The following article consists of three extracts from The “Extermination Camps” of “Aktion Reinhardt”: An Analysis and Refutation of the Factitious “Evidence”, Forgeries and Faulty Argumentation of the “Holocaust Controversies” Bloggers, a comprehensive rebuttal to Jonathan Harrison, Roberto Muehlenkamp, Jason Myers, Sergey Romanov and Nicholas Terry's Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. Holocaust Denial and Operation Reinhard, a book-length critique which appeared online in 2011 and which aims at refuting the revisionist writings of Carlo Mattogno, Jürgen Graf and Thomas Kues on the subject of the “extermination camps” of “Aktion Reinhardt”, Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka. The extracts, which have been slightly edited in order to facilitate their reading as such, are taken from Chapter 7, “The Reality of Resettlement” and deal with the evidence for and possibility of German mass deportations of European Jews into the occupied territories of the Soviet Union 1941–1944.
Deportations to the Military-Administered Parts of the Occupied Eastern Territories
In their arguments regarding specific parts of the Occupied Eastern Territories our opponents have nothing to say about the parts not under “civilian administration,” i.e. exclusive of the Reichskommissariats of Ostland and Ukraine. These military-administered territories included a large region east of the Baltic States, the eastern part of the former Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic and the bordering parts of western Russia, as well as Ukraine east of the Dniepr and the bordering parts of south-western Russia. While it might seem unreasonable at first glance that the Germans would have deported Jews to areas near the Eastern Front, we have several indications that such was indeed the case. For example, in the January 30, 1942 diary entry of Herman Kruk we read:
“A train with Jews passed by here [in Vilnius] today. The Jews said that they are being taken to work from Sosnowiec and the surrounding area [in Upper Silesia]. The train left in the direction of the Eastern Front.” 
It is known that a transport of 350 young Polish Jews was sent from Upper Silesia via Königsberg, Kaunas and Vilnius to work on railway rehabilitation in Sebezh, a town some 200 Km from Leningrad, where the Organisation Todt had set up a collection, transit and staff camp. However as this transport is reported to have departed from Breslau in the autumn of 1941, most likely in November, it can hardly have been identical with that observed in Vilnius at the end of January the following year, but could possibly have been a sort of pilot convoy. Historian Bella Gutermann writes that “we cannot be certain whether the transport was meant to be a pilot venture, in which the potential utility of employing these young Jews would be tested, or whether it was an individual transport placed at the OT’s service at a critical period in the winter of 1941/42.” According to witnesses, Gutermann further tells us, a group from the convoy which had been transferred to Idritsa,
“where the OT concentrated incoming transports from the West, heard from the supervisors that they were the first group and that their contribution would determine whether there was reason to remove additional groups of Jewish slave laborers from the Organisation Schmelt camps.” 
Witnesses state that, while they “knew that more people were supposed to come,” they later somehow learned that the “experiment” had been a failure and that “they would send no more Jews to work in the East.” Gutermann has to admit that it “cannot be determined from the documentation whether there was a plan to send additional transports of Jews from the camps in Silesia” and writes about the convoy that “[t]his was evidently the only group of Jewish prisoners culled from the forced-labor camps in eastern Upper Silesia” (emphasis added). Did the transports from Upper Silesia continue, and was the convoy observed in Vilnius on January 30, 1942 part of this program? Has the existence of such transports been concealed by the fact that they did not travel directly from Poland to occupied Soviet territory, but via transit through Auschwitz? It is worth pointing out that, according to Holocaust historian Ber Mark, Jews from Upper Silesia were “gassed” in Auschwitz in January 1942, while a number of other exterminationists such as Danuta Czech and Christopher Browning claim that Jews from the Organisation Schmelt camps who were found to be unable to work were gassed in Auschwitz during February/March 1942. No documentation on these alleged transports has come to light, however.
In this context must be mentioned a highly important German radio message intercepted by British decoders on January 15, 1942:
“To Higher SS and Police Leader NORTH. Secret.
The Fuehrer has ordered that Jewish compulsory labour gangs are to be sent with all speed into the area of Russian operations for the carrying out of important constructional undertakings. They go on 18.1.42 in special transport into the building area allotted to the SILESIAN operations group, in the region of DUENABURG/MOSCOW. Medical examination and injection is necessary. The Jews wear black-working dress with green armbands. Employment – Reichsautobahn. Organisation TODT undertakes guard duties. Please see to it that the pool of compulsory laborers is not reduced.
Higher SS and Pol. Leader SOUTH-EAST”
The Higher SS and Police Leader (Höhere SS- und Polizeiführer, HSSPF) of Breslau and the division command “SS Main Section South-East” at this time was SS-Obergruppenführer Ernst-Heinrich Schmauser, who had Upper Silesia under his jurisdiction, including Auschwitz. “Higher SS and Police Leader North” undoubtedly refers to Friedrich Jeckeln, who had the region “Russland-Nord” (Russia North) under his jurisdiction. This included the German-occupied Russian territory east of the Baltic countries which we are dealing with here. The Reichsautobahn was the administrative framework for the interstate highways in the Reich and the occupied territories.
That the Jewish workers had to be medically examined and given injections (which no doubt meant vaccination) supports that the NS bureaucrats responsible for the implementation of the Final Solution deemed it necessary that the Jews sent into the Occupied Eastern Territories undergo a hygienic-prophylactic treatment in order to reduce the risk of outbreaks of disease in these territories. The fact that Schmauser deemed it necessary to mention this detail to Jeckeln indicates that said treatment in this case was to take place upon arrival.
If the transport did indeed depart from Upper Silesia according to schedule on January 18 and went “with all speed into the area of Russian operations,” it stands to reason that it must have arrived in western Russia within a week, i.e. around January 25 at the latest, but possibly several days before that. It is therefore unlikely that this transport was the convoy observed in Vilnius on January 30. Hence we are dealing with at least three convoys of Silesian Jews sent into the operational area of Army Group North for deployment to road and railroad construction works during the period of November 1941 to January 1942.
The date of this message is noteworthy also because of the fact that it was sent only five days prior to the Wannsee Conference. Its contents clearly echo the passage from the Wannsee protocol according to which able-bodied Jews were to be brought “in large work columns” to the East “for work on roads”.
The task force responsible for the reconstruction of the railroads in the northern front area was named Eisenbahneinsatz Riga and had its headquarters in the Russian city of Pskov (Pleskau in German). Christoph Dieckmann informs us that on December 4, 1941 Dr. Georg Leibbrandt of the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories sent a letter to Reichskommissar Lohse in which he stated that a camp for the deported German Jews was to be constructed not near Riga, but near Pskov, as Heydrich had informed him a few days previously. While a camp meant for the deported Reich Jews was in fact erected near Riga (Salaspils), this does not preclude that another camp for the reception of deported Jews was also established in Pskov or its vicinity. Indeed, as likewise noted by Dieckmann, a group of some 800 Jews was sent from the OT camp in Ziezmariai, Lithuania, to the vicinity of Pskov in June 1943. An Arbeitserziehungslager (labor education camp) is reported to have been located in Pskov. This may or may not have been a “Pleskau Zwangsarbeitslager für Juden” (Pskov forced-labor camp for Jews), to which fragmentary references can be found. Pskov was also the site of a “Groß-K[riegs]-Werke,” a huge factory complex serving the needs of Army Group North. Angrick and Klein comments on Leibbrandt’s letter:
“In suggesting these proposals to deport the Jews to points east of the general commissariats, however, Heydrich was probably responding not only to the RmbO’s [Leibbrandt’s] ideas. Rather, it seems that the Security Police itself had thought about other possibilities in the long term. As early as August , Stahlecker – in a statement on Lohse’s temporary guidelines for the treatment of the Jewish question – had noted that a future ‘Jew reservation’ should be erected only farther east, and as late as February 1942, Heydrich said the ‘Arctic area’ was an ‘ideal homeland for the 11 million Jews from Europe.’ Seen in the context of these remarks, another statement by Heydrich, to the effect that the commanders of the Einsatzgruppen B and C could ‘take in Jews in their camps for Communist prisoners in the zone of operations’ gains in significance as well.” 
Heydrich’s – no doubt rather hyperbolic – talk of a Jewish “reservation” in the “Arctic area” is mirrored in a remarkable way in Walter Föhl’s already-quoted letter from June 21, 1942 about Jewish convoys being sent not only into the swamps of Belarus but also in the direction of “the Arctic Ocean.” Of course, if we are to believe the exterminationists, all such deportation plans had been abandoned by early 1942…
In Smolensk, in German-occupied western Russia, a camp existed to which Polish Jews were sent from Warsaw in July 1942. According to one of these Polish Jews, Yehuda Lerner, the inmates in the Smolensk camp included German Jews who were sent there via Warsaw. In the autumn of 1942 at least one further group of 250 Polish Jews, who in this case had first been detained in the Maly Trostenets camp near Minsk, were sent to work for the SS-Bauleitung in Smolensk.
To the above might be added the August 17, 1942 notice in the clandestine Polish newspaper Informacja Bieżąca according to which 2,000 “skilled workers” had been sent from the Warsaw Ghetto to Smolensk on August 1, 1942, and the Soviet claim from October 21, 1942 that the Germans had executed 1,850 Jewish “deportees brought from Poland, Belgium and Holland” in the Smolensk district.
On January 1, 1943 The Jewish Chronicle reported:
“Czech Jews are now being sent from the notorious Terezin fortress-ghetto to areas near the Eastern front. Everyone between the ages of 18 and 45 is made to work on the building of fortifications. There is evidence that Czech Jews had been working on fortifications within 35 miles of Stalingrad.” 
Between September 19 and October 22, 1942 a total of ten transports departed Theresienstadt (Terezin) bound for Treblinka, while a single transport bound for Auschwitz departed on October 26, 1942; a hiatus in the convoys from Theresienstadt then followed until January 20, 1943.
According to the June 1942 issue of Contemporary Jewish Record, “thousands of former Lublin and Krakow Jews” had been sent in April 1942 to dig trenches “on the Taganrog-Kharkov sector of the Soviet front.” It is interesting to compare this news item with the following: On December 16, 1941 the Romanian leader Marshal Ion Antonescu convened his cabinet, on which occasion the following was stated:
“The Germans want to bring the Yids [sic] from Europe to Russia and settle them in certain areas but there is still time before this plan is carried out.” 
Nearly five years later, in 1946 at the Paris Peace Conference, members of the Romanian Foreign Ministry presented a study to the Allied victors in which they insisted that this indeed was the information which Germany had provided them concerning the fate of the Jews:
“In the fall of 1941, the German Legation presented to Antonescu’s Government a plan that included Germany’s intentions vis-à-vis the Jewish population in Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and Hungary. The Jews of these countries should have been deported to a region situated northeast of the Black Sea, beyond the line Rostov-Kharkov, where it was planned to establish an immense ghetto for [them]. For this purpose the Romanian Jews were to be gathered and deported to Transnistria, this [territory] being considered as a first stage of the deportation. After that the Jews would have been transferred farther [east] to the region that was allotted to them.”
The Rostov-Kharkov line marked the eastern front as it stood at the end of 1941. The region beyond it, north-east of the Black Sea, corresponding to the Voroshilovgrad (Lugansk) area and the territory between the Donets and Don rivers, was conquered only in the summer of 1942, and the German occupation of it lasted for less than a year, so that it seems unlikely that large groups of Jews were ever deported there, although a certain number may have been sent there to carry out work on fortifications, as hinted at by the above-quoted news item. If an “immense ghetto,” similar perhaps to the Transnistrian “reservation,” was indeed established, it seems more likely that it was realized in the military-administered part of the Ukraine. That the Romanian authorities were in fact informed by their German allies that the Jews were to be sent east and also trusted this information is borne out by the Romanian deportation in February 1942 of some 10,000 Jews from Transnistria over the Bug River at Vosnessensk into Reich Commissariate Ukraine, Romanian authorities having planned the expulsion of a further 60,000 Jews.
The fact that Eichmann reacted to this deportation in a letter of April 14, 1942 by calling it “premature” (vorzeitig) demonstrates that a transfer of Romanian Jewry into the Ukraine was indeed planned, but not to be carried out at such an early date. In this context we may mention the order issued by Einsatzkommando 12 to the Jews of Kislovodsk in northern Caucasus on September 7, 1942, according to which they were to be resettled in “the sparsely populated regions of the Ukraine,” by which is likely meant primarily the eastern parts of the country. On October 10, 1941 Heydrich stated that the Einsatzgruppen commanders SS-Brigadeführer Nebe “could take in Jews in the camps for Communist prisoners in the zone of operations” and that “[a]ccording to SS-Stubaf. Eichmann this process has already begun.” This implies that at least part of the Jews apprehended by the Einsatzgruppen were not executed but were transferred to camps in the areas under military administration. Were these later followed by Jews deported from Central and Western Europe?
Walter Laqueur informs us in his book The Terrible Secret that, when Professor Felix Frankfurter in mid-September 1942 met with President Roosevelt to voice his apprehension about the fate of the Jews, the president told him not to worry, because “the deported Jews were simply being employed on the Soviet frontier to build fortifications.” Of course, our opponents would have it that the head of state of one of Germany’s major enemies knew no better than to pass on “mere rumors”! Needless to say, the deployment of Jews as forced laborers on construction sites near the front would have put the same at immense risk of being killed by enemy and partisan fire (as well as mines and air raids), in addition to the hardship resulting from being forced to work under extreme conditions.
Transports to the “Extermination Camps” from the East
According to our opponents, the fact that a certain number of transports reached the Reinhardt camps (as well as Auschwitz) from the east contradicts the thesis that they functioned as transit camps:
“MGK [Mattogno, Graf, and Kues] never significantly discuss the hundreds of transports that travelled westwards to the death camps, whilst they argue that these deportees were all sent eastwards. This led several groups of Jews (i.e. from Galicia, Romania, Bialystok, Ostland, etc) to head in the completely wrong direction from the eastern territories in 1942 and 1943, something illogical from the perspective of a resettlement program. Indeed, a reasonable estimate would be that at least 500,000 Jews were transported westward to the extermination camps during these years.”
In a footnote, the figure of 500,000 Jews is broken down as follows:
“This estimate is based on approximations of 200,000 people from Distrikt Bialystok (to Auschwitz and Treblinka), 250,000 from Distrikt Galizien (to Auschwitz and Belzec), several thousand from Reichskommissariat Ostland (to Sobibor), at least 10,000 from Thrace (to Treblinka), 30,000 from Regierungsbezirk Ziechenau [sic] (to Auschwitz), and about 16,000 from Distrikt Krakau (to Auschwitz).”
But is the existence of these westbound transports really incongruent with the transport-instead-of-extermination hypothesis? Let us consider one-by-one the six transport groups listed by our opponents.
1) The Białystok district was an independent administrative district in occupied Poland under the authority of Erich Koch, who was also the Reichskommissar of the Ukraine and Gauleiter of East Prussia (into which the Białystok district was scheduled to be incorporated). It consisted of the regions of Białystok, Grodno and Wołkowysk (part of which are now in Belarus). According to the 1931 Polish census, the Białystok voivodship had 172,043 Jewish inhabitants, 50,170 of them in the Białystok powiat (district) and 35,693 in the Grodno powiat. According to the lengthy Korherr Report, the number of Jews in the Białystok district at the time of its creation amounted to some 160,000. Orthodox Holocaust historian Sara Bender sets an even lower estimate at 150,000. According to Yitzhak Arad, 31,000 Jews were shot in the Białystok district by the Einsatzgruppen during the period July to September 1941, yet at the beginning of autumn 1942 there were still “about 210,000” Jews left in the district, implying that the Jewish population in the district had exceeded 241,000 at the time of the German occupation, which would mean a population increase of at least 68,957 or some 40% for the years 1931 to 1941 – no doubt a considerable exaggeration.
The abridged Korherr Report (from April 19, 1943) states that 170,642 Jews had been evacuated “from the Reich territory including the Protectorate and Bialystok district to the East [nach dem Osten]” up to the end of 1942. The reason for the listing of the Białystok district together with the Greater Reich and the Protectorate is doubtless its scheduled annexation to East Prussia. Numerical analysis allows us to draw the conclusion that the figure of 170,642 is comprised of 68,808 Jews sent directly to the eastern territories (Minsk/Maly Trostenets, Riga, Kaunas, Minsk, Raasiku) from November 1941 to November 1942, 35,810 Jews deported from the Altreich, from Austria and the Protectorate into the Lublin district, and 46,591 Jews from the Białystok district. According to Franciszek Piper, some 8,500 Jews from the Białystok district arrived at Auschwitz during this period of time. Some tens of thousands of Jews from the district were deported to Auschwitz also during January/February 1943. Bender writes that “between January 20 and 24, 1943, about 10,000 Jews were deported from Grodno to Auschwitz in five separate transports. […] In late January 1943, about 10,000 Jews from the Pruzhany ghetto were taken in sleighs to the train station, some 12 kilometers away, and sent to Auschwitz in four transports.” A preserved railway transport plan for the period January 20, 1942 to February 18, 1943 has three listed convoys from Białystok to Auschwitz (Pj 107, Pj 109, Pj 111); the number of passengers for the two first is given as 2,000 each, whereas no such figure is provided for Pj 111.
On December 16, 1942, the head of the Gestapo, SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller, sent Himmler an urgent telegram requesting permission for the transport of 45,000 Jews to Auschwitz during the period January 11-31, 1943 “in respect of the increased transport of labor to concentration camps ordered by January 30, 1943.” Of these 45,000 Jews, 10,000 were to come from Theresienstadt, 3,000 from the Netherlands, 2,000 from Berlin, and 30,000 from the Białystok District. The number also included Jews unfit for work. Of the deportees, 10,000 to 15,000 were expected to be picked out for work during a selection (Ausmusterung) following their arrival at Auschwitz. Nothing is said about the fate of the deportees found unfit for work. One of the local German ghetto administrators in Grodno, Dr. Wilhelm Altenloh, stated in his interrogation of September 6, 1961 that, when he received the order from the Reich Security Main Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt, RSHA) to evacuate the ghettos in the Białystok district in the winter of 1942, it mentioned that the evacuated Jews would be brought to the General Government for labor deployment (Arbeitseinsatz). When questioned on the issue again on August 20, 1963, Altenloh stated that “all circumstances spoke against the killing of the Jews, as at that time they were urgently needed as labor in the armaments industry.” Heinz Errelis, former head of the Gestapo in Grodno, testified on August 13, 1963 that:
“At that time I was completely convinced that the Jews were to be resettled in another settlement area [Wohngebiet] in the Auschwitz region [Raum Auschwitz]. In the official correspondence from that time only ‘resettlement’ [Umsiedlung] was ever mentioned. The thought that the Jews were killed never struck me even once, as in my view they constituted an important factor in the armaments industry.” 
Since, as has been amply proven, no facilities for mass extermination existed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp complex, it seems most likely that the Jews deported there from the Białystok district in 1942/1943 who were not registered in that camp continued on elsewhere, perhaps to camps in the region. This is fully congruent with the Korherr Report, since as mentioned the relevant figure of 170,642 deported to “the East” also included deportations from the Reich and the Protectorate into the Lublin district; accordingly “the East” is here to be understood as a more general designation of all territories east of the Reich (with the Białystok District) and the Protectorate, including the General Government.
Since of the 46,591 Białystok District Jews deported “to the East” only a smaller part can be documented to have been sent to Auschwitz, the most likely conclusion is that many if not a majority of them were deported to the Occupied Eastern Territories without passing through any transit camp.
Most of the Jews deported from the Białystok District, however, were sent to Treblinka, where they were allegedly gassed en masse. Christian Gerlach points out that, although the (alleged) decision to exterminate the Jews in the Białystok District is generally asserted by orthodox Holocaust historians to have been made by the RSHA under the leadership of Eichmann, there is an indication of an underlying coordination with certain other authorities: the (alleged) extermination of the Jews of Volhynia-Podolia and Polesie in Reich Commissariate Ukraine more or less ended with the evacuation of the Pinsk ghetto (in Polesie) on November 1, 1942, whereas the liquidation of the ghettos in the Białystok District commenced on the very following day, November 2, 1942.
As already mentioned, the head of the civilian administration of Białystok District was Erich Koch, who was also Reichskommissar of the Ukraine. Both Ukraine and the Białystok District were further under the jurisdiction of HSSPF Hans-Adolf Prützmann. Could it be that the evacuations from the Białystok District commenced on November 2, 1942 because the “exterminations” in Volhynia-Podolia and Polesie (regardless of the question whether the Jews in these regions of Ukraine were indeed murdered or relocated in part or comprehensively had freed up living space (ghettos) to where they could be transferred?
The former German policeman Franz Osterode testified in 1965 that, at the time of the liquidation of the Grodno Ghetto in mid-February 1943, he had inquired with the commandant of the Grodno Ghetto, Heinz Errelis, about the fate of the evacuees. Errelis had first referred to “secret state matters” (“Geheime Reichssache”), but when Osterode continued asking about the issue, Errelis had finally told him that the evacuated Jews were being sent to “special reservations” (besondere Reservate) where they were “probably to work on draining the Rokitno Marshes.”
The “Rokitno Marshes” is often used as another name for the vast Pripyat Marshes, and is derived from the name of a town near Pinsk, in the Polesie region. It stretches to the west as far as the region near Brest-Litovsk. A look at a map of the Reichsbahn railway network in Eastern Europe shows that convoys could have been sent from the city of Białystok to Treblinka via Małkinia and from there on to Brest-Litovsk via Siedlce, Lukow. From Brest-Litovsk the trains could have continued further east to destinations such as Luniniec and Pinsk in the heart of the marshland. On the other hand, the same maps clearly show that railway transports from the Białystok district should have had no problem reaching Podolia and Polesie without first crossing the Bug River into the General Government. Why, then, if the transit camp hypothesis is correct, would the convoys make the detour west to Treblinka? There are several possible – and not mutually exclusive – explanations for this:
a) It must first be pointed out that the detour west is not as drastic as it may seem; for example, from the map on page 132 of Arad’s Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. As for the longitudinal distance, Treblinka is located on 22°3′ east, Białystok on 23°9′ east and Grodno on 23°50′ east. The longitudinal offset between Treblinka and the city of Białystok is approximately 1 degree, 6 minutes, which on this latitude corresponds to some 73 kilometers. The corresponding longitudinal offset between Treblinka and Grodno is somewhat less than 125 kilometers.
b) Administrative/bureaucratic reasons. The handling of the Jews arriving in the Reinhardt camps basically involved the following steps: 1) the confiscation of valuables and certain of the property brought by the deportees; 2) the showering and disinfection of the deportees and the delousing of their clothes and remaining property; 3) the unproven but likely sorting out and subsequent “mercy killing” of deportees afflicted by mental or epidemic diseases; 4) the further deportation, which may or may not have been undertaken in the same convoy formation as at arrival.
The Höfle Document together with testimonial as well as archeological evidence also strongly suggest that the deportees passing through the camps underwent some form of registration. First of all this would have filled the purpose of ascertaining the exact numbers of Jews processed by Aktion Reinhardt. Data on sex, age and possibly also professional background could have been used to determine the circumstances of resettlement.
Step Number 1 was sensitive because, needless to say, the systematic confiscation of the belongings of hundreds of thousands of civilians constituted a serious crime under international law. Moreover, the income gained this way was most likely used to finance the whole resettlement program. Steps Numbers 2 and 3 were measures of prophylactic hygiene carried out in order to minimize the risk that the arrival of new inmates would lead to outbreaks of epidemic diseases at their points of destination. Step 3 would obviously be even more sensitive in nature than Step 1. Step 4 would have required coordination with railway authorities as well as relevant local authorities at the destination points.
In order to carry out the above-described steps in an effective, coordinated and discreet manner, the Germans may have decided that the Jews in the region affected by Aktion Reinhardt, rather than being pushed willy-nilly over the Bug River at the point closest to their respective ghetto, were all to be processed via a limited number of transit camps located along the former German-Soviet demarcation line, which as mentioned ran for the most part along the River Bug.
A model for the logistics of the Aktion Reinhardt resettlement program may have been the deportation by Romanian authorities of the Jews of Bessarabia and Bukovina over the Dniestr into the “Transnistrian Reservation.” Between July and early December 1941 some 125,000 to 145,000 Jews were deported across the Dniestr via transit camps near Mogilev, Iampol, Râbnita, Tiraspol, Iaska and Ovidopol, some 80-90% of them via the first-mentioned three camps.
Construction on the Bełżec camp began in October 1941 according to the witness Kozak, and the future camp site of Sobibór was visited on three occasions during the autumn of 1941 according to the witness Piwonski, but it is likely that preliminary planning on the resettlement program later described as part of Aktion Reinhardt was commenced several months earlier, perhaps as early as July or August 1941. On July 15, 1941 work on the preliminary study for “Generalplan Ost” was concluded. On July 17, 1941 Governor General Hans Frank noted in his official journal that Hitler on June 19, 1941 (i.e. three days before Operation Barbarossa, the launch of the war with the Soviet Union) had declared that “the Jews will soon be removed from the General Government with the latter becoming, as it were, a mere transit camp.” On the very same day Himmler named Odilo Globocnik, later a key administrative figure in the resettlement operation, as the “Commissioner for the Establishment of SS and Police Strongpoints in the New Eastern Area.” On August 28, 1941, Eichmann wrote of an order prohibiting “an emigration of Jews from the territories occupied by us in view of the impending final solution of the Jewish question in Europe now being prepared” (emphasis added).
The district of Galicia was allocated to the General Government on August 1, 1941. On the same date, the Białystok district was established, at which point it was also removed from the operational zones of the German Army in the Soviet Union. The city of Grodno and its surroundings, however, were not permanently made part of the district until November 1, 1941. It could very well be that the Reinhardt program, including the approximate placement of the transit camps, was originally designed exclusively for the pre-August 1941 General Government, and that it was only later extended to cover also Eastern Galicia and the Białystok district. This, together with the fact that railroad tracks in the latter two regions were on the Soviet gauge (incompatible with the German gauge used to the west) to the Soviet railway-gauge system, necessitating transshipment points for railroad transports, helps explain in particular the location of the Bełżec camp: right on the former demarcation line but well inside the post-August-1941 General Government, on the border with the district of Galicia.
While from a purely logistical viewpoint it would have made more sense to deport the Jews of the Galicia and Białystok Districts via two further transit camps located on the eastern borders of said districts, the decision was made to process them via the same three camps used for the Jews in the “General Government proper.” This decision to keep the number of transit camps limited was likely based on the need for simplicity in coordination, centralization and security, but regular administrative/bureaucratic inertia or power games may have played a part as well.
c) Labor considerations. It is admitted by exterminationists that, despite the notion of the Reinhardt camps as “pure extermination camps,” a small percentage of the deportees sent to Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka were transferred upon arrival to labor camps in the respective surrounding districts. From Sobibór some 1,000 Dutch Jews were transferred to labor camps in the Włodawa region. From Treblinka at least several thousands of Jews were transferred to other camps. From Bełżec 1,700 people were sent to Majdanek in October 1942. Adjustments of labor on this scale would, needless to say, only have been a minor contributing factor in the overall decision process.
d) Logistical reasons. A look at a contemporary (1942) map of railway connections (Illustration 1 below) reveals that the shortest route traveling by train to Reich Commissariate Ukraine from the Białystok district would have been from the city of Białystok to Brest Litowsk via Bielsk and Wysokie Litowsk. If one first traveled east from Białystok, one would have to come to Wołkowysk or all the way to Baranowicze (in Reich Commissariate Ostland) before being able to turn south to Brest Litowsk (Wołkowysk–Kleszczele–Wysokie Litowsk–Brest Litowsk or Baranowicze–Bereza Kartuska–Brest Litowsk) or Luniniec (Baranowicze–Hancewicze–Luniniec). If the Białystok–Bielsk–Wysokie Litowsk–Brest Litowsk line was either out of order during the period of late 1942/early 1943 or pre-empted by higher-prioritized traffic that no Jewish convoys could make use of it, then it would have been logistically more sound to send transports destined for western Ukraine via Treblinka. On the other hand, we have no sources at our disposal indicating that such was the case.
Illustration 1: Map of the Białystok district and bordering territories, with railway routes.
The Białystok ghetto was evacuated in late August 1943. By then, a prisoner revolt had already broken out in Treblinka (on August 2), and the camp was in the process of being closed. Arad writes:
“The next camp to be liquidated was Treblinka. The last transports to this camp, before its closing, came from the Bialystok ghetto, where over 25,000 Jews had lived until the second half of August 1943. All these Jews, according to the deportation plan, had to be sent to Treblinka in five train transports. The transports, which included seventy-six freight cars, arrived in Treblinka on August 18 and 19. The other three transports passed through Treblinka, but continued on. One went to Majdanek; one to Auschwitz; and one with children to Theresienstadt.
The two transports from Bialystok were the last to arrive and be murdered in Treblinka. At that time the camp had already ceased to be fully operational. Part of it had been destroyed during the uprising a few weeks earlier, and only a few Jewish prisoners were still there to carry out the work connected with the extermination process. Therefore, the annihilation of the transports from Bialystok took more time than before the uprising. Only ten freight cars loaded with Jews could enter the camp simultaneously, as opposed to twenty previously. These difficulties were why the other transports from Bialystok, except for the one with the children, were sent to Majdanek and Auschwitz.”
Arad’s assertions are contradicted by the testimony of Treblinka station master Franciszek Zabecki, who writes that six transports “went via Treblinka in transit” in August-September 1943:
“On 18 August 1943, a transport of Jews ‘PJ 201’ (32 wagons) went to Lublin from Bialystok via Treblinka.
On 19 August, the transport ‘PJ 203’ (40 wagons) went to Lublin from Bialystok via Treblinka.
On 19 August, the last transport of Jews from Bialystok, ‘PJ 204’ (39 wagons), arrived at Treblinka.
On 24 August, transport ‘PJ 209’ (9 wagons) went to Lublin via Treblinka.
On 8 September, transport ‘PJ 211’ (31 wagons) was sent to Lublin, and
Zabecki thus has it that three convoys with a total of 112 cars arrived at Treblinka from Białystok. Note that he does not state that the transport PJ 204 was exterminated at the camp, although he does not mention a further destination for it. According to Reitlinger, waybills from the Königsberg office of the German State Railways reveal that five special trains, comprising in total 266 cars, left Bialystok for Treblinka between August 21 and 27, 1943. A railway schedule cited by Z. Łukaszkiewicz lists 8 planned “special trains for the transport of resettlers […] running from Białystok to Małkinia, destination Treblinka,” comprised of 303 cars. According to Tatiana Berenstein and Adam Rutkowski, 24,000 Białystok Jews – i.e. all of the Jews from the evacuated ghetto, considering the losses of lives in connection with the failed ghetto uprising at the time – were brought to Majdanek.1519 It is documented that on August 20, 1943 a transport with 2,031 persons arrived in Majdanek from Białystok. At least one other transport arrived in Majdanek with approximately 2,000 Jews (men, women, and children) on the same day.
It follows from the above data that in August/September 1943 Treblinka served as a stop-over for transports with the Lublin district as their destination. Accordingly, this group of convoys was not sent “in the wrong direction.”
2) Eastern Galicia (Distrikt Galizien) was made part of the General Government on August 1, 1941. Arad estimates that between 507,000 and 520,000 Jews remained in Eastern Galicia in March 1942. According to the June 1943 report of SS-Gruppenführer Fritz Katzmann, Commander of the German SS and Police in the District of Galicia, a total of 254,989 Jews were evacuated from the district to November 10, 1942, whereas another (434,329 – 254,989 =) 179,340 had been evacuated in the period from November 11, 1942 to June 30, 1943. Arad asserts that 25,000 to 30,000 Jews from Eastern Galicia were deported to Bełżec in the period between November 11 and December 10, 1942. This would mean that, out of the 434,508 arrivals to the Bełżec camp, some 279,989–284,989 or approximately 65% came from Eastern Galicia. A look at a contemporary map (Illustration 2 below) shows that a considerable part of the western half of the district was actually located to the west of Bełżec, longitudinally speaking, and that a vertical line drawn a mere 60 km east of Bełżec, which was located just south of Tomaszów Lúbelski, almost immediately on the border between the Lublin district and Eastern Galicia (i.e. the former German-Soviet demarcation line from 1939), would include to its west the counties of Rawa Ruska, Sambor, Drohobycz and virtually all of Lwów County (Lemberg-Land) including the city of Lwów, as well as most of the counties of Stryj and Kalusz. Below I will refer to the entirety of these six counties as the “western half of the district” and the remaining seven counties (Kamionka Strumilowa, Zloczow, Brzezany, Stanisławów, Tarnopol, Kolomea and Czortkow) as the “eastern half of the district.” It must be pointed out here that Arad erroneously includes the county of Przemysl in Eastern Galicia, whereas in fact it was part of the Krakow District.
Illustration 2: District of Galicia in 1942, with railway routes
The ARC website provides a chronological list of 71 convoys from the district of Eastern Galicia to Bełżec, made up of in total 247,048 to 248,748 deportees. While the figures found in this list – which are based on studies by Aleksander Kruglov, Janina Kiełboń, Gerszon Taffet and Thomas Sandkühler – are for the most part not documented figures but estimates, and they can nonetheless be considered (at least for working purposes) to roughly correspond to historical reality, given that their total comes very close to the figure found in the Katzmann Report (254,989). A comparison of this list with a detailed contemporary map will show the deportees to be distributed by counties and district halves as follows:
|Eastern half of the district|
|Kamionka Strumiłowa||7,900 to 8,500|
|Tarnopol||21,041 to 22,141|
|Total:||99,223 to 100,923|
|Western half of the district|
Thus, for some 60% of the deportees the route via Bełżec would have constituted only a minor detour to the east (or none at all, for the cumulative 30,399 deportees from the counties of Sambor and Drohobycz). This still means that for some 40% of the deportees a rather significant detour to the west was made. In this case we can only adduce the same general explanations as for the convoys from the Białystok district.
While our opponents do not mention it, one can find allegations in exterminationist literature that a smaller number of Jews from Eastern Galicia were deported to Sobibór in late 1942/early 1943, following the closing of the Bełżec camp. In his study on the Reinhardt camps from 1987, Arad wrote that “[i]n the winter of 1942/43 and in the spring and summer of 1943, transports arrived in Sobibór with Jews from the Lvov district,” but in his 2010 volume on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union he contradicts this:
“The Belzec extermination camp, which until then had taken in the Jews of District Galicia, ceased its activity in late 1942. A shortage of transport trains prevented the SS deportation authorities from sending the Jews to the more distant extermination camps of Sobibor and Treblinka, which were still operating. From early 1943, all murders of the Jews remaining in District Galicia were committed close to the towns and camps in which they were being held, and killing was accomplished by shooting.” 
As far as we are aware, Arad has never explained this turnaround. It is not directly necessitated by the Höfle document, since this only covers the period until the end of 1942, but it is possibly related to it, as the discovery of said document showed that Arad had overestimated the number of Jews deported to Sobibór from the General Government by nearly 300%. It is clear that no documentary evidence has been found for transports from Eastern Galicia to Sobibór, only vague testimonies. After this cursory note I will therefore dwell no more on this peripheral subject.
As for the Jews deported from Eastern Galicia to Auschwitz: their number must have been very small, since Yitzhak Arad in the chapter of The Holocaust in the Soviet Union which he devotes to the fate of the Galician Jews in 1943 does not mention the names Auschwitz or Birkenau even once. Neither is it mentioned as a destination in Eliyahu Yones’s monograph on the Holocaust in the Lwów oblast. Aleksander Kruglov writes that about 10,000 Jews “mainly from the Lviv [Lwów, Lemberg] Oblast, were deported to Poland” in 1943, without stating their exact destination. Jews still remaining in labor camps in Drohobych and nearby Borislaw in March-April 1944 – some 1,500 in all – were deported to the Płaszów labor camp near Krakow, not to Auschwitz. The latter is erroneously claimed in the transport list of Franciszek Piper, who besides this transport only lists three minor transfers of Galician Jews to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944, with the numbers of deportees for these transports given as 2, 7 and 35 respectively! Considering these extremely low minimum estimates, the unlikelihood (given the demographic data available) that the real numbers were much higher, as well as the timeframe, there is no reason to dwell further upon the very hypothetical issue of transports from Eastern Galicia to Auschwitz.
3) The transports of Jews from Reich Commissariate Ostland to Sobibór were limited to a brief period of time, namely September 1943, when several of the major ghettos in Reich Commissariate Ostland (e.g. the Minsk and Vilna ghettos) were either evacuated or replaced by concentration camps. Jules Schelvis estimates that some 13,700 Jews from Lida, Minsk and Vilna were deported to Sobibór between September 18 and 24, 1943 in six or eight convoys (most of which cannot be conclusively verified due to a lack of documentation). Orthodox historiography admits that a considerable number of these Jews were transited via Sobibór to labor camps in the Lublin district. These instances include 630 Jews out of a transport of reportedly 1,400 Jews from Lida who were sent on to Trawniki and Lublin, and 225 specialists from a Minsk transport in mid-September transferred to Trawniki. At least some 80 to 100 Soviet-Jewish POWs deported from Minsk were also employed in the Sobibór camp itself, in a dismantling plant for captured Soviet munitions. There are also reports of Jews deported from Minsk in September 1943 reaching the Lublin district via other routes. A certain Marie Mack has stated that on an unspecified day in September 1943 she and some 1,000 other Russian and German Jews were deported from Minsk to Lublin. The German Jew Heinz Rosenberg states in his memoirs that he was part of a convoy of 1,000 Jews deported from Minsk to Treblinka on September 14, 1943; upon arriving in Treblinka, Rosenberg and a group of 249 other skilled workers were separated from the rest and transferred to the Budzyn labor camp. The inescapable conclusion is that these Jews were evacuated west to be utilized as labor in the Lublin district. Here again Sobibór (and possibly Treblinka) served as a transit camp, although the flow of transports this time was in the opposite direction.
It is worth noting that the fact that convoys were sent to Sobibór from Reich Commissariate Ostland by itself demonstrates the practical feasibility of transports from Sobibór to Reich Commissariate Ostland (and Reich Commissariate Ukraine – the closest railway stop in the Occupied Eastern Territories from Sobibór would be Kovel in Volhynia).
4) The transports from Thrace went via Salonika, Bulgaria, Vienna and Krakow/Katowice to Treblinka, while transports from Salonika (Thessaloniki) to Auschwitz appear to usually have followed the route Salonika–Belgrade–Zagreb–Vienna–Auschwitz. It is remarkable that those transports first made a considerable detour to the west before turning east and reaching Auschwitz and Treblinka. A quick glance at a map of Europe during World War Two provides the most likely explanation for this: if the convoys from eastern Greece had taken the shortest route to the two “death camps,” they would inevitably have passed through Romanian and Hungarian territory. While both Hungary and Romania were allies of Germany, they were not satellite states but arguably the most sovereign of the “minor Axis nations” with Jewish policies of their own, as shown by the fact that Jews from Hungary were not deported until spring 1944, after German troops had occupied the country.
As for Romania, orthodox Holocaust historian Dennis Deletant writes that by “the summer of 1942, [the Romanian leader Mihai] Antonescu made a fundamental change to his policy toward the Jews,” a change involving a “refusal to participate in the ‘Final Solution’” which meant the cancellation of a German plan to deport Jews from Romania proper into Poland and the suspension of deportations (in October 1942) of Jews from Romanian-annexed Bukovina and Bessarabia across the Dniestr into Transnistria. The transport of Jewish convoys through Romanian and Hungarian territory would no doubt have caused unwelcome political/bureaucratic friction, something which not only explains the above-mentioned roundabout routes of the trains from Salonika and Thrace to Treblinka and Auschwitz, but also why, within the framework of the transit-camp hypothesis, these transports were not routed directly northeast into the Occupied Eastern Territories. Transports from eastern Greece to Ukraine or further north to Reich Commissariate Ostland would necessarily have crossed Romanian territory. It therefore appears that, based on political considerations, the transports were routed through German-occupied Serbia and the German puppet state of Croatia to Austria and on to Poland, circumventing Hungary. From Auschwitz and Treblinka those Greek Jews not selected for local labor purposes could then continue to the East.
5) Regierungsbezirk (Government District) Zichenau (Ciechanów) was a small region of Poland southeast of Regierungsbezirk Danzig that was incorporated into East Prussia and the Reich in 1939. At the outset of the German occupation it had approximately 80,000 Jewish inhabitants, many of whom were subsequently transferred into the General Government. In December 1940, 3,000 Jews were deported from the Mława ghetto to the Lublin district. Another 6,000 were transferred from the Płock ghetto to the Radom district in early 1941. In the summer of 1941, some 4,000 Jews were marched south from the Pomiechówek camp into the General Government. By mid-January 1942 an estimated 40,000 Jews remained in Regierungsbezirk Zichenau, concentrated in nine ghettos.
According to Auschwitz camp records analyzed by Danuta Czech, more than 12,000 Jews from Regierungsbezirk Zichenau were deported to Auschwitz in at least eight convoys departing between 14 November 1942 and 17 December 1942; 5,000 of these arrivals were registered in the camp. The transports had departed from Płońsk (Plöhnen), Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki, Ciechanów (Zichenau) and Mława (Mielau). Czech further estimates that a total of some 30,000 Jews from the region reached Auschwitz during this period, maintaining that the available records are incomplete. The city of Płońsk is located at a longitude of 20°23′ east, the city of Ciechanów at 20°38′ east. Auschwitz is located at 19°10′42″ east. As can be seen on any large map of Poland, this means that the distance between the longitudes running through these locations was only some 50 to 60 km – hardly a significant detour to the west, considering that the distance Płońsk–Auschwitz is approximately 350 km as the crow flies. In the case of the Zichenau Jews not registered at Auschwitz who continued on to the east – for example to Eastern Galicia, Bessarabia, Transnistria, or Reich Commissariate Ukraine – their detour to the west would have been insignificant.
6) The city of Krakow is located only some 50 km north-east of Auschwitz. The railway line 532e from Krakow to Auschwitz, not following a straight line (but making first a slight detour to the southeast), had a length of 68.2 km and according to schedule took 2 hours and 41 minutes to travel (from November 1942 onward). In 1940 Distrikt Krakau had a Jewish population somewhat in excess of 200,000. 3,000 Jews from Mielec were transferred to the Lublin district in March 1942. According to Yitzhak Arad, over 140,000 Jews were deported from the Krakow district to Bełżec between July 7, 1942 and November 15, 1942. Some thousands of Jews from smaller localities in the district are alleged to have been shot rather than deported.
While no figures were found by this author, it also stands to reason that a certain percentage of the district’s Jews must have perished from “natural” causes in the period 1939 to 1942. All sources agree that from October 1942 onward the vast majority of all deportations from the Krakow district had as their destination either Auschwitz or Płaszów, a forced labor camp located in a southern suburb of Krakow. Some 11,000 Jews from the district were deported to Płaszów in connection with the evacuation of the Krakow ghetto in March 1943. The estimate of 16,000 Jews from the Krakow district sent to Auschwitz is – like the others for the groups of Jews “sent in the wrong direction” presented by our opponents – provided without any evidence, which makes it basically worthless. Franciszek Piper lists the following seven transports as arriving at Auschwitz from destinations in the Krakow district:
|#||Date||Point of origin||No. of deportees|
The transports marked with asterisks are not confirmed by Danuta Czech’s Kalendarium and should be considered mere conjectures. Subtracting these yields a figure of 10,300 deportees. Czech on the other hand lists a transport of some 1,500 Krakow Jews “gassed” on March 14, 1943 (the final clearance of the Krakow ghetto took place on 13 March 1943). This would bring the total of Krakow district transports confirmed by Czech to 11,800. Of these, however, we should in fact consider only 8,800 deportees, since transport no. 7 from Tarnów on July 31, 1944 took place at such a late date that no transports could be sent to the east of the General Government any longer (as the Red Army had by then already crossed its eastern borders). Why, then, were these 8,800 Jews sent west to Auschwitz? The most probable explanation is that they were to be utilized as workers. In a report dated July 9, 1942 on the labor situation in the Auschwitz camp we read:
“Discussions with SS First Lieutenant Schwarz about employment of inmates [Haeftlingseinsatz]. At present this suffers very much on account of the fact that, in accordance with the newest directive, all Poles are taken away from the Auschwitz concentration camp and are put into camps in Germany proper. Their place is taken by Jews from all European countries. Their number is to be increased to 100,000 persons. The result of this action is that nearly every day different workers are being employed on the individual construction sites.”
As already seen above in our discussion of the Jews from the Białystok district deported to Auschwitz in 1943, there still existed a huge unfulfilled need for labor in Auschwitz with its many subcamps in late 1942/early 1943, and this situation may well have persisted, although to a smaller degree, until the time period in question here (August/September 1943).
As shown above, the shipment of Jewish convoys to the “death camps” from locations east of them, while posing a number of questions which still need to be resolved, does not undermine the transit-camp hypothesis, as provisional explanations for all such transports can be furnished. On the other hand, we may note that, despite the claim that many tens of thousands of Jews were deported from as far away as France, Greece, Macedonia and the Netherlands in order to be “gassed” en masse at Treblinka and Sobibór, for some inexplicable reason it never occurred to the German authorities to send even a portion of the hundreds of thousands of Jews still remaining in the western Ukrainian provinces of Volhynia and Podolia in the summer of 1942 to the Reinhardt camps, despite the fact that the ghettos in this region were located only a short train ride from these camps. This mystery has been discussed by orthodox Holocaust historian Shmuel Spector:
“The question arises, why weren’t the Jews of Volhynia sent to the extermination camps such as Sobibór, situated a few kilometers away across the Bug River, and Belzec – a distance of 60 kilometers from the border of Volhynia? The railroad distance between Rovno (the eastern end of Volhynia) and Sobibor was about 260 kilometers and between Rovno and Belzec (via Vladimir Volynski and Zamość) 250 kilometers. Central and western Volhynia were even closer. Thus, for example, Luboml was just 80 kilometers away from Sobibor (via Chełm).[] The natural frontier of the Bug River couldn’t have posed great difficulties. Neither was the transport of Volhynian Jews to the west a great problem, since the [troop transport] trains returned from the front empty.
The question of why weren’t the Volhynian Jews transferred to the extermination camps remains difficult to answer, as we know very little about the details of Heydrich’s plans. The liquidation was planned on a very large scale and it appears that a decision was taken to use a wide range of methods and ways of killing. It seems that the planners of the ‘Final Solution’ believed that in the Ukraine, whose population remained indifferent or hostile to the Jews and collaborated with the occupier, the slaughter could be carried out locally without any reactions or troubles. The killings and the Aktionen carried out in the initial phase of the occupation [of the Soviet territories] demonstrated to the Germans that liquidation on the spot fitted the local conditions. Consequently, the liquidation Aktionen employed the same methods as before, i.e., the removal of the Jews to a site nearby the ghetto and executions in the shooting pits.”
The same question can be raised with regard to the Jews of Brest Litowsk, where reportedly some 19,000 to 21,000 Jews still remained at the beginning of October 1942. These could have easily been deported to Treblinka using the route Biała Podlaska–Luków–Siedlce, a distance of less than 200 km.
It is a rather bizarre notion that the Germans, after perfecting a method by which hundreds of thousands of people could be killed in assembly-line fashion within a few months or even weeks, would then have busily planned the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews by means of shooting at a large number of varied locations. Spector’s assertion that this was done because the Ukrainian people were “indifferent or hostile to the Jews and collaborated with the occupier” does not hold water, considering that in the predominantly Ukrainian region of Galicia, which had been under Soviet rule between 1939 and 1941 and subjected to NKVD terror, the population collaborated with the German occupiers to about the same extent as the population in Reich Commissariate Ukraine, and here, as discussed above, the Jews were sent to the “death camp” Bełżec. It gets even more bizarre when considering that for several locations in Volhynia-Podolia the Jewish population is claimed to have been massacred not at sites “nearby the ghetto” but at locations up to some 40 km away, to which they had to be brought by train. From a revisionist viewpoint the above-described mystery is easily explained: until September 1943 all transports of Jews between Poland and the Occupied Eastern Territories went in one direction – to the east – in accordance with the general resettlement program for the Jews.
Our opponents conclude their discussion on the transports from the east by asserting that it would have been impossible to transit to the east those Jews who arrived at Treblinka, Sobibór and Majdanek during the latter half of December 1942:
“It should also be remembered that at a time when there was a transport moratorium of eastbound trains into the occupied Soviet territories from December 1942 to January 1943, thousands of Jews were being brought westwards to Treblinka. These are the 10,335 Jews brought to Treblinka during the last weeks of 1942, as recorded in the Höfle telegram. These Jews could not have been redirected back east due to the transportation difficulty.”
Our opponents give as their source a passage from a study on the German Reichsbahn by Alfred C. Mierzejewski, in which we read:
“The flow of human beings by rail, the vast majority against their will, was interrupted by an embargo of special passenger trains lasting one month that began on 15 December 1942. The Reichsbahn took this measure to free capacity to return members of the Wehrmacht to their homes in Germany or to rest areas behind the front to celebrate the Christmas holiday.”
According to Arad, “toward mid-December the deportation plan from the Bialystok General District, as well as from other parts of Poland, was disrupted due to a lack of rolling stock.” Mierzejewski, Arad, as well as Rückerl cite a telegram sent from SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger, the Higher SS and Police Leader (HSSPF) for the General Government to Himmler on dated December 5, 1942:
“SS and Police chiefs are all informing me that, due to transport prohibition [Transportsperre] from 15.12.1942 to 15.1.1943 at the earliest, there is at present no possibility of transports for the purpose of resettling Jews [jegliche Transportmöglichkeit für Judenaussiedlung genommen]. This step most seriously endangers the general plan for the deportation of Jews in its entirety. I entreat you to contact the Reich central authorities of the Wehrmacht Supreme Command and the Reich Transportation Ministry to obtain the placing of at least three pairs of trains [Zugpaare] at the disposal of this mission of the highest importance […].”
Some six weeks later, on January 20 or 23, 1943,  Himmler wrote to Ganzenmüller and requested “more trains [mehr Züge]” for the Jewish transports. This means that at this point in time an unspecified smaller number of trains must have been available to the Jewish resettlement program, otherwise Himmler’s wording of “more trains” would have made no sense. The moratorium was lifted at the latest sometime during the last weeks of January 1943.
The Höfle document shows that during the last fourteen days of 1942 a total of 515 Jews arrived at Sobibór, 10,355 at Treblinka and 12,761 at Majdanek. Did the above-mentioned moratorium on transports mean that these 23,631 Jews could not have been transported east from the camps in question?
Krüger’s telegram from December 5, 1942 clearly shows that the German authorities in charge of the deportations sought to circumvent the moratorium by getting access to at least a small number of transport trains. As the Höfle document shows, they accomplished this with regard to transports to Treblinka, Sobibór and Majdanek. Is there any reason to believe that an equivalent result could not have been achieved for the railway network to the east of these camps?
On December 1, 1942, a General Transportation Directorate East, GVD Osten, was established in Warsaw to supervise and organize the railway network in the Occupied Eastern Territories. Mierzejewski informs us:
“In December 1942 the divisions of the GVD Osten generated a total of 4.09 million train-kilometers; 53.6 percent consisted of Wehrmacht traffic. In the same month, a total of 1,690 cars were placed, an indication of the low level of economic activity in the area and the predominance of through traffic. On 1 January 1943, a regular work day, ninety-seven trains entered the GVD Osten and seventy-three left. Traffic remained at this level into the early summer .”
In other words, the transport capacity of the railway in the east remained at a relatively high level even during the period of the moratorium, and far from all of this capacity was used for strictly military purposes. It seems reasonable to assume that a lack of available trains would have prompted the German authorities in charge of the operation to maximize the number of passengers per convoy in order to fully utilize this limited capacity. We know that several of the transports of Dutch and Greek Jews in the spring of 1943 contained between 2,500 and 3,000 passengers. Assuming the same range for the late December 1942 convoys, the further transport to the east of the 23,631 arrivals in question would have required no more than 8 to 10 convoys, or less than one per day during the two-week period, corresponding to at most some 1% of the non-Wehrmacht trains entering the area of GVD Osten. The possibility that this relatively small number of Jews could have been transited to the east despite a lack of available trains is therefore not farfetched.
Finally, because Korherr’s report is in complete agreement with the Höfle document on the number of Jews “processed through the camps in the General Government area” and transited from there “to the Russian East” to the end of 1942 (1,274,166) and since an analysis of the statistics in the Korherr report allows us to draw the conclusion that the Jews stated therein to have been “evacuated” were indeed evacuated, it follows that the 23,631 stated by the Korherr report to have reached Treblinka, Sobibór and Majdanek during the last two weeks of that year must in fact have reached the “Russian East” as well.
The Fate of the Jews Deported in 1944
According to our opponents, the 1944 deportations of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews as well as a smaller number of Polish Jews to Auschwitz (and allegedly, in the latter case, also to Chełmno), constitutes an Achilles heel of the resettlement theory:
“In detailing the supposed resettlement program, MGK intentionally leave a gaping hole in their argument by refusing to discuss the fate of Jews deported to the death camps in 1944 (when Nazi territories were swiftly shrinking due to the advancing Soviet armies), most specifically the 320,000 Hungarian Jews who were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau but never registered and never classified as ‘transit Jews’. […] In addition to the Hungarian Jews must be added tens of thousands of Polish Jews deported both to Chelmno and Auschwitz throughout 1944. With regard to Chelmno, MGK totally ignore a crucial document from Greiser to Pohl in February 1944 which stated that ‘The reduction of the [Lodz ghetto] population will be carried out by the Sonderkommando of SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Bothmann, which operated in the area previously.’ Two earlier studies by Graf and Mattogno (nearly a decade old) on the Hungarian Jews failed to arrive at any realistic conclusions (after denying homicidal gassings). Where would these Jews have been sent at such a late stage in the war?”
Our statement in Sobibór that “no Hungarian Jews ever reached the eastern areas” is, as we also note in that study, an approximation, as it is documented that 1,217 Hungarian Jewesses (and 1 male Hungarian Jew) were deported by the SiPo in Riga and Kaunas to Stutthof during the period July to October 1944. The number of Hungarian Jews originally transported to the Baltic states is likely to have been considerably higher, considering that a certain number of the deportees are bound to have perished from epidemics and deprivations. According to the Jewish eyewitness Abraham Shpungin “over five thousand Hungarian Jewesses, who had been brought to Latvia directly from Auschwitz” were kept in one of the labor camps in Dundaga (Dondangen) in western Latvia that was established in May 1944. Shpungin further writes that “by July 1944, when they [the remaining Dundaga prisoners] left on the march to Libau [Liepāja], there were only about three thousands of [the Hungarian Jewesses] left.” Andrej Angrick and Peter Klein put the number of Hungarian Jewesses in Dundaga at 2,000 but mention this as only one of an unspecified number of subcamps (to KL Kaiserwald in Riga) to where Hungarian Jews were brought.
Moreover, at least one transport of 500 Hungarian Jewesses, possibly from the Transylvanian town of Bistriţa, arrived in the Estonian Vaivara camp in June 1944. It is documented that a total of 2,550 Hungarian Jews (2,310 men and 240 women) were scheduled for deportation to Estonian labor sites in June 1944 (see Illustration 3 below). The above shows that, while plans for mass deportations of Jews to the Eastern territories had been shelved by 1944 for obvious reasons, it was still considered feasible by German authorities to deport relatively large numbers of Jews – say, in the low tens of thousands – to the Eastern territories to provide labor in certain industries.
Illustration 3: Letter from 2 June 1944 concerning the planned deployment of 2,550 Hungarian Jews at work sites in north-eastern Estonia belonging to the Baltöl company (ERA, R-187.1.33, p. 58.).
It must be pointed out that, while the German-controlled areas in the east were rapidly dwindling by 1944, the territories held by the Germans in July 1944 still included all of the three Baltic states. At the end of 1944, Germany remained in control of Estonia, as well as the western parts of Latvia and Lithuania. The province of Kurland in western Latvia was held until the end of the war – although transports of any Jews there to build fortifications etc. can be safely ruled out due to the logistical situation.
It is not out of the question that a number of Jews may have been sent to Belarus in order to construct fortifications there in a German last-ditch attempt to stop the advances of the Red Army. On November 21, 1943 the JTA Daily News Bulletin wrote of Swiss newspapers reporting that “anticipating a retreat from the Minsk area in Russia, the German military command has requested that more Jews be sent from Poland and other occupied territories to the Minsk district to work on fortifications.” Two days later, on November 23, 1943, it carried a notice according to which “[t]en thousand to 15,000 Italian Jews will probably be sent shortly to the Minsk area to construct fortifications under the supervision of the German Todt Organization.” On 8 March 1944, Hitler issued a Führerbefehl in which he designated 29 locations along the eastern frontline – i.a. Tallinn, Pskov, Vitebsk, Orsha, Mogilev, Minsk, Bobruisk and Pinsk – as “Festen Plätze” (“fortified places”), strongpoints which were to be held at all costs.
The vast majority of the Jews allegedly gassed in 1944 must in reality have been sent on elsewhere. The only certain answer we can give at this point to the question “where?” is simply this: German-controlled territory. There are, however, as we shall see, some hints as to where these Jews were sent after their arrival at Auschwitz.
The case of the Hungarian Jews deported to Strasshof, Austria at the end of June 1944 can perhaps give an idea of how the further deportations were arranged. In the district Niederdonau these Jews were spread among at least 175 settlements which contained also individuals unable to work and which were designated “Familienlager” (family camps). It should be pointed out here that until June 22, 1944 the northern sector of the eastern front still was along the line Narva-Opocka-Vitebsk-Bobrujsk, and that behind it an eastern territory immensely larger than Gau Niederdonau was still in German hands.
The 16,600 Hungarian Jews deported to Strasshof belonged to the following age groups:
|Over 31 years [sic]||4,500||6,000|