Thursday, February 09, 2017

Grafeneck: Nuremberg Documents

Documents submitted at Nuremberg clearly show the degree of local knowledge and political controversy that existed in the second half of 1940 concerning the killing of mental patients at Grafeneck. Harvard's Nuremberg site has scans of these documents, from which the information in this article is taken. I have also relied upon the account given by Henry Friedlander, especially pages 107-111 of this edition.

I have already discussed here how the American consul in Stuttgart was already aware by March 1940 that mental patients were being taken from Rottweil to an unknown destination, and that by July 2, 1940, that person had received inside information from Grafeneck about the killing of Jews at the site. The Nuremberg documents enter that sequence with a transport list from Winnental to Grafeneck dated June 11, 1940 (NO-817, scan here; English translation of supporting affadavit here) and a report from July 25 on rumours in the local population (NO-830, English translation here). On August 1, the Chief Prosecutor of Stuttgart wrote to the Reich Minister of Justice about the "unnatural deaths" at Grafeneck (NO-829 Betreff: Anzeige wegen unnatuerlichen Todes von Anstaltsinsassen (Fall Grafeneck), scan here; English translation here).

The process escalated all the way to Himmler in December 1940. Else von Loewiss had written this letter to the wife of Walter Buch (NO-001, English translation here), which had then resulted in a letter from Buch to Himmler, who replied to Buch on the same day as he had written to Brack to inform him of his concerns about the Grafeneck being so widely known. Buch's letter to Himmler (7.12.40) and Himmler's reply (19.12.40) are NO-002 (scan here and translation here) whilst Himmler to Brack (19.12.40) is NO-018 (scan here and translation here).

Conclusion: Himmler's reference to the "constantly smoking crematorium" ("dauernd rauchenden Krematorium") is particularly telling, as is the speed with which operations were suspended at Grafeneck, to be picked up elsewhere. The embarrassment that this incident caused Himmler may help to explain his subsequent exercise of control over information about the Aktion Reinhard camps.

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