Friday, January 18, 2019

Mattogno, his Einsatzgruppen book and the Gas Vans. Part IV: The "Enormous Contradiction" That Is None

 Mattogno, his Einsatzgruppen book and the Gas Vans

Before I roll out the heavy artillery, here's a quick appetiser to illustrate Mattogno's cheating or ignorance (your choice again) on German documents on the gas vans. Even after having read 250 documents on the Einsatzgruppen and some 200 individual pieces of correspondence from or to the Einsatzgruppen, he argues like a beginner on the subject and even considers his lack of understanding as something especially clever no one else has noticed:

It should be noted that the Einsatzgruppen have left an enormous quantity of documents on their activities. The “Ereignismeldungen UdSSR” amount to “more than 2,900 typewritten pages” (Krausnick/Wilhelm, p. 333). To these should be added the other hundreds of pages of the “reports from the Occupied Eastern Territories” and the “Activity and Situation Reports of the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the SD in the USSR.” In addition to these three series, there are extremely numerous individual documents. Notwithstanding all this, in this documentation, the “gas vans” are never even mentioned (with the sole exception mentioned earlier), and not one single victim ever appears to have been killed with a “gas van.” As far as one can tell, no one has ever tried to address and solve this enormous contradiction.
 (Mattogno, The Einsatzgruppen in the Occupied Eastern Territories, p.309f.)

The "enormous quantity of documents" consists mostly of documents dating before the gas vans were in action (e.g. 75% of the Ereignismeldungen UdSSR). Who Mattogno wants to fool with such "enormous" exaggeration? Any testimony who engages in a similar hyperbole, he would use as a pretext to dismiss it once for all.

The remaining documents cover for their most part intelligence stuff and operations, where no gas vans are presumed to have been used anyway. Many gas van actions were clearings of SD prisons which have not made it into the reports.

While the Ereignismeldungen UdSSR had to some extent rather shamelessly reported on the genocide of the Jews in 1941, there is a notable decline of bare atrocities throughout 1942 - which is not only because the German paramilitary forces were now more engaged in real anti-partisan measures and certainly not because they refrained from massacring civilians for racial reasons, but it was increasingly polished and withheld in high-level summaries. 

Case in point: Einsatzgruppe B reported the sum of some 62,000 killed people in its Operation and Situation reports for 1942, but only about 4,000 victims made it into the Ereignismeldungen UdSSR and Meldungen aus den besetzten Ostgebieten, which were written by the RSHA in Berlin. Most of this small fraction of victims were Jewish and they were "specially treated", i.e. the murder weapon is not stated (EM no. 194). Of those about 62,000 killed people in 1942, only about 400 are mentioned as shot. Therefore, there are in principle more than 60,000 victims of Einsatzgruppe B in 1942, who could have been gassed.

Mattogno knows all of this as he writes himself that "of the 140,015 executions carried out by Einsatzgruppe B, a good (140,015 – 76,626 =) 63,389 are vague" (p.264). But then why should they have mentioned gas vans? You really got to be a Mattogno to wonder about their lack of mentioning in documents that have been demonstrably polished and do not describe the victims' cause of death.

Secondly, homicidal gassing was subjected to the highest possible state of secrecy. Its documentation and communication were severely restricted when possible. It makes sense that it had been banned from high-level reports with a wide circulation like the Ereignismeldungen UdSSR. Most of the recipients did not have to know about it. The simple premise that the editors of the summary reports had not to mention any gassing, even if it slipped into a report received from the East, already explains the issue. It does not cost much and is plausible. Now, if the supposed "contradiction" can be solved so easily, it could not have been "enormous" in the first place.
Thirdly, there are barely documents on the motor pool of the Einsatzgruppen/Security Police in the East and its use of vehicles. There is only a fairly complete set of lists on the motor pool of the Security Police in Estonia, which is not known to have possessed a homicidal gas van. Does this general sparsity of documentation on vehicles mean that the Einsatzgruppen/Security Police staff was largely non-motorized and walked around? Hardly so.

Even the few remaining situation reports of Einsatzgruppe B are sparse with details of its motor pool (or the single remaining operation report of Sonderkommando 10a of 7 October 1942, which survived only because it was copied to the Foreign Office). Only three out of eight published operation and situation reports of Einsatzgruppe B cover the activity of the relevant department of the group (see Angrick, Deutsche Besatzungsherrschaft in der UdSSR 1941-1945. Dokumente der Einsatzgruppen in der Sowjetunion II). Of those three reports with a section on the motor pool, only one report (1 March 1942) includes a detailed breakdown of the types of vehicles. The document mentions two Saurer and two smaller "gas vans" in the motor pool of the group.

Thus, among all those "more than 2,900 typewritten pages" and "the other hundreds of pages" of Einsatzgruppen documents, there are two pages, which should have mentioned gas vans (and if only as code), and precisely those two pages do mention these vehicles indeed. It is evident from the massive lack of medium and low-level records that almost all documents of the Einsatzgruppen, which could have provided insight into the existence and operation of the gas vans, have been systematically destroyed (it's only too bad for Holocaust denial that some stray files and numerous eyewitnesses, mostly staff of the German paramilitary forces, have survived).

If no historian "has ever tried to address" this, as Mattogno knows, it is because the issue is obvious to anybody who has researched the Einsatzgruppen.  It does not look well that I need to explain this to somebody who has just published a whole book on the Einsatzgruppen (even if it's a poor one).

By the way, the claim that the EG B report of 1 March 1942 is "the sole exception" of a gas van reference in Einsatzgruppen documents is not even correct. The vehicles are also mentioned in a radio message of Arthur Nebe to Einsatzgruppe B of 13 December 1941 as "special vehicles" and in another radio message of Walther Bierkamp to Ernst Kaltenbrunner of 18 February 1943 as "g-van" (see also German Document on Gas Van Blown up by Einsatzgruppe D).

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