Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lying about the dating of Orders: the Wisliceny Testimonies

Author: Jonathan Harrison
Mattogno began writing about Nazi policy in the 1980s. A recurrent theme in that writing has been his attempts to demonstrate that Hitler could not have given an order to exterminate Europe's Jews by the dates claimed by what he calls the "orthodox historiography." Two of the sources he has repeatedly used to make this case are the testimonies provided by Wisliceny at Nuremberg and from prison in Bratislava. Mattogno's devious sleight of hand with these sources shows a long-term technique being perfected of "bait and switch", whereby a testimony is quoted by Mattogno but then an entirely different précis of its contents is given afterwards.

Mattogno's Bratislava testimony (which is copied here) was quoted by Mattogno back in 1988 in The Myth of the Extermination of the Jews, where Mattogno stated that:
In a report drawn up in Bratislava November 18, 1944 [the year was actually 1946: JH], Dieter Wisliceny, former Hauptsturmführer and Eichmann's representative in Slovakia, affirmed that to his knowledge "the decision of Hitler that ordered the biological extermination of European Judaism [sic]" must be dated back to "after the beginning of the war with the United States," that is, it would have been after 11 December 1941.
In his Olocausto: dilettanti allo sbaraglio (see the full work in Italian here), Mattogno provided a longer excerpt from the Bratislava testimony, which still clearly implies a cumulative radicalization starting after the US entry into the war. The translation below comes via Google Translate:
[118] The second wave of tightening--continues Wisliceny--occurred after the US entry into the war. [...]. In this period, after the outbreak of war with the United States, must fall, in my belief, Hitler's decision that ordered biological extermination of European Jewry [...]. The order of Himmler that Eichmann showed me in August 1942 dated back to the spring of 1942; certainly the order of Hitler had been given some time before, because in the order of Himmler the exemption [Zurückstellung] of the Jews able to work constituted the main object.
This excerpt clearly refers to two orders: the Hitler order then a later order by Himmler exempting essential labour from immediate extermination. However, in his 2013 riposte to our White Paper, Mattogno brazenly falsified this context by declaring, on page 268, that:
Harrison lies without reservation in saying that “Wisliceny referred to an extermination order by Himmler in April 1942, because Himmler explicitly referred to the Führer order for the “final solution of the Jewish question,” which for Wisliceny was given by Hitler at that time and for the first time.
The liar here is Mattogno, because the text of Wisliceny's Nuremberg affadavit (see here) concurs with his Bratislava one quoted above:
I was sent to Berlin in July or August 1942 in connection with the status of Jews from Slovakia, which mission is referred to more fully hereinafter. I was talking to Eichmann in his office in Berlin when he said that on written order of Himmler all Jews were to be exterminated. I requested to be shown the order. He took a file from the safe and showed me a top secret document with a red border, indicating immediate action. It was addressed jointly to the Chief of the Security Police and SD and to the Inspector of Concentration Camps. The letter read substantially as follows:

"The Fuehrer has decided that the final solution of the Jewish question is to start immediately. I designate the Chief of the Security Police and SD and the Inspector of Concentration Camps as responsible for the execution of this order. The particulars of the program are to be agreed upon by the Chief of the Security Police and SD and the Inspector of Concentration Camps. I am to be informed currently as to the execution of this order."

The order was signed by Himmler and was dated some time in April 1942. Eichmann told me that the words "final solution" meant the biological extermination of the Jewish race, but that for the time being able-bodied Jews were to be spared and employed in industry to meet current requirements. I was so much impressed with this document which gave Eichmann authority to kill millions of people that I said at the time : "May God forbid that our enemies should ever do anything similar to the German people". He replied : "Don't be sentimental-this is a Fuehrer order". I realized at that time. that the order was a death warrant for millions of people and that the power to execute this order was in Eichmann's hands subject to approval of Heydrich and later Kaltenbrunner. The program of extermination was already under way and continued until late 1944. There was no change in the program during Kaltenbrunner's administration.
There is nothing in this statement that says Hitler's order was given at the same time as it was transmitted to Wisliceny. Himmler's order refers to a decision to implement the Final Solution with immediate effect, but implementation is not the same as the original decision. Both of Wisliceny's statements are compatible with a Hitler decision in December in principle to murder the Jews, followed by a further decision by Hitler or Himmler in April to begin full-scale implementation, which Himmler then modified by temporarily exempting labour that was now needed in SS camps to replace Soviet POW labour.

Moreover, Mattogno totally ignores another section of the Bratislava testimony, in which Wisliceny states that decision-making leading to the Final Solution "did not take place from today to tomorrow, but gradually, and it only culminated in spring 1942" (translation in Donald Bloxham, The Final Solution: A Genocide (Oxford University Press, 2009), p.186). This is clearly an expression of the concept of "cumulative radicalization", yet Mattogno insists that Wisliceny was describing a snapshot moment when policy was fixed in April 1942 "at that time and for the first time."

Why did Mattogno lie? Mattogno wishes his readers to believe that the term Endlösung was used to refer to resettlement from July 1941 onwards, with no change of meaning thereafter. This entire baiting and switching of Wisliceny's accounts was therefore done to deny the real meaning of the Wannsee document, in which Endlösung clearly meant killing. Mattogno chooses to believe Wisliceny's account when Mattogno can twist his dating to give a false picture that Hitler did not give an extermination order until after Wannsee. This is then used by Mattogno to attack Hilberg for supposedly suppressing the Wisliceny affadavit. For example, in Olocausto: dilettanti allo sbaraglio, Mattogno writes:
we understand easily why Hilberg and his colleagues did not mention Wisliceny's memorandum, which would force them to admit that the term Endlösung at the Wannsee Conference referred to the final solution of the Jewish question "in the form of resettlement."
This is pure fantasy on Mattogno's part, caused by his falsification of Wisliceny's testimonies. Such a modus operandi can be found throughout Mattogno's works.

Mattogno's Failure to Evolve 2000-2010


Thinker M said...

Would you know where Wisliceny's Bratislava testimony could be and if so I would really like to see it. I tried looking it up and I didn't find anything.

I might be asking a little way to much, but there is something about Wisliceny's Nuremberg affadavit and the corresponding testimony that I find very unsettling and it's been bugging me for quite a while in the context of Holocaust research. I really need to carefully examine each relevant document before I come to a final conclusion about the matter.

Nicholas Terry said...

Wisliceny's IMT-Nuremberg interrogations are partially published in Richard Overy, Interrogations, but should also be online at fold3.com - there is a collection within the WWII/Holocaust section of Nuremberg interrogations. While fold3.com requires a sign-up and the website charges for access, the Nuremberg interrogations are often available for free.

The affidavits were distilled down from Q&A stenographic protocols of interrogations, usually with considerable accuracy, but the full interrogations also usually elaborate on what was said and in Wisliceny's case, make the sources of his information clearer.

Yad Vashem's document archive (access the catalogue by the first link on this page
http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/resources/documents.asp )
has Wisliceny statements from Bratislava in M.5, e.g. M.5/162. These are in German.

when using advanced search, the M.5 goes in record group and must include the full stop, the 165 in file number
a general keyword search for Wisliceny identifies 38 files not all of which are digitised, a mixture of contemporary documents and various postwar investigations.

The most important Wisliceny statement from Bratislava is also published in Poliakov/Wulf, Dritte Reich und die Juden (1955)

Nicholas Terry said...

As a general piece of advice, while Google does capture finding-guide pages from Yad Vashem's documents archive, other online archives might not.

The full range of currently open access online archives for this subject (broadly defined) is listed here - while this is an immense amount compared to other eras of history, it is a drop in the ocean

The most comprehensive digitisation is at Yad Vashem which has hitherto reached 20,000 online files, but various archival agreements, national legislation in different European countries, and privacy rules mean that some record groups are indexed only.

The EHRI finding guide to archival collections is very useful, but most described record group will not be online.

Thinker M said...

Thank you for your answer. I am sorry if my questions are a bit too much. I have finally understood that not all documents are going to be free online due to privacy issues, so I am not going to bother you with any more questions regarding questions documents I couldn't find online.

Nicholas Terry said...

It's not a problem to ask more questions - a great deal *is* online, so as long as you develop a feel for what is not likely to be digitised, then it doesn't hurt to ask. Most West German legal cases aren't online, but the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial and pretrial investigation are, for example.

Thinker M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.