The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/aktion.reinhard/belzec/belzec.11

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Holocaust Almanac - Globocnik's Experiments in Killing Methods
Summary: Himmler's involvement in the planning of the camps, Globocnik's
         early development of killing methods at Belzec 
Followup-To: soc.history
Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Belzec,Globocnik,Wirth

Archive/File: holocaust/poland/reinhard/belzec belzec.11 
Last-modified: 1993/03/05 

   "Four independent pieces of evidence help to demonstrate the link
   forged in late August 1941 between Heydrich's plan [Ed.  note: "...a
   continent-wide solution of the Jewish question..."] and Himmler's new
   extermination camps. First, on August 28, in a letter to the Jewish
   specialists in the Foreign Office, Adolf Eichmann referred to the
   'coming Final Solution now in preparation.'<53> Second, in the late
   summer of 1941 the gassing specialist Christian Wirth told another
   Nazi official that he had just been transferred from the euthanasia
   killing center in Brandenburg to a new facility in the Lublin area.
   <53> Third, postwar testimony by Viktor Brack, who ran the euthanasia
   program for the Fu"hrer Chancellery, clarifies the reasons for
   Wirth's transfer.

      In order to retain the personnel that had been relieved of these
      duties and in order to be able to start a new euthanasia program
      after the war, Bouhler [head of the Fu"hrer Chancellery] asked me
      -- I think after a conference with Himmler -- to send this
      personnel to Lublin and place it at the disposal of
      SS-Brigadefu"hrer Globocnik.<54>

   Actually, Brack wrote even during 1942 that 'a long time ago' Bouhler
   had directed him to place a contingent of his men at Globocnik's
   disposal for implementation of Globocnik's special task, and that
   Himmler had directed him to proceed as rapidly as possible with the
   killings in order to disguise them.<55>

   On September 2 an official from the SS Main Office proposed a list of
   men with special rank to be given an assignment with Globocnik in
   Lublin. These were obviously Brack's men from the Fu"hrer
   Chancellery. Himmler approved the list two days later.<56>

   Himmler did not like to waste time or resources, and the euthansia
   institutions in Germany were still available. So he ordered the
   transfer of Jewish inmates from the concentration camps to the
   euthanasia sites, under cover of the more general program of ridding
   the camps of mentally and physically deficient people. At this time
   Buchenwald Commandant Kock sent a transport of three or four hundred
   Jews to the euthanasia facility at Bernburg, where they were gassed.
   <57> They were not killed because they represented a security threat
   to Germany; they were already prisoners in existing camps. They
   certainly did not fit the standard profile of the euthanasia victims.

   The big new project, however, was the construction of new killing
   facilities in the East. Himmler had to issue a specific order before
   any SS construction project could go forward. On the afternoon of
   September 10 -- the same day he approved the transfer of gassing
   specialists to Globocnik -- he held a discussion with several
   subordinates from the SS Economic Office concerning 'plans for
   construction.' These same men -- Oswald Pohl, Dr. Hans Kammler, and
   Sturmbannfu"hrer Heinrich Vogel -- were heavily involved in the
   planning, construction, and administration of concentration camps.
   They appear to have drawn up plans for at least three new camps: 
   Maidanek, Belzec, and Birkenau.<58>

   Maidanek was a mixed-purpose camp, with a need for real workers. In
   the fall of 1941 Globocnik took over a sizable area on the outskirts
   of Lublin for the camp with workshops that Himmler had ordered in
   July. His first workers, who arrived that fall, were Russian POW's
   already in an exhausted condition. There was no housing or sanitary
   facilities for them, and they were given little food, so their number
   diminished as they carried out the task of building facilities at the
   camp. In December 1941 Maidanek received its first Jews, from the
   city of Lublin itself. They lasted no more than a few months; by the
   end of February all remaining Jews in the camp were shot. By March
   1942 Maidanek was receiving Jews from elsewhere, with the fittest
   ones selected to work in an underwear factory and other plants, and
   the others sent directly to their death. By July 1942 Maidanek had a
   crematorium, about two months later a set of gas chambers.<59>

   Belzec was the first pure extermination camp to begin operations in
   the region. There were only a few hundred worker Jews there (at a
   time), most used in the killing facilities or in the recovery of
   clothing and items of value from the dead. The first SS men showed up
   at Belzec in October 1941 to recruit construction workers to build
   the facilities. Himmler's office had reported Globocnik's progress to
   Oswald Pohl, head of what soon became the SS Economic-Administrative
   Main Office (WVHA), preparing Pohl for cooperation with Globocnik.
   Pohl's office had reported to Himmler that it could no longer obtain
   sufficient clothing or textiles for the Waffen-SS and the
   concentration camps. Himmler replied that he could make available a
   large mass of raw materials for clothing, and he gave Globocnik
   responsibility for delivering them.<60> Their owners were not likely
   to object. The gassing at Belzec began in March 1942 under the
   supervision of its first commandant, Christian Wirth. Ninety-one
   others from the Fu"hrer Chancellery who had worked with him on
   euthanasia gassings ended up at Belzec, Sobibor, or Treblinka -- all
   of which were designed to gas Jews and were under Globocnik's
   supervision. The gassing experts lived separately from the other SS
   and police, and they were not carried on the list of Globocnik's
   regular troops.<61>

   Before gas chambers were constructed, there was plenty that Globocnik
   could do with more traditional methods of killing.  In October 1941
   Captain Kleinschmidt, the company leader of a transport unit, came to
   the barracks in Lublin and ordered fifteen men to go with him.  Each
   of the fifteen was given a truck and had to drive it to the
   concentration camp nearby.  There they loaded about thirty on each of
   the fifteen trucks -- a total of about 450 Jews -- and carried them
   to an abandoned airport located approximately twenty-five miles from
   Lublin.  The prisoners had to dig ditches six cubic meters in size.
   After finishing the ditches, ten of the victims took off their
   clothes and were given corrugated-paper shirts reaching halfway down
   the thighs.  The bottoms of the ditches were lined with straw.  The
   victims were ordered, ten at a time, to lie in the ditches,
   alternately head to foot.  Then Globocnik's men threw hand grenades
   into the ditches, and heads, arms, and legs quickly filled the air.
   The troops shot anyone still moving after the explosion.  Then they
   spread lime over the remains, and a new layer of straw was spread on
   top of the lime.  Three or four layers of bodies, ten in each layer,
   were placed in such a grave.  During the executions the other victims
   had to watch and await their turn.  Women were kicked in the stomach
   and breasts, children smashed against rocks.  According to an
   eyewitness to this particular episode, Globocnik's men killed
   approximately seventy-five thousand Jews in this general manner.<62>
   Apart from the sadistic killings by hand, it was about as far as one
   could go in streamlining the process of mass murder without more
   advanced technology. 

   Globocnik was not the only one experimenting with methods of
   execution.  Arthur Nebe summoned the explosives-and-chemical experts
   from the RSHA's Criminal Technical Institute to Byelorussia.  They
   locked a group of mental patients from Minsk into a bunker and blew
   it up, but the first explosion did not kill all the patients, so they
   had to try again.  Afterward they had to retrieve the parts of bodies
   sprayed over the area, some hanging from trees.  That experiment was
   not a spectacular success, but another one, using car-and-truck
   exhaust pumped through a hose into a sealed room in a mental asylum
   in Mogilev, extinguished five patients without difficulty.  So the
   practice soon gained larger dimensions.  After a German doctor
   visited the asylum in Mogilev, apparently to make a selection, as
   many as twelve hundred people were gassed.<63>" (Breitman, 198-201)

Breitman's End notes:

<52> Quoted by Browning, 'Faithful Months,' 26 
<53> Gorgas affidavit, 23 Feb. 1947, NA RG 238, NO-205
<54> Quoted by Yitzhak Arad, 'Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, the Operation
     Reinhard Death Camps.' (Bloomington, Ind., 1987), 17
<55> Brack to Himmler, 2 Sept. 1941; NA RG 238, NO-3010
<56> Schmitt to Himmler, 2 Sept. 1941; Himmler to Schmitt, 4 Sept. 1941,
     NA RG 242, T-581/R 45A; summaries only, log of Himmler's
     correspondence; the originals were apparently destroyed. 
<57> Interrogation of Waldemar Hoven, 16 Oct. 1946, NA RG 238, M-1019
     /R445-47,461. Hoven placed the transport of Jews in the summer or
     early fall of 1941. On the general transfer of concentration-camp
     prisoners to the euthanasia facilities (Aktion 14f13), Klee,
     "Euthanasia," 345-55. (Request euthanasia 14f13.01 through 14f13.04
     for more detail. ed.)
<58> Interrogation of Hubert Karl, 21 May 1947, NA RG 238, M-1019/R 33
     /945. Brandt's log, NA RG 242, T-581/R 39A, 10 Sept. 1941. On Pohl,
     Kammler, and Vogel, see Hilberg, 'Destruction' (1985 edition), III,
     865-69. Vogel had been involved in developing plans for Auschwitz
     even earlier. See Himmler's correspondence log, Pohl to Himmler, 25
     July 1941: "betr. Planning Auschwitz. Bericht des Stubaf. Vogel mit
     Plan u"bers.," NA RG 242, T-581/45A. Wolfgang Scheffler has already
     pointed out that the plans for Maidanek and Birkenau were drawn up
     and implementation begun at the same time, Sept. 1941. Wolfgang
     Scheffler, "Chelmno, Belzec, und Maindanek," in Ja"ckel and
     Rohwere, eds., "Der Mord an den Juden," 147. The same is true of
     Belzec. On the plans for Birkenau, see Heerdt-Lingler to Friedrich
     Boos, 27 June 1941, and to SS Haushalt und Bauten,
     Konzentrationslager Auschwitz, 1 July 1941, NA RG 238, NI-14159-60.
     Adam, "The Gas Chambers," in Furet, "Unanswered Questions," 149.
<59> Czelaw Rajca and Anna Wisniewska, "Maidanek Concentration Camp,"
     trans. Anna Zagorska (Lublin, 1983), esp. 11-13, 24, 81-82.
     Elizabeth B. White, "Majdanek: Cornerstone of Himmler's SS Empire
     in the East," paper presented at American Historical Association
     meeting, San Francisco, 30 Dec. 1989.
<60> On Belzec, see Adalbert Ru"ckerl, ed., "NS Vernichtungslager im
     Spiegel deutscher Strafprozesse," (Munich, 1978), 132-45; Hilberg,
     "Destruction," III, 875-76. Brandt's daily log, with telephone
     calls 15 Oct., to Pohl, report on Globocnik; 17 Oct., to Pohl,
     report on Globocnik; 20 Oct., to Pohl, work with Globocnik, all NA
     RG 242, T-581/R 39A. On the nature of the cooperation and the
     textiles, interrogation of Georg Loener, 20 Sept. 1947, NA RG 238,
     M-1019/R 42/946. Loener dated these events "approximately 1941."
     Brandt's log notations (see above) pin this down to Oct. 1941.
     Arad, "Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka," 24-25.
<61> Arad, "Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka," 24-25, 17. Interrogation of
     Johann Sporrenberg, 2 Sept. 1945, Globocnik file, U.S. Army
     Intelligence and Security Command, obtained through Freedom of
     Information Act.
<62> Commanding General, Eighth Service Command, ASF Dallas, to Provost
     Marshal, 21 May 1945, account of Willi Kempf, POW, NA RG 153, entry
     143, box 571, folder 19-99.
<63> Browning, "Fateful Months," 60. 'Nationalsozialistische Massento"tgen
     durch Giftgas,' ed. Eugen Kogen et al (Frankfurt am Main, 1983), 81-83.
     Zentrale Stelle der Justizverwaltunger Ludwigsburg, 'Sammlung UdSSR,' 
     no. 7, 19.

   Abbreviations Used in Citations  

   The following abbreviations may be used throughout this document:

   NA..........United States National Archives
   RG 59.......NA Diplomatic Records
   RG 84.......Washington National Records Center, Diplomatic Post Records
   RG 153......Washington National Records Center, Records of the
               Office of the (Army) Judge Advocate
   RG 165......Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs,
               Washington National Records Center
   RG 208......Office of War Information Records, Washington National
               Records Center
   RG 226......Office of Strategic Services Records
   RG 238......War Crimes
     EC Series
     NG........Microfilm T-1139
     NI........Microfilm T-301
     NO Series
     NOKW Series
     PS Series
   RG 242......NA Record Group 242 - Captured German Records
      T...........NA Microfilm Series

                                Work Cited   

Breitman, Richard. The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final
Solution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991

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