Part five - Shoah
On the 1st of October Himmler received an urgent request from Globocnik requesting a meeting to discuss the proposals that he has received regarding
the Jews in the Lublin district. Hoppner again writes to Eichmann on the 3rd seemingly to request clarity on the orders, “Was the goal to guarantee
them permanently the sure promise of life or was it to exterminate them completely?” (source as with other Hoppner quote). Himmler and Globocnik
meet in Berlin on the 13th and building work at Belzec begins soon after. On the 17th Globocnik meets with Hans Frank to discuss the clearance of the
Jews from the Lublin. After the war, under interrogation, Frank claims that they only discussed moving the Jews further East.
On 23rd October all Jewish emigration from Germany is prohibited. Two days later, Erhard Wetzel, an assistant of Alfred Rosenberg, writes to Hinrich
Lohse (Reichs Commissar for Ostland), to recommend that the personnel of the T4 unit be deployed to assist in the construction of the ‘facilities’
in the East to deal with those Jews unable to work. Vans are used to kill Jews in the East using bottled carbon monoxide, the method while effective
is unable to handle large numbers.
It is worthy of note that there is no record of any instances where a member of these squads were in anyway punished for refusing to participate in
the murder of civilians. Although most would argue that they were under orders, very few accounts confirm the argument that they were forced to
participate. Many though, saw it as their duty to Hitler and to the German people to rid Europe of the ‘bacilli of Jewry’. As one Krakow police
official was to testify, “There was great hatred against the Jews; it was revenge, and they wanted money and gold. Don’t let’s kid ourselves,
there was always something up for grabs during the Jewish actions. Everywhere you went there was always something for the taking.” (p169, Masters
of Death, by Richard Rhodes)
On the 20th November 1941 Himmler telephones through a message to Heydrich from The Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s war HQ in Eastern Prussia,“Jewish
transports from Berlin. No Liquidation.” By the time Heydrich passes the message to Riga it is too late.
Karl Jager, Commander of Einsatzkommando 3 (sub unit of Group A) reported on 1st December 1941, “I can confirm toady that the objective of solving
the Jewish problem has been achieved.” ((p147 SS: A warning from history by Guido Knopp), “The jews were transported to the place of execution in
groups of up to 500 with gaps of at least 2km.” (p28 The Lake, the Villa, the Meeting)
In December 1941 140 Russian prisoners of war are driven to a barn in the village of Papovka and burnt alive. Just outside Leningrad 150 POWs are
first tortured and then shot.
At the end of December 1941 Hitler is rarely seen in public, spending most of his time at the Wolf’s Lair. He hasn’t held a meeting of his
cabinet since 1938 and has delegated the day to day running of Germany to Hans-Heinrich Lammers, Field-Marshall Keitel and Martin Bormann. By all
accounts Bormann dominates all meetings and controls communications to Hitler. As the genocide increases he restricts Himmler’s access to
With the US entrance into the war Hitler and his subordinates found themselves with a prophecy to fulfill. In a speech at the Reichstag on 30 January
1939 Hitler had said “I want today to be a prophet again: if international finance and Jewry inside and outside Europe should succeed in plunging
the nations once more into a world war, the result will be not the Bolshevization of the earth and ..the victory of the Jewry, but the annihilation of
the Jewish voice in Europe.” (p70, Auschwitz by Laurence Rees). To Hitler and the fanatics of the SS, the Freemason leaders, Churchill and
Roosevelt in alliance against Germany was a confirmation of a Zionist conspiracy against Germany. As Heydrich had put it in a meeting with Dr Carl
Burckhardt of the Swiss Red Cross in late 1939 “The Freemasons are the instrument of Jewish vengeance…should the millennial task of the Fuhrer not
succeed then everything will be revealed, then triumphs will be celebrated with orgies of cruelty, beside which the rigour of Adolf Hitler will appear
very moderate.” (p129-30, SS: A warning from history by Guido Knopp). For Heydrich the annihilation of the Jews was a service to mankind, a dirty
job that someone had to do, for Heydrich, the alternative was much worse.
By the end of the year, there have been 41 transports of Jews from the Greater Reich, only 6 of these transports are liquidated on arrival, the rest
are ‘settled’ in the already overcrowded ghettos. Disease and starvation were widespread. In POW camps, two million Red Army soldiers had died
by starvation, disease, execution or by brutality.
In November Himmler had been forced, by growing numbers, to institute facilities to care for those men, like Blobel, who were mentally
disintergrating. Throughout the killing squads mental breakdowns were rife, the result of having to kill men, women and children. According to
August Becker, who helped develop the mobile gassing vans, “Himmler wanted to deploy people who had become available as a result of the suspension
of the euthanasia programme…specialists in extermination by gassing…the Einsatzgruppen in the East were increasingly complaining that the firing
squads could not cope with the psychological and moral stress of the mass shootings indefinitely. I know that a number of members of these squads
were themselves committed to mental asylums and for this reason new and better methods of killing had to be found.” (p167 Masters of Death by
On 18th December 1941 Himmler meets with Hitler, in his diary, Himmler notes suggest that they had agreed that Jews are to be shot as partisans (see
) . Since at least September the SS had been operating a training course with the motto “Where there is a
Jews there is a Partisan.”
On 20th January 1942 Reinhard Heydrich hosts the Wannsee Conference and announces to the party the Final Solution to the Jewish Question. The meeting
is organized and hosted by Reinhard Heydrich with the assistance of Adolf Eichmann, with some minor Party officials in attendance, their superiors
having sent their apologies and representative of the SS and SD. After initial formalities, the meeting takes a little over an hour and a half, much
of that time is taken with discussing whether half- and quarter-Jews should be included in the deportations.
The Wannsee Protokol, the minutes of the meeting, detail the matters discussed, only 30 copies were ever produced and only one copy, numbered 16
survived the war. Heydrich begins by defining his own responsibilities as presented to him by Hermann Goering “The wish of the Reich Marshall
(Goering) to have a draft sent to him concerning organizational, policy and technical prerequisites for the Final Solution of the European Jewish
question makes it necessary to ensure in advance that the central organisations involved be brought together and their policies properly
co-ordinated.” (From the translation of the Wannsee Protocol, reproduced in The Villa, the Lake, the Meeting: Wannsee and the Final Solution, by
The Protokol makes for chilling reading, especially in retrospect, though extermination is never explicitly mentioned, no plans for the Jews are
discussed beyond their transportation East, no plans were made of how to feed them or care for them. They were simply going East, since the T4
programme, where the mentally ill and disabled were transported over the border to Poland from Germany to be ‘euthanized’, no-one at that meeting
could have been in any doubt as to what going East would mean.
With matters concluded, the meeting closed, the participants retired for brandy and cigars. In March 1942 the killing facilities of Operation
Reinhard, at Sobibor, Treblinka and Belzec, as well as at the Concentration Camps of Auschwitz, Chelmo and Maidenek, commenced the wholesale murder of