Monday, December 26, 2011

Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. Holocaust Denial and Operation Reinhard. Chapter 4: So Where Did They Go? “Resettlement” to the East (3). Realities in the Occupied Soviet Territories.

Realities in the Occupied Soviet Territories

MGK exhibit a stunning lack of knowledge regarding the circumstances of the occupied eastern territories, where nearly two million Jews were supposedly deported in 1942 and 1943.[91] Food conditions in these areas have been highlighted in Holocaust scholarship over the past decade as a crucial factor in the extermination of Jews, another area which MGK have ignored across their work.[92] As mentioned earlier, German officials had already devised a ‘Hungerplan’ to starve the Soviet population for the practical and ideological benefit of the Reich, a plan modified once realities of the occupation set in.[93] Starvation and malnourishment existed across the areas in the winter of 1941-1942, with urban dwellers being provided with meagre rations (even less for Jews) and those in rural areas left to fend for themselves. Millions of Soviet prisoners of war were also purposefully left to starve, in addition to liquidations.[94] These types of policies were conducted to, as Himmler’s associate Peter-Heinz Seraphim noted, bring about the “extermination of useless mouths.”[95] Such circumstances would continue on throughout 1942, when MGK expect that hundreds of thousands of ‘useless mouths’ (unnütze Esser) were resettled into the same territories.[96]
While these areas were suffering from malnourishment (no small part from German policies), they were also the site of large population movements even without MGK’s hoped for Jewish resettlement scheme. In the areas of Army Group Center, between 1942 and the spring of 1943 more than 650,000 Russian civilians were displaced and evacuated westwards by the army group for various purposes (combat zone, withdrawal, labor, food shortages, etc.).[97] This movement created havoc among the occupation bureaucracy, with the total of evacuees being divided amongst several regional administrations due to fears of overburdening the locations in terms of food, transportation, and other issues. Collection and transit sites had to be established to accommodate and transfer these evacuees, in addition to offering hygienic measures; these sites are documented along with witness accounts, neither of which can be said for MGK’s resettlement hypothesis. The regions which grudgingly accepted several tens of thousands of refugees (i.e. Reichskommissariat Ostland, Generalkommissariat Wessruthenien) would obviously have faced a logistical nightmare if they had served as further destination for hundreds of thousands of Jews. The problems of a large population displacement can also be seen in the rejection of Hitler’s July 1942 plan to evacuate the entire Crimean population of several hundred thousand into the Ukraine by OKW (the German military command).[98] It is interesting that in the reasons for such a rejection, the explanation that ‘the Jews are going there’ was never mentioned.
There also was not a need for Jewish labor inside the occupied Soviet territories, if MGK were to agree that Jewish laborers were deported.[99] Throughout 1942, both the Ukraine and Ostland were filled with Soviet prisoners of war, with totals varying from a low of 617,000 and a high of 989,000.[100] Indeed even in mid-1943, 300,000 Soviet prisoners and partisans were requested by Gauleiter Sauckel to work in the mines of the Reich, while Gauleiter Koch suggested transferring the 1.5 million Hilfswilligen (Soviet helpers to the German military) to the Reich for labor purposes.[101] In addition to all of the above must be added the millions of Ostarbeiters, laborers taken from across the occupied Eastern territories and sent west to the Reich.[102]
Resettlement fantasies are also directly refuted by documents from the Nazis themselves. On July 28, 1942, shortly after start of deportations from the Warsaw ghetto to Treblinka, Himmler wrote to SS Main Office chief Gottlob Berger as follows:
The occupied eastern territories will be cleared of Jews. The implementation of this very hard order has been placed on my shoulders by the Führer. No one can release me from this responsibility in any case. I forbid all interference.[103]
It is also notable that MGK have failed to address the Himmler-Berger letter across all of their works. Needless to say it, MGK’s belief that hundreds of thousands of Jews were being resettled into the occupied eastern territories at the same time that Himmler was announcing his intent to clear said territories refutes their fantasy. Prior resettlement plans of Jews had also been abandoned prior to summer 1942, as can be seen in Wetzel’s April 1942 memorandum on Generalplan Ost where he states that the evacuation of Jews earlier planned “is no longer necessary due to the solution of the Jewish question.” Wetzel clearly knew of the killings of Jews as he stated later in his memo that “one cannot solve the Polish question by liquidating the Poles like the Jews.”[104]

[91] The classic work on the occupied territories is Alexander Dallin, German Rule in Russia 1941-1945, 2nd edition, London, 1981.
[92] Cf. Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde; Herbert, National Socialist Extermination Policies; Aly/Heim, Vordenker der Vernichtung, pp. 365-393; Gerlach, ‘Bedeutung der deutschen Ernährungspolitik’.
[93] See the section Extermination of Soviet Jews, Chapter 2; also Alex Kay, Exploitation, Resettlement, Mass Murder: Political and Economic Planning for German Occupation Policy in the Soviet Union, 1940-1941, Oxford: Berghahn, 2006.
[94] Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, pp.774-859; Pohl, Herrschaft der Wehrmacht, pp.201-242; Longerich, Holocaust, pp.247-250; Streit, Keine Kameraden.
[95] Bericht Prof. Seraphim mit Anschreiben der Rüstungsinspektion Ukraine, November 29 and December 2, 1941, PS-2174 merged in PS-3257 (IMT, Vol. XXXII, pp. 79-83). On Seraphim in general see Hans-Christian Petersen, Bevölkerungsökonomie - Ostforschung - Politik. Eine biographische Studie zu Peter-Heinz Seraphim (1902-1979), Osnabrück: fibre Verlag, 2006.
[96] Cf. the conditions in Kiev in Karel Berkhoff, Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine under Nazi Rule, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 2008, pp.164-186; in Belorussia, Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, pp.265-319.
[97] Wirtschaftsstab Ost, Chefgruppe Arbeit, KTB-Beitrag 4-10.12.43, NARA T77/1091/156; cf. Nicholas Terry, The German Army Group Centre and the Soviet Civilian Population, 1942-1944, PhD, King’s College London, 2006,  p.202, p.209.
[98] Angrick, Besatzungspolitik und Massenmord, pp.533-539. The 1939 Soviet census recorded some 1.1 million living in the Crimea, but this figure no doubt dropped by several hundred thousand after the German invasion and subsequent battles affecting the territory.
[99] MGK are divided on the issue, see the section ‘Resettlement’ for MGK in this chapter.
[100] VO/WiRüAmt und WiStab Ost bei GenQu, Übersicht über Bestand an russischen/sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen, 27.5.42; Stand 1.6.42, 1.7.42, 1.8.42, 1.9.42, BA R3901/20172; BA R3901/20173, p.63.
[101] Sitzungsvermerk v. 20 August 1943 des ORR Hermann über eine Tagung am 13.7.43 im RmbO zum Thema: Arbeitseinsatzfragen des Reiches unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Verhältnisse in den besetzten Ostgebieten, NO-1831, IMT XIII, p.1019.
[102] Ulrich Herbert, Hitler’s Foreign Workers: Enforced Foreign Labor in Germany under the Third Reich. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
[103] Himmler to Berger, 28.7.1942, NO-626; cf. Gerald Fleming, Hitler and the Final Solution. Berkely: University of California, 1987, p.185.
[104] Heiber, ‘Der Generalplan Ost’, pp.305, 308.

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