Strategy of Decimation

The Nazi Crime against the Jewish People", New York 1946
Published: 1946-01-01

Dear all

I am sending you some notes I made a couple of years ago from one section of the book Black Book: The Crime Against the Jewish People, published in New York in 1946 by the Jewish Black Book Committee, consisting of the World Jewish Congress, the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (USSR), the Vaad Leumi (Jewish National Council of Palestine, which later became the Government of Israel), and the American Committee of Jewish Writers, Artists and Scientists. This book obviously had the imprimatur of the leading Jewish political organisations of the day.

The section is "Strategy of Decimation", by Gitel Poznanski, Visiting Professor of Anthropology, Fisk University, Nashville Tennessee. It is of particular interest, as much of the material contained in it is not easily reconcilable with the generally accepted thesis of planned, blanket extermination, or at least not with that thesis in its entirety.

The "Black Book" also contains a section on extermination. That section is substantially in accordance with the account generally accepted today, and for that reason I did not summarise it.

With the "Black Book", we have a work officially endorsed by the highest-level Jewish authorities, which contains two theses which appear to conflict with each other at many points, one of decimation by expulsion and slave labour, the other of extermination by mass-murder.

It would appear that since 1946, those parts of the former thesis that conflict with the thesis of programmed extermination have been quietly discarded. That might in part be due to the results of further research that have negated some of the data contained in the decimation thesis. However, I would be fairly confident that political and ideological considerations would also have played a role.

I would point out that the data contained in Poznanski's work, if correct, do not entirely negate the extermination thesis. However they do tend to show that planned extermination through mass-murder must have been less extensive than generally accepted.

Here then are my notes from "Strategy of Decimation". They consist partly of summaries of particularly interesting parts of the text, and partly of quotations. Any comments made by me are in square brackets.

Michael Mills

Strategy of Decimation

Gitel Poznanski, Visiting Professor of Anthropology, Fisk University, Nashville Tennessee



New York Times report from Berlin 5 feb 1941, estimated 200,000 Jews still in old Reich territory, excl. Austria and Bohemia-Moravia. Quoted German Govt statement "Germany places no fundamental hindrances in the way of emigration of Jews from the old Reich and Austria to the United States".

After failure of Lublin experiment, Lodz converted into Ghetto town and port of transfer for Jewish deportees. From Lodz Jews removed to various other regions in Poland to work on strategic war projects. Laboured in swamps of Pinsk, Rokitno marshes, or slave labour camps and ghettos of Polish cities.


By 1 July 1939, 97,000 Jews had emigrated from Austria, according to Sir Herbert Emerson, High Commissioner for Refugees.

Expulsions to Poland (Lublin Reservation) began in October 1939. Vienna Jews notified that those between 18 and 50 were to be removed for "colonisation work".

"Departure for the Lublin reservation meant almost certain death".

Following removal order, two contingents of 4000 Jews banished to Lublin. By November 1939 deportations nearly concluded.

Feb 1941: 10,000 Jews rounded up for deportation to Poland.


Deportation to Lublin Reservation took effect in Bohemia-Moravia 18 October 1939. Compulsory removal of 45,000 Czech Jews in October/November. First contingent of 600 left 26 October 1939.

10,000 arrived in Lublin from Moravska-Ostrava by 26 November.

Early November 300 from Brno, 1500 from Prague, third group from Moravska-Ostrava shipped in cattle trucks to Lublin.

By May 1941, Czech Jews from 83 towns and small cities had been expelled.

Early October 1941 Jews in larger cities - Prague,Plzen, Brno - rounded up. By end month, 48,000 selected for deportation. Men between 16 and 50 to labour camps, women and children to Terezin.

Spring 1942, 6000 Prague Jews dispatched to Pripet marshes.

[Comment: Presumably for drainange works. The generally accepted account has many Jews from the Reich and the Protectorate being sent to Minsk and confined in a ghetto there. However, some of them may have been employed in drainage works in the Pripet marshes, which are to the south of Minsk.]

June 1942, deportation to Poland began on large scale. Large contingents deported in September 1942; later in December, 5000 more on transports leaving Prague for Poland. Many Czech among 50,000 Jews, including Germans and Austrians, interned in Terezin, of which 40,000 said to be between 65 and 80

[Comment: no wonder death rate so high!]

All Jews of Votice and Milevsko sent to Terezin 29 August 1942. By September Terezin so overcrowded that new concentration camp opened near Tabor.

New York Post dispatch dated 23 January 1944 reported 77,000 Jews of Protectorate had died in camps or been deported to Polish ghettos where disappeared.


During week 13 March 1942, thousands of Jews held in 10 ghetto towns near Polish frontier deported to Nazi-held Galicia under arrangement between nazi authorities in Poland and Slovak government.

18 May 1942, Slovak Minister of Interior announced 45,000 Jews to be removed to Galicia by end of month.

During June 1942 1,000 Jews removed to Poland daily. On 29 June, Sano Mach announced in special broadcast from Bratislava, that 45,000 Jews, half of Jews in Slovakia, ad been expelled as planned. Remaining 45,000 were to go by end September. Most deportees taken to camps in towns of Lukow, Miedzyrzec, Podlaska and Chelmno in occupied Poland. By end 1942, only 19,000 Jews left in country. Approximately 76,000 had been expelled

[Comment: There was an extermination camp at Chelmno. But according to the generally accepted account, only unemployable Jews from the Lodz Ghetto and surrounding areas were sent there. Perhaps this is a mistake for Chelm in Eastern Poland.]


Removal of all Jews between 18 and 40 ordered in July 1942.

[Comment: The stipulated age-range indicates that these were employable Jews, and the deportation was primarily for purposes of labour utilisation.]

Mass deportations commenced 23 July 1942.

17 December 1942: British Ministry of Economic Warfare estimated one half-million Jews had been removed to Poland from Nazi-occupied Europe, of which 40,000 to 45,000 were from Holland.


Expulsions began with foreign-born Jews. Later Belgian as well as foreign-born Jews deported to Poland and Ukraine.

[Comment: Note the reference to Ukraine. The generally accepted account has it that all the Jews deported from Belgium were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. This is an indication that some of them were in fact sent onwards to Ukraine, presumably to work-camps or ghettos there. Note that this was published in 1946, when the official account of Auschwitz was fully formed.]

Nazi military decree of 25 November 1941 ordered Jews of Polish origin to prepare for deportation to Poland, that winter first trainloads left. One contingent of 83 families set out from Antwerp for Eastern Europe 5 December. Large-scale expulsions followed in February.

25 March 1942: Belgian Government-in-Exile reported 10,000 Jews had arrived in Lodz to work as slave labourers in textile factories making uniforms for German army.

[Comment: As note above, the generally accepted account has all Jews deported from Belgium going straight to Auschwitz-Birkenau. If such a large number were sent to Lodz for a specific labour purpose, so many fewer must have been sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The report of the Belgian Government-in-Exile was presumably based on an eye-witness account.]

Jews accused of evading enlistment in labour gangs ordered deported. Most sent to Malines, and from there to Calais and other French coastal points to work on fortifications. Women between 16 and 50 taken to coal mines in Silesia.

[Comment: The coal mines in Silesia were presumably those forming part of the Auschwitz complex.]

14 June 1943: "New York Times" reported Germans had removed 52,000 Belgian Jews to concentration camps in Germany, Poland and occupied Russia.

[Comment: Note the reference to Belgian Jews being sent to camps in occupied Russia. There is a consistent pattern emerging of such reports, which were presumably based on sightings of Jews arriving in occupied Russia conveyed by resistance groups and channelled perhaps through diplomats from neutral countries. That was the methodology by which the news of Jews arriving at concentration camps in Poland (=Auschwitz-Birkenau), and as that news was accurate is there any reason to doubt the news of Belgian Jews arriving at camps in occupied Russia?]


First transport left for Poland 4 August 1942.

12 August 1942: Swiss newspaper "Schaffhausener Arbeiterzeitung" announced that first complement of 28,000 Parisian Jews would be out of country and on way to Poland or Nazi-occupied Russia by 16 August.

[Comment: Note the reference to Nazi-occupied Russia. According to the generally accepted account, all Jews deported from France were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau or Sobibor. However there are contemporary German documents indicating that some were sent to Russia on trains carrying the components for building a camp there.]

18 August contingent of 4000 left France for coal mines of Silesia. (Comment: Presumably the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex.]


22 January 1943: "London Jewish Chronicle" announced 13,000 alien Jews had been taken to North Africa to work on Trans-Sahara Railway.

[Comment: One wonders what happened to these Jews. By the date of this article, all of North Africa, except Tunisia, was in Allied hands. Presumably, they were sent to French North Africa prior to Operation Torch, and would have been under French, not German, control. Presumably they were released after the Ferench authorities in North Africa went over to the Allies, and later migrated, perhaps to the Jewish State. I recall that Rassinier claimed that many of the Jews who migrated from North Africa to the Jewish State immediately after its foundation were actually Jews from Europe who had taken refuge in North Africa.]

12 January 1943: Vichy Commissioner for Jewish Affairs, Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, announced deportations had mounted to 50,000.


1941: more than 22,000 Jews who could not produce proof of Hungarian citizenship deported to Galicia, where they were trapped by bands under German control. 12,000 executed by machine guns, while remainder released and returned by Hungarian Army Command to Hungarian concentration camps.

[Comment: This slaughter occurred at Kamieniets-Podolsk, and is referred to in the Einsatzgruppen Reports.]

150,000 Jews in eastern provinces expelled from country after 20 March 1944, most shipped to Oswiecim and Treblinka, notorious human slaughter-houses in Poland.

[Comment: The reference to Treblinka is an obvious error, as that camp had been dismantled in 1943. Reports of Treblinka reached the Western Allies in 1942, and its reputation was well-established by 1944. Perhaps at that date the Allies were not generally aware of the 2 August 1943 uprising and the subsequent closure of the camp.]

Estimates of number of Jews expelled from Hungary by July 1944 to the death camps of Poland varied from a conservative 250,000 to 400,000.

[Comment: With the reference to 'death camps' Poznanski's work accords with the extermination thesis. The range in the estimates of Jews deported from Hungary (to Auschwitz) is interesting; most accounts today accept the highest figure. However, Eichmann's own estimate, in his memoirs, was 300,000, closer to the lower end.]


By June 1942 approx. 15,000 Jews expelled from Greece. On 11 July German authorities ordered registration of Salonika's Jewish men from 18 to 45. 7000 in best physical condition deported to forced labour camps in Bulgaria; 8000 others shipped to labour camps in Macedonian mountains.

Expulsions of Greek Jews to Poland followed. More than 13,000 brought to Poland before March 1943. Another contingent of 5000 Greek Jews who had been removed to Lvov were retransported to another unknown destination in Poland.


Jews were either exterminated, or deported to Poland or to the Plzen district in the Protectorate.

[Comment: The reference to extermination most probably relates to the killings of Jews within Yugoslavia. The Jews of Croatia and Bosnia were imprisoned in camps by the Croatian Government, and a large number died there. The Jews of Serbia were mostly killed by the Wehrmacht. The reference to Jews from Yugoslavia being sent to Plzen (Pilsen) is interesting; I have not seen references to it in standard histories.]

Steadily mounting resistance against the Nazis after the occupation of Serbia reacted on Jews, who were subject to reprisals both as Jews and as Yugoslav patriots. Mass executions, rather than wholesale expulsions to forced labour or death camps, were resorted to in the program to rid Serbia of its 20,000 Jews. Nevertheless, some Jews from the Banat region were removed to a slave labour camp at Tasmajdan.

From Belgrade, women and children removed to Tasmajdan camp. From there children shipped to unnamed locality, girls and younger women loaded into three railway cars, presumably bound for Poland. Others confined in Zemun camp near Belgrade, where in July 1942 7,000 women and children under 18 were being held. Jewish men were removed to the East for forced labour.

[Comment: The generally accepted account has it that the Jewish women and children confined at Zemun were progressively killed in a gas-van. Christopher Browning gives an account of this in his book Fateful Months, based on the testimony of the two German comanders of Zemun camp. According to this testimony, the gas-van made several trips; the Jews waiting at the gate of the camp were loaded into the van, which then drove through the heart of downtown Belgrade to a firing range on the other side of the city. The Jews were suffocated by the fumes during the journey, and their bodies unloaded and buried at the firing range. Browning relates how the German drivers took various precautions to avoid being pulled over by the local traffic-cops and having the whole operation blown; these included false papers, false police number-plates, and avoidance of oncoming traffic on the one-way bridge over the Sava. This tale strikes me as utterly bizarre. I can well believe that gas-vans were used in the closed-off, secure area at Chelmno, or in isolated forests on the Eastern Front. I find it difficult to accept that the German authorities would have run the risk of having the secret exposed by repeatedly driving the gas-van through a major city, where it would have been observed by hundreds of people, and could have been stopped at any moment by suspicious security forces. It is noteworthy that, according to Browning, the supposed drivers of this gas-van were never traced, while those who drove the gas-vans at Chelmno and on the Eastern Front were.]

Slave Labour


1 November 1938: special decree granted a small meansure of public aid to unemployed Jews unable to obtain adequate assistance form Jewish agencies, in return for performing so-called duty work or unskilled labour on road building, swamp drainage and other state projects. Jewish labour service camps soon established, separate barracks erected near Berlin for Jews working on road gangs under SS supervision. Large number of Jews dislodged from professions thereby mobilised into unskilled, forced labour, releasing Aryan workers for other tasks.

4 March 1939: compulsory labour ordinance appeared, first measure to legalise forced labour in Germany. In following May, Dr Ley's Labour Front started registration of all Jews, males 18-55, females 20-45, for service in labour battalions. By 1 July an estimated 20,000 Jews had been impressed, including 700 women, and later in the month the Gestapo ordered the Jewish communities of Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and other cities to supply specified quotas. Workers generally assigned to own localities, cleaning gutters, shovelling snow and building roads.

On eve of war, system of forced mass displacement inaugurated for Jews, later extended to all peoples of occupied Europe. Jewish conscripts made subject to compulsory removal to any territory in Axis Europe. Large numbers of German Jews rounded up by Gestapo and SS in September 1939, transported for work on fortifications along French and Polish frontiers.

Of Berlin's 95,000 Jews in December 1939, 20,000 continued to work as conscript labourers in war enterprises, chiefly in building and transport trades and war factories.

By October 1940, according to official statement, nearly all able-bodied German Jewish males, numbering 40,000 out of the remaining 160,000 Jews in the country, had been conscripted.

19 February 1941: information reached US Government that within 4 weeks from that date Jews left in Germany would be labourers of military age and inmates of concentration camps. In February 1941 age limit extended to 65 for men and 55 for women. In some cities, eg Frankfurt, Jewish schools for boys over 12 years closed and pupils ordered to work in factories.

October 1941, special code of regulations published by German Ministry of Labour gave legal sanction to already exisiting practices.

October 1941: thousands of Jews rounded up all over Germany and removed to undisclosed destinations. First of experimental transports of large labour groups to territories outside the German Reich. Stated that they were not to be sent to concentration camps or imprisoned but used for "purposes helpful to the war economy".

Estimate of Jews remaining in 1943 and 1944 varied between 5000 and 50,000. Condition of these remnants was known; they laboured for nazi war effort in segregated groups on their jobs or in work camps. They worked long hours, for pitifully low returns, on smaller food rations than other workers.


After Anschluss, discharged workers compelled to do menial labour at risk of losing state aid.

Able-bodied men routed out in October 1939 under a "removal order" (Uebersiedlungsaktion), taken to occupied Poland for compulsory work. There remained of Austria's 180,000 Jews, all brought to Vienna, only 55,000 in December 1939, which shrank in succeeding three years to 12,000.

Forced labour for Jews general in 1942. Young men and women recruited for hard labour in paper mill near Linz, worked under strict supervision, usually for 8-month terms. Jews in labour camp near Vienna put to work breaking stones, building roads or repairing railroad rights of way, inder command of SS Standarte 89, paid three marks every ten days.

"As the tide of war turned against the Axis, and a desperate manpower shortage began to slow the German war machine, the Nazis belatedly brought back some forces of Jewish conscript labor from Eastern Europe to Austria and Germany. The U.S. Office of War Information reported on December 6, 1944, that a train loaded with 880 Jewish deportees, bound from Poland for Austrian Nazi camps, had been intercepted by Austrian partisans and the workers liberated." (p. 175)


From April 1939, severe kinds of compulsory labour instituted for Jewish males 18 to 60, recruited for labour camp brigades whenever Germans demanded. Jewish refugees from Austria and Germany rounded up for forced labour in Karlove Vary and other Sudeten areas. Jewish engineers, chemists and physicians of Prague who had applied earlier for Gestapo emigration permits, were drafted intead in May 1939 for service in the Reich.

25 November 1939: Reich Ministry of Interior decreed all inhabitants 15 to 70 subject to draft under German universal labour service edict (Notdienstverordnung). Jews subject to labour service under edict, along with other citizens.

Of Czech Jews removed to Eastern Europe to make room for Nazi-classifed German minorities from the Baltic States, some taken to Lublin reservation, while those of greater physical strength deported as compulsory labourers to rebuild destroyed towns.

"The labor service was reinforced by a Protectorate law of January 23, 1941, which imposed compulsory labor on inhabitants between 18 and 50. All Jewish males had to register with the Jewish Labor Center. Notices published in the Prague press instructed those who had not yet been examined for labor service to report immediately to local Jewish community headquarters for medical examination and assignment to labor projects. The Prague paper, Der Neue Tag, disclosed in October 1941, that the first Jewish forced labor detachment in the protectorate was formed at Moravska-Ostrava. Known as the "Jewish Penal Column", because its ranks were filled by former inmates of Nazi concentration camps, it became a labor gang of street cleaners and garbage collectors." (p. 177)

December 1941, 7000 young Jews sent to Terezin for forced labor. Heydrich placed emigration ban on all Jews, enforcing it in particular in the cases of men between 18 and 46, whose labour was urgently needed in the Protectorate. Ban announced in Nazi-controlled newspaper, Vestnik on 10 July 1942, in article headed "Das Juedische Arbeitslager in Bad Vyhne"

"In August 1942, 12,000 Jews, including women and girls, were separated from their families and sent to Moravska and Karvinna for forced labor in the coal mines. They were compelled to work twelve hours daily for fifteen percent of the wages earned by other miners; they received these wages in a form of scrip, partly in food and partly in government bonds supposedly redeemable after the war." (p. 178)

[Comment: So Jews were paid in government bonds. A bit like Confederate money I suppose, but they were paid.]

Movement of transports continued from Terezin, including one shipment of 6,800 Czech Jews who were sent to the coal mines at Birkenau in Upper Silesia.


Due to shortage of labour in Slovakia as result of providing 50-60,000 workers to Reich, unremitting exploitation of Jewish labour ensued.

May 1939, Jews reported at forced labour in forest brigades, road gangs, hired hands on farms.

Decree of 27 June 1939 subjected Jews to assignment to forced labour battalions.

Decree of September 1939 ordered all Jewish officers and soldiers transferred from army to labour detachments.

Third decree in September stipulated all Jews between 16 and 55 to be drafted for forced labour and sent to special camps.

Edict of 18 January 1940 imposed compulsory labour upon "Jews and gypsies", and shortly after terms of labour service fixed by decree at two months, twice annually.

Jews assigned to labour service supplied food, clothing and shelter by Labour Ministry. Men capable of paying own maintenance had work term reduced.

Spring 1941, new order demanded all unmarried Jews report to Gestapo headquarters by 1 May for assignment to forced labour camps. Later in summer, Jewish doctors working in special Jewish camps transferred to Slovakian hospitals and nursing homes where wounded German soldiers arriving by thousands.

19 March 1942, as Slovakia's industrial labour problem became acute, Slovak Minister of Interior projected conscription of all able-bodied Jews, including married men without children.

21 May 1942, Donauzeitung published statement by chief of Central Economic Office that Jews to be transported to prepare camps, supervised by own administrators, police and courts, and assigned to work in factories, mostly as tailors and carpenters.

Majority of Slovak Jews either in concentration camps, or in labour camps awaiting deportation. Estimated 56,000 in forced labour camps at Kobyszew, Lukow and Oswiecim, all in Poland.

30 March 1943: Bratislava radio broadcast announced two-year period of compulsory labour decreed for Jews still in Slovakia, in special labour battalions assigned as auxiliaries to military units.

18,000 of re-war Jewish population of 100,000 remained in 1943, of which 3,700 interned in state's five forced labour camps. 3000 other Jews had been shipped to Tatra mountains to build homes for Nazi children evacuated from bombed cities in the Reich.

After occupation of Slovakia by Wehrmacht in November 1944, Jews still left in Bratislava sent abroad, presumably to concentration camps.


March 1941, all Dutch workmen mobilised into compulsory labour for Reich. Subsidiary measure for "Jews and criminals" to months later barring Jews from privileges.

Shortly after this decree, 1200 Dutch Jews sent to salt and sulphur mines near Mauthausen concentration camp in Upper Austria; 740 perished because no protection against poisonous vapours.

[Comment: The mines referred to were actually the stone-quarry at Mauthausen. Most of the Jews did die due to the harsh conditions and the brutal treatement.]

Other Jews sent to work on coastal fortifications, to forced labour camp at Westerbork, and many to factories at Aachen, Cologne and Munich, segregated from other workers.

Able-bodied Jews between 18 and 40 expelled to slave labour factories of Eastern Europe. Those over 40 generally used for forced labour in Holland and Germany.

5 August 1943, Nazi-controlled Hilversum radio announced: "Jews will be compelled to rebuild what was destroyed in Europe at their orders".

Two days later, command that all Jews who did not immediately obey orders to go to work in Germany or elsewhere in Nazi-occupied Europe to be arrested and sent to Mauthausen mines in Austria or penal colony for Jews on Island of Ameland, north of Groningen.

Dutch Jews with special skills detoured from forced labour camps in east to relieve acute shortage of highly skilled labour in Reich

Further orders for Jewish workers issued during months of September and October 1942. Number of young jews between 18 and 40 removed at this time for slave labour to devastated area of occupied Russia, others deported to Reich.

[Comment: Note the reference to occupied Russia. The generally accepted account has it that about half the 100,000 Jews deported from the Netherlands were sent to Sobibor and killed there. However, these Jews, like those from Belgium and France, may have been sent on to Russia as slave labour as Poznanski, perhaps with Sobibor functioning as a transit-camp in this case.]

6 March 1943, Commissioner Seyss-Inquart reported that one-half of Holland's Jews had been concripted for work in the labour camps of Nazi-occupied Europe.


Early 1941, all unemployed Jews in Brussels area, constituting most of male Jewish population, removed to labour camps in Brussels vicinity where they worked at river, ditch and canal drainage and other flood control enterprises. Tervueren, in Duisburg marshes, such a camp, set up in Fall of 1941.

Labour ordinances of 11 march and 8 may 1942 regulated working conditions for Jews. No paid holidays or sick pay, no overtime for night or Sunday work, no special compensation of any sort, dismissal without notice. required to accept any work allotted by labour offices. Work allocated mostly in mines or on roads in "chain-gangs".

[Comment: This sounds like employment conditions in developing countries today, or even for the under-class in US!]
On pretext of attachment to labour battalions, men and women dispatched to Poland. March 1942, 10,000 Belgian Jews reported to be at Lodz textile factories.

August 1942 all Jewish foreign workers conscripted for work in Germany and German-ruled countries. Occupation authorities reported 35,000 such foreign workers had been removed to Germany for forced labour.

Conscription of Jewish manpower for forced labour in German-ruled territories continued in 1943. Belgian Jews reported in nazi coastal zones building fortifications in France.

Jews in Belgium not impressed at hard labour in German labour corps deported to ghetto work barracks or decimation camps of Eastern Europe.


"Along with the Nazi-instigated Jew-clearance propaganda, labor camps were erected in a large number of provinces in both the occupied and unoccupied zones. Conscription began with those Jews who had been expelled from Austria, Germany, Czechslovakia and other German-ruled countries. In the spring of 1941, 5,000 persons between 18 and 40 were seized in Gestapo raids and sent to the labor camps at Pithiviers and Beaune-la-Rolande near Orleans. At the close of 1941, all aliens who had entered France since 1936 were threatened with incarceration in forced labor camps. In December, the Joint Distribution Committee in New York reported that 3,000 Jewish aliens had been conscripted." (p. 184)

August 1942 French government promised to recruit most of its alien Jews for forced labour outside France. Transports of Jews from labour camps re-routed to eastern europe and for work on trans-Sahara railway.

8 January 1943: Neue Zuercher Zeitung reported French Ministry of Interior prescribed obligatory assignment to camps for unmarried foreigners between 18 and 55 who had come to France since 1933. Jews drafted to army to be exempted. Assignment to labour camps to be completed by 1 March. Special separate camps for Jews to be created

15 September 1943: Neue Zuercher Zeitung disclosed French Jews as well as foreign-born Jews were being expelled to Germany, ostensibly for labour service.

By 1944 most able-bodied Jews left in France conscripted for labour.

1 May 1944, Marcel Deat, Minister of Labour in Laval's cabinet, announced that all Jews of France would be impressed at hard labour in stone quarry enterprises, mines and canal drainage works.


First decree of 26 October 1939 published in official gazette of Gouvernement-General obliged all inhabitants between 18 and 60 to perform public labour under direction of G-G department of Labour (Arbeitspflicht).

On same day, another decree demanded Zwangsarbeit of Jews, under supervision of supreme police commander for Occupied Poland.

Order of 12 December 1939 subjected all Jews from 14 to 60 to forced labour in labour camps for a normal duration of two years, which could be lengthened. Restricted to male Jews for time being. Jewish Councils were to be responsible for registration of eligible Jews. Induction into labour was to follow upon special summons from German authorities.

"Several classes of Jewish laborers came to be recognized, among them a class of so-called privileged laborers, artisans who worked in overcrowded barracks twelve hours a day turning out goods for the German army. When in the summer of 1941, the Reich suffered an acute shortage of skilled labor, manufacturers were urged to place orders with Jewish artisan cooperatives operating in the Warsaw Ghetto. The Berliner Boersenzeitung, reporting this in August 1941, disclosed that a special office had been established by the Nazi command in Warsaw solely for the purpose of advising German manufacturers how to place orders with cooperatives and institutions in the Jewish ghetto. The newspaper quoted a circular letter, sent by this office to German manufacturers, which pointed out that "forty percent of the half-million Jewish population are skilled artisans, tailors, leather-workers, tilers and joiners".

"These and other Jewish artisans in the ghetto turn out to be good handicraftsmen and can be used, within limits, to remedy the labor shortage," the newspaper article continued. "German manufacturers in districts where there is a shortage of labor are advised to utilize this reserve of qualified workers". The paper suggested that placing orders with the Warsaw Ghetto cooperatives would not only alleviate the shortage in qualified labor but would also reduce the number of "non-productive consumers". A number of the Jewish artisans were used for German orders as an experiment, and their work turned out to be quite satisfactory, the paper observed.

Jews of the Lodz Ghetto also were compelled to work for the German war industry, under a barter system. "Food will be sent into the Ghetto of Lodz only in exchange for manufactured products", the Koelnische Zeitung announced in February 1941.

[Comment: This confirms the point made elsewhere by Mr Zimmermann that the German authorities withheld food from the ghettos. But this was done in order to compel the Jews to prodice goods for the Germans. The amount of food delivered to the ghetto was determined by the goods produced, not by the number of mouths to feed, which left open the possibility that if Jewish production was not sufficient to provide in exchange enough food for everybody in the ghetto, some starvation would ensue.]

On the following August 15th, the Frankfurter Zeitung reported:

"Approximately 200,000 Jews are congested in a ghetto segregated from the rest of the city .......... where they produce various articles in textile factories. Seven thousand Jews are employed as tailors, 5,000 as shoemakers and 1,000 as carpenters. Many others are employed in road construction. The Judenrat assembles the manufactured products and exchanges them for food for the ghetto"." (p. 189)

Nazis impressed all workers not fully employed into forced labour gangs.

Jews working in labour battalions ranked lower. For them no privileges. Most ultimately shipped to labour camps which differed little from concentration camps. Up until summer 1941, at least 85 Jewish labour camps known to exist in G-G. Location known of 35 camps, of which two-thirds on eastern frontier.

January 1941, 10,000 Jews working in forced labour gangs along Bug and Vistula rivers between Warsaw and Lublin. Used to build fortifications near Soviet border.

Spring 1941 men between 12 and 40 recruited for labour battalions, eventually sent to labour camps at Josefow, Tyszowka, Bial Podlaska and Milejow, and also to quarries near Opatow. Gazeta Zydowska reported 25,000 Jews engaged in compulsory construction work in Warsaw district.

By April 1941, almost all Jews of Poland conscripted for hard labour, according to April 20 issue of Voelkischer Beobachter. Of Jews of Sosnowiec and Bedzin (in Upper Silesia) approximately 100,000 in forced labour camps.

"Jewish community councils supported conscripted workers largely out of a fund collected from those Jews who were physically incapable of performing forced labor, and who were deferred if they paid a special tax to their Jewish community organisation." (p. 195)

Governer-General Frank subjected all Jews of the Western Ukraine (= East Galicia) to compulsory labour in fall of 1941. Early in 1942, chain of labour camps set up near Lvov, Tarnopol and Stanislawow. Thousands of Jews were brought from the whole of Galicia to the Lvov camp on Janowska Street.

"Nazi law during 1942 eliminated the two-year work period for forced labor in Poland and German-occupied Soviet territory. It was now limitless. All labor camps and ghetto factories in the East became the destination of forcibly transported Jewish populations both from Poland and from Western and Central Europe. Large-scale transfers from the Warsaw Ghetto were reported. On July 22, 1942, the Jewish Council of Warsaw received an order to prepare 6,000 persons to be sent away daily. Many of the deportees were shipped to labor camps on the Russian front, others to work in the marshes of Pinsk, or to the ghettos of the baltic republics, Byelorussia and the Ukraine. Large numbers of Jews from Western Europe were transported to Lodz to work in the textile mills. The Institute of Jewish Affairs in New York cited an advertisement that appeared in the Litzmannstaedter Zeitung, Nazi newspaper published in Lodz, quoting the German mayor of a nearby town:

Have at my disposal 250 qualified Jewish tailors, furriers and hatters. Accept orders for army as well as private enterprises.

In 1942, as the pressure of the Nazi war machine increased and the need for manpower grew, transports of Jewish slave laborers from the eastern territories rolled into parts of Austria, Upper Silesia and into Germany proper. Polish Jews were transferred to various parts of Germany in July, a fact disclosed by the Nazi-controlled Krakauer Zeitung, the first newspaper to mention transfers of Polish Jews for work in the Reich. The policy of such transfers was in sharp conflict with the ideology of a "Jew-purged" Germany. There were further instances of transfers of Polish, French and Belgian Jews to the coal mines of Upper Silesia, and trainloads of Polish jews carted to camps in Austria." (p199)

[Comment: The reference to Jews sent away from the Warsaw Ghetto after 22 July 1942 is crucial. The generally accepted account states that the Jews deported from Warsaw after that date were sent to the camp on the spur-line from Treblinka Station (Treblinka II), where they were all killed except for a very few slave labourers retained in the camp. However, this quote from Poznanski's work gives a number of alternative destinations to the east og the Generalgouvernement. It seems to me that there are three possibilities:
  1. All the Jews deported from Warsaw were sent to Treblinka II, where they were killed, as reported in contemporary accounts by the Polish Underground and confirmed in post-war testimony by German camp-staff and Jewish survivors. The reports of the Jews being sent to labour camps and ghettos in occupied Russia are false.
  2. All the Jews deported from Warsaw were sent as slave-labourers to occupied Russia, consistent with the reports drawn on by Poznanski. The reports and testimony about Treblinka II are therefore false.
  3. The employable Jews were sent as slave-labourers to occupied Russia, while the unemployables were sent to Treblinka II and killed there. Both sets of reports are therefore correct, at least in part. This scenario is consistent with Goebbels' lament in his diary-entry of 27 March 1942 that only 40% of the Jews in the Generalgouvernement could be used for forced labour, and the remaining 60% would have to be liquidated.
The reference to Polish Jews being sent as labourers to Germany in July 1942 is also interesting. One wonders what happened to these Jews. Presumably most of them were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau along with the German Jews, when the mass deportation to that destination of the Jews remaining in Germany commenced in January 1943. However, that raises the possibility of considerable double-counting of Jews deported and perished. For example, a Jew deported from Poland to Germany in July 1942 might have been counted as one deported to an extermination camp and killed, since the generally accepted account does not allow for the possibility of deportation to Germany at that date. That same Jew might have been counted again as having been deported in 1943 from Germany to Auschwitz-Birkenau and having died there. In this way one Jew may have been counted as having died twice, whereas he only died once, or may in fact have survived. Thus it can be seen how the estimate of the numbers of Jews who died at German hands could have been inflated to a certain degree.]

Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Gitel Poznanski
Title: Strategy of Decimation, The Nazi Crime against the Jewish People", New York 1946
Sources: from "Black Book: The Crime Against the Jewish People," New York 1946
  • Michael Mills: Introduction
Published: 1946-01-01
First posted on CODOH: June 29, 1995, 7 p.m.
Last revision:
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