Friday, August 02, 2019

The Hagen Letter: "...to deal with 1/3 of the Poles - old people and children under the age of 10 - as with the Jews, that is to kill them."

On 17 February 1943, the Higher SS and Police Leader East Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger forwarded to the Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler correspondence of German officials in the General Gouvernement (BArch NS 19/1210).

The cause was a letter written by Wilhelm Hagen, the medical officer of Warsaw, to Adolf Hitler. In his letter of 7 December 1942, Hagen explained that Lothar Weirauch, head of the Department of Population and Welfare,  had revealed that "it is intended or considered, in the course of the resettlement of 200,000 Poles in the east of the General Government...to deal with a third of the Poles - with 70,000 old people and children under the age of 10, as with the Jews, that is, to kill them" (see document below). He did ask Hitler for his intervention and decision on the issue.

Krüger also submitted a statement of Weirauch of 4 February 1943. He assured that he did not claim that "in the course of the resettlement of 200,000 Poles to East of the General Government one third of Poles, namely 70,000 old people and children under the age of ten, are to be killed". Interestingly, he did not deny the remark on the Jews. He admitted to have stated in a meeting that "during the resettlement in Zamosc the resistance movement has spread the word that the resettlers are treated as the Jews" (page 1,2,3,4)

On 29 March 1943, Himmler's Personal Administrative Officer Rudolf Brandt enquired at the Reichs Health Leader, Leonardo Conti, on the fate of Hagen. In Himmler's opinion he had written an "in its tendency outrageous letter" and he wished to see him in a "concentration camp". Conti argued that Hagen, who had been already removed from his position in Warsaw on Krüger's request, should be kept as medical workforce in the Altreich. Himmler agreed with this proposal.


DOCUMENT
TRANSCRIPTION
Abschrift.                                                     [Eingangs-Stempel]

Warschau, den 7. Dezember 1942
Brieffach 54. 
bis 27. XII. Anschrift:
Augsburg, Zeugplatz 7.

Dr. Wilhelm Hagen
Stadtmedizinalrat
Amtsarzt der Stadt Warschau
Bezirksleiter des Reichstuberkulose-Ausschusses im GG


An den Führer des Großdeutschen Reiches Adolf Hitler

Mein Führer!

Nach Beratung mit einem langjährigen Freunde Friedrich Weber, "Oberlandweber" - einem Manne, dessen Ergebenheit zu Ihnen, meinem Führer, außer allem Zweifel steht, bitte ich Sie, mich in folgender Sache zu hören, da Weber selbst durch Krankheit verhindert ist, die Vermittlung zu übernehmen:

Bei einer Regierungsbesprechung über die Tuberkulosebekämpfung wurde uns von dem Leiter der Abteilung Bevölkerungswesen und Fürsorge, Oberverwaltungsrat Weirauch als geheime Reichssache mitgeteilt, es sei beabsichtigt oder werde erwogen, bei der Umsiedlung von 200.000 Polen im Osten des Generalgouvernements zwecks Ansiedlung deutscher Wehrbauern, mit einem Drittel der Polen - 70 000 alten Leuten und Kindern unter 10 Jahren so zu verfahren, wie mit den Juden, das heißt, sie zu töten.

[...] 
TRANSLATION
Copy.                                                              [incoming stamp]

Warsaw, December 7, 1942

Letter box 54.
until 27.XII. Address:
Augsburg, Zeugplatz 7.

Dr. Wilhelm Hagen
Stadtmedizinalrat
Medical officer of the city of Warsaw
District leader of the Reich Tuberculosis Committee in the Generalgouvernement

To the leader of the Greater German Reich Adolf Hitler

My Führer!

After consulting with a longtime friend Friedrich Weber, "Oberlandweber" - a man whose devotion to you, my Führer, is out of all doubt, I ask you to hear me in the following matter, since Weber himself is prevented by illness to take over the mediation:

At a government meeting on the fight against tuberculosis, we were informed by the head of the Department of Population and Welfare, Oberverwaltungsrat Weirauch as a secret Reich Affair, it is intended or considered, in the course of the resettlement of 200,000 Poles in the east of the General Government to settle German Wehrbauer, to deal with a third of the Poles - with 70,000 old people and children under the age of 10, as with the Jews, that is, to kill them.

[...]
(BArch NS 19/1210; for reasons of time, the reproductions were made only from the microfilm of the file)

12 comments:

  1. Great work, Hans! This had never been published and a full transcription of the original had occured only once before in 1958 (see below). This is one of my favorite documents because it's related to the Greiser paper trail (already explicit) about the "special treatment" of polish people with TB, by Sonderkommando Lange (in charge of Chelmno), that you have already put online in your great Chelmno series. You pull that thread (with its infamous "wie mit den Juden, das heißt, sie zu töten") and you get coming the whole Lange-Chelmno ball as a mass massacre of Jews team/center. I have made a full transcription of the german original with the help of the 1958 polish publication (with a french translation) here: https://phdn.org/histgen/documents/hagen-hitler-19421207.html (I burrowed your scans, and gave you credit of course).

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  2. Hi Gilles,

    the Hagen letter *parallels* the Greiser paper trail, but is not directly related to this, since Hagen was writing about what he heard regarding Zamosc in the Generalgouvernement, whereas Greiser was proposing the 'euthanising'/special treatment of sick Poles in the Warthegau.

    Considering how many times deniers (especially Mattogno) conflate different regions where different policies were being enacted, whether towards Jews or other groups, it's important not to conflate things across regions.

    Hagen's letter also needs to be read alongside the Kinna report of the same month, which contrasts the slower death intended for Poles deported to Auschwitz versus the implicit quick death of Jews.

    In actual fact, a small number of Poles transferred to Auschwitz from the Zamosc resettlements were 'liquidated', but the overwhelming majority were not, and were resettled elsewhere in the Lublin district. Some of the 'resettlers' were according to Polish underground reports 'liquidated' as elderly/sick at their arrival destinations in counties of the Lublin district, while other Zamosc resettlers were sent to Majdanek, and thus drew the attention of the Polish underground to Majdanek.

    The Polish government-in-exile regarded these reports as proof that following the extermination of the Jews, the Poles were now next in line, a sentiment which had already been voiced in 1942, and which was also heard among Ukrainians in eastern Galicia (see the Kuibowitsch report to Frank which we cited in the 2011 white paper). When the PGE presented their claims to the western Allies and demanded a further United Nations protest along the lines of the 17.12.42 declaration, the British balked, and this is when Cavendish-Bentick annotated his famous skepticism regarding whether the Nazis really intended to gas the Poles, circa August 1943.

    As an aside, by the end of 1942, the civil administration of the GG and the SS had rejected overly severe ration cuts for non-working Poles on the grounds that this would provoke too much unrest and cause the black market to flare up, etc. A similar exclusion of 'useless eaters' from the ration lists *was* implemented in the area of Army Group Centre in 1943, with no such concerns preventing this.

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  3. Hi Nick,

    Thanks very much for raising this issue.

    As a matter of principle you are absolutely right about how much one must be careful about not conflating things across regions (and time). And I may be too hasty here

    In this matter however, I see a stronger link than you do between the rumors Hagen was fed with (by Weirauch?) and the Greiser Wartegau project:

    1. the meeting Hagen talks about deals with Tuberculosis (that's a main aspect of Greiser's project).

    2. It must have happened in Warsaw, which is real near the Warthegau.

    3. The number used 70000 is exactly twice the number used by Greiser. I can't think that would happen without a close relationship between what Hagen heard about and what Greiser had planned in the Warthegau. Coincidence is still possible, though.

    4. The time frame is close: if Hagen writes on 7.12.1942, the meeting must have taken place before (maybe *before* Himmler's decision not to proceed with Greiser's project, or other nazis' knowledge of that decision) Have you any clue about the details of that meeting?

    Moreover do we have other information about the origins of those 200000 polish people to be resettled?

    One last thing: how dot you relate what Hagen heard to Zamosc (it's in the title of the 1958 polish article about it but not in Hagen's letter itself)? I may have missed important documents surrounding the meeting Hagen refers to of course...

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  4. The Zamosc connection emerges from "bei der Umsiedlung von 200.000 Polen im Osten des Generalgouvernements zwecks Ansiedlung deutscher Wehrbauern". There was no other such project under way at the end of 1942 in the GG.

    In postwar interrogations, Hagen pointed to Lothar Weirauch in the GG administration (BuF section) as his source; Weirauch wrote to HSSPF Krueger about the affair in February 1943 (a copy of this survives), rebutting accusations that he was the source of the 'leak', which Weirauch himself confirmed in postwar interrogations, while still denying being Weirauch's source.

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  5. Indeed, you are obviously right about the Zamosc Operation. However, HIlberg writes that in that 4th of february 1943 letter,

    "Weirauch, incensed, called the charge ‘‘nonsense’’ (Unsinn) and attributed to Hagen a desire to give to Poles comprehensive tuberculosis care"

    (vol II, p. 548, 2003 edition)

    That is an even stronger link to tuberculosis than I had remembered. So I'm still convinced there was a link between what Hagen heard and the Greiser project, but that one must be much more cautious than I was when stating so (I modified what I previously wrote in order to be more rigorous, thanks again). I sure would like to find Weirauch's whole letter...

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  6. Other witnesses remember Hagen's plan to spend 18 million zloties on tuberculosis care in Warsaw, so his plans were very much in the opposite direction of Greiser's intentions.

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  7. Hi Gilles, I've now uploaded also images of Weirauch's letter.

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  8. Hagen's stance about tuberculosis and position about sanitary issues was well studied by Christopher Browning in articles and books, I remember. That does not weaken my hypothesis though. Anyway, thanks to you, Nick, I did change (towards caution) the way I expressed the link I see between Hagen's letter and Greiser's project (and credit you as the one having brought forth the issue).

    And: hi Hans, great idea! Where did you upload the Weirauch letter exactly?

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  9. Gilles, it is linked in the posting (after quoting the letter). :-)

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  10. Hans, thanks. I see them now. I must have been drunk. Very useful. As usual.

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  11. Given Krueger's central role in the correspondence, we should connect it to his comments on 25.1.43, as submitted at Nuremberg:

    Warsaw, 25 January 1943

    Present: Dr. Hans FRANK and others

    [Page 16]

    State Secretary Krueger: When we settled about the first 4,000 in Kreis Zamosc shortly before Christmas I had an opportunity to speak to these people.

    (State Secretary Krueger) It is understandable that in resettling this area we did not make friends of the Poles.

    [Page 17]

    (State Secretary Krueger) In colonizing this territory with racial Germans, we are forced to chase out the Poles.

    (State Secretary Krueger) We are removing those who constitute a burden in this new colonization territory. Actually, they are the asocial and inferior elements. They are being deported, first brought to a concentration camp, and then sent as labor to the Reich. From a Polish propaganda standpoint this entire first action has had an unfavorable effect. For the Poles say: After the Jews have been destroyed then they will employ the same methods to get the Poles out of this territory and liquidate them just like the Jews.

    [Page 19]

    (State Secretary Krueger) As I have mentioned a great deal of unrest in Polish territory has resulted because of this resettlement.

    https://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/2233-ps.asp

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  12. Gilles:

    "Weirauch...attributed to Hagen a desire to give to Poles comprehensive tuberculosis care"

    This comes from the SS's objections to Hagen's proposal that medical equipment taken from the Warsaw ghetto be used to treat tubercular Poles, and his letter to Conti proposing to use some of the TB budget to treat Poles. The SS believed that only ethnic Germans should be treated for TB. [Browning, 'The Path To Genocide', p.162]. You can argue that this parallels the pressures that led to Greiser's desire to kill TB Poles but it is less radical than Greiser's proposal. It could mean that TB Poles in the GG were to die off from non-treatment rather than being proactively killed.

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