What About Wannsee?
AnswerMan! sincerely hopes that with your tone you are not expecting him to get you back to Kansas. But, come to think of it, given your impersonation of a gasbag in your earlier query, perhaps you wouldn't need any help.
With regard to the Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942, AnswerMan! has never had a problem accepting the authenticity of the protocols of that conference. However, what exactly does the document say?
There is nothing in that document about extermination, gas chambers, or anything of the kind. So what's the big deal? It discusses a program of deportation, in which all of the Jews of Europe are deported from Western Europe, sent to transit ghettoes in Poland, and then sent further to the East.
This plan in fact mirrors the documentary reality, which anyone can check for themselves. Tens of thousands of Western Jews were deported, frequently stopping at the transit ghettoes of Lodz and Warsaw, and then, after being deloused in transit camps like Birkenau and Sobibor were sent on to destinations further East: these might comprise ghettoes in cities like Minsk, Kovno, Wilno, Lwow, or Riga, or it might involve assignment to labor detachments behind the German lines.
Of course, these deportations involved loss of life and it seems clear that in some instances the deportees were later shot after arriving at these destinations "further East" — that at least is the import of parts of the incomplete documentary record.
However, this loss of life and these killings is not consonant with a plan to physically exterminate all Jews nor does it have anything to do with the alleged extermination camps in which three million people were supposed to have been gassed and burned.
David Irving has been most successful in locating a very important document, the so called "Schlegelberger Memorandum", which makes it clear that, whatever was discussed at Wannsee concerning the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question", Hitler had decided to postpone the matter until the end of the war by the Spring of 1942 (see Irving's website at http://www.fpp.co.uk for more details as well as a reproduction of the Schlegelberger memo, the document is also discussed in his recent Nuremberg: The Last Battle.)
In addition, the purpose of the deportations, as well as the ultimate fate of the Jewish deportees, can be seen in the following order, utilized by both Samuel Crowell and Isaiah Trunk, stemming from June, 1942:
In order to get initial control over the Jews, regardless of whatever measures may be taken later, Jewish Councils of Elders have been appointed which are responsible to the Security Police and Security Service for the conduct of their fellow Jews (Rassengenossen). Moreover, the registration and concentration of the Jews in ghettos have been started.... With these measures, the foundations for the Final Solution of the Jewish Problem — planned for a later time — have been laid in the territory of Byelorussia (Weissruthenien)
Incidentally, the document also supports the contention that Hitler's suspension of the final process came in the early Spring, and that the truly "Final Solution" would ultimately involve deportation outside of Europe, of which concentration in the East was supposed to have been an intermediate stage.
No one is going to pretend that these deportations and concentrations were either just or benign: it seems clear to AnswerMan! that hundreds of thousands of Jewish people, at least, perished in one way or another. But this has nothing to do with extermination claims or gas chambers, much less with a "plan" for "genocide." One could just as easily say that, since millions of Germans died as a result of the expulsion of 14 million Germans from Eastern Europe after the Potsdam conference in 1945 that there must have been a plan to exterminate the German people. Of course, using the logic of traditional Holocaust writers, the fact that there is no written order to exterminate the German people simply proves that such a plan existed.
Again, AnswerMan! does not question this document, but that doesn't make the document automatically valid. Johannes Peter Ney has written an excellent critique of the protocols, on the CODOH site, which clearly suggest some falsification of at least the accompanying documentation of the protocols.
One of the points that Ney makes is that, according to the protocols, the Jewish people were to be gathered up and put to work building roads in "big labor gangs." He expresses skepticism on this point, because, while there is documentation that Jews were pressed into all kinds of labor work, there is no indication that they were used for road building. However, it is interesting to note that Howard K. Smith, in his book, Last Train to Berlin, published a scant seven months after the conference, repeats exactly the same claim about road building (p. 191). Hence we have the unusual situation where the protocols, which were stamped as "Geheime Reichssache!" (Top Secret!), are not corroborated by any known German government documents but are corroborated by a propaganda book published in the United States a few months later. AnswerMan! leaves it to you to figure that one out.
Additional information about this document
|Title:||What About Wannsee?|
|First posted on CODOH:||June 29, 1998, 7 p.m.|