Mass Graves (continuation)

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Pieter Kuiper
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Post by Pieter Kuiper » 08 Oct 2005 20:56

Some interesting info from chapter 4 of Eavesdropping on Hell by Hanyok:
In late 1943, as the Axis forces retreated west all along the front before the resurgent Red Army, the Nazi authorities were faced with the problem of destroying the evidence of the earlier massacres perpetrated by the Einsatzgruppen, police and SS formations.

In October 1943 intercepted and decoded radio messages of the SD revealed that the Germans were in the process of exhuming the sites of mass executions and destroying the remains. The texts of the intercepted messages were written in the obtuse language that the Germans used for all matters pertaining to the Holocaust.

These messages indicated that such work, executed by Sonderkommandos (Special Detachments), and included cleaning up “special places of work” in the Baltic region southwest of Leningrad, near the cities of Novgorod and Pskov.

Interestingly, in trying to identify the murder sites, SS officials had to rely on information from Latvian and Russian collaborators.[43]

One would like to know some more details.

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by Jonathan Harrison » 09 Oct 2008 20:34

Here is a gallery of photos of Ponary, including Nazi photos and Soviet Extraordinary Commission excavation photos:

http://www.vilnaghetto.com/gallery/albu ... bling_site

See also the witness statements in Ernst Klee et al, The Good Old Days pp.38-45.

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by David Thompson » 09 Oct 2008 22:44

Thanks for those links, Jonathan.

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by Jonathan Harrison » 10 Oct 2008 00:19

I would also like to add some links for sdolbunov: http://rodohforum.yuku.com/topic/6342

Of particular significance is that these were killings by Gendarmerie and Ukrainian auxiliaries, it was a member of the Gendarmerie who had the photos in his possession, and the photos were confirmed by another member of the Gendarmerie (a trial defendant) who was present at the massacre.

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by michael mills » 11 Oct 2008 14:00

Of particular significance is that these were killings by Gendarmerie and Ukrainian auxiliaries, it was a member of the Gendarmerie who had the photos in his possession, and the photos were confirmed by another member of the Gendarmerie (a trial defendant) who was present at the massacre.
Jonathan Harrison would do well to ask himself why these Gendarmerie and Ukrainian auxiliaries were so ready, willing and able to massacre the Jewish population of Vilnius.

The men in the Lithuanian Gendarmerie cannot be simply written off as criminal types, as some of the Forum staff are so wont to do. They were recruited largely from the nationalist intelligentsia, and were often university students, or former policemen and soldiers.

I invite Jonathan Harrison to analyse the willingness of the local auxiliaries to massacre Jews (which often exceeded that of German personnel) in the context of their experience of the preceding Soviet occupation.

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by Jonathan Harrison » 20 Oct 2008 17:30

I don't accept that the auxiliaries were often more enthusiastic killers than the Germans. As I've stated before, pogroms did not take place in every territory the Nazis captured. Auxiliaries may simply have assumed that the best way to curry favour with the Nazis was by helping to kill Jews, whom the Nazis were going to kill anyway. It's a similar case to that of Africans who collaborated with European racist occupiers.

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by michael mills » 21 Oct 2008 03:25

I don't accept that the auxiliaries were often more enthusiastic killers than the Germans. quote]

Then you are wilfully closing your eyes to historical reality, and you will never understand it.
As I've stated before, pogroms did not take place in every territory the Nazis captured.[/
They took place in those territories where there were sharp pre-existing conflicts between Jewish minorities and the host populations among whom they lived, eg in Ukraine, Eastern Poland, Lithuania, Latvia. They took place in Romania, which was an ally of Germany, not captured by it.

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by Jonathan Harrison » 21 Oct 2008 13:18

Antisemitism has a long history in Eastern Europe, going back way further than Communism. But the basis for it was religious and political rather than the systematic racial antisemitism of the Nazis. You're missing that distinction, and its consequences in terms of how the killing was organized. Stahlecker specifically wrote that "It was to be expected from the beginning that the Jewish problem in the Ostland could not be solved by pogroms alone." He also says of Kovno: "To our surprise it was not easy at first to set any large-scale anti-Jewish pogrom in motion there." He mentions similar difficulties in Latvia:

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jso ... altic.html

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by michael mills » 24 Oct 2008 01:58

Antisemitism has a long history in Eastern Europe, going back way further than Communism. But the basis for it was religious and political rather than the systematic racial antisemitism of the Nazis. You're missing that distinction, and its consequences in terms of how the killing was organized.
The above reflects the common error that there was some sort of essential difference between the anti-Jewish ideology of German National Socialism and the judeophobia that was so wide-spread Eastern Europe.

Detailed investigation of the early history of the German National Socialist movement and Hitler's involvement, especially in the years from 1919 to the Putsch in November 1923, has shown conclusively that the anti-Jewish ideology of Hitler and the National Socialist movement was derived from right-wing Russian exiles who had settled in Germany after fleeing from Bolshevik rule in their homeland.

Those Russian exiles had been anti-Semitic in outlook before the First World War, and their anti-Semitism had a variety of historical causes, some religious, some cultural and economic, some apocalyptic and occult. Their anti-Jewish ideology had been given form in pareticular by the Russian writer, Dostoevskii. However, their anti-Semitism had been greatly intensified by their experience of the Russian Revolution; they blamed Jews for both the overthrow of the Tsar in march 1917 and the subsequent Bolshevik takeover in November of that year. They saw the Bolshevik regime as essentially Jewish, and an attempt by the Jews to exterminate the best elements of the Russian people, by starvation in particular, for the purpose of establishing a Jewish dictatorship over the lower classes of the former Russian Emp[ire.

That ideology was imparted by the exiles to right-wing völkisch movements in Germany, including to the nascent National Socilaist movement. Hitler himself had not professed an anti-Semitic ideology prior to 1919, being more a Socialist by inclination; he acquired that ideology under the influence of ethnic German exiles from Russia, Alfred Rosenberg and Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter (the latter served as Hitler's primary political adviser until he was killed in the November 1923 Putsch).

Once Hitler had acquired his anti-Semitic ideology from the Russian exiles, the main message preached by him (in addition to his previous main message that the Versailles sustem must be overthrown) was that the Jews in Germany were plotting to bring about the same sort of Bolshhevik revolution that had occurred in Russia, with all the attendant atrocities, including the extermination of the German ruling class. Hitler preached that the Jews must be expelled from germany in oder to protect the German people from the same disaster that had befallen the Russian people.

This anti-Bolshevik ideology is still apparent in his book "Mein Kampf", written in 1924 and 1926, after the influence of the Russian exiles had begun to fade.

A good book to read on the influence of the Russian exiles and the source of the anti-Semitic ideology of the national Socialist movement and of Hitler personally is:

"The Russian Roots of Nazism: White Emigres and the Making of National Socialism, 1917-1945", by Michael Kellogg (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

One particular quote from the writings of Dostoevskii that was used by the Russian exiles, and also by Alfred Rosenberg, the ideologist of the National Socialist movement, was this passage from "Diary of a Writer", dated March 1977:
Their empire is drawing near, their entire empire! The triumph of the Jews is nearing, before which brotherly love, the truth, Christian sentiments, and the national pride of the European peoples will fade and recede.
For example, the passage was quoted in an article, "Dostoevskii (born 1921) and the Jewish Question" in the 14 July 1921 edition of "Der Nationalsozialist" (a replacement periodical for the temporarily outlawed "Völkischer Beobachter, the main National Socialist newspaper). It also quoted this further passage from Dostoevskii's work:
What would happen if there were three million Russians and 80 million Jews in Russia instead of the other way around, what would the latter do with the Russians, how would they handle them?.... Would they not simply make them into slaves? Or worse yet, would they not skin them completely? Would they not exterminate them entirely, not destroy them just as they had other peoples earlier in their ancient history?
In the above passage, the impulse for the anti-Jewish ideology of National Socialism, and for the later attempt to physically exterminate the Jewish populations under German control, is transparent.

There was another article about Dostoevskii in the "Völkischer Beobachter" edition of 27 January 1923, "Dostoevskii as Politician and Prophet", which quoted from a passage of Dostoevskii's that was first published in an anniversary edition of "Diary of a Writer" in 1906. Dostoevskii had asserted: "When the entire wealth of Europe has been wasted, the bank of the Jew will remain. Then the Anti-Christ may come and anarchy rule".

The article commented on Dostoevskii's warning as follows:
Anarchy already rules in Russia today ......Russia ignored the admonitions of Dostoevskii and so the poet of yesterday will become the poet of the Russia of tomorrow, which with its return to the völkisch will have found its way home out of anarchy. For the rest of Europe, however, Dostoevskii is still the poet and admonisher for today, for perhaps already tomorrow "may the Anti-Christ come and anarchy rule".
What the above demonstrates is that the anti-Jewish ideology of National Socialism drew on traditional religious motifs, such as that of the Anti-Christ, which had been at the basis of Dostoevskii's own judeophobia.

Dostoevskii also originated the idea that Jews were the manipulators of both capitalism and communism, an idea adopted by Rosenberg and transmitted by him to Hitler.

Thus, when German forces invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, they were entering the land and encountering the people from which their own anti-Jewish ideology had been derived. It is no accident that the German massacre of Jewish minorities began in earnest when Germans entered that land, where alleged Jewish Bolshevism had originated and erected a supposed reign of terror over a gentile population. There was no essential difference between the anti-Jewish ideology of German National Socialism and the strong anti-Jewish feelings of some populations in the Soviet Union, particularly in Ukraine.

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by Jonathan Harrison » 25 Oct 2008 10:56

Those Russian influences were certainly a key dimension of Nazi antisemitism, but its central plank was clearly derived from a concept of race that was developed in the west, not the east. Race held out the promise of biological utopia, predicated on the extermination of the worst racial elements. Nazi texts and speeches are full of those ideas so to divorce them from Nazi practices is choosing to be blind to reality.

See Burleigh and Wippermann, "The Racial State", p.40ff.

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by michael mills » 26 Oct 2008 01:09

The "biologism" of National Socialist ideology and its anti-Semitism were two quite separate elements in that ideology, and were derived from quite separate sources.

What I call 'biologism" is concerned with the concept that the "racial value" of a population group, for example the German people, is the crucial factor in its well-being, and that it can be improved by eugenic measures, such as weeding out genetically unhealthy individuals and preventing them from procreating, while promoting the procreation of the genetically healthy. Thus, the various eugenic measures undertaken by the National Socialist regime in Germany, such as the sterilisation of persons deemed to be hereditarily unfit, was an application of "biologism", intended to achieve a "biological utopia".

But there was no necessary connection between "biologism" and anti-Jewish feelings or ideology. Indeed, some persons who were proponents of "biologism" considered the Jews to be a superior race because of their traditional endogamy and eugenic practices such as the favouring of intellectually gifted individuals. For example, Nietzsche believed that the German people would be improved through intermarriage with Jews, whom he considered to be a race of supermen. Even today you have people like the American anthropologist Kevin MacDonald who consider the Jews to be a genetically superior population group due to their traditional eugenic practices.

Of course, there was an overlap in Germany between "biologism" and anti-Semitism, which led to the emergence of the concept of "pollution of the blood" through sexual intercourse between Germans and Jews. But "biologism" was not the reason why the Jews were identified in National Socialist ideology as the supreme enemy of the German people. That reason was primarily political, the concept that the Jews as a group were trying to achieve world domination, and had created Bolshevism with all its associated horrors as a means to that end.

"Biologism" was not the reason why German forces began massacring Soviet Jews in 1941; the National Socialist Government of Germany had no interest in improving the genetic health of Slavic peoples by exterminating the Jews living among them who might "pollute" their blood through intermarriage. The reason was entirely political, the concept that the Jews were the creators of Bolshevism, a political threat to the German people which could only be countered through the removal of the population group that was allegedly its creator and supporter.

The original question I asked was why Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Latvians, even some Poles and members of other East European peoples, were so eager to co-operate with the German occupiers in destroying the Jewish minority living among them. The motivation for their co-operation was not derived from "biologism", the fear that their genetic health was somehow imperilled by Jews, but rather was socio-economic, cultural and political in origin. Furthermore, the anti-Jewish feelings of those East European peoples were essentially the same as those of the German occupiers, since the anti-Jewish elements in the National Socialist ideology that conditioned German actions had ultimately been derived from the anti-Jewish ideas that had flourished in the former Russian Empire before the First World War.

To be sure, the concept of "race" was developed in the West, particularly in France. But there is no necessary connection between the concept of "race" and the ideology of anti-Semitism.

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by David Thompson » 26 Oct 2008 03:08

A post from Penn44, containing personal remarks about another poster, was removed by this moderator -- DT.

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by Penn44 » 26 Oct 2008 09:38

michael mills wrote:The "biologism" of National Socialist ideology and its anti-Semitism were two quite separate elements in that ideology, and were derived from quite separate sources. […]

What I call 'biologism" is concerned with the concept that the "racial value" of a population group, for example the German people […].

But there was no necessary connection between "biologism" and anti-Jewish feelings or ideology. […]

Of course, there was an overlap in Germany between "biologism" and anti-Semitism, which led to the emergence of the concept of "pollution of the blood" through sexual intercourse between Germans and Jews. But "biologism" was not the reason why the Jews were identified in National Socialist ideology as the supreme enemy of the German people. That reason was primarily political, the concept that the Jews as a group were trying to achieve world domination, and had created Bolshevism with all its associated horrors as a means to that end. […]
Mills' rendering of Nazi racial ideology is substantially incorrect.

Nazi racial ideology was centered on racial-biological determinism. In the similar vein as Marx's historical material concept that more or less the current means of production determined the nature of the superstructure, class conflict, and resulting history, the Nazis believed race determined the nature of society, culture, and world history. Instead of Marx's concept of class conflict determining history the Nazis held there was race conflict. Mills' so-called "biologism," or "racial value" was only one aspect of Nazi racial ideology, and as he notes, the Nazis normally applied it to the Aryan race, for example, Nazi social welfare resources went to the racially valuable elements of Aryan society, and not to the genetically handicapped, the mentally retarded, the asocial, etc. Contrary to Mills' claim, however, Nazi racial ideology with its racial-biological determinism was intimately linked to [racial] anti-Semitism. Nazi ideology held that the Jews 'innate, unchangeable racial characteristics led them to seek world domination and destroy the Aryan race. Under the Nazi worldview, Bolshevism for Jews was not a "choice," but was racially-biologically determined by the very biological nature of Jews. It was in their "blood." In the Nazi mind, Bolshevism was the natural state for the Jew, but was the antithesis for the Aryan. The racial-biological determinism of Nazi ideology held that a Jew is always a Jew, and cannot be rehabilitated nor dissuaded from being a Jew.

Penn44

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by Jonathan Harrison » 26 Oct 2008 20:53

Did Hitler believe that Jews created Bolshevism because of their religion and culture, or because they were inherently, biologically demonic? The answer is surely obvious, for example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eternal_Jew

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Re: Mass Graves (continuation)

Post by michael mills » 27 Oct 2008 07:24

There is really no conflict between what I wrote and Penn44's comments about biological determinism.

Biological determinism posits that the essential qualities of an individual or a group of related individuals (a "race") are determined genetically and are therefore immutable, unable to be changed by environmental factors. However, biological determinism does not predispose an observer to view any particular group of people either positively or negatively; the positive or negative judgement of a human group is determined by other factors, which are usually cultural, but that judgement may be explained in terms of biologically determined.

Thus, at the end of the 19th century, both German and French commentators might have agreed that the national characteristics of the German people were biologicallly determined, "in the blood"; but the German commentators would have interpreted those presumed "racial" characteristics positively, while the French interpreted them negatively. Whether "germanness" was seen positively or negatively was determined by cultural factors.

The same applied with regard to attitudes toward Jews. The characteristics of Jews might be thought to be biologically determined, but that did not mean that those characteristics would be viewed negatively, in the form of an anti-Semitic ideology. For example, some Jewish anthropologists at the end of the 19th Century, such Joseph Jacobs, a product of my country, believed that Jewishness was biologically determined, and talked of the "prepotency of Jewish blood". However, those anthropologists did not view the supposed racial characteristics of Jews negatively, but rather positively.

A negative view of Jews, such as that as a group they are trying to dominate the world and enslave other peoples, using Bolshevism as a means to that end, is not a logical conclusion of racial theory, but is a result of other factors, which are usually socio-economic or cultural. Racial theory simply supplies an explanation for the existence of the assumed negative characteristics.

As I have written, the anti-Semitic ideology of German National Socialism was derived from Russian judeophobia via the White Russian exiles, and was driven largely by fear of Bolshevism. In that respect, the anti-Jewish sentiments of German National Socialists did not differ in essence from those of Ukrainian nationalists; the essential feature of both was the concept of Jewish Bolshevism, of the Jews as the oppressors of the peoples of the former Russian Empire.

The fact that German National Socialism combined that derived anti-Semitism with biological determinism (which was by no means unique to German intellectual tradition) to come up with a racial explanation for the Jews' supposed predisposition toward Bolshevism, is neither here nor there. The fear of Jews as the creators of Bolshevism was the reason why the attempt to exterminate them began with the invasion of the Soviet Union and not earlier.

Finally, I do not think a German propaganda film made in 1940, targeted toward the prejudices of a German bourgeois audience, provides any insight into the reasons why Hitler and the National Socialist movement adpted an anti-Semitic ideology in 1919.

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