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

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(E) The Systematic Killing of Jews in the Baltic

1. As we have seen, Irving's account of Goebbels's article in Das Reich explicitly states that the article was taken by the SS as 'a sign from above' and directly inspired the killing of thousands of Jews in Riga on 30 November 1941 'on the orders of local SS commander Friedrich Jeckeln'. There is no evidence at all of any radicalising influence exerted by Goebbels's article on Jeckeln or the SS. As we have already seen, Jeckeln himself had already been involved in a number of large-scale massacres of Jews in the occupied Soviet territory in later summer and autumn of 1941: the over 80,000 Jews exterminated in Kamenets-Podolsk, Kiev, Dniepropetrovsk and Rovno were all killed before the publication of the Goebbels article in Das Reich. Clearly, Jeckeln did not need any 'sign from above' by Goebbels to organise the mass extermination of the Jews.52
 
2. Similarly, the SS officials in Berlin needed no cue from Goebbels to escalate the mass extermination of the Jews. Adolf Eichmann certainly did not make such claim during his trial in Jerusalem - indeed, he did not even mention Goebbels's article in Das Reich 53. And quite apart from the fact that Heinrich Himmler would not have regarded any statement by Goebbels as a 'sign from above', it has already been shown that the SS leadership was pursuing a policy of mass extermination of the Jews in the occupied Soviet territories long before Goebbels's article was published on 16 November 1941. This policy of mass murder was also put into effect in the Baltic states. From July to November 1941, around 80% of the entire Jewish population of Lithuania were killed. The commander of Einsatzkommando 3 (EK 3, one of the four sub-units constituting Einsatzgruppe A) reported on 1 December 1941 that 'the aim of solving the Jew-problem for Lithuania has been achieved by EK 3. There are no more Jews in Lithuania, apart from the work-Jews and their families'.54 The same murderous policy was being pursued in neighbouring Latvia. Einsatzgruppe A reported that by October 1941, 30,000 of the 70,000 Jews in Latvia had already been killed.55 Clearly, the extermination in late November and early December 1941 of the Jews in Riga, the   capital of Latvia, was simply following the murderous logic of Nazi extermination policy and had nothing to do with the Goebbels article in Das Reich.
3. 57
4. On 5 November 1941, Jeckeln's men, about 50 in total, arrived in Riga. Jeckeln himself arrived some time after.58 Himmler evidently approved of the "liquidation" of the Riga ghetto. It is clear that on 4 December 1941, very shortly after the first day of mass killings of the Baltic Jews in Riga on 30 November 1941, Jeckeln   met with Himmler to discuss these events.59 A mere four days after this meeting, on 8 December 1941, Jeckeln supervised the killing of most of the remaining Jews in Riga. Concluding, Himmler had most probably ordered these massacres before the publication of Goebbels article in Das Reich. 60

Notes

52. Indeed, there is no evidence that Jeckeln even read Goebbels's article; see the extracts from interrogation of Friedrich Jeckeln, 14-15.12.1945; reprinted in H.H. Wilhelm, 'Die Einsatzgruppe A der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD 1941/42 - eine exemplarische Studie', in H. Krausnick, H.H. Wilhelm, Die Truppe des Weltanschauungskrieges (Stuttgart, 1981), pp. 566-570, here p. 567.
53. State of Israel, Ministry of Justice (ed.), The Trial ofAdolf Eichmann, 8 Vols. (Jerusalem, 1992).
54. 'das Ziel, das Judenprobiem für Litauen zu lösen, vom EK. 3 erreicht worden ist. In Litauen gibt es keine Juden mehr, außer den Arbeitsjuden incl. ihrer Familien'; Der Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspoiizei und des SD, Einsatzkommando 3 (Jäger), Gesamtaufstellung der im Bereich des EK. 3 bis zum 1. Dez. 1941 durchgeführten Exekutionen; cited in E. Klee, W. Dreßen, V. Rieß (eds.), 'Schöne Zeiten'. Judenmord aus Sicht der Täter und Gaffer (Frankfurt a.M., 1988), pp. 52-62. Jager listed 133,346 murdered persons, the vast majority of whom were Jews. See also H. Safrian, Die Eichmann Männer (Vienna, Zurich, 1993), p.152.
55. Undatierter Geheimbericht der Einsatzgruppe A, in: Der Prozess gegen die Hauptkriegsverbrecher vor dem Internationalen Militärgerichtshof Vol. XXX, pp. 71-80, ND 2273-PS; also in BA Berlin, R70 SU/15; Einsatzgruppe A, Gesamtbericht bis zum 15. Oktober 1941, in: Der Prozess gegen die Hauptkriegsverbrecher vor dem Internationalen Militärgerichtshof Vol. XXXVII, ND 180-L.
56. R. Breitman, Official Secrets (London, 1999), P. 272, note 66.
57. 'Himmler sagte, ich solle dies mit Lohse durchsprechen, und auch wenn er dagegen sei, solle das Rigaer Ghetto dennoch liquidiert werden. "Sagen Sie dem Lohse, es ist mein Befehl, der auch einem Wunsch des Führers entspricht!"; Extracts from interrogation of Friedrich Jeckeln, 14-15.12.1945; reprinted in Wilhelm, 'Die Einsatzgruppe A', p. 567.
58. A. Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia 1941-1944 (Riga, 1996), p. 240.
59. Public Record Office (PRO), HW 16/32, German Police Decodes, No. 2 traffic: 1.12.1941. A Himmler phone call to Heydrich on 30 November 1941, discussed in detail later in this report, aimed at preventing the semi-public execution of a train-load of Berlin Jews in Riga on 30 November 1941, also suggests that Himmler was aware of the fact that the killing of the native Jews in Riga was planned at this time.
60. Extracts from interrogation of Friedrich Jeckeln, 14-15.12.1945; reprinted in Wilhelm, 'Die Einsatzgruppe A' p. 567.
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