Thursday, December 13, 2018

Mattogno on Riga, Part Two: Phone Calls in Riga, Prague, and Berlin

Picking up where I left off in my last post, Carlo Mattogno’s treatment of the mass shooting of Latvian Jews, as well as a thousand newly arrived Reich Jews, on 30 November 1941 is riddled with errors and lapses in logic. After briefly remarking on the discrepancy between the actual date of the shooting and the date as reported in Stahlecker’s famous report of the following year (“in early December”), Mattogno writes (p. 216), “The exact date is important because the shooting of the Jewish transport early in the morning depended precisely on the large number of persons who were to be killed during the day. This has its logic, but if 45 minutes (from 8:15 to 9:00 AM) was time enough to kill 1,000 persons (according to the verdict in the Riga Trial), then why did it require more than seven hours to kill 4,000 people? At Riga, in fact, the sun only came up at 8:34 AM on 30 November, and it set at 3:50 PM.”

On its face, this might seem like a decent argument. Using simple multiplication, if 1,000 people can be shot in 45 minutes, then 4,000 would take three hours, give or take. However, providing more detail on this point makes it clear why this discrepancy emerges. In their book on the Holocaust in Latvia, Andrej Angrik and Peter Klein cover the matter of the Reich Jews killed at Rumbula on pp. 146-148 (in the English edition).

First, they make clear that the trainload of Reich Jews did not remain at Skirotava station, where they initially arrived, in Riga but rather were moved by train to Rumbula station. This is an important detail: from the ghetto to Rumbula was a 10 kilometer walk, while the distance from Rumbula station was less than a kilometer. If we factor in a travel distance ten times greater and four times the number of people, seven hours doesn’t seem strange, particularly given the fatigue that would have set in among the shooters, to say nothing about the victims. (Also, while the times Mattogno gives for sunrise and sunset are correct, as anyone living on the planet Earth can attest, it is light before sunrise and remains so after sunset -- according to this site, it was already light out at 7:48 a.m.).

On the next page, working from the point that the Reich Jews were shot in the morning but that Heydrich and Himmler did not speak by phone until early afternoon in Berlin (and thus an hour later in Riga), Mattogno writes (p. 217), “But can one seriously believe that the communication of such an important piece of information to the RSHA and to Heydrich required over six hours?” Mattogno's second argument from incredulity in as many pages aside, it’s worth noting that Himmler only arrived at FHQ at 1 p.m. on the day in question. He records in the Dienstkalender (pp. 277-278) being on the train at 11 a.m. on 30 November (the first entry of the day), speaking to two people by telephone and one in person, the latter from noon to 1 p.m. Considering travel time between the train station and FHQ and establishing the need to speak with Heydrich, a conversation at 1:30 is not unlikely.

While it might be protested that Heydrich and Himmler could have spoken while Himmler was on the train, Angrick and Klein again clarify why it took so long for the two to speak:

With Finnberg's assistance, Lange succeeded in relaying his misgivings to Berlin, whereupon the gears of administrative process were set in motion. The matter appeared to so important that nobody in the RSHA central office wanted to make decision on his own, but rather to make everything dependent upon Heydrich, who at the time was in Prague. Repeatedly, the channels of communication were tried, costing valuable time.

We might be willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to Mattogno for not having considered this point, but he cites Angrick and Klein’s explanation of Emil Finnberg’s phone call to Berlin in The Einsatzgruppen, as well as citing the Dienstkalender, so he presumably knows the established explanation for the time delay.

Finally, Mattogno remarks (p. 217), “Therefore, even examining the matter from the orthodox point of view, the expression ‘No liquidation’ cannot relate to ‘Jewish transport from Berlin.” Indeed, it might not – but it could certainly apply to any additional Jewish transports from the Reich to Riga – and Minsk.

In my next post, we’ll have a look at the consequences of the events of 30 November 1941 in Riga – according to Mattogno.

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