David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial: Electronic Edition, by Richard J. Evans

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(iii) Irving and the Him... >>

(i) Historical background

1. A further link in Irving's chain of documents is provided by a minute written by Himmler on 22 September 1942. The background to the document is as follows. Some time in the autumn of 1941, the former Gauleiter of Vienna and SS and Police leader in Lublin, Odilo Globocnik, was charged by the SS leader Heinrich Himmler to exterminate Jews in the General Government.1 The method chosen for the killing was gas. The site chosen as the first extermination camp was the small town of Belzec (south-east of Lublin) in the most eastern corner of the General Government. Construction started in November 1941. Crude gas chambers were built, connected to an armoured car engine which was set up outside the gas chambers. The carbon monoxide exhaust fumes were used to murder the victims in the gas chambers, who died a slow and agonising death. On 17 March 1942, the first Polish Jews from the General Government, transported to Belzec by train, were murdered.2 To increase the capacity for murder, further death camps were set up in the General Government. The first gassings in Sobibor (east of Lublin) took place some time in April or May 1942.3
2. In the Summer of 1942, there was a serious attempt to accelerate the extermination process. There was some resistance against this, partly because Jews were increasingly   used as forced labour, and partly because most means of transport were used by the army. It seems likely that Himmler needed Hitler's support to overcome this resistance. It is possible that he talked about this issue with Hitler during various meetings on 11, 12 and 14 July 1942.4 On 16 July 1942, Himmler's adjutant with Hitler, SS-Obergruppenführer Wolff, had an urgent phone conversation with a leading official in the Ministry for Transport, Dr. Ganzenmüller, concerning the provision of more railway services.5 On 19 July 1942, Himmler ordered that the mass murder of the Polish Jews was to be intensified. He set a deadline on 31 December 1942, by which time 'no kind of persons of Jewish origin should be staying in the General Government any more'. The only exception were those Jews employed for the Nazi war economy in several ghettos such as Warsaw.6
3. Some historians have argued that Himmler acted with Hitler's backing.7 This argument is supported by contemporary documentation. As has already been pointed out, on 28 July 1942, just two days after Hitler's table talk, Himmler wrote to the Head of the SS Head Office, Gottlob Berger, and explained that 'the occupied Eastern territories will be Jew-free. The Führer has laid the implementation of this very difficult order on my   shoulders.'8. The acceleration of the killing was clearly also in line with Globocnik's thinking, who had some weeks earlier demanded to be able 'to carry out the whole Jewish action as fast as in any way possible, so that one doesn't get stuck in the middle of it one day'.9
4. On 22 July 1942, Globocnik welcomed Himmler's new order: 'The Reichsführer SS...has given us so much new work that with it now all our most secret wishes are to be fulfilled. I am so very thankful to him for this, and he can be sure of one thing, that these things he wishes will be fulfilled in the shortest time.'10 The next day, killings started in the extermination camp set in Treblinka (north of Lublin).11 Three extermination camps were now in full operation in the General Governement. On 28 July 1942, Dr. Ganzenmüller, from the Ministry of Transport, reported to SS-Obergruppenführer Wolff that 'since the 22.7. one train has been travelling every day with 5,000 Jews on it from Warsaw via Malkinia to Treblinka, and moreover twice a week a train with 5,000 Jews from Przemysl to Belzec.'12 Wolff, writing from Hitler's headquarters, thanked Ganzenmüller for his   efforts on 13 August 1942, and noted: 'With particular joy I noted your assurance that for two weeks now a train has been carrying, every day, 5,000 members of the chosen people to Treblinka.'13
5. In the seven weeks from the end of July 1942 until mid-September 1942, some of the worst excesses of mass murder of the entire 'final solution' occurred in the General Government. Apart from mass gassings, German police forces also exterminated entire villages by shooting all Jewish inhabitants.14 'Operation Reinhard' was officially terminated in October 1943, and by November 1943 the three camps had been dismantled. According to conservative estimates, some 1.5 Jews, were murdered in Belzec, Treblinka and Sobibor. Probably more than 90% of the victims came from the General Government, while the others came from territory as far away as Holland, Macedonia and France.15 Many more Polish Jews were shot by German police officials. Himmler congratulated Globocnik for his part in organising the genocide.16

Notes

1. J. Noakes, G. Pridham (eds.), Nazism 1919-1945, Vol. 3 (Exeter, 1988), p. 1145; D. Pohl, Von der "Judenpolitik" zum Judenmord (Frankfurt am Main, 1993) pp. 99-101.
2. G. Aly, 'Endlösung'. Völkerverschiebung und der Mord an den europäischen Juden (Frankfurt a.M., 1995), p. 359; E. Kogon et al (ed.), Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas (Frankfurt a.M., 1983), pp. 151-156, 165-170.
3. E. Kogon et al (ed.), Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen,, pp. 157-165, 175-182
4. BA Berlin, NS 19/3959; cited in P. Longerich, Politik der Vernichtung (Munich, Zurich, 1998), p. 510.
5. M. Broszat, 'Hitler und die Genesis der "Endlösung"', in Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte (1977), p. 766.
6. '...dürfen sich keinerlei Personen jüdischer Herkunft mehr im Generalgovernement aufhalten'; Befehl Himmlers an den Höheren SS und Polizeiführer im Generalgovernement Krüger, 19.7.1942; reprinted in P. Longerich (ed.), Die Ermordung der europäischen Juden (Munich, Zurich, 1989), pp. 201-202.
7. For example,D. Pohl, Nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung in Ostgalizien 1941-1944 (Munich, 1996), p. 403.
8. 'Die besetzten Ostgebiete werden judenfrei. Die Durchführung dieses sehr schweren Befehls hat der Führer auf meine Schultern gelegt. Die Verantwortung kann mir ohnedies niemand abnehmenAlso verbiete ich mir alles mitreden.' Himmler to Berger, 28.7.1942; Third Supplemental Discovery List by Irving, folder 51 (b)
9. '...die ganze Judenaktion so schnell wie nur irgend möglich durchzuführen, damit man nicht eines Tages mitten drin steckenbliebe'; cited in P. Black, 'Odilo Globocnik - Himmlers Vorposten im Osten', in R. Smelser, E. Syring, R Zitelmann (eds.), Die Braune Elite II (Darmstadt, 1993), pp. 103-115, here p. 111.
10. Globocnik to Wolff, 22 July 1942, BDC Globonik SS file, cited in R. Breitman, The Architect of Genocide. Himmler and the Final Solution (London, 1991), p. 238
11. E. Kogon et al (ed.), Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas (Frankfurt a.M., 1983), p. 163.
12. 'Seit dem 22.7. fährt täglich ein Zug mit 5000 Juden von Warschau über Malkinia nach Treblinka, außerdem zweimal wöchentlich ein Zug mit 5000 Juden von Pzemysl nach Belzec; Nuremberg Document NO-2207, Ganzenmüller to Wolff, 28.7.1942.
13. 'Mit besonderer Freude habe ich von Ihrer Mitteilung Kenntnis genommen, dass nun schon seit 14 Tagen töglich ein Zug mit je 5.000 Angehörigen des auserwaählten Volkes nach Treblinka fährt.'; Wolff to Ganzenmüller, 13.8.1942, Third Supplemental Discovery List by Irving, folder 51 (b).
14. D. Pohl, 'Die Ermordung der Juden in Generalgovernrment', in U. Herbert (ed.) Nationalsozialistische Vernichtungspolitk 1939-1945. Neue Forschungen und Kontroversen (Frankfurt a.M., 1998), pp. 98-121, here 98-99.
15. E. Kogon et al (ed.), Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas (Frankfurt a.M., 1983), p. 192; R. Hilberg, 'Die Aktion Reinhard', in E. Jäckel, J. Rohwer (eds), Der Mord an den Juden im Zweiten Weltkrieg (Stuttgart, 1985), 125-136, here 131.
16. Noakes and Pridham (eds.), Nazism 1919-1945, Vol. 3, p. 1169.
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