David Frankfurter, a nervous, hollow-eyed young Jew born in Yugoslavia, took the train from Berne last week to the Swiss winter sports resort of Davos. He did not go there to ski, and, though Davos boasts a fine meteorological observatory, he was not interested in the weather. After hanging around town for three days, he asked his way to the home of Dr. Wilhelm Gustloff, physicist at the Davos observatory. Bustling Frau Gustloff ushered him into the study. When the Doctor rose to greet him, David Frankfurter whipped out a pistol, sent five bullets crashing into his body. Wilhelm Gustloff died instantly.
Pushing his way out of the house, David Frankfurter walked quietly across the park and surrendered to the Swiss police.
"I did it because he was a Nazi agent who poisoned the atmosphere," explained Assassin Frankfurter. "The bullets should have hit Hitler."
Oldest in point of service of all Adolf Hitler's foreign organizers was Wilhelm Gustloff, 41. He was also among the ablest, possibly because he had more than his political beliefs to recommend him to Swiss converts. An able physicist, he went to live in Davos years ago, feeling that the altitude would help his weak lungs. Even before his friend Hitler became Chancellor he began organizing Nazi groups in Switzerland.
For weeks Germany has had orders to play down all forms of anti-Semitism in view of the flood of tourists expected for the winter Olympics (see p. 37). After the murder of Nazi Gustloff there was no holding the Nazi Press. Roared Julius Streicher's Frankische Tageszeitung: "The assassination of Gustloff is another in the long series of Jewish ritual murders which began with the slaughter of the Aryans by Jews thousands of years ago and is now celebrated annually in the feast of Purim."
Germany's Minister to Switzerland, Baron Ernst von Weizsacker, on vacation, hurried to Berlin for a conference, then back to Berne to make loud protests. Swiss Vice President & Foreign Minister Giuseppe Motta had already sent an official letter of regret to Berlin, and the Swiss seemed cool to impassioned demands by Reichsführer Hitler's own newsorgan for the death sentence for the assassin. Maximum Swiss sentence for political murders is 15 years in jail. The canton of Grisons, where the crime was committed, long ago abolished the death penalty.
Still thinking of the Olympic Games, Germany dared take no obvious reprisals, but bitter little Propaganda Minister Goebbels promptly ordered that all Jewish theatrical meetings, concerts, lectures, etc. in Germany be abolished "until further notice."