Himmler orders on 30 November 1941

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Hans Kloss
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Post by Hans Kloss » 26 Sep 2005 19:47

Let's go back for second to Himmler's phone log :

Verhaftung Dr Jekelius Angebl.
Sohn Molotow.
Judentransport aus Berlin.
Keine Liquidierung.


"Arrest [=noun] Dr Jekelius. Alleg[ed] Son of Molotov. Jew Transport from Berlin. No Liquidation."

Could someone please explain why was Jekelius described as " alleged Son of Molotov" ?


[/quote]

David Thompson
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Post by David Thompson » 26 Sep 2005 19:54

Hans -- see Pieter Kuiper's post at viewtopic.php?p=723919#723919 , Michael Mills' reply at viewtopic.php?p=746072#746072 and Pieter Kuiper's response at viewtopic.php?p=747031#747031

Boby
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Post by Boby » 26 Sep 2005 20:32

What is the relation between Jekelius and the jew transport from Berlin?

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Post by David Thompson » 26 Sep 2005 20:37

None, according to Michael Mills:
However, the surmise was always completely unfounded. Its proponents had made no effort to find out who this Jekelius actually was.

It is now known that the two lines of the Himmler note are totally unrelated, and that Dr Jekelius had nothing to do with the transport of Jews from Berlin.

Nevetheless, there are still those who trot out Jekelius in the context of the Rumbula massacre, including some at the Third Reich Forum. The stubborn David Thompson will not allow any criticism of the claim that Jekelius was on that train.

http://p102.ezboard.com/frodohforumfrm1 ... =850.topic

michael mills
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Post by michael mills » 27 Sep 2005 05:31

Check out this thread:

viewtopic.php?t=61055&highlight=ezergailis

In the report by Einsatzgruppe A, posted by the moderator, the section on the German Jews deported to Minsk and Riga does not mention any killing of them, except for "isolated cases" where sick Jews were selected.

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Post by michael mills » 27 Sep 2005 06:33

The book “The Holocaust in Latvia” by Ezergailis provides comprehensive details of events in Latvia and Lohse’s actions at precisely that time which are incompatible with the Wetzel draft, particularly if it is interpreted as an announcement of extermination. In the section headed “The Reich Jews in Latvia”, beginning p. 352, Ezergailis writes:

The gate of Riga ghetto was not fully secured, the barbed wire not yet strung around the periphery, when Dr. Rudolf Lange, on October 24, took the lead in a conversation that unsettled Reichskommissar Lohse and Generalkommissar Drechsler. The conversation touched on the very core of the August 18 agreement between the SD and the Ostland administration on the Jewish question. The ambiguity of the agreement, which never was of much concern for the SD, began to turn against Lohse. Lange, who was the SD point man, informed the civilians that Heydrich had ordered Riga to receive shipments of Jews from the Reich and that the first transport was scheduled for November 10. This was the first notice that the Riga civilian government had received about the plans. Drechsler expressed regret that the decision was being presented to him as an accomplished fact and that no prior conversations had taken place, but the meeting progressed in quiet tones. Lohse supported Drechsler’s objection and noted that the planned activities had far-reaching political significance and that they must be discussed with him. Lohse said that the next morning, October 25, he was going to be in touch with Berlin to clarify the matter. On the question of building new barracks (that turned out to be the Salaspils camp) as housing for the incoming Jews, Lange said:

…that up to now only some trees have been felled to make a road and a construction shack has been raised. Significant work has not been invested in the construction of the camp, so that other arrangements still could be made without damage.
[Source: YIVO Archives Occ E3-30]

The civilians were on a slippery slope and the slide continued. They were trying to maintain an untenable position: deprive the Jews of everything but life, and still win an argument with the SD. On November 8, less than two weeks after the closing of the ghetto and the conversation in Lohse’s office, Lange sent a message to Lohse. His letter searched for no compromises or any agreement with the Reichskommissar, as Lohse had hoped in the previous meeting; it was merely informative, and, in fact, confrontational. The Reichskommissar was told that in the near future 25,000 Jews would be shipped to Riga:

Commander of the Security Police and the SD
EG A
To: Reichskommissar of the Ostland
Re: Jewish transports from the Reich to the Ostland.
As per information received from the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, 50,000 Jews will shipped to the East.
As reported, 25,000 will be shipped to Riga and 25,000 to Belorussia. The transports come from all the larger cities of the Reich and the Protectorate. The first contingent of 1,000 Jews will arrive in Minsk on November 10, 1941. Until the 16th of December 1941, the transports will arrive at the rate of one every two days. The remaining transports will be sent during the time from January 10th to January 20th, 1942.
Transports to Riga will begin on November 17, 1941, with the first contingent arriving here on the 19th. Until December 17 there will be further contingents of 1000 Jews each, arriving every second day. The remaining transports will be sent between January 11 and 29, 1942.
There are plans to send the first five transports meant for Riga to the ghetto in Kaunas instead. If it is technically possible to do this with the first five, or with later ones, has not been decided definitely. I will let you know about it.
Barracks are being built near Salaspils as fast as possible. Since there are difficulties in obtaining materials and also a lack of experts, the barracks will not be finished when the first contingent arrives. It is therefore planned to house them in the troop barracks in Jumpravmuiza [Jungfernhof], to the right of the Riga-Daugavpils Road, between Riga and Salaspils.
The Commissar of the area Riga-Land has agreed. His staff-leader, party member Bruhn, went to see the places himself.
As regards food for the Jews, arrangements have been made with the office of the Generalkommissar and with the farm administration.

Dr Lange

[Source: YIVO Archives Occ E3-31, translation by Gertrude Schneider]

One day later, on November 9, Friedrich Trampedach, Lohse’s political adviser, wired to Rosenberg’s ministry: “Urgent, please, stop the trnasports, the Jewish camps must be moved further east” [Source: YIVO Archives Occ E3-32].

The housing for the incoming Reich Jews, as the letters indicate, was a big problem in November 1941, and similar complaints were also arriving in Berlin from Minsk. The fuss about the housing question that the dispute has left in the archives also helps us to unravel two historiographical problems that have arisen in the memoirs and history books about the transports of Reich Jews. From Lange’s letter it ensues that there was no room to spare for any incoming Jews in Latvia, certainly not in the quantities anticipated. The Riga ghetto was full of Riga Jews, the Salaspils camp was not ready, and because of the shortage of materials, progress was slow. The first and highly emotional question was whether the Riga Jews were killed to free housing for the Reich Jews? The second has been whether the KGB “historians” were correct in asserting that 240,000 or more Reich Jews were sent to Latvia”.


Before this passage, Ezergailis gives extensive details about the establishment of the Riga ghetto. The transfer of population had begun as early as the middle of August, and the fence was erected around 10 October. The deadline for Jews to transfer to the ghetto was 25 October, ie the same date as the Wetzel draft.

On 4 December, Leibbrandt of the Reichsministerium fuer die besetzten Ostgebiete in Berlin wrote to Lohse, informing him that the plan to build a Jewish camp near Riga had been changed to Pskov.

Comment:
It is clear that the above course of events is incompatible with the Wetzel draft. If Lohse had already been discussing with Wetzel the possibility of setting up a gassing installation in Riga to do away with surplus Jews (ie in his report of 4 October, Wetzel’s letter to him of 18 October), why was he so concerned when Lange revealed to him on 24 October, the day before the draft, the plan to send Reich Jews to Riga? Why was he so concerned with the housing problem? Why did Trampedach on 9 November ask Rosenberg’s ministry to stop the transports?

If Lohse knew that moves were underway to set up a gassing facility, he would not have been so concerned. He would have known that the surplus Jews would be killed, and he would not have a problem with overcrowding.

Lohse’s reaction on 24 October to Lange’s announcement of the impending arrival of the Reich Jews indicates that he did not have the faintest notion of killing off the surplus Jews by gassing or any other means. He obviously thought that he was going to be lumbered with the Jews in the Riga ghetto and the incoming Reich Jews for the foreseeable future. That is why he objected.

The reaction to Lange’s letter of 8 November further indicates that Lohse and his administration had not heard anything about plans to kill surplus Jews, otherwise he would not have asked for the transports to be stopped and the camps to be moved further east. This casts doubt on the Wetzel draft – obviously it was never sent.

Furthermore, if Wetzel was telling Lohse about gassing plans to relieve the pressure of population, why did not Lange also inform Lohse about those plans? If Wetzel knew about them, and was informing Lohse, there would have been no restraints on Lange confirming that information. If Lange had done so, it would have removed the cause of contention between himself and Lohse.

On another matter, it may well be that the barracks referred to by Lange are the “Unterkuenfte” referred to in the Wetzel draft.



Ezergailis also provides the following table of transports of Reich Jews to Latvia (p. 355):

Day of Departure.......Number of.......City of...........Destination
................................Deportees.......Departure

27 November 1941.....1000..............Berlin.................Rumbula Forest (massacred 30/11)
29 November..............714..............Nuernberg..........Jumpravmuiza (Jungfernhof, a camp)
1 December..............1200..............Stuttgart..............Jumpravmuiza
3 December..............1042..............Wien...................Jumpravmuiza
4 December................808..............Hamburg.............Jumpravmuiza
7 December..............1000..............Koeln..................Riga Ghetto
9 December................991..............Kassel................Riga Ghetto
11 December............1007..............Duesseldorf.........Riga Ghetto
12 December............1000..............Bielefeld..............Riga Ghetto
15 December............1001..............Hannover............Riga Ghetto
9 January 1942.........1000..............Theresienstadt.....Riga Ghetto
11 January...............1000..............Wien...................Jumpravmuiza
13 January...............1037..............Berlin..................Riga Ghetto
15 January...............1000..............Theresienstadt.....Riga Ghetto and Salaspils (a camp)
19 January...............1006..............Berlin..................Riga Ghetto
21 January...............1000..............Leipzig................Riga Ghetto
25 January...............1051..............Berlin..................Riga Ghetto
26 January ..............1200...............Wien...................Riga Ghetto
27 January..............1000...............Dortmund............Riga Ghetto
6 February..............1000...............Wien...................Riga Ghetto and Rumbula (partial massacre?)

Total......................20,057

This table shows that only the first transport, which arrived on the morning of 30 November, was subjected to massacre at Rumbula Forest, since it arrived just as the massacre of the Riga Jews was about to commence. The massacre appears to have been a mistake by HSSPF Jeckeln. This transport was the subject of Himmler’s famous telephone message of 30 November to Heydrich, ordering that it not be exterminated; unfortunately, the order came too late.

Some of the last transport may also have been massacred at Rumbula, but the circumstances are not clear.

All the remaining transports were taken into the Riga Ghetto or to camps. That fact is incompatible with a previously agreed plan to gas the unemployable Reich Jews.

There had been two earlier massacres of Reich Jews at Fort IX at Kovno (Kaunas). The first five transports from the Reich had been sent to Kovno instead of Riga, as foreseen in Lange’s letter of 8 November. On 25 November, and again on 28 November, the Reich Jews who had arrived at Kovno were taken to Fort IX and shot there by EK 3.

In my opinion, these two massacres were not part of a plan, but were excesses of zeal by the commanders of EK 3, Karl Jaeger and Joachim Hamann, both quasi-criminal types. Details on these two are given in the book “Die Truppe des Weltanschauungskrieges” by Krausnick and Wilhelm. Jaeger had many convictions for drunken driving, while Hamann, a teen-aged thug, had been thrown out of the paratroops for unnamed reasons, most probably brutalisation of men under his command.

Jaeger and Hamann both had pasts to live down and a strong motivation to impress their superiors. They may also have been influenced by the alacrity with which Lithuanians joined in the massacres of Jews, even without German participation. Certainly EK 3 killed more Jews, or claimed to have killed more, than any other unit of the Einsatzgruppen.

A possible course of events is:

25 November.......................First massacre of Reich Jews in Kovno
27 November.......................First transport to Riga of Reich Jews leaves Berlin
28 November.......................Second massacre of Reich Jews in Kovno
30 November.......................0800: Transport from Berlin arrives Skirotava Station.
..........................................The Jews are taken to Rumbula and shot en masse.

At some stage Himmler learns of the massacres at Kovno, and telephones Heydrich to bring his men under control; the task of the Einsatzgruppen is to destroy dangerous Bolsheviks, including Bolshevik Jews, not to kill deported German Jews, who were to be housed in camps.

An alternative possibility is that Himmler and/or Heydrich had indeed ordered the massacres at Kovno and Riga, and there had been a sudden, permanent, change of plan. What could have brought about such a plan is unknown.

Since all the discussions between the police and the civilian authorities had been predicated on making room for the incoming Reich Jews, and housing and feeding them, and all the transports to Riga after the first one were taken into the ghetto or camps, the most reasonable interpretation of the evidence is that German Government policy was not to kill the deported Reich Jews but to accommodate them in ghettos (if necessary, killing local Jews to make way for them), and that the two massacres at Kovno and the one at Riga were local aberrations, essentially blunders by the local police who had got their blood up.

Ezergailis provides further information on the fate of the Reich Jews in Latvia (p. 356 onwards).

After Rumbula the Latvian Jewish population was stable. In comparison to the Latvian Jews, from the Nazi point of view the Reich Jews were an inefficient lot: there were many children, elderly, and feeble people incapable of work. The Reich Jews in general came from business and professional classes, and were less used to manual work than were the Latvian Jews, among whom there were many craftsmen. The great majority of the Reich Jews were of German origin, but among the shipments there were three transports from Austria and two from Theresienstadt, which included many Jews from Czechoslovakia. The fate of the Reich Jews in the Baltic was terrible, but in comparison to those who were sent to Auschwitz, as a whole they fared much better. In August and September 1944, when the Jews were sent back to Germany, about one-third of them were still alive. The Nazi logic for sending the Reich Jews to the Baltic is baffling. There could only have been one reason for them being sent there: to kill them. The first six transports, five to Kaunas and one to Riga, were killed upon arrival or soon after. The something happened – all of a sudden the killing stopped. It appeared that Jeckeln was taking a breather, or Berlin may have reconsidered its options. Other reasons for the slowdown in killings may have been Lohse’s protests (during early December he was in Berlin), the demand for labor, a reconsideration of the killing strategy – the death camps were opening up in Poland – the high expense of transporting Jews to the Baltic. The slowdown of the killings in Latvia in general coincided with the German debacle at Moscow. The longer the postponement lasted, the more chances opened up for the Reich Jews. Since the Riga Jews had been killed, there was no lack of demand for Jewish labor; if nothing else, there was always a need for people to shovel snow.


Note: Ezergailis’ commitment to intentionalism and the concept of Hitler’s fundamental orders causes him to get tied up in all sorts of knots. Because of it, he offers a variety of reasons why the killing suddenly stopped, and ignores the one suggested by all the evidence; it was contrary to the German Government plan for the Reich Jews, it was carried out by some local hotheads, and was promptly stopped by Himmler before it went too far.

Ezergailis continues (p. 357):

November 29, 1941: On the night before the first Jeckeln action at Rumbula, the first shipment from Berlin arrived at Skirotava station. Except for some men who were sent the three kilometers to Jumpravmuiza, the whole transport of Jews was killed in Rumbula at 8:00 AM, while the Riga Jews were still on the way there.

December 1 to 8. Four shipments, 3,747 people in all, from Nuernberg, Stuttgart, Vienna and Hamburg, arrived in Latvia and were quartered in Jumpravmuiza. The housing there was insufficient for the numbers, and thus the death rate was very high. Many died of malnutrition and exposure to the elements, and many of the Jumpravmuiza Jews were killed in Bikernieki by Arajs’ men. The major early losses among the Reich Jews occurred principally among those settled in Jumpravmuiza. Some of the early arrivals also ended up doing construction work in the Salaspils camp.

December 10. 1,000 Cologne Jews were the first Reich group to be quartered in the ghetto. Without telling Oberbuergermeister Wittrock of their intention to reoccupy the ghetto, the SD took full charge of the situation. Kurt Krause and Max Gymich received the group in Skirotava station. Krause announced himself as the commandant of the ghetto. A struggle ensued between the city administration and the SD over the control of the ghetto and Jewish property within it. According to Schneider [= Gertrude Schneider: deported to Riga as a young girl, she survived and later recorded her experiences in the book “Journey into Terror”] Krause intentionally set up a feud between the Riga and the Reich Jews. In a public address, Krause told the Cologne Jews upon their arrival that they had been sent to Riga for labor to help the war effort and implied that they were a preferred replacement for the Riga Jews because they spoke German. The camps of the German and Latvian Jews remained separated by barbed wire. The Reich Jews had their own council of elders and ghetto police.

December 14, 1941 – February 10, 1942. During this period fourteen groups of Reich Jews arrived in the ghetto. That terminated the shipments of Jews to Riga; the Heydrich plan that Lange wrote about in November 1941 was fulfilled. Except for one major upset on February 5, when about 1,500 older Jews from Berlin and Vienna were taken off to be killed, the ghetto was peaceful. The life of the Reich ghetto began to take shape. Although on a certain level the Reich ghetto operated as a unit, some of the most important activities, even schooling, took place within separate groups organized by city of origin: Vienna, Dortmund, Berlin, Prague, Hannover, Bielefeld, Duesseldorf, Kassel, Cologne, Leipzig and Hamburg. For each group the Germans selected separate policemen, representatives, and overseers of labor details. Rations were also distributed according to groups. The Reich Jews began to germanize the Latvian street names: Ludzas iela became Leipziger Strasse; Viljanu: Bielefelder; Liksnas: Prager; Maza Kalnu: Berliner; and Virsaisu: Koelner Strasse.

During this period the Salaspils camp was being built and numerous newcomers, mostly young men from the ghetto and Jumpravmuiza, were used on the project. The conditions during the building stage were devastating, and the death rate from cold and malnutrition was high.


Here Ezergailis has got it right. The Heydrich plan for the Reich Jews was to settle 25,000 of them in the Riga ghetto and nearby camps; it was not a plan for extermination. The selecting out and killing of a minority of older Jews was probably a reaction to the famine conditions due to the destruction of the 1941 Russian harvest, as a result of which there was not enough food for everyone. Ghettos all over the occupied territories were being downsized, and the Reich Jews were not spared, particularly as they were in the main unproductive, with an abnormally high proportion of older people. This represented a change from the earlier situation, where Latvian Jews were sacrificed to make room for Reich Jews.

March 15. The Duenamuende Action. The commander of the ghetto ordered each group to select sixty to one hundred and twenty older people for transfer to Duenamuende, Daugavgriva, a city near the delta of the Daugava. Since it had many old people, the Berlin group were told to supply 600. A similar action had taken place on March 13 and 14 in Jumpravmuiza, organized by SS-Obersturmfuehrer Gerhard Maywald. The Germans claimed that the Jews were needed for work in a fish-canning factory in Duenamuende, where the work was easier and more suitable for old people. Instead of to Duenamuende, the people were take to Bikernieki forest. The people in the ghetto noticed the fast turn-around time of the trucks and began to suspect the promises. In the killing, Jeckeln’s Sardinenpackung was used, and among the killers was the Arajs commando. All told, the ghetto lost about 1,900 people and Jumpravmuiza 1,840. The pit-diggers were a group of thirty-eight Jews who were kept in the Central prison, separated from the ghetto.

After Duenamuende the Reich Jewish population in Latvia was reduced to about 11,060: there were 9,100 in the ghetto; 1,550 in Salaspils, and 450 in Jumpravmuiza. By February 1943, according to Latvian census keepers, the numbers seem to have reduced even more, to about 8,060. By mid-1942 there had been no precipitous losses among the Latvian Jews: their total numbers in Riga, Daugavpils, and Liepaja should have been about the same as in late December 1941, in the range of 5,500 to 6,500. The exact number of Jews for 1942 is difficult to ascertain because of the German practice of Kasernierung – moving Jews and quartering them at their labor locations.


Comment: The reasons for the liquidation of some 3,740 older Reich Jews were presumably the same as for the smaller liquidation on 5 February. The comment about the effect of Kasernierung on the calculation of the number of surviving Reich Jews is crucial; it raises the possibility that numbers were consistently under-reported.

Ezergailis goes on to describe the crushing in October 1942 of attempted resistance in the Latvian ghetto.

Lange thereafter placed the Latvian ghetto under a strict 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM curfew. The Latvian ghetto lost its autonomy, and later its police and administration were subordinated to those of the “tamer” Reich Jews. The incident further poisoned the relations between Latvian and Reich Jews, for the former suspected, although there was no hard evidence, that the latter had betrayed the resistance fighters to the SD.

Fall 1943. The Transfer to Mezaparks. According to Gertrude Schneider, life in the ghetto was harsh, but in comparison with the other ghettos of Eastern Europe, relatively comfortable and safe. There were even backyard gardens. By 1943 an intricate social life had developed in the ghetto; it included schooling, music, singing, dancing, sports and courtship. If the Latvian and Reich old folks were feuding amongst themselves, the youngsters did not. By early 1943 the news from the front was good, and one could begin to hope to survive. The ghetto was not merely a Nazi institution: the Jewish family and vestiges of community were still preserved. The ghetto did not prevent the reproduction of Jews (although in the Riga ghetto new-born babies were poisoned as a rule) and the way rules were enforced did not utterly exclude the possibility of “miscegenation” with Gentiles. In the spring of 1943 the construction of a new labor camp was begun in the Riga suburb of Mezaparks. The camp was intended to house about 2,000 people, but also to serve as a center where all the Jews in Latvia would be registered. The camp would provide temporary quarters for those Jews between jobs. Mezaparks served as a home camp for various Kasernierung stations, where Jews lived and slept near the job site or in satellite camps. Along with the Riga ghetto, the ghettos of Daugavpils and Liepaja were also ended, and most of the Jews sent to Mezaparks.

The first transport on foot took place in July 1943. Two other transports on foot followed, but thereafter the inmates were taken by truck. By August 21, 1943, 7,874 ghetto inhabitants had been sent to Mezaparks.

November 2. The Transport to Auschwitz. By the end of October most of the inmates of the ghetto had been transferred to Mezaparks; only some labor details, old people, children, and supporting personnel remained in the ghetto. On November 2 all older people, children under ten, teachers, the sick, and those functionaries who did not want to be separated from the children were removed from the ghetto and transported to Auschwitz. Max Gymich led a hundred-man SS guard that surrounded the ghetto. The numbers evacuated are disputed, but most observers put them at more than 2,000.


The categories sent to Auschwitz suggest that they could have been sent there for extermination, while the employable Jews were retained at worksites in Latvia. However, by late 1943, the German concentration camp administration was trying to keep as many inmates alive as possible, for the purpose of labour exploitation, so the extermination of this group of 2000 cannot be assumed a priori.

Furthermore, if the German intention was extermination of unemployables, why did they send them all the way to Auschwitz? Why did they not simply take them into the forest and shoot them, as they had done with similar groups earlier?

Closing of the Ghetto. As the ghetto was closing in November 1943, a small detail of 120 Jews was pulled in from a variety of Kasernierung stations and quartered in a building of the ghetto. Their purpose was to clean up the area and salvage valuable goods to be sent to Germany. Their life then, in comparison to that of the others, was an easy one. By July 1944 only about sixty Jews remained in the ghetto, and when they were sent to Mezaparks the ghetto was closed for good.


Comment: One of the most noteworthy things about the closure of the Riga Ghetto is that it was not accompanied by massacres.

Ezergailis then gives some details of the process of exhuming and burning the corpses buried in the Rumbula and Bikernieki forests. When the wind blew from the east, the stench hung over Riga.

Altogether, in 1943 the Jews worked at about 465 sites. The largest workforce was at the Dundaga camp, where in 1944 as many as 6,000 Jews may have been employed. Other camps were at Salaspils, where by the end of 1943 only a handful of Jews remained; Jumpravmuiza, Strazdu muiza, and Spilve. Among the live-in locations were Suzumuiza, Army Motor Park (HKP), the Army Apparel Center in Milgravis, the Troop Supply Camp (TWL), the Reich railroad, Allgemeine Elektrizitaets-Gesellschaft (AEG), and numerous peat bog sites.

The controls, although very strict in Mezaparks itself, varied from very strict to lax – in some locations the Jews could leave the encampments and visit the local farmers. In general Jews preferred the live-in locations, although the Dundaga camp, especially during the winter of 1943 to 1944, was almost a Vernichtung durch Arbeit camp. One of the most favoured sites was Lenta in Pardaugava.


Ezergailis goes on to give details of the concentration camps in Latvia (p.363 on).

On June 21, 1943, Himmler issued orders to dissolve all ghettos. The practical consequence of the order was that the Jews were completely taken over by the SD, even for assignments of labor duties. By the end of July, about 5,000 Riga Jews had alreadt been reassigned to the Mezaparks system. The final move came on November 2. The capacity of Mezaparks itself was only about 2,000 inmates, but the new system was not intended to have all of the Jews housed in the camp; Mezaparks served rather as a center of registration, where the prisoners signed in and then were reassigned to other satellite camps or sleep-in worksites. Frequently the jews were directly reassigned from one worksite to the other without passing through Mezaparks itself. No document has been found that shows the comings and goings, the whole flow of prisoners into and out of Riga. Mezaparks was an SD-run facility and most likely the documents were destroyed with the dismantling of the camp in September 1944. By entering Mezaparks, the Jews entered the SS archipelago of camps, and thus it becomes difficult to follow the shipments into and out of Latvia. Some Jews from Vilnius and Czechoslovakia arrived in Mezaparks during late 1943. In April 1944, a shipment of more than 500 Hungarian Jewish women arrived, which was perhaps the largest incoming transport since February 1942. The centralized Jewish camps in Latvia became part of the whole SD network, and there was movement between the camps. The workstations for Jews registered in Mezaparks were not limited to Latvia alone. They could be sent to Estonia, Lithuania, or even Auschwitz without much fuss or notice. Thousands of Riga Jews, for example, were sent to Panevezys airfield in Lithuania, never again to return to Riga.

In August 1944 the Jews from the satellite camps and live-in stations near Riga were returned to Mezaparks, and from there the majority were sent by ship to Germany – some went directly from Riga, others through Liepaja. In Latvia during 1944 there were at least about 12,000 of the Latvian and the original Reich Jews alive. And during 1944, some Jews from Vilnius, Czechoslovakia, and Germany arrived in Latvia. To Joseph Katz, who had spent the spring and summer in Spilve, Mezaparks looked quite different from the way it had on the day of his first arrival:

Flowers have been planted around the barracks, vegetables are growing between the blocks, and at the entrance to the camp there is a large tomato field. All this gives the camp a very pleasant appearance, but the initiated Know that every tomato vine and every head of cabbage was planted with the blood and the sweat of the Jews.

The shipments to Germany left on August 6 and September 25 and 29. The final shipment took place at the beginning of October. Some were sent to Stutthof, others to Hamburg, and still others to Liepaja. The Red Army entered Riga on October 13”.


Ezergailis describes the Salaspils, Jumpravmuiza (Jungfernhof) and Dundaga camps:

The purposes for building the Salaspils camp are unclear. Initially, in 1941, according to some statements by Lange, it was a rush-project built to house the Reich Jews, but as soon as the camp was finished, about September 1942, it was turned over to quarter Gentiles, mostly Latvian and Slavic political prisoners…………………….”

It was mainly Reich Jews who built the camp. When the first Jews arrived in Salaspils there were no finished barracks there, just a rough road and a clearing in the woods. Completed, the camp comprised about forty-four structures, among them numerous service buildings and workshop”…………

……………………………….

Jumpravmuiza was a large, neglected baronial estate near the Daugava River and near the Skirotava railroad station. It had several large barns, stables, and service buildings. During the 1940-41 Soviet occupation there had been plans to build an airfield on its grounds. During the German occupation the SD had proposed to turn the estate back to farming, using Jewish labor. It would be a nucleus for Germanic colonists, an example of the New Europe. It was not suitable for quartering thousands of people – not in the middle of winter in sub-zero weather. Bunks were constructed and placed within the barns and sheds. The Jews were employed in a variety of jobs, fixing up the estate, quarrying stone near the Daugava, and working in the craft shops in the vicinity of the estate…………………..
………………………………………………..
The number of victims during the winter of 1941 to 1942 was very high. On the average three people a day died. It is estimated that in the Duenamuende action of March 1942 as many as 2,000 people were killed in Bikernieki forest. By 1943 there were only about 450 prisoners left.”

…………………………………………

“Dundaga, in the northern part of Kurzeme, in mid-1943 became a major employer of Jews. The SS decided to establish Sea-Camp Dundaga (Seelager Dondongen)………
According to Vestermanis, in the summer of 1943 about 5,000 Jews from Riga were delivered to Dundaga I. In November of 1943 a second camp, Dundaga II, was established………..If Vestermanis is correct, about 6,000 prisoners were in the two Dundaga camps………….According to Shpungin a third complex was added in May 1944, in which 5,000 Hungarian women from Auschwitz were housed.

The purpose of the Dundaga project was to create a germanizing colony in Latvia, to which eventually colonists from Germanic countries would be brought. During the was a variety of German SS units were stationed there. In June 1944, after the Soviet breakthrough in Jelgava, the project was abandoned. The Jews were driven to Liepaja for transport to Stutthof and other locations in Germany. The abandonment of the project gave an opportunity for about 300 Jews, among them Vestermanis, to escape and join the partisans in the Kurzeme forests. Life in the Dundaga plywood tents during the winter of 1943 to 1944 was terribly harsh. The death rate was very high (ten to twenty daily, according to Bunzl’s testimony), but it is not quite correct to call it, as do Joseph Berman and Abraham Shpungin, an extermination camp. It was more like a ‘destruction by labor’ camp.

Other camps or workstations where Jews lived and worked were the Balasta Dambis cement factory, Milgravis, Spilve, Suzumuiza, and numerous military and peat bog locations. Suzumuiza was an old estate the SD had taken over. In part it was a rest area for the SD, in part a training site. Dogs and horses were kept on the estate.


Note Ezergailis’ comment about Dondangen; some of its survivors called it an extermination camp, although no extermination in the orthodox sense was carried out there. That may indicate that there was a general tendency of survivors to apply the epithet “extermination camp” to any camp where death rates were high, even ordinary labour camps.

Finally, one more important comment by Ezergailis. On page 149, he writes:

The gas-vans in Latvia only arrived in December 1941, after most of the killing was finished, and it is not known that they were ever used.

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Post by Pieter Kuiper » 27 Sep 2005 07:54

michael mills wrote:The book “The Holocaust in Latvia” by Ezergailis provides comprehensive details of events in Latvia and Lohse’s actions at precisely that time which are incompatible with the Wetzel draft, particularly if it is interpreted as an announcement of extermination.
Does Ezergailis say that his material is incompatible with the Wetzel draft, or is this just an interpretation by Mr. Mills?
In my opinion, these two massacres were not part of a plan, but were excesses of zeal by the commanders of EK 3, Karl Jaeger and Joachim Hamann, both quasi-criminal types. Details on these two are given in the book “Die Truppe des Weltanschauungskrieges” by Krausnick and Wilhelm. Jaeger had many convictions for drunken driving.
OK, that explains it. Funny though that Himmler should promote such drunk drivers, particularly after they had killed a few thousand of his citizens.

michael mills wrote:Jaeger and Hamann both had pasts to live down and a strong motivation to impress their superiors. They may also have been influenced by the alacrity with which Lithuanians joined in the massacres of Jews, even without German participation.
Maybe without direct participation, but certainly with German encouragement. As for the "alacrity" - Stahlecker reported that it was not that easy to instigate progroms:
It was no less important to establish as unshakable and provable facts for the future that it was the liberated population itself which took the most severe measures, on its own initiative, against the Bolshevik and Jewish enemy, without any German instruction being evident.

In Lithuania this was achieved for the first time by activating the partisans in Kovno. To our surprise, it was not easy at first to set any large-scale anti-Jewish pogrom in motion there. Klimaitis, the leader of the partisan group referred to above, who was the first to be recruited for this purpose, succeeded in starting a pogrom with the aid of instructions given him by a small advance detachment operating in Kovno [Kaunas/Kauen], in such a way that no German orders or instructions could be observed by outsiders.
http://www.uoregon.edu/~dluebke/Holocau ... eport.html

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Post by David Thompson » 29 Sep 2005 00:51

(1) Prof. Ezergailis' figures for convoys or transports of Reich Jews to Riga in Nov-Dec 1941 total slightly less than half of the figure given in the contemporaneous report of Dr. Stahlecker.

Prof. Ezergailis:
Ezergailis also provides the following table of transports of Reich Jews to Latvia (p. 355):

Day of Departure.......Number of.......City of...........Destination
................................Deportees.......Departure

27 November 1941.....1000..............Berlin.................Rumbula Forest (massacred 30/11)
29 November..............714..............Nuernberg..........Jumpravmuiza (Jungfernhof, a camp)
1 December..............1200..............Stuttgart..............Jumpravmuiza
3 December..............1042..............Wien...................Jumpravmuiza
4 December................808..............Hamburg.............Jumpravmuiza
7 December..............1000..............Koeln..................Riga Ghetto
9 December................991..............Kassel................Riga Ghetto
11 December............1007..............Duesseldorf.........Riga Ghetto
12 December............1000..............Bielefeld..............Riga Ghetto
15 December............1001..............Hannover............Riga Ghetto

viewtopic.php?p=773608#773608

Dr. Stahlecker (undated draft report on the activities of Einsatzgruppe A through Dec 1941; my emphases):
5. Jews from the Reich.

Since 12/1940 [1941] transports containing Jews have arrived at short intervals from the Reich. Of these 20000 Jews were directed to Riga and 7000 Jews to Minsk. The first 10000 Jews evacuated to Riga were housed partly in a provisionally erected reception camp and partly in a newly established hut encampment near Riga. The remaining transports have for the time being been directed into a separate part of the Riga Ghetto.

viewtopic.php?p=548236#548236

Total Reich Jews (Prof. Ezergailis) = 9,763
Total Reich Jews (Dr. Stahlecker) = 20,000

(2) Prof. Ezergailis' dates and figures for convoys or transports of Reich Jews to Riga in Nov-Dec 1941 do not comport with the plan announced to Reichskommissar Lohse by Dr. Lange on 8 Nov 1941 (my emphases):

Commander of the Security Police and the SD
EG A
To: Reichskommissar of the Ostland
Re: Jewish transports from the Reich to the Ostland.
As per information received from the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, 50,000 Jews will shipped to the East.
As reported, 25,000 will be shipped to Riga and 25,000 to Belorussia. The transports come from all the larger cities of the Reich and the Protectorate. The first contingent of 1,000 Jews will arrive in Minsk on November 10, 1941. Until the 16th of December 1941, the transports will arrive at the rate of one every two days. The remaining transports will be sent during the time from January 10th to January 20th, 1942.
Transports to Riga will begin on November 17, 1941, with the first contingent arriving here on the 19th. Until December 17 there will be further contingents of 1000 Jews each, arriving every second day. The remaining transports will be sent between January 11 and 29, 1942.
There are plans to send the first five transports meant for Riga to the ghetto in Kaunas instead. If it is technically possible to do this with the first five, or with later ones, has not been decided definitely. I will let you know about it.
Barracks are being built near Salaspils as fast as possible. Since there are difficulties in obtaining materials and also a lack of experts, the barracks will not be finished when the first contingent arrives. It is therefore planned to house them in the troop barracks in Jumpravmuiza [Jungfernhof], to the right of the Riga-Daugavpils Road, between Riga and Salaspils.
The Commissar of the area Riga-Land has agreed. His staff-leader, party member Bruhn, went to see the places himself.
As regards food for the Jews, arrangements have been made with the office of the Generalkommissar and with the farm administration.

Dr Lange

[Source: YIVO Archives Occ E3-31, translation by Gertrude Schneider]

viewtopic.php?p=773608#773608

This suggests that the transport/convoy figures of Reich Jews used by Prof. Ezergailis may be incomplete.

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Post by michael mills » 29 Sep 2005 04:44

What is the actual date of the report by Dr Stahlecker on the activities of EG A, which in the translation in NCA is marked as a "draft"?

That report gives the number of German Jews arriving in Riga as 20,000.

The table in the book by Ezergailis, showing all the convoys of German Jews arriving at Riga from the beginning of December 1941 to the beginning of February 1942, yields a total of 20,057.

I would suggest that the total of 20,057 in the Ezergailis table is the same as the figure of 20,000 given in Dr Stahlecker's report.

There is also no real conflict between the information given by Lange to Lohse in November 1941 and the actual course of events as analysed by Ezergailis.

Lange told Lohse that 25,000 German Jews were to be sent to Riga. He also told him that the first five convoys (= 5000 Jews) might go to Kaunas instead of Riga.

In the event, those first five convoys were sent to Kaunas in November 1941. The Jews on them were massacred at Fort IX on 25 and 29 November, as I have written before.

5000 from 25,000 leaves 20,000. Those 20,000 Jews did arrive in Riga, according to the timetable given by Lange. Some arrived in December, the remainder in January.

The only deviation from Lange's information was in relation to the Jews sent to Minsk. He informed Lohse that a first group would arrive in November 1941, and a second group in January 1942. In fact, only the first group, totalling 7000, arrived in Minsk. The convoys scheduled for January 1942 must have been cancelled, since they did not take place.

Thus, the report by Stahlecker that 20,000 German Jews arrived in Riga and 7000 in Minsk is correct.

There is no conflict between what Lange told Lohse in November 1941, Stahlecker's report (presumably of early 1942), and the analysis by Ezergailis.

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Post by David Thompson » 29 Sep 2005 08:05

Michael -- Here are some comments:

(1) You said at viewtopic.php?p=772257#772257 :
By contrast, a sizable proportion of the German Jews held in Riga survived until the summer of 1944, when they were evacuated by ship to camps in Germany.

From Gerald Fleming, Hitler and the Final Solution, University of California Press, Berkeley: 1984, p. 44n:
Of the 26,564 German Jews deported to Riga and Kovno, 3 percent survived.


(2) You wrote at viewtopic.php?p=773608#773608 :
It is clear that the above course of events [Ezergailis' narrative] is incompatible with the Wetzel draft. If Lohse had already been discussing with Wetzel the possibility of setting up a gassing installation in Riga to do away with surplus Jews (ie in his report of 4 October, Wetzel’s letter to him of 18 October), why was he so concerned when Lange revealed to him on 24 October, the day before the draft, the plan to send Reich Jews to Riga? Why was he so concerned with the housing problem? Why did Trampedach on 9 November ask Rosenberg’s ministry to stop the transports?

I think that Prof. Ezergailis' description is fully compatible with the Wetzel draft. Here's why:

(a) A translation of the text of Wetzel's draft is given at viewtopic.php?p=773034#773034
Prof. Fleming describes it as follows:
This top secret draft dealt with the "solution of the Jewish question" and was directly related to Lohse's report delivered to Wetzel on 4 October 1941 in the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, likewise "re: the solution of the Jewish question."
Prof. Fleming does not give a copy of Lohse's report delivered to Wetzel on 4 October 1941, so for now, we don't know what his thoughts were. Wetzel's draft refers his reply:
With regard to my letter of 18 October 1941, please be informed that Oberdienstleiter [Chief Executive Officer] Brack from the Führer's Chancellery has stated his readiness to assist in the construction of the necessary accommodation(s) and gassing apparatuses. At the present time we do not have on hand a sufficient quantity of the apparatuses, so they first must be constructed.

There is nothing to indicate that "Lohse had already been discussing with Wetzel the possibility of setting up a gassing installation in Riga to do away with surplus Jews (ie in his report of 4 October, Wetzel’s letter to him of 18 October)." Lohse and Wetzel had not previously discussed gassing installation before the draft was written. This can be seen from Wetzel's statement to the West German police in 1961, in which Wetzel states he got his instructions on the day he wrote the draft:
On 24 October 1941, I went to Brack's office in the Fuehrer's Chancellery on Vossstrasse. Brack said . . . that he had an assignment for me. I was to convey the following message to Minister Rosenberg: Minister Rosenberg should inform Reichskommissar Lohse that he, Brack, had a gassing apparatus ready for shipment to Riga. Brack told me that the gassing apparatus was to be used on the Jews, and that Eichmann had agreed that this gassing van should be sent to Riga. Jewish convoys would also be sent to Riga and Minsk. . . . In the course of this briefing, Brack told me that this was a matter of a Führer-order or Führer-commission.


(b) The wording of Wetzel's draft suggests to me that Lohse's 4 October 1941 report was probably a protest against executions in Vilna/Vilnius:
Given the present situation, Jews who are not fit for work can be eliminated without qualms through use of the Brack device. Incidents such as those that took place during the shootings of Jews in Vilna, according to a report I have on my desk, can hardly be sanctioned, keeping in mind that the executions were undertaken openly, and the new procedures assure that such incidents will no longer be possible. Jews fit for work, on the other hand, will be transported to work forces in the East. That the men and women in this latter group must be kept apart from each other goes without saying. Please keep me informed as to any further measures you take.

On 3-4 October 1941, German police raided ghetto No. 2 at Vilna, took a number of people out to Ponary forest and executed them by shooting (ed. Gutman, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, p. 1573). The latter date tracks that of Reich Commissioner Lohse's report of 4 October 1941, to which Prof. Fleming refers. See also enclosure 8 to Dr. Stahlecker's Einsatzgruppe A comprehensive report 22 Jun-15 Oct 1941 at viewtopic.php?p=540402#540402 , which mentions 7,000+ Jews killed at Vilna/Vilnius prior to 15 October 1941.

(c) It is clear to me that Reich Commissioner Lohse was "out of the loop" on the RSHA plans for mass shootings of Jews in October-15 November 1941. See the correspondence at: viewtopic.php?t=14313 By 15 November 1941 Lohse acknowledged that mass executions were taking place, and that he disapproved of such executions when they were carried out in a "wild manner."

The correspondence marked 3663-PS at viewtopic.php?p=119764#119764 suggests that that by 1 December 1941 someone in a position superior to Reich Commissioner Lohse told him that "the cleansing of the East of Jews" was "a necessary task" (see the wording of the "note in different handwriting" and the document notation that, after having been previously submitted, Lohse's protest was re-submitted by his office on 1 December 1941). The correspondence marked 3666-PS (same link) suggests that by or around 18 December 1941 Lohse had been informed that "Economic considerations should fundamentally remain unconsidered in the settlement of the problem."

You said:
Lohse’s reaction on 24 October to Lange’s announcement of the impending arrival of the Reich Jews indicates that he did not have the faintest notion of killing off the surplus Jews by gassing or any other means. He obviously thought that he was going to be lumbered with the Jews in the Riga ghetto and the incoming Reich Jews for the foreseeable future. That is why he objected.

Assuming, without conceding, this ignorance on the part of Lohse on 24 October 1941, it does not undermine the credibility of Wetzel's draft letter. Lohse had not received the draft on 24 October when Dr. Lange told him he was to receive thousands of Reich Jews. Furthermore, Wetzel does not refer to mass killings (which in any event would have been the responsibility of the police and SD, not Lohse) but instead states:
Given the present situation, Jews who are not fit for work can be eliminated without qualms through use of the Brack device.

In other words, in Wetzel's draft letter to Lohse the "Brack device" (carbon monoxide poisoning) is to be used only on Jews unfit for work, and is a more humane method than shoot old folks, ill persons and children. If employed as Wetzel suggests in his draft, the device would not have provided a solution to the shortage of housing and camp facilities in the Riga area for the impending transports of Reich Jews. Consequently, whether Lohse had received Wetzel's letter by 9 November 1941 or not, the protest against the shipment of the Reich Jews was understandable -- Lohse had no place to put the able-bodied Jews who weren't going to be killed immediately.

(3) In your post at viewtopic.php?p=774775#774775 you said:

(a)
What is the actual date of the report by Dr Stahlecker on the activities of EG A, which in the translation in NCA is marked as a "draft"?

The draft is undated, and I have not seen any accompanying letter transmitting the draft. However, the caption of the draft states that it covers the operations of Einsatzgruppe A up to 31 December 1941.

(b) You went on to say:
That report gives the number of German Jews arriving in Riga as 20,000.

The table in the book by Ezergailis, showing all the convoys of German Jews arriving at Riga from the beginning of December 1941 to the beginning of February 1942, yields a total of 20,057.

I would suggest that the total of 20,057 in the Ezergailis table is the same as the figure of 20,000 given in Dr Stahlecker's report.

Given the 31 December 1941 cut-off date of the report, there would be no reason to include transport/convoy figures for January and February 1942. Consequently, I think your suggestion is unlikely.

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Post by michael mills » 29 Sep 2005 14:49

The bottom line with regard to the draft letter to Lohse dated 25 October 1941 is that it did not lead anywhere.

None of Brack's personnel ended up stationed in Riga to carry out gassings using the methodology developed in the T-4 program.

Furthermore, after the Dünemünde Aktion, there was was no ongoing program of selection for extermination applied to the German Jews held in Riga.

For those reasons, I do not think that Wetzel's draft represented an exposition to Lohse of a Government policy that was to be applied, but rather a suggestion by Wetzel of how to solve the problem of overcrowding caused by the arrival of 20,000 German Jews that Lohse was complaining about.

The suggestion made by Wetzel, of using the "Brack device", ie gas-chambers using bottled carbon monoxide, to solve the problem of overcrowding was never implemented in Riga. Rather it was solved by killing off the native Jews penned up in the Riga ghetto in two mass shooting actions.

It is necessary to distinguish between the German Jews and the Soviet Jews if one is to understand the actions of Lohse and other players at the time.

Lohse was complaining about two different things:

1. The proposal to kill off the surviving Latvian (= Soviet) Jews held in the Riga Ghetto, whom Lohse wanted to use as a labour force.

2. The proposal to send 20,000 German Jews to Riga, who were less usable for labour than the Latvian Jews, in Lohse's opinion, and would simply cause overcrowding.

In relation to Lohse's first complaint, he was told by the SS establishment through its representative in Riga, Dr Lange, that he would have to accept the killing of the remaining Lativan Jews, since that had been ordered by Himmler and was the Führer's wish.

In relation to Lohse's second complaint, Wetzel, who was not part of the SS establishment but part of the civilian administration of the occupied Soviet territories, ie the same organisation as Lohse, suggested the application of "euthanasia" to the German Jews so as to reduce their number and hence the overcrowding that worried Lohse.

Himmler's reaction to the killings of German Jews in Kaunas on 25 and 29 November and in Riga on 30 November shows that Wetzel's suggestion had not been co-ordinated with the SS establishment, and in fact was contrary to Himmler's directives for the treatment of German Jews deported to the East. That may be the reason why Wetzel's suggestion of using the practice and methodology of "euthanasia" was never actually applied at Riga.

By the way, it is not just a matter of Fleming not publishing the Lohse report of 4 October 1941. So far I know, that report has never been found, so nobody actually knows what was in it. Any surmises about it are just that, surmises. However, the context suggests that he was reporting his intention to create a closed working ghetto in Riga and use the surviving Latvian Jews as a labour force.

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Post by Earldor » 30 Sep 2005 10:06

I'm a bit pressed for time but I would recommend reading Chapter 9 (The Final Solution from Conception to Implementation) from Christopher R. Browning's "The Origins of the Final Solution", which describes the events surrounding the (November 30th) shootings in Riga, Kaunas and Minsk.

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Kaunas

Post by Pieter Kuiper » 02 Oct 2005 13:36

We can compare Riga with Kaunas. I cite from Christian Gerlach's article "The Wannsee Conference, the Fate of German Jews, and Hitler’s Decision in Principle to Exterminate All European Jews" in Journal of Modern History 70, 759-813 (1998).
After discussing the transports to Lodz and to Minsk, Gerlach writes (p. 767-8):
The situation was different in Kaunas, in Lithuania, the third destination point. Between November 25 and November 29 a total of 4,934 Jews arrived there from Germany and Austria. Einsatzkommando 3 of the Security Police and the SD shot them all. In the absence of documentary source material, it is not clear where the orders for these murders originated.

It has sometimes been argued that these transports were diverted to Kaunas unexpectedly and with little advance notice, and that the Jewish deportees were simply executed “to get rid of a problem,” as it were. But plans to send the first five trains to Kaunas in the Baltic had been announced three weeks earlier.[37]

Just three days before the first massacre, Dr. Peter Kleist, the section chief for the Ostland in the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Territories in the East (Ostministerium), met with Karl Jäger, the head of Einsatzkommando 3 in Kaunas, and expressed his satisfaction with the executions of Lithuanian Jews. We are thus justified in concluding that the Ministry for the East, which had been informed about the transports, was in agreement with the plan to execute the German Jews who were expected to arrive in Kaunas.[38]

Only the discovery of new documents will be able to shed light on the question of how and by whom this decision was reached, and whether or not any misgivings were voiced by German officials.

Footnotes:
[37] Einsatzgruppe A to the Reich Commissar for the Ostland, November 8, 1941, BA R 90/146. According to a handwritten notation, shortly thereafter the Reich Commissariat for the Ostland (RKO) sent a copy to the General Commissar for Lithuania in Kaunas, who was thus notified in advance as well.

[38] Kleist, personal notebook, entry for November 22, 1941, Staatsanwaltschaft Hamburg 147 Js 29/67, vol. 65, fol. 12460. Before handing over his notes to the authorities, Kleist had made one of these lines illegible (as he did in several other sensitive passages). But he overlooked the following passage:
Very good impression by Staf. Jäger. He agrees completely with Lith.[uanian] cooperation. If the local administration can be involved in this sensitive area, then there will be no excuse for other areas.
It is known that Jäger made widespread use of Lithuanian commandos in the executions of Jews.
On November 21, Kleist made the following notation on his stay in Kaunas: “Afternoon in the ghetto, chicken in the pot, isolation hospital, covered graves next to it.”
Page 769:
Let us quickly summarize these rather gruesome results. A general order to execute German Jews had not yet been issued. In Lodz and Minsk, German officials and police allowed German Jews arriving in 1941 to survive. In Kaunas, however, all the arriving Jews were murdered. In Riga, finally, Jews on the first transport were openly killed. Those arriving later were initially kept alive, only to be shot later in “smaller” executions or to be killed by the horrendous living conditions, particularly the cold. Direct executions were concealed as much as possible.
Gerlach goes on to say that there were many protests against deportations of some of these German Jews: some were decorated veterans, some were Mischlinge. Maybe the conference in Wannsee was called in the beginning of December 1941 to sort out such problems. In the meantime, mass liquidiations of Jews from the Reich were temporarily stopped by Himmler's order of November 30.

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Post by David Thompson » 02 Oct 2005 14:53

The posts on Aktion T-4 and Sonderkommando Lange now have a thread of their own:

Sonderkommando Lange
viewtopic.php?t=87040

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Post by michael mills » 03 Oct 2005 00:41

Just three days before the first massacre, Dr. Peter Kleist, the section chief for the Ostland in the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Territories in the East (Ostministerium), met with Karl Jäger, the head of Einsatzkommando 3 in Kaunas, and expressed his satisfaction with the executions of Lithuanian Jews. We are thus justified in concluding that the Ministry for the East, which had been informed about the transports, was in agreement with the plan to execute the German Jews who were expected to arrive in Kaunas.[


The fact that Dr Kleist of the Ostministerium expressed his satisfaction with the execution of the Lithuanian Jews (= Soviet collaborators) does not mean that any part of the German Government had approved the killing of German Jews deported to the East.

The fact that Himmler ordered a stop to the killings of deported German Jews once he heard about the executions in Kaunas, and his furious reaction to Jeckeln's shooting of the first convoy of German Jews to arrive at Riga, coupled with the fact that the 7000 German Jews who arrived at Minsk in November 1941, at exactly the same time as German Jews were arriving at Kaunas, were not shot on arrival, demonstrates that conclusively.

It may be that the incompetent striver Jäger misunderstood Kleist's comment as a hint to extend the killing actions to the German Jews who had just arrived in Kaunas. That is the sort of thing Jäger would do; with his reputation for drunkenness and incompetence, he was always looking for ways of impressing his superiors (such as writing detailed reports).

For details on Jäger's incomptetence and his zeal to impress, see the book by Knut Stang, "Kollaboration und Massenmord : die litauische Hilfspolizei, das Rollkommando Hamann und die Ermordung der litauischen Juden" ( Frankfurt am Main ; New York : P. Lang, c1996 ).

It should also be pointed out that not all the Lithuanian Jews were exterminated. After the initial cleansing actions, the Jews in the Kaunas Ghetto remained largely untouched, and a large number survived to be evacuated to camps in Germany in 1944.

The fact that a considerable proportion of the German Jews held at Riga and of the Lithuanian Jews held at Kaunas survived to be evacuated to Germany in 1944 (although only a small number survived until the very end of the war) indicates that the extermination imperative was not absolute, and there were exceptions.
Last edited by michael mills on 03 Oct 2005 01:15, edited 3 times in total.

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