Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Georg Leibbrandt and the Killing of Jews in the USSR: A Case Study of Mattogno's Methods

Author: Jonathan Harrison
Georg Leibbrandt was one of two members of the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories (RMfdbO) who attended the Wannsee conference. Mattogno has discussed him on numerous occasions, most recently in the Italian edition of volume 1 of his forthcoming Einsatzgruppen Handbook where Mattogno cites him seven times, six of which are duplicated from his response of 2013 to our White Paper. The one new reference in the Italian edition is the false claim, as shown below, that Leibbrandt regarded Soviet Jews as only a political and partisan enemy rather than a race that had to be eliminated on biological grounds. The six recycled references entail a misrepresentation of Leibbrandt's correspondence with Hinrich Lohse of the Reichskommissariat Ostland in the Autumn of 1941 as supporting resettlement of Jews eastwards. An analysis of Leibbrandt's involvement in anti-Jewish policy can therefore form a useful case study of how Mattogno manipulates sources on German perpetrators.

A telling feature of Mattogno's writing is his lack of interest in how the racial ideology of senior Nazis influenced their actions, despite this being a major theme of current historiography.[1] Leibbrandt had written in 1937 that the Russian Revolution of 1917 had been founded on the fact that Jewry was "the bearer of the Asiatic-Nomadic desert mentality", which had mingled with the "Mongolian-Asiatic instincts" that were already in Russian blood.[2] This deep racism made Leibbrandt a willing participant in the escalation during 1941 of German plans to kill Jews. Mattogno's avoidance of this background enables him to make the spurious claim that Leibbrandt's view of Jews was compatible with Churchill's, in which there was a split between "international Jews", who were conspiratorial and bent on world domination, and national Jews, who were loyal to their countries.[3] In reality, Leibbrandt made no such distinction.

Leibbrandt had recommended as early as May 29, 1941 that "it is probably advisable to leave to the population itself to settle its accounts with the Jewish-Bolshevik oppressors initially, and then after gaining more detailed knowledge to deal with the remaining oppressors."[4] His recommendations escalated to a clear genocidal motive by September 13, 1941, when he responded to Stalin's deportation of the Volga Germans by stating that "Jewry in the areas located in the German field of power. . . will be repaid manyfold for the crime."[5] Leibbrandt had a strong emotional connection to the Volga Germans because his academic career had been largely devoted to studying them. Moreover, his boss Rosenberg expressed similar sentiments in his diary the day before, leading to his infamous comments of November 18 that there should be "a biological eradication of the entire Jewry of Europe" by measures that would "expel them over the Urals or eradicate them in some other way."[6] Mattogno cites Rosenberg's comments in his Italian Einsatzgruppen book but fails to explain why Rosenberg would use the term "biological eradication" for an expulsion rather than than death.[7]

In October, Leibbrandt acquired knowledge of gassing plans for Riga because he was the direct superior of Wetzel, who wrote a draft on October 25 concerning Brack's readiness to supply gassing technology for Riga. There is written proof that Leibbrandt oversaw Wetzel's correspondence with Brack and Lohse because Wetzel submitted a memo to Leibbrandt on November 12, 1941, which mentioned letters Wetzel had written to Brack, Lohse and Koch the day before (NO-2094). Wetzel also testified on September 20, 1961, that Leibbrandt had dictated the October draft (BArch B 162/20424, pp.216ff). Moreover, Wetzel's draft enables us to infer that he, Lohse and Leibbrandt were aware of the Vilnius executions of July 1941, and also a genocidal policy of separating Jews by sex to prevent reproduction, which has implications for the fate of non-working Jews.

Mattogno's silence on Leibbrandt's connection to gassing plans is twinned with his misrepresentation of Leibbrandt's message to Lohse of November 9, 1941, that Reich Jews would be sent "farther east" than Riga.[8] Mattogno ties it to a proposal to send Jews to Pleskau[9], but this overlooks the fact that Pleskau was itself a killing site (examined, for example, in this postwar legal investigation, and the site of the discovery of human remains of women and children) and it ignores the fact that sending work Jews to Pleskau would still have been perfectly compatible with Wetzel's draft, which stated that:
Re: Solution of the Jewish Question  
1. To the Reich Commissar for the East  
Re: Your report of October 4, 1941 in respect to the Solution of the Jewish Question.
Referring to my letter of 18 October 1941, you are informed that Oberdienstleiter Brack of the Chancellery of the Fuehrer has declared himself ready to collaborate in the manufacture of the necessary shelters, as well as the gassing apparatus. At the present time the apparatus in question are not on hand in the Reich in sufficient number; they will first have to be manufactured. Since in Brack's opinion the manufacture of the apparatus in the Reich will cause more difficulty than if manufactured on the spot, Brack deems it most expedient to send his people direct to Riga, especially his chemist Dr. Kallmeyer, who will have everything further done there. Oberdienstleiter Brack points out that the process in question is not without danger, so that special protective measures are necessary. Under these circumstances I beg you to turn to Oberdienstleiter Brack, in the Chancellery of the Fuehrer, through your Higher SS and Police Leader and to request the dispatch of the chemist Dr. Kallmeyer as well as of further aides. I draw attention to the fact that Sturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, the referent for Jewish questions in the RSHA, is in agreement with this process. On information from Sturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, camps for Jews are to be set up in Riga and Minsk to which Jews from the old Reich territory may possibly be sent. At the present time, Jews being deported from the old Reich are to be sent to Litzmannstadt [Lodz], but also to other camps, to be later used as labor (Arbeitseinsatz) the East so far as they are able to work.  
As affairs now stand, there are no objections against doing away with those Jews who are unable to work with the Brack remedy. In this way occurrences would no longer be possible such as those which, according to a report presently before me, took place at the shooting of Jews in Vilna [Vilnyus] and which, considering that the shootings were public, were hardly excusable. Those able to work, on the other hand, will be transported to the East for labor service. It is self-understood that among the Jews capable of work, men and women are to be kept separate. 
I beg you to advise me regarding your further steps.[10]
Leibbrandt's "farther east" was simply a euphemism for this process of selection. Lohse's understanding of this fact is shown by two orders he issued banning executions in specific circumstances whilst agreeing with an overall policy of killing Jews eventually. On November 15, he stated that "I have forbidden the unauthorized ("wild") executions of Jews in Libau because the manner in which they were carried out was irresponsible." He then asked Leibbrandt whether "your inquiry of October 31 should be interpreted as a directive to liquidate all the Jews in Ostland? Is this to be done regardless of age, sex, and economic requirements (for instance, the Wehrmacht's demand for skilled workers in the armament industry)?"[11] Mattogno perversely interprets this as proof that Lohse was unaware of plans to kill any categories of Jews, when infact the wording and context clearly show that he was referring to whether the current plan to kill unfit Jews had also been expanded to include all ages, sexes and levels of fitness for work. A handwitten note on the same document acknowledges that a general shared principle of extermination was already understood to exist ("the cleansing of Ostland of Jews is a most important task") but also assumed that "its solution, however, must be in accord with the requirements of war production." The next sentence, "So far I have not been able to find such a directive either in the regulations concerning the Jewish question in the "Brown Portfolio" (Braune Mappe) or in any other decree", shows that the writer had been unable to find a directive to kill all Jews regardless of age, sex or fitness, but this is compatible with an understanding that selections would be carried out in accordance with Wetzel's draft, whereas Mattogno misinterprets Lohse as stating that policy had not changed since the Braune Mappe.[12]

On December 2, following complaints from the Wehrmacht, Lohse ordered that:
The Chief Quartermaster (Chefintendant) of the Wehrmacht Command in Ostland has lodged a complaint that armament plants and repair workshops have been deprived of Jewish skilled workers through their liquidation, and that they cannot be replaced there at the present time.
I request most emphatically that the liquidation of Jews employed as skilled workers in armament plants and repair workshops of the Wehrmacht who cannot be replaced at present by local personnel be prevented.  
Agreement on which of the Jewish workers are to be considered irreplaceable will be reached with the Gebietskommissare (Department of Social Administration).
Provision is to be made as quickly as possible for the training of suitable local personnel as skilled workers.  
The same applies to Jewish workers in enterprises which do not serve the purpose of the Wehrmacht directly, but have important tasks to carry out within the framework of the war economy.[13]
Lohse's order was just a temporary ban until replacements for skilled Jewish workers could be found. He did not disagree with the principle of liquidating these Jews after that period. His understanding of policy towards unfit Jews must therefore have been to accept their extermination. However, even this was not sufficient for Leibbrandt's colleague Braeutigam, who notified Lohse on December 18 that "In principle, economic considerations are not to be taken into account in the settlement of the problem."[14] Mattogno even here contends that Braeutigam was referring to the process of deporting Jews farther east rather than killing them:
This does not necessarily refer to an extermination, but rather to an exclusion of the Jews from the economic life of the state.[15]
Several conclusions about Mattogno's working methods can be deduced from the above. He fails to treat Leibbrandt's correspondence with Lohse as part of a whole chain of documents, despite its accessibility in that form (such as online at both the Nuremberg site and in YVA O.53/132). He ignores the totality of the evidence in the secondary literature he uses, such as Angrick and Klein, whilst the academic literature on Leibbrandt's career (cited above) is never utilized. Mattogno ignores chronological sequences and the need to treat documents relating to a particular locality as a connected totality whose connections have to be explained. His structuring of the evidence is deliberately perverse, as though intended to mislead by mixing up timelines and ripping documents from their contexts.

Most notably of all, Mattogno frequently makes the least rational inference about the meaning of a phrase in its context, such as Leiibbrandt's "farther east" or Braeutigam's "economic considerations are not to be taken into account in the settlement of the problem," whilst clearly exterminatory phrases such as "a biological eradication of the entire Jewry of Europe" (eine biologischen Ausmerzung des gesamten Judentums in Europe) are parsed in an outrageously perverse manner that insults the intelligence of those whom he wishes to persuade.             

[1] See, for example, Michael Wildt, An Uncompromising Generation: The Nazi Leadership of the Reich Security Main Office (George L. Mosse Series) (Madison, 2009).
[2] Cited in Samuel Zinner, 'New Archival Discoveries on Wannsee Conference Participant Georg Leibbrandt and “SS-Mann” Karl Stumpp (Draft)', paper presented at the German Studies Association Conference, New Orleans, 20.9.2003, p.12, n.4, accessed on 19.3.2018 at http://www.leibbrandt.com/leibbrandt_archive/dr_georg_leibbrandt/Dr_G_leibbrandt2012-libre.pdf.
[3] Carlo Mattogno, Gli Einsatzgruppen nei territori orientali occupati (Genoa, 2016), p.105.
[4] Cited in Christoph Dieckmann, 'Lithuania in Summer 1941: The German Invasion and the Kaunas Pogrom', in Elazar Barkan, Elizabeth A. Cole and Kai Struve (eds), Shared History – Divided Memory: Jews and Others in Soviet-Occupied Poland, 1939–1941 (Leipzig, 2007), p.366.
[5] Cited in Eric J. Schmaltz and Samuel D. Sinner, 'The Nazi Ethnographic Research of Georg Leibbrandt and Karl Stumpp in Ukraine, and Its North American Legacy', Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 14 (1), March 2000, pp.28–64, here p.42.
[6] Cited by Christopher R. Browning, 'Evidence for the Implementation of the Final Solution', expert witness document, David Irving v Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt (2000), accessed on 19.3.2018 at https://www.hdot.org/browning/#note_browning_5110_n85.
[7] Carlo Mattogno, Jürgen Graf, Thomas Kues, The “Extermination Camps” of “Aktion Reinhardt”—An Analysis and Refutation of Factitious “Evidence,” Deceptions and Flawed Argumentation of the “Holocaust Controversies” Bloggers, Holocaust Handbooks, 2013 [hereafter MGK, Extermination Camps], p.282. Mattogno, Gli Einsatzgruppen, p.123.
[8] Mattogno Extermination Camps, p.336, citing GARF, 7445-2-145, p.45. Document is online: Leibbrandt an Lohse 9.11.41, YVA O.53/132, p.53.
[9] MGK, Extermination Camps, p.336; Mattogno, Gli Einsatzgruppen, p.72.
[10] Wetzel an Lohse, 25.10.41 (draft), NO-365. Photostat here. English version here. Translation accessed on 20.3.2018 at: https://www.historiography-project.com/nmt/nmt01/NO-365/index.php.
[11] Leibbrandt an Lohse, betr: Judenexekutionen, 31.10.41, IMT XXXII, pp.435-436; Lohse an Leibbrandt, betr: Judenexekutionen, 15.11.41, 3663-PS, IMT XXXII, p.436. Translation accessed 20.3.2018 at http://www.yadvashem.org/docs/letters-concerning-final-solution.html.
[12] MGK, Extermination Camps, p.228; Mattogno, Gli Einsatzgruppen, p.124.
[13] Lohse an Jeckeln, 2.12.41, 3664-PS. Scan in YVA O.18/203, translation accessed 19.3.2018 at http://www.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/Microsoft%20Word%20-%205106.pdf.
[14] Braeutigam an Lohse, 18.12.41, betr: Judenfrage, 3666-PS, IMT XXXII, p.437. English translation accessed 19.3.2018 at http://nuremberg.law.harvard.edu/documents/4388-letter-to-the-reich?q=PS-3666#p.1.
[15] MGK, Extermination Camps, p.228; Mattogno, Gli Einsatzgruppen, p.124.


Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Great article, congratulations!

The last period:

«that insults the intelligence of those whom he wishes to persuade»

made me chuckle.

If it's fellow "Revisionists" that Mattogno means to persuade, he won't come upon much intelligence to start with. And what intelligence there is will have been switched off for the sake of faith anyway.

If Mattogno is fairly realistic about what his new book may achieve, he's not out to persuade anyone who is not a devout follower of the "Revisionist" religion already.

He and Graf seem to have given up on making "Revisionism" look like a reasonable alternative to what "Revisionists" call "orthodox" historiography, as I suggested here. They are content with being the movement's "scholarly" champions that fellow "Revisionists" can brag about.

Few of these will probably even read Mattogno's latest screed when it comes out in English this year. They will just add it to their collection of holy scripture.

Unknown said...

You shouldn't call them revisionists.. revisionists don't deny a whole chaper of history due to an ideology.

Nicholas Terry said...

Thus the inverted commas. They call themselves that, but they aren't, so they're "Revisionists".