Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The number of Hungarian Jews gassed upon arrival at Auschwitz

[This is a shorter updated version of an earlier article published by me elsewhere.]

Traditionally historians have assumed that about 400,000 Hungarians Jews were gassed in Auschwitz immediately upon arrival, i.e. about 90% of all Jews deported out of Hungary.

In 2002 book Das letzte Kapitel German historians Christian Gerlach and Goetz Aly introduced (but did not publish) a document which helps us to better assess the number of Hungarian Jews who had been deported to Auschwitz but were not immediately gassed upon arrival (most of the latter were selected as fit for work and temporarily spared).



The document is in the archive of Yad Vashem. It can be viewed online at http://www.zchor.org/hungaria.htm.

It is "The list of the transports (males) to concentration camp Auschwitz II Birkenau, arriving from 16 May to 20 September 1944" ("Zusammenstellung der in der Zeit vom 16.V. bis 20.9.1944 im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz II Birkenau eingetroffenen Transporte /Maenner/"). According to the document, it was typed on 5 August 1945 in Lambach, and Leo Glaser, director of the Austrian Insurance Company in Vienna ("Direktor der Versicherungsanstalt der österreichischen Bundesländer, Wien") confirmed its correctness. According to Glaser's letter to which the list is attached, he sent it to the American Military Authority in Linz in the wake of the Belsen trial.

This 6-page document consists of the numbers of male Jews selected for labor from the transports coming to Auschwitz from May to September, 1944. Its value lies in the fact that it lists not only the registered Jews, but also the so-called "depot Jews" (Durchgangsjuden), who were neither killed nor registered on arrival.

Who was Leo Glaser? Michael Honey, who wrote an online research note about this list, testifies:
I left Glaser in Auschwitz on Christmas Eve 1944 in the first evacuation march to Loeslau (Wodzislaw Slaski). For the period 9th July to 24th Dec 1944 I was a runner (Laeufer) of the Capo Kleiderkammer, none other than Leo Glaser.
On the research DVD Der Auschwitz-Prozess. Tonbandmitschnitte, Protokolle und Dokumente (Berlin, Directmedia Verlag, 2004) we find more information about Glaser. Wilhelm Boger in the statement made in Ludwigsburg on 5 July 1945 identified Leo Glaser as a person who could give reliable information about Boger's work in the camp and his behavior towards inmates; Boger provided several specific details about Glaser's biography, whereabouts and family. Kurt Knuth-Siebenlist in a statement made in Hamburg on 3 December 1959 claimed that Leo Glaser, a former Kapo of "Häftlingsbekleidungskammer in Birkenau", who lived in Vienna, could provide more details on Pery Broad's conduct in the camp. Dr. Otto Wolken testified during the 20th day of the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial (27 February 1964) about a certain Viennese, Kapo Glaser in "Sauna" who gave him a pair of shoes once.

Thus Leo Glaser was in a position to make such a list, as he would be in charge of clothing the arriving deportees. The general reliability of his list can be established by comparing it to other known sources, such as Danuta Czech's Auschwitz Chronicle. From the latter comparison it follows that the numbers of registered prisoners do correspond exactly or very closely to Czech's in many instances (see the table at the end of this article). On the other hand, many transports listed in Glaser's list are not mentioned by Czech and vice versa. This does not prove that Glaser's list is unreliable, because  we should not assume that we have full information about the transports.

Since we know that Glaser did not mention many actual transports in his list, can we assume that his list of Hungarian transports is complete? The most complete list until now - the list of the Hungarian transports passing through Kosice - contains 136 entries for the period of 14 May to 9 July. Glaser's list has 142 relevant entries for the period of 16 May to 11 July (Gerlach and Aly erroneously state that 141 transports are listed; if we disregard two entries which state that 3 and 5 Jews were selected, then there are 140 transports; if we take them into account, then we have 142 transports). Thus, Glaser's information seems to be the most complete information available about the Hungarian transports.

Gerlach and Aly verify Glaser's reliability in yet another way. They refer to the 1 July 1945 deposition of Otto Robicsek, who had been deported from Oradea on 26 June 1944 and then was selected in Auschwitz for forced labor in a group of 206 men. A train with 206 selected men indeed appears three days later in Glaser's list (three days represents the average time the trains had been in transit). There is also a correspondence between Glaser's list and the Kosice lists. For example, there is a pause in deportations between 16 June and 25 June in the Kosice lists and between 18 June and 27 June in Glaser's list.

According to Gerlach and Aly, 55,937 male Jews from Hungary were selected for labor from 16 May to 11 July. After examining the document, it becomes clear that the authors are wrong, and only about 52,000 Hungarian Jews are listed  for this period.

Glaser states in his letter that "the numbers of women arriving is nearly the same as men if not somewhat higher". The authors reason that if the Jewish Hungarian males constituted 50% of all Hungarian Jews selected for work, about 110,000 Hungarian Jews were selected for labor.

They prove that their assumption is reasonable by referring to Oswald Pohl's May 24, 1944  report to Himmler, according to which 50% of the Jews selected for work were women. They also list other pieces of evidence, supporting their thesis. For example, they refer to the statement by Dieter Wisliceny, who claimed that 458,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz during the Hungarian action (this number is too high) and that 108,000 of them were selected for work. According to the authors, both Hoess and Wisliceny estimated after the war that 25 to 30 percent of the Hungarian Jews were selected for labor.

Gerlach and Aly state that the 4 transports redirected to Strasshof consisted of about 15,000 Hungarian Jews. Assuming that Veesenmayer’s figure of 437,402 deported Jews is correct, and subtracting 15,000 Jews who went to Strasshof and about 104,000 Jews not gassed upon arrival, and rounding the result, we can conclude that about 320,000 Hungarian Jews were gassed on arrival, not about 400,000, as has been assumed by historians until recently.

Of course, quite a lot of the Jews selected for work later died because of cruel conditions in other camps. And many of the Durchgangsjuden also did not escape the gas chambers, as follows from Staerkemeldungen, in which Sonderbehandlung was also applied to the "depot" Jews.

Given all of the above, the total Jewish Auschwitz death toll is closer to 900,000 and total death toll is closer to 1,000,000. Prof. Robert Jan van Pelt prophetically wrote in his 1999 Irving v. Lipstadt trial expert report:
As a scholar working on the history of Auschwitz, I reviewed Dr. Piper's methodology and his conclusions both in conversation, through study of his writings, and by considering the evidence he has presented, and I fully join the scholarly consensus that he has put the matter to rest. And while it is not impossible that at some future date they could be revised if, for example, more information becomes available about the number of Hungarian Durchgangsjuden I do not expect such a revision to be beyond a range of about 10 per cent. Even if the total number of Jewish victims of Auschwitz were to be closer to 900,000 than 1,000,000, Auschwitz was to remain the center of the Holocaust, and as such the likely focus of Holocaust denial.
For more information about Glaser's list see Michael Honey's research note.



Table of similarities between Glaser’s list and D.Czech’s Auschwitz Chronicle (1989)

Date
No. of the deportees
Nationality
Quote from Auschwitz Chronicle
20.5.1944
19
Polish Jews
20.5: "19 prisoners sent in a group transport receive Nos. 188041-188059."
24.5.1944
288
Russians
24.5: "288 male and 202 female prisoners sent by the Minsk Sipo and SD receive Nos. 188089-188376 and Nos. 79626-79827."
25.5.1944
2
Gypsies
25.5: "Two German Gypsies receive Nos. Z-10036 and Z-10037."
31.5.1944
2
Gypsies
31.5: "Two German Gypsies receive Nos. Z-10041 and Z-10042."
1.6.1944
277
Russians
1.6: "277 male prisoners and 204 female prisoners sent to the camp by the Minsk Sipo and SD and Mobile Kommando 9 are given Nos. 188589-188865 and 79892-79999, 81474-81493, 81495-81561 and 81563-81571."
2.6.1944
5
Gypsies
2.6: "Five female Gypsies from Czechoslovakia receive Nos. Z-10043-Z-10047." Although Czech writes about female Gypsies, their numbers are from male series. Either Czech is mistaken, or for unknown reason 5 female Gypsies were registered under male numbers.
3.6.1944
1
Gypsies
3.6: "Heinrich Adler, born in the Gypsy camp in Birkenau, receives No. Z-10792."
3.6.1944
3
Italians
3.6: "Jews arrive in an RSHA transport from Italy. … Three prisoners in this transport, from Trieste, are kept. They receive Nos. 188896-188898."
16.6.1944
9
Italian Jews
16.6: "Nine male Jews and 29 female Jews who arrive in an RSHA transport from Trieste are given Nos. A-14298-A-14306 and A-7225-A-7253."
16.6.1944
12
German Jews
16.6: "12 Jewish prisoners who arrive in an RSHA transport from Berlin receive Nos. A-14307-A-14318."
28.6.1944
6
German Jews
29.6: "Six Jews, given Nos. A-15223-A-15228, are admitted to the camp after selection from an RSHA transport of 38 Jews from Wien."
30.6.1944
180
Italian Jews
30.6: "Nearly 1,000 Jews arrive in an RSHA transport from the Fossoli di Carpi transit camp. After the selection, 180 men, given Nos. A-15677-A-15856, and 51 women, given Nos. A-8457-A-8507, are admitted to the camp."
4.7.1944
398
French Jews
4.7: "After the selection from the seventy-sixth RSHA transport from France, from the Drancy camp, which arrived with 1,100 men, women and children, 398 men and 223 women, given Nos. A-16537-A-16934 and A-8508-A-8730, are admitted to the camp."
7.7.1944
44
Russian POWs
7.7: "44 Russian POWs who are transferred from the POW camp in Lamsdorf to Auschwitz receive Nos. RKG-11574-RKG-11617."
14.7.1944
10
German Jews
13.7: "After the selection of the 55. East-transport from Berlin, 10 men, given Nos. A-17533-A-17542, and six women, given Nos. A-9787-A-9792, are admitted to the camp."
14.7.1944
2
Italian Jews
14.7: "After the selection frm an RSHA transport from Trieste, two men, given Nos. A-17543-A-17544, and seven women, given Nos. A-9793-A-9799, are admitted to the camp."
19.7.1944
9
Polish Jews
18.7: "Nine men, given A-17547-A-17555, are admitted to the camp. After the selection from an RSHA transport from Sosnowitz of 47 Jews."
22.7.1944
34
Russian POWs
23.7: "34 Russian POWs who were sent from Tschenstochau are given Nos. RKG-11618-RKG-11651."
23.7.1944
85
Polish Jews
23.7: "85 Jews, given Nos. A-17592-A-17676, are admitted to the camp after the selection from an RSHA transport from Ludwigsdorf."
28.7.1944
463
Polish Jews
27.7: "463 male Jews who were selected from an evacuation transport from the labour camp in Pustkow near Debica receive Nos. A-17954-A-18416."
28.7.1944
376
Poles
28.7: "378 male prisoners and 52 female prisoners who were sent from Radom by the Sipo and SD receive Nos. 189762-190139 and 82806-82857."
28.7.1944
21
Russian POWs
28.7: "20 Russian POWs who were sent to the camp from Radom receive Nos. RKG-11652-RKG-11671."
29.7.1944
684
32 French, 182 Germans, 243 Poles, 227 Jews
28.7: "An evacuation transport with male and female prisoners from Majdanek arrives in Auschwitz II. …Of the more than 1,000 evacuees, 681 men (among them 229 male Jews) and 165 female Jews arrive in Auschwitz. The 229 male Jews from Majdanek and a male Jews from the Pustkow labour camp receive Nos. A-18417-A-18646. The following day the female Jews are given Nos. A-13827-A-13982. The remaining 452 prisoners receive Nos. 190188-190639."
29.7.1944
2
Gypsies
28.7: "Two children are born in the Gypsy Family Camp, B-IIe."
30.7.1944
1298
Polish Jews
30.7: "1,298 men, given Nos. A-8647-A-9944, and 409 women, given Nos. A-13983-A-14391, are admitted to the camp after the selection from an RSHA transport of Polish Jews from labour camps in the Radom district."

The numbers Czech gives in this edition are wrong. In a later edition the numbers are A-18647-A-19944.
31.7.1944
2
Hungarian Jews
30.7: "Two Jews sent from Hungary receive Nos. A-19945 and A-19946."
31.7.1944
1198
Polish Jews
31.7: "51 prisoners sent from Radom by the Sipo and SD receive Nos. 190656-190706. ... 1,147 [sic] and 817 women are admitted to the camp after the selection from an RSHA transport of approximately 3,000 Jewish men and women from the forced labour camp for Jews in Pionki in the Radom District. The men receive Nos. B-1-B-1147..."

If we add 51 to 1,147, we get 1,198. 1,147 prisoners received numbers from the newly created B series. Before that the Jews were being given the numbers from A series, so it would seem that 51 prisoners were not Jews. However, there are many instances (including those in this table) of Jews who were given numbers not in A or B series in this particular period.
1.8.1944
1616
Jews
31.7: "1,614 male Jews, given Nos. B-1160-B-2773, and 715 female Jews, given Nos. A-15211-A-15925, are admitted to the camp after the selection from an RSHA transport from Blizyn, an auxiliary camp of Majdanek."
1.8.1944
129
Polish Jews (children)
1.8: "129 Jewish boys from the ghetto in Kaunas who were transferred from Dachau to Auschwitz in an RSHA transport receive Nos. B-2774-B-2902."
1.8.1944
547
"
2.8: "Nos. B-2903-B-3449 are given to 547 Jews selected from an RSHA transport from the forced labour camp for Jews in Kielce."
3.8.1944
6
Italian Jews
3.8: "38 female prisoners and six male prisoners sent from Trieste by the Sipo and SD are given Nos. 82943-82980 and 190708-190713." Although the numbers are not from A series, it cannot be excluded that these prisoners were Jews (cf. September 5 entry, for example).
3.8.1944
10
Misc. Jews
3.8: "After the selection from an RSHA transport from Trieste, which arrives with 49 Jews, 10 men are admitted to the camp and are given Nos. A-19952-A-19961."
4.8.1944
1441
Polish Jews
4.8: "1,443 male Jews who were selected from an RSHA transport from the forced labour camp for Jews in Ostrowiec, in the Radom District, receive Nos. B-3964-B-5406."
4.8.1944
109
Russian POWs
5.8: "109 Russian POWs who are transferred from the POW camp in Lamsdorf receive Nos. RKG-11672-RKG-11780."
7.8.1944
23
Polish Jews
8.8: "The previous day, a transport of the RSHA with 165 men from an auxiliary camp of Gross-Rosen arrived. After the selection 23 Jews are admitted to the camp as prisoners and receive Nos. B-5546-B-5568."
8.8.1944
80
Italian Jews
8.8: "23 female Italian Jews and 80 male Italian Jews who are selected from an RSHA transport probably receive the Nos. 83018-83040 and B-5594-B-5673."
16.8.1944
346
Greek Jews from Rhodes
16.8: "Approximately 2,500 Jews arrive in RSHA transport from the island of Rhodes. 346 men, given Nos. B-7159-B-7504, and 254 women, given Nos. A-24215-A-24468, are admitted to the camp."
2.9.1944
6
Slovak Jews
1.9: "An RSHA transport of Jews arrives from Cadcy in Slowenia. After the selection, six men, given Nos. B-8202-B-8209, and eight women, given Nos. A-24982-A-24989, are admitted to the camp."

Most probably, Slovenia was confused with Slovakia.
3.9.1944
5
Austrian Jews from Vienna
4.9: "From the 43 men delivered from an RSHA transport from Wien, five Jews are admitted to the camp and are given Nos. B-9103-B-9107."
5.9.1944
258
Dutch Jews from Amsterdam
5.9: "1,019 Jews arrive from Westerbork camp in an RSHA transport from Holland. … After the selection, 258 men, given Nos. B-9108-B-9365, and 212 women, given Nos. A-25060-A-25271, are admitted as prisoners to the camp."
5.9.1944
1995
Poles from Warsaw
4.9: "A second transport arrives from the transit camp in Pruszkow…  In it are 1955 men and boys who receive Nos. 193334-195288..."

Possibly, Glaser's typo.
6.9.1944
32
French Jews from Clermont-Ferrand
5.9: "32 French Jews, also some Belgian citizens, who were selected from an RSHA transport from Lyon receive Nos.
195464-195495."
7.9.1944
13
Italian Jews from Trieste
7.9: "Of the 69 Jews who arrive in an RSHA transport from Trieste, 13 are admitted to the camp as prisoners and are given Nos. B-9739-B-9751."
8.9.1944
17
German Jews from Berlin
7.9: "15 male Jews, given Nos. B-9752-B-9766, and 15 female Jews, given Nos. A-25341-A-25355, were selected from the fifty-seventh RSHA East-transport from Berlin."
13.9.1944
932
Poles from Warsaw
13.9: "The third transport arrives with civilians from the Pruszkow transit camp … 929 men and boys, given Nos. 195496-196424, and approximately 900 women and girls arrive with the transports."
19.9.1944
3022
"
17.9: "The fourth transport of civilians arrested since the outbreak of the Warsaw uprising arrives from the Pruszkow transit camp. In this transport there are 3,021 men and boys, who receive Nos. 196448-199468. They are put in Quarantine Camp
B-IIa."
20.9.1944
31
Slovak Jews
20.9: "From the 177 Jews who arrive in an RSHA transport from Slovakia, 31 men are admitted to the camp and given Nos. B-10423-B-10453."
20.9.1944
8
Hungarian Jews from Budapest
20.9: "From the 60 Jews who arrive in an RSHA transport from Budapest, eight men are admitted to the camp and are given Nos. 199522-199529."

4 comments:

Philip Mathews said...

Sergey,

Doesn't the Kosice list contain a 7/20 transport from Rákoscsaba of 1230 Jews?

Sergey Romanov said...

Philip, can you explain further?

Philip Mathews said...

Sergey,

You indicated there were 136 transports,according to the Kosice list, beginning on May 19th and ending on July 9th. The list I have (copied from H-Net) indicates a July 20th transport. Is that in error?

Senor Paolo said...

I read that over 76,000 more Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz during the Arrow Cross era (Oct 1944).

The Arrow Cross rule was short-lived and brutal. In fewer than three months, death squads killed as many as 38,000 Hungarians, 25,000 of them Jews[citation needed]. Arrow Cross officers helped Adolf Eichmann re-activate the deportation proceedings from which the Jews of Budapest had thus far been spared, sending some 80,000 Jews out of the city on slave labor details and many more straight to death camps. Many Jewish males of conscription age were already serving as slave labor for the Hungarian Army's Forced Labor Battalions where most of them died, including many who were outrightly murdered after the fighting had finished when they were returning home. Quickly-formed battalions raided the Yellow Star Houses and combed the streets, hunting down Jews claimed to be partisans and saboteurs since Jews attacked Arrow Cross squads at least 6-8 times using gunfire.[8] These approx. 200 Jews were taken to the bridges crossing the Danube. There the Jews were shot, and their bodies borne away by the waters of the river because many were attached to weights while they were handcuffed to each other in pairs.[9]

source: Arrow Cross, wikipedia