Auschwitz Birkenau ramps

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michael mills
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Re: Auschwitz Birkenau ramps

Post by michael mills » 17 Jan 2010 05:37

Uberjude,

I sometimes get the impression that you do not even bother to read my posts, since you keep raising points that I have already deal with and ignoring the comments I made on them.

Take for example the gassing of sick and exhausted Jews sent from the Schmelt labour camps in Upper Silesia in the early Spring of 1942. In my post of Friday 15 I gave a quote from the book "Auschwitz 1270 to the Present" by Van Pelt, which explained how that came to pass; I will repeat here, for your edification, what I wrote then:
However the gassing of Jews unfit for work had begun at Birkenau even before Himmler issued that order in July 1942 that Hoess described. Here is what Van Pelt says on the matter in his book "Auschwitz: 1270 to the Present":

Pages 301-2
While negotiations were carried on between the German Foreign Office and the Slovak government, Auschwitz already had become the destination for one particular group of Jews residing on Reich territory: those considered unfit for work in the so-called Schmelt program. A high-ranking Ss officer and senior civil servant in the provincial administration, Albrecht Schmelt had established a special organisation in 1941 to monopolise the forced labor of jews left in Upper Silesia after the deportations to the Government General had been halted. Schmelt emplyed some 50,000 jews, and he felt that his program was burdened by too many mouths to feed. He knew about the Gestapo Summary Court executions in Auschwitz, and in mid-February he shipped some 400 older Jews to the camp.

The morgue of the crematorium in the main camp had been transformed in September 1941 into an effective gas chamber which could hold 900 people, so there was plenty of room to kill the elderly Jews with ease.
It should be noted that the conversion of the crematorium in the Auschwitz main camp into a gas chamber had been carried out for the purpose of killing Soviet POWs who were sent to Auschwitz for execution.

According to Van Pelt, the use of the crematorium as a killing station for the Jews unfit for labour sent from the Schmelt camps interrupted the life of the camp, and for that reason it was decided to shift the killing operation to a location near the new sattelite camp being constructed at Birkenau. For that purpose, a peasant house, left over from the demolition of the village of Brzezinka to make way for the new camp, was converted into the gas chamber known as Bunker I.
So was the despatch of sick and exhausted Jewish labourers from the Schmelt camps in Upper Silesia to Auschwitz for killing a part of the "Final Solution"?

I consider that it was not, but rather a component of the extension of the Euthanasia Program to the concentration camps, which was known officially as "Sonderbehandlung 14f13", which had begun in April 1941.

The objective of the "Final Solution of the Jewish Problem", a policy description first used by the German Foreign Ministry in 1938, was to make Germany "Jew-free" by expelling all persons classified as Jews from German territory. As German control spread over other countries in the course of the war, the objective expanded to one of making all of the "German Area of Influence in Europe" "Jew-free" also.

As far as implementation was concerned, the "Final Solution" went through a number of stages, although the underlying aim remained unchanged. Before the outbreak of war, implementation was by forced emigration to anywhere outside Germany. After the conquest of Poland, implementation was to be by concentrating the Jews of all areas under German control (Altreich, Austria, Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia, annexed areas of Poland, Generalgouvernement), a total of two million, in a reservation in the Lublin District of the GG.

After the defeat of France, implementation was to be by shipping all the Jews of the countries occupied by Germany and of Germany's allies, an estimated total of four million, to Madagascar. From early 1941, after the invasion of the Soviet Union had been decided on, implementation was planned to be by mass deportation into the interior of the Soviet Union; Eichmann's office worked on that plan all through 1941, and it was the plan presented by Heydrich at the Wannsee Conference.

So many implementation plans were gone through because in turn proved unworkable; even the final version could not be implemented due to the failure of barbarossa, but as of January 1942 deportation into the Soviet Union was still the official version of the "Final Solution".

Therefore, the despatch of sick Jews from the Schmelt camps to Auschwitz for "euthanasia" from February 1942 onward was not part of the "Final Solution", since those Jews were not being sent into the interior of the Soviet Union. In fact, they were not even being sent out of German territory, since Auschwitz was situated in the area annexed from Poland, in the enlarged province of East Upper Silesia.

Can we say that the initial incarceration of Silesian Jews in the Schmelt labour camps was part of the "Final Solution"? No, we cannot, because the policy of using Jews for forced labour was quite separate from the "Final Solution", and was intended as a temporary measure until the "Final Solution", that is the expulsion of all Jews from German territory, could be implemented. The forced labour of Jews in Germany had been initiated in Germany before the war; all Jews in Germany were thus liable for compulsory labour service until they emigrated. The sending of Jews to the Schmelt camps occurred within the overall program of Jewish forced labour, and was therefore not part of the "Final Solution", but a preliminary measure.

When the 14f13 program began in April 1941, doctors from T-4, the office overseeing the adult Euthanasia Program, went to the concentration camps to select sick prisoners for "euthanasia". The selected inmates were then sent to the various Euthnasia Centres in Germany for gassing. That was because the concentration camps at that time did not have their own gas-chambers; selected prisoners were even sent to those centres from Auschwitz in 1941.

By the end of 1941, the Auschwitz camp had its own killing methodology using Zyklon-B, and sick prisoners no longer needed to be sent to the distant Euthanasia Centres; they could be killed in the camo itself by gassing, which was considered by the German administrators as a "humane" method, suitable for prisoners who were not being punished but simply disposed of as unusable, like farm animals no longer fit for work. The gassing of the jews sent from the Schmelt camps was simply a component of the killing of camp inmates no longer fit for work, an action that was not targeted specifically against Jews.

Now for Himmler's order of late Janaury 1942, to send 150,000 Jewish labourers to the concentration camps. Was that a part of the "Final Solution"?

I consider that it was not, since it did not involve sending Jews from Germany to the interior of the Soviet Union, which as of January 1942 was the official implementation plan for the "Final Solution", but rather involved diverting Jews from the stream which was already flowing to destinations in the occupied Soviet territories (Minsk and Riga), and retaining them within Germany, on territory that was slated for full germanisation. As I wrote previously, it actually involved a derogation from the "Final Solution".

Uberjude, you are quite mistaken when you claim that the forced labour of Jews was always a component of the "Final Solution". As I have shown, it was not, but a temporary measure for making use of Jews before they were deported. To be sure, the implementation plan for the "Final Solution" did contain an element of forced labour, but that was to consist of road construction deep within the conquered Soviet territories, not working in war-related industries on German territory. In fact, small numbers of non-Soviet Jews were sent into occupied Soviet territory for road-building work (under very harsh conditions), but the vast program of deportation presented at Wannsee never got off the ground because the Soviet Union remained unconquered.

The transports of Jews from Slovakia and France sent to Auschwitz in the Spring and early Summer of 1942, pursuant to Himmler's order of January 1942, were likewise not part of the "Final Solution", since those Jews were being sent to a destination within Germany for forced labour, not being expelled from Europe, which is what the "Final Solution" meant. The fact that the initial transports of Jews from France were not part of the "Final Solution" is demonstrated by the plan to send them to a labour camp near Duesseldorf so as to save the cost of sending them all the way to distant Auschwitz, a plan that did not eventuate but was still under serious consideration in September 1942, and involved retaining Jews in the very heart of Germany, the diametrical opposite of the objective of the "Final Solution".

Given that the original purpose of sending transports of Jews to Auschwitz for labour was not part of the "Final Solution", how did Birkenau come to be a place where many hundreds of thousands of Jews perished, either by gassing or by starvation, disease and exposure?

I think I have already answered that question in this same post of Friday 15, when I wrote:
Gradually the element of extermination became more important. In my opinion, the reason for that was the failure of Heydrich's plan to deport all European Jews into conquered Soviet territory, which was a logical consequence of the failure of Barbarossa. Sending West European Jews to Auschwitz became an alternative to sending them to a now unattainable destination in the vast expanses of the Soviet Union, and they were no longer sent primarily for labour, but simply to get rid of them by the gassing procedure that had already been set up for the elimination of prisoners who were no longer fit for labour. In that way, overcrowding of the camp could be prevented, and the number of inmates could be kept down to the level needed for labour.
By the way, you have still not identified the historical anomaly in Hoess''s description of Himmler's visit to Auschwitz in July 1942, in his post-war staement "My meetings with Himmler". Here is another example of the anomaly:

http://www.archive.org/stream/commandan ... p_djvu.txt
Then Birkenau was visited, including the Russian camp, the gypsy
sector, and also a Jewish sector. He then climbed the gate tower
and had the different parts of the camp pointed out to him and also
the water drainage systems which were being built, and he was
shown the extent of the proposed expansion. He saw the prisoners
at work and inspected their living quarters and the kitchens and
the hospital accommodation. I constantly drew his attention to the
defects in the camp, and he saw them as well. He saw the emaciated
victims of disease (the causes of which were bluntly explained by
the doctors), he saw the crowded hospital block, he learned of the
mortality among the children in the gypsy camp, and he saw chil-
dren there suffering from the terrible disease called noma. He also
saw the overcrowded huts and the primitive and insufficient latrines
and washhouses. The doctors told him about the high rate of sick-
ness and death and, above all, the reasons for it. He had every-
thing explained to him in the most exact manner and saw it all
precisely as it really was, and he remained silent. He took me back
to Birkenau furious at my perpetual complaints of the miserable
conditions in the camp and said: "I want to hear no more about
difficulties! An SS officer does not recognize difficulties; when they
arise, his task is to remove them at once by his own efforts! How
this is to be done is your worry and not mine!" Kammler and
Bischoff were told much the same sort of thing.
If you want to find out what the anomaly is, google "Gypsies Auschwitz", and pay close attention to the sequence of dates.

uberjude
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Re: Auschwitz Birkenau ramps

Post by uberjude » 17 Jan 2010 11:13

I suppose I am no less diligent in responding to every point you make than you are to every point I make. As for not reading your posts, insofar as I spent considerable time critiquing your misquote of Hoess, it's pretty obvious I'm reading your posts (either that, or made a remarkably lucky guess).

As to the final solution and it's meaning, it's not really important what the "official" version was or what was put on paper at the Wannsee Conference, because we know that there was much discussed at the conference that wasn't put in the protocol. Again, sorry to burst your bubble, but we don't need to rely on your opinion as to what the Final Solution means in the context of the Wannsee Conference, since we actually have a primary source on the subject, namely, the guy who was responsible for the minutes of the meeting, Adolf Eichmann. So if I'm to choose between your opinion of what Heydrich intended or Eichmann's first hand account of the actual Wannsee Conference, and his other conversations with Heydrich (e.g., being told that Hitler had ordered Himmler to prepare the "physical annihilation of the Jews"), I think I'll go with Eichmann. Here's what he had to say on the subject, from his testimony (source: http://www.ghwk.de/engl/texts/eichmanns-testimony.htm


Q: Not details in general, what did he say about this theme?

A: I cannot remember it in detail, Your Honor, but they spoke about meth ods for killing, about liquidation, about extermination. I was busy with my records. I had to make the preparations for taking down the minutes; I could not perk up my ears and listen to everything that was said. But it filtered through the small room and I caught fragments of this conversation. It was a small room so from time to time I heard a word or two.

Q: I believed that this was the official part of the meeting, of the conference.

A: The official part did not take too long.

Q: Was this in the official part of the conference, or not? It was my belief that this was in the official conference because this should have been included in the protocol of the meeting, although nothing is mentioned.

A: Well of course, it was in the official part, Your Honor. But again this official part had two subdivisions. The first part where everyone was quiet and listened to the various lectures, and then in the second part, everyone spoke out of turn and people would go around, butlers, adjutants, and would give out liquor. Well, I don't want to say that there was an atmosphere of drunkenness there. It was an official atmosphere, but nevertheless it was not one of these stiff, formal, official affairs where everyone spoke in turn. But people just talked at cross ver tices.

Q: And were these also recorded by the short-hand typists?

Accused: Yes, yes they were taken down.

Presiding Judge: And you were ordered by someone not to include it in the memorandum of the meeting in the official Protocol of this meeting, weren't you?

Accused: Yes, that's how it was. The stenographer was sitting next to me and I was to see to it that everything would be taken down; then she deciphered this and then Heydrich gave me his instructions as to what should be included in the record and what should be excluded. Then I showed it to Heydrich and he polished it up and proof-read it and that's how it was kept.
and this, from his Confession (actually, an interview given with a sympathetic Dutch writer/former SS man before his capture, so there's no way to charge that this was coerced source: http://www.einsatzgruppenarchives.com/t ... final.html
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.
Soon after the order General Heydrich called me to his office in the Prinz Albrecht Strasse. He told me about Reichsführer Himmler's order that all emigration of Jews was to be prohibited - with no more exceptions. He assured me that neither I nor my men would have anything to do with the physical liquidation. We would act only as policemen; that is, we would round up the Jews for the others.

By this time the formula "Final Solution for the Jewish Question" had taken on a new meaning: liquidation. In this new sense we discussed it at a special conference on Jan. 10, 1942 in the Wannsee section of Berlin. It was I who had to bustle over to Heydrich with the portfolio of invitations on which he scribbled his "Heydrich", stroke for stroke. So we sent out the whole thing. A few people declined to participate, on grounds principally of other duties.

After the conference, as I recall, Heydrich, Müller and your humble servant sat cozily around the fireplace. I noticed for the first time that Heydrich was smoking. Not only that, but he had a cognac. Normally he touched nothing alcoholic. The only other time I had seen him drinking was at an office party years before. We all had drinks then. We sang songs. After a while we got up on the chairs and drank a toast, then on the table and then round and round - on the chairs and on the table again. Heydrich taught it to us. It was an old North German custom.

But we sat around peacefully after our Wannsee Conference, not just talking shop but giving ourselves a rest after so many taxing hours.

It is not true that Reichsführer Himmler set down in writing anything ordering the annihilation of the Jews. Do you think he sat down to write, "My dear Eichmann, the Führer has ordered the physical annihilation of the Jews"? The truth is that Himmler never put a line in writing on this subject. I know that he always gave his instructions orally to Lieut. General Oswald Pohl, in charge of the economic administration which ran the concentration camps. I never received any order of this sort.

I would like to stress again, however, that my department never gave a single annihilation order. We were responsible only for deportations.
So in January, 1942, what did the Final Solution mean? Not simply labor, but liquidation. Eichmann's words, not simply my opinion (and before you begin to argue that "liquidation" simply means "moisturizing," and this was really just a Nazi dermatological program, please note the beginning and end that refer specifically to "physical annihilation.")

So back to my narrative--in January, 1942, the Wannsee Conference meets to discuss the "physical annihilation" of the Jews (and please, if you disagree with Eichmann, provide evidence), and Heydrich points out that Jewish labor must take place within the framework of the Final Solution, which, I'll point out again, means liquidation, not labor in the East. A few weeks later, Jews are gassed at Auschwitz. Were they gassed as part of the Final Solution? Maybe, maybe not. It's not relevant. The point is that, as van Pelt argues, Kammler shows up, inspects the site shortly thereafter, and concludes that for various reasons, the gassings of Jews should be shifted to Birkenau. So it's not that the gassings in February are necessarily part of the big plan (though based on Eichmann, why not, seeing as how the Final Solution wasn't a labor program, bu a program for "liquidation.") but simply, they are part of the chain in understanding the evolution of Auschwitz as death camp, a point which seems acceptable to both van Pelt and Christopher Browning, the latter of whom suggests that it was because gassings at Auschwitz I interrupted the normal routine of the camp that the shift was made to Birkenau. (source: http://books.google.com/books?id=jHQdRH ... er&f=false

As for the Hoess quote, I admit I flubbed, and the gypsies weren't there in '42--I was primarily looking at the quote in the context of how you used it. However, I should point out that there's no question that Hoess' memoirs have errors, like the supposed HImmler visit to Birkenau in July '42; the usual approach--like van Pelt did with supposed '41 reference to extermination--is figure out where the real truth is in the quote. I can easily ditch the gypsy line, and the rest remains a reasonable portrayal of Auschwitz in July 1942--so reasonable, in fact, that you were the one who cited the passage in the first place, so I'm happy to split the difference with you.

Finally, I should point out that, considering this post began with you complaining that I don't pay enough attention to you, the fact that I spent so much time analyzing and contextualizing something that resulted from your big error should bring some more response than pointing out my one little error. The fact is, the passage you misquoted actually provides evidence for the complete opposite of your argument. If you're not going to admit that you also erred on this one, would you care to reexamine the quote in light of the comments I made, and show where I was wrong, and that the lack of accommodations referred to be Hoess wasn't in the context of the actions by the special police? Or that the line about "breathing space" actually referred to shipping Jews fit for labor to other camps, not killing Jews unfit for labor, since, as just noted, they were already being killed, despite the lack of accommodations?

But I digress from the main point. Your whole argument depends on the Final Solution meaning what you say it means. How valid is your opinion? Well, against your opinion about what the Final Solution means, and what was discussed at the Wannsee Conference, we have multiple quotes given in multiple contexts by the guy who actually took the minutes at the conference, and who was tasked with facilitating the deportations. Readers may decide whose evidence is more compelling, your theories, or my primary evidence from the actual perpetrators.

And again, we then have the recollections and opinions of the guy who actually ran the camp, and knew better than anyone what the main function of the camp was, and what was expected of him.

Say what you will about my Judeocentrism and my willingness to fight against the ancestral enemies of the Jews, on this issue, I'm standing firmly with Eichmann (whose comments were made in an interview without any coercion) and Hoess (whose comments on the true nature of the camp you still haven't addressed. And note, those comments are his post-war evaluation, not a recollection, and also, not coerced, so there's really no way to discredit them). Eichmann, Hoess and Uberjude, all for one and one for all!

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bf109 emil
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Re: Auschwitz Birkenau ramps

Post by bf109 emil » 27 Jan 2010 12:05

And again, we then have the recollections and opinions of the guy who actually ran the camp, and knew better than anyone what the main function of the camp was, and what was expected of him.
Hoess statement made and not under deress or under trial, but to a correspondent whose views on Auschwitz, his life, his personal views of others along with numerous persoanl feelings can be read in Leon Goldenshon...The Nuremberg Interviews"

uberjude
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Re: Auschwitz Birkenau ramps

Post by uberjude » 27 Jan 2010 16:19

Hoess' memoirs, cited above, were made neither under duress (in fact, it was in the memoirs that he made reference to duress in his initial interrogation right after his capture), nor in the course of a trial (he had already been sentenced to death). For more on their reliability, see: http://www.holocaust-history.org/auschw ... s-memoirs/

and the introductory comments to the memoirs, made here:

http://www.mailstar.net/Hoss-Memoirs.html

Thanks though, for the info on the Goldensohn book, with which I was unfamiliar. Here's a link to it on googlebooks:

http://books.google.com/books?id=c0dyUm ... ss&f=false

EDIT: I was wrong; Apparently Hoess was still being tried while writing his memoirs, though their composition had nothing to do with the trial itself.

vdicenso
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Re: Auschwitz Birkenau ramps

Post by vdicenso » 12 Feb 2024 17:42

Can anyone provide more information on the Schmelt Labor Camp in Silesia? Is it possible to find a list of guards, etc. who were running the camp?

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