the ghetto, at Mrs. Glasman's house, where they were eating and drinking. The same night the military police thoroughly searched his apartment and waited for him until midnight. Since his soldiers loved him very much, they sent people to warn him….In the morning they conducted another six-hour search at Schmid's place. They took different items, including a large sum of money that belonged to the Pioneers. Schmid wasn't caught the same night. He disappeared as if the earth had swallowed him. Everybody hoped the henchmen would not capture him. When they told him he wasn't safe, he would respond: "come on, Schmid will manage on his own". They said that he was seen in Zambrow and other places. His friends tried to find him, but in vain. Only some time ago we heard that he is no longer alive. It happened in February 1942. His military execution took place in the Lukishki prison in Vilna and a squad of soldiers shot him. The court said that he was sentenced to death because he was untrue to his military oath and that he had ties with Jews. They said the name of the sentenced man was Anton Schmid…..

In December 1941 a decree was made public ordering all Jews of Vilna to obtain white or yellow identification papers. The white ones were for those who didn't work, i.e. the unproductive Jews who were to be killed (liquidation in Ponary); and the yellow papers for workers who were permitted to live. Schmid made sure that as many as possible would receive the yellow papers that would protect them from certain death. In order to obtain information about what was planned for the Jews, Schmid went to high officials, to his army acquaintances and to civilian administrators to learn from them – through a friendly chat – what was planned for those "dirty" Jews, and when they would be killed. He would mock the Jews and say how easily they could be fooled, and at the same time tried to find out what the Germans were planning. As soon as he learned something new, he would tell his Jews and order them to tell their friends so that they could hide until the situation stabilized. Although among his people were holders of white papers – and they were many – he negotiated on their behalf like a dedicated father, without fear of being punished if he was found out. He put them in his working place and provided them with food and drink. He gave them soup and bread. In short, in those chaotic days of massacres he managed to save dozens of Jews with white papers from certain death….

In the end of 1941 a rumor spread among the Jews in Vilna that they were all destined to be killed, and that they would be a little safer among Belurussian peasants. Jews began to search for ways to escape from the hands of the Lithuanian henchmen. Schmid decided to examine the situation and find out if the Jews could remain in Vilna. He went on business to Lida, and there spoke about the Jews with the local commander's adjutant. He asked what was going to happen to the local Jews, and was told that nothing would happen to them. He returned to Vilna with hope, and began to send Jews in his vehicles from Vilna to Grodno, Lida and Bialystok. First he took care of those in danger – owners of white papers. Jewish Businessmen turned to him through a man by the name of Adler, I will tell about him further on. He took 20,000 – 30,000 rubles for the service. The deal included 5-6 persons. He also saved poor people and even gave them a couple of hundred Marks so that they could live in their new location…..

Once, during an Aktion in the Vilna ghetto, Schmid entered the ghetto as usual to save his Jews. One Jewish woman who in the past had been an opera singer in Vienna recognized him. It turned out that they had lived in the same building before the war and they had been on friendly terms. She called his name and described her tragic situation, saying that her husband was in hiding due to the Aktion. The name of the couple was Adler. Without hesitating, Schmid offered Mrs. Adler to move to his apartment the following day, but forgot to give her his address. When he arrived in the ghetto the following day, he called the entire Jewish police force and asked them to find the Adlers for him, alive or dead. Finally, after thorough searches, they were found, and Schmid took them in his car and arranged a hiding place for them – not in the cellar under the workshops, but in his apartment. It should be stated that another two Jews hid in his apartment: the Jewish wife of a Lithuanian, who had Aryan papers and was working as his secretary, and a German Jewish refugee by the name of Max who had military papers….

Until a certain point it was the Adlers who maintained the contact between the Pioneers and Schmid. When the organization realized that there was no possibility to transfer people to Sweden, they decided to contact Schmid directly so that he would help them get people to Bialystok. The representatives for the first meeting were Mordechai from the HaChalutz, in the name of the Zionist movement, and Mrs. Glasman (her husband was the head of the Jewish police in Vilna) in the name of the Revisionists [right wing Zionist movement]. In order not to disrupt the first plan – to take people out – the organizations agreed before the first meeting that each side would have 50%. The first to meet with Schmid was Mordechai….

They made a presentation of the situation of Jewish youth in the Vilna ghetto, especially the problems that youth counselors were facing. He suggested that he would go on transferring as many people as possible to Belorusia. During the meeting Mordechai used the expression "you belong to the few Germans who…". Schmid stopped him and said "I'm sorry, but I'm not German, I'm an Austrian". At the second meeting Mordechai proposed the plan for transferring the people. Schmid agreed to implement the plans and to first save the youngsters. Schmid also made the following statement: "I'm satisfied that I have managed to talk to the young people. I have met youngsters like them when I was in the Land of Israel. I was in Haifa, in Tel Aviv and in the kibbutzim. I know that the Jews I have helped believe I am a fool, but I really want to help you". When Mordechai thanked him, he responded: "God, this is nothing. After all, we are human beings and it is not clear who is helping whom…I do this out of my own free will. And another thing…", and here he winked with his eye.

Warm personal relations developed between Mordechai and Schmid, and Mordechai would visit his apartment more and more often, and even sometimes spent the nights there. Once Schmid told Mordechai: "My door is always open for you, and my apartment is at your disposal".

All this took place in November 1941. The meetings continued until his arrest that happened 8-10 weeks later (around 15 January).

Schmid managed to transfer 50 people of the movement from Vilna to Lida and Bialystok. He sent 20 people to a mine near Vilna where they worked. In addition he had sent many people to Belorussia. He was arrested two days before another group was supposed to leave for Bialystok. The travel papers were already in his hands and he had planned to go to Shavli, where he wanted to get Pioneers out of the ghetto.