"Aktion Reinhardt" -- What did it denote?

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red devil
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Post by red devil » 10 Dec 2004 17:42

Not reading 100%, I do not have the time right now, but in my opinion Mr Mills is incorrect. Robbery is a bye product of the Holocaust not a cause.

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Post by Earldor » 10 Dec 2004 17:43

red devil wrote:Not reading 100%, I do not have the time right now, but in my opinion Mr Mills is incorrect. Robbery is a bye product of the Holocaust not a cause.
In your own time then. I'm simply curious.

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Post by michael mills » 12 Dec 2004 02:43

Here is another document from the book "Topography of Terror" which throws light on the bureaucratic origin of the operation to sequestrate the property of deported Jews which at some unidentified point in time was given the code-name "Aktion Reinhardt".

Page 120 (the omisssions shown by [...] are in the text as printed in the book):

Text 31

Eleventh Ordinance supplementing the Reich Citizenship Law, dated November 25, 1941


[.....]

& 2

A Jew loses German citizenship

a) assoon as this ordinance becomes effective, if, once this ordinance becomes effective, his regular domicile is abroad,

b) if and when he subsequently moves his regular domicile abroad.

& 3

(1) The property of a Jew will accrue to the German Reich once he loses his German citizenship pursuant to this ordinance. [....]

& 4

(1) Persons whose property has accrued to the Reich in accordance with & 3 will be unable to inherit anything from a German citizen who has died.

(2) Gifts by German citizens to persons whose property has accrued to the Reich in accordance with & 3 are prohibited. [...]

& 7

(1) All persons in possession of a portion of property that has been forfeited, or who still owe a debt to the accumulated property must report the possession of this portion of property or, respectively, the debt they owe to it to the Senior Finance Director in Berlin within six months after the property has been forfeited (& 3) [...]

& 10

(1) All subsequent claims [Verfolgungsansprüche] by Jews who, pursuant to & 2 have lost their German citizenship will be null and void at the end of the month in which loss of citizenship becomes effective. [...]

Berlin, November 25, 1941

Reich Minister of the Interior
Frick

Head of the Party Chancellory
M. Bormann

Reich Ministry of Finance
Acting as deputy
Reinhardt
[my emphasis]

Reich Minister of Justice
The authorised representative in charge of affairs
Dr. Schlegelberger
The Eleventh Ordinance supplementing the Reich Citizenship Law was the legal basis for the sequestration of the property of Jews of German nationality who were deported to the East, a process that began in October 1941.

Later that same legal basis was applied to deported Jews of former Polish nationality, and finally to deported Jews having nationality of the countries occupied by Germany or of countries allied to Germany.

Note that I have emphasised the signature of State Secretary Fritz Reinhardt, who represented the Reich Ministry of Finance in the promulgation of the Supplemetary Ordinance.

That was to show how Reinhardt was associated with the process of sequestrating the property of deported Jews from the very outset.

Furthermore, the requirement under Paragraph 7 of the Ordinance to report possession of or debts owing to property forfeited under Paragraph 3 to officers of the Reich Ministry of Finance suggests that it was that ministry which had the ultimate authority over the whole operation of sequestration of Jewish property. In other words, State Secretary Fritz Reinhardt was the man who stood at the very top of the whole sequestration operation.

This document lends support to the theory that the process of sequestration of the property of deported Jews initiated by the Eleventh Ordinance supplementing the Reich Citizenship Law was given the code-name "Aktion Reinhardt" after State Secretary Fritz Reinhardt of the Reich Ministry of Finance, who was one of the signatories to the ordinance.

It also lends support to the interpretation that the code-name "Aktion Reinhardt" formally referred to the process of sequestrating the property of deported Jews, and not to the process of deportation and/or extermination itself.

Note that the Reich Minister of the Interior, Wilhelm Frick, was one of the signatories.

At the time of the ordinance, Himmler as Chief of the German Police, and the various SS and Police bodies under him, were formally subject to the authority of Frick as Minister for the Interior (although in reality Himmler acted on his own authoritiy subject only to Hitler). Himmler himself did not become Reich Minister of the Interior until 1943.

Accordingly, it was Frick's participation in the Eleventh Ordinance that provided the legal basis for the role of the SS in the process of sequestrating the property of deported Jews. The first preserved documented use of the code-name "Aktion Reinhardt" is in documents originating with the WVHA, which ran the concentration camps.

Whether the code-name "Aktion Reinhardt" was coined by the WVHA is unknown. It seems to me more likely that it was coined by the Reich Ministry of Finance, after its own State Secretary who was responsible for the ultimate oversight of the whole sequestration operation.

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Post by red devil » 12 Dec 2004 09:09

Forgive me if wrong, but the way I read earlier texts in here was that Mr Mills was saying that the property confiscation was the reason behind the eventual Holocaust and I disagreed that point. However, the confiscation of all jewish property was certainly carried out but not as the root cause, more of profiting from the removal of the Jew.

This property went "somewhere" and I would not mind betting it went into the hands of certain NAZI officials.

The other side of the coin could be used in so much that some jews/dissidents/innocents could have been deliberately removed from areas in order for the local NAZI officials to get their hands on desired property?

The latter certainly did happen but not on a scale sufficient enough to warrant the charge of Holocaust greed as the reason for the genocide. I trust I make myself clear *slightly puzzled*

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Post by David Thompson » 12 Dec 2004 09:30

red devil -- You said:
This property went "somewhere" and I would not mind betting it went into the hands of certain NAZI officials.
You may find these inventory lists of interest:

Document L-18: Solution of Jewish Question in Galicia [translation], in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Volume VII: US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: GPO, 1947. pp. 755-770.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 279#554279

NO-060, in Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 5: United States v. Oswald Pohl, et. al. (Case 4: 'Pohl Case'). US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1950. pp. 704-705.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 546#578546

Document NO-061, in Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 5: United States v. Oswald Pohl, et. al. (Case 4: 'Pohl Case'). US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1950. pp. 706-709.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 553#578553

Document NO-2003, in Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 5: United States v. Oswald Pohl, et. al. (Case 4: 'Pohl Case'). US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1950. pp. 709-712.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 558#578558

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Sergey Romanov
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Post by Sergey Romanov » 12 Dec 2004 15:25

This document lends support to the theory that the process of sequestration of the property of deported Jews initiated by the Eleventh Ordinance supplementing the Reich Citizenship Law was given the code-name "Aktion Reinhardt" after State Secretary Fritz Reinhardt of the Reich Ministry of Finance, who was one of the signatories to the ordinance.
Here is another theory: maybe AR was named for BOTH Reinhardts?
It also lends support to the interpretation that the code-name "Aktion Reinhardt" formally referred to the process of sequestrating the property of deported Jews, and not to the process of deportation and/or extermination itself.
As quoted documents show, the above is ignorant bullsh-t.

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Post by xcalibur » 12 Dec 2004 17:46

Sequestration of Jewish property
That's a rather benign description of larceny.

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Post by Earldor » 12 Dec 2004 19:55

michael mills wrote: Here is another document from the book "Topography of Terror" which throws light on the bureaucratic origin of the operation to sequestrate the property of deported Jews which at some unidentified point in time was given the code-name "Aktion Reinhardt".
It seems that Mr. Mills is unable to adjust to the reality of the documents presented to him and tries to flog the dead horse he rode into this discussion with. I wonder why.

It is very telling that he disregards all the evidence pointing to a view different from his. He doesn't defend the quotes he brings into this discussion and he has now brought in documents of tenuous or non-existant relevance.

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Post by Earldor » 12 Dec 2004 22:35

Since Mr. Mills is so reluctant to confront these documents, I thought that I'd bring them to the forefront of the discussion. Remember, that these are original German documents, so-called primary documents.

The first one is a list of promotions to Wirth's men. Men who had been serving under Wirth (And also Globocnik and the Führer's Chancellory) in his death camps (Vernichtungsläger); Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka.
[The document then lists the men, who's bios you can check at http://www.deathcamps.org/reinhard/completestaff.htm and at the page "German staff" under each camp at the ARC site. Emphasis mine.]

These men are no accountants, although there were some in the camps, but that is easily explained, as they were the ones who reported the loot to their superiors in Lublin, who in turn reported it to WVHA. So, as we have claimed from the start, the economic side was a part of Operation Reinhard, but wasn't its sole purpose.

Another document on the promotion of Niemann, Oberhauser, Schwarz and Franz. All one time members of Belzec. After the end of operations in Belzec Niemann and Schwarz went on to Sobibor, Franz went in August 1942 to Treblinka, where he got a terrifying reputation and Oberhauser was Wirth's right hand man.
  • http://www.deathcamps.org/euthanasia/pic/bigfranz1.jpg

    "Der Reichsführer-SS hat die an der Aktion "Reinhard" beteiligten

    SS-Hschaf. Niemann, Johann
    SS-Hschaf. Oberhauser, Josef
    SS-Hschaf. Schwarz, Gottfried
    SS-Oschaf. Franz, Kurt

    zu Untersturmführern der Waffen-SS zu befördert"

    My rough translation: "The RFSS has promoted the following men, who have taken part in the Aktion Reinhard, to second lieutenants of the Waffen-SS"
What about the HQ staff? This list http://www.deathcamps.org/reinhard/pic/globstaff.jpg mentions that Höfle, Thomalla, Michalsen, Göth and Claasen were men who's job title includes "Sonderaktion Reinhardt" or "Special Action Reinhardt."

Thomalla oversaw the construction of the three death camps. Höfle, Michalsen, and Claasen were all in charge of the deportations of the Jews from the ghettos (with other members of Globus' staff, but I didn't include them in this discussion because the document doesn't mention the Aktion Reinhard in the list. It just shows that you didn't have to have "Reinhardt" in your job description to take part in it.) and Göth was too, until he took over the notorious KZ Plaszow.

Then there are the British radio intercepts. The most important, in my opinion, of them was sent on the 11.1. 1943. It has the wording: "14-tätige meldung Einsatz Reinhart" (My translation: Fortnightly report of the Einsatz Reinhart) and goes on to list the numbers of Jews transported to the Operation Reinhard death camps, also mentioning L, which is most likely Majdanek. That brings Majdanek also into the realm of the Reinhard death camps.

You can see the intercept on this page http://www.deathcamps.org/reinhard/ or you can do a search on the subject on the Forum, because the page is linked in at least one message.

The interested reader may want to read more of the British intercepts:
http://www.deathcamps.org/lublin/prodecodes.html

Additionally there is the pledge of secrecy, http://www1.yadvashem.org/about_holocau ... oc123.html referred to by Sergey, and signed by the members of the OR death camp personnel.

It mentions "Einsatz Reinhard" four times. Each time tells at least the impartial reader that "Einsatz Reinhard" encompassed much more than simple looting. I'll use the English translation used by Yad Vashem:

The undersigned is a person "with special duties in the execution of tasks in the evacuation of Jews within the framework of "Einsatz Reinhard," [Operation Reinhard] under the SS Police Leader (SS- und Polizeifuehrer) in the District of Lublin.

From this we can deduce, that there were "special duties" in the evacuation of the Jews and as we know from the statements of the former members of the OR death camps, those duties included gassing and looting. It is also very clear that they were acting under the SSPF Lublin, i.e. Globocnik. That doesn't mean that they were totally removed from the authority of T4-organization, from which they were on loan.

The undersigned then declares that "I have been thoroughly informed and instructed by SS Hauptstuermfuhrer Hoefle, as Commander of the main division of "Einsatz Reinhard" of the SS and Police Leader in the District of Lublin."

So, we have Höfle, the man listed as "referent f. Judenangelegenheiten (Sonderaktion Reinhardt)", a subordinate of Globocnik and man responsible of the deportations of Jews, swearing the death camp personnel in.

The following instances of "Einsatz Reinhard" are to do with the secrecy of the operation:

"I may not under any circumstances pass on any form of information, verbally or in writing, on the progress, procedure or incidents in the evacuation of Jews to any person outside the circle of the "Einsatz Reinhard" staff"

and

"there is an absolute prohibition on photography in the camps of "Einsatz Reinhard"

The former passage clearly speaks of the "evacuation of Jews" and includes the members of the death camp personnel in the "Einsatz Reinhard staff." That of course just confirms the previous documents. The second simply states that the goings-on in these camps were so secret, that no one was allowed to take pictures. We do know however, that even this rule was broken by some members of the staff.

I simply cannot understand how someone can go on to maintain that the Operation Reinhard" pertains only to the economic side of things. No one is claiming that the robbing of the murdered Jews wasn't a part of the operation but it wasn't the only part. It is quite understandable that the references to "Aktion Reinhard" (or whatever the used term is) in the context of the WVHA are related to the loot and the economic side, since that was one of WVHA's functions. Mr. Mills is simply distorting the evidence to his preferred, erroneous model.

I'd also like to add that Mr. Mills' distortions are clearly evident in this thread. He neglects to take all the evidence aboard, he distorts the evidence and omits it, when it suits his purposes. He even portrayed Poprzeczny's view in the wrong light. I would say that Mr. Mills' credibility is at an all time low and everyone who has, in the past, been suckered in by his posts, should take a second, closer look at his claims.

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Post by michael mills » 14 Dec 2004 06:16

It is a pity that Earldor writes from a position of such obsessive,almost pathological hostility.

I am sure that a dispassionate examination of the evidence can lead to a reasonable resolution of the issue, to the extent that one can be obtained.

It seems to me that there are two separate strands of documetntary evidence.

On the one hand, there is a set of documents emanating from the WVHA referring to an operation with the code-name "Aktion Reinhardt".

The documents show that that operation involved the sequestration, processing and disposal of the property of Jews deported or imprisoned in the concentration camps administered by the WVHA. That is the interpretation placed on the documents by the United States tribunal which tried Pohl and other leading WVHA officers.

According the article by Tyas linked by Earldor, the first documented occurrence of the term "Aktion Reinhardt" (with that spelling) was in a radio message of 22 October from the WVHA (signed Maurer), requesting information from KL Auschwitz about the current repair situation of watches, pens and other goods from “Aktion Reinhardt” being carried out there. The message had been intercepted by the British code-breaking operation at Bletchley Park.

That shows that the code-name was applied to the sequestration of personal property from the Jews imprisoned at KL Auschwitz. The intercepted radio message is quite consistent with other WVHA documents in which the code-name "Aktion Reinhardt" refers to the seizure and processing of Jewish property.

It is also consistent with the post-war statement by Hoess that the term "Aktion Reinhardt" referred to the confiscation and processing of the property from the transports of Jews that had been destroyed. Note that Hoess did not say that it referred to the destruction itself.

I have demonstrated in my previous post that the sequestration operation at Auschwitz and other camps administered by the WVHA had its legal origin in the Eleventh Supplementary Ordinance to the Reich Citizenship Law, signed on 25 November 1941, and that the wording of the ordinance suggests that the Reich Ministry of Finance had the ultimate oversight over the operation of seizing the property of deported Jews.

Since the State Secretary of the Reich Ministry of Finance, Fritz Reinhardt, had signed the ordinance on behalf of that ministry, it is a fair bet that the code-name "Aktion Reinhardt" for the sequestration operation was derived from his surname.

On the other hand, there is a series of documents originating from the office of the SSPF-Lublin, Odilo Globocnik, containing references to an "Einsatz Reinhard". Such references also occur in correspondence between Himmler and Globocnik.

The context of those references suggests that "Einsatz Reinhard" was part of Globocnik's office in Lublin. The background of the name is not clear, but it may well have been coined by Globocnik himself; its official status is also unclear.

The occurrences of the term "Einsatz Reinhard" refer to execution camps in Lublin Distrikt under Globocnik's command, and to particular members of his staff, including the T-4 personnel seconded to him.

Globocnik's execution camps were not under the jurisdiction of the WVHA, nor were his staff under the authority of the WVHA. When Globocnik was sent off to Trieste in disgrace, under suspicion of mass corruption, most of his staff included under the rubric "Einsatz Reinhard" went with him and were put to work fighting partisans in Yugoslavia. The WVHA then took over Globocnik's operation, including his network of labour camps and manufacturing operations, but not his staff.

Thus, there is no organisational connection between the staff of "Einsatz Reinhard" and the WVHA, or the latter's administration of "Aktion Reinhardt". The relationship between "Einsatz Reinhard" and "Aktion Reinhardt" is therefore unclear.

Because of the similarity of the names, some confusion ensued, as is shown by the occurrence of the term "Aktion Reinhard", in that spelling.

However, whenever the WVHA referred to operation of confiscating and processing the property of deported Jews, it invariably used the term "Aktion Reinhardt", which obviously was an official bureaucratic usage.

So what we have is an official sequestration operation code-named "Aktion Reinhardt", which had a legal basis in the Eleventh Supplementary Ordinance to the Reich Citizenship Law, and was not solely an SS operation but was run in conjunction with the Reich Ministry of Finance, which appears to have the ultimate authority over it.

On the other side, we have a rather mysterious "Einsatz Reinhard", which seems to be a clandestine operation run by Globocnik out of his office, probably with no legal basis apart from a secret assignemnt from Himmler. Like all the HSSPF and SSPF, Globocnik was responsible to Himmler alone and to no other Reich authority; like most of them, he tended to act as a "loose cannon".

If Globocnik himself chose the name "Einsatz Reinhard", he may have done so for some personal reason, perhaps as a form of bureaucratic protest against the Reich Ministry of Finance, and against the use of the name of Fritz Reinhardt, who was his enemy. But we can never know for certain.

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Post by Sergey Romanov » 14 Dec 2004 07:23

What we know for certain, and what has been established by the documents, cited by Earldor and me, is that operation Reinhardt (Aktion Reinhardt, Einsatz Reinhardt) is the program of killing and looting Jews.

Mills has been unable to answer the questions about these documents, namely, why Globocnik would call Aktion [sic] Reinhardt an operation for looting and deportation of the Jews, why Himmelr would thank him for participation in Aktion [sic] Reinhardt, what are the "field ovens Aktion [sic] Reinhardt", etc. Instead he misinforms the public, trying to invent a theory about 2 operations called Reinard[t], which is contradicted by known documents.

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Post by ehlerner » 14 Dec 2004 18:24

[quote="ehlerner"][quote="michael mills"]Once again we have evidence that the code-name "Reinhardt" denoted the organisation which processed and recorded the property confiscated from persons defined under German law as enemies of the German Realm and people, in particular persons defined as Jews according to law.
lease cite which specific evidence MM has "once again . . . "

I wish to elaborate a bit further on my previously posted criticism of Michael Mills and (as I interpret HIM) his self-serving uses of reference material, in particular here MM's narrowing of Joseph Poprzeczny's "Odilo Globocnik: Hitler's Man in the East," as well as the immense research and writings of Michael Tregenza in Lublin. Mills contributes little to intellectual curiosity and historical research when he refers to Poprzeczny's (alleged--I can't find it!) comment re. Hoefle's inadequate misspellings of this, that, or the other thing.

"JoeP"'s work is far more massive than that.

By way of boasting, let me say that Joe Poprzeczny's published Acknowledgments include: "Erwin Lerner, New York playwright with productions off-Broadway, whose international contacts and researches on Globocnik have resulted in his acquiring a large array of previously unknown sources, including especially Georg Wippern's two postwar court statements . . ." Joe and I have exchanged data for several years now. He visited Lublin ca. 2000, and on his way home stopped in New York City
for several days to visit me and deliver many documents courtesy of Michael Tregenza. Mike Tregenza hosted me in Lublin for 5 days, during my research tour in September, 2000, when I followed Odilo Globocnik's footprints in Poland, Austria and Italy (Lublin, Belzec, Vienna, Klagenfurt, Paternion, Trieste, etc.). I was gladdened by the justice of standing on Globocnik's unmarked grave at Paternion; to see the street on which he was born and the church of his baptism in Trieste; to pray for myriad souls of the dead at the former Belzec deathcamp; etcetera.

Poprzeczny writes in his footnote 1, Chapter XIII re. Fritz Reinhardt and Reinhard Heydrich:
"As well as these two different spellings, historians describe this campaign of Globocnik's as Aktion, Action, or Operation Reinhardt or Reinhard. Irrespective of these additional variants, it is the same ROBBING AND KILLING (emphasis mine) that Globocnik headed which is being referred to."

In Michael Tregenza's work, "CHRISTIAN WIRTH: INSPEKTEUR DER SS-SONDERKOMMANDOS 'AKTION REINHARD'" (published in Polish, 'Zeszyty Majdanka', vol. XV, pp. 7-58; Lublin 1993 --an English-language draft given to me by "MikeT" sometime back), quoting Georg Michalsen, Tregenza writes:

"About the organization of the Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka camps, I can only say this much -- that to my knowledge, Wirth was the inspector of these three camps. Wirth came under the immediate orders, ie--without any intermediary--of SS-und Polizeifuehrer (SSPF) Globocnik. Wirth also received orders from an office in Berlin, about which I know nothing.
(ref. 208 AR-Z 252/59: The Case against Josef Oberhauser and others; p. 1,271. Statement by Georg Michalsen on 7.5.1961 in Hamburg.)"

This newsgroup's healthy dialogue aka discussion, fortunately goes on . Although I might refute just about each incomplete conclusion drawn by Mr. Mills, such an exhausting effort is improbable and impractical. My data files, collected during two decades, computerized, in published books, and on paper, all are somewhat complex (organized, reorganized and re-reorganized ad inf. in a rather jumbled fashion). When I wish to look for anything in particular, I'm required to pour through everything. My primary focus for the past 8 or so years is demanding, i.e., creating an original motion picture screenplay re. the life and death of Odilo Globocnik, entitled "PLUNDER."

Nonetheless, I do wish to go on record by posting the above.
[/quote]

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Post by ehlerner » 14 Dec 2004 22:47

[quote="michael mills"]I. . . documents show that that operation [Action/Aktion Reinhardt/Reinhard] involved the sequestration, processing and disposal of the property of Jews deported or imprisoned in the concentration camps administered by the WVHA. . . [/quote]

Michael Mills, one wonders why you cannot or will not expand your perspective to understand a new and different context within which it is historically clear that:
whether or not the WVHA administered "concentration camps" and irregardless of what code name(s) those particular Nazis ascribed to that aspect of their heinous function, several million Jews were, indeed, "DEPORTED" -- TO DEATH CAMPS! -- and they (those victimized Jews) suffered the total loss of life and material property.

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Post by michael mills » 15 Dec 2004 10:16

For Ehlerner:

There is a chapter in Poprzeczny's book dealing with Globocnik's associates in Lublin.

One section in that chapter deals with Hermann Hoefle. n that section it states that Hoefle was known for his bad spelling.

When I read that, I felt that it probably explained the strange spelling "Einsatz Reinhart" in the radio message sent by Hoefle that was intercepted by British intelligence.

If Ehlerner wants to get his knickers in a not over whether Hoefle was or was not a bad speller, that is his preprogative as a playwright. In itself the matter is a mere bagatelle, but it may explain one puzzling detail.

Alternatively, look up all the references to Hoefle given in the index.

If Ehlerner wants to check on whether Poprzeczny believes that "Aktion Reinhardt" was named after Fritz Reinhardt, the State Secretary of the Reich Ministry of Finance, he could follow this procedure:

First, look in the index for "Reinhardt, Fritz". As far as I remember, there are two references to him.

Look up the first reference. The paragraph in which Fritz Reinhardt appears contains a footnote.

Look up that footnote. It is quite lengthy, and in it Poprzeczny explains why he thinks "Aktion Reinhardt" was named after Fritz Reinhardt.

I read the Poprzeczny book at the National Library of Australia, and I do not have a copy in front of me, from which I could quote exact page numbers.

Since Ehlerner obviously has his own copy, he should have no difficulty in finding the material I have referred to.

Ehlerner might also care to confirm to readers that Poprzeczny draws quite extensively on David Irving as a source.

If

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Post by walterkaschner » 15 Dec 2004 10:39

I come, as all too often of late, belatedly to this thread, but with a lively interest as the topic has puzzled me more than somewhat in the past. And frankly, it seems to me that the discussion has thrown far more heat than light on the subject.

Certainly Michael Mills needs - and would probably disdain - any defense by me. He is certainly capable of formulating his own, and he and I agree on very few matters. But on this particular topic I sincerely believe that he has raised a point which, if not well taken, is at the very least worthy of more serious consideration than it has been given.

His original point was that a U.S. court had found as a fact that "Action Reinhardt" was limited to an action "to gather into the Reich all the the Jewish manpower and wealth which could be reached". (Post of 11/03/04) or, in other words, an "operation involved the sequestration, processing and disposal of the property of Jews deported or imprisoned in the concentration camps administered by the WVHA.'' (Post of 12/13/04) . Although this gave rise to a virtual tidal wave of opposition and dispute, it does seem to me that his point, although tending to bowdlerize the pernicious means and effects from the operation, was not totally devoid of merit, and that the court did in fact believe and find that the purpose of Action Reinhardt, however brutal and inhuman in its execution, was primarily economic.

The U.S. court in question was the United States Military Tribunal II, as reported in Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 5: United States v. Oswald Pohl, et. al. (Case 4: 'Pohl Case'). US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1950.

The argument of the Prosecution in that case, in treating of "Action Reinhardt" was as follows [all added emphasis my own]:
From 3 March 1942 until the end, Auschwitz was one of the many concentration camps under the jurisdiction of the WVHA. The great influx of Jews in 1942 apparently so overtaxed the facilities at Auschwitz that the defendant Pohl, in November of that year, wrote to the Reich Minister of Finance in an effort to have the camp enlarged.

Extermination centers similar to Auschwitz existed at Treblinka, Majdanek, Belsec, and Sobibor in the vicinity of Lublin. There the procedure was the same. The victims were stripped of their clothes, money, and valuables. The hair of the women was cut off, later to be manufactured into mattresses. Then, herded like so many cattle, the naked men, women, and children were driven to their death in the gas chambers. Gold teeth were pulled from the mouths of the corpses. An attempt was even made to manufacture soap from the fatty parts of the bodies, while the ashes remaining after cremation were used for fertilizer. This was indeed a gruesomely commercial exploitation of death on a mass basis.

In this compounded crime of genocide, the WVHA played a very essential part. This extermination of peoples, this mass deportation of slave labor in concentration camps, gave rise to the confiscation, or to put it more precisely, the theft of property on a gigantic scale. To the defendant Pohl and his collaborators in the WVHA fell the task of collecting that property and mustering those slaves for use by the Third Reich.

As to Auschwitz, no problem existed as it was already under the control of the WVHA. As to the operations of the Einsatzgruppen and the Higher SS and Police Leaders in occupied Europe, however, new administrative machinery had to be created by Pohl. In August 1942, with the approval of Himmler, he appointed SS economic administrators to be attached to the staffs of the Higher SS and Police Leaders. Among other things, it was the duty of the SS economic administrator to hold all booty and raw material for disposal by the WVHA. He had supervisory rights over all concentration and labor camps under the jurisdiction of the Higher SS and Police Leader. Allocations of labor were directed by him and economic enterprises were under his supervision. Executions in concentration camps had to be reported to him and then to the WVHA.

The extermination camps in the vicinity of Lublin, such as Treblinka and Majdanek, gave rise to special problems because of the magnitude of their operations. These camps were, until the latter part of 1943, under the jurisdiction of one Odilo Globocnik, the Higher SS and Police Leader, Lublin. In order to coordinate the undertaking, a special staff "G" was created within the framework of the WVHA. The head of this staff was Globocnik while the administrative and accounting personnel was supplied by the WVHA. It was the task of special staff "G" to seize and account for all property in the Government General of occupied Poland derived from the extermination and enslavement of Jews. This ghoulish program was called "Action Reinhardt" presumably in honor of Reinhard Heydrich who was assassinated in the summer of 1942.

In order to appreciate the extent of Action Reinhardt and the criminal participation of the WVHA in carrying it out, it will be convenient to consider the action in three steps; first, the deportation of Jews; second, the exploitation of personal property; and third, the exploitation of Jewish manpower and industrial equipment.

The removal of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto for extermination or enslavement in the camps of Lublin is a typical example of the deportation phase of Action Reinhardt. The final destruction of the Warsaw ghetto in April and May 1943 was one of the most horrible chapters in Jewish persecution
The Prosecution then proceeded to describe in some detail the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the deportation of the Warsaw Jews to Concentration camps.
The second phase of Action Reinhardt which I have mentioned is the confiscation of personal property. This involved the murder and corpse desecration of countless Jews. Every watch, every gold fountain pen, every pair of shoes represented a dead man, woman, or child. It is literally impossible to comprehend the enormity of the crimes committed in Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, and the rest. To assist the Tribunal in that regard, we shall exhibit a motion picture which shows the warehouses of those death camps full of clothes, shoes, spectacles, and bales of human hair. The WVHA accounted for and controlled the disposition of those proceeds of mass murder.

What was the extent of this bloody loot received by the WVHA and what was done with it? Fortunately, the prosecution is in possession of rather complete reports in that regard. Prior to December 1943 the WVHA accounted for personal property in excess of 180,000,000 Reichsmarks of murdered and enslaved Jews in the Lublin area alone. This included foreign currency from 48 different countries, not the least of which was $1,300,000 in United States banknotes and gold coin. Also carefully listed and evaluated were 262,711 articles of considerable value, among them jewelry, watches, and gold spectacle frames. Nearly 2,000 freight carloads of clothes, linens, and rags were disposed of on orders of the WVHA.

This material began flowing into the coffers of the WVHA at least as early as August 1942. The defendant Pohl made arrangements with Walther Funk, the president of the Reich Bank and a defendant before the International Military Tribunal, for the deposit of the currency, jewelry, dental gold, and other valuables. A revolving fund was established, which reached 10 to 12 million Reichsmarks, for use primarily by Amtsgruppe W in financing economic enterprises controlled by the WVHA. This was known as the "Reinhardt Fund". In June of 1943, outstanding debts of various industries of Amtsgruppe W in the amount of approximately 8 million Reichsmarks were satisfied out of the Reinhardt Fund. [My emphasis added]
The third part of Action Reinhardt was the employment of the working ability of those Jews not initially marked for execution together with the utilization of the confiscated industrial facilities. The WVHA was active in this phase of the program. In order to coordinate these economic enterprises, the Eastern Industries Limited Liability Company (Ostindustrie GmbH), commonly called "Osti," was formed in March 1943. Its purposes were stated to have been: (1) to utilize the working capacity of the Jews by erecting industrial plants in connection with Jewish labor camps; (2) to take over commercial enterprises which had been maintained by the Higher SS and Police Leaders in the Government General; (3) to confiscate all Jewish machinery and raw materials; and (4) to utilize all former Jewish machines, tools, and merchandise which had been transferred to non-Jewish ownership.

The sole partners of Osti were the defendants Pohl and Georg Loerner. They also served on the board of directors with the notorious Wilhelm Krueger. The business managers were Globocnik and a Dr. Max Horn, an SS economic administrator appointed to Krueger's staff at Krakow by Pohl. Part of the capital for Osti was furnished by the defendant Frank out of the Reinhardt fund.
This then, was Action Reinhardt a coldly premeditated program of mass murder and gigantic theft visited upon a people whose only crime was that of failure to be born an Aryan. In scope and brutality the crime is without parallel
Source: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/imt/pohl/open4.htm

Upon the evidence presented by the Prosecution, the Court made certain findings of fact, which somewhat narrowed the Prosecutions' perceived scope of Action Reinhardt. Among which were these:


Action Reinhardt

The extermination and deportation of the Jews in the East produced a vast amount of valuable property, both real and personal, which the Reich was quick to recognize and seize. To marshal these resources, the Action Reinhardt was instituted, named approximately enough, for Reinhard Heydrich, formerly chief of the Security Police and SD, who met his death -- and this, too, appropriately enough -- in Czechoslovakia in 1942. The purpose of the action was to gather into the Reich all the Jewish manpower and wealth which could be reached. It was an ambitious and profitable undertaking for Germany. The Jews themselves were herded into concentration camps as slaves and their entire worldly possessions confiscated. The real property, where possible, was put to German use (largely through the WVHA agency of OSTI) and the movable property was shipped to WVHA, where it was inventoried appraised, and distributed through prescribed channels.
Souce: Our seemingly inexhausible moderator's post in http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 550#568550

And also, in the Court's verdict against Pohl:
Three months after the outbreak of the war, Himmler ordered that

"the supervision of the economic matters of these institutions and their application to work is the responsibility of SS Obergruppenfuehrer Pohl."

The change in Reich policy by which concentration camps were converted from places of mere detention to places of productive free labor was announced in April 1942, and the ruthless plan of extracting from concentration camp inmates their last ounce of energy in furtherance of the Reich's war plans became operative. It became Pohl's task to implement this policy and to make it work effectively for the Reich. Neither Pohl nor the WVHA had anything to do with the commitment of inmates to concentration camps nor with their release, except by death. Neither Pohl nor any other member of the WVHA had authority to order the execution of concentration camp prisoners.************************************************************
Action Reinhardt

This action, as has been indicated, involved a plan for draining the Eastern occupied countries of their last vestige of wealth. It had the two-fold purpose of reducing the East to abject poverty so that starvation would be the inevitable result to the population and, at the same time, filling the Reich Treasury. It was a program of deliberate wholesale brigandage which was, at the same time, an added aspect of the extermination program. [Note that in the Court's view, Action Reinhardt was not the extermination program itself, but an aspect added to it.]
In the execution of this program, Pohl's WVHA played a major role. His organization was the clearing house for all the booty. All of the stolen property was routed through WVHA, where it was inventoried, appraised, and distributed. [My emphasis added through out.]
Source: Again from our diligent moderator in his post at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=63177

So from the above, I believe it is only fair to conclude, as did Michael Mills, that in the view of the U.S. Military Tribunal the purpose of Action Reinhardt was economic exploitation of Jewish wealth and labor, rather than extermination. Indeed, it seems to me at least arguable that the success of the RSHA, which was occupied with the latter, was probably the principal cause of putting Action Reinhardt, as such, out of business toward the end of 1943.

That conclusion on my part does not, however, mean that I necessarily accept the findings of the Tribunal as unassailable gospel. I've been a lawyer far too long for that, particularly where a court's finding is mere obiter dicta and is not crucial to its basic holding. And obviously, Mr. Mills himself has no faith in the Tribunal's finding that the Action was "named appropriately enough, for Reinhard Heydrich", as he seems to persist in pleading the case for Fritz Reinhardt, the Secretary of State for Finance, as its namesake.

So where does that leave me? Unfortunately as much up in the air as ever as to this precise issue. I would be the last to dispute that the Nazi "government" adopted and vigorously pursued a policy of extermination of the utmost heartlessness and brutality against the Jews - as ehlehner, Sergey Romanov, Earldor and others, including our moderator - whom I hold in the highest respect and regard - so vigorously maintain and testify to on this thread. But I am simply not convinced that "Action Reinhardt", for whomever it may have been named, was the code name for that specific policy, although it was in a sense an adjunct to it.

I appreciate the original source evidence proffered by Earldor, but believe it inconclusive, in that I think it perfectly conceivable that SS personnel involved in general KZ administration under the WVHA could be assigned specific Action Reinhardt duties and be rewarded for their performance therein. The British decode of the January 11, 1943 message is indeed tantalizing, but IMHO simply not persuasive that Action Reinhardt was organized and instituted for the purpose of extermination.

In my view what is needed, assuming the findings of the Military Tribunal are insufficient or in doubt, is a firm focus on the issue: i.e., why was Action Reinhardt formed, what was its specific purpose, and what was the source of its name - together with a greater and more focused assembly and critical analysis of whatever evidence may be out there; and much less emotional reaction and ready acceptance of preconceived notions, which may or may not have firm evidential support.

I know this is a peripheral and certainly not a critical issue, and surely pales into insignificance compared to the overwhelming, almost mind- boggeling atrocities and suffering which assuredly deserve, and have received, far greater attention, but nonetheless I firmly believe that the pick-and-shovel approach to history does have its value and in this particular case I think there may be something more to be learned, or at least underlined, about the organizational problems, confusions, conflicts and general ineptitude that typified the Nazi regime, which IMO basically was governed by the whims of an essentially intellectually lazy and unpricipled one man, as interpreted by what was at very best a host of competing, incompetent and equally unprincipled sycophants - a "system" commonly known as a dictatorship.

With apologies for length, regards, Kaschner

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