Saturday, February 26, 2011

Football at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Source: Winter time: memoirs of a German Sinto who survived Auschwitz by Walter Stanoski Winter and Struan Robertson.  Pages 54 -57

Comment:  Not the most important issue in the world, but an interest facet of camp life.  The soccer field was located right beside Krema III at Birkenau.  The influence of the ghost writer is often palpable.

One day a new Roll Call Leader arrived.  If I'm not mistaken his name was Hartmann, a man very keen on sport, an SS man naturally.  He asked around, the Block Senior, the Roll Call Clerks and the Block Orderlies, to identify those interested in sport: "Who plays football?"
Naturally, I was interested, along with other lads from East Prussia who had played in major clubs, and also my cousins.
He chose me as trainer and said, "You get together eleven or twelve footballers."
I must say that, in my opinion, this Roll Call Leader had a humane side to him.  He supplied us with some provisions that he had probably 'organised' by takin them from others [A hint of ghost writer influence here - my comment].  But we didn't give this a thought at the time, it being a matter of survival.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jozef Retinger on the "Jewish Question" in Poland 1941

Source: Why We Watched by Theodore S Hamerow page 58-59

Comment: Jozef Retinger was an influential figure in mid 20th century Europe and one of the people who held bring about the European Common Market (see wikipedia ).  Hamerow half quotes and half summarises his views on the "Jewish question" which he rightly sees as representative of a powerful strand of elite thinking at the time.

[Peaceful separation would be mutually advantageous]  This was the view expressed in 1941 by Jozef Retinger, personal secretary to the leader of the Polish government in exile in London, Wladyslaw Sikorski.  Poland had by then been occupied for two years by the armies of the Third Reich.  The Jewish minority had been pauperized and ghettoized; indeed, the initiation of a program of mass extermination was only a few months away.  But in a book dealing with Poland's tragic situation, Retinger remained preoccupied with the problems that his nation had faced before the war and that it would surely have to face again afterward.  Among the most important of these problems was "the largest agglomeration of Jews in Europe."  But not only in Europe: Poland had the highest percentage of Jewish inhabitants of any country in the world.  And that was bound to lead to serious ethnic frictions and hostilities.  "The three and a half million Jews concentrated in Poland give the greater part of the towns and cities a specific character owing to the radically different social structure and powerful separatism of the Jewish inabitants."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hubert Pfoch Diary of Treblinka

Source: Into that Darkness by Gitta Sereny page 158-159

Comment: Photographs and diary entered into evidence at Dusseldorf Treblinka trial.  I include some of Sereny's additional comments.  He describes going to Siedlce and seeing a transport loaded for the very short trip to Treblinka and then his troop train following the deportation train up the branch line towards Malkinia.  Normally troop trains would get priority.

Against this, however, there is the extraordinary eye-witness account recorded at the time by Hubert Pfoch, then a member of the illegal Austrian Socialist Youth Organization, and now a Vienna city councillor. As a young soldier moving up to the Eastern front, he saw a transport to Treblinka on August 21, 1942. The photographs he took - at considerable danger to himself (see pages 4 and 5 of illustrations)- were part of the evidence at the trial of ten former Treblinka guards in Düsseldorf in 1964-

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reports on Sobibor

Source: Richard Rashke: Escape From Sobibor pages 1 and 373-374 [he gives other sources]

Comment: Part of an effort to bring together all Sobibor related material for assessment.  Useful discussion is found here

Thomas Blatt interviewd the stationmaster of Sobibor after the war.  The stationmaster recalled Karl Frenzel sending a telegraphed message to Lublin shortly after the revolt, describing the escape and asking for help.  That stationmaster did not recall the exact time of the telegram, but he did remember the reason Frenzel sent it was the telephone wires had been cut.  The telegram has never been found [actually if this was a radio telegram it was intercepted by the British - see link above].

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Transport Telex or Radio Message

Source: Eichmann's Men by Hans Safrian, page 64-65

Comment: Strikingly similiar to a document David Irving made famous from British decodes, suggests originally this must have been a normal communication, for reasons unknown only a handful have survived.  Possibly the reason the one in the British Decodes made it through the net, was because there was a mention in a Himmler telephone memo.

Telegrams from Lodz to the RSHA Referat IV D 4 served as confirmation and final report about each deoportation train.  A December 17 telex, for example, reported under the heading "Transport of Poles - Lithuanian Operation" that:
train 3145 carrying 957 Jews had arrived in Lodz/Litzmanndstadt on December 17, 1940 at 5 AM and after inspection left for its final destination of Lukow [in the Generalgouvernement] at 6 AM.  This transport would probably conclude this operation for the remainder of the year.  The foodstuffs provided for this transport in Soldau [Danzig-West Prussia] amounted to: sausage 500 kilograms, bread 1,000 kilograms, legumes 200 kilograms.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Great and Small Provocations in Wilna/Vilnius: July and September 1941

Source: The report is found in the Military Archive Freiburg.  403 KTB Anlagen (filed between 26 August and 4 September 1941 in the Anlagen, although undated the report is almost certainly written around 15 July 1941).  The second text is a translation of a Bekanntmachung (Public Notification) issued by Hingst, Commander of Wilna, translation by Arad.

Comment Both seem to describe "provocation" type events although at different dates.  The one of mid July is found in the Einsatzgruppen Reports.  The one of end August and lacking in umlausts, is also found mentioned in the Jaeger Report but not in the Einsatzgruppen Reports.

Text 1
Bericht ueber die Taetigkeit des Div.Stabes in Wilna
I.) Einsatz
Bei Eintreffen des Div.Stabes befand sich in Wilna ein vom AOK 9 eingesetzter Stabsoffizier mit der Bezeichnung ‘Militärbefehlshaber von Wilna und Umgebung’. Ihm unterstanden 2 Bataillonen, die vom AOK 9 zurück gelassen waren. Der Offizier, Oberstleutnant von Ostmann, pflegte gute Beziehungen zu einehm litauischen ‘Bürgerkomitee’, das sich in der Stadt gebildet hatte, geleitet von dem Präsidenten ‘Zakevicius’, Universitätsprofessor in Wilna. Stellvertreter Universitätsprofessor ‘Jurgutis’ (1922 litauischer Aussenminister). Diese Komitee sah sich in seinem Bestreben, eine rein litauische Politik zu betreiben, nicht gehindert. Obgleich die litauische Bevölkerung in Wilna nur etwa ¼ der gesamten Bevölkerung ausmacht, die Polen aber in der Stadt überwiegen, befand sich kein Pole in Bürgerkomitee, auch kein Weissrusse. Juden waren selbstverständlich auch ausgeschlossen. Der führende Kopf im Komitee ist Professor Jurgutis, der mit führenden kreisen in Kowno rege Verbindung unterhält und anscheinend von dort Weisungen bekommt.
Der Oberbefehlshaber der 9. Armee, Generaloberst Strauss, suchte mich in Wilna auf und befahl mir, dafür zu sorgen,
1.) dass hier keine litauische Politik betrieben wird, sondern ausschliesslich deutsche,
2.) das keine ‘Etappe Gent’ entsteht.
Oberstleutnant von Ostmann verliess die Stadt, mit ihm die beiden Bataillonen der 9. Armee. Diese mussten sofort ersetzt werden. Dazu stand nur die Eingreifgruppe und das Wach Batl. 705 zur Verfügung, auf die ich ungern zu Wachzwecken zurückgriff. Es wurden daher das III./IR 406 und das Wach Btl. 705, unter Führung des Kommandeurs des Lds.Schtz.Rgt. 85, Major Graf von Roedern, eingesetzt.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eichmann's "Interview" in Life Magazine

Source: Life, Vol. 49, No. 22, November 28, 1960

Comment: Kind of interesting.  At times Eichmann seems like he is taking the piss


The final solution: liquidation

The continuance of the war finally changed out attitude on emigration entirely. In 1941 the Führer himself ordered the physical annihilation of the Jewish enemy. What made him take this step I do not know. But for one thing the war in Russia was not going along in the Blitz fashion the High Command had planned. The ruinous struggle on two fronts had begun. And already Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the world Zionist leader, had declared war on Germany in the name of Jewry. It was inevitable that the answer of the Führer would not be long in coming.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Early Accounts of Dresden bombing

Text: Phillip Knightley, The First Casualty pages 343-344.  Revised 2000 edition Prion books

Comment: To test the claim that it was Goebbels who originally forged the famous Tagesbefehl 47, rather than the East Germans.  Phillip Knightley presents no evidence to support a briefing by Goebbels of 200 000 death toll.

Ministry of Defence records show that there were no war correspondents with the planes over Dresden, and so there were no eye-witness accounts of the bombing, except for thos of a few air crews interviewed on their return, and they had been given various concocted explanations as to why they were bombing the city - they were attacking German army headquarters, destroying an arms dump, knocking out an industrial area, or even "wiping out a large poison gas plant."

German Soap Factory WW1

Source: Phillip Knightley: The First Casualty, pages 111-113

Comment:  Background for Danzig Anatomical Institute WW2 claim

Even the most popular atrocity story of all -- the German corpse factory -- turned out to be another war correspondents' invention. This particular story had a long and highly successful run. It had several variations, but basically it was that close behind their front line the Germans had established factories for boiling down the corpses of their soldiers, from which to distill glycerine for munitions. The Times initiated the story, on April 16, 1917, with a suspiciously vague paragraph that said baldly: "One of the United States consuls, on leaving Germany in February, stated in Switzerland that the Germans were distilling glycerine from the bodies of their dead." The account quickly blossomed. The Times expanded the original report by reproducing a dispatch by a German correspondent, Karl Rosner, in which he referred to the German army's Kadaververwertungsanstalt, which The Times translated as "Corpse Exploitation Establishment." Foreign newspapers picked up the story. It appeared in LInde'pendance and La Belge, two Belgian newspapers published in France and Holland. French correspondents were instructed by their army authorities to send dispatches to their newspapers over their own signatures detailing what was known about the corpse factories. The matter came up in the House of Commons on April 30, when the Prime Minister was asked if he would make the story known as widely as possible in Egypt, India, and the East generally. A corpse-factory cartoon appeared iii Punch, and in general the affair had world-wide circulation and considerable propaganda value.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ventilation letter for Auschwitz Crematorium and Gas chamber and translation

Source:  Auschwitz Archives.

Comment:  Provided as is.  I have made a translation of a letter of May 1942 from Topf to Auschwitz Building Office and also present the original (plus some typos).  If it is useful for anyone, you are welcome.  For those interested this
and this may prove helpful

After we received from you the buildings with your correspondence of 2.4.41 concerning the implementation of the crematorium, we must alter the earlier planned aeration and ventilation installations for the individual rooms.  We have for this reason prepared a new drawing D 59394, from which you can see the arrangements of the ventilation and aeration fans,  In general  we have, so far as this was possible,  followed your building plans lying in front of us.
The exhaust air shafts we have, as you specified, in your drawing 1183/74 implemented underneath the attic; however in this case these two exhaust air shafts will not be pulled together, rather between these exhaust air shafts a further two more will be included, as we have inscribed this in our drawing D 59394 on the floor plan of the attic.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hoess as seen by Gustav Gilbert Part 2

Source: Nuremberg Diary by Gustav Gilbert, pages 155 to 160 then as identicated

Comment: 2nd part of Gilbert's account of Hoess.  Of particular interest is Ribbontrop's, Jodl's, Sauckel's and Goering's reactions.  Much of the material on propaganda also turns up in Goldensohn's Nuremberg Interviews.  Of possible interest:
April 12
Colonel Hoess's Cell:  After completing today's test, Hoess said: "I suppose you want to know in this way if my thoughts and habits are normal."
"Well, what do you think?" I asked.
"I am entirely normal.  Even while I was doing this extermination work, I led a normal family life, and so on."
"Did you have a normal social life!"
"Well, perhaps it is a peculiarity of mine, but I always felt best alone. - If I had worries I tried to work them out myself. - That was the thing that disturbed my wife most. - I was so self-sufficient.  I never had friends or a close relationship with anybody - even in my youth. - I never had a friend.  And in company, I was sometimes present, but not spiritually.  I was glad when people enjoyed themselves, but I could never participate with them."

Hoess as seen by Gustav Gilbert: Part 1

Source: Nuremberg Diary by Gustav Gilbert pages 149-153

Comment: Gustave Gilbert talks to Hoess a few times in mid April, given by date.  Interest lies in Goering's reaction.  Also interest in Kaltenbrunner's distance from his defence lawyer, who seems to be the driving force to have Hoess testify.  Possible relevant commentary here:

April 9
Colonel Hoess of Auschwitz
Hoess's Cell:  Examined Rudolf Hoess, 46, commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, who has recently been captured, in anticipation of Kaltenbrunner's defence.
After completing his test, we discussed briefly his activity as the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp from May, 1940 to December, 1943, which camp was the central extermination camp for Jews.  He readily confirmed that approximately 2.5 million Jews had been extermination under his direction.  The exterminations began in the summer of 1941.  In compliance with Goering's scepticism, I asked Hoess how it was technically possible to exterminate 2.5 million people.  "Technically?" he asked.  "That wasn't so hard - it would not have been hard to exterminate even greater numbers."  In answer to my rather naive questions as to how many people could be done away in an hour, etc., he explained that one must figure it on a daily 24 hour period.  He explained that there were actually 6 extermination chambers.  The 2 big ones could accommodate as many as 2000 in each and the 4 smaller ones up to 1500 making a total capacity of 10,000 a day.  I tried to work out how this was done, but he corrected me.  "No, you don't work it right.  The killing itself took the least time.  You could dispose of 2,000 head in a half-hour, but it was the burning that took all the time.  The killing itself was easy; you didn't even need guards to drive them into the chambers; they just went in expecting to take showers and, instead of water, we turned on poison gas.  The whole thing went very quickly."  He related all this in a quiet, apathetic, matter-of-fact tone of voice.

Hoess as seen by Col. B C Andrus

Source: The Infamous of Nuremberg by Col. B.C. Andrus - page 148-154

Comment: Quotes one of Hoess's affidavits in full and then gives a brief summary of Major Goldensohn's briefing.  Also include a short section which erroneously claims the executed defendents were cremated at Dachau camp.  Of possible relevance:

[First part, the affidavit that was read by Hoess in court]
The whole court looked at Hoess in open astonishment and horror as he assented to the truth of his vile statement.
When he was testifying that he had caused a glass window to be cut into the wall of the extermination chamber so he could view the suffering and the dying he had a gloating smile on his face.  He obviously felt tremendous pride that he had been a more efficient killer than anybody else.  His attitude was something beyond sadism.  The judges looked shocked as this little man with the beady eyes detailed his camp activities.  Many of us felt overwhelming nausea.
What sort of man was this, whose matter-of-fact admissions of horrifying murder dumbfounded the whole court?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Testimony of Hoess at Nuremburg on witness stand

Source: IMT volumes April 15, 1946

Comment: None

Testimony of Rudolf Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz

[Testimony on Monday, April 15, 1946]

Morning Session DR. KAUFFMANN: With the agreement of the Tribunal, I now call the witness Hoess.
[The witness Hoess took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Stand up. Will you state your name?
RUDOLF FRANZ FERDINAND HOESS (Witness): Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Hoess.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me: "I swear by God,the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth,and will withhold and add nothing.
[The witness repeated the oath in German.]
THE PRESIDENT: Will you sit down?
DR. KAUFFMANN: Witness, your statements will have far-reaching significance. You are perhaps the only one who can throw some light upon certain hidden aspects, and who can tell which people gave the orders for the destruction of European Jewry, and can further state how this order was carried out and to what degree the execution was kept a secret.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kauffmann, will you kindly put questions to the witness.
[Turning to the witness.] From 1940 to 1943, you were the Commander of the camp at Auschwitz. Is that true?

Nuremberg: Rudolf Hoess and Otto Moll confronted

Source: 16 April 1946.  Interrogations: The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands, 1945 by Richard Overy, p. 387-400

Comment:  Just bizarre.

Extract from the interrogation of Otto Moll and Rudolf Hoess taken at Nuremberg on 16 April 1946, 14:15 to 16:15, by Lieut.-Colonel Smith W. Brookhart (the interrogation was conducted in English and German)

Q. You are the same Otto Moll who appeared here this morning and you understand that your statements here are made under oath?
A. Yes. May I make a request please?
Q. Yes.
A. In Landsberg I made a request that I be confronted with Rudolf Hoess, the commandant of the Auschwitz Camp, so that I may testify in front of Hoess and Hoess may testify in front of me. I request you now that this may be granted. I would like to have Hoess testify in my presence, as I would like to see him make the statements in my presence and I can testify as to the truth.
Q. Assuming that you are confronted by Hoess, are you going to tell the truth, or are you going to continue to give us the same kind of a story that you gave us this morning?

Nuremberg Interpreter on Hoess

Source: New York Times Magazine, May 02, 1999

Comment: Interesting description of Hoess signing his affidavit in English, he does seem to understand it, but it also seems to be a document that is presented to him and he himself is depicted as depressed and unmotivated.   Also indicates the dependence of Nuremberg on emigres.

Lives; The Interpreter
By Harry Fiss
Published: May 02, 1999

I can still visualize the dimly lighted corridors of the labyrinthine ''Palace of Justice,'' and especially Room No. 167, where the interrogation took place, furnished with a polished table, a wooden bench and two shoddy chairs. I'll never forget the sensation I felt when he entered the room, an icy chill that turned my breath into frost.

2 Early Testimonies by Rudolf Hoess

Source: Originally from Public Archives UK, WO.309/374, I have taken them from, the website associated with David Irving.

Context: Two testimonies - brief and with little detail given on 16 and 20 March respectively.  Interesting in mapping the development of Hoess's testimony.  This is the start of series on statements by Hoess.  A useful listing of statements has been compiled here:

Text 1: 16 March 1946
STATEMENT of Rudolf HOESS ------------
                    Statement of Rudolf HOESS, male, made 
                    voluntarily at Minden Gaol on 16th March
1.                  I was commandant of AUSCHWITZ from May 1941 until December 1943.
2.                  During this time the camp was visited by the following 
high-ranking persons
                         SCHWERIN-KROSIGK - Finanzminister
                         THIERACK     - Justizminister
                    They inspected the camp of AUSCHWITZ, its factories and farms 
and remained for approximately 3 - 4 hours.
3.                  I held the position of Adjutant and Schutzhaftlagerführer 
in SACHSENHAUSEN Concentration Camp from 1938 until 1940.
4.                  During this time I saw the following high ranking persons 
visit the camp of SACHSENHAUSEN.
                         FRICK - Innenminister (Minister of the interior)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Documents concerning rescue attempts of the Hungarian Jews

Source: The Holocaust: Selected Documents in Eighteen Volumes. ed John Mendelsohn.  Vol 16.  Doc 23, page 128.  Doc 30, page 152.

Comment: Interest lies in the suggestion of camps available for those unable to work during Hungarian Deportation.  This is in connection with the issues discussed around Elie Wiesel, Lazar Wiesel and a tattoo.  See more here:

Text: Doc 23
Department of State (Incoming Telegram)
Dated September 11, 1944:  Received 10:26 pm
Secretary of State, Washington
2827, September 11, 5 p.m.
Mayer reports that with the approval of the Hungarian Jewish Community all Hungarian Jews between 14 and 70 are to be put in to 3 classes.  Class I all able to work who will be employed in industry.  Class 2, all medically unsuited to heavy work who will be interned in camps outside Budapest.  Thse will also be required to work where possible in agriculture and light industry and will organize camps themselves under supervision Intercross.  Class 3, all completely unfitted to work who will be sent to Jewish hospitals.  Mayer also asks immediate advice and instructions about money asked for JDC 67.  He claims this an eleventh hour situation as next meeting delegation September 13.

The Viscount instructs....

Reference: War 1939 : Dealing With Adolf Hitler. p133.  Uncovered editions

Comment: Telegram of Viscount Halifax to British Ambassador in Warsaw.  Illustrates the intransigence of British attitude towards Danzig and an interest to make the issue a casus belli.

Viscount Halifax to Sir H. Kennard (Warsaw).
(Telegraphic.)                Foreign Office, June 30, 1939

You should at once seek interview with Minister for Foreign Affairs and ask him how the Polish Government propose to deal with the situation which appears to be impending.  It would seem that Hitler is laying his plans very astutely so as to present the Polish Government with a fait accompli in Danzig, to which it would be difficult for them to react without appearing in the role of aggressors.  I feel that the moment has come where consultation between the Polish, British and French Governments is necessary in order that the plans of the three Governments may be co-ordinated in time.  It is in the view of His Majesty's Government essential that these plans shall be so devised as to ensure that Hitler shall not be able so to manage matters as to manoeuvre the Polish Government into the position of aggressors.