Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Düsseldorf to Minsk via Malkinia

Author: Jonathan Harrison
On 22 November, 1941, an officer named Meurin submitted a report (translation and transcription here) regarding the deportation of Jews from Düsseldorf, Essen and Wuppertal to Minsk. This revealed an original route that included Lodz, Warsaw, Malkinia (near the site of future Treblinka II death camp) and Bialystok, but then noted a detour (due to fears of partisan attack) via Czeremcha. The train stayed in Malkinia for 1.5 hours but there was no mention of any need to delouse these Jews nor to switch trains due to different rail gauges.

Where does this leave Mattogno and Graf's "transit camp thesis" which they outlined in Treblinka here? They quote a source (note 820) stating that trains carrying Jews from Warsaw to Treblinka via Malkinia did not go beyond that point but simply returned to Warsaw empty. We can see from Meurin's report that, even before Treblinka II had come into operation, the railway system was able to take a single train from Warsaw to Minsk without a requirement to change trains. We can also see that, in November 1941, there was no requirement to delouse Jews on the border between the General Government and the Occupied Eastern Territories. Moreover, there was a direct line between Bialystok and Minsk, so there was no logic in sending unfit Bialystok Jews westwards. Even if the direct line was blocked or unsafe, there was a route via Czeremcha into the Eastern Territories. It was also possible to transport Jews directly from Lodz to the Ostland, which again makes the existence of Chelmno problematic. Mattogno and Graf would need to address these issues if they wished to persevere with their 'thesis.'

Meurin's report raises further issues of interest. Firstly, it is clear that Meurin regarded Reich Jews as no different from Soviet Jews, as when he stated that "The return to Asian ways thus seemed to require little effort." Secondly, Meurin assumed that the Latvian auxiliary forces would treat the Reich Jews the same as Soviet Jews, of whom he said 8,000 had already been shot. He rationalized these killings as justifiable revenge for actions perpetrated by the Soviets. Thirdly, Meurin alleged cannibalism among Soviet POWs, which reveals both Meurin's view of them as racially subhuman and his assumption that POWs were not being fed. Fourthly, the frequent disruptions and delays experienced by such transports, and the security fears expressed by Meurin, were likely to have been important reasons why it became preferable to kill Europe's Jews in death camps in occupied Poland rather than decimating them in ghettos or camps farther east.

8 comments:

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Great article, as always. Short and sharp.

One more aspect that becomes apparent from Meurin's report is that the killing of Jews in the occupied Soviet territories had nothing to do with partisan issues. 8,000 Jews of the Minsk ghetto were killed for no other reason than to make room for Jews from the Reich.

Cannibalism among Soviet prisoners of war was real and frequent enough. It shows to what lengths starving people will go in their desperation. Contrary to what Meurin obviously believed, not only Soviet "sub-humans" practiced cannibalism under the extreme conditions of a murderous captivity. After the Battle of Stalingrad, German and Italian PoWs in Soviet captivity did the same.

Eric Danielski said...

Maybe you can change the name to German Death Camps.

Nicholas Terry said...

An easy slip; we've edited it.

Sergey Romanov said...

Changed it to occupied Poland to be more precise (Poland as a political entity didn't exist at that time, and while Poland could be used as a geographical term (very vague one given all the territorial changes), unambiguity is better.

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Despite the obvious idiocy of the rail gauge argument we still don't have a comprehensive debunking of this meme. This post is a first step. Thanks, Jon.

Jonathan Harrison said...

The doctor mentioned in the report, Felsenthal, is in the transport list, which also shows that many of the Jews were aged over 50

Jonathan Harrison said...

http://www.statistik-des-holocaust.de/OT411110-10.jpg

Jonathan Harrison said...

Felsenthal in Memorial Book

http://www.bundesarchiv.de/gedenkbuch/en864804

Jonathan Harrison said...

See similarities with Salitter Report Duesseldorf to Riga

http://www.xn--geschichte-am-jrgensplatz-twc.de

http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/education/lesson_plans/transport.asp