Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Eduard Strauch

The documented words and deeds of SS-Obersturmbannführer Eduard Strauch, the commander of the Security Police and SD (KdS) in White Ruthenia, pose three unsurmountable problems for deniers. Firstly, Strauch "admitted that, to his own knowledge, a Jew had to be killed just because he was a Jew". This admission was made, not only at his 1948 trial, but also in documents that he wrote for his superiors, which are discussed below. Secondly, Strauch used euphemisms such as "special treatment" and "resettled" in contexts that were so blatant that they could not camouflage their true meaning. Thirdly, Strauch's actions can be traced through testimony showing that they were systematic and ordered from the centre. Deniers cannot therefore claim that Strauch's forces were killing Jews because they were partisans, nor that their actions were ad-hoc and reactive.

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On July 25th, 1943, Strauch sent a long report to his superior, von dem Bach (Nuremberg file NO-2662), in which he complained bitterly about the behaviour of the Generalkommissar of White Ruthenia, Wilhelm Kube. The report is reproduced in full at the Axis History Forum here. The report includes the following revealing paragraphs:

On numerous occasions Kube has said to me personally that Jews evacuated from the Reich could be spared without any problem since they do not understand the local language and would therefore not pose a danger in so far as their becoming involved in guerrilla activities was concerned.

I am convinced from the evidence that deep down Kube is opposed to our actions against the Jews. If he does not admit to this outwardly the only reason is his fear of the consequences. He is in agreement with actions against Russian Jews because he is able to appease his conscience by the fact that the majority of Russian Jews collaborate with the guerrillas.
Every false denier claim, from Butz downwards, that the Einsatzkommandos were 'just' killing partisans can be safely trashed using this one extract. It confirms what was already obvious to anyone who has read the Operational Situation Reports, such as those in this link, namely that Jews were killed purely on the basis of their assumed 'racial origin'.

Strauch's use of euphemisms has already been the subject of an excellent blog by Nick Terry, revealing how the term 'resettlement' was used euphemistically when Strauch gave the order to kill the Jews of Sluzk. Nick's translation:
On 8 and 9 February 1943 there will be a resettlement in the town Sluzk by the local command the resettlement of the Jews there.
The evacuation of the Jews to the resettlement place happens by means of 6 trucks, each to be accompanied by 4 Latvians.
At the resettlement area are 2 pits. At each pit a group of 10 leaders and men will work, to be relieved every 2 hours. Times 8-10 o'clock, 10-12 o'clock, 12-14 o'clock, 14-16 o'clock.
Strauch's report to von dem Bach, cited above, provides further proof that deniers are pissing in the wind when they try to read 'resettlement' literally in any document produced during the occupation period:
On 1 March 1942 an action was to take place against the Russian ghetto in Minsk. The Generalkommissar received prior notification. In order to disguise the action the Council of Elders was to be informed that 5,000 Jews from the Minsk ghetto were to be resettled. These Jews were to be notified by the Council of Elders and told to get ready. Each Jew would be permitted to take along 5 kg of luggage.

As can be proved, the actual intentions of the Security Police were betrayed by the Generalkommissariat. Those Jews employed in the Generalkommissariat were not allowed into the ghetto for several days but were made to stay in the Generalkommissariat, as a result of which it became clear to the ghetto Jews that the version put out by the Security Police was not correct. In addition, further indiscretions were committed, as emerges from liaison reports. At the time it was not possible to prove these incidents. It is clear, however, that the Gauleiter used his knowledge to save his Jews.
Furthermore, the documents of Strauch, Kube and Lohse give several examples of how Sonderbehandlung was used as a euphemism for genocidal killing. Lohse, when forwarding a report from Kube to Rosenberg on 18 June 1943, wrote that:
The fact that Jews receive special treatment requires no further discussion. However, it appears hardly believable that this is done in the way described in the report of the General Commissioner of 1 June 1943. What is Katyn against that? Imagine only that these occurrences would become known to the other side and exploited by them! Most likely such propaganda would have no effect only because people who hear and read about it simply would not be ready to believe it.

To lock men, women, and children into barns and to set fire to them does not appear to be a suitable method of combating bands, even if it is desired to exterminate the population. This method is not worthy of the German cause and hurts our reputation severely.
Strauch's report to von dem Bach gives an example of such 'special treatment':
During a major ghetto action it was made known by informants that the German Jewish Ordnungsdienst made up predominantly of former World War I servicemen, was intending to put up armed resistance. In order to avoid bloodshed on the German side the Ordnungsdienst was made to assemble and was told that a fire had broken out in the town and they should be at the ready for fire duty. The Jews were then loaded on to trucks and sonderbehandelt.
The Nuremberg judgement against Strauch, cited above also noted that:
On 20 July 1943 Strauch wrote a letter narrating how he had subjected 70 Jews to special treatment and expressing his resentment because complaint had arisen from the fact that he had had the gold fillings removed from the mouths of these Jews before they were killed.
Finally, deniers will be distressed to read that Strauch was acting from higher orders. Heydrich met Strauch in Minsk in April 1942, and his presence enabled this sequence of events, described by Strauch at his trial:
In response to a question regarding the Jewish problem in White Ruthenia, Strauch replied that the Fuehrer Order was valid in White Ruthenia, as everywhere else. He testified that he had a conference with Kube and that Kube told him Jews were needed and he could not do without these Jews, since they should be used in bringing in the harvest, working in an armament factory, and doing other jobs. The defendant thereupon talked to Heydrich and was directed to postpone the execution of the Fuehrer Order until the harvest was brought in.
The harvest of evidence relating to Strauch will thus leave an unpleasant taste in mouths of Hitler-kissing deniers.

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