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The petition from the rabbis, delivered to Tiso on 8 March by Armin Frieder, condemned the deportations in emotive language.
However, the Slovak government supported the deportation of Jews and the protests were ineffective. The Working Group also begged Catholic officials to intercede on humanitarian grounds, hoping that their Christian faith would prevent them from supporting deportation.
After failing to stop the deportations, the Working Group became increasingly demoralized;  however, they attempted to save as many Jews as possible.
The Working Group tracked the destinations of the deportation trains, learning that young women were deported to Auschwitz and young men to various sites in the Lublin district where they were forced to work on construction projects.
Deportees brought chalk which they used to write the destination on the railway carriages which returned, empty, to Slovakia.
Little was known about the sites to which the Jews were being taken, however, and no information about extermination facilities was available.
Polish-speaking couriers, mostly from villages along the Polish-Slovak border, were employed to illegally cross the border and establish contact with the deportees.
According to Weissmandl, contact was established with some by late April or early May. Additional reports reached the Bratislava activists from Jews in the countryside who had special permits allowing them to travel.
By the end of the summer, the only locations with which the Working Group had not established contact were Birkenau and Majdanek. Accurate information on these camps was not available because anyone caught within eight kilometers would be summarily executed, so as late as September despite reports of an extermination camp at Auschwitz Birkenau and Majdanek were still described as heavily guarded forced-labor camps.
They also informed the Working Group of the Grossaktion Warsaw in which most of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto had been deported during the summer of Although the Working Group passed these reports on to its Swiss contacts in December, it downplayed them in its letter and sent the couriers back to confirm the reports indicating that the group doubted the accuracy of the information.
In this respect, their knowledge of the Final Solution was less complete than that in the Western world at the time. During the winter of —43, the mass murder of Jews in Lublin and harsh weather hampered the work of the couriers.
From then on, the group knew that those deported a second time had been murdered. Slovak officials promised that deportees would not be mistreated and would be allowed to return home after a fixed period.
Many tried to obtain false papers, fraudulent conversion certificates, or other exemptions. According to historian Yehoshua Büchler, the Working Group's most important sources of information on the fate of deported Jews were escapee reports.
In late July , the Working Group received a report of a massacre of Jews in Poland; as with other reports of atrocities, it forwarded the information to the Slovak government.
Church officials and cabinet members pressured the government, and Prime Minister Vojtech Tuka asked Wisliceny to authorize a delegation of Slovak priests to the General Government zone to disprove the report.
Instead of priests, the Nazis sent Wisliceny and Friedrich Fiala the Slovak editor of a fascist newspaper, who used the visit as fodder for antisemitic propaganda.
This incident probably convinced the Germans to relax their pressure on the Slovak government regarding deportations;    a transport scheduled for 7 August was cancelled, and deportations did not resume until mid-September.
In , moderate government officials who opposed the deportations could use information on the fate of deported Jews to justify their opposition.
The Slovak church also took a less favorable attitude towards renewed transports than it had the previous year, which historian Gila Fatran attributes to the Working Group's news of mass deaths.
In response to renewed Slovak demands to see the sites where Slovak Jews were imprisoned, Eichmann suggested that they visit Theresienstadt where Slovak Jews had not been sent.
The Slovak representatives were not allowed to go to Lublin, because most Slovak Jewish deportees had already been murdered.
The Polish-speaking couriers delivered money and valuables, and smuggled letters back to Slovakia. A few letters saying that the recipient's life had been extended by the aid received persuaded the Working Group to intensify its efforts in the face of increasing evidence that the deportees were being systematically murdered.
In a July letter to WJC representative Abraham Silberschein , Fleischmann reported that the Working Group had obtained only 2, addresses for the tens of thousands of deported Jews.
Zionist youth-movement activists used the information to track down deported activists and send aid to them.
In May , pressure from the Working Group caused the Slovak government to allow them to send packages of used clothing to known addresses in the Protectorate, the Reich, and the General Government zone.
The only confirmed deliveries were to Theresienstadt. This was the last substantial surviving group of Slovak Jews in the Lublin district.
Writing that the cash-strapped local community had already spent , Slovak koruna Ks on relief efforts, she asked Schwalb for a monthly budget for relief efforts.
Frieder and Weissmandl, deeply involved in the illegal relief efforts, were arrested on 22 September but continued their work when they were released.
Although the JDC later deposited this sum monthly in an account at the Union Bank of Switzerland earmarked for Working Group relief and bribery operations , it was usually insufficient for the group's needs; Fleischmann frequently had to remind the Jewish organizations in Switzerland to honor their promises to her.
The money was transferred to Bratislava via Hungary, delaying its availability. Negotiations to save Slovak Jews with bribery began at Weissmandl's initiative in mid-June Mach was skeptical about the report, however, and the deportations resumed in July.
Other officials accepted bribes from the Working Group. Although the group attempted to bribe Tiso, there is no evidence that they were successful.
The Working Group's negotiations with Dieter Wisliceny began during the summer of , when Shlomo Gross attempted to arrange emigration.
These contacts informed the Slovak Jewish leaders that Wisliceny was susceptible to bribery and the SS hierarchy was eager to get in touch with representatives of "International Jewry", whose influence on the policies of the Western Allies was greatly exaggerated in the Nazi imagination.
Hochberg, who made regular visits to Wisliceny's office, was employed as an intermediary as a last resort; the Working Group considered Hochberg a collaborator, feared that associating with him would harm their reputations, and believed him to be unreliable.
Nevertheless, Fleischmann and Weissmandl agreed that it was worth making a deal with the devil to rescue Jews.
At this point, the structure of the Working Group was formalized to improve its efficiency and the secrecy of its operations; Fleischmann was unanimously chosen to lead the bribery department.
Due to the disagreement about involving Hochberg, negotiations with Wisliceny did not begin until mid-July   or early August.
Exploiting Wisliceny's desire to contact international Jewish organizations, Weissmandl forged letters from "Ferdinand Roth", a fictitious Swiss official.
In mid-July, Hochberg brought the letters to Wisliceny. The balance of the payoff was due in late September. The meeting between Hochberg and Wisliceny probably occurred after Tuka's request to send a Slovak delegation to the General Government zone, which convinced the Germans to reduce their pressure for deportations.
Wisliceny collected the Jews' money and took credit for the reduction in transports. He simultaneously tried to persuade the Slovak government to approve the resumption of deportations, sending a memo to Tuka and Mach claiming that only indigent Jews were deported.
Wisliceny recommended raids on Jews in hiding, cancellation of most economic exceptions, and the deportation of converts who would be settled separately from Jews.
If this was done, Wisliceny claimed, twenty-three trains could be filled and Slovakia would be the first country in southeastern Europe to become Judenrein "cleansed of Jews".
Wisliceny pointed out that Tiso, a member of a rival faction of the Slovak People's Party, had recently claimed in a speech that Slovakia's development could only progress after the remaining Jews were deported.
He pretended to be on the Jews' side and was reasonable and polite, but claimed to need large sums of money to bribe his superiors.
The JDC in Switzerland was hamstrung by restrictions on sending currency to Switzerland, and had to employ questionable smugglers to bring funds into Nazi-occupied Europe.
Although Mayer was sometimes able to borrow money in Swiss francs against a postwar payment, he was unable to send the dollars demanded by Wisliceny.
When another transport left Slovakia on 18 September, Weissmandl cabled Jewish leaders in Budapest and blamed them for the deportation.
A second transport departed on 21 September, Yom Kippur. The money donated by Hungarian Jewish philanthropist Gyula Link probably arrived the next day,   although other sources report that the Working Group did not make the second payment until November.
The Working Group's contacts at the Slovak railway informed them that deportations would not resume until spring Although the group contacted Wisliceny about the evacuation of Slovak Jewish children from Lublin to Switzerland or Palestine, nothing came of it.
He proposed attempting to bribe Wisliceny's superiors into halting all transports to the General Government zone, a proposal which became known as the Europa Plan.
Many of the Working Group's members were skeptical of the plan, arguing that Wisliceny had been acting on his own. A larger-scale operation would be doomed to fail, and might trigger the deportation of the remaining Slovak Jews.
The JDC, skeptical of the proposal  and reluctant to give money to Nazis,  did not send any additional money to Switzerland.
Mayer funneled money to the Working Group  despite his reluctance to violate the Trading with the Enemy Act.
Due to miscommunication, the scale of the Europa Plan was not understood by leaders in Palestine until a March visit by Jewish Agency treasurer Eliezer Kaplan.
The Working Group's attention was diverted by the threat of resumed transports from Slovakia, which were due to begin in April They insisted that it was feasible, that the Nazis could be bribed, and the laws governing currency transfer could be bypassed.
On 2 September , Wisliceny met with Working Group leaders and announced that the Europa Plan had been cancelled  because the delay in payment caused the Nazis to doubt "Ferdinand Roth " 's reliability.
During this meeting, Wisliceny attempted to reinforce the group's trust in him by leaking information that the Nazis were in the process of transferring 5, Polish Jewish children to Theresienstadt; from there, they would be sent to Switzerland if a British ransom was paid.
He also told them that Bergen-Belsen was used to house "privileged" Jews before a potential exchange. Wisliceny left the prospect of reopening negotiations open.
When Fleischmann was caught bribing a Slovak official's wife in October , an incident known as the " Koso affair ", communications with Jewish organizations in Switzerland were severed, so the Working Group could not guarantee that it would be able to raise the money.
In early January , Fleischmann was arrested again and Wisliceny left for Berlin. The Jewish community was allowed to choose his successor; the Working Group voted unanimously for Oskar Neumann.
Planning for how to keep the remaining Jews alive during the coming Axis defeat was the focus of the group's meetings during the next few months.
The Working Group sought her release and escape to Palestine, but Fleischmann refused to leave Bratislava. After the March German invasion of Hungary, the flow reversed and Slovak and Hungarian Jews fled back across the border to Slovakia.
The Jews in Hungary had been subjected to strict antisemitic legislation and tens of thousands had been murdered, both young men conscripted into labor battalions and foreign Jews deported to Kamianets-Podilskyi , but they had not yet been deported en masse or systematically exterminated.
The Working Group played a central role in the distribution of the Vrba—Wetzler report in the spring of After the Working Group heard of Vrba and Wetzler's escape, Neumann was dispatched to interview them; the report was completed on 27 April.
Although the information was transmitted to two other Carpathian Ruthenian transit ghettos, the Jews did not act on the report. The general information in the report was smuggled into Hungary by non-Jewish couriers, reaching Budapest by early May.
By the same route, the report itself reached an antifascist Lutheran organization in Budapest in late May. There were probably other, unsuccessful attempts by the Working Group to send the report.
On 16 or 18 May, Weissmandl sent an emotional plea for help to Nathan Schwalb and detailed steps that the Allies could take to mitigate the disaster.
Among his suggestions was to " blow up from the air the centers of annihilation" at Auschwitz II-Birkenau and the rail infrastructure in Carpathian Ruthenia and Slovakia used to transport Hungarian Jews to the camp.
Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill threatened Horthy with a war-crimes trial if he did not stop the transports.
After the invasion of Hungary, Wisliceny was sent there to organize the deportation of the Hungarian Jews.
Weissmandl gave him a letter written in Hebrew saying that he was a reliable negotiator, and told him to show it to Pinchas Freudiger, Rudolf Kastner, and Baroness Edith Weiss part of an influential Neolog family.
Kastner visited Bratislava in the summer of and informed the Working Group about events in Hungary, including the release of the Kastner train to Bergen-Belsen the passengers were eventually allowed to leave for Switzerland.
He asked the Working Group to help him raise money and obtain other commodities for ongoing negotiations with SS officer Kurt Becher.
The group agreed to help, asking Kastner to request a moratorium on deportations from Slovakia. Fleischmann organized a committee of local Jewish businessmen to fulfill Kastner's requests.
After the Working Group presented Grueson with a list of vital commodities which they could provide, Grueson promised to ask his superiors to allow Slovak Jews to flee.
Before anything could be done, the Slovak National Uprising broke out after Germany invaded Slovakia. Because of Germany's imminent military defeat, much of the Slovak population and army leadership switched their allegiance to the Allies.
Increasing partisan activity in the mountains presented a dilemma for Jews and, in particular, their leadership.
To counter the perceived security threat of Jews in rural eastern Slovakia, the Slovak government proposed roundups; the Working Group convinced them to concentrate the Jews in western Slovakia.
The Slovak National Uprising, which began that day, was crushed by the end of October. About 1, Jews fought with the partisans ,  ten percent of the total insurgent force.
Jews in eastern Slovakia were deported from other Slovak camps or massacred. Some Bratislava Jews infiltrated German intelligence operations and delivered daily reports to the Working Group, which the leaders used to decide whether or not to flee.
Due to the new Slovak government and changes in the German administration, the Working Group's contacts had been disrupted. The Working Group offered Koslowski a list of goods worth seven million Swiss francs including fifteen tractors in exchange for the release of 7, Slovak Jews to Switzerland, claiming that these products initially collected for the ransom of Hungarian Jews could be shipped within a week.
Their proposal was to send the Slovak Jews to Switzerland simultaneously with the shipment of the goods in the opposite direction.
Brunner arrived in Bratislava probably on 22 or 23 September ,  and the Working Group presented the proposal to trade commodities for Jewish lives.
As a result, the Working Group recommended that the Jews in Bratislava go into hiding. Fleischmann's office was raided on 26 September, giving the Germans a list of Jews.
The Working Group, apparently not realizing the significance of this development, protested to Brunner who agreed to punish the culprits.
Among the Jews at large in the city, competing rumors foretold a large operation or nothing would happen. Deported with his family on 10 October, Weissmandl jumped off the train.
During the Holocaust, the Yishuv organizations in Istanbul noted the effectiveness of the Working Group's courier network and its inventiveness at reaching otherwise-inaccessible locations in occupied Poland, describing it as their "only window into the theatre of the catastrophe"; the Working Group's reports spurred other groups to take action to mitigate the Holocaust.
Although the aid program could not save Jews from the Final Solution, it saved an unknown number from starvation temporarily. According to Bauer, the Working Group was one of the only underground organizations in occupied Europe to unite the ideological spectrum excluding communists and to try to save Jews in other countries.
According to Israeli historians Tuvia Friling ,  Shlomo Aronson ,   and Bauer,  bribery was not a significant factor in the two-year hiatus in deportations from Slovakia.
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