Evidence for the Presence of “Gassed” Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories, Part 3
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The following article is a continuation of Thomas Kues's Evidence for the Presence of "Gassed" Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories, Part 2. Thomas Kues's analysis takes up the revisionist proposal that Jews sent to the "extermination camps" and allegedly gassed there were in fact deloused and then sent away, the vast majority of them to the occupied eastern territories. The camps therefore actually functioned as transit camps. The transit camp hypothesis is in perfect harmony with documented National Socialist Jewish policy as expressed in official and internal reports, documents on the Jewish transports, and even in classified communications between leading SS members.
4. Information Furnished by Mainstream Historians
4.1. Possible Western Jews among Soviet Partisans
In his book The Second Babylonian Captivity, Steffen Werner presents in support of his theory that the “gassed” Jews were resettled in a part of Belarus the following extract from a book on the Soviet partisan movement published in East Germany in 1976:
“Within the brotherhood of the Belorussian partisans, Czechs and Slovaks, Frenchmen and Yugoslavs, Greeks and Dutchmen, Spaniards and Austrians, Germans and members of other nations fought courageously against fascism. The Communist Party and the Soviet government attached great importance to the heroic fight of these true internationalists. For their antifascist fight alongside the partisan units of Belorussia and for the heroic deeds they accomplished, orders and medals of the USSR were conferred i.a. to 703 Poles, 188 Slovaks, 32 Czechs, 36 Greeks, 25 Germans, 24 Spaniards and 14 Frenchmen.”
The presence of Polish nationals in Belarus, Jewish or non-Jewish, could be explained by the territorial history of Belarus as well as the large number of Polish Jews who had escaped there in 1939. While it is not out of the question that partisan fighters from Czechoslovakia could have covered the distance to Belarus, it seems rather unlikely. The presence of fighters from neutral Spain is puzzling. The most likely explanation seems to be that they were antifascists who had fled to the Soviet Union after the victory of Franco. According to a news notice in the German Riga newspaper Deutsche Zeitung im Ostland from 1941 there were 3,000 Spanish nationals fighting in the Red Army. The German nationals could have been German Jews deported to Minsk in 1941-1942 who had escaped from the ghetto, but also in some cases deserted German Wehrmacht soldiers. As for the Dutchmen, Frenchmen, Yugoslavs, it is extremely unlikely that any Waffen-SS soldiers from those nations, who may have served in Belarus, ever deserted to the partisans, and even less likely that any of them would have been accepted by the partisans (generally speaking those groups did not take prisoners).
Were some of these partisans originally Western European settlers recruited by the Germans? In a final report from the Wirtschaftsstab Ost we learn that a total of 608 Dutch farmers, agronomists, gardeners, fishermen and “female laborers” were settled in Reichskommissariat Ostland and the military zone “Wi” from 1942 onward. A further 365 Dutch “pioneer” farmers were employed in the Ukraine between October 1942 and August 1943, chiefly in the districts of Kiev and Shitomir. Similar employment was planned for French, Belgian and even Norwegian farmers but was never carried through; at most some agricultural work was entrusted to Belgian and French companies. The settlers could thus hypothetically account only for the Dutch partisans. On the other hand we know from the same German economic report that the settlers were often attacked by partisans and that 33 (i.e. some 5%) of the Ostland Dutchmen as well as 9 of the settlers in the Ukraine were killed by them; a further 297 of the former group returned to the Netherlands long before the German retreat from Belarus and the Baltic states. Considering these figures it seems highly unlikely that more than a rare renegade from this group would have joined the Soviet partisan movement.
A much more likely explanation is that we are dealing with Jews who had been deported east from these countries via the “extermination camps” and later escaped from German camps or ghettos. Also in the case of the Greek nationals, it seems likely that we are dealing with deported Jews.
In another East German publication, a voluminous documentation on the partisan movement during World War II, written by the same Heinz Kühnrich as edited the previously quoted volume, we find the following information:
“On the territory of Belarus 413 Czechs and Slovaks and 211 Yugoslavs fought in the partisan divisions, in the Ukraine there were 1,848 Poles, 418 Czechs and Slovaks, 61 Yugoslavs. At the beginning of 1944, 2,000 Polish citizens fought in the Byelorussian partisan movement. In April 1944 there were more than 5,000 Poles operating on Soviet territory.” 
The information we find in the note that Kühnrich provides for this passage is still more interesting:
“In more recent research, M.I. Semiryaga presents partially diverging, partially more concrete numbers. According to his investigations, 1,216 foreigners fought in the Byelorussian partisan movement, whereof 413 Czechs and Slovaks (39 fallen), 275 Poles (22), 195 Yugoslavs (2), 69 Hungarians, 61 Frenchmen (4), 31 Belgians (6), 16 Dutchmen, 10 Romanians (9), 6 Italians (1), 3 Spaniards, 2 Bulgarians (1). In the Ukrainian partisan movement there were more than 2,500 foreigners: 1,848 Poles, 418 Czechs and Slovaks, 47 Hungarians, 61 Yugoslavs, 27 Greeks, 18 Frenchmen, 11 Romanians, 6 Bulgarians, 4 Spaniards and others.”
Thus there were in total 79 French, 31 Belgian and 16 Dutch nationals among the partisans of Belarus and the Ukraine – or at least in the partisan units surveyed (and one could easily suspect that the Soviet source regarded only pro-Soviet or at least Communist-oriented groups as “partisans”). For a likely origin of the Hungarian nationals, see §3.3.3. Needless to say, it would require access to Semiryaga’s source material – provided that he actually had personal data on the people counted in the above survey – to ascertain whether these individuals were deported Western Jews or not.
4.2. Information on deportations of Polish Jews to Belarus furnished by C. Gerlach
4.2.1. Gerlach in 1999 on Plans for Deportations to Belarus
In previous articles of this series I discussed the information provided by German Holocaust historian Christian Gerlach on testimonial evidence confirming the presence of French and Dutch Jews in Minsk. Here I will scrutinize what Gerlach has to say about the deportation of Polish Jews to Belarus. I give here first this passage from Gerlach's book in extenso with enumerated and bracketed notes inserted following each statement I have chosen to comment on.
“Most extensive were probably the deportations of Polish Jews to Belarus. Also in this case it was the question of labor forces. The offices and enterprises of the SS and Police in the so-called “Rußland-Mitte”, roughly corresponding to the eastern [military administered] part of Belarus, were to be concentrated in two cities: Mogilev and Bobruisk. In Mogilev there existed the already described forced labor camp of the HSSPF, in Bobruisk there was in early 1942 a need for manpower in connection with the construction of a large base planned for the Waffen-SS. The head of the supply commander's office of the Waffen-SS and Police of Rußland-Mitte, SS-Standartenführer Georg Martin, got the idea to establish a “KL” (concentration camp) and have Jews sent to it from Warsaw.[i] On the intervention of the RSHA 960 Jewish men and youths, part of them summoned by an appeal, part of them arrested during razzias in the Warsaw Ghetto, were then transported to Bobruisk on 30 May 1942.[ii] On 28 July a further train with Warsaw Jews reached Bobruisk; part of the Jews were sent on to Smolensk.[iii] In Bobruisk the Jews also had to perform work for units of the Wehrmacht.[iv] Of the approximately 1,500 deportees only 91 male Jews were involved in the retreat to Lublin in September 1943, since all the others had fallen victims to the constant Selections, the toil, the starvation and the terrible maltreatment. Moreover there were possibly one or more transports whose passengers were shot immediately at arrival.[v] Among these transports were possibly at least one transport with German Jews.[vi] Of interest in this context are some witness statements, according to which in 1942-43 larger mass shootings of Jews took place in or near Bobruisk with a victim figure in the range of 12,000 to 15,000, which, however, the author has not been able to verify.[vii] This goes to show to how large an extent these events remain unknown to us still today.
Polish Jews were brought by train also to Minsk. On 31 July 1942 a train arrived with 1,000 Warsaw Jews destined to work for the Luftwaffe in the Minsk area. Kube threatened to immediately exterminate all further transports arriving without pre-authorization. It is unclear, however, if this happened.[viii] Many Polish Jews were de facto kept prisoners at Trostinez in October 1942, apparently supervised by Organisation Todt; some 250 of these were transferred to the SS-Bauleitung in Smolensk.[ix] It is reported that Polish Jews were present also in the Minsk Ghetto.[x] It is not clear how many trains with Polish Jews reached Minsk.”
Below my notes and comments:
i) The source provided by Gerlach is a letter from the supply headquarters (Nachschubskommandantur) of the Waffen SS and Police of Rußland-Mitte to the SS-Führungshauptamt dated 27 March 1942, as well as follow-up letters from 7 and 11 April that same year. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why did Martin specifically request the deportation of Warsaw Jews to Bobruisk? Why not use Belarus Jews as labor, thus eliminating the need for long railway transportations? From an exterminationist viewpoint this seems decidedly odd, but not from a revisionist: As the Warsaw Jews were going to be deported to the Occupied East later that year, it would make sense for Martin to act in advance and ensure that he got the skilled Jews he needed before someone else did. In that case his initiative may have been triggered by the commencement of deportations from the Generalgouvernement (via Bełżec) ten days prior to the writing of the original letter.
ii) The source given for this statement is the diary of Adam Czerniaków, the head of the Warsaw Jewish Council (already mentioned in this article series). The exact route of this transport appears to be unknown.
iii) The only source Gerlach gives here is the testimony of Yehuda Lerner. This witness and the transport in question has already been discussed by me in §3.3.16.
iv) The sources here consist of a testimony from a certain Walther Hansen, a former member of the Kommandeur der Osttruppen who was attached to the Kosaken-Abteilung 600 in Mogilev (IfZ, Zs 405/III, p. 31) and the recollections of a “covert Jew” named Schlomo Spira.
v) It would indeed appear that the transports in May and July 1942 were not the only convoys of Polish Jews to reach Bobruisk. In 1993 the American-Jewish writer Joseph J. Preil interviewed Jack Spiegel, born in Łódź in 1918. According to Preil's summary of the interview, Spiegel was deported in October 1942 from Warsaw to Minsk, and from there sent on to Bobruisk, where he was detained in a camp until March 1944:
“He remembers a ‘horrible welcome.’ The officer said, ‘If you work, all will be fine. If not...’ He took a pistol and killed a person. After two months in Bobruisk, only one hundred of the three hundred men who had been in his bunk remained alive. The others were regularly murdered, especially on Sundays. [...]. In that camp, only ninety-one people were left alive from the original three thousand.
After Bobruisk, JS moved quickly from camp to camp: ‘Minsk - a very short stay; Majdanek - one week; Bedzin - April until November or December 1944; Mielec - two weeks; Wieliczka - two weeks.’ [...]. JS was then moved from Poland to Germany: ‘Flossenbürg - two weeks; Hersbruck - summer 1944 until March 1945; Dachau - until liberated by Americans on April 29, 1945.’”
By October 1942 the great evacuation of the Warsaw Ghetto had ceased. However, the last Jewish transport from Warsaw in 1942 departed on 21 September (carrying 2,196 Jews). According to mainstream historians these Jews were gassed at Treblinka. Could it be that Jack Spiegel was part of the 21 September 1942 convoy but erroneously remembered the departure as having taken place in October? It seems very unlikely, on the other hand, that Spiegel would have erroneously recalled a May or July transport as having taken place in October.
One should recall here that Jewish resistance leaders admonished the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto to not believe in letters from the deportees, letters according to which the writers were detained “in labor camps near Minsk or Bobruisk”.
Yitzhak Arad gives a considerably higher estimate for the number of Warsaw Jews deported to Bobruisk:
“In the course of the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto, 3,000-4,000 of its residents were moved in the summer of 1942 to the Forest Camp (Waldlager) in the woods near the city of Bobruysk. This camp served as an SS supply base. The Jews traveled by train from Warsaw to the Bobruysk railway station, and from there were driven in trucks to the Waldlager. In the camp itself these Jews were separated and kept in an area surrounded by barbed wire, and put to work under inhuman conditions. Executions in the camp began in the early fall of 1943, and by the end of summer-early fall of 1943, most of the Jewish inmates of the Waldlager had already been shot. Ditches dug along the Bobruysk-Minsk railway line served as the execution site.”
Curiously, in the German edition of the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust the camp in Bobruisk is described as “a transit camp for Jews from the West”.
vi) For this information Gerlach lists two witnesses: a testimony from an “H.S.” who claimed to have participated in the killing of a transport of 1,500 Jews from Germany, and the statement of “H.K.”, who testified to having had a conversation in the Bobruisk labor camp with a Jew from Mönchengladbach. As already noted (3.3.16) the Jews from Mönchengladbach were deported to Auschwitz, Riga, Łódź and Theresienstadt. From the latter two locations German Jews were sent to Chełmno, Auschwitz, and Treblinka.
vii) The sources for this consist of references to three German court witnesses, as well as a letter and a court testimony left by a certain Reinhold Grabow, an official of the economic administration, the latter being partially reproduced in a well-known collection of testimonies and documents. In the reproduced passage the location is indeed Bobruisk or its vicinity, but the timeframe specified by Grabow is not “1942-43” but specifically a period of some days in April or May 1942, and the nationality of the Jewish victims is not mentioned. According to the official version of events all Jews in Bobruisk and its vicinity had been exterminated by November 1941; there thus should have been no Jewish massacres for Grabow to witness. Now we may ask ourselves: If the massacre described really did take place, and if the Jews that were murdered had been brought to Bobruisk from Poland, why had not the Germans killed these Jews on-site in Poland? Moreover: Why kill all these Jews if there was “a need for manpower” in the Bobruisk area during the same period (as mentioned by Gerlach)? While interesting as an anomaly, Grabow’s testimony clearly has little to say about deportations from Poland to Belarus. What is important here is not Grabow’s statement itself, but Gerlach’s comment on it, which implies that this major expert on the fate of the Jews of Belarus believes it fully possible that tens of thousands of Polish Jews were deported to the area of Bobruisk in 1942-1943 – a notion that is clearly irreconcilable with orthodox holocaust historiography. Gerlach’s speculation is no doubt informed by the fact that Bobruisk frequently appears in reports and supposedly forged letters as a destination of Jews evacuated from Warsaw in 1942 (cf. §3.3.16, 3.6.).
viii) The transport of 1,000 Polish Jews arriving in Minsk on 31 July 1942 – one week after the opening of the Treblinka “death camp” and the beginning of the great evacuation of the Warsaw Ghetto – has already been discussed by Jürgen Graf and Carlo Mattogno.
In a telegram sent 31 July 1942 the Generalkommissar for Weissruthenien, Wilhelm Kube wrote to his superior, the Reichskommissar for the Ostland, Heinrich Lohse, about the arrival of 1,000 Warsaw Jews. These Jews had been sent to the Minsk military airport without himself or the “relevant leader of the SS and Police” being informed in advance, Kube protested, maintaining that the Jews could cause outbreaks of epidemics and might also contribute to partisan activity. On 5 August Lohse replied, stating that “the practical realization of the solution of the Jewish problem is exclusively a matter for the police”, that protests were thus futile, and that it was Kube’s responsibility to see to that the herding together (Zusammenballung) of Jews did not create a threat of epidemics.
While it cannot be proven at this point that the convoy in question passed through Treblinka the documented fact that it took place proves beyond any doubt that Warsaw Jews who were deported during the period of operation of the Treblinka “death camp” ended up to the east of it, across the Bug River.
That Kube in his 31 July 1942 telegram protested against “further independent import of Jews” (weiterer selbständiger Judeneinfuhr) implies the implementation of other transports in cooperation with his authority, and that the arrival of further transports might be acceptable provided that he be notified beforehand. Considering the date of this transport it most likely departed from Warsaw during the first week of the ghetto evacuation. Could it be that this was the first of a series of transports of Warsaw Jews to Minsk, but that information concerning it had not yet reached Kube by the end of July? One should recall here that the first commandant of the Treblinka “extermination camp”, Dr. Irmfried Eberl, was reportedly sacked due to incompetence.
That the deportation of Jews to the occupied eastern territories was to continue regardless of the protests of local satraps is clear also from another incident. In his footnote to the discussed passage Gerlach writes that “A further complaint of Kube’s regarding a transport of 400 Polish Jews to Baranovichi depended on false information.” The document referred to, however, does not concern Polish Jews, but Reich Jews. On 11 August 1942 the Generalkommissar of Weissruthenien again wrote to the Reichskommissar of the Ostland, stating that
“The Gebietskommissar of Baranowitsche has reported to me that the OT-Gruppe Nürnberg, Construction Office Baranowitsche, has been allotted 400 Jews from the Reich for labor by their superior administrative office on the instruction of assistant secretary of state [Ministerialdirektor] Schönlebe.
The Gebietskommissar of Baranowitsche correctly points out that he has declined the reception of Jews to Baranowitsche because of the manifest reason that the possibility of accommodation is lacking but also due to the need for a general decrease of the Jewish labor force in Baranowitsche.
I fully share the viewpoint of the Gebietskommissar and further refer to the fact that there exists no work-related need for the reception of Reich German Jews into Weissruthenien; to the contrary, an increase of Jewry in Weissruthenien would give rise to serious political concerns. Only a minute number of the Reich German Jews are skilled workers, and experience moreover shows that their capacity for labor is very small. It is intolerable that individual higher administrative offices [einzelne höhere Dienststellen] are able to bring Jews from the Reich into specific parts [einzelnen Gebieten] of Weissruthenien without making advance inquires to me.
I therefore ask that appropriate measures are taken to inhibit on principle further Jewish transports from the Reich and further for an instruction that such transports are not to be let into my Generalbezirk.”
Illustration 1: The 11 August 1942 letter from the Generalkommissar of Weissruthenien to the Reichskommissar for the Ostland.
After erring about the nationality of the Jews in question Gerlach continues his footnote by giving a reference to a letter of apology from Kube to Lohse dated 25 August, which supposedly makes it clear that the news of the transport of the 400 Jews was all a misunderstanding. The author has not been able to review this document and can therefore not make any statement regarding its content. However, on 24 August 1942 the Reichskommissar wrote a letter, in which he stated that he would allow the Jewish transports carried out on instruction of the Reichsführer SS and the Sicherheitshauptamt without further protests unless contrary orders were received, despite Kube’s protests that the arrival of “further Jewish transports from the Reich to Weissruthenien” would “significantly increase the partisan danger”, the local security police already being busy fighting partisans. On the other hand Lohse concurred with the suggestion that Jewish transports to the Ostland for the purpose of labor (“aus Gründen des Arbeitseinsatzes”) should be “handled and decided on only by a central office” (“nur eine Zentralstelle die Hereinnahme weiterer Juden in das Ostland bearbeiten und entscheiden darf”).
Illustration 2: Lohse’s letter from 24 August.
Finally, in a classified letter dated 30 September 1942 we read that the Reichskommissar, i.e. Lohse had personally decided not to voice any objections “against further Jewish transports to the Ostland.” Here again it is confirmed that “This question is exclusively the responsibility of the security police” and that accordingly it was up to the Commander of the Security Police (KdS) in Weissruthenien to file objections against the arrival of transports.
Illustration 3: Letter from 30 September 1942 on the allowance of further transports to Reichskommissariat Ostland.
Two things are especially noteworthy about the contents of the three documents quoted above. First, the orthodox and judicially sanctioned version of events has it that following March or April 1942, all Jewish transports to Generalbezirk Weissruthenien from the Reich and the Protectorate were exterminated immediately on arrival on the orders of Heydrich and/or Himmler. This mass murder was allegedly carried out at the Maly Trostenets “death camp” south-east of Minsk, or in one instance on the outskirts of Baranovichi. But if this was indeed the case, why did Kube complain about the arriving Jews comprising a danger in regards to epidemics and possible partisan activities. Wouldn’t such a complaint have been moot?
Second, it follows from the third letter that continued transports to Reichskommissariat Ostland were expected as late as 30 September 1942. This does not fit very well with the established version of events, according to which at the most three further transports arrived following that date (in October and November 1942). However, as we have already seen in §3.3.14, the labor administration department of the Gebietskommissariat Riga emphatically recommended in April 1943 the influx of foreign Jews into the Generalbezirk of Latvia, which was a constituent part of the Reichskommissariat Ostland.
The suggestion regarding a “central office” for the handling and decision-making vis-à-vis the Jewish transports to the Ostland brings up an important question, namely how the resettlement of the Jews was practically administered. From documents such as the correspondence of Ganzenmüller and Wolff and the Reuter memo it appears that the transports to the transit camps were carried out according to schedules, with a set number of Jews sent to the Reinhardt camps daily or weekly. Testimonial as well as archeological evidence indicates that the arrivals in these three camps underwent some form of registration. According to a 15 November 1942 report on Treblinka the deportees after their arrival at the camp were subdivided according to their professions:
“To make the Jews believe that actual classification according to trades would take place at the arrival-square in order to send occupational groups for labor, they placed small signs with the inscriptions: Tailors, Shoemakers, Carpenters, etc. It goes without saying that such segregation never took place.”
Then there is the documentary and testimonial evidence showing that transports of Jewish skilled workers were specifically requested by various authorities and organizations, in particular Organisation Todt and affiliated enterprises (e.g. Baltöl). Most likely the personnel in the transit camps and Globocnik’s Reinhardt organization were focused on the practical handling of the operation. As for the decisionmaking and overall logistics, the correspondence of Kube and Lohse suggests that it was far from ideally organized and moreover carried out with little cognizance on the part of the local civilian administrations. Hopefully future research will shed more light on this issue.
ix) This statement is based on the March 1960 interrogation of “H.W.”, a member of the SS-Zentralbauleitung Rußland-Mitte, the interrogation of Karl Buchner from October 1945, as well as a statement from the Minsk ghetto inmate Anna Krasnoperko and the 1962 testimony of “E.S. (Trostenets survivor)”, no doubt identical with Ernst Schlesinger, who claims to have been deported from Dachau to Maly Trostenets in June 1942. The presence of Polish Jews in Trostenets is further corroborated by the testimony of the inmate Isak Grünberg (§3.3.10.).
x) As source for this is given a reference to an early post-war testimony from none other than the already mentioned City Commissar of Minsk, Wilhelm Janetzke, a man who certainly was informed about the Jewish population of the city. That Jews from Poland had been deported to Minsk in great numbers was apparently acknowledged as a common fact by the local population, because in an ”Address of the citizens of Minsk to Stalin” published in Pravda in August 1944, we read the following:
“The German fascist invaders had driven 50,000 people from Minsk and the surrounding districts into the so-called ghetto; in addition, over 40,000 Jews had been brought to the Minsk ghetto from Hamburg, Warsaw and Lodz.”
The mention of Łódź besides Warsaw indicates that Minsk served as the destination for transports from not only Treblinka, but also from Chełmno. As seen below (§4.5.) Zionist authorities had been informed in spring 1942 of deportations of Jews from Łódź to Minsk.
Gerlach’s comment that “this goes to show to how large an extent these events remain unknown to us still today” perfectly sums up the situation. Here we have a prominent holocaust historian who admits that tens of thousands of Polish Jews may have been sent to Minsk, Bobruisk, Mogilev and other locations in Generalbezirk Weissruthenien, and that we know little about the number and nature of the Jewish transports to these locations. In light of this, how are we to take seriously the official claim that no mass resettlement of Polish Jews to the east took place, and that documented instances of transports of Polish Jews to Minsk and elsewhere constitute singular exceptions?
4.2.2. Gerlach in 1997 on Plans for Deportations to Mogilev
In a 1997 article Christian Gerlach puts forth the hypothesis that the German authorities in late 1941 were planning to open a camp in Mogilev in eastern Belarus, to where Jews from western and central Europe were to be deported. Gerlach begins his discussion of this “labor and extermination camp” by quoting a statement made by Heydrich at a 10 October 1941 conference in Prague on “Jewish questions” in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Heydrich here states that the heads of Einsatzgruppen B and C, “SS-Brigadeführer Nebe and Rasch could take Jews into the camps for communist prisoners in the operational area. According to [a] statement from SS-Sturmbannführer Eichmann this is already in process [eingeleitet].” Gerlach comments:
“For a long time no one believed that that camp existed, so Heydrich’s remark seemed to make little sense. Historians have ignored his comment or interpreted it as camouflage for the ‘destruction in the East.’ But such a camp in fact existed, not under the control of Einsatzgruppe B (headquartered in Smolensk) but the Higher SS and Police Leader (HSSPF) ‘Russia Center,’ Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, who had his headquarters in Mogilev. This camp had been set up shortly before Heydrich’s meeting. The commander of the rear area of Army Group Center, General von Schenckendorff, informed his troops that, ‘Since 29 September a labor camp for suspicious vagabond civilians (men, women, teenagers) has been set up by the Higher SS and Police Leader in Mogilev. If arrested civilians are not brought to the next POW camp, they must be taken to the labor camp. Similar camps are planned in Vitebsk and later in Smolensk.’”
Smolensk as well as Vitebsk and Mogilev were located in the operational area, i.e. the conquered territories under military jurisdiction.
Gerlach suggests – based exclusively on testimonial evidence – that plans for the installation of a homicidal gas chamber in the Mogilev camp were hatched following Himmler’s (documented) visit to Mogilev on 23-25 October 1941. He goes on to write:
“The general context suggests that Himmler's journey to Mogilev and Smolensk had something to do with plans for deportations of Jews. On October 23 he wanted to meet the Generalkommissar for so-called ‘White Ruthenia,’ Wilhelm Kube, and possibly intended to officially inform him on the planned transports to Minsk. At about the same time civil administration officials in Riga and Berlin were officially informed. It is not known if a meeting between Himmler and Kube took place, but in any case the Reichsführer met the SS and Police Leader of White Ruthenia, Carl Zenner, in Mogilev. Zenner may have given him a report on the massacre of Borissov carried out two days before by a unit of Security Police and SD from Minsk under the command of Zenner, who was not in charge of the city. [...]. In Borissov there were rumors among the civil population ‘that the houses of the Jews which have become empty now shall be prepared for Jews from Germany, who shall also be liquidated like the Jews from Borissov earlier!’”
Gerlach next outlines a vague yet intriguing hypothesis posed by two other holocaust historians:
“Götz Aly has argued that the German authorities pursued at times a project to deport a portion of European Jewry by ship to ‘reception camps in the East’ because the occupied Soviet territories’ railways were overburdened. Aly also suggested that the Jews were to be brought to Mogilev on the rivers Pripet and Dnieper; he could not prove it, but reached the conclusion deductively. Richard Breitman has also considered the possibility that Himmler sent for Eichmann during a visit to Kiev on October 2 and 3, to talk to him about shipping Jews to the German-occupied part of the Soviet Union. Kiev is situated on the river Dnieper as is Mogilev. In fact, there is another hint of this plan.
On August 16, 1941, SS-Standartenführer Fritz Allihn was hired by the Reich Ministry of Transportation as the manager of an extensive ship construction program. As head of the ‘Staff for the construction of wooden ships,’ later under the command of the Generalkommissar of Volhynia and Podolia, he was commissioned to build a large number of ‘makeshift’ (‘behelfsmäßige’) inland wooden ships with a short life span for ‘the Dnieper-Bug system,’ the only waterway between the Reich and Ukraine. This construction program was supposed to complete an extension of the river Bug, a project that had been already started under the control of the General Inspector of Water and Energy, Albert Speer. Allihn’s main plant for the project was the ‘state shipyard’ in Pinsk, a factory with nearly 1,000 employees.”
Gerlach goes on to mention that “on September 11, 1941, the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle (VoMi) began looking for ethnic Germans in their camps who had come from the Soviet Union and were ‘inland boatsmen with exact knowledge of the Russian streams and canals’” and that “Various sources emphasized how important and urgent Allihn's mission was.” According to Gerlach, the only “important Soviet canal” conquered by the Germans was the Dnieper-Bug canal, between Kobryn and Pinsk.
Aly’s source that Jews were to be sent by ships to “reception camps in the East” is a note of the chief of the “Judenreferat” at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Franz Rademacher, dated 25 October 1941, which refers to the fate of the remaining Serbian Jews. As already mentioned in the first installment of this article series (§2.4.5.) these Jewish women, children and elderly were allegedly murdered in “gas vans” near the Sava River in March–May 1942. This could be a hint that they were in fact sent along this river, which joins the Danube. A possible alternative destination for these Jews could thus be Romania, and likely Transnistria. Needless to say they could have been brought by ship to Belarus, something which indicates that the German plans for deportations of Jews using waterways were not limited to the Dnieper-Bug canal.
The apparent plans for waterway mass deportations using barges or similar eventually came to naught, at least if we are to believe our cautiously semi-heretical German Holocaust historian:
“The ‘great’ projects did not succeed, the economic aims failed, as did plans for deportations of Jews by ship, if they had ever existed. There was no slack in the German war economy – so there was not only a shortage of railway engines and cars but also ships. In the summer of 1942, Fritz Allihn was relieved of his position by the Reichskommissar of Ukraine, after his methods alienated other authorities. (…). By that time the partisans were able to paralyze the Bug-Dnieper almost completely anyway. By the end of March 1942 its extension was officially considered unimportant to the war effort, and the project was shelved. The Dnieper-Bug Canal remained silted up. Only a few ships ever passed this waterway on a trial basis under German rule, and even that was possible only during floods. Shipping on the Dnieper from the South was decisively hindered because the Soviets had blown up the huge dam near Dniepropetrovsk.
Any plans to transport Jews to the East by water never even came close to realization. In the autumn of 1941 time was too short, then the rivers froze over, and before they thawed out in 1942, transportation and economic authorities had already abandoned the projects to extend the Dnieper-Bug Canal. The SS apparently did not give up the idea of an extensive extermination camp in Mogilev until 1942, when the crematoria intended for Mogilev were delivered to Auschwitz. Transportation of Jews across the Black Sea and upstream to Kiev or Mogilev was practically impossible before April 1943, but by then the German retreat from the Ukraine as already under way.
Despite two testimonies on the contrary, no train with German or Polish Jews ever seems to have arrived in Mogilev. Whether the SS could have carried out major construction in this half-destroyed city remains unknown. But considering the construction of the Waffen-SS and police Supply Command in nearby Bobruisk, it should not have been impossible. In 1942 at least two transports with about 1,500 Jewish workers from Warsaw arrived in Bobruisk (only 91 were alive one year later).
Mogilev’s labor camp, intended for service as an extermination center, was dissolved in September 1943 upon the partial withdrawal of Army Group Center. According to eyewitnesses, the number of prisoners may have remained as high as 4,000 or fallen to 1,000.”
The testimonies concerning the presence of “German or Polish Jews” in Mogilev which Gerlach refers to are 1) a “letter of R.S., 25 March 1959, and his interrog[ation], 5 August 1958” which reportedly speak of “a supposed execution of 300 German Jews in October 1941”, and 2) a “Report of M. Nicaise, Belgian Consul in Stockholm, based on an eyewitness account of August 1944, US National Archives, Record Group 226, Plain Number File, Document 102832(NND 750140”. As for the first source, the date of the alleged execution (at least one week before the first direct transport of Reich Jews to the East) clearly speaks against its veracity. As for the second source the author has not yet been able to access it. It is worth noting, however, that according to Yitzhak Arad, 400 Jews “from Baranovichi or from the General Government region” were brought to the Mogilev civilian prisoner camp (Zivilgefangenenlager) sometime in 1942. Unfortunately Arad provides no source for this statement. Gerlach writes in an endnote that besides the two testimonies already mentioned, “There are other hints at the arrival of German Jews in Borissov and Bobruisk, but no proof”.
In the context of waterway transports of Jews it should be pointed out that both Treblinka and Sobibór are located less than 10 km away from the Bug River, which formed part of the 1939 Soviet-German demarcation line. Although most likely the Jews transited east via these two camps were sent on trains, the possibility that some Jews may have been sent away on ships should not be entirely excluded. It should be recalled here that more than 100,000 Romanian Jews were shipped across the Dniestr in the period September 1941 – June 1942.
4.3. Wendy Lower on the 12 January 1942 Koch-Prützmann Memoranda
In a book from 2005, Holocaust historian Wendy Lower mentions that Reichskommissar Erich Koch and the SS and Police leader Hans-Adolf Prützmann in early 1942 were involved in drawing up plans for the deportation of German Jews to the Ukraine:
“Beyond Ukraine’s borders, the genocidal approach to ghettoization was also applied to Western European Jewry. At the Lodz, Riga, and Minsk ghettos, for example, German Jewish deportees stayed briefly before being shot or gassed. Koch and Higher SS and Police Leader Hans-Adolf Prützmann (Jeckeln’s successor) considered Ukraine as a possible dumping ground for Europe’s Jews. In a joint memorandum of 12 January 1942, Koch and Prützmann stated that the policy for establishing ghettos was still not defined, but they asked the regional commissars as well as the SS-policemen to identify possible future ghettos near railway links where Reich Jews could be brought. As it turned out, Reich Jews were not deported to Ukraine, but the Koch-Prützmann memo reveals that by late 1941 or early 1942 ghettos in Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe had been transformed into something unprecedented in Europe’s long history of anti-Judaism. Under the Nazis ghettos became transit centers and holding 'pens' for facilitating the mass murder.”
Lower provides the following source and elucidation:
“Joint memo from Koch and Prützmann to the Generalkommissare, BdO,
BdS, and SSPF. They asked that the information about remaining Jews, their locale, and accessible train routes for Reich Jews be provided by 1 Mar. 1942. Memo dated 12 Jan. 1942, ZSA, P1151-1-137, p. 8.”
It is interesting to compare the above information with a letter from Eichmann dated 14 April 1942. Some two months earlier, at the beginning of February 1942, Romanian authorities deported 10,000 Jews from the Romanian-occupied western part of the Ukraine known as Transnistria over the Bug River at Vosnessensk into the Generalkommissariat Nikolajew, which was part of Reichskommissariat Ukraine. The Romanians had planned for the expulsion of a further 60,000 Jews, but this was promptly stopped by the Germans, since the Romanians apparently had never asked the Germans (or at least not the right German authorities) for permission in the first place. In his letter Eichmann made the following comment on the event (emphasis added):
“(...) through this planless and premature [vorzeitige] expulsion of Romanian Jews into the Occupied eastern territories the already ongoing evacuation of the German Jews is strongly inhibited [stärkstens gefährdet].”
Here Eichmann not only implies that the Jews collected by the Romanians in Transnistria would eventually be moved further east – something which I will return to later on in this survey – but also states that the uncontrolled expulsion of Romanian Jews into RK Ukraine would “inhibit” the “already ongoing” evacuation of Jews from the German Reich. From the viewpoint of mainstream historiography this does not make much sense, as it denies transports of German Jews to the Ukraine. If considered together with the memoranda referenced by Lower, however, it makes perfect sense and moreover indicates that the plans for such transports were still on the table by mid-April 1942, if not later. Needless to say, it would be a major obstacle for the Germans, and the RSHA in particular, if ghettos in the Ukraine that they were preparing for Reich Jews were suddenly swamped by 70,000 Romanian Jews arriving unannounced.
As no German Jews were being “gassed”, i.e. transited east, during the first four months of 1942, it seems likely that by “ongoing evacuation” Eichmann was referring to the initial stage of the deportation, i.e. the transfer of Reich and Protectorate Jews to Warsaw, Łódź and the Lublin District, from where they were to continue east by way of the “extermination camps”.
It may be of importance that the Jews expelled from Transnistria in February 1942 crossed the Bug into Generalkommissariat Nikolajew, near the Black Sea. This indicates that they crossed over not far from the town of Ochakov (Oceacov), where it is reported that 14,000 Dutch and Belgian Jews had arrived by April 1943 (cf. §3.7.5). Was Ochakov a transit point for Jews deported from Transnistria to Reichskommissariat Ukraine?
4.4. Dieter Pohl
Christian Gerlach, Wendy Lower and Götz Aly are not the only exterminationists who have made mention of concrete plans for the deportation of Reich Jews to Belarus and the Ukraine. Holocaust historian Dieter Pohl describes the pre-Barbarossa plans thus:
“In conjunction with preparations for the campaign against the Soviet Union, early in 1941 new plans arose in Berlin for the ‘Solution of the Jewish Question.’ For the first time, however, they concerned more than the Jews in Germany or Poland. Under consideration were plans to expel all Jews from territories under German rule to the occupied Soviet Union, either to the Pripyat marshes in Belorussia or to the Arctic Sea. Accordingly, on 17 March 1941 Hitler remarked to Hans Frank that all Jews were to be expelled from the General Government eastward. Thereafter the General Government administration halted until further notice all plans for Jews. In particular, plans to construct more ghettos were put on hold.”
In another text Pohl writes:
“On 10 October  Heydrich himself was still speaking about camps in the operational area of Einsatzgruppe Commander Rasch to which Jews could be deported. Up to the present these hints have not been followed up, nor are any corresponding deportations known. It is a fact that in January 1942 the deportation of Jews into the Reichskommissariat was foreseen, in particular to Shepetovka, where they were to be put to work building roads. Apparently this intention was stopped by the Gebietskommissar responsible for the area.”
The town of Shepetovka is located in western Ukraine, between Rovno and Zhitomir. The source given by Pohl for this “apparently” abandoned deportation plan consists of two documents, one from a Ukrainian archive, another from a German archive, together with an interrogation statement dating from 1959. The author has not yet had the opportunity to view these documents. This issue clearly warrants further research.
4.5. Jean-Claude Favez's Study on the Red Cross and the Holocaust
In 1988 French historian Jean-Claude Favez published Une mission impossible?, an interesting study on the International Committee of the Red Cross and its involvement in wartime aid operations targeting Jews in Europe, and in particular the contemporaneous knowledge of the ICRC concerning the German treatment of Jews. In 1999 an English translation of Favez's book appeared under the title The Red Cross and the Holocaust.
In Favez's survey of wartime ICRC memoranda and documents concerning the Jews we find the following three passages relevant to the theme of our study:
- On 14 November 1942 Roland Marti, the chief ICRC delegate in Germany, “reported from Berlin that French-speaking Jews had been seen in the Riga area 'herded together', and the weakest eliminated.”
- In mid-October 1942 the Geneva representative of the World Jewish Congress, Gerhart Riegner, passed on to the ICRC a report written by the Jew Isak Lieber on 6 October that year. Favez summarizes: “Lieber had been arrested on 12 August  in Brussels and deported first to Upper Silesia, then to the Eastern Front, where he learned from a German officer that Jews unfit for work were being exterminated. Lieber managed to escape, and reached Geneva via France at the end of an incredible two-month odyssey.” During this period all Jewish convoys departing from Belgium had as their destination Auschwitz – which is located in Upper Silesia.
- “On 15 April 1943 [Roland] Marti reported that only 1,400 Jews were left in Berlin and would soon be evacuated to Auschwitz, Pless, Lublin, Riga and Reval [Tallinn]” (emphasis added). By this point in time more than seven months had passed since the last known (direct) Jewish transport from the Reich to the occupied Baltic States.
As for the testimony of Isak Lieber this cannot be admitted as evidence for our hypothesis, as good as it may sound. In an article on Riegner the late revisionist researcher Jean-Marie Boisdefeu has pointed out that Lieber in his testimony to Belgian authorities stated that he had been sent not to Stalingrad, but to the coast of France to work on construction of the “Atlantic wall”. Moreover, the name of Isak Lieber is not to be found in the transport lists of Jews deported east from the Malines collection camp. The author has confirmed that no Isak Lieber (or any variant of that name) appears in the transport lists for the relevant period (July-August 1942). While it cannot be 100% ruled out that Lieber was on a transport under another name, or (as Klarsfeld and others confirm sometimes happened) he was a last-minute addition to one of the transports, and that for some reason he later lied about his deportation to the Belgian authorities, we cannot accept his testimony as evidence for the present hypothesis on grounds of unreliability.
As for the “French-speaking Jews” seen in Riga this fits well with the 16 October 1942 report in Israelitisches Wochenblatt für die Schweiz according to which “of late, transports of Jews from Belgium and other western European countries were observed in Riga, but they moved on immediately to other destinations” (§3.1.2) as well as the statements from A. Jablonski (§3.2.3), Szema G. (§3.3.14.) and Friedrich Jeckeln (§3.3.5.) concerning transports of Jews from Belgium and/or France to the Riga area. It is worth noting that the French-speaking Jews were seen “herded together”, implying detainment in camps or ghettos.
4.6. Walter Laqueur's The Terrible Secret
In his 1980 book The Terrible Secret holocaust historian Walter Laqueur chronicles how the “facts” concerning the alleged mass extermination of Jews were disseminated during the war years, and the reasons why these “facts” were more often than not disbelieved or at least met with cautious skepticism. In his survey of contemporary news reports Laqueur manages to exclude those most blatantly contradicting the extermination camp hypothesis, but there is still one passage of interest to us, namely his description of the 1942 reports of Zionist delegate Meleh “Noi” Neustadt:
“May 1942 he [Neustadt] returned to Palestine and in two long addresses [on 25 and 27 May], in closed session, he gave the most detailed and authoritative account available at the time to the Jewish leadership. There was no one better informed at the time. Noi had established contact from Turkey with fifty Jewish communities in Poland and with virtually every other European country. He had discovered, much to his surprise, that with certain exceptions (the Baltic countries and eastern Poland) communication could easily be established. Air letters from occupied countries took ten to twelve days, cables were sent and received, and one could even book long-distance telephone calls. Noi noted that Jews in Eastern Europe did not like to use the telegraph so as to not attract attention. On the other hand, he said that inside Nazi-occupied Europe Jewish emissaries were frequently traveling from one place to another, that illegal newspapers were published and that there were regional and even nationwide meetings.
The bad news was the fate of Croatian and part of Romanian Jewry of which he was fully informed. There had been victims in Eastern Galicia. Lodz was more or less cut off from the outside world. There was no direct contact but it had been learned that 'unproductive elements' had been deported from Lodz to Minsk, Kovno and Riga. Noi said that it was pointless to comment on the rumours concerning the fate of the Jews of eastern Poland (and the Baltic countries); one simply did not know. But he also said that 'nothing was more harmful than 'exaggerated information' which weakened or even put into doubt correct news about real atrocities.”
Laqueur goes on to remark that “Chelmno was not taken seriously and the beginning of 'evacuation' from most Polish ghettos was not reported” - elsewhere he points out that “Chelmno (...) was opened on 8 December 1941; the news was received in Warsaw within less than four weeks and published soon afterwards in the underground press.”
But Neustadt did indeed report ghetto deportations: the evacuation of “unproductive elements” from the Łódz ghetto to “Minsk, Kovno and Riga” – a population transfer which is unknown to exterminationist historians but which is confirmed, as for Latvia and Lithuania, by the diaries of Kruk (§3.3.1.) and Tory (§3.3.19.) and in regards to Minsk by the testimony of Nikolayev Prilezhaev. One should also recall the above quoted (§4.2.) “Address of the citizens of Minsk to Stalin” mentioning the deportation of Łódz Jews to the Minsk Ghetto.
The deportation of these Jews from the Warthegau District to the Occupied eastern territories no doubt went via Chełmno, even though the name of this transit camp may not have been known to Neustadt’s informants. Laqueur’s remark is further flawed by the fact that by the beginning of May 1942 only two other major Polish ghettos had been affected by deportations to “extermination camps”, namely Lublin and Lvóv (to Bełżec).
As for the “bad news” reported by Neustadt it must be noted that Croatian Jews by that time had not yet been deported to Auschwitz. In Romania the Jews of the annexed Bessarabia and Bukovina had been deported to crowded and disease-ridden ghettos in Romanian-occupied Transnistria.
Neustadt's description of how easy it was to establish contacts with Jews in German-occupied Europe speaks for itself. Would the Germans really have allowed this situation if they were trying to conceal a mass extermination program directed against Europe's Jews?
In the conclusion to his book Laqueur maintains that:
“After July 1942 (the deportations from Warsaw) it is more and more difficult to understand that there still was widespread confusion about the Nazi designs among Jews in Poland, and that the rumours were not recognized for what they were – certainties.”
In fact, as shown in this article series, the Jews in occupied Poland had ample reason to believe that they were indeed being transferred to the occupied eastern territories. It would thus appear that the Zionist delegate Meleh Neustadt in 1942 was more accurate and objective in regards to these events than the later-lionized historian Laqueur thirty-eight years later.
Survey: JTA Daily News Bulletin reports on deportations to the Occupied Eastern Territories
The 1942 reports of Meleh Neustadt raise the question: What did contemporary Zionist leaders know about the fates of the deported Jews? This question could no doubt only be answered by research into archives that skeptical inquirers are barred from consulting. However, some hints may be gleaned from what was reported by one of the major Jewish-Zionist news sources of that era, the Daily News Bulletin of the New York-based Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). Below I will present a number of news items relating to the deportation of Jews to the Occupied Eastern Territories in chronological order interspersed with brief commentary.
25 September 1941 (p. 1):
“Nazis plan to transfer Polish Jews to occupied Soviet territory
ZURICH, Sep. 24 (JTA) – Jews in Nazi-held Poland will be transferred to various sections of Soviet territory now occupied by the German military forces, it is reported in the Krakauer Zeitung, official Nazi organ in Poland, reaching here today.
The Nazi newspaper reveals that an expedition of German professors and students has reached Warsaw for the purpose of making an extensive study of Jewish life in the ghetto there. The Warsaw ghetto will, according to the Krakauer Zeitung, be studied as ‘an experimental station’ to establish to what extent the Jews can support themselves when completely isolated from the rest of the population. Upon the completion of the survey in Warsaw, the Nazi administration in Poland will receive instructions from Berlin, with specific plans for the distribution of Polish Jews in various sections of Nazi-occupied Russia, the paper states.”
20 October 1941 (p. 1):
“Thousands of Jews Expelled from Germany to Pinsk Swamps in Poland
STOCKHOLM, Oct. 19 (JTA) – Five thousands Jews, the majority of them between 50 and 80 years of age, have been expelled from Berlin to Nazi-held Poland since Friday in a renewed wave of mass-expulsions of Jews from the Reich, it is reported here today by the Berlin correspondent of the Swedish newspaper Social Demokraten.
The expulsion is being conducted under the supervision of the Palestine-born Gestapo leader, Eichmann, who supervised similar expulsions of Jews last year from Vienna and the Czech Protectorate. The Berlin correspondent states that the aged Jews from Berlin were shipped in cattle trains to Lodz, Poland, from where they will be transported to Pinsk to work in the Pinsk swamps in the district of Rokitno.
The correspondent also reports from Berlin that raids on Jewish homes have been conducted in the German capital during the last two days with Jews being evicted from their houses with only several hours notice. They are not permitted to take with them any of their furniture or other belongings. According to the report similar raids are going on all over the country with a view toward expelling as many Jews as possible to the Pinsk swamps.”
As already mentioned Pinsk was part of Poland until 1939 but was at this time part of Reichskommissariat Ukraine. According to orthodox historiography the Reich Jews deported to the Łódz ghetto in late 1941 were sent to be gassed in Chełmno beginning May 1942. In an article published by the JTA two days later (22 October 1941, p. 1) the same information about deportations to Pinsk was repeated. In the issue from the following day (23 October, p. 2) the following is reported:
“Expelled Jews Will Be Used to Drain Marshes, Nazi Officials Announce
STOCKHOLM, Oct. 22 (JTA) – Nazi officials today announced in Berlin that the Jews expelled from Germany, Luxemburg and Prague will be used for draining the Rokitno marshes near Pinsk, on the former Polish-Soviet frontier, the Berlin correspondent of the Swedish newspaper Social Demokraten reports.
‘It is only logical that Jews should do hard labor in occupied Russian territory, since Russia attacked Germany under Jewish leadership,’ Nazi officials are quoted by the correspondent as stating. Other officials explained the mass-deportation of Jews with the fact that ‘it is intolerable for Germans to continually encounter Jews wearing a yellow star.’ Despite the approach of winter a large area of the Rokitno marshes can still be drained now, the Nazi spokesmen declared.”
10 February 1942 (p. 3):
“Nazis proceeding with plan for ‘Jewish reservation,’ Berlin reports
STOCKHOLM, Feb. 9 (JTA) – Berlin correspondents of Swedish daily newspapers report that the Nazi authorities in the German capital are still determined to create a vast ‘Jewish reservation’ in Eastern Europe and are going ahead with detailed plans for such a set-up. They report that these plans are being drawn up by the Department of Jewish Questions in the Ministry for the German-occupied territories of the East, which is headed by Dr. Alfred Rosenberg.
Based on the Nazis avowed aim ‘of ridding Europe of the Jews,’ the Rosenberg project contemplates a huge Jewish-inhabited region enclosed by barbed wire and guarded by Nazi sentries, in which Jews will be completely isolated from the rest of the world and will be exploited to meet the Nazis' economic needs.”
See §3.1.2 of this series for an October 1942 report on plans for a “Jewish settlement rayon for all the Jews of Western Europe” in “the former Polish-Russian border zone”.
26 March 1942 (p. 1):
“Lublin and Cracow Jews will spend passover digging trenches on the Nazi-Soviet front
STOCKHOLM, Mar. 25 (JTA) – Thousands of Polish Jews will spend their Passover under Soviet artillery fire digging trenches for the Nazi army on the Taganrog-Kharkov front as a result of the mass-transportation of Jews from the Lublin and Cracow districts to the front lines of the German-Soviet battlefront, a report reaching here today from Nazi-held Poland reveals.
The shifting of Lublin and Cracow Jews to the front in the Nazi-held Ukraine started several days ago as part of the final preparations which the German military command is making for the contemplated Spring offensive, the report states. While on one hand the local Nazi authorities are mobilizing more and more Jewish skilled workers for the German war industries the military authorities insist that all Jews who are not fit for factory work should be rushed to the farthest points of the German-Soviet front to build fortifications there under fire of the Red Army, the information discloses.
As a result of the pressure from the military authorities, the Jewish Councils in Lublin and Cracow districts have received orders to deliver able-bodied Jews for transportation to ‘unknown destinations.’ The first transports, which left this week, led to the tragic separation of many families, the report states, since it is almost certain that none of the deported Jews will ever return to their homes. In the meantime, the Jewish Councils, already overburdened with relief problems with which they are not able to cope because of the acute shortage of funds, are faced with the new problem of caring for the women and children whom the deported Jews left behind without any means of support.”
A shorter version of this piece of news appeared in the June 1942 issue of Contemporary Jewish Record, cf. §3.7.1 of this series for commentary.
29 May 1942 (p. 3):
“Germans Will Rule over Deported Slovakian Jews in Concentration Camps in Eastern Europe
ZURICH, May. 31 (JTA) – Slovakian Jews, the bulk of whom are to be deported under the provisions of a law adopted last week by the Slovakian parliament, will be handed over to German authorities who will be in charge of concentration centers in the East (probably the Nazi-held section of the Ukraine) because ‘the Germans have more experience with this sort of work,’ it is reported today by the Grenzbote, Nazi-controlled daily published in Bratislava, the Slovakian capital.
According to the Guardista, organ of the Hlinka Guard, initial contingents of young Jews will be deported to these concentration centers to build accommodations for those who will follow. Once the camps are established, the Guardista reports, the Jews will be employed as tailors, shoemakers, etc, to supply the Nazi army in Russia. A Council of Elders will be set up with whom the Germans will deal exclusively, in matters concerning conditions at the camps, delivery of manufactured articles and payment for such products.
The Jews will be assigned food and household goods only in return for manufactured goods, the report states. They will be allowed to bring only 100 pounds of luggage with them to these camps. The State will receive first choice of all possessions which the Jews are forced to leave behind; the Hlinka Guard will have next chance at the confiscated goods; then the municipalities will be allowed to choose and, finally, tradesmen and public employees.
About 9,000 Jews, approximately 10% of the entire Slovak Jewish population, will be allowed to remain in the country, the Grenzbote discloses. These fall into the ‘economically indispensable’ categories – such as doctors, professionals and their families – and baptized Jews, of whom there are about 2,500. All of these, however, will be governed by the ‘Jewish Code’ and will have to reside on segregated streets.”
As will be seen further on in this article series, the above report fits perfectly with a plan for the deportation of the Jews of Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary reportedly presented to the Romanian government in the autumn of 1941 by the German Legation in Bucharest, and according to which these Jewish populations were to be sent to the eastern part of Ukraine.
21 June 1942 (p. 1):
“200,000 More Jews herded into labor camps in Poland following new raids
ZURICH, Jun. 19 (JTA) – Mass raids on Jewish residences are reported today to be taking place throughout Nazi-held Poland for the purpose of rounding-up Jews and sending them to forced labor camps where they are compelled to work at difficult jobs under inhuman conditions.
The report says that more than 200,000 Polish Jews have recently been herded into thirty-seven ‘Jewish’ labor camps. Of them, twelve were opened only last week, including two in the Baranovici district, where the Jews are compelled to work at draining the Pinsk swamps.”
While this article does not make it clear whether Polish Jews were sent from the Generalgouvernment or the Warthegau into the former Polish territory that had become part of the Reichskommissariat Ostland, one thing is noteworthy about it, namely the statement that Jews were sent to work at draining the Pinsk swamps in southern Belarus/northern Ukraine. On 28 April 1942 the JTA reported that “Jews in occupied Wolhynia will be sent to work in Pinsk swamps”, the source for this being the pro-German Ukrainian newspaper Krakiwski Visti. Drainage work in the Pinsk swamps is a recurrent theme in early reports on the Jewish deportations.
15 July 1942 (p. 1):
“330,000 German Jews deported to Russia; deportations from Vienna resumed
STOCKHOLM, Jul. 14 (JTA) – More than 330,000 German Jews have already been deported from Germany to Nazi-occupied parts of Russia, it was reported today from Berlin.
At the same time Swedish newspapers today carry reports from their Vienna correspondents disclosing that mass-deportations of Jews from Vienna to occupied Poland were resumed this week under the most brutal circumstances, resulting in many sick and blind Jews committing suicide.
No distinction is made as to age and sex in the renewed deportations, the Vienna correspondents report. Even the ‘green letters’ giving the deportees three days' notice to prepare for expulsion are no longer sent. The victims are taken from their homes directly to transportation centers from where they are sent in cattle trains to Eastern European territories.
A number of Jewish patients in a Vienna hospital committed suicide when the Nazi police came to drag them from their beds to the transportation center. Inmates of the Jewish Home for Blind similarly took their lives when informed that they were being deported. Not a single Jew of those still remaining in Vienna is certain that within a few hours he may not be among the victims held for deportation, the neutral correspondents relate.
The suspension of the deportation of Jews from Vienna during the winter months was due chiefly to the lack of freight cars, the Swedish journalists emphasize. They describe Jewish life in Vienna today as a constant torture, with Jews being completely isolated from any contact with the rest of the world.”
Up to 7 July 1942 a total of 43,341 Jews from the Reich, including the Protectorate, had been deported directly to the Occupied Eastern Territories. A further 10,933 Reich Jews were sent east via Chełmno in late spring/summer 1942 (cf. §3.3.1). Some 33,500 Jews from the Reich and the Protectorate were transferred via Sobibór in the period April-June 1942. Some additional thousands of Reich Jews may have been deported via Bełżec and Treblinka (during its first weeks of operation). It is clear however that at most only some 100,000 Reich Jews could have reached the Occupied Eastern Territories by this point in time. The figure of 330,000 deportees mentioned in this news item is therefore much exaggerated.
20 July 1942 (p. 1):
“Jews of Europe will be deported to ‘colonial reservations,’ Nazi chief says
STOCKHOLM, Jul. 19 (JTA) – All Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe will definitely be deported to ‘colonial reservations’ outside of Europe, Alfred Rosenberg, ruler of Nazi-occupied Russia, announced at a public meeting in Riga, according to a Riga newspaper reaching here today.
The paper adds that the question of whether the Jews of Europe should be deported to colonial camps in Africa, or isolated in the wilderness of Siberia is now being studied by Nazi officials in Berlin. Since neither Siberia nor any important section of Africa is in Nazi hands, it is obvious that the Nazi report is propaganda aimed at instilling in the population of the Baltic countries the feeling that Germany is certain of victory, to a point where she can even make plans with regard to continents other than Europe.”
The above statement of Rosenberg‘s, if correctly reported, could be taken as an indication that the Madagascar plan, or a similar but unknown plan regarding a Siberian “colony”, had not been shelved completely but rather deferred until the projected German victory. It is worth noting in this context the following item which appeared in the JTA Daily News Bulletin on 22 March 1942:
“Hitler Backs Japan’s Demand for Madagascar; Urges 20,000 Shanghai Jews Be Sent There
LONDON, Mar. 20 (JTA) – Hopeful that he can eventually have all Jews of occupied Europe deported to Madagascar, Hitler is now backing Japan in its attempt to force the Vichy Government to permit the landing of Japanese forces on the French-administered African island which the Nazis would like to convert into a ‘reservation’ for the Jews of the European continent.
Trustworthy reports reaching here today reveal that the Nazi authorities in Berlin are making every effort to impress the Vichy regime with the necessity of ‘cooperating’ with Japan regarding Madagascar. At the same time, they have suggested to Japan that it ‘become the instrument for saving the civilization of Europe from the Jewish danger.’
One of Hitler's suggestions to Japan, the report states, recommends that the 20,000 German-Jewish refugees in Shanghai who fell into Japanese hands, as well as all other Jews in Japanese-occupied territories, be sent to Madagascar ‘to form the nucleus’ for the contemplated Jewish reservation.”
26 July 1942 (p. 1):
“Nazis begin large-scale deportations of Dutch Jews to Poland and occupied Russia
ZURICH, Jul. 26 (JTA) – Large-scale mass-deportations of Jews from Holland to Poland and occupied sections of Russia began this week, according to reports reaching here today. Special trains each carrying six hundred Jews are reported to be leaving Amsterdam daily for Eastern Europe.
At the same time it was learned here that the property of all deported Jews will be confiscated by the Germans. The deportees are allowed to take along only thirty-five pounds of luggage, each. Scores of Jews in Amsterdam, fearing that their deportation to Poland and Russia is imminent, are committing suicide daily, the reports state. It is estimated that there are about 160,000 Jews in Holland at present – about 80,000 Dutch Jews and approximately an equal number of Austrian, German and Czech Jews who fled to the Netherlands as refugees.”
28 July 1942 (p. 1):
“Women, children, aged massacred in Warsaw ghetto as Nazis send Jews to Russian front
LONDON, Jul. 27 (JTA) – Hundreds of Jewish women, children and aged men in the Warsaw ghetto were massacred last week by Gestapo agents in a pogrom that lasted for several days and may still be going on - according to information reaching the Polish Government here today through underground channels. The exact duration of the pogrom and the number of Jews that fell victim to the Gestapo executioners is not yet known.
At the same time thousands of able-bodied Jewish men were seized and sent to occupied Russian territory for forced labor at constructing fortifications behind the Nazi lines, the Polish sources report.
Early last week, these sources state, the Gestapo agents posted signs throughout the ghetto streets announcing that the ghetto inhabitants would be deported eastward and that ‘the first contingent of 6,000 would leave in a few days.’ Several days after this announcement two trains did leave Warsaw carrying thousands of Jews jammed together in freight cars.
Meanwhile, the Gestapo ordered all Jews in the ghetto to remain in their homes on a specific night, the Polish Government spokesman here stated. That evening the Nazi authorities sent raiding parties into the ghetto which entered the houses of the Jews and selected those men whom they felt were able to be used for hard labor by the Nazi army on the Eastern front. Jews who were too aged or infirm to be useful as forced labor, as well as women and children, were mercilessly slaughtered.”
A mere two days later, on 29 July 1942, the JTA reported, based on the statement of a Polish government-in-exile spokesman, that the deported Warsaw Jews were “executed in the woods”, with no details given regarding the method of killing (p. 1).
18 August 1942 (p. 1):
”Special police for Jews in unoccupied France demanded by Germany
LISBON, Aug. 17. (JTA) – (...) From all indication it becomes more and more obvious that Nazi Germany, short of labor, is determined to deport all Jews from the occupied countries of Western Europe to be used for fortification and building work in occupied Russia. To make Western Europe completely ‘judenrein,’ the Nazis are determined to include the Jews of unoccupied France also.”
In the issue from the following day it was mentioned in passing (19 August, p. 3) that Dutch-Jewish girls “are being sent to German army camps on the Russian front”.
4 September 1942 (p. 2):
“Nazis in Holland plan to deport young Jews to Russia, others to Germany
LONDON, Sep. 3 (JTA) – Nazi authorities in Holland have issued an announcement stating that all Jews between 18 and 40 years of age will be deported to the devastated areas of occupied Russia, while all physically fit Jews between 40 and 60 years of age will be sent to Germany for forced labor after undergoing a physical examination.
The announcement, which reached Dutch government circles here today, warns non-Jewish doctors in Holland not to furnish medical certificates of disability to Jews between 40 and 60 who are sufficiently healthy to be sent for work in the Reich. The warning implies that doctors found guilty of issuing such disability certificates may themselves be sent to labor camps in Germany.”
15 September 1942 (p. 1):
“All Jews between 18 and 65 will be deported from Poland
BERN, Sep. 14 (JTA) – All Jews in Nazi-held Poland aged between 18 and 65 will be deported to devastated sections of Nazi-occupied Russian territory, it is announced in the Krakauer Zeitung reaching here today from Poland.
The announcement adds that certain categories of able-bodied Jews may be sent to work in industrial enterprises in Germany instead of to Russia. At the same time the Krakauer Zeitung reports that Jewish doctors in the Warsaw ghetto were ordered to discontinue issuing documents certifying a person's inability to perform hard labor. The order is explained by the charge that ‘the Jewish doctors have issued false certificates in order to save Jews from being sent to work in Germany.’”
20 September 1942 (p. 1):
“Unprecedented pogroms raging in Poland; large scale deportations of Jews reported
SOMEWHERE IN EUROPE, Sep. 18 (JTA) – (...) Unable to give any details because of the manner in which it was smuggled out of Poland, the sketchy report reads: ‘In addition to mass-deportations of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto, the Nazis have started hunting down Jews in all large and small towns throughout the Government-General, including Lwow, Przcmysl, Radom and other places where Jews are concentrated, Jewish families are being torn apart. The men are assembled in camps prior to deportation. Some are sent to the devastated areas of occupied Russia and others to coal mines in German territory. The women and children are being sent to unknown destinations. Large-scale pogroms of unprecedented ferocity are proceeding, at the same time, throughout Poland. The Nazis have started carrying out their program of total extermination of Polish Jewry. Save us from death.’
Previous reports reaching here from Poland this month stated that more than 300,000 Jews already have been deported by the Nazis from the Warsaw ghetto to unknown destinations. Though they constitute about one-half of the entire Jewish population in the ghetto, the merciless deportations continue at the rate of several thousand a day, one report said.
ONE THIRD OF DEPORTED JEWS DIE, NAZI OFFICIAL REPORTS
Mass deportations to the German-conquered regions of Eastern Europe have resulted in terrible ‘wastage of human life’ amounting in many instances to 30 per cent of the deportees, according to information received from underground sources in Germany.
The underground informants give the gist of a report by S.S. special detachment leader Ferdinand Riege to Heinrich Himmler, head of the Nazi Gestapo and Europe's police dictator. Riege was in charge of the first mass deportations of Western European Nazi victims to Eastern Europe. The report states that ‘unexpected difficulties arose as a result of which wastage of human life due to illness, suicide, etc., amounted to 30 per cent.’”
These Jews were “gassed” at Treblinka and Bełżec if we are to believe the official version of events. In the book-length WJC report Hitler’s Ten-Year War on the Jews, published in August 1943, the report mentioned is attributed to an “Obersturmführer Hiegs”, of whom there exists no trace. “Ferdinand Riege” likewise appears to be an invented or misrendered name.
25 September 1942 (p. 3):
“Nazis drive Jews and Poles hundreds of miles on foot to devastated Russian areas
ZURICH, Sep. 24 (JTA) – Jews and Poles who are now being sent by the Nazis from occupied Poland to the devastated sections of occupied Russia for slave labor are no longer transported in trains but must make the several-hundred-mile journey on foot under the supervision of Nazi guards, it was revealed in a report reaching here today from Cracow.
Railroad facilities being overburdened, the Nazi authorities in Poland have instituted a system whereby the Jewish and Polish deportees must cover at least forty miles a day on foot. Underfed and exhausted, hundreds of them are unable to stand the strain and collapse on the roads. They are left there by the German guards as ‘human junk.’ Polish peasants from the neighboring villages do their best to provide them with food and shelter.”
It is a known fact that the mass expulsions of the Jews of Bessarabia and Bukovina into the Transnistrian “reservation” by Romanian authorities were often undertaken on foot. This involved the crossing of the Dniestr river via either bridges or barges. It does not seem impossible that the Germans in charge of the deportations in some exceptional cases had to resort to a similar manner of transportation, driving columns of Jews across the Bug river.
4 October 1942 (p. 1):
“Gestapo raids Warsaw synagogues; seizes 2,000 Jews for forced labor
LONDON, Oct. 2. (JTA) – (...) A spokesman of the Polish government today declared that information received in London reveals that Hitler has decided to ‘dissolve’ all Jewish ghettos in Poland by transferring the Jews from there to Nazi-held Russian territory where they are to do forced labor.”
6 October 1942 (p. 1):
“Trains with Jewish deportees leave Belgium for Nazi-held Ukraine
LONDON, Oct. 5 (JTA) – A special train crowded with Jews deported from the province of Limbourg in Belgium left during the week-end for the Nazi-occupied Ukraine, according to information reaching the Belgian Government here today.”
7 October 1942 (p. 3):
“Only 100,000 Jews left by the Nazis in Warsaw ghetto; mass-deportations continue
GENEVA, Oct. 6 (JTA) – Only about 100,000 Jews have been left by the Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto where only a few months ago 500,000 Jews were concentrated, it was reliably reported here today on the basis of information reaching Switzerland from occupied Poland.
Large-scale mass-deportations of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto have been going on during the last few months. The Jews are being deported to unknown destinations. Families are being torn apart, probably never to be reunited. The deportations have increased since the dissolution by the Gestapo of the Jewish Council in the Warsaw ghetto which followed the suicide of Adam Chorniakev [sic], president of the Council, who preferred to take his life rather than sanction the first mass-deportation of 100,000 Jews from the ghetto to the devastated sections of Nazi-occupied Russia.
Deportations of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto are now taking place every day, the information reaching here states. It emphasizes that the Nazis have definitely embarked on a program of ‘dissolving’ all ghettos in Poland by deporting the Jews from there to unknown destinations in devastated regions.”
15 October 1942 (p. 1):
“Nazis resume mass-deportations of Jews from Holland and Belgium; suicides reported
STOCKHOLM, Oct. 14 (JTA) – Mass-deportations of Jews from The Hague and from Amsterdam were resumed this week by the Nazi authorities in occupied Holland according to reliable reports reaching here today.
In Amsterdam, the reports disclose, Jews faced with deportation to the East are committing suicide. Information received by Jews in Holland whose relatives were deported several weeks ago, reveals that many of the expelled Dutch Jews have been executed by the Nazis in occupied Russian territory to where they were originally sent for forced labor.”
16 October 1942 (p. 1):
“Train carrying 20,000 Jews deported from France arrives in Bessarabia; many dead
LISBON, Oct. 15 (JTA) – Twenty thousand Jews who were deported from France in filthy, sealed cattle cars without adequate supplies of food and water, have arrived in Rumania, according to a reliable report received here today from Bucharest. They were immediately sent to the ‘Jewish reservation’ in Transnistria, the Nazi-occupied part of Ukraine which is at present under Rumanian administration.
German and Rumanian officials were awaiting the arrival of the Jewish deportees at the railway station in Kishinev, capital of Bessarabia, to supervise their further transportation to Transnistria. They were amazed at the state of the Jewish victims when they opened the sealed carriages in which the deportees were held for more than two weeks on route from France. They found a large number of the Jews dead, their corpses already in a state of decomposition. The corpses tumbled from the cattle cars as soon as the sealed doors were opened.
Those of the deportees who reached the Kishinev station still alive were starved and sick and horrified traveling with corpses for many days. Many of them were dying of exhaustion. The train arrived with a sign posted on each car reading: ‘Explosive war materials - transit to Russia.’ At no time during the entire trip were any of the cars unsealed to permit the unfortunate deportees to get fresh air or see the light.”
A condensed version of this report appeared in the December 1942 issue of Contemporary Jewish Record, cf. §3.7.2 for commentary. By the beginning of October 1942 a total of 18,650 French Jews had been “gassed” at Auschwitz, i.e. transited east. The deportations from France were then halted for a month until the beginning of 4 November 1942. Could this temporary stop in transports possibly have been due to the catastrophe described in the above news report? Needless to say it stands to reason that all these Jews cannot have been sent to Bessarabia in one single convoy, as implied by the article.
22 October 1942 (p. 2):
“1,850 Jews from Poland and Western Europe executed by Nazis in Smolensk area
MOSCOW, Oct. 21 (JTA) – The Moscow radio today reported that 1,850 Jews were recently executed in new Nazi massacres in the Smolensk district.
The executed Jews, it was believed, were deportees brought from Poland, Belgium and Holland for forced labor building roads in Nazi-occupied Russian territory.”
Smolensk is located in western Russia, not far from the border with Belarus. As we have already seen (§4.2, 3.3.16) Polish as well as likely also German Jews were deported to this city to do forced labor.
30 October 1942 (p. 1):
“Nazis deport Jewish women from Belgium; many sent to coal mines in Silesia
LONDON, Oct. 29 (JTA) – (...) Underground information reaching the Belgian Government states that the Jews are being deported from Belgium to two destinations. Certain groups are being sent to work in the coal mines in Silesia, while others are transported to the Nazi-occupied Ukraine for hard labor there.”
1 November 1942 (p. 1):
“Trains with Jewish deportees from France, Belgium, Holland continue to reach Rumania
SOMEWHERE IN EUROPE, Oct. 30 (JTA) – Freight trains crowded with Jews deported from France, Holland and Belgium continue to reach the city of Jassy, Rumania, on route to Transnistria, the Axis-occupied part of the Ukraine administered by Rumanian authorities, it was reliably reported here today from Bucharest.
The trains arrive with many Jews dead from starvation as the result of travelling for several weeks without any food. The dead are removed from the cars when the trains reach Jassy, while the other victims are sent on to Transnistria. Upon reaching their destination, they are isolated in camps where, together with Jews from Bessarabia and Bukovina, they are virtually condemned to a slow death because they are not in a position to secure any food.”
As already mentioned, these Jews would necessarily have reached Romania and Transnistria via Auschwitz.
6 November 1942 (p. 1):
“Norwegian Jews will be deported to Lithuania; German refugees sent back to Reich
STOCKHOLM, Nov. 5 (JTA) – Nazi authorities in Norway today announced that all arrested Norwegian Jews will be transported to occupied Lithuania. Jewish refugees from the Reich are being transported either to the extreme northern part of Norway or to Germany, they stated.”
20 November 1942 (p. 2):
“Nazis decide to make Latvia ‘judenrein’; deport all Jews from Riga ghetto
LONDON, Nov. 19 (JTA) – Jewish relief organizations here today received information that all Jews living in the ghetto in Riga, Latvia, are being deported to Nazi-held Russian territory and that the Nazi administration has decided to make Latvia ‘judenrein’ within the next few weeks.
Jews from Holland, Belgium and Germany who were deported to the Riga ghetto are among those being sent further east, Neutral non-Jews who visited the Baltic States recently attempted to ascertain to where the Jews from the Riga ghetto were being exiled, but no information could be secured from the local non-Jewish population which is afraid to furnish any information about the fate of their former Jewish neighbors. Letters sent to Jews in the Riga ghetto from neutral countries have been returned recently stamped with a notice from the postal authorities that the recipient has ‘left for the East.’”
While orthodox historiography knows of the deportation of a large number of Reich Jews to Riga, it reports no transports there of Dutch or Belgian Jews.
22 December 1942 (p. 1):
“Nazi press reports Sosnowiec is ‘judenrein’; Jews slaughtered in Rowno
STOCKHOLM, Dec. 21 (JTA) – (...) Quoting the Berliner Boersen Zeitung which carries a report on the executions of Jews in Rowno, the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet says that many Jews from Nazi-occupied countries of Central and Western Europe are now being transported to the Rowno district which constituted the Polish-Russian border before the war and are undergoing there ‘a biological extermination.’”
Rovno (Rivne) is located in northwestern Ukraine. It was part of Reichskommissariat Ukraine as the capital of Generalbezirk Volhynia-Podolia.
7 January 1943 (p. 1):
“Deported Warsaw Jews held by Nazis in Pinsk district isolated from world
Geneva, Jan. 6 (JTA) – Meager reports reaching here today from occupied Poland on the fate of the tens of thousands of Jews who were deported from the Warsaw ghetto during the last few months discloses that the majority of these Jews have been sent to the Pinsk district, in the area of the Pinsk swamps.
The Jews in the Pinsk area are completely isolated from the rest of the world, but the fate of many of them who perished en route has aroused the Polish population throughout the Government General. The general feeling among the Poles is that similar severe measures will now be taken against them.”
Once again the Pinsk region appears as the destination of Jews allegedly gassed at Treblinka.
11 April 1943 (p. 1):
“5,000 Greek Jews reach Poland en route to unknown destination
LONDON, Apr. 9 (JTA) – A transport of 5,000 Greek Jews from Athens and Salonica has reached Poland in cattle trains under Nazi guard, it was reported today by Polish official circles on the basis of underground information reaching here.
This is the first transport of Jews deported by the Nazis from Greece to East-European occupied territory. The victims were brought to Lwow, where they were kept in a concentration camp for a few days and later transported to an unknown destination. The majority of them are men over forty years of age, including rabbis. There are also a number of women and children among them.”
The first convoys of Greek Jews departing for Auschwitz in spring 1943 followed the route Salonika–Belgrade–Zagreb–Vienna–Auschwitz. Another Salonika transport departing in late March 1943 travelled the route Salonika–Vrbca–Cracow–Małkinia–Treblinka. The transports from Bulgarian-occupied Thrace to Treblinka went the route Salonika–Bulgaria–Vienna–Cracow. According to the official version of events none of these Jews ever reached Lvov (Lemberg) in Eastern Galicia (then part of the Generalgouvernement, now in Ukraine).
It is worth noting in this context that according to Reuben Ainsztein German as well as Belgian, Dutch and Yugoslavian Jews were detained in the Janow/Janovska labor camp near Lvov. Did this camp serve as a second transit station for Jews being routed from Auschwitz and other “extermination camps” to the Occupied Eastern Territories? Belgian revisionist Jean-Marie Boisdefeu has also collected a number of indicia pointing to the anomalous presence of Belgian and French Jews in Eastern Galicia.
In the issue of 15 April we read regarding the deported Greek Jews that “it is not known to where these deportees were sent, after they were taken from the reception camps at Lwow” (“45,000 Greek Jews deported to Poland; homes, property confiscated”, p. 2).
21 November 1943 (p. 2):
“Jews deported from Aegean islands; more Jews wanted for Minsk fortifications
Bern, Nov. 19 (JTA) – (...) Swiss newspapers also report that anticipating a retreat from the Minsk area in Russia, the German military command has requested that more Jews be sent from Poland and other occupied territories to the Minsk district to work on fortifications, German settlers in that district were simultaneously ordered to move into the interior of the Reich.”
23 November 1943 (p. 2):
“Germans reported planning to deport 15,000 Italian Jews to Russia for forced labor
Bern, Nov. 22 (JTA) – Ten thousand to 15,000 Italian Jews will probably be sent shortly to the Minsk area to construct fortification under the supervision of the German Todt Organization, according to a report received here today. The German military authorities, the report says, have cleared the Minsk district of most of its inhabitants in preparation for a German stand there and, consequently, there is an acute shortage of labor.”
While it might seem unlikely that the German authorities would have planned as late as in November 1943 to deport tens of thousands of Italian Jews to Belarus, this possibility should not be wholly rejected, especially considering the well-documented fact that several thousands of Hungarian Jews were sent to Latvia and Estonia in the summer of 1944 (cf. §2.2.3). The city of Minsk was held by German forces until the end of June 1944. In February 1944 it was reported by Polish underground sources that “3,000 Italian Jews arrived at the Trawniki labor camp last Nov. 15”. If the Italian Jews indeed reached Trawniki in the Lublin district, they could easily have continued by train from there to Minsk.
9 July 1944 (p. 2):
“Deportation of All Jews from Hungary by July 15 is Feared by King of Sweden
STOCKHOLM, Jul. 7 (JTA) – (...) The Swedish newspapers today report that the 11,000 Jews whom the Nazis hurriedly removed from the Dvinsk ghetto ‘to an unknown destination,’ had all been deported from central European countries to Latvia for forced labor.”
Dvinsk is the Russian name of Daugavpils, a city in eastern Latvia (Dünaburg in German). For a witness statement relating the deportation of Dutch Jews to the Daugavpils area, see §3.3.8 of this series. According to the official version of events the Daugavpils ghetto was liquidated in May 1942, while the last few remaining Jews in the city were transferred to Riga in October 1943. The liquidation of the Dvinsk ghetto and the deportation of “the 11,000 Jews remaining there” to an “unknown destination” was originally reported by the JTA on 6 July (p. 2).
16 August 1944 (p. 2):
“About 1000 Jews Survive in Kaunas; Many Burned Alive by Germans Before Their Retreat
MOSCOW, Aug. 15 (JTA) – Less than 1000 Jews have survived in the liberated city of Kaunas, capital of Lithuania, it was reported here today. Of the thirty thousand Jews who lived there before the war and of the many thousands that were brought there by the Germans from Holland, Belgium, and Austria, only three thousand were yet living during the last days of the German occupation. This number was further reduced to one thousand when the Gestapo demolition units broke into the ghetto and blew up house after house prior to the retreat of the German army.”
The “many thousands” of Jews who were brought to the Kaunas ghetto “from western Europe” had been mentioned previously by JTA in passing on 3 August 1944 (p. 3). This news item stated that the retreating Germans had murdered 10,000 Jews in Kaunas (Kovno).
20 August 1944 (p. 2):
“Moscow Jewish Committee issues report on Nazi extermination of Jews in Kaunas
MOSCOW, Aug. 18 (JTA) – Kaunas, the liberated capital of Lithuania, where only about 1,000 Jews have survived under the German occupation, had been used by the Nazis as an extermination center for Jews from western Europe, it was reported here today by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in a comprehensive survey of more than three years of Jewish life under the Nazi regime in Lithuania.
There were forty thousand Jews in Kaunas when the Germans invaded Lithuania, the report said. Not more than nine thousand managed to leave with the Russian Army.
‘In Gestapo documents which have fallen into Russian hands,’ the report continues, ‘the city of Kaunas was referred to as ‘extermination point of the Eastland.’ In the common graves near the forts of Kaunas are buried not only local Jews, but also thousands of other Jews driven into Kaunas from other Lithuanian towns and villages, and executed there by the Gestapo. It was in Kaunas that the Germans executed Jews from Berlin, Vienna and Prague, from France and from Holland.’ (...)”
22 August 1944 (p. 2):
“Latvian Partisans Rescue 600 Jews; 4,000 Jews Held in Baltic Coastal Town
STOCKHOLM, Aug. 21 (JTA) – Six hundred Jews who had been forced by the Germans in occupied Latvia to work on fortifications were recently liberated by Latvian partisans when transferred to Liepaja [in Latvia], it was reported here today by the newspaper Baltiska Nyheter.
No details of the liberation were given, but the report says the Jews who were rescued from German hands are deportees from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Holland. All joined the Latvian partisan units immediately upon their liberation. (...).
About 4,000 Dutch and Belgian Jews are now still alive in a concentration camp which the Germans established in the coastal town of Krestinga some six weeks ago, the paper reveals. They are engaged in the heaviest manual labor. The worst is feared for them when the Germans are forced soon by the Russian Army to withdraw from that area, the paper declares.”
“Krestinga” is almost certainly a misspelling of Kretinga (in German Krottingen) a Lithuanian coastal city some 25 km north of Klaipeda (Memel). There existed a subcamp to the Riga-Kaiserwald concentration camp in Kretinga until the summer of 1944, when the camp was liquidated and its inmates deported to Stutthof in Poland. The inmates of the Krottingen camp worked in a military-clothing factory (the Armeebekleidungsamt Krottingen). There also existed a camp known as Dimitrava near Kretinga. The Hungarian-Jewish sisters Sarah, Tamara and Irina Genzor were deported to the Krottingen camp after spending a month in Auschwitz in June 1944.
28 December 1944 (p. 3):
“Germans Liquidated Twenty-one ‘Jewish Camps’ in Riga District Prior to Retreat
MOSCOW, Dec. 27 (JTA) – Eighteen-thousand Jews – 15,000 of them deportees from western Europe – were murdered or sent to unknown fates from 21 camps in the Riga district between July and October of this year, according to a report published here today by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee.
As the German military situation in Latvia deteriorated, the Nazis first began to move Jewish forced laborers from factories to concentration camps and strengthened the guards at all camps. As the Red Army drove closer, they began evacuating the camps. At the end of July, 3,000 Hungarian Jewish women were evacuated, but there is no indication that they ever arrived in Hungary.
In August, the Germans began liquidating some camps and on August 4, two thousand Jews were gassed to death, of whom 400 had been residents of Riga. Eventually all 21 camps in Riga and its environs were closed down. Thousands of Jews were moved by boat and train to various destinations and have not been heard of since. It is known that many were transferred to eastern Kurland, in Latvia, and murdered in the woods there.”
In conclusion to this survey it will suffice to observe that the notion of the deportations to the “East” being a cover for systematic mass murder did not really establish itself until 1943. The allegation that a majority of the deported Jews was murdered in “death camps” would gain credence only following that, in late 1943 and 1944 – although mass murders in Treblinka were reported by the JTA on 25 November 1942, a longer piece on Chełmno appeared in the issue of 2 August 1942 and the claim of 700,000 massacred Polish Jews was dutifully reported on 26 June 1942. Even by 1944, however, there still appeared reports indicating that French, Dutch and Belgian Jews had been deported to camps and ghettos in the Occupied Eastern Territories.
To be continued.
|||Heinz Kühnrich (ed.), In den Wäldern Belorusslands. Erinnerungen sowjetischer Partisanen und deutscher Antifaschisten, Dietz, East Berlin 1976, p. 9.|
|||Deutsche Zeitung im Ostland, 11 October 1941, p. 4.|
|||Rolf-Dieter Müller (ed.), Die deutsche Wirtschaftspolitik in den besetzten sowjetischen Gebieten 1941-1943. Der Abschlussbericht des Wirtschaftsstabes Ost und Aufzeichnungen eines Angehörigen des Wirtschaftskommandos Kiew, Harald Boldt Verlag, Boppard am Rhein 1991, pp. 139-142.|
|||Ibid., p. 139, 141.|
|||Heinz Kühnrich, Der Partisanenkrieg in Europa 1939-1945, Dietz Verlag, East Berlin 1968, p. 383.|
|||Ibid., p. 512, note 13. The two studies by M.I. Semiryaga (м.и. семиряга) that Kühnrich refers to in this context are вторая мировая война и пролетарский интернационализм, Moscow 1962 and интернационалъная солидарность трудящихся в борьбе против фашизма (1939-1945 rr.), Kharkiv 1962. The author of this article has not yet had the opportunity to access those volumes.|
|||Christian Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, op. cit., pp. 762-763.|
|||Gerlach note 1419: “Nachschubskommandantur der Waffen-SS und Polizei Russland Mitte an SS-Führungshauptamt v. 27.3.1942, BA NS 19/3519, Bl. 262f.; ebenso, Betr.: Aufstellung v. 7.4.1942 und v. 11.4.1942, BA F 3341, Bl. 797f. und 803f.”|
|||Bełżec, the first “extermination camp” in the Generalgouvernement, began operating on 17 March 1942.|
|||Joseph J. Preil (ed.), Holocaust Testimonies. European Survivors and American Liberators in New Jersey, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick 2001, p. 122.|
|||Paul R. Mendes-Flohr, Jehuda Reinharz (eds.), The Jew in the Modern World: a Documentary History, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1995, p. 674.|
|||Yitzhak Arad, “The Holocaust of Soviet Jewry in the Occupied Territories of the Soviet Union”, Yad Vashem Studies, vol. XXI (1991), pp. 34-35. As source Arad gives Shalom Cholavsky, In the Eye of the Hurricane [possibly a translated title], pp. 224-226. I have not yet been able to view a copy of this book.|
|||Israel Gutman (ed.), Enzyklopädie des Holocaust, vol. 3, Argon 1993, p. 1752.|
|||Interrogation of H.S. dated 27 August 1963, StA Hannover 2 JS 299/60, Bd. 12.|
|||Interrogation of H.K. dated 9 June 1971, StA Hamburg 147 JS 22/70, p. 938.|
|||The interrogations of “K.H.” from 6 December 1966 and 29 January 1971, “H.B.” from 11 June 1971, and “F.W”. from 23 November 1970.|
|||Ernst Klee, Willi Dreßen, Volker Rieß, “Schöne Zeiten”. Judenmord aus der Sicht der Täter und Gaffer, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1988, p. 118|
|||Cf. Encyclopedia Judaica, 2nd ed., Thomson Gale 2007, vol. 4, pp. 24-25.|
|||Jürgen Graf, Carlo Mattogno, Treblinka. Extermination Camp or Transit Camp?, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2004, p. 280.|
|||GARF, 7445-2-145, p. 80. Facsimile in ibid., p. 336.|
|||GARF, 7445-2-145, p. 81. Facsimile in ibid., p. 337.|
|||GARF 7445-2-145, p. 84.|
|||”Entschuldigungsschreiben Kubes v. 25.8.1942, BA R 90/146”.|
|||GARF 7445-2-145, p. 86.|
|||GARF 7445-2-145, p. 90.|
|||Cf. Justiz und NS-Verbrechen, vol. XIX, p. 192|
|||On this see my two-part article in the 2011 spring and summer issues of Inconvenient History, “The Maly Trostenets ‘Extermination Camp’ – A Preliminary Historiographical Survey”.|
|||Cf. J. Graf, C. Mattogno, Treblinka. Extermination Camp or Transit Camp?, op. cit., p. 201.|
|||Cf. ibid., p. 277.|
|||Cf. Carlo Mattogno, Bełżec in Propaganda, Testimonies, Archeological Research, and History, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2004, pp. 103-104.|
|||Jürgen Graf, Thomas Kues, Carlo Mattogno, Sobibór: Holocaust Propaganda and Reality, TBR Books, Washington DC 2010, pp. 100-101, 331-333.|
|||Quoted in J. Graf, C. Mattogno, Treblinka. Extermination Camp or Transit Camp?, op.cit., p. 55-56.|
|||Cf. Thomas Kues, “The Maly Trostenets ‘Extermination Camp’ – A Preliminary Historiographical Survey”, Part 1, §2.6.; online: ???http://www.inconvenienthistory.com/archive/2011/volume_3/number_4/
|||Gerlach note 1427: “Vern. H.W. (SS-Zentralbauleitung Rußland-Mitte) v. 12.3.1960 und 21.3.1960, StA Koblenz 9 Ks 2/62, Bl. 2321 und 2628; Vern. E.S. (Überlebender von Trostinez) v. 12.12.1962, ebd., Dok.Bd. 9; Safrian, S. 187, auf Grund eines Überlebendenberichts. Auch Vern. Karl Buchner v. 29.10.1945, IfZ Fb 101/16; mündl. Mitt. A.D. Krasnoperko v. 16.10.1993.”|
|||Gerlach note 1428: “Vern. des ehemaligen Stadtkommissars Wilhelm Janetzke 28.10.-4.11.1947, ZStL 202 AR-Z 184/67, LO Übersetzungen zu Dok.Bd. 2, zu Bl. 802-811.”|
|||Quoted in Solomon M. Schwarz, The Jews in the Soviet Union, Syracuse University Press 1951, p. 340.|
|||Christian Gerlach, “Failure of Plans for an SS Extermination Camp in Mogilev, Belorussia”, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, vol. 11 (1997), issue 1, p. 62. The source given for the Heydrich statement is “Notizen aus der Besprechung am 10.10.41 über die Lösung von Judenfragen, Eichmann Trial, Document No. 1193”. Needless to say this statement does not square well with the notion that the Einsatzgruppen were at this time carrying out the wholesale extermination of Soviet Jewry.|
|||Ibid. The source given for the von Schenkendorff directive is “Commander of Rear Area Center, Department VII/War Administration, Administration Orders No. 8 (sic), 10 October 1941, Central State Archives Minsk, 570-1-1, p. 137.”|
|||Ibid., p. 64. Source for the statement on Borissov: “Oberwachtmeister Soennecken's report, 24 October 1941, cited by Wilhelm in Wilhelm and Krausnick, p. 578.”|
|||“The officer for Jewish affairs in the Foreign Ministry, Franz Rademacher, in a note of 25 October 1941. Quoted from [Götz] Aly [“Endlösung”: Völkerverschiebung und der Mord an den europäischen Juden, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1995], p. 341; see also pp. 340-47."|
|||C. Gerlach, “Failure of Plans for an SS Extermination Camp in Mogilev, Belorussia”, op.cit., pp. 65-66. Source on Allihn: “See Reich Ministry of Transport (RVM), Certificate of Employment, 28 October 1942, Berlin Document Center (BDC), personal record Fritz Allihn; RVM, Eastern Branch, Inland Shipping Department B Ost I 48/41, Binnenschiffahrt im grossen Feld des Dnjepr-Bug-Systems, 10 September 1941 (two documents, one for the public, one for Allihn), BA MA RW 19/2186 (quotation).”|
|||Ibid., p. 66. Source given: “Quotation from Aly, p. 340.”|
|||Ibid., p. 67.|
|||Ibid., pp. 66-67.|
|||R. M. Kempner, Eichmann und Komplizen, Europa Verlag, Zürich, Stuttgart, Wien 1961, p. 293.|
|||C. Gerlach, “Failure of Plans for an SS Extermination Camp in Mogilev, Belorussia”, op. cit., pp. 67-68.|
|||Yitzhak Arad, The Holocaust in the Soviet Union, University of Nebraska Press/Yad Vashem, Lincoln (Neb.)/Jerusalem 2009, p. 188, 570 note 25.|
|||C. Gerlach, “Failure of Plans for an SS Extermination Camp in Mogilev, Belorussia”, op. cit., p. 77, note 85.|
|||Wendy Lower, Nazi Empire-Building and the Holocaust in Ukraine, University of North Carolina Press 2005, p. 89.|
|||Léon Poliakov, Josef Wulf, Das Dritte Reich und seine Diener, K.G. Saur /arani, Munich 1978, p. 132. See also the letter from Luther on 11 February 1942, reproduced on p. 130.|
|||Ulrich Herbert (ed.), National Socialist Extermination Policies. Contemporary German Perspectives and Controversies, Berghahn Books, New York/Oxford 2000, p. 86.|
|||Christian Hartmann (ed.), Der deutsche Krieg im Osten 1941-1944: Facetten einer Grenzüberschreitung, Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag 2009, p. 175.|
|||USHMM, Derzavnyj Archiv Zytomyrskoi Oblasti, R-1151-1-137, Bl. 8, Runderlass RKU, 12.1.1942, BAL,
II 204; AR-Z 21/58, Band IX, Bl. 219, Vernehmung Kurt Syplie, 27.11.1959.
|||Jean-Claude Favez, The Red Cross and the Holocaust, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1999.|
|||Ibid., p. 40. Source: ICRC Archives, Geneva (AG), G 3/26f, note of 14 November 1942.|
|||Ibid., p. 39. Source: AG, G 59/8.|
|||Ibid., p. 41. Source: AG, G 59/8.|
|||Jean-Marie Boisdefeu, “Schon 1942 wußte man, daß...”, Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung 4(2) (2000), p. 150f.|
|||For those interested, Lieber’s testimony to Riegner can be read (in French) in Dubitando, no. 14, January 2008, pp. 33-34 (online: http://www.vho.org/aaargh/fran/revu/dubitando/dubitando14.pdf)|
|||Walter Laqueur, The Terrible Secret, Penguin Books, New York 1982, pp. 188-189.|
|||Laqueur here notes that the addresses took place on 25 May 1942 before the Mapai (Ihud) World Secretariat and on 27 May 1942 before the Histadrut (Trade Union) Council. “A stenogram was taken, and the speeches were, in early July, circulated ('restricted') among a limited number of people.”|
|||Laqueur notes: “It is known from various sources that Slovak Jewish leaders were in fairly frequent telephonic contact with the Jewish representatives in Switzerland”.|
|||Ibid., p. 189.|
|||Ibid., p. 197.|
|||W. Laqueur, The Terrible Secret, op. cit., pp. 198-199.|
|||The contents of the JTA Daily News Bulletin are available online at http://archive.jta.org/|
|||I have not considered the numerous news reports about Jews being sent to “unknown destinations” in the “East” or “occupied East” where no more exact geographic area is specified, as these two terms could be interpreted as applying to Poland just as well as to the German-occupied parts of the Soviet Union and the Baltic states.|
|||Cf. Jürgen Graf, Carlo Mattogno, Treblinka. Extermination Camp or Transit Camp?, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2004, p. 201.|
|||Jules Schelvis, Sobibor. A History of a Nazi Death Camp, Berg Publishers, Oxford/New York 2007, p. 198. Also: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/
|||Cf. Thomas Kues, “Halfway between Reality and Myth: Hitler's Ten-Year War on the Jews Reconsidered”, Inconvenient History Journal Vol. 2, No. 4 (Winter 2010), online: http://www.inconvenienthistory.com/archive/2010/volume_2/number_4/
|||Walter Laqueur (ed), The Holocaust Encyclopedia, Yale University Press, New Haven/London 2001, p. 637.|
|||Cf. Serge Klarsfeld, Memorial to the Jews Deported from France 1942-1944, Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York 1987, p. xxvi.|
|||Steven B. Bowman, The Agony of Greek Jews, 1940-1945, Stanford University Press, Stanford (Cal.) 2009, p. 80, 83, 85.|
|||Reuben Ainsztein, Jewish Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Eastern Europe, Paul Elek, London 1974, p. 708.|
|||Jean-Marie Boisdefeu, La controverse sur l'extermination des juifs par les allemands, vol. 2, ch. V, “Les grandes deportations de 1942” - C – “Preuves de la reimplantation a l'Est”, point 17. Online: http://www.vho.org/aaargh/fran/bsdf/bdf2/preuves.html|
|||Thomas Kues, “Addendum to ‘Evidence for the Presence of ‘Gassed’ Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories, Part 1’”, online: http://www.revblog.codoh.com/2010/09/addendum-to-%E2%80%9Cevidence-for-the-presence-of-gassed-jews-in-the-occupied-eastern-territories-part-1%E2%80%9D/|
|||Cf. Thomas Kues, “The Maly Trostenets ‘Extermination Camp’—A Preliminary Historiographical Survey, Part 1”, §2.3, online:???http://www.inconvenienthistory.com/archive/2011/volume_3/number_4/
|||Wolfgang Benz (ed.), Der Ort des Terrors, vol. 8, C.H. Beck, Munich 2008, p. 69.|
|||Charles R. Ashman, Robert J. Wagman, The Nazi Hunters, Pharos Books 1988, p. 251.|
|||Gabriele Rosenthal (ed.), The Holocaust in Three Generations: Families of Victims and Perpetrators of the Nazi Regime, Barbara Budrich Publishers, Opladen/Farmington Hills, Mich., 2010, p. 49.|
Additional information about this document
|Title:||Evidence for the Presence of “Gassed” Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories, Part 3|
|Sources:||Inconvenient History, 3(4) (2011)|
|First posted on CODOH:||Feb. 16, 2014, 6 p.m.|