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

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(v) The fate of the Roman Jews: the question of language.

1. As it was, on 16 October 1,259 people were seized and after two days and a sifting process the remaining Jews were shipped off, not to Mauthausen, but to Auschwitz.38 The exact   number of deportees is unclear. Kappler's report gave the number as 1,007, but the Italian literature puts the number at somewhere between 1,030 and 1,035.39 On arrival on 23 October 149 men were admitted to the camp and given the numbers 158491-158639, and 47 women were admitted and given the numbers 66172-66218. Katz traced 14 male and one female survivor. Tagliacozzo traced 17 men and one woman and Ebrei in Italia 15 men and one woman.40 The rest were gassed.41
 
2. Even after the analysis above, the question remains if it is possible to reconcile 'liquidation' in 'upper Italy', 'hostages' in Mauthausen, and deaths in Auschwitz. Four points can be made: First, where exactly in Northern Italy Himmler ordered the Jews to be taken and how they were to be 'liquidated' is unclear. The first large concentration camp on Italian soil (Fossili near Carpi) was not operational until December 1943.42 'Upper Italy' was probably a convenient euphemism for 'the East'. This is supported by a note by the head of the Inland II department of the Foreign Office, Horst Wagner on a conference in Berlin on the Italian Jewish problem on 4 December 1943. By this time the Italians had gone some way to rounding up the Jews themselves. Inland II had persuaded the RSHA to 'delay' [abwarten] with a request for an immediate transfer of Jews concentrated in Italy to the East:
Group Inland II considers it, however, advisable to delay this request for the moment because the concentration process will probably proceed with less trouble if the transfer to concentration camps appears for the moment as the final solution and not as a propr step to the evacuation to the eastern territories..43
Ribbentrop saw the note and concurred.44
3. The verbal camouflage surrounding the Final Solution is notoriously hard to penetrate. That Moellhausen used the word 'liquidate' is reason enough to surmise that Hitler's order used 'Mauthausen' and 'hostage' to reassert the prescribed phraseology. It should suffice to quote   another order of Hitler's. On 11 July 1943 Hitler's private secretary and close collaborator Martin Bormann addressed a circular to all Reichsleiter, Gauleiter, and Verbändeführer:
Re: treatment of the Jewish question. By order of the Führer I hereby notify: in the public handling of the Jewish question every discussion of a future total solution must be discontinued. It can be said though that the Jews will be drawn into appropriate work detail en bloc.45
4. The concern to use camouflaged language and avoid all use of words such as 'liquidation' and 'final solution' in public thus emanated from Hitler himself.
5. As for Mauthausen, if Hitler did indeed mean what he said when he ordered the Roman Jews to be sent there, he was surely aware that it was perhaps the deadliest of all concentration camps. In January 1941 the head of the Reich Security Service SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich divided the concentration camps into three grades to determine conditions of detention and work in each.46 Those camps in Grade III were to deal with the worst category of prisoner; protective custody prisoners with bad records, particularly criminal records and anti-social elements, i.e. those who could not be re-educated.47
6. Grade III was reserved solely for Mauthausen. The mortality rate, especially for Jews, was terrible. Deportation to Mauthausen was effectively a death sentence, often by forced labour   in the quarries or in camp construction. For example, between 26 November 1942 and 1 March 1943, 10,191 state prison inmates were transferred from German state prisons to concentration camps. 7,587 of them were transferred to Mauthausen/Gusen. By 1 March 1943 3,853 of the original ten thousand were dead, 3,306 of them in Mauthausen alone.48 Marsálek estimates that of the 25,732 Jews committed to Mauthausen between 1938 and 1945, 14,356 were registered in the camp's deaths register [Totenregistratur] as 'deceased'. This figure excludes 4,005 retransferred to other camps.49 The fate awaiting Jewish 'hostages' in Mauthausen is clear from the example of Holland. In Febuary of 1941 a German security detachment suprised a Jewish 'illegal terror group' and were doused in ammonia.50 In retaliation some 400 young men between eighteen and thirty-five were rounded-up in the Jewish quarter. They were taken as 'hostages' first to Buchenwald and then 348 of them on to Mauthausen on 17 June 1941. A second group of 291 'hostages' arrived direct from the concentration camp Schoorl outside Amsterdam on 25 June. Only one of the original 400 young men survived.51

Notes

38. A Gestapo report was sent to Wolff, the SS commander in Italy, signed by Kappler, but presumably written by Dannecker. It read: 'Judenaktion according to plan worked out in this office exploiting all possibilities was today initiated and completed. Put into action were all the available forces of the Sicherheits- und Ordnungs Polizei [Security- and Order Police]. Participation of the Italian Police in the affair was not possible, given their unreliability ... Blocking off entire streets was not practicable considering the character of the Open City and also the insufficient aggregate of only 365 German police. Nevertheless during the action, which lasted from 5.30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 1,259 persons were arrested in Jewish homes and brought to a central collection point at a military college here. After the release of the half-breeds, the foreigners (incl. one citizen of the Vatican City), the members of mixed marriages (incl. the Jewish partners), the Aryan domestics and subtenants, there remained in custody 1,007 Jews. Deportation set for Monday, 10/18 at 9 a.m., with through-accompaniment of 30 Order-Police.' IfZ NO-2427 (17-18 October, 1943), as cited in Michaelis, p. 367. A rump of the original German text is printed as document 154 in Longerich (ed.) Die Ermordung der Europäischen Juden, pp. 330-31.
39. Centro di Dokumentazione Ebraica Contemporanea di Milano [CDECM - Centre for Contemporary Jewish Documentation, Milan], Ebrei in Italia: Deportazione, Resistenza (Florence, 1974), p. 13; Michael Tagliacozzo, 'La persecuzione degli ebrei a Roma', L'occupazione tedesca e gli ebrei di Roma: Documenti e fatti, ed. Liliana Picciotto Fargion (Rome: Carucci, 1979), pp. 149-71. Both mentioned in Susan Zuccotti, The Italians and the Holocaust. Persecution, Rescue and Survival (London, 1987), p. 117, fn. 43. Danuta Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle 1939-1945 (London, 1990), p. 512, gives the number as 1,006, but likewise cites Ebrei in Italia. The full CDECM list of deportees minus those names unconfirmed by the sources is given as Appendix I in Katz, pp. 331-340. Liliana Picciotto Fargion gives the number deported as 1,023, the number of survivors as 17 and the number of victims as 1,005 in 'Italien' in Wolfgang Benz (ed.), Dimension des Völkermords, Die Zahl der jüdischen Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (Munich , 1991), 199-228, p. 220. See also L. Oicciotto Fargion, Il libr della memoria. Gli ebrei deportati dall; Italia (1943-1945) (Milan, 1991), p. 42, and the same author's Per ignota destinazione. Gli ebrei sotto il nazismo (Milan, 1994), p. 63.
40. Katz, pp. 293-4 and appendix II, p. 341; Tagliacozzo, 'La persecuzione degli ebrei a Roma', p. 164; Ebrei in Italia, p. 13. The most important survivor was Armino Wachsberger whose fluency in German secured him a position as translator to the deportation. He witnessed the selections at Auschwitz and conversed with Doctor Josef Mengele on more than one occasion. A. Wachsberger, 'Les deportations des juifs italiens', 25 December 1955, CDEC doc. E11; report prepared for Katz by A. Wachsberger, 8 October 1967, and 1 January 1968, Katz, p. 345.
41. The liquidation of the remaining (839?) Jews was witnessed by a rare survivor of the Sonderkommandos, a Czechoslovakian Jew called David Karavet. In January 1946 he met the Roman Jewish historian Michael Tagliacozzo, who had himself avoided the round-up of 16 October. Karavet detailed the last moments of the Jews of Rome to Tagliacozzo in a number of transcribed talks which followed this chance meeting. Katz, pp. 275-9.
42. Fargion, 'Italien', p. 204
43. Gruppe Inland II hält es jedoch für ratsam, mit diesem Verlangen zunächst abzuwarten, da sich die Konzentrierung vermutlich wird reibungsloser abwickeln lassen, wenn die Überführung in Konzentrationslager zunächst als die Endlosung und nicht als Vorstufe für die Evakuierung in die Ostgebiete erscheint.', NG-5026, Inland II (signed Wagner) via Hencke to Ribbentrop, 4 December 1943.
44. NG-5026, Hilger via Steengrach and Hencke to Inland II, 9 December 1943.
45. 'Betrifft: Behandlung der Judenfrage. Im Auftrage des Führers teile ich mit: Bei der öffentlichen Behandlung der Judenfrage muß jede Erörterung einer künftigen Gesamtlösung unterbleiben. Es kann jedoch davon gesprochen werden, daß die Juden geschlossen zu zweckentsprechendem Arbeitseinsatz herangezogen werden.', NG-2710-NO, quoted in Eugen Kogon et al. (eds.), Nationalsozialistische Massentötung durch Giftgas. Eine Dokumentation (Frankfurt a. M., 1986), p. 23.
46. Helmut Krausnick et al., Anatomy of the SS State (London, 1973), p. 227.
47. .'für schwerbelastete, unverbesserliche und auch gleichzeitig kriminell vorbestrafte und asoziale, das heißt kaum noch erziehbare Schutzhäftlinge', quoted in Hans Marsálek, Die Geschichte des Konzentrationslagers Mauthausen. Dokumentation (Vienna, 1980), p. 39. Heydrich's ordinance of 1 January 1941, Mauthausen Museum Archive, A 7/1 and 2.
48. Chief of the SS Economic and Administrative Department Oswald Pohl to Heydrich, 16 March 1943, Mauthausen Museum Archive, O 2/4, quoted in Marsálek, p. 41.
49. Marsálek, p. 283. This excludes the fate of the mainly Hungarian Jews who arrived at the camp in April 1945.
50. Higher SS and Police Leader Hans Albin Rauter to Himmler, 20 February 1941 in N. K. C. A In't Veld (ed.) De SS en Nederland. Documenten uit SS-Archiven 1935-45 ('s-Gravenhage, 1976), vol. 1, 1935-42, doc. no. 61, pp. 543-48; NG-2285, proclamation by Rauter, 25 Februay 1941.
51. Gerhard Hirschfeld, 'Niederlande' in Wolfgang Benz (ed.), Dimension des Völkermords, Die Zahl der jüdischen Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (Munich, 1991), 137-165, pp. 141-2 and 165; J. Presser, Ashes in the Wind. The Destruction of Dutch Jewry (London, 1968), pp. 50-55, 70-72; Hilberg, p. 372-4.
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