The Nazi leaders building that force needed experienced policemen, said Michael Holzmann, the son of an Austrian Nazi who for many years has been investigating Gestapo activities in that country. “Huber seized this opportunity and went from being a small investigator to one of the most successful leaders of the Gestapo terrorist regime in former Austria,” he said.
In March 1938, after Germany annexed Austria, Huber was appointed head of the Gestapo for the most important part of the country, including Vienna, the capital. Soon after, the Gestapo began an extensive search for dissidents in Austria, and Huber gave orders to “immediately arrest undesirable Jews, particularly criminally motivated, and transfer them to the Dachau concentration camp.” A few days later, the first two transports of Jews left Vienna for the countryside, and many more would follow.
Huber remained in his post until the end of the war, receiving more and more staff and authority. During that time, 70,000 Austrian Jews who were unable to leave the country were killed, about 40 percent of the original community, while their properties were looted by the Nazis.
Eichmann confirmed at his trial that he was involved in the deportation of Jews, but refused to plead guilty to genocide, saying: “I had no choice but to follow the orders I received.”
Huber took a different approach. Speaking to an official at the Nuremberg war crimes court in 1948, who interviewed him as a witness, not as a suspect, he said he hadn’t known about the extermination until late 1944, when his deputy told him something vague.
“But the historical evidence paints a completely different picture,” says Professor Moshe Zimmerman, a historian and Holocaust scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “Eichmann may have been a more familiar face to the Jewish community, but the one who shared the responsibility for carrying out the terror against the Jews, their collection, their forced boarding on the trains, and their deportation to the camps, was the police and the Gestapo under Huber “.