michael mills wrote:
Charles Bunch wrote:
At the time of the conference Chelmno had been in operation for a number of weeks, the gas chambers of Belzec were under construction and would be in operation in less than two months, and experiments with gassing with Zyklon B had occurred at Auschwitz to which the deportations of Jews was about to begin, and at which in the Spring the first of two Birkenau farmhouses was converted into a gas chamber.
In the above passage, Charles Bunch assumes a connection between a number of developments that is increasingly questioned by historians.
First of all my point had nothing to do with a connection between these developments other than to point out that they were all ongoing at the time Heydrich held the Wannsee Conference and stated that: "These actions are, however, only to be considered provisional, but practical experience is already being collected which is of the greatest importance in relation to the future final solution of the Jewish question."
The experimentation and planning represented by gassing with CO, with Zyklon B, and with gas vans certainly was experience which proved to be of vital importance to the Final Solution.
Secondly, nothing about this point is increasingly being questioned by historians.
It appears that the establishment of a killing centre at Chelmno was a local action initiated by the Reichstatthalter of Reichsgau Wartheland, with the assent of Himmler and Heydrich, for the purpose of reducing the number of Jews in the Wartheland by 100,000 or about one-third. The impetus for that initiative seems to have derived from the overcrowding in the Lodz Ghetto due to the arrival of thousands of Jews deported from Germany, and also the decision to turn the ghetto into an industrial enterprise where all the employable Jews of Wartheland would be concentrated, with the unemployables being exterminated.
Which, of course, touches not at all on my point.
The murdering by gas in the Warthegau began in October of 1941 with SK Lange, after which a stationary site was found, constituting the bridge between gas vans operating in various locations, to a camp based location to which victims were shipped to be murdered in gas vans. This is just one of the examples of the experimentation which was being carried on at the time of the Wannsee Conference.
In any case, there appears to be no formal connection between Greiser's Chelmno initiative and the Europe-wide deportation plan revealed by Heydrich at Wannsee.
The connection was not made to the already determined plan, but to the future final plan which would benefit from the "practical experience" then being acquired.
On the other hand, the emptying of the Lodz ghetto was tied to the deportation plan.
Only the deportation of German Jews to Lodz was part of that plan, and those deportees were not sent to Chelmno until May of 1942. Chelmno was run by a Sonderkommando from the Security Police HQ in Posen which had previously been involved in a local "euthanasia" action, and was not controlled by the RSHA.
SK Lange was ordered to the Warthegau by Himmler.
The former transit camp at Belzec had been re-commissioned starting from October 1941, but it is not clear what its original purpose was. The long delay between the start of work and the commencement of deportations from Lublin in March 1942 (almost six months) suggests a period during which a decision was being awaited. The German historian Peter Longerich believes that the final German Government approval for the killing of the unemployable majority of the Jews of the GG did not come until March, just before the commencement of deportations.
And Longerich is decidedly in the minority on this point.
The purpose for construction of a camp at Belzec is perfectly clear.
As Longerich himself points out, a meeting between Globocnik and Himmler on October 13, 1941 is the likely date of the order from Himmler to Globocnik to build the camp. Activity during the subsequent period does not suggest that a decision about the purpose of the camp was awaited. A few weeks after this meeting construction on Belzec began. In December those selected from the T4 Organization to work in Aktion Reinhardt were transferred to Belzec, bringing their gassing expertise with them. Eichmann, sent by Himmler to report on the various types of preparations for the Final Solution which Himmler revealed to him in late summer 1941, visited Belzec sometime in the late Fall during its construction. He was given a tour of the gas chambers under construction.
The destination of Heydrich's deportation program was the occupied Soviet Union, not the GG. Furthermore, Globocnik appears to have been operating on his own authority, reporting directly to Himmler, and not to have been subordinate to Heydrich.
Globocnik was not operating on his own authority, but on Himmler's, who was the ultimate authority.
As for the introduction of the gassing technology at Auschwitz, that was connected with the killing of Soviet POWs selected as "dangerous" and sent to concentration camps, including Auschwitz, for execution.
Soviet POWs were killed in a couple of experimental gassings, from which the decision was made to use Zyklon B for the upcoming murder of Jews, as Hoess tells us in his memoirs. By the time of the Wannsee Conference this would have been known.
At the time of the introduction of gassing, probably in December 1941, there was as yet no decision to send Jews to Auschwitz.
Not according to the camp commandant.
Hoess testified to attending a meeting in Eichmann’s office in late November, 1941, at which transportation issues were discussed.
In any event this is another irrelevant point. The point is that gassing with Zyklon B had been carried out successfully before the Wannsee Conference in January and constitutes one of the "practical experiences" known about at the time.
As stated, Himmler's order, which initiated the sending of Jews to Auschwitz, which had not originally been designed as a camp for Jews,
Another absolutely irrelevant point to the discussion.
was connected with Heydrich's deportation plan, but represented a change to it.
And this has what to do with the issue under discussion?
Mr. Mills often gets himself caught up in a desire to contend for its own sake and ends up drifting off into irrelevancies.
It meant that of the Jews being deported and to be deported into the occupied Soviet Union, as prescribed in Heydrich's plan, 150,000 were to be diverted and sent to Auschwitz as a work-force. The historian of Auschwitz, Robert Jan Van Pelt, has shown that the decision to send Jews to Auschwitz as a work-force was a result of the fact that Soviet POWs, for whom Birkenau was built, were no longer available, having been reserved by Goering for armaments work.
Which is not the same as saying the decision to send Jews to Auschwitz was purely to have a work force. Mr. Mills likes to make these types of statements!
By the way, there was no plan to deport Jews to the Soviet Union at this point.
Thus, when the deportation plan outlined by Heydrich at Wannsee was being developed, and at the time of the conference itself, there was no thought of sending Jews to Auschwitz. All the deportees were supposed to be sent to the occupied Soviet Union, not to a camp that strictly speaking was on the territory of the Reich (East Upper Silesia).
Evidence exists showing that plans for sending Jews to Auschwitz did exist. But the point is irrelevant to the discussion, which is those "practical experiences" which were being gained at the time of the Conference which specifically applied to the "future final solution".
The date of conversion of the first farmhouse into a gas-chamber is not known for certain. It may have been in May 1942. It seems to be related to the arrival of the Schmelt Jews, and the localisation of Aktion 14f13 within Auschwitz.
The date of conversion of the “Little White House” occurred in “the first few months” of 1942, or “in the early Spring”. The February/March timeframe is assumed by scholars.
The conversion was to accommodate the scheduled ongoing arrival of Jewish transports as part of the extermination program.
All in all, there is no obvious connection between Heydrich's deportation plan and the various local initiatives listed by Charles Bunch.
There is no difference between the overall plan for Jewish extermination and Heydrich’s plan, which was deportation to death camps, or to ghettos for re-transport to death camps.
In any event, the point of Mills post has nothing to do with the point I made.
There is no reason for not accepting that the plan outlined by Heydrich at Wannsee was limited to the deportation of the Jews under German control into the occupied Soviet Union, and the use of the employables for slave labour on strategic road-building programs such as Durchgangsstrasse IV.
There most certainly is!
The plan outlined at Wannsee had nothing to do with deporting anyone to the Soviet Union!