Friday, June 30, 2006

Gauleiter Arthur Greiser

On 1 May 1942, Gauleiter Arthur Greiser, head of the district known as the Warthegau in the former Polish territories annexed to Germany after the campaign in September 1939, wrote a letter to Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, which is partially transcribed on page 18 of Kogon/Langbein/Rückerl et al, Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas. The transcription reads as follows:

Read more!

Die von Ihnen im Einvernehmen mit dem Chef des Reichssicherheitshauptamtes SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich genehmigte Aktion der Sonderbehandlung von rund 100,000 Juden in meinem Gaugebiet wird in den nächsten 2-3 Monaten abgeschlossen werden können. Ich bitte Sie um die Genehmigung, mit dem vorhandenen und eingearbeiteten Sonderkommando im Anschluß an die Judenaktion den Gau von einer Gefahr befreien zu dürfen, die mit jeder Woche katastrophalere Formen annimmt.
Es befinden sich im Gaugebiet ca. 230,000 erkannte Tbc-Kranke polnischer Volkszugehörigkeit. Von diesen wird die Zahl der mit offener Tuberkulose behafteten Polen auf ca. 35 000 geschätzt. […]
Wenngleich auch im Altreich mit entsprechenden drakonischen Maßnahmen gegenüber dieser Volkspest nicht durchgegriffen werden kann, glaube ich es dennoch verantworten zu können, Ihnen vorzuschlagen, hier im Warthegau die Fälle der offenen Tbc innerhalb des polnischen Volkstums ausmerzen zu lassen.

My translation:

It will be possible to conclude the action of special treatment of about 100,000 Jews in the area of my Gau, authorized by yourself with the agreement of the head of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich, within the next 2-3 months. I hereby ask for authorization to use the existing and trained special detachment after the Jewish action in order to free the Gau of a danger that takes a more catastrophic shape every week.
There are 230,000 identified ethnic Poles with tuberculosis in the Gau area. The number of Poles with open tuberculosis is estimated at ca. 35 000. […]
Though it is not possible to tackle this popular plague in the Old Reich with corresponding draconian measures, I think I can take the responsibility of proposing to you that here in the Warthegau the cases of open tuberculosis among the Polish people are extirpated.

I wonder if any "Revisionist" has ever commented on this document, which leaves little if any room for an innocuous interpretation.

For how did Greiser intend to "extirpate" the "cases of open tuberculosis among the Polish people" in the area of his Gau, other than by killing the ca. 35,000 Poles he had identified as suffering from this disease?

And why did he for this purpose request permission to use the "existing and trained special detachment" which at the time was taking care of the "special treatment of about 100,000 Jews in the area of my Gau" ? What could the "special treatment" that this "special detachment" had "trained" itself in have been, other than the same kind of activity that Greiser would have liked to see it perform in regard to the Poles with open tuberculosis within the area of his jurisdiction?

Any takers?

Update: cf. documents about the murderous purpose of Sonderkommando Lange.


  1. Ingrid Weckert completely ignored the document in her article on Chelmno, despite the fact that she obviously knew the Kogon/Rueckerl book from her earlier work on gas vans.

  2. A tidbit on this letter from Kershaw.

    "The licence which Hitler as ‘enabler’ offered to such Party bosses in the east can be illustrated graphically through the ‘initiative’ taken by Greiser in May 1942 recommending the liquidation of 35,000 Poles suffering from incurable tuberculosis.59 In the event, Greiser’s suggestion encountered difficulties. Objections were raised that it would be hard to maintain secrecy—reference was made here to the impact of the earlier ‘euthanasia programme’ in Germany itself—and was likely, therefore, to arouse unrest among the Polish population as well as presenting foreign propaganda with a gift. It was regarded as necessary to consult Hitler himself if the ‘action’ were to go ahead. Greiser’s enlightening response ran: ‘I myself do not believe that the Fuhrer needs to be asked again in this matter, especially since at out last discussion with regard to the Jews he told me that I could proceed with these according to my own judgement’. 60 This judgement had already in fact been to recommend to Himmler the ‘special treatment’ (that is, killing) of 100,000 Jews in the Warthegau—the start of the ‘final solution’ there. 61"

    59. The correspondence between Greiser and Himmler on the subject, dated between 1 May and 3 December 1942, is in the personal file of Arthur Greiser in the Berlin Document Center (hereafter BDC). For a more extended discussion, see my article, ‘Improvised Genocide? The Emergence of the “Final Solution” in the “Warthegau’”, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th Series, 2 (1992), pp. 51-78, here pp. 71-3.
    60. BDC, Personal File of Arthur Greiser, letter of Greiser to Himmler, 21 Nov. 1942.
    61. BDC, Personal File of Arthur Greiser, letter of Greiser to Himmler, 1 May of 1942.

    Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships Comparison
    Edited by Ian Kershaw, Moshe Lewin
    Cambridge University Press
    Working Towards the Fuhrer

    The November letter from Greiser can be viewed here:

  3. I believe Mills has in the past offered commentary (read "spin") on this at AHF.


Please read our Comments Policy