Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thomas Kues on »Lies and obfuscations about Himmler’s Sobibor directive«

"Revisionist" coryphée Thomas Kues seems to have given up trying to ignore the criticism that this blog site’s contributors have sent his way[1], for in his latest production [2] he responded to one of the arguments (just one) presented in two of my previous blogs[3]

Maybe I hit a raw nerve with the last of these blogs. Maybe Kues realized that his deafening silence was sapping his credibility even among followers of the "Revisionist" faith (the only realm where he has any). Or maybe other "Revisionists" prodded him into finally responding to this nasty Muehlenkamp fellow. The latter is suggested by the fact that, the day after I published the aforementioned blog, I received a c.c. of an e-mail message sent by Kues’ fellow propagandist Jürgen Graf, which had attached a German version of Kues’ earlier article[4], presenting its author as "der schwedische Forscher Thomas Kues" ("Swedish researcher Thomas Kues"). I replied to Graf that I had already commented the English version of his schwedische Forscher’s wisdom, and added a link to my blog. This may have created some waves in "Revisionist" cloud-cuckoo-land, eventually causing Kues to give in to his peers’ insistence.

Whatever Kues’ motivation was, let’s see what he’s got.

Before turning to "Anti-revisionist blogger Roberto Muehlenkamp", Kues makes a big fuss about a misrepresentation (which he claims was in all probability deliberate) by USHMM historian Peter Black, who according to Kues wrote in an article in Holocaust and Genocide Studies that Pohl and Globocnik had convinced Himmler to make Sobibor into a "transit camp" instead of a concentration camp, when actually "transit camp" (Durchgangslager) was what Himmler himself had called the place in his directive of 5 July 1943, and Pohl and Globocnik had merely convinced him that converting Sobibór into a concentration camp was not necessary for the purpose Himmler intended to achieve.

It may be that that Kues has accurately rendered Black’s writing, and that Black’s inaccurate rendering of the source in question cannot be attributed to his having misread or misunderstood it. But who is Kues to point the finger at anyone? Even if one were to give him the benefit of considering him benighted enough to genuinely believe in his "Revisionist" articles of faith, the fact remains that Kues is no stranger to deliberately misrepresenting or otherwise dishonestly using sources, and has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar more than once. Besides the cases pointed out by my fellow blogger Jonathan Harrison[5], there are two obviously deliberate and rather grievous misrepresentations in what (judging by the claims of no less an authority than Kues’ co-author Jürgen Graf) are parts authored by Kues of the Mattogno, Graf & Kues co-productions about Sobibór extermination camp[6]. This is what I wrote about one of these misrepresentations[7]:

MGK's next shot is to call in question the accuracy of Prof. Kola’s findings as concerns the depth of the graves. They refer to Prof. Kola’s description of excavations in a well "not far from the graves", which supposedly had to be stopped at a depth of 3.60 meters because of a ground water stream, as contradicting the plausibility of the graves being as deep as described by the archaeologist[31].

Prof. Kola’s description of these excavations, which is partially quoted by MGK in German translation, reads as follows in Katarzyna Piotrowska's English translation of Prof. Kola’s article (emphasis added):

Object C
(Hectare XXV, acre 35. Dig 3/01)
In the depth of around 40-45 cm below the asphalt, where the cement well was located, there was started an archaeological dig, measuring horizontally 2.3 x 2.1 m. The dig was being excavated until the depth of 95 – 100 m, uncovering – at the depth of 50 m – the upper part of the first remaining cement CEMBROWINA of the well. It was noticed that while building the well, only the sand from its interior was taken out. Hence the following exploration was taken only in its interior not in the area of the dig. The depth of 5.00 – 5.10 m was reached. The exploration had to be stopped here because of the sudden leak of ground waters, of which traces started appearing at the depth of around 3.60 m. They didn’t make it till the end of the well then.

The highlighted part is left out in MGK's quote. Of interest is the last sentence, which shows that the excavation was only stopped at the depth of 5.00 to 5.10 meters because of a ground water leak, the first traces of which started appearing at the depth of 3.60 meter but were not strong enough to stop the excavation until a depth of 5.00 to 5.10 meters had been reached. MGK obviously left out this part, which suggests that it was not impossible to dig graves up to 5 – 5.10 meters deep in other parts of the camp, even if located "not far" from the well, or even deeper than that in dry times when the groundwater level was accordingly lower[32]. This omission allowed them to misrepresent Prof. Kola’s statement to the effect that ground water had forced him to stopped digging at 3.60 meters, when actually diggings only had to be stopped at a depth of 5.00 to 5.10 meters because of the ground water. Leaving out a part of a quoted text in order to give that text the meaning one would like it to have is called quote-mining. Quote-mining is a form of lying.

And this is what I wrote about the other[8]:

To make matters worse, MGK also ignored the fact that Prof. Kola considered each of graves nos. 1 and 2 to have been body-burning graves, obviously on account of having found only cremation remains but no whole corpses or larger unburned remains in these pits. The available English translations of Prof. Kola’s descriptions of these graves by MGK[185] and by Katarzyna Piotrowska[186] don’t differ significantly except as concerns the last paragraph of each grave’s description, which reads "It contains the remains of burned corpses" according to MGK and "It was a body burning grave" according to my translator. The original Polish term in the article is "Grób cialopalny". "Grób" means "grave" and "cialopalny" obviously refers to a property of the grave, so it doesn’t look like my translator made a mistake here. MGK, on the other hand, translated the term "Grób cialopalny" as "It contains remains of cremated corpses". This translation, while accurately rendering what the original text says about the contents of the grave (remains of cremated corpses), obfuscates Prof. Kola’s assessment of what the grave’s purpose had been, which the translation "body burning grave" conveys. Prof. Kola obviously assumed that, as graves nos. 1 and 2 contained only cremation remains, they had never been used for burying whole corpses but only for burning corpses whose cremation remains had then been buried in them.[187] One cannot help the suspicion that MGK mistranslated this passage in order to conceal from their readers the fact that the archaeologist had located two other cremation sites besides grave no. 7, which belies their claim that grave no. 7 was the "only incineration site identified for Sobibór".

If Kues should want to argue that a misrepresentation by a respected professional historian (of whom one would expect a true and fair rendering of sources) is a more serious matter than misrepresentations by a "Revisionist" filth merchant (whose falsehoods one shouldn’t be surprised about), he can count on my agreement.

Stepping from the hypocritical to the ridiculous, Kues claims that "several exterminationist historians have published false or misleading statements about NO-482". One of them is Yitzhak Arad, who is taken to task for having written that "On 5 July 1943, Himmler ordered Sobibór to be closed as an extermination camp and transformed into a concentration camp" – an accurate rendering of the meaning of Himmler’s directive, though Himmler for obvious reasons didn’t call the place by its proper name, as an uninformed reader of this sentence might presume. The other is the late Raul Hilberg, who unforgivably (at least in Kues’ opinion) wrote that Himmler had proposed Sobibór to be "designated" a concentration camp – hair-splitting Kues makes a big deal about the intended change having been not only in designation but also in organization (never mind that one would expect a place designated a concentration camp to also be subject to the corresponding organizational changes, at least in the world of common sense). Kues would obviously like to believe, or have his readers believe, that "exterminationist" historians are uncomfortable with the correspondence about the intended and then abandoned conversion of Sobibór, and that they tend to react to this discomfort the "Revisionist" way.[9] I don’t know how many historians have rendered this correspondence in a manner that might feed Kues’ wishful thinking, but one who has not is Jules Schelvis (well-known to Kues), who provided an accurate verbatim translation of this correspondence.[10] The full text of these documents is also rendered verbatim in the Hagen Sobibór trial’s judgment[11].

So much for Kues’ "lies" about Himmler’s directive of 5 July 1943. Now to the "contrived" argument of this "anti-revisionist blogger", whereby

• The camp held about 700 inmates at the time of the revolt on 14 October 1943;
• There’s no reason why a mere transit camp, a place where people were deloused and bathed and then put back on the train to their final destinations, should have required such a large labor force, which was not much smaller than that of Treblinka Labor Camp; and
• The fact that Globocnik, Pohl and eventually also Himmler considered Sobibór suitable for installing an ammunition-processing station without any transformation, obviously due to the size of its inmate population, shows that Sobibór was not what it was being called in the correspondence between Himmler and Pohl, i.e. not a transit camp.

Despite his patronizing ("Elsewhere Muehlenkamp presents his argument in its full glory"), Kues obviously considers my argument logical enough to invest much effort into trying to demonstrate that the Sobibór camp’s inmate population was not incompatible with what he calls the "transit camp hypothesis".

In assessing the accuracy of the inmate number I mentioned (he ends up considering it "fully possible" that Sobibór "indeed had some 6-700 inmates at the time of the uprising"), Kues mentions three contemporary German documents related to the revolt of 14.10.1943 and the subsequent pursuit of the escapees: a telex from the commander of the security police in the Lublin district to the duty officer at Krakow on 15 October 1943, a message of the same day from SS-Gruppenführer and HSSPF Lublin Jakob Sporrenberg to his fellow HSSPF in Luzk (Belarus), and a report from SS-Untersturmführer Benda of the Security Police and SD in Cholm dated 17 March 1944. The first two documents are partially quoted, whereas the third is only briefly rendered as mentioning a number of 300 escapees. However, the third document is the most interesting, and there’s a good reason why its full contents are rendered neither in Kues blog nor in MGK’s Sobibór book[12]. Schelvis transcribes the English translation of the document[13], from which the following excerpts are taken (emphases added):

Subject: Award for anti-bandit campaigns
Ref.: Kdr Order No. 11, 11 March 1944, Art. 105
Attachments: none.
In the afternoon of 15.10.1943 [should be 14.10] some 300 prisoners of Sonderlager Sobibór attempted a breakout, having disarmed a number of guard units and killed one SS-Führer as well as 10 SS Unterführers. The attempt was partially successful.
An Einsatzkommando was sent from the Grenzpolizeikommissariat at Cholm, which included the following SS members:
The Wehrmacht and the Schutzpolizei were also summoned. In view of the nature of the Sonderlager and its inmates, it was decided that the Wehrmacht should take immediate responsibility for pursuing the fugitives, and the Schutzpolizei for securing the camp from the outside.

The first highlighted term (Sonderlager) means "special camp", and it may well be the reason, or one of the reasons, why MGK thought it wise to withhold the document’s wording from their readers. Otherwise they would have had to explain why a transit camp, or a transit camp partially converted into a labor camp, would be called a "special camp". They would also have had to explain what it was about "the nature of the Sonderlager and its inmates" (which Benda was obviously aware of) that required involving the Wehrmacht in the fugitives’ pursuit, obviously because it was considered most urgent that all escapees be recovered and the Wehrmacht had more personnel available for this task than the Security Police, the SD or the Schutzpolizei. Needless to say, omitting known information inconvenient to one’s argument is also a form of lying, and another reason why the pot is calling the kettle black when someone like Kues hollers about "lies".

As concerns the 6-700 inmates’ tasks, supposedly all compatible with the "transit camp hypothesis", Kues starts by pointing out that 80 to 100 of these inmates were brought in after the ammunition dismantling plant was installed pursuant to Himmler’s directive, and that eventually «more than a hundred inmates were employed in “Lager IV” with construction work and the sorting and dismantling of captured enemy munition». The evidence he refers to in this context includes the testimonies of two Sobibór survivors, Dov Freiberg and Thomas Blatt, who are obviously supposed to have been out of their minds or lying through their teeth when testifying about the mass killing at Sobibór but fully reliable where Kues thinks their accounts help his argument. As to the other inmates outside what is known to have been the Aktion Reinhard(t) camp’s killing zone, Kues informs that according to Yitzhak Arad the bulk of them was distributed as follows:

- Platform workers (Bahnhofkommando); 40-50 prisoners working at the train platform with the disembarkation and unloading of train transports.
- Transport Square Workers (Transportkommando); about 40 prisoners engaged in activities carried out on the fenced-in square where the Jewish arrivals undressed.
- “Gold Jews” (Goldjuden); nearly 20 people whose task it was to receive and sort the money, gold, valuables, foreign currency, and bonds taken from the arriving Jews.
- Hair Cutter (Friseurs); 10-20 men who cut the hair of the female arrivals before these entered the “death camp proper”.
- Sorting Team for Clothing and Belongings (Lumpenkommando); 80-120 who worked with the collection, examination, sorting, bundling, storing, preparation for shipment and loading of clothing and belongings confiscated from the arrivals.
- Forest Team (Waldkommando), a few dozen prisoners working with the cutting of wood for heating and cooking in the camp. This team was enlarged once cremations began and the demand for firewood increased.

All of these tasks and the workforce allocated to them are perfectly compatible with the "transit camp hypothesis" according to Kues, who points out that «No-one disputes that the Germans confiscated belongings and valuables from the Jews who arrived in the Reinhardt camps, and it is most likely that arrivals had their hair cut off, as part of the delousing process.». Apparently Kues’ "hypothesis" has no problem with the fact that the objects "confiscated from the arrivals" (I like the "confiscated" euphemism for what it reveals about the mind of Mr. Kues) also included clothing, and that they were "confiscated" in such amounts that 80-120 inmates in each of the AR camps were occupied, day after day, with nothing other than "the collection, examination, sorting, bundling, storing, preparation for shipment and loading" of these clothes and belongings. The large workforce required for this task is not surprising if one considers what clothes and belongings were taken away from the victims – not just money, valuables and luxurious garments as Kues might want to argue, but everything they brought with or on them, as is suggested by the guidelines issued by the Deputy Chief of the Economics and Administration Main Office (SS-Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt), SS-Brigadeführer August Frank, in a letter of 26.9.1942 to the administrative entities in Lublin und Auschwitz[14] (emphases added):

"Without prejudice to the general regulation to be expected in the course of October about recycling of the resettled’ Jews mobile and immobile patrimony, which in all future instructions must be referred to as the goods of thieves, receivers of stolen goods and hoarders, the following is established right away:

1. a) all cash amounts in German Reich bank notes must be deposited on the account W.-V.--Hauptamt 158/1488 at the Reichsbank Berlin-Schöneberg.

b) Foreign currency (coined or not), precious metals, jewelry, precious or semi-precious stones, dental gold and broken gold must be handed over to the SS-Economics and Administration Main Office, which is responsible for immediate forwarding to the German Reichsbank.

c) Watches of all kind, alarm clocks, fountain pens, pencils, manual or electrical razors, pocket knives, flashlights, wallets and purses, shall be repaired, cleaned and appraised by the SS Economics and Administration Main Office in special workshops and then sent to the frontline troops as quickly as possible. Handing over to the troops shall take place against payment by the sutlerships. There must be established 3-4 price classes and it must be made sure that each commander or soldier can by one watch at most. Exempted from sale are gold watches, the utilization of which I reserve to myself; total revenues shall be delivered to the Reich.

d) Men’s linen, men’s clothes including shoes must be sorted and appraised. After covering the needs of concentration camp inmates and exceptionally of troops they must be handed over to the Ethnic German Center (Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle). In any case the revenue must be delivered to the Reich.

e) Women’s clothes, women’s linen including footwear, children’s clothing and children’s linen including shoes must be handed to the Ethnic German Center against payment. Pure silk linen must according to the SS Economics and Administration Main Office’s instructions be handed over to the Reich Ministry of Economy. The same applies to linen under d).

f) Eiderdowns, quilts, blankets, suit fabric, shawls, umbrellas, sticks, thermos bottles, ear muffs, baby carriages, combs, hand bags, leather belts, shopping bags, tobacco pipes, sunglasses, mirrors, cutlery, rucksacks, suitcases made of leather or synthetic material, must be handed over to the Ethnic German Center. The issue of compensation will still be regulated. Own needs of quilts, blankets, thermos bottles, earmuffs, combs, cutlery and rucksacks may be taken by Lublin and Auschwitz against remuneration from budget funds.

g) Linen such as bed sheets, bed covers, pillows, towels, wiping cloths, table cloths, must be handed to the Ethnic German Center against payment. Bed sheets, bed covers, towels, wiping clothes and table clothes can be used for the troops’ needs against payment from budget funds.

h) Spectacles and eyeglasses of all kinds must be handed to the sanitary office for utilization (spectacles with golden frames must be delivered, without glasses, together with the precious metals). An accounting of the spectacles and eyeglasses is not necessary due to their low value and the reduced usefulness.

i) Fine furs of all kinds, processed or unprocessed, must be delivered to the SS Economics and Administration Main Office. Furs of base kind (sheepskins, hare or rabbit skins etc.) must be delivered to the Waffen SS Clothing Office (Bekleidungswerk der Waffen SS), Ravensbrück near Fürstenberg (Mecklenburg), with notice to the SS Economics and Administration Main Office, Section B II.

k) All objects mentioned under items d), e), f) that have a wear value of only 1/3 or 2/5 or are wholly useless shall be delivered by the SS Economics and Administration Main Office to the Reich Ministry of Economics. Insofar as articles accrue that are not mentioned under items b)-i) a decision about their utilization from the Head of the SS Economics and Administration Main Office must be obtained.

2. All prices shall be established by the SS Economics and Administration Main Office taking into account legal guiding prices. This fixation may also take place subsequently. Value appraisals taking much time and personnel can be done without. Generally average prices shall be established, for instance 3.-- Marks for a used men’s trousers, 6.-- Marks for a blanket etc. For the delivery of useless objects to the Reich Ministry of Economics prices per kilo shall be generally established. Strict care must be taken that from all clothes delivered the Yellow Star is removed. Furthermore all objects to be delivered must be examined with the greatest possible care for hidden or sewn-in values.

In representation


SS-Brigadeführer and Major General of the SS[should probably read "Polizei" (police), translator’s note]"

The amount of clothes and personal objects taken away from the "resettled Jews" was as astronomic as can be expected given the number of deportees and the wholesale plunder that becomes apparent from the above-quoted instructions. Figures about the plunder’s results can be found in the attachments to a letter that Globocnik sent to Himmler from Trieste on 5 January 1944[15]. The first attachment to that letter, a "Report On the Administrative Development of the Action Reinhardt", mentions that

The total value of the articles received is, according to the attached list, approximately 18 million Reichsmarks. However, minimum values have been assured, so that the total value is most likely twice as much, quite apart from the value of the articles obtained which are in short supply, such as textiles, of which alone more than 1900 wagons have been made available to German industry.

The figure of 18 million Reichsmarks is probably meant to read 180 million Reichsmarks, as the later documents suggest.

The next attachment, a document called "Assets delivered from Action Reinhard" and dated 27.2.1943, mentions (among other deliveries) "About 1,000 wagons of textiles to a total value of RM 13,294,400.00". Attached to it is a "List of Jewish property received for delivery up to 3.2.1943", in which the wagons carrying textiles are broken down as follows:

462 Wagons of rags: at RM 700.00 RM 323,400.00
261 Wagons of bed feathers: at RM 10,000.00 RM 2,510,000.00
317 Wagons of clothing and underclothing: at RM 33,000.00 RM 10,461,000.00

Total: RM 13,294,400.00

Appendix 2 to the following document, called «Provisional balance sheet of the Action "Reinhardt" till, Lublin, for 12/16/1943», lists the following quantities of textiles:


1,901 Wagons of clothing, underclothing, bed feathers and rags to an average value of RM: 26,000,000.00;
Camp articles to an average value of 20,000,000.00
Total: 46,000,000.00

After this there is a "Total Compilation" with the following figures:

Currency delivered, Zlotys and RM-Notes: RM 73,852,080.74;
Precious metals RM 8,973,651.60;
Foreign currency in notes RM 4,521,224.13;
Foreign currency in gold coins RM 1,736,554.12;
Jewelry and other valuables RM 43,662,450.00;
Textiles RM 46,000,000.00;
Total RM 178,745,960.59

In their Treblinka book, Mattogno & Graf argue as follows[16]:

Insofar as the 50 railway cars with “articles of clothing of the Waffen-SS” are concerned, which were mentioned in the Wehrmacht bill of lading dated “Treblinka, the 13th of September 1942,” they would have contained 337.5 metric tons of clothes altogether, or 6¾ in each boxcar, if we assume the same amount per railway car as listed above for the rags (2,700t/400). However, if each of the (allegedly) 870,000 Jews deported to Treblinka had worn or (along with extra clothing, pillows, and blankets) carried with him 10 kg worth of article of clothing, and had these mountains of clothing been collected after the murder of the victims, then this would have amounted to 8,700 metric tons, for whose transportation nearly 1,300 railway cars would have been necessary!

M&G are assuming a load of 6.75 tons per railway car, based on a "list appended as a supplement to a letter dated February 6, 1943, from the SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl", which mentions 400 cars carrying 2,700 tons of rags. Assuming this load, 1,901 railway cars would have carried 12,831.75 tons of textiles, which according to M&G’s calculation would correspond to the clothing articles of 1,283,175 persons. However, 6.75 tons is a rather low load for a railway car, suggesting that the cars mentioned in the Pohl document were for some reason not filled to capacity, or that they also carried other articles besides rags. As concerns wood transported to the camps for burning the bodies, Mattogno obviously considered a load of 25 tons per railway freight car[17]. On the other hand, it is hardly a given that deportees to the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps wore or carried with them 10 kg of clothing, or even 10 kg of clothing, pillows and blankets. The comparatively few Jews deported directly from Western Europe probably brought along more clothes, while the overwhelming majority of deportees - impoverished ghetto Jews - brought along much less. One such transport was described by Treblinka survivor Richard Glazar[18] (emphases added):

A tall young man staggers out, followed by a woman. He is bareheaded, his long hair disheveled, with a stubby beard on his face. His long coat hangs slack on his body; all the buttons have been torn off. He has a dark patch of blood under one ear, worn gray felt boots on his feet. He’s carrying a bundle in each hand. The woman following him unfortunately steps on the head of one of the bodies lying on the floor. She loses here footing, and as she’s reaching for support, she knocks one of the bundles out of his hand. The bundle breaks open, and their miserable hoard rolls out onto the platform: potatoes, a pot containing a small piece of margarine, rolled-up linens, grubby little cloth bags, half full, wrinkled, probably containing food. The man turns around, takes the woman by the arm, and pulls her up. Then he bends over again under the blows from Kiewe’s whip. They weren’t moving fast enough. The man’s face is smeared with blood, but the blood isn’t running. It is so cold that the blood has frozen into dark red stripes and clots. The man is trying to protect the woman from the whip with his own body. He doesn’t want to let her go, and now he is gathering himself as if to resist. Kiewe is overflowing with rage. Sepp Hirtreiter jumps in from the other side to provide assistance and delivers two murderous blows. They all disappear from my view.
The man had a yellow star sewn onto the front of his coat on the left side and another one on the back. That means that this is a transport from occupied Soviet territory. That’s how Jews are identified there. Jews from Poland wear a white armband with a blue Star of David. Jews arriving in transports from Theresienstadt wear the well-known yellow star on the left side of their chests; these stars are inscribed with the word Jude an indication that the wearers are European Jews.
The commotion and screaming on the platform fade away. The last people stagger out of the cars and gasp for breath. Not a single suitcase or real backpack just bags, bundles, and sacks with cords sewn on so they can be carried on ones back. Its enough to tell me that this is a miserably poor transport from somewhere to the east.

Even those who would have had more to bring along could be subject to luggage weight restrictions, like those expressed in the Warsaw Jewish Council’s Bekanntmachung of 22. July 1942[19]:

Jeder jüdische Umsiedler darf von seinem Eigentum 15 kg als Reisegepäck mitnehmen. Gepäck mit mehr als 15 kg wird beschlagnahmt. Es können sämtliche Wertsachen Geld, Schmuck, Gold usw. mitgenommen werden. Verpflegung ist für 3 Tage mitzunehmen.


Every Jew to be resettled is allowed to take 15 kg of his property as travel luggage. Luggage weighing more than 15 kg will be confiscated. All valuables, money, jewelry, gold etc. may be taken along. Food is to be brought for 3 days.

The text leaves it uncertain whether or not valuables and food are included in the permitted weight. Many a compliant deportee, facing and uncertain future and knowing that everything he or she didn’t take along would be lost for good, is thus likely to have given preference to what valuables he or she had, and eventually also to food, over clothing and personal articles in putting together the permitted 15 kg of luggage.

Considering the above, the 1,901 railway cars mentioned in an attachment to Globocnik’s letter of 5 January 1944 can be safely assumed to have contained what is suggested by Frank’s quoted guidelines of 26.9.1942, i.e. all clothes or other textiles that were brought along by the deportees to the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps and considered worth recycling. It should further be borne in mind that the document in question was just a "provisional balance sheet", which means that even higher quantities may have resulted from a final count.

Now, if the Jews arriving at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps were deprived of their clothes and personal articles, if even their underwear (including that of children), their combs and the spectacles and eyeglasses worn by those needing them were "confiscated" from them, what were these Jews left with for the supposed continuation of their journey, from the "transit camps" to the supposed places of resettlement in the occupied Soviet territories? Are we asked to believe that they were sent on their journey stark naked? That the old and frail among them were deprived of their walking sticks? That those among them with bad eyesight bumped against the train walls or their fellow deportees because their spectacles and eyeglasses had been taken away from them?

With these questions (which I hope Mr. Kues will try to answer) I leave the hard-working inmates of the Lumpenkommando (which is not to say that other workers outside the extermination area, e.g. the hair-cutters and the members of the forest detachment, didn’t work hard as well) and move on to the inmates in the extermination area, which at Sobibór was called Camp III. According to Yitzhak Arad, the number of these inmates at each Sobibór and Treblinka was about 200 (after a kitchen and a laundry for the prisoners had been established in the extermination area, and a group of craftsmen had been organized for building and maintenance tasks there, all in order to avoid contact between the inmates in this sector and those in the other camp sectors), and close to 300 at times.[20] Regarding the inmates in Sobibór’s Camp III, Schelvis wrote the following[21]:

It seems likely that the 150 [prisoners in Camp III] mentioned by Samuel Lerer would have been reduced to around 50 by the time the revolt broke out, because there had been no transports in the days leading up to it and no more were expected. In the end, their jobs probably consisted only of burning bodies. None of them survived the camp.

A fixed detachment of 150 workers is mentioned in the judgment at the Hagen Sobibór trial.[22] This number, against which Kues presents no arguments (he merely remarks that it "presumably derives from testimony left by camp personnel"), will be assumed in the following.

What did these 150 workers in Camp III do all day?

According to the evidence assessed by historians and criminal justice authorities, they had their hands full taking the bodies out of the gas chambers, cleaning blood and excrement off the gas chambers’ walls and floors after each gassing, taking the bodies to the burial pits or cremation grids and burying or cremating the bodies. Judging by the fact that, as mentioned by Schelvis, the sector’s inmate population was reduced from 150 to 50 when there were no more arrivals but only remaining bodies to be burned, 50 was the number allocated to arranging the bodies in the graves or on the grids. The number of inmates required to take the bodies from the gas chambers to the graves must have been lower at Sobibór than at Treblinka (where some one hundred men were occupied with this task alone[23], because at Sobibór a narrow-gauge railways was used to take the bodies to the graves[24].

The tasks that Kues dreamed up for these people were much easier and less unpleasant, of course. They are supposed to have been "handing out towels and soaps" (a job for a mere handful, say one or two leading the deportees to the place where towels and soaps were handed out and another one or two handing out towels and soap), "helping out with the delousing process" (like doing what exactly?), "cleaning and repairing showers and delousing facilities " (something that could be done by a few craftsmen), "guiding deportees from one station in the delousing area to another" (a job for one or two guys, the same who took the deportees to the place where towels and soaps were handed out), "assisting in the embarkment on departing trains" (wouldn’t that have been the job of the platform and/or the transport square workers?), "etc. etc." (I can’t think of much else, actually).

Kues argues that according to archaeological evidence the deportees "entered Lager III at least partially dressed, since a large number of remains of clothing and toilet articles were found inside the discovered building remains in that part of the camp". As I pointed out in my previous blog, the Sobibór camp area underwent transformations after the camp’s dismantlement that render moot any conjectures about objects found by Prof. Kola not being where they "should" have been located according to eyewitness testimonies.

Kues would like to believe that the "enormous barracks" called "Object E" by Prof. Kola was the "main delousing facility" of his fantasies. A far likelier explanation, assuming that this building is indeed incompatible with what is so far known about the camp’s features from eyewitness testimonies, is that this building was set up after the camp’s dismantlement as part of the "small farm" left behind on the camp site for surveillance purposes according to Globocnik’s aforementioned letter to Himmler of 5 January 1944 (as was also pointed out in my previous blog).

Kues claims that "archeological findings from Belzec and Chelmno together with statements from Sobibór eyewitnesses strongly suggest that number tags were used to register the Aktion Reinhardt (and Chelmno) deportees and/or their clothes/belongings that were to go through delousing." The "statements from Sobibór eyewitnesses" that Kues refer to are some inmates’ recollections and an alleged 1967 statement by Franz Stangl about SS-men counting the arrivals and the inmates and taking down their names (which is supposed to be incompatible with Sobibór being an extermination camp, as opposed to having been done for purposes of deceit, for the sake of statistics or bureaucratic record-keeping or merely as a time-killing hobby – camp supervisor Wagner reportedly "went around registering the names, age and place of birth of the inmates in the camp" during a period of "respite from transports", i.e. at a time when he had little to occupy himself with).[25] As to the numbered badges or disks mentioned in archaeological reports about Bełżec and Chełmno, their origin and purpose is not known. If – as MGK inevitably argue [26] – these tags "concerned people still alive", the best explanation (i.e. the one that takes all known evidence into account and requires the fewest additional assumptions) would be that people still alive had received these tags before being deported to the respective extermination camp, e.g. during an earlier stay at a labor camp. Of course this simple explanation wouldn’t occur to Kues, who instead muses that "the Jewish inmates in Lager III could have also worked with handing out or attaching such tags, as well as with the handling of toilet articles and other items carried by the deportees" (the aforementioned one-or-two plus one-or-two team for "handing out towels and soaps", except that they would additionally have handed out tags and whatever "other items" Kues has in mind).

As an additional transit camp job creation measure, Kues finally speculates that the kitchen installed in Camp III could have been meant "to better to provide the deportees awaiting further transport with nourishment", which is a particularly amusing conjecture considering that the supposedly transited deportees would, on their return from the supposed bathing and delousing procedure in Camp III, have necessarily passed close to the kitchen for the inmates outside Camp III, the Ukrainian kitchen and the SS canteen and kitchen on their way back to the trains [27]. In Kues’ cloud-cuckoo-land the SS were so gentle with those filthy Jews that they treated them to a luncheon before leaving Camp III lest they got hungry before reaching either of these kitchens. The actual purpose of the kitchen in Camp III (avoiding contact between the extermination area inmates and those in the other camp areas) has been mentioned above.

Kues generously concedes that "a number of inmates were involved in the gruesome business of handling and disposing corpses". The number of corpses to be handled and disposed of, according to his baseless conjectures, was about 10,000, including Jews who perished en route due to various causes (removing such corpses was actually the task of the platform workers in the camp's reception area[28]), died from illness in the camp, were executed as reprisal for escape attempts, or were "subjected to “euthanasia” (likely utilizing lethal injections, possibly also through shooting) as mentally ill or carriers of epidemic diseases" because such were "categories of Jews that the German authorities certainly did not want to have resettled in the east" (as if German authorities in the east had wanted to receive any Jews in addition to the indigenous ones they were bumping off[29]). Considering that Sobibór had by the time of the revolt been in operation for about 18 months (since May 1942), the 10,000 dead that Kues sucked out of his fingers would mean an average of 556 bodies per month or 19 bodies per day. If 50 inmates had been in charge of burying or burning just these few bodies (2 or 3 for each daily corpse), they would have been idle most of the day. Assuming that corpses accrued in larger numbers at certain times followed by long periods in which there were none at all, those 50 body disposal workers would have been busy as hell on days when there were corpses but occupied with little more than scratching their heads during most of their stay at Sobibór.

So it doesn’t look like Kues managed to provide qualitatively and quantitatively sound job descriptions fitting the "transit camp hypothesis". Apparently aware of this, he ends his article with the lame argument that the Nazis didn’t have to use their slave labor efficiently because they had plenty of it, and to make this lame argument sound like something he combines it with some bragging about his knowledge of "the socio-economics and technologies of Ancient Rome and Egypt", thereby displaying the obnoxious petulance that characterizes "Revisionist" wisecrackers. Whatever Kues thinks he learned from reading about how the ancient Romans and Egyptians handled their slave labor, it’s unlikely that any Nazi camp commandant or the entities managing those camps would have been enthusiastic about excess workers, who they would have had to feed and guard without getting adequate work performance in return. Moreover the war economy of Nazi Germany was so dependent on slave labor that it could hardly afford using it inefficiently, and instead of handing out soap and towels or burying a reduced number of bodies and doing nothing most of the time, the folks in Sobibór Camp III could have been better used to, say, increase the productivity of Camp IV or of peat digging at Dorohucza labor camp[30].

So much for Thomas Kues’ transit camp socio-economics.

Now, what about my other arguments?

Contrary to the impression that Kues’ article might give the unwary reader, it’s not like my arguments against his Sobibór defense case had been limited to arguing about Himmler’s directive of 5 July 1943 and the Treblinka labor force. Actually that is just one of the several arguments made in my previous blog. The impression that Kues’ blog conveys is that, unable to address my other arguments, he picked out the one he thought he could refute, and dishonestly presented his response in such a way as to make believe that it had been my only argument in this context. Or is one to assume that Kues conceded my other arguments?

And what about the other criticism from contributors of the HC blog site[31], regarding which Kues has so far remained what Carlo Mattogno might call "indecorously silent"[32] if the shoe were on the other foot?

There are two forums that the "Inconvenient History" blog site recommends for debate, the CODOH forum and the RODOH forum. There’s not much if any debate on the former, as inconvenient posters opposing the "Revisionist" stance tend to have their posts censored and eventually get banned, as happened to me some years ago (I haven’t been readmitted since). That leaves the latter. I hereby invite Mr. Kues to meet me on the RODOH forum. If he can bring along Carlo Mattogno and Jürgen Graf, that’s all the better. And if he can furthermore convince the cowardly "Revisionist" cheerleader Jonnie "Hannover" Hargis to leave the safety of his warm and cozy online Führerbunker, that would be the icing on the cake.


[1] See the blogs labeled Thomas Kues.
[2] Lies and obfuscations about Himmler’s Sobibor directive
[3] «Evidence for the Presence of "Gassed" Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories» (1) and On 12.05.2011, Demjanjuk was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
[4] Demjanjuk sentenced to 5 years in prison
[5] See the blogs Thomas Kues and False Paraphrasing, Thomas Kues' Double Standards: The Sobibor Revolt, Kues' Dishonesty About Kruk, Thomas Kues and Isak Grünberg, Kues on Gustav Wagner (Revised and Updated) and Another Distortion by Kues.
[6] Mattogno, Graf & Kues, Die Akte Sobibór; same authors, Sobibór: Holocaust Propaganda and Reality (hereinafter "MGK, Sobibór"). In an e-mail message sent to me on October 21, 2010, Graf bragged about "the chapter about the material findings, written by T. Kues", obviously referring to Chapter 5 -"Critical Analysis of Material Evidence" of MGK’s Sobibór book. I assumed that the author of this chapter had also written the equivalent chapters of Die Akte Sobibór.
[7] In the blog Mass Graves at Nazi Extermination Camps.
[8] In the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on Aktion Reinhard(t) Cremation (3).
[9] Kues even spells out this theory towards the end of his blog: "There is a good reason why Black, Arad, Hilberg and Hilberg have felt compelled to meet the contents of NO-482 with lies and obfuscations."
[10] Schelvis, Jules, Sobibor: A History Of A Nazi Death Camp, 2007 by Oxford International Publishers Ltd. in association with the United Stated Holocaust Memorial Museum (hereinafter "Schelvis 2007"), pages 146-47.
[11] LG Hagen vom 20.12.1966, 11 Ks 1/64, see the partial translation in my RODOH post 12344.
[12] MGK merely mention that «Five months after these events, on 17 March 1944, SS-Untersturmführer Benda wrote an account of the Sobibór uprising – which he wrongly dated 15 October 1943 – and of the ensuing search for the fugitives, stating that the rebels had “shot an SS officer as well as 10 SS NCOs.”» (MGK, Sobibór, p. 22).
[13] Schelvis 2007, pp. 179-80.
[14] This document is quoted in the judgment LG Hagen vom 20.12.1966, 11 Ks 1/64, see the partial translation in my RODOH post 12342
[15] Document 4024-PS, see the translation on the Aktion Reinhard Camps site (with the inevitable "Note to our viewers" posted on top by the mentally unbalanced Carmelo Lisciotto).
[16] M&G, Treblinka – Extermination Camp or Transit Camp, p. 159.
[17] See note 122 in the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on Aktion Reinhard(t) Cremation (2).
[18] Richard Glazar, Trap with a Green Fence, 1995 translation from the German original by Northwestern University Press, pp. 61 ff. (transcription in the RODOH thread Treblinka Eyewitness Accounts).
[19] Facsimile on the ARC page Warsaw Ghetto Liquidation
[20] Arad, Yitzhak, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis 1987 (hereinafter "Arad, Reinhard"), p. 112.
[21] Schelvis 2007, pp. 167-68.
[22] LG Hagen vom 20.12.1966, 11 Ks 1/64, see the partial translation in my RODOH post 12344.
[23]Arad, Reinhard, p. 111
[24] As note 22.
[25] MGK, Sobibór, pp. 100-101.
[26] As above, pp. 331-333.
[27] Respectively number 30, 19 and 7 on W. Rutherford’s map of Sobibór in June 1943.
[28] Arad, Reinhard, p. 108.
[29] General Commissioner Kube in Minsk wasn’t enthusiastic about his killers having to deal "again and again" with "Jewish transports from the Reich" (obviously the ones that had been dispatched at Maly Trostinec since May 1942) because they had their hands full with the local Jews as well as partisans and the Polish Resistance – see the blog More «Evidence for the Presence of "Gassed" Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories» (1).
[30] See the webpage Dorohucza.
[31] See the blogs labeled Thomas Kues
[32] A term used by Mattogno in regard to John Zimmerman, see the blog Mattogno freaks out.

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