Wednesday, June 16, 2010

«Evidence for the Presence of "Gassed" Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories» (3, 2)

Comments on the article

Evidence for the Presence of "Gassed" Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories, Part 1

By a "Revisionist" who calls himself Thomas Kues (hereinafter "TK")

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 (1)

Part 3 (2)


3.3. The Witnesses

3.3.1. Herman Kruk

Herman Kruk was born in the Polish town of Plock in 1897. In 1920 he joined the Jewish Labor Bund. Following the German attack on Warsaw in 1939 he fled to Vilna, where he remained in 1941 when the Germans overtook Lithuania. In the Vilna Ghetto, Kruk became the head librarian and a prominent member of the ghetto community. From 1941 to 1944, he kept a voluminous diary which he regarded as a chronicle of the destruction of the Vilna Jews. In September 1943, Kruk was transferred from Vilna to the labor camp Lagedi in Estonia, where he was reportedly shot on 18 September 1944. His diary was preserved by a friend who after the war found his way to Israel. In 1961 the diary was published in the original Yiddish by the Jewish organization YIVO under the title Hurbn Vilne (The Destruction of Vilna, other editions of the same book go under the title Togbuch fun Vilner Geto, Diary from the Vilna Ghetto). The diary finally appeared in English translation in 2002. It contains numerous entries which are of utmost interest, as they blatantly contradict the orthodox historiography on the “extermination camps” and offer strong support to the revisionist hypothesis.

Or so TK would like to believe. What about the parts of Kruk’s diary chronicling the destruction of the Vilna Jews, by the way? Are they also in line with "Revisionist" theories, not about the "transit camps" but about the Nazi genocide of the Jews in general? Or are they not and therefore conveniently swept aside as TK picks what he considers to be cherries?

In Kruk’s diary entry from 30 January 1942 we read:

“A train with Jews passed by here today. The Jews said that they are being taken to work from Sosnowiec and the surrounding area. The train left in the direction of the Eastern Front.”[109]

Sosnowiec is a city in Upper Silesia, not far from Katowice, which is in turn located not far from Oświęcim, that is, Auschwitz. According to orthodox historiography, the very first transport of Jews sent to Auschwitz to be gassed reportedly originated from Upper Silesia. The Holocaust historians are not unanimous when it comes to the date of this transport. Danuta Czech in her Kalendarium states that the convoy arrived from the Upper Silesian town of Beuthen on 15 February.[110] The sources she gives are not contemporary documents but statements from the SS men Rudolf Höss and Pery Broad that not in any way support the alleged date or origin of the transport.[111] Jean-Claude Pressac on the other hand dates the beginning of large-scale gassings at Auschwitz (in Krematorium I) to January 1942[112], as does Ber Mark, who identifies the first alleged victims as coming from an unspecified location in Upper Silesia.[113] Given the date and reported origin of the transport witnessed by Kruk it nevertheless seems plausible that we are here dealing with an observation of the first Polish Jews sent to be “gassed” at Auschwitz. Holocaust historiography knows of no transports from Sosnowiec to Auschwitz (or any other “extermination camp”) taking place earlier than May 1942,[114] but we should recall here that when it comes to many if not most deportations of Jews from Poland, contemporary documents are lacking and dates and numbers often derive from testimonies.

Replace "plausible" with "possible", and you have a fairly consistent argument. Of course it also possible, and even more plausible, that Pressac was wrong about the start date of extermination transports to Auschwitz-Birkenau and there were no such transports before February 1942 or later in the year, or that none of the early extermination transports to AB came from Sosnowiec (as Holocaust historiography knows of no transports from Sosnowiec to Auschwitz or another extermination camp taking place earlier than May 1942), or that some of those early transports came from Sosnowiec but there were also transports of able-bodied Jews from this town to the Eastern Front at about the same time (we know from Gerlach, see my comment to TK's section 2.2.1, that there were such transports of Jewish forced laborers from Poland to Belorussia, of which Gerlach managed to trace three). There is more than one place called Sosnowiec in Poland, by the way. How did TK establish that Kruk’s interlocutors were referring to the Sosnowiec near Katowice?

In a brief chronicle of the Kovno Ghetto written as a diary entry on 16 February 1942 and detailing events transpired in that ghetto from late June 1941 to February 1942, Kruk writes:

“The only disturbing thing was that masses of Jews were driven into Kovno from the Czech area, from Łódź, Upper Silesia, Belgium, and Germany. The Slobodka [Vilijampole] Judenrat [in Kovno] calculated that they would settle those Jews in the ghetto, but it turned out that the Jews were brought to Kovno for destruction.”[115]

Only two transports from the west to Kovno (Kaunas) are known by mainstream historiography for the period in question: one carrying an unknown number of German Jews from Berlin on 17 November 1941, and one with 995 Jews from Vienna departing on 23 November 1941. The mention of Jews from Łódź and Upper Silesia are of particular interest. As already mentioned, the first Jews sent to be “gassed” at Auschwitz are reported to have been Jews from Upper Silesia, and as seen above, Kruk on 30 January 1942 witnessed a convoy of Jews from that part of Poland passing through Vilna on their way to the eastern front.

Not necessarily from that part of Poland, as we have seen.

From January 1941 onward, Jews from Łódź are alleged to have been gassed at the Chełmno camp.

I guess that's supposed to be January 1942. Two hypotheses are compatible with the evidence assessed by historians, and therefore worth considering:

a) There were unrecorded transports from Łódź that were sent to Kovno in Lithuania instead of Chelmno extermination camp;

b) There were no such transports and the information that Kruk had about the Kovno ghetto (which was probably not first-hand information, as he was in Vilna and not in Kovno) was mistaken.

Considering what we know about transports from Łódź in 1942, I consider b) the likelier hypothesis. The following information is contained in an excerpt from the judgment issued by the Landgericht Bonn on 30 March 1963 at the trial against Heinrich B. et al, quoted in: Adalbert Rückerl, NS Vernichtungslager im Spiegel deutscher Strafprozesse, pages 288 ff., my translation and emphases:

About the number of Jewish persons brought to Chelmno from 5 December 1941 to mid-January 1942 from the closer surroundings, including Kolo, Bugaj and Dabie, there are no written documents, and neither are there data from witnesses or defendants that seem reliable.

On the other hand the population statistics of the Lodz Ghetto provide information about the scope of the transports to Chelmno that were carried out in the time from 16 January to 15 May 1942. They contain the following figures:

January 10,003

February 7,025

March 24,695

April 2,353

May 10,914 [86]

Regarding the month May these data are corroborated by a listing from the German Reichsbahn dated 19 May 1942, which records a total number of 10,993 Jews taken away.[87]

Thus for the mentioned period there results a total number of 54,990 Jews, which coincides with the number stated by the Lodz State Police office in a report dated 9 June 1942, around 55,000. In this report the following is stated:

In the course of forming the Gau ghetto it was first necessary to make room for the Jews to be moved in there. For this purpose a larger number of Jews not able to work were evacuated from the ghetto and handed over to the special detachment. From the Polish Jews a total of 44,152 were moved out since 16 January 1942. From the 19,848 Jews that had been taken to the local ghetto from the Old Reich, the Ostmark and the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia in October 1941, 10,993 were evacuated, so that now room has been made for ca. 55,000 Jews in the ghetto.

To this number there must be added about 5,000 Gypsies, who according to the credible statements of witnesses G. (who at the time worked in the Lodz Ghettos administration as representative of the Jews Eldest) and Fuchs (at that time chief inspector at the State Police office Lodz) were evacuated from the Lodz ghetto and killed in Chelmno.

The transports from the rural districts, which were carried out in the time from May to August and according to the credible statements of witness H. (at the time captain of the Uniformed Police stationed in Leslau) and witness Z. (at the time domiciled in Poddembice) also included the cities Leslau with about 4,000 and Poddembice with about 3,000 Jews, are mentioned in two reports from the Lodz State Police office. In the already mentioned report of 9 June 1942 the following is mentioned right after the part just quoted:

Hereafter the cleaning-up of the rural districts was undertaken. First about 9,000 Jews were evacuated from the Lentschütz district. Only 1,000 remained in Ozorkow, who were urgently required there for carrying out Wehrmacht tasks. The Lentschütz district is thus to be considered basically free of Jews. In the further course of the cleaning-up of the rural districts the Litzmannstadt district was now tackled. In this district there were Jews left only in Löwenstadt and Strickau. For reasons of convenience all Jews from Strickau were first resettled to Löwenstadt. From the Jews that now were in the Löwenstadt Ghetto, about 6,000, around 3,000 were evacuated as not able to work, while the remainder, which consists of skilled workers, was taken to the local ghetto and already put to work. As preliminary conclusion of the cleaning-up of the rural districts the city Pabianice was cleaned of Jews. Here around 3,200 Jews were evacuated, the rest of 4,000 Jews was taken to the local ghetto.

In a further report from this office dated 3 October 1942 the following is stated:

After the rural districts became free of Jews through evacuation in the month August

This report thereafter provides information about the further evacuations from the Lodz Ghetto in September 1942, as it states the following:

there was another evacuation of about 15,700 Jews sick and unable to work from the Litzmannstadt Ghetto.

With the evacuation of 15,700 Jews in September 1942 the total number of Jews transported from the Lodz Ghetto increases to around 70,000. This number, established on hand of the above-mentioned documents, coincides with the population loss that the ghetto suffered in the mentioned period without the normal deaths, according to the statements of witnesses G. and Fuchs.

It can be safely assumed that the about 55,000 Jews not able to work who were "evacuated from the ghetto and handed over to the special detachment" (i.e. Sonderkommando Lange, see the HC blogs Gauleiter Arthur Greiser and Documents about the murderous purpose of SK Lange), according to the Lodz State Police office report of 9 June 1942 quoted in the judgment, did not make it any further than the mass graves or cremation pyres of Chelmno extermination camp. The same goes for the about 9,000 Jews "evacuated from the Lentschütz district", for the 3,000 Jews "evacuated as not able to work" from the Löwenstadt Ghetto and for the 3,200 Jews "evacuated" from the city Pabianice, mentioned in the same report, as well as the 15,700 Jews "sick and unable to work" who were "evacuated" from the Litzmannstadt(=Lodz) Ghetto in September 1942, according to the Lodz State Police office’s report of 3 October 1942. Where the deportees' destination was another than the extermination camp, that destination was expressly stated in both reports. Thus all Jews from Strickau were first "resettled to Löwenstadt" (emphasis mine) before half of the 6,000 Jews now in that place were "evacuated as not able to work" whereas the other half were "taken to the local ghetto" (my emphasis; the "local ghetto" was obviously the Litzmannstadt/Lodz Ghetto) and "already put to work there". The 4,000 Jews left in Pabianice, after 3,200 had been "evacuated", were also "taken to the local ghetto" (my emphasis). It is furthermore notable that the Jews "evacuated" without a destination being specified were on three of the aforementioned occasions expressly referred to as being "not able to work" or "sick and unable to work". Where, other than Chelmno extermination camp, could Jews unable to work, who were "handed over to the special detachment" or "evacuated" without a specified destination, possibly have been sent to?

From the above it follows that if Jews had been sent to Kovno from the Lodz ghetto or the surrounding areas during the period covered by the Lodz State Police (Gestapo) reports mentioned in the above-quoted excerpt, this would have been expressly mentioned in the reports. In the absence of express mention, and considering that the reports seem to be fairly complete (as concerns the Lodz Ghetto they coincide with that ghetto’s population loss from January to September 1942), it seems extremely unlikely that there were any transports in this period other than those from the mentioned districts to the Lodz Ghetto and from the Lodz Ghetto or from towns and cities in those districts to Chelmno extermination camp.

Kruk’s mention of Belgian Jews is difficult to explain, since the first deportations from that country reportedly took place in August 1942. Some 8,000 Belgian Jews were expelled to France, but deportations from there did not start until March 1942 (cf. Sections 2.3.2. and 2.3.3.). Kulischer on the other hand states that “some Jews, mainly of Polish origin, were transferred from Antwerp to Lodz for work in textile factories” during the winter of 1941-42.[116] Provided that this information is correct, then some of these Jews may hypothetically have reached Kovno via Chełmno.

This information is far likelier to be incorrect, as there are no records of deportations from Belgium or France to Lodz or to the Kovno Ghetto. According to the German Federal Archives’ online chronologies of deportations from the German Reich, from Belgium, from France and from the Netherlands, the only transports to either place were the following (GR = German Reich, B = Belgium, F= France, N = Netherlands):


Deportation on_ Deportation from_ Number of deportees_ Arrival date_ Destination
17 November 1941_Berlin(GR)_1006_21 November 1941_Kovno
20 November 1941_Munich(GR)_999_24/25 November 1941_Kovno
22 November 1941_Frankfurt a. M.(GR)_988/992_25 November 1941_Kovno
23 November 1941_Vienna(GR)_998_26 November 1941_Kovno
25 November 1941_Breslau(GR)_1005_28 November 1941_Kovno
15 Mai 1944_Drancy(F)_878_18 Mai 1944?_Kovno


Deportation on_ Deportation from_ Number of deportees_ Arrival date_ Destination
15 October 1941_Vienna(GR)_1005/999_16 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
16 October 1941_Prague(GR)_1000_17 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
16 October 1941_Luxembourg-Trier(GR)_512/560_18 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
18. October 1941_Berlin(GR)_1013_19 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
19 October 1941_Vienna(GR)_1001/1003_20 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
20 October 1941_Frankfurt a. M. (GR)_1113/1180_21 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
21 October 1941_Prague(GR)_1000_22 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
22 October 1941_Cologne(GR)_1018_23 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
23 October 1941_Vienna(GR)_991/1000_24 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
24 October 1941_Berlin(GR)_987/1146_25 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
25 October 1941_Hamburg(GR)_1034_26 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
26 October 1941_Prague(GR)_1000_27 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
27 October 1941_Düsseldorf(GR)_1011/983_28 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
28 October 1941_Vienna(GR)_998/999_29 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
27/29 October 1941_Berlin(GR)_1009/908_30 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
30 October 1941_Cologne(GR)_973/1011_31 October 1941_Litzmannstadt
31 October 1941_Prague(GR)_1000_01 November 1941_Litzmannstadt
01 November 1941_Berlin(GR)_1033/1079_02 November 1941_Litzmannstadt
02 November 1941_Vienna(GR)_998_03 November 1941_Litzmannstadt
03 November 1941_Prague(GR)_998_04 November 1941_Litzmannstadt

Perhaps more likely Kruk’s unnamed informant(s) was in error here. Another spurious piece of second-hand information (considering the date) was noted down by Kruk on 12 March 1942: the Judenälteste of the Kovno Ghetto had sent him “a yellow patch from a Western European Jew” together with a letter claiming that it derived from one of “a large group of Jews from Belgium and Holland” which had recently been brought to Kovno to be shot, but of which “many managed to hide.”[117]

Looks like TK had a flicker of common sense here.

On 12 March 1942, Kruk penned the following entry in his diary:
“A rumor has suddenly spread through the ghetto that 2,000 German Jews were brought to Subocz Street [in Vilna].”[118]

Two days later, on 14 March 1942, he returned to this subject:

“We have already noted that 2,000 German Jews are in the Municipal Houses on Subocz. Now I know that the group of Jews is from Austria, most from Vienna. So far, we have not been able to make contact with them.”[119]

Mainstream historians know of no such transport of Austrian Jews to Vilna. These deportees may have been sent there directly from Vienna, but it is also possible that they reached Vilna via the Łódź ghetto. From 16 October 1941 to 4 November of the same year, a total of 5,002 Jews were deported from Ostmark (Austria) to the Łódź Ghetto. According to a Gestapo report dating from 9 June 1942, 10,993 of the 19,848 Jews deported to Łódź from Altreich, Ostmark and the Protectorate had been evacuated (i.e. sent east via Chełmno) up until that date.[120]

So TK knows the Gestapo report dated 9 June 1942 that is quoted in the above except from the Bonn court’s judment. Then he also knows what this report says about those 10,993 Jews "evacuated" from the Łódź (emphases are mine):

In the course of forming the Gau ghetto it was first necessary to make room for the Jews to be moved in there. For this purpose a larger number of Jews not able to work were evacuated from the ghetto and handed over to the special detachment. From the Polish Jews a total of 44,152 were moved out since 16 January 1942. From the 19,848 Jews that had been taken to the local ghetto from the Old Reich, the Ostmark and the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia in October 1941, 10,993 were evacuated, so that now room has been made for ca. 55,000 Jews in the ghetto.

The 10,993 "evacuated" Jews, from among the 19,848 that had been taken to the Lodz Ghetto from the Old Reich, the Ostmark and the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia in October 1941, were included in the number of Jews not able to work who had been "evacuated from the ghetto and handed over to the special detachment". If they had been moved via Chelmno to Vilna, their destination would have been stated in the report, as has been shown above. But no, they were "handed over to the special detachment", and we know from rather explicit documentation (mentioned in the blogs HC blogs Gauleiter Arthur Greiser and Documents about the murderous purpose of SK Lange) what the nature and task of this special detachment was. The Jews from Austria mentioned by Kruk, if indeed they were Jews from Austria (which is unlikely in the absence of corroborating records) obviously didn’t come from the Łódź Ghetto. TK will have to make up another scenario.

When dealing with the possibility of transports to the east via the “pure extermination camp” of Chełmno, Kruk’s diary entry from 4 July 1942 under the heading “A Message from Łódź” is of utmost interest:

“Just received a message from Łódź. For us, Łódź is one of those cities from which you can obtain almost no information. Of course, the rumors from there are crazy and wild, and according to them, it is already certain that there are no Jews in Łódź.

Now I learn from two young people who were taken out of the Łódź Ghetto in March that Łódź has a ghetto. There is no shooting, and mass executions are unknown. The only thing is, people are taken off to work. They figure that about 10,000 Jews have recently been sent out of Łódź. Now the young people know what it is to be sent out to work. They are dragged around from place to place; they don’t know where they are or what they are doing. From time to time, groups are pulled out and disappear, and they assume that they are shot…

Both of the young men escaped from such a group, and after a week of wandering, they were arrested in Vilna [and taken to] Łukiszki [a prison in Vilna] and were released from there only two days ago. Here in the ghetto they were clothed, and soon they will be sent to forest work.”[121]

Orthodox historiography has it that, from January 1942 onward, numerous Jews from the Łódź (Litzmannstadt) Ghetto were sent, not to work, but to be killed in the Chełmno “extermination camp”. According to the “Chronicle of the Łódź Ghetto”, 10,003 Łódź Jews were sent to their deaths in January and 7,025 in February.[122] In contemporary German documents the Jews evacuated from the ghetto are referred to as “resettled” (ausgesiedelt), and the diary entry of Kruk clearly shows that this resettlement was real and not a camouflage for mass killings. This diary entry thus constitutes a strong confirmation of the transit camp hypothesis.

How so, if I may ask? All the escapees from Łódź told Kruk was that there were no shootings/mass executions inside the Lodz Ghetto, that able-bodied young people were "taken off to work", and that they "figured" that about 10,000 Jews had been "recently been sent out of Łódź". About what happened to those 10,000 they actually had no idea; based on their own experience they may have assumed that they had been taken to work and that some of them had been shot. What actually became of those 10,000, and of another 45,000 "sent out of Łódź" between January and May 1942, becomes apparent from the Gestapo report of 9 June 1942: unable to work, they were "handed over to the special detachment". What contemporary documents is TK referring to, by the way? I hope for him that it is not the Gestapo reports of 9 June and 3 October 1942, discussed above. For these reports clearly show that real resettlement differed from ostensible resettlement in that a) the former concerned Jews able to work whereas the latter was the fate of those sick and/or unable to work, and b) in the former the place of destination was stated whereas in the latter it was not.

It is possible that the two Łódź Jews which Kruk received the information from only had knowledge of the number of Jews deported in January, considering the striking match between the figures (“about 10,000” and 10,003).

What that "striking match" actually suggests, as we have seen, is that the 10,000 Jews who had "recently been sent out of Łódź" were among the 55,000 Jews Jews not able to work who were "evacuated from the ghetto and handed over to the special detachment", according to the Gestapo report of 9 June 1942.

The fact that the two young men had wandered for only a week from their work place to reach Vilna indicates that at least part of the Łódź Jews were sent to Lithuania or possibly to neighboring Belarus.[123]

Yep, that may have been the fate of some able-bodied Jews used as forced laborers in the occupied Soviet territories, such as the few thousand deportees to Bobruisk and Minsk traced by Gerlach (see my comments to TK’s section 2.2.1). But that’s doesn’t get our friend anywhere.

Where Kruk’s writings don’t suit his agenda, TK contests their accuracy:

The notion expressed by Kruk in his entry from 16 February 1942 that Jews from Łódź among other places were brought to Kovno merely to be shot there seems somewhat spurious in light of what the prominent Kovno Jew Avraham Tory entered into in his diary on 14 July 1942. Here we read that “four Jews from Łódź” had been brought to the Kovno Ghetto Hospital for surgery after having “spent a long time in a labor camp”.[124] We will also note here briefly that a number of witnesses report the presence of Polish Jews in the Baltic States. Most of them, unfortunately, do not specify where in Poland these Jews came from or when they had arrived to the occupied eastern territories. Jeanette Wolf, a German Jewess deported to Riga, writes in her memoirs of Polish Jews being interned in the Strasdenhof camp near Riga.[125] The German Jew Josef Katz repeatedly mentions the presence of Polish Jews in the Riga Ghetto and the Kaiserwald Concentration Camp (in the same city), including “Shmuel, a Jew from Łódź”.[126] In one of the undated notations made by Kruk after his deportation to Estonia, and which seems to refer to December 1943, we read that the camp elder in a camp in Narva (possibly the Vaivara subcamp Narva-Ost) was “the Galician Jew Zieler.”[127] Preserved file cards from the Estonian camp Klooga shows that at least 14 of the inmates there were Jews from Warsaw.[128] It is further reported that a smaller group of Polish Jews worked with cremating the bodies of executed political prisoners near the Estonian Tartu camp in November 1943.[129]

As we have seen above, there is no documentary evidence, despite rather complete records, to any deportation from Łódź to the Kovno Ghetto having taken place. Of course this does not rule out the possibility that smaller groups of forced laborers were brought from Łódź or other parts of the occupied Polish territories to Kovno, like the Jewish forced laborers from Poland brought to Belorussia that Gerlach managed to trace. Neither does it rule out the actually very likely possibility that among the inhabitants of ghettos in the Baltic countries there were refugees from German occupied Poland, who had fled to the Soviet Union from 1939 to 1941. According to German historian Hans-Heinrich Nolte (see my post of Saturday, August 05, 2006 9:56:00 PM after the blog One might think that …) there were 5.1 million Jews on Soviet territory on 22 June 1941 (3.1 million in 1939, 1.8 million in the annexed western territories, 200,000 who fled across the Bug from German-occupied Poland). Thereof 2.7 million fell under German rule. Of these 100,000 survived, 20,000 as partisans and maybe 80,000 in concentration camps in Germany, and 2.6 million were murdered.

As to foreign Jews deported to Kovno, the only recorded transports are the above-mentioned five transports from the German Reich and one transport from France. The transports from the German Reich brought a total of 4,990 to 4994 Jews from Germany and Austria to Kovno. A search for Todesort (= place of death) Kowno (German spelling of Kovno) in the names register of the German Federal Archives online presentation of their Gedenkbuch Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933 – 1945 (Memorial Book – Victms of the Jews’ Persecution under the National Socialist Rule of Violence in Germany 1933 – 1945) contains the names, birth dates and places of residence, as well as the places from which they were deported, of 3,714 Jews known to have perished in the Kovno Ghetto. By collecting random samples from this list I found that deaths were usually found to have occurred on 25 or 29 November 1941, in either case shortly after the respective deportee’s arrival at Kovno. What happened on these days at Kovno is described as follows in the chapter about Germany by Ino Arndt and Heinz Boberach included in Wolfgang Benz et al, Dimensionen des Völkermords, Munich 1996, pages 23 to 65, here pages 46/47, my translation:

At least 18 transports from the area of the Old Reich were earmarked for Riga since mid-November 1941; the first four (from Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main and Breslau) were however directed to Kovno (Kaunas). There the people on these transports, almost 3,490 Jews, and those of a transport with 1,000 Jews from Vienna, were shot at Fort IX immediately after their arrival by members of Einsatzgruppe A on 25 and 29 November 1941. No survivors are known.

These executions are mentioned in the Jäger Report on page 5, where for 25 November 1941 Jäger mentioned (English translation) under the date 25.11.1941 a total of 2,934 Jews shot (1,159 men, 1,600 women, 175 children), specifying that these were "evacuees from Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt am Main". Under the date 29.11.1941 2,000 "evacuees from Vienna and Breslau" are listed as having been shot (693 men, 1,155 women, 152 children).

The fate of the deportees from France is less well known. Juliane Wetzel, in the chapter about France and Belgium of Benz et al’s Dimensionen des Völkermords (pages 105 to 131, here page 126) only writes the following about this transport:

The next train (Nr. 73 of 15 May 1944) brought 878 men to Kovno (Lithuania) or to Reval in Estonia, according to eyewitness accounts.

It is possible that some of the French Jews taken to Kovno were among the 2,500 Kovno Jews eventually taken to concentration camps or the 500 surviving in forests and bunker, which according to the USHMM page about Kovno were the only survivors from a city that had had a Jewish population of 35,000-40,000 before the war.

So we can see that, while Kruk was wrong about Łódź being one of the places of origin of Jews deported to the Kovno Ghetto, he was at least correct about their ultimate fate, and as concerns the Jews from Germany and Austria also about the reason why they had been brought there.

Kruk’s entry from 16 April 1943 is of extreme interest:

“I learn that for the past two weeks, two trains have been halted in Vilna, each with 25 cars of objects, apparently from the Dutch Jews. [...]. Today a rumor is circulating that there are about 19,000 Dutch Jews in Vievis.”[130]

Vievis (Polish spelling Jewie) is a small town located between Kovno and Vilna with
direct access to the railroad running between those two cities (cf. Ill. 1). In a Lithuanian doctoral dissertation which is partially available in English translation online, historian Neringa Latvyte-Gustaitiene gives a description of the camps located in Vievis that is based almost exclusively on post-war testimonies:

“As early as 1942, there were two labour camps at Vievis, one for Soviet prisoners of war and the other for Jews. Both were supervised by a German military unit, under the command of an officer named Deling.223 The majority of the Jews were mostly engaged in building the highway. [...]. In May 1942, there were 700 Jews in the camp. The flow of people was intense: large groups were often removed to be murdered, and others arrived to replace them. Prisoners from the Vilnius and Kaunas ghettos worked there. [...]. The regime at the Vievis work camp was very severe. Leaving the camp was strictly forbidden. The campsite was fenced off with barbed wire and guarded by armed personnel. The working day started at 5:30; the roll-call was at 6:00 a.m. The food was bad. [...]. In mid-1943 the Vievis labour camp came under the supervision of the Vilnius City Commissar, who was noted for his cruelty. [...]. The inmates continued to build the highway. Nutrition did not improve, ‘Quite often you could see Jews returning from work, holding one another so as not to fall.’ The living quarters were unhealthy and even a threat to life. People slept on four-story berths made of boards joined together. They put some straw on the boards, if they could get any. Selections at the camp continued, and groups of Jews were brought to replace others. Those who were ill were most often transferred to the Vilnius or Kaunas ghettos. From these ghettos, the camp received some aid - clothing, boots and other things. Although the internal regime had not changed substantially, confrontations between the Jews and the camp guard became more frequent. [...]. In September, a big group of Jews arrived at the Vievis camp. Selections of those fit to work began immediately. Dzena selected able-bodied Jews, and those who had gold, to remain in the camp. The greater majority, including the elderly people and children, were transported to Paneriai [i.e. the alleged mass shooting site Ponary]. [...]. A 45 kilometre narrow-gauge railway line from Vievis to Paneriai had been built, which transported Jews to the site of their death. [...]. The Vievis labour camp was liquidated in December 1943. All its workers were murdered in Paneriai.”[131]

What seems certain of the above information is that there existed a Jewish camp in Vievis from early 1942 to December 1943. That ill inmates from the Vievis camp were brought to the Vilna or Kovno ghettos – a detail which does not square well with the assertion that Jews from the same camp were shot in large numbers at Ponary – is confirmed by the Kovno Ghetto diary of Avraham Tory. In his entry from 2 July 1943 Tory writes:

“Yellin, the representative of Vievis camp, arrived here today. He comes to the Ghetto [in Kovno] once every two or three weeks to collect wooden shoes, underwear, and other supplies from our welfare department. The conditions in the Vievis labor camp are harsher than in the Ghetto. The housing conditions there endanger the health and lives of the inmates, the regime is strict, and the labor is back-breaking. The Vievis labor camp is under the supervision of the city governor of Vilna, who is a very cruel man. About four weeks ago, the camp workers feared that all the inmates would be exterminated after two Jewish youths had refused to obey the orders of the camp guards. Once in a while, patients from Vievis camp are admitted to out Ghetto hospital. The camp inmates also come here quite often to ask for help over some problem or other. We, for our part, extend them whatever assistance we can.”[132]

Some interesting information about the Vievis camp, unfortunately interrupted by TK’s nonsensical claim that the treatment of ill inmates from the Vievis camp in the Vilna or Kovno ghettos "does not square well with the assertion that Jews from the same camp were shot in large numbers at Ponary". Actually there’s no contradiction between shooting arrivals deemed unable to work on the one hand and trying to preserve the lives of able-bodied workers on the other. A similar policy is described in the notes made by Auschwitz camp commandant Rudolf Höss following his pre-trial interrogations in Poland ( Die "Endlösung der Judenfrage" im KL Auschwitz), from which I quote after Constantine FitzGibbon’s translation in Commandant of Auschwitz, pages 192/193:

Because of the increasing insistence of the Reichsführer SS on the employment of prisoners in the armaments industry, Obergruppenführer Pohl found himself compelled to resort to Jews who had become unfit for work. The order was given that if the latter could be made fit and employable within six weeks, they were to be given special care and feeding. Up to then all Jews who had become incapable of working were gassed with the next transports, or killed by injection if they happened to be lying ill in the sick block.


In a collection of “Holocaust survivor” testimonies from 2007 we read
the following account concerning “Marie”, a Jewess from the Vilna Ghetto:

“When they saw that the last days of the [Vilna] ghetto were approaching [the ghetto was liquidated on 23 September 1943] Adam [Marie’s brother] succeeded to be transferred to the camp Zezmarai, working for the German engineering organization TODT. He was working there as a camp physician, while Marie remained in the [Vilna] ghetto. Just before the great action her brother arrived with friendly members of the TODT organization and saved her. She was right now in camp Vievis. After about a month, she was transferred to Milejgany and from there to the Zezmarai camp.”[133]

This account suggests that Vievis functioned not only as a labor camp but also as a transit camp from where Jewish prisoners were relayed to other camps.

Illustration 1. A map of the Vilna-Kovno area in 1941 with Vievis underlined by the author. Trains coming from the south arrived at the Landwarówo (Lentvaris) junction, where they either continued to the east and Vilna/Wilno/Vilnius, or to the northwest and Kovno (Kaunas). (Source: Section of Internationale Weltkarte 1:1 000 000 Sonderausgabe IV.1941 Ber. V.41 N-35 Wilna).

The notion that someone would have simply made up such a curious claim as that 19,000 Dutch had arrived in a small Lithuanian appears out of the question. For what reason would someone make it up, or, for that matter, how could such a misconception arise?

What makes TK think that anyone had made up this "curious claim" on purpose? That’s not how rumors usually come into being, as far as I know. As to how such misconception could arise, the answer is simple: the way that rumors usually arise. Someone thinks he saw or heard something and tells someone else who then tells someone else, usually adding details of his own, and so on and so forth.

But where then did these Jews come from?

A rumor about a large number of Jews having arrived in Vievis camp doesn’t necessarily mean there were any such Jews in Vievis camp at the time, first of all. If there were any, their number was not necessarily the one circulated through the rumor mill. And they were certainly not from the Netherlands, unless one is to assume that the detailed postwar investigations by the Dutch Red Cross, which allowed for establishing the places of destination and almost all names of the deportees from the Netherlands, had failed to record any major transports to Vievis in Lithuania.

Transport lists shows that between 2 March and 6 April 1943, six transports with altogether 7,699 Dutch Jews left Westerbork for the “extermination camp” of Sobibór.[134] Was the person behind the Vievis rumor perhaps misinformed about the number of Dutch deportees?

If the person or persons behind the Vievis rumor were aware that Jews were being deported from the Netherlands, they are more likely to have been mistaken about the destination of those deportation transports. Regarding transportations to Sobibor from the Netherlands, the following is written in Gerhard Hirschfeld’s article about the Netherlands included in Benz et al’s Dimensionen des Völkermords, pages 137 to 165, here pages 153/154, my translation:

On 5 March 1943 the first transport with 1105 persons from Westerbork arrived at Sobibor after a trip of three days. There was no selection, and the arrivals were with few exceptions murdered on the same day. Until July 1943 there arrived at Sobibór another 18 trains with a total of 33,208 Jews, of which only 19 survived the indescribable reality of this camp. Especially the testimonies of these 19 survivors, 16 women and 3 men, provide information about the fate of the transports to Sobibór. Except for two deportations (10 and 17 March) the trains always left Westerbork on a Tuesday and reached Sobibór the next Friday. The day of arrival was for the overwhelming majority of deportees also the day of their death. Only in regard to 5 transports there is evidence of small selections: the transports of 10 March (60-80 young men and women "able to work"), of 17 March (35 men), of 6 May (46-58 young men and women), of 11 May (80 men) and of 1 June 1943 (81 young men), all 19 survivors having been among the Jews selected for forced labor. On hand of the eyewitness testimonies it was also possible to establish the fate of other persons known by name who died at Sobibór. It must thus be assumed that also from the other transports a number of men and women were selected for forced labor either in the extermination camp itself or in other camps in the Lublin area.
The numerically strongest among the 19 transports, which left Westerbork on 8 June, carried 3,017 persons, almost exclusively children and their mothers. The deportees on this so-called children’s transport were mostly relatives of Jewish workers, who as "armament Jews" had been provisionally exempted from Deportation. Just like their families the workers had been interned in the "Jew transit camp" of the Vught concentration camp complex, in order to use them there or in one of the external detachments for war production. To the horror of those affected the camp commandant on 5 June ordered the deportation of all children until age sixteen. They were to be first taken by their mothers to Westerbork and from there accompanied to a "special camp for children". The "special camp for children" was Sobibór, and with few exceptions the deportees were gassed immediately after their arrival.


This may be, but it is also possible that Vievis at this time held Dutch Jews deported to the East not only via Sobibór but also via Auschwitz. Between 17 July 1942 and 25 February 1943 a total of 42,533 Dutch Jews were sent to Auschwitz; 30,413 were “gassed upon arrival”, i.e. transited elsewhere.[135] If part of these were sent to Vievis, it is possible that there indeed were 19,000 Dutch Jews present in this town on 16 April 1943.

Before TK can indulge in "if" conjectures he should produce some evidence that any Jews were "transited elsewhere" from either Sobibór or Auschwitz. So far he has a reference in a diary to a rumor that contradicts copious documentary and eyewitness evidence painstakingly researched by the Dutch Red Cross in establishing the fate of the deportees from the Netherlands, which according to Hirschfeld (as above 161) are almost all known by name. As concerns arrivals at Auschwitz, it is also known from sources like Danuta Czech’s Calendar on what dates transports from the Netherlands arrived and how many persons from each transport were selected and taken into the camp as inmates. On the other hand, all we have so far for deportations to another destination is this one rumor.

Later on the same day that he reported on the rumor of Dutch Jews in Vievis (16 April 1943) Kruk wrote under the heading “Once more about the Dutch Jews”:

“Just now I succeeded in getting a Jewish sign from a Dutch Jew and a copy of the order of the Reichskommissar for the Occupied Netherlands about Jewish property (attached).”[136]

The editor of the diary informs us that “The order is missing.” This entry shows us that Kruk had good reason to believe the Vievis rumor, since he himself had in his possession items belonging to one or more Dutch Jews transported to the East. With “Jewish sign” is undoubtedly meant the yellow cloth Star of David forcibly worn by the Western Jews. In the Netherlands these emblems bore the inscription Jood (Dutch for Jew).

A Dutch Star of David that somehow made its way to the Vilnius ghetto was "good reason" to believe a rumor about 19,000 Durch Jews in Vievis? If so, Kruk must have been as desperate to believe in the presence of Dutch Jews as TK, albeit for other reasons.

On 19 April 1943 Kruk wrote:

“Europe will be purged of Jews. The Jews of Warsaw are being taken to be killed in Malkinia, near Lwów or near Zamość. The Jews from Western Europe are being taken east, their wandering go on.”[137]

In his previous entries Kruk repeatedly recounts claims that the Warsaw Jews were killed near the Polish town of Malkinia. On 5 September 1942 Kruk wrote that “The Jews are taken toward Malkinia, and there, there… they are poisoned with gas”.[138] On 30 September 1942 he noted that the mass killings “are supposed to have taken place somewhere near Malkinia. People are forced to leave their clothes in the trains. From there, they are driven to underground trenches, and they don’t come back. How it is done is still a secret.”[139] By 27 October the rumors had become more specific: “The Jews from there [Warsaw] were taken, as has been mentioned, to Bełz (near Lwów) and to a forest around Malkinia. There the Jews are put into special underground entrances, poisoned, and burned.”[140] On 30 October Kruk again wrote of the rumors, this time giving a source, issue no. 6 of the Polish underground newspaper Niepodległość. Kruk summarizes: “Some were taken on trains to Treblinka near Malkinia, many were conveyed as far as Bełz (in the Lwów district), where they were poisoned en masse with gas or killed with electrical current in the former soap factory there.”[141] By 6 May 1943, finally, the rumors had grown wild indeed:

“Treblinka. This is the name of that place near Malkinia where Jews from Warsaw, Białystok, and Grodno are killed. Here, as I said, the trains come and everyone has to undress to go into the woods, where there is supposedly a disinfection facility. Anyone who realizes what is going on, and doesn’t want to undress, is handed over to a group of Jewish police, who throw the resisters into a fire; then you have to undress and be driven in, no matter where. […] The victims are driven into the disinfection facility. From the inside, the air is sucked out by a machine until the people die. The bodies then burst from the pressure of the air and are automatically thrown into a so-called crematorium, which burns the bodies to coal. The narrators [unnamed] say that ashes are scattered on the fields of the whole area. Clearly, the ashes from the burned people.”[142]

There may have been some wild details in the rumors regarding Treblinka and Belzec that made it to Kruk, but these rumors were not nearly as wild as the one about Dutch Jews in Vievis, because several other details are confirmed by evidence. Malkinia, which Kruk had some problems locating, was a stopover for trains bound from Warsaw to Treblinka extermination camp and is expressly mentioned as such in Ganzenmüller’s letter to Wolff of 28 July 1942, the official English translation of which renders the respective passage as follows (emphasis mine):

Since 22 July one train per day with 5 000 Jews goes from Warsaw via Malkinia to Treblinka, as well as two trains per week with 5 000 Jews each, from Przemysl to Belzek.

(Via Malkinia to Treblinka, TK. Not via Treblinka to another destination.)

Bialystok and Grodno in the Bialystok District of the Generalgouvernement were places from which Jews were taken to Treblinka, see Yitzhak Arad’s list of deportation transports. Bialystok, as this screenshot of a Google Earth map shows, lies northeast of Treblinka, far closer than Treblinka to the border of Belarus. If Grodno in the former Bialystok District is identical with the present Hrodna in Belarus, it lay even further to the east of Treblinka. So much for the "Revisionist" nonsense about Treblinka being a transit camp en route from Poland to the occupied Soviet territories.

Bełżec, which Kruk referred to as "Bełz", was on the border between the Lublin and Lwów Districts of the Generalgouvernement and not far from Lwów/Lemberg, as this map of the contemporary Galicia District (taken from Thomas Sandkühler’s book Endlösung in Galizien) shows:

Bełżec was northwest of Lwów/Lemberg, and a large number of that city’s Jewish inhabitants ended their lives at Belzec, as did Jewish inhabitants of cities and towns much further to the east/southeast of Belzec and much closer to the occupied Soviet territories, such as Tarnopol and Zloczow (see the blog Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (5,2)). So much for the "Revisionist" nonsense about Bełżec being a transit camp en route from Poland to the occupied Soviet territories.

It is of interest to note that, while Kruk readily reported rumors spread by Polish underground publications that the Jews from Warsaw, Białystok and Grodno were killed en masse at Treblinka and Bełżec (which is here confused with another place, the town of Bełz) – the latter camp being located not far from Lwów and Zamość – he never mentions the alleged mass killing of the Łódź Jews at Chełmno (Sobibór and Auschwitz are also unknown to him). The reason for this is obvious: ever since his encounter with the two young Łódź Jews on 4 July 1942, he understood that the rumors according to which “there are no Jews in Łódź” were “crazy and wild” because he knew from first-hand sources that “mass executions are unknown” and that the tens of thousands of Jews evacuated from the Łódź were merely “taken off to work”. This shows that Kruk, while susceptible to black propaganda about the fate of the Warsaw Jews – something understandable in the light of the fact that most of his relatives lived there – did not lend credence to mere rumor in cases when he had access to reliable first-hand sources contradicting those rumors.

TK’s capacity for wishful thinking doesn’t stand behind that of any other "Revisionist", and it is of interest to note that he quickly dismisses Kruk’s writings as "rumors spread by Polish underground publications" where they incriminate the Nazis but applauds them where they seem to favor "Revisionist" articles of faith. The significance of Kruk’s encounter with the two young Jews from Łódź has been discussed above, together with TK’s somewhat-less-than-honest rendering of the Łódź Gestapo report of 9 June 1942, which shows that the 10,000 Łódź mentioned by these witnesses as having been "recently sent out of Lodz" were most probably the January 1942 batch, 10,003 strong, of the about 55,000 Jews "not able to work" who, according to said report, "were evacuated from the ghetto and handed over to the special detachment". TK’s rendering of Kruk's Łódź passage also leaves much to be desired in that he interprets it as saying that "tens of thousands of Jews evacuated from the Łódź [ghetto]" were merely taken of to work. Actually the passage reads as follows:

Now I learn from two young people who were taken out of the Łódź Ghetto in March that Łódź has a ghetto. There is no shooting, and mass executions are unknown. The only thing is, people are taken off to work. They figure that about 10,000 Jews have recently been sent out of Łódź. Now the young people know what it is to be sent out to work. They are dragged around from place to place; they don’t know where they are or what they are doing. From time to time, groups are pulled out and disappear, and they assume that they are shot…

Not "tens of thousands of Jews" but "about 10,000", and it is not stated that these 10,000 people have been "taken off to work" like the young people later mentioned, just that according to Kruk's interlocutors they have "recently been sent out of Łódź". Of course one can infer that Kruk expected these 10,000 to have also been taken to work, but then TK would at least have made 10,000 into "tens of thousands", besides conveniently omitting what the Łódź Gestapo report of 9 June 1942 says about the fate of those 10,000, who were certainly not taken to work because they were unable to work according to the same report. It’s also not like Kruk’s interlocutors had said nothing about shootings, for while they stated that mass executions were unknown inside the ghetto, they suspected (not unreasonably so) that groups pulled out from the work detachments from time to time were shot.

Kruk’s note from 19 April 1943 that “The Jews from Western Europe are being taken east, their wandering go on” shows that he did not believe said Jews were being gassed en masse in the “extermination camps” in Poland. The reason for this is also simple: why would he believe so when he knew that the Dutch Jews were being taken to the occupied eastern territories?

So rumors plus a Dutch Star of David (or what he thought was a Dutch Star of David) are supposed to have been sufficient for Kruk to "know" that Dutch Jews were being taken to the occupied eastern territories, rather than his having merely considered it possible or hoped that this was so. The leaps that TK takes to jump to conclusions that suit him are truly amazing.

I say "hoped" because I consider the possibility of Kruk having, at least for some time, entertained the hope that not all European Jews were earmarked for extermination. Such wishful thinking would have been in line with the prevailing attitude among the leadership of the Vilnius Ghetto at the time, as described in the related ARC page:

During the selections of October and November 1941 Gens himself checked the papers of the Jews as they passed before him, three blue cards to one yellow card. In October he participated in the Aktion that removed about 150 old and incapacitated Jews from the ghetto. In two "actions" in December he supervised the delivery of over 150 Jewish "criminals" to Ponary.

In October 1942, Gens, who was also responsible for several smaller surrounding ghettos, sent his deputy to the Ozmiana Ghetto to choose 400 elderly and chronically ill people to be killed. The Germans had demanded 1,500 for transportation to Ponary. Gens believed that by helping to supervise the "actions", a proportion of those who would otherwise be killed might be saved. Justifying his "actions", Gens said:

"The Jewish Police saved those who must live. Those who had little time to live were taken away and may the aged among the Jews forgive us. They were a sacrifice for our Jews and our future."

On another occasion he defended himself, saying:

"When they ask me for a thousand Jews, I hand them over; for if we Jews will not give them on our own, the Germans will come and take them by force. Then they will take not one thousand, but thousands. With hundreds, I save a thousand. With the thousands that I hand over, I save ten thousand. I will say: I did everything in order to save as many Jews as possible… ensure that at least a remnant of Jews survive."

There may even be a reason why Kruk’s hope, if he entertained such, focused on the Dutch Jews. Kruk is a Dutch or Dutch-sounding surname, and Kruk may have had relatives in the Netherlands or considered the possibility of passing himself off as a Dutchman, which would have considerably improved his chance of survival if Dutch Jews were not earmarked for extermination.

On 26 April 1943 Kruk wrote more about the Western Jews under the heading “Where are the millions of Jews of Europe?”, insinuating that at least part of them had been shot in Lithuania and Belarus:

“We know, for example, that Poland alone contained more than 3 million Jews, and now – can you find even half a million in former Poland? However much we try, we cannot reach such a number. And the hundreds of thousands of Jews from Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and the thousands of Jews from France, Belgium, Holland, and Czechoslovakia, who have gone through Lithuania in the thousands, who were shot near Minsk, at the Seventh Fort of Kovno, etc.?”[143]

Despite the reference to western Jews "shot near Minsk, at the Seventh Fort of Kovno, etc.", the expression "gone through Lithuania" may still be understood as expressing the ever fainter hope that the Nazis were not intending to wipe out all Jews in Europe and that especially the Jews from Western Europe stood a chance of being spared.

On 30 April 1943 Kruk returned to the subject of the deported Dutch Jews:

“We have already written about the packing up of 130,000 Jews from Holland and their transport to the East.[144] We have also mentioned that carloads filled with goods from the Dutch Jews are in the Vilna railroad station. Now an issue that clears it all up - beautiful old furniture has been brought here, to our joiners' workshop, to be repaired. In the drawers people find Dutch documents, including documents from December 1942, which means that ostensibly, the Dutch were not taken to the East before January or February. Thus the Jews [there] did not know they were going to be exterminated. The rich Dutch Jews even brought bridge tables with them, in case, God forbid, such things wouldn't be found among the backward Ostjuden [Eastern European Jews]. Now it is clear that they were slaughtered, just like the Oszmiana[145] and Swieciany Jews. In our area, dozens of railroad cars are scattered, filled with Jewish junk, remnants of the former Dutch Jewry.”[146]

Here Kruk finally seems to have realized that no other fate was intended for the Dutch Jews than for those of Eastern Europe. The hope that had led him to pay attention to and seek support for rumors about Dutch Jews in Vievis had finally gone down the drain.

This passage removes the last doubt about the origin of the transports, because the mainly Yiddish-speaking Jews in the Vilna Ghetto would certainly have been able to tell Dutch from German.

Not that it matters much, but would that necessarily be so? Yiddish derived from the Middle High German that was spoken in the 10th Century in the Rhineland, which may have been closer to Dutch than modern German (which is also not far away).

The dates written on the documents discovered in the drawers also confirm that the Dutch Jews had been brought to Lithuania either in January or February 1943 via Auschwitz or in March or April via Sobibór.

One might argue here that the trains may have brought only the belongings of Dutch Jews murdered at Sobibór, and not the Jews themselves in still living condition.

Such argument has the elementary advantage of being supported by thoroughly researched documentary and eyewitness evidence, whereby Jews from the Netherlands were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Sobibór in 1943 but never "via" any of these places to anywhere in the occupied Soviet territories, instead of mere rumor and "Revisionist" wishful thinking.

Such a counterargument, however, clashes with the mainstream historiography on Sobibór. Miriam Novitch writes that “Gold and jewelry were sent directly to the Führer’s Chancellery in Berlin. Prisoners’ clothing, from which the yellow star badges, and all signs indicating their origin, were removed, went to several German institutions.”[147] Yitzhak Arad quotes the testimony of Jan Piwonski, a railway worker at Sobibór station:

“I saw how the goods which were of no value to the Germans were burned. The other goods were loaded on freight cars and sent to Germany. Such transports with objects and clothing departed twice a month. Valuables, gold, and money were packed in an iron box and sent to Berlin twice a week.”[148]

One would think that Piwonski would have recalled if part of the spoils for some odd reason had been sent not to Germany, but to the Baltic States!

With some more logic one would think that Piwonski didn’t know where those goods were being sent and merely assumed, as seemed logical to him and was also mostly the
case, that the goods were sent to Germany. This doesn’t exclude the possibility of furniture from Dutch Jews (we are not talking about gold and jewelry here) being sent for repair to a joiners workshop in Vilnius, before being sent from there to whatever its final destination was.

Moreover, if the railway cars really were filled with the stolen belongings of Dutch Jews murdered in Sobibór, how come there were not only possibly incriminating documents among the objects, but also Star of David patches?

The obvious explanation, obvious because it is the one compatible with the evidence, would be negligence on the part of whoever shipped this furniture to Vilnius.

It should further be pointed out that this passage indicates that the transited Jews did not have all their belongings confiscated at Sobibór.

Unless, of course, these belongings were shipped from Sobibór to various places including Vilnius. Whoever argues that Jews were not stripped of all their belongings at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps obviously hasn’t read – or is conveniently omitting – what becomes apparent from Nuremberg Document 4024-PS, the report that Globocnik sent to Himmler from Trieste on 5 January 1944. According to Appendix 2 to this report, the loot included, besides money, coins and jewelry, 29,391 spectacles (why deprive living persons of their spectacles?) as well as "1,901 Wagons of clothing, underclothing, bed feathers and rags" (apparently we are asked to believe that Jews passing through the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps were sent to the occupied Soviet territories stark naked). Furniture is also mentioned in the "Report On the Administrative Development of the Action Reinhardt" (emphasis added):

Valuable furniture and household utensils were reconditioned and mainly put at the disposal of settlers of German race. But furniture was also loaned to German and Wehrmacht authorities against an accommodation bill. Inferior goods were either destroyed or given to the population as a reward for good work at the harvest, etc.

This passage points to the very realistic possibility that the furniture mentioned by Kruk was meant for "settlers of German race" in the Baltic countries or elsewhere in the occupied Soviet territories of for loan to German and Wehrmacht authorities, and that the Vilnius joiners' workshop was one of the places where this furniture was "reconditioned".

Finally we note that nowhere in this or the following entries does Kruk give an explanation to how he knew that the Dutch Jews sent to Lithuania had been “slaughtered”.

More realistic than cloud-cuckoo-land dreamers like TK, and taking into account his own observations, Kruk probably reasoned that vanished persons deprived of their furniture, their documents and the articles of prime necessity he probably means by "Jewish junk" could not be expected to still be alive. "Jewish junk" is also mentioned in Globocnik’s aforementioned report to Himmler, in the following context (emphasis added):

4. Textiles, garments, underclothing, bed feathers and rags were collected and sorted according to their quality. The sorted articles had to be searched for hidden valuables and finally disinfected. More than 1,900 wagons were then placed at the disposal of the authorities named by the Reich Ministry of Economy by order of the SS Economic and Administrative Head Office. Out of these stocks not only foreign workers were clothed but a large portion was used for re-manufacture. No case of sickness became known, although these garments frequently came from persons suffering from spotted typhus. The disinfection therefore was adequate.

The best garments were separated and by order of the Reichsfuehrer SS were used for supplying persons of the German race. Shoes were also sorted according to how far they could be used and then either given to persons of German race or to concentration camps for supplying inmates, or else taken to pieces and used for wooden shoes for supplying inmates.
6. Other articles received, such as soap, washing materials, crockery and cutlery, and the like, were used in the Jewish camps; glass, old iron articles, etc., were sent to the salvage centers for re-manufacture.

7. The food brought on the transports was used to help provision the Jewish camps.

It is entirely possible that the mentioned articles were used not only in "Jewish camps" but also in Jewish ghettos, at least for the benefit of Jews who were working for the Germans.

A further passage of interest was penned by Kruk on 23 June 1943:
“In the Minsk Ghetto, 3,000 - 4,000 Jews now live. Next to the ghetto is another ghetto. In the first ghetto are Russian Jews from Minsk, Slutsk, Baranovitsh, etc. In the second, there are altogether 1,500 German and Czech Jews.”[149]
Kruk knew this information from two individuals who had recently been to Minsk. The assertion that 1,500 German and Czech Jews at the time lived in the second ghetto appears to contradict the statement of Minsk witness Hersh Smolar (see Section 3.3.3.) that the last remaining German Jews in the “Hamburg Ghetto” were murdered in “gas-vans” in early 1943.[150]

This would mean that either Smolar or Kruk’s interlocutors were wrong about the time in which the last German Jews in Minsk were murdered, or that Kruk’s interlocutors were reporting a situation that already lay some time in the past but wasn’t understood in this sense by Kruk. The reference to the "Hamburg Ghetto", by the way, could also have been to one of the sections into which the ghetto of the Reich Jews at Minsk was divided. From the ARC page about the Minsk Ghetto, emphases mine:

With effect from 15 September 1941, all German Jews over the age of 6 were ordered to wear the yellow Star of David. On 23 October, Heinrich Müller, the head of the Gestapo, issued a decree authorised by Himmler prohibiting the emigration of Jews from countries under German control.

These two decrees are considered by many historians to be significant evidence that the decision to implement the "Final Solution" had been taken. On 8 November Lange informed Lohse that 25,000 Jews from Germany, Austria and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia were to be deported to Minsk.

In order to make room for them in the ghetto, 12,000 Jews had been slaughtered near the village of Tuchinki on 7 November. Three days later the first 1,000 German Jews from Hamburg arrived in Minsk, to be followed within days by more than 6,000 deportees from Frankfurt am Main, Bremen and the Rheinland. On 18 November a train arrived from Berlin. Subsequent transports brought Jews from Vienna, Brno and other cities in the Reich and the Protectorate.

On arrival in Minsk many of the deportees were taken to nearby woods and shot. The remainder were housed in a separate ghetto known as Ghetto Hamburg, which adjoined the main Minsk ghetto. Above the entrance to this separate ghetto was a sign: Sonderghetto (Special Ghetto). Every night the Gestapo would murder 70-80 of the new arrivals. The ghetto of the Reich Jews was divided into five sections, according to the places from which they came: Hamburg, Berlin, the Rheinland, Bremen and Vienna.

There was little contact between the main Minsk Ghetto and the Reich Ghetto. The Jews from the Reich were to be killed in the major "actions" of 28-31 July 1942, on 8 March 1943, and in the autumn of 1943 on liquidation of the ghetto. Some were sent to Budzyn labour camp near Lublin. Between November 1941 and October 1942, a total of 35,442 Jews from the Reich and the "Protectorate" were deported to Minsk. Only 10 Reich Jews were still alive in Minsk when the city was liberated. Of the 999 Austrian Jews deported to Minsk ghetto, 3 are known to have survived. By the middle of November 1941, Einsatzgruppe B could report having carried out a total of 45,467 executions. On 20 November there was another major Aktion in which a further 7,000 Jews perished at Tuchinki.


On the other hand, Smolar reports that no less than 12,000 Jews (whereof about 3,200 in hiding) were still living in the Minsk ghetto as of late
February 1943.[151]

That may well be correct, considering what the above-mentioned page tells us about the last stages of the Minsk Ghetto’s annihilation (emphases mine):

According to Nazi statistics, between the occupation of the city and 1 February 1943, 86,632 Jews had been murdered in Minsk. There had been many SS and Gestapo men who had perpetrated terrible crimes: Richter, Hettenbach, Fichtel, Menschel, Wentske and others. Early in February 1943, two previously unknown Germans appeared in the ghetto. Jews from the nearby town of Slutzk recognized them as Adolf Rübe and his assistant and interpreter, Michelson. Their appearance, said the Slutzk Jews, meant the liquidation of the ghetto. Over the ensuing months, Rübe together with Michelson, the new police chief Bunge and his deputy, Scherner, terrorised the ghetto. Shootings became so commonplace that people were afraid to venture onto the streets. Orphaned children, the elderly and the disabled were systematically annihilated. In May, with most Jewish doctors having been murdered, patients were shot in their hospital beds. Little by little, the population of the ghetto shrank. By the summer of 1943 there were between 6,000-8,000 Jews left in the ghetto.

On 18 September, the first of three or four transports were sent to Sobibor. Amongst those on the first transport was Alexander Pechersky, a Soviet POW who was also Jewish. He had been imprisoned in the camp on Shirokaya Street, and was one of 80 men selected for construction work in Camp IV. Less than a month later, on 14 October 1943, Pechersky and Alexander Shubayev (nicknamed Kalimali), a fellow POW, were to lead the uprising in Sobibor. They were amongst those who escaped and survived the war. It has been estimated that at least 6,000 Jews from Minsk perished in the gas chambers of Sobibor.

The final liquidation of the Minsk ghetto occurred on 21 October 1943. The remaining 2,000 Jews were rounded up and killed at Maly Trostinec. The Red Army liberated Minsk on 3 July 1944. A handful of Jews who had been in hiding greeted their liberators.

Pictures of what the Red Army found at Maly Trostinec are included in my collection Photographic documentation of Nazi crimes, which furthermore contains rather graphic photos of what the Soviets found upon liberating the labor camp Klooga in Estonia, also mentioned in TK’s article.

So much for TK’s key witness Herman Kruk.

In the next and last section, I'll discuss the other eyewitness testimonies offered as "strong evidence" by TK.

Part 3(3)

1 comment:

Jonathan Harrison said...

Löwenstadt is also known as Brzeziny. Kues also seems to have forgotten that Lodz Jews were deported to Chelmno and Auschwitz in 1944. There is a database of Jews who were in the Lodz ghetto; Kues is invited to find how many of those Jews had been located in the USSR from 1942-c.1990. Those who ended up in Israel or the USA had well-documented routes, usually from Auschwitz westwards.