Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Mattogno takes on the Jäger Report (well, he tries) – Part 2

Author: Roberto Muehlenkamp
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5 (1)

Part 5 (2)

In the previous article of this series I addressed Mattogno’s arguments against the authenticity of the 2nd Jäger Report and concluded that these are rather weak. In this and the following articles I will address Mattogno’s arguments against the reliability of the information contained in the 2nd Jäger Report.



Jäger’s interrogation

Following his arrest in the German Federal Republic in 1959, Jäger was interrogated at the Hohenasperg prison by officials from a special commission of the Baden Württemberg Crime Investigation Bureau (Landeskriminalamt), on 15, 16, 18 and 19 June 1959. Mattogno extensively refers to and quotes from Jäger’s statements in this interrogation, which he treats as if they were to be taken at face value, at least where he thinks they support his case by contradicting evidence he’s less fond of or otherwise. [28]

Jäger’s deposition indeed contradicts other evidence in several respects, as it is a showpiece of mendacious (and not very clever) self-apology. Or maybe Jäger had in the decades since his Lithuania days managed to make himself believe his own falsehoods. In any case, the deposition contains claims that could be seen as laughably improbable if the matter were not so serious. Jäger’s subordinate Hamann, who Jäger referred to as the head of "his" execution detachment (Leiter meines Exekutionskommandos, page 6 of the interrogation record) never received any orders from Jäger to carry out executions but conducted his killing expeditions entirely on his own initiative (p. 11). Jäger actually never issued an order to kill Jews at all; all he did was sign reports that had been prepared by his office, about executions that were reported to him case by case (same page). Everything else happened just by itself, without his having to do anything (same page). He considered it cruel and terrible that people were killed just because of their race and faith (same page). Once when meeting Stahlecker, he informed him about what he had in the meantime seen and heard about executions ("was ich inzwischen über Erschießungen gesehen und gehört hatte", p. 14), whereupon Stahlecker informed him that Jews had to be killed because they were bearers of communism and organized acts of sabotage (p. 15; to Mattogno’s mind this supposed statement bears out his claim that the motivations behind the killing of Jews were of a "political-military" rather than a racial nature.) He recalled only a few of the sites visited by Hamann’s killing squad and could not remember the numbers killed there or other particulars (p. 24). Only one of these killing sites (a mental asylum at Aglona in Latvia[29]) he had visited himself, and what he had done there was to save the lives of 20 or 30 patients (p. 25). Jäger’s interrogators were also asked to believe that the Kaunas ghetto had been created after Jäger suggested this to Stahlecker (with the argument that one could not shoot all Jews because some were needed as workers)[30], in order to put an end to the executions, and that further shootings in the ghetto only happened because Stahlecker insisted that they were necessary for security police reasons (p. 26 of the interrogation record). Although he had been in Kaunas all the time, Jäger didn’t remember any larger executions in the ghetto (and of course he didn’t order them), but also didn’t rule out that such had happened.[31] And so on.

Far-fetched though many of Jäger’s self-apologetic claims are, his deposition also contains information that is of interest in corroborating Jäger’s reports. One is the vivid description (pp. 18-19) of a mass execution of about 3,000 Jewish males during the first days of his command at Kaunas, which I have translated in an earlier article[32] and which Jäger attributed to Lithuanian Lieutenant Norkus – omitting that, as expressly stated on the first page of the 2nd Jäger Report, Jäger himself had ordered the execution by Lithuanian "partisans" of 2,930 male and 47 female Jews on 4 and 6 July 1941. Another is the mention (p. 11) of said Lieutenant Norkus as the commander (subordinated to Hamann) of an execution detachment of about 50-100 Lithuanians (the extensive Lithuanian collaboration and participation in the killings, which was essential to the success of the 1941 extermination campaign against the Jews of Lithuania, will be addressed in more detail further on). Another is this statement on page 25 of the interrogation record, which suggests the extent of the killings inside and outside Kaunas and the role of Hamann and his Lithuanian auxiliaries in the latter (my translation):
The shootings of Jews continued almost daily, also in Kovno. SS-Obersturmführer Hamann was constantly away on business outside Kovno with his detachment, and together with Lithuanian lieutenant Norkus and his people continued shooting thousands of Jews at the most varied places, which I can no longer remember.

Hamann’s essential role in the murder campaign is also highlighted in the 2nd Jäger Report, with the difference that in the report Hamann is mentioned not as having acted entirely on his own without any instructions from or interaction with Jäger, but as having entirely adopted Jäger’s goals (page 7 of the report). Hamann is furthermore praised in the report for having understood the importance of ensuring the co-operation of the Lithuanian "partisans" and the competent civilian authorities (which, as we shall see, was indeed essential to his success[33]). In his interrogation Jäger mentioned that Hamann had been constantly in contact with the local Lithuanian police authorities or requested by these to perform executions (p. 24 of the interrogation record). Another noteworthy statement can be found on page 26 of the interrogation record (my translation):
They had only told me, that is, Stahlecker told me during his first visit in Kovno, that the Jews were to be shot for security police reasons – they were carriers of communism, tended to commit acts of sabotage. The mentioned reasons, however, never justified to simply exterminate the Jews ("die Juden einfach auszurotten").

The Jews were to be exterminated. "Security police reasons", where invoked (a topic that will be addressed in the next article of this series), were pseudo-justifications.

The Jäger’s reports compared with each other and with other documentation about the killing of Jews

Mattogno claims that there are major contradictions between Jäger’s 1st and 2nd report and between the two Jäger Reports and other German documentation about the killing of Jews in Lithuania, namely the Operational Situation Reports USSR of the Einsatzgruppen.[34]

The total number of people executed until 10.9.1941, according to Jäger’s 1st report, is 76,355. The figures up to 10.9.1941 in the 2nd report, according to Mattogno, add up to 62,986.[35] How come this discrepancy? Actually there’s hardly any discrepancy at all; Mattogno just didn’t pay attention. He added up the 2nd report’s figures on pp. 1-4 up to 10.9.1941, which unlike the figures up to that date in the 1st report don’t include the following:

Teilkommando des EK.3 in Dünaburg in der Zeit vom 13.7-21.8.1941 – 9,585
Teilkommando des EK.3 in Wilna: 12.8. bis 1.9.41 Wilna-Stadt – 461
2.9.41 Wilna-Stadt – 3,700.

Adding these figures (which in the 2nd report appear on page 5 after the Kauen and RKH figures, logically so as these killings were scored up by different detachments of EK3, namely the TKD and the TKW) to the sum of figures on pp. 1-4 up to 10.9.1941 inclusive (which is not 62,986 but 62,983, as Jäger counted 1 too many for Alytus 13.08.1941 and 2 too many for Ukmerge on 19.08.1941) yields 76,349 executions until 10.9.41 inclusive. The difference in regard to the 1st report’s total is, just wait for it, 6. This tiny difference results from the following minor discrepancies:
• 19.7.41, Kauen - Fort Vll (Kaunas): 28 according to the 1st report, 26 according to the 2nd report (17 Jews, 2 Jewesses, 4 male and 2 female Lithuanian communists, 1 German communist). Either the addition in the first report is incorrect, or the number of Jewesses and/or that of Lithuanian female communists, which are both not readable in the YVA copy, was different in the 1st than in the 2nd report, perhaps because 2 of the ladies had been counted twice (as Jewesses and as Lithuanian female communists).
• 13.8.41, Alytus: 719 according to the 1st report, 718 according to the 2nd report corrected by me (the partial figures, 617 Jews, 100 Jewesses and 1 criminal, add up to 718 instead of 719; the incorrect total is stated in both reports).[36]
• 16.8.41, Rokiskis (Rokiškis): 3,208 in the 1st report (the partial figures: 3,200 Jews,[37] 5 Lithuanian communists, 1 partisan, 1 Pole, were incorrectly added) vs. 3,207 in the 2nd report (partial figures were correctly added).
• 19.8.41, Ukmerge (Ukmergė): 645 according to the 1st report, 643 according to the 2nd report corrected by me (incorrect addition of partial figures: 298 Jews, 255 Jewesses, 88 Jewish children, 1 politruk, 1 Russian communist, yields 643 and not 645; the incorrect addition is in both reports).

The number of Jews killed on 6 September 1941 in Georgenburg (Jurbarkas) was changed from 41 in the 1st report to 412 in the 2nd report, according to Mattogno. Actually there was no change at all. It’s just that in the YVA copy of the 1st report the last digit of the figure, obviously a "2" (as this fits the added total) is not clearly visible. Again, Mattogno didn’t pay attention.

That said, I move on to the supposed incompatibilities with the Operational Situation Reports USSR (Ereignismeldungen UdSSR) of the Einsatzgruppen.

In his biography of Jäger, as mentioned by Mattogno,[38] Wolfram Wette referred to two Ereignismeldungen that mention killings listed in the 2nd Jäger Report. The killing of mental patients at an asylum in Aglona (Latvia) is mentioned OSR no. 88 dated 19 September 1941, where the same number of victims as in Jäger’s report (544) is stated, and particulars of the massacre at Zagare (Žagarė) on 2.10.41 are narrated in OSR no. 155 dd. 1 January 1942 (where the number killed in that massacre, 2,236 according to the 2nd Jäger Report, is not stated). To Mattogno’s mind these two matches, rather than confirm the veracity of the Jäger Report, increase the perplexity (perplessità) about the almost total absence in the OSR of specific data about the executions mentioned in the 2nd Jäger Report. In fact, Mattogno tells his readers, out of 94 executions with over 100 victims listed by Jäger, thereof 42 with more than 1,000 victims, only 10 with a total of 1,841 victims are mentioned in the OSR.[39]

Mattogno doesn’t reveal (at least not in his discussion of the Jäger Report) what OSR he has in mind, and his "perplexity" is hard to understand for who has realized that the OSR only point out executions or other occurrences considered to be of particular interest and otherwise merely state the number of victims scored up by a given unit within a given period. Let’s look at what mentions of mass killing in Lithuania can be found in the surviving OSR.[40]

• OSR No. 8 dated June 30, 1941 mentions that during the past 3 days Lithuanian "partisan" groups "have already killed several thousand Jews". The statement apparently refers to Kaunas.

• OSR No. 19 dated July 11, 1941 mentions that after the retreat of the Red Army, "the population of Kaunas killed about 2,500 Jews during a spontaneous uprising," and that, in addition, "a rather large number of Jews was shot by the Auxiliary Police Service." In Kaunas, according to this report, "up to now a total of 7,800 Jews have been liquidated partly through pogroms and partly through shooting by Lithuanian Kommandos." According to the Jäger’s reports a total of 2,977 Jews were killed on 4 and 7 July 1941 at Jäger’s orders. To these must be added the Jews killed by Lithuanians on their own initiative before EK3 took over. According to the Jäger reports the number of these was about 4,000. The difference between the addition of these numbers (ca. 7,000) and the number stated in OSR No. 19 is about 800. In the first report (10.9.1941), the 4,000 killed by "partisans" before EK3 took over were subdivided into two partial figures, 3,200 and 800, the latter referring to a period whose identification is not readable in the YVA copy. It is possible that a) these figures referred to Kaunas only,[41] b) EK3 communicated both the total killed by "partisans" (4,000) and the second figure stated in the report dated 10.9.41 (800), and c) the recipient of these communications didn’t realize that the 800 were already included in the 4,000, thus counting them twice.

• OSR No. 21 dated 13 July 1941 includes the following information (emphasis added):
In Vilnius by July 8th the local Einsatzkommando liquidated 321 Jews. The Lithuanian Ordnungsdienst which was placed under the Einsatzkommando after the Lithuanian political police had been dissolved was instructed to take part in the liquidation of the Jews. 150 Lithuanian officials were assigned to this task. They arrested the Jews and put them into concentration camps where they were subjected the same day to Special Treatment. This work has now begun, and thus about 500 Jews, saboteurs amongst them, are liquidated daily.

When complaining later in his book that of the Jews in Vilnius killed by EK3 and its predecessor, EK9, only several hundred are mentioned in each of 3 OSR, Mattogno omits the highlighted text, which (considering that, according to the 2nd Jäger Report, EK9 was in charge of Vilnius until 8 August 1941) would imply that, in the month starting 8 July and ending 8 August 1941, EK9 killed over 15,000 Jews. The number was actually much lower (about 5,000 in July and 1,500 in early August 1941) because, contrary to what OSR No. 21 suggests, executions were not carried out every day in this period and the number of victims in each execution was not necessarily as high as 500.[42]

• OSR No. 24 dated 16 July 1941 mentions, with regard to EK9 in Vilnius, that because of a "short surprise fire fight against the Vilnius Security Police Headquarters" a "special liquidation" of an unmentioned number of persons was carried out "in excess of daily liquidation quotas" (obviously meaning the 500 Jews per day mentioned in OSR No. 21). Mattogno somehow missed this OSR.

• OSR No. 88 dated 19.09.1941 (the one in which the Aglona asylum massacre is mentioned, see above) mentions that Einsatzkommando 3 of Einsatzgruppe A had, together with Lithuanian "partisans", killed 46,692 people.[43]

The total is equal to the figure that results from adding up the following numbers in the 2nd Jäger Report:
(a) Kaunas, RKH and possibly TKD (Dünaburg/Daugavpils and Aglona on 22.8.41, not including the figure for the 13.7-21.8.41 period stated separately on page 5 of the report) up to 29.8.41 inclusive (42,488);
(b) TKW up to 2.9.41 inclusive (4,161);
(c) Uzusalis (Užusaliai) on 11-12.9.41 (43)
EK3’s reporting figures for different dates/periods would not be implausible if one considers that
i) figures (a) and (b) pertain to different detachments of EK3, whose figures may have reached Jäger and/or been forwarded to the command of Einsatzgruppe A at different times, and
ii) figure (c) refers to an execution that may have been reported separately (and more immediately) because it was something out of the ordinary – not a massacre of Jews but a "punitive action" against (non-Jewish) local inhabitants accused of having fed the Russian partisans and partially been in possession of weapons ("Strafaktion gegen Bewohner, die die russ. Partisanen verpflegt haben und teilweise im Besitze von Waffen waren."). Such a reprisal would deserve special attention as it might affect the relations between the German occupiers and the Lithuanian population, which the Germans meant to keep on their side.

So far it looks like, as of 19 September 1941, a significant part of Jäger’s mass execution tally (25 times higher than Mattogno’s 1,841) had been mentioned in Ereignismeldungen. And that Mattogno again didn’t pay attention – which is all the more perplexing as he quotes from OSR No. 88 on two occasions, including the text passage that contains the 46,692 figure.[44]

But there’s more.

• OSR No. 94 dated 27 September 1941 mentions that by its time the number of persons liquidated within the area of EK3 had increased to approximately 75,000.[45] The killings by KK, RKH and (possibly) TKD up to 26.9.41 inclusive according to the 2nd Jäger Report (TKD including Dünaburg/Daugavpils and Aglona on 22.8.41, but not including the figure for the 13.7-21.8.41 period stated separately on page 5 of the report) add up to 66,156, the killings by TKW to 8,870 until 17.9.41 inclusive and to 9,273 until 20.9.41 inclusive. The respective additions with the sum for KK, RKH and TKD up to 26.9.41 yield 75,026 and 75,429 people executed – both figures within the "approximately 75,000" range.

So it looks like Mattogno’s claim that Jäger’s execution figures are only marginally reflected in the OSR must be attributed to, at best, a somewhat-less-than-attentive reading of the OSR.[46]

In the next articles of this series I will examine further examples of Mattogno’s scholarship in what he calls a "critical examination" of the 2nd Jäger Report.

Notes

[28] GE1, pp. 175-177.
[29] The killing of 544 mental patients at Aglona is mentioned in both Jäger reports and in Operational Situation Report USSR no. 88 dated 19.9.1941 (Wette, Jäger, p. 118). Jäger’s reports contain the precision that of those executed 269 were men, 227 were women and 48 were children.
[30] In his 2nd report Jäger stated that he had also wanted to wipe out the surviving Jews of the Kaunas, Vilna and Šiauliai (page 7), but been kept from doing so by the Wehrmacht and German civilian authorities. In his first report dated 15 October 1941 Jäger’s superior Stahlecker lamented that a total extermination of Jews in Latvia and Lithuania was not possible ("zumindest nicht im jetzigen Zeitpunkt" - "at least not at the present moment") because the crafts in these countries were almost entirely in Jewish hands, some professions were entirely performed by Jews and Jews were for the time being indispensable for repairing war damage to infrastructure and cities and carrying out tasks important for the war effort (pp. 31-32 of the 1st Stahlecker Report).
[31] Actually the largest mass executions in Kaunas happened after the creation of the ghetto, whose population was reduced by 12-13,000 in several mass executions between 26 September and 29 October 1941. See Dieckmann, Besatzungspolitik, pp. 949-958.
[32] The Jäger Report (2).
[33] Regarding the participation of Lithuanian auxiliaries in Hamann’s killings, for example the Rokiskis (Rokiškis) massacre recorded under 16.8.41 (actually it lasted two days), see my article The Jäger Report (3). The subject will also be addressed in the next article of this series.
[34] GE1, pp. 177 and 181-182.
[35] As above, p. 177.
[36] In the 1st report the "criminal" was also referred to as an "idiot" (obviously in a clinical sense). This detail was omitted in the 2nd report.
[37] According to the 1st report all these were women and children. According to the 2nd report they were men, women and children.
[38] GE1 pp. 181-182, citing Wette, Jäger, pp. 111 and 118.
[39] As above, p. 182.
[40] Translated excerpts from OSR numbered 8 to 191, with some missing in between, can be accessed on the page The Einsatzgruppen, where they are quoted after Arad, Yitzak, Shmuel Krakowski and Shmuel Spector, editors. The Einsatzgruppen Reports. New York: Holocaust Library. 1989. The German text of these and other Ereignismeldungen has been published in Klaus-Michael Mallmann / Andrej Angrick / Jürgen Matthäus / Martin Cüppers (Hrsg.): Die „Ereignismeldungen UdSSR“ 1941. Dokumente der Einsatzgruppen in der Sowjetunion, Darmstadt 2011.
[41] According to the 1st Stahlecker Report (pp. 21-22), in Kaunas alone "partisans" killed 1,500 Jews in the night of 25-26 June 1941 and 2,300 in the following nights, for a total of 3,800. There is at least one higher estimate of the number of Jews killed in the Kaunas pogrom. In a letter to his Admiral dated 22.9.1941 (Bundesarchiv/Militärarchiv, RM 7/1014, Bl. 39-41), the Navy Liaison Officer at Army Group North recalled having witnessed the shooting of about 6,000 Jews by the "Letten" (he mixed up Latvians, Letten in German, with Lithuanians, which in German are called Litauer) in Kowno/Kaunas. A transcription and translation of this letter, the subject of which was how difficult it would be to wipe out the several million inhabitants of Leningrad, can be found in the HC library thread The Siege of Leningrad.
[42] See my article How many people were killed at Ponary?. According to my calculations/estimates in this article, a total of about 28,000 people, overwhelmingly Jews, were executed at the Paneriai/Ponary killing site near Vilnius in the months July to November 1941, including 21,273 persons (21,234 Jews, 39 non-Jews) killed by EK3 according to the 2nd Jäger Report.
[43] Mallmann et al, as above, p. 494.
[44] GE1, pp. 182 and 185.
[45] Mallmann et al, as above, p. 554.
[46] Mattogno mentions another two OSR, No. 36 dated 28 July 1941 and No. 152 dated 7 January 1942, in order to show how few of Vilnius Jews killed by EK9 and EK3 are mentioned in these OSR (GE1, p. 185). Given that, as demonstrated in this article, a significant part of the Jews killed by the Vilnius Teilkommando of EK3 (TKW) are included in the totals mentioned in OSR No. 88 and OSR No. 94, Mattogno’s argument regarding OSR No. 36 and No. 152 can be dismissed as irrelevant.

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