Biss, Andreas

Budapest-born of Jewish parents, he was brought up in Transylvania with his father’s second wife, a Christian of German-Saxon stock. Educated in German Protestant schools, he then studied Law and Economics in Vienna, finally choosing chemistry. He continued his studies in the field in Berlin and Toulouse, graduating as a chemical engineer. Upon return to Hungary, he entered industry as co-owner of an oven and industrial ceramics works. 

Although equipped with official Christian papers, he joined the Budapest Rescue Committee as the only outsider without any prior Zionist party affiliations or history. Committed to his chosen task, he lent his considerable talents selflessly to it, disregarding any personal risks. He worked closely with Kastner and with his cousin Joel Brand and the rest of the Committee and substituted for Kastner during Kastner’s absence from Budapest. He handled negotiations with the Germans and afterwards with the Russians on behalf of the Committee. Had close, personal contacts with SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Otto Klages the SD and Gestapo head in Budapest, who had direct phone access to Himmler. He knew and negotiated with Eichmann, Becher, Krumey, Wisliceny, and others, as well as with Saly Mayer in Switzerland. Headed the Rescue Committee till the end of the war in May 1945. Lived intermittently in Switzerland and Berlin.

During the Eichmann trial he was invited to Jerusalem as a witness. The day for his testimony in court was set. However, shortly before, the prosecution discovered that he would testify in Kastner's favor, he was advised to refrain from such explicit testimony and leave the part unmentioned. Biss refused. His testimony was canceled and he flew back to Europe.

He published several books recounting his Rescue Committee experiences. He died in Germany.

 

Back to the Cast