The Hungarian Jews
The International Red Cross
Because the Germans and their allies allowed the Red Cross, both the International Committee (ICRC) and the various national societies, a not negligible liberty to operate in Axis-controlled Europe, it developed that the ICRC was able to report a great deal concerning the European Jews. The reports of such a neutrally-situated organization are naturally of great importance in connection with our problem.
We say "neutrally situated" rather than "neutral" because there is no such thing as strict political neutrality; every organization is subject to political pressures. It is a question of degree.
Two ICRC publications are of major interest to us. The first is Documents sur l'activité du CICR en faveur des civils détenus dans les camps de concentration en Allemagne (1939-1945), Geneva, 1947. This is a collection of document reprints, the documents being correspondence between the ICRC and various governments and Red Cross societies, and also reports of ICRC delegates to the ICRC itself. Commentary sufficient only to interpret the documents is provided by the Red Cross. The publication is invaluable and had been cited several times in this book. Another 1947 publication was Inter Arma Caritas, but this was primarily a public relations effort.
The second important publication is the three volume Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its Activities During the Second World War, Geneva, 1948. This has the form of a historical report; quotations from documents appear only occasionally. Below is reproduced in full an excerpt from volume 1, namely pages 641-657. I believe that some political pressures are evident in the excerpt of the Report, but it will not be necessary for the reader to share my notions regarding the specific manifestations of these pressures in the excerpt in order to accept the major conclusion that I draw from the excerpt. However, some obvious urgent questions will arise during the first reading, and all that can be said here is that two points should be kept in mind.
First, this Report was published in 1948, at a time when the authors could not have failed, especially in view of the politically sensitive nature of the subject matter, to be thoroughly familiar with the Allied claims, exhaustively aired at the war crimes trials and in the press, regarding the fate of the European Jews. We expect no careless remarks here. Second, we are not consulting the ICRC as a general sort of authority. That is to say, we are interested only in the reports that fall within the ICRC area of competence. It had delegations in various European countries that were heavily involved in Jewish affairs, and what we want to know is what, insofar as the ICRC was able to observe, happened to these Jews. Our emphasis, in fact, is on the Jews of Slovakia (Eastern Czechoslovakia), Croatia (Northern Yugoslavia) and Hungary. In a way our interest is even more narrow; we are interested in Hungary, but the other two lands are contiguous, and to the extent that the Germans controlled things, there was no reason for major differences in Jewish policy.
From a numerical point of view, it might seem that Poland should be selected as the key country in the problem. However, the fact remains that Hungary is the key because the creators of the legend chose to emphasize Hungary and not Poland in offering evidence for their claims. They offer no evidence for exterminations of Polish Jews, apart from witness testimony and the general extermination camp claims, which the analysis has already demolished. By a happy circumstance, it is possible to consult the reports of the ICRC to learn what happened in Hungary, but this is not the case with Poland. The reason for this is that the Germans did not permit the ICRC to involve itself in Jewish affairs in countries in which they considered themselves sovereign. However, the allies of Germany that were considered independent states admitted the ICRC into Jewish affairs. Thus develops the central importance of Hungary in the examination of the legend.
There are other respects in which the Report excerpt is of the greatest importance in our study, but this point is more effectively made in Chapters 6 and 7 (pp. 242, 258, 265).
The Report excerpt is reproduced in full here because it is written in such a way that it is difficult to cite on specific points without risking the possibility of being accused of distorting meaning. This will be more clear after the reading:
"VI. Special Categories of Civilians
Under National Socialism the Jews had become in truth outcasts, condemned by rigid racial legislation to suffer tyranny, persecution and systematic extermination. No kind of protection shielded them; being neither PW nor civilian internees, they formed a separate category, without the benefit of any Convention. The supervision which the ICRC was empowered to exercise in favour of prisoners and internees did not apply to them. In most cases, they were, in fact, nationals of the State which held them in its power and which, secure in its supreme authority, allowed no intervention in their behalf. These unfortunate citizens shared the same fate as political deportees, were deprived of civil rights, were given less favoured treatment than enemy nationals, who at least had the benefit of a statute. They were penned into concentration camps and ghettos, recruited for forced labour, subjected to grave brutalities and sent to death camps, without anyone being allowed to intervene in those matters which Germany and her allies considered to be exclusively within the bounds of their home policy.
It should be recalled, however, that in Italy the measures taken against the Jews were incomparably less harsh, and that in the countries under the direct influence of Germany, their situation was usually less tragic than in Germany itself.
The Committee could not dissociate themselves from these victims, on whose behalf it received the most insistent appeals, but for whom the means of action seemed especially limited, since in the absence of any basis in law, its activities depended to a very great extent upon the good will of the belligerent States.
The Committee had in fact, through the intermediary of the German Red Cross, asked for information concerning civilian deportees 'without distinction of race or religion,' which was plainly refused in the following terms: 'The responsible authorities decline to give any information concerning non-Aryan deportees.' Thus, enquiries as a matter of principle concerning the Jews led to no result, and continual protests would have been resented by the authorities concerned and might have been detrimental both to the Jews themselves and to the whole field of the Committee's activities. In consequence, the Committee, while avoiding useless protest, did its utmost to help the Jews by practical means, and its delegates abroad were instructed on these lines. This policy was proved by the results obtained.
Germany. - Even when the German Wehrmacht was winning, the Committee's activities in behalf of the Jews met with almost insupportable difficulties. Towards the end of 1943, however, the German authorities allowed the Committee to send relief parcels to detainees in concentration camps, many of them Jews, whose names and addresses might be known to it. The Committee was able to collect a few dozen names, and by these slender means the system of individual and then collective relief for political detainees was started, an account of which is given elsewhere in this Report. Each receipt returned bore several names, and these were added to the list of addresses: thus the receipts often gave the first news of missing persons. By the end of the war, the Committee's card index for political detainees (Jewish and non-Jewish) contained over 105,000 names.
During the last year of the War, the Committee's delegates were able to visit the camp of Theresienstadt (Terezin), which was exclusively used for Jews, and was governed by special conditions. From information gathered by the Committee, this camp had been started as an experiment by certain leaders of the Reich, who were apparently less hostile to the Jews than those responsible for the racial policy of the German government. These men wished to give to Jews the means of setting up a communal life in a town under their own administration and possessing almost complete autonomy. On several occasions, the Committee's delegates were granted authority to visit Theresienstadt, but owing to difficulties raised by the local authorities, the first visit only took place in June 1944. The Jewish elder in charge informed the delegate, in the presence of a representative of the German authorities, that thirty-five thousand Jews resided in the town and that living conditions were bearable. In view of the doubt expressed by the heads of various Jewish organizations as to the accuracy of this statement, the Committee requested the German government to allow its delegates to make a second visit. After laborious negotiations, much delayed on the German side, two delegates were able to visit the camp on April 6, 1945. They confirmed the favourable impression gained on the first visit, but ascertained that the camp strength now amounted only to 20,000 internees, including 1,100 Hungarians, 11,050 Slovaks, 800 Dutch, 290 Danes, 8000 Germans, 8000 Czechs and 760 stateless persons. They were therefore anxious to know if Theresienstadt was being used as a transit camp and asked when the last departures for the East had taken place. The head of the Security Police of the Protectorate stated that the last transfers to Auschwitz had occurred six months previously, and had comprised 10,000 Jews, to be employed on camp administration and enlargement. This high official assured the delegates that no Jews would be deported from Theresienstadt in future.
Whereas other camps exclusively reserved for Jews were not open to inspections for humanitarian purposes until the end, the Committee's activities were at least effective in several concentration camps containing a minority proportion of Jews. During the final months, the Committee, in urgent circumstances, took on a task of the greatest importance by visiting and giving aid to these internees, providing food, preventing last-minute evacuations as well as summary executions, and even taking charge during the critical hours, sometimes days, which passed between the retreat of the German forces and the arrival of the Allies from the West or the East.
A more detailed account of these various activities is given in the chapters on Political Detainees in this volume and in Vol. III, as well as in special publication entitled Documents sur l'activité du CICR en faveur des civils détenus dans les camps de concentration en Allemagne, 1939-1945.
Less is known of the part played by the Committee in countries whose governments were subject, in varying degrees, to German influence and where special laws concerning Jews had been enacted, similar to those under German legislation.
Through its delegates, particularly in Budapest, Bucharest, Bratislava, Zagreb and Belgrade, the Committee was able to make the best possible use of its moral authority and the well disposed attitude shown to it by a few non-German authorities, who had more or less freedom of action, but who were not so relentlessly bent on carrying out a racial policy as the German government. In its capacity as a neutral intermediary, the Committee was in a position to transfer and distribute in the form of relief supplies over twenty million Swiss francs collected by Jewish welfare organizations throughout the world, in particular by the American Joint Distribution Committee of New York. Without the help of the ICRC, this concerted effort made by a whole community would have doubtless been vain, as no Jewish organization was allowed to act in countries under German control. A detailed account of this important relief scheme will be found in Vol. III.
The efforts of the Committee were not limited to the activities described above; as time went on, it eventually became in truth a 'Protecting Power' for the Jews, by interceding with governments in their behalf and in some cases exercising a genuine right of protection, by obtaining the benefit of extraterritoriality for hospitals, dispensaries and relief organizations, and even by acting as arbitrators in the settlement of disputes. This was its task, especially in Rumania and Hungary, for over a year during the last phase of the war in 1944 and 1945. In countries where the efforts of the Committee were less considerable, they were none the less of great benefit to the Jews. These may be described in a brief summary before reverting to the Committee's activities in Hungary and Rumania.
France. - In November 1940, the Committee obtained permission from the authorities for one of its members to visit camps in the South, where a certain number of Jews were amongst the civilian internees. The camp at Gurs, in particular, contained six thousand Jews from the Bavarian Palatinate. The visit gave a clear idea of the situation inside the camp and the urgent necessity for relief; appropriate steps were taken in the internees' behalf.
The Jews from Poland who, whilst in France, had obtained entrance-permits to the United States were held to be American citizens by the German occupying authorities, who further agreed to recognize the validity of about three thousand passports issued to Jews by the consulates of South American countries. The persons concerned were lodged in camps reserved for Americans at Vittel. In 1942, when Germany and the States in South America began negotiations for the exchange of internees, it was found that the majority of the internees at Vittel held accommodation passports and consequently were in danger of being deported. The ICRC interceded in their behalf through the Berlin Delegation and succeeded in arranging for them to remain at Vittel, only a few being deported.
Greece. - Immediately after the German occupation, the Committee was called upon to deal with the case of 55,000 Jews in Salonica, who were the victims of racial legislation. In July 1942, all men between eighteen and forty-five were registered, and the majority were enrolled in labour detachments. The delegation furnished them with medical and toilet supplies. In May 1943, these workers were sent to Germany, and the delegation in that country insisted on the right to give them food-parcels. This course led to difficulties with the German authorities, who in their resentment demanded that one of the delegates should be replaced.
Slovakia. - Many thousands of Jews had been forced to leave the country and enlist in what was called 'labour service,' but which in fact seems to have led the greater number to the extermination camps. At the same time, a large proportion of the Jewish minority had permission to stay in the country, and at certain periods Slovakia was even looked upon as a comparative haven of refuge for Jews, especially for those coming from Poland. Those who remained in Slovakia seemed to have been in comparative safety until the end of August 1944, when a rising against the German forces took place. While it is true that the law of May 15, 1942, had brought about the internment of several thousand Jews, these people were held in camps where the conditions of food and lodging were tolerable, and where internees were allowed to do paid work on terms almost equal to those of the free labour market. In 1944, the Jewish community had managed to secure an almost complete suspension of forced immigration towards the territories under German control.
At the time of the rising, the interned Jews escaped from the camps; some returned home, and others took to the hills. The measures of repression which followed fell on the Jewish population as a whole. The German military authorities summoned the Slovak government to make wholesale arrests for the purpose of deporting the Jews to Germany. The order dated November 16, 1944, laid down that all Jews should be mustered in the camp of Sered, and to that end, that Jews living in the capital should previously be assembled, on November 20, in the Town Hall of Bratislava. On the same day, the delegate went to the Town hall and noted that only about fifty Jews had obeyed the summons. The rest had gone into hiding, as the Slovak authorities had foreseen, either by fleeing to the country or concealing themselves in the town in the so-called 'bunkers.' In his concern over this situation, the President of the ICRC wrote to the Head of the Slovak government asking him to put an end to the deportations. Monsignor Tiso received this letter on January 2, 1945, and answered at length on January 10. He recalled the fact that up to that time the Jews had been spared, adding however that in view of the rising, his government had been forced to yield to the pressure which had been brought to bear upon them. He concluded by saying: 'To sum up, it remains wholly true that in the solution of the Jewish question, we have endeavoured to remain faithful to humane principles to the full extent of our powers.' Official aid to the fugitives in the 'bunkers' was out of the question; the delegation in Bratislava, however, with the help of the Slovak Red Cross and, in the provinces with that of the Catholic Church, succeeded in providing them with funds, which were handed to their spokesmen, and which allowed them to support life during the last months of the war.
The Committee's representative was unable to secure permission to visit the camp of Sered. He was, however, allowed to enter the camp of Marienka, where Jews of alien nationality were interned.
Croatia. - From May 1943 to the end of 1945, the delegation gave aid to the Jewish community of Zagreb, to whom on behalf of the Joint Committee of New York, it paid out an average amount of 20,000 Swiss francs monthly. It also made available to it considerable quantities of food supplies, clothing and medical stores.
In October 1944, the German authorities, on the pattern of measures taken in the neighbouring countries, imprisoned the Jews of Zagreb, and seized their food stores. The delegation at once made representations to the Croat government, and secured the return of these stores.
Hungary. - As in Slovakia, the Jews were relatively spared, in so far as the local government retained a certain freedom of action. But when German pressure was reasserted, from March 1944 onwards, the position of the Jews became critical. The replacement in October 1944, of Horthy's government by one in bondage to Germany, provoked a violent crisis; executions, robberies, deportations, forced labour, imprisonments - such was the lot of the Jewish population, which suffered cruelly and lost many killed, especially in the provinces. It was at this point that the Committee, to alleviate these sufferings, took action with vigour and authority. At the same time the aid prompted by the King of Sweden, was given with considerable courage and success by the Swedish Legation in Budapest, helped by some members of the Swedish Red Cross.
Until March 1944, Jews who had the privilege of visas for Palestine were free to leave Hungary. On March 18, 1944, Hitler summoned the Regent, Admiral Horthy, to his headquarters. He expressed his indignation that 'in Hungary very nearly a million Jews were able to live in freedom and without restrictions.' Even before the Regent had returned to Budapest, German troops had begun the occupation of Hungary in order to prevent her from abandoning her alliance with Germany. This occupation forced upon the Head of the Hungarian State a new government that was far more dependent on German authority than the one preceding it. Emigration of the Jews was straightway suspended, and the persecutions began.
This was a matter of the gravest concern to the ICRC. The President appealed to the Regent, Admiral Horthy: 'The matters brought to our knowledge seem to us,' he wrote on July 5, 1944, 'so utterly contrary to the chivalrous traditions of the great Hungarian people that it is difficult for us to credit even a tithe of the information we are receiving. In the name of the ICRC, I venture to beg Your Highness to give instructions enabling us to reply to these rumours and accusations.' The Regent replied, on August 12: 'It is unfortunately not within my power to prevent inhuman acts which no one condemns more severely than my people, whose thoughts and feelings are chivalrous. I have instructed the Hungarian government to take up the settlement of the Jewish question in Budapest. It is to be hoped that this statement will not give rise to serious complications.'
In the spirit of this reply, the Hungarian authorities allowed the delegate in Budapest to affix shields on the camps and internment buildings for the Jews, conferring on them the protection of the Red Cross. If the use of these shields (hardly compatible, moreover, with the precise terms of the Geneva Convention) was no more extensive, this was due to the fact that the Jewish Senate of Budapest was of the opinion that the measure would doubtless lose its effectiveness if generally applied.
The Hungarian government, furthermore, showed themselves willing to favour a resumption of Jewish emigration. The Committee got in touch with the British and United States governments as a matter of extreme urgency and, during August, obtained a joint statement from these two governments declaring their desire to give support by every means to the emigration of Jews from Hungary.
To this end, the Committee was requested to transmit the following message to Budapest from the United States government: 'The United States government has been advised by the ICRC of the Hungarian government's willingness to permit certain categories of refugees to emigrate from Hungary. [...] The Government of the United States, taking into account the humanitarian considerations involved as regards the Jews in Hungary, now specifically repeats its assurance that arrangements will be made by it for the care of all Jews who in the present circumstances are allowed to leave Hungary and who reach the territory of the United Nations or neutral countries, and that it will find for such people temporary havens of refuge where they may live in safety. The governments of neutral countries have been advised of these assurances and have been requested to permit the entry into the territory of Jews from Hungary who may reach their frontiers.'
On October 8, the Hungarian authorities, in conformity with the undertaking given to the Committee, announced the final suspension of deportations and made known that the Kistarcea Camp for Jewish intellectuals, doctors and engineers, had been broken up and the internees released.
The hope raised by this statement was short-lived. A few days later the full tide of the great tribulations of the Hungarian Jews was to set in. In view of the setbacks of the German Army, Admiral Horthy had decided to sever his country's connection with Germany. On October 15, he asked the Allied Powers for an armistice for Hungary. This proclamation had an immense effect amongst the Jews, who were ardent in their demonstrations against the occupying Power. Although the German Army was in retreat both in Eastern and Western Europe, it had still a firm foothold in Hungary. The Regent failed in his plan and was arrested. Hungarian supporters of the Germans seized power and set about a repression, increasing in severity as the fighting zone came nearer, placing Budapest in a state of siege. It is alleged that shots were fired from Jewish houses on the German troops; however that may be, repression was centered on the Jews. It was immediately decided to remove them from Budapest and to confiscate their property. Sixty thousand Jews fit for work were to be sent to Germany, on foot, in parties of one thousand, by way of Vienna. Moreover, among the able-bodied, men between sixteen and sixty, and women between fourteen and forty were commandeered for forced labour in building fortifications in Hungary. The rest of the Jewish population, including the disabled and sick, was confined in four or five ghettos near Budapest. The only Jews to escape evacuation were those in possession of passports with visas for Palestine, Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal or Spain.
These measures were accompanied, at the outset, by brutalities and thefts against which the delegate immediately protested. The Ministry of the Interior, giving heed to this action, issued a decree forbidding pillage as from October 20. Meanwhile, the delegation was giving refuge to the members of the Jewish Senate of Budapest. Since their position was apparently threatened, the delegate renewed his appeals to the German authorities, as to the Hungarian government and on October 29, the wireless announced that the ICRC buildings were granted extraterritoriality, similar to that of the Legations.
His position thus strengthened, the delegate devoted himself with all the more assurance to the relief work he had courageously undertaken in behalf of the Jews. 'It is hard,' he wrote, 'to imagine the difficulty I had in holding out against a gang in whose hands the power lay, and at a time when disorder, murder and aggression were the order of the day, to compel it still to show some restraint and to observe the respect due to the Red Cross emblem [...]'
The fate of children whose parents had been deported to the labour camps was especially tragic. The delegate succeeded, with the help of the 'Jo Pasztor ' organization, in setting up some twenty homes in which these children, accompanied in some cases by their mothers, could be accommodated. The hospital staff consisted of trained nurses and of Jews, whose employment in these homes ensured them a certificate of protection similar to those which the delegate issued to his fellow workers.
The Committee's representatives also opened soup-kitchens, each able to provide about a hundred hot meals a day. Reception and accommodation centres were set up, as well as hospitals with children's and maternity wards, and a first aid station open to the public 'without distinction of race or creed.' Furthermore, the delegate issued thirty thousand letters of protection, which although without any legal basis, were respected by the authorities and exempted their holders from compulsory labour.
In November, one hundred thousand Jews poured into Budapest from the provinces. The government decided to shut them up in a ghetto, and with them the Jews who had remained in Budapest, in particular the children sheltered in the Red Cross homes. 'I considered that my main task,' wrote the delegate, 'lay in ensuring that this ghetto life was at least as bearable as possible. I had incredible difficulty in obtaining from the Hungarian Nazis, in the course of daily bargaining, conditions and concession which would ensure to some degree the means to exist for those in the ghetto. Continual interviews took place with the Jewish Senate on the one hand, and with the town administration on the other, to ensure at least minimum food supplies for the ghetto at a time when all traffic had stopped, owing to the constant bombing, and provisioning was becoming more and more difficult.' The delegate secured that the Jews' rations should be fixed at 920 calories, i.e. two thirds of the minimum Hungarian prison fare. Later on it was possible to make a slight increase of this figure, thanks to the issue of relief supplies.
In spite of the delegate's efforts, the children transferred to the ghetto had been put sixty in a room in premises which it had been impossible either to clean or to disinfect. Pleading the danger of epidemics, he succeeded in getting the children inspected by a committee who had authority to make some decision on their situation. This health inspection allowed 500 of the 800 children examined to be sent back to the homes from which they had been removed, and for 300 to be placed in hospitals. The other children did not leave the ghetto, but were taken care of there by relatives or friends. Furthermore, the Delegation sent into the ghetto, with permission of the government, five persons instructed to furnish regular and detailed reports on each child's need of food and clothing. Finally, on the initiative of the delegate, one thousand orphans selected 'without distinction of race or religion' were assembled in the Abbey of Panonalma, a Benedictine monastery placed at the delegate's disposal by the Bishop of Gyor. This refuge, under the protection of the Red Cross, was respected by the German and Hungarian troops in retreat, and also by the Soviet Army.
The devotion and generosity of the Bishop of Gyor were a fruitful help to the delegate in the relief work he had undertaken. His task was to improve the food and shelter of the convoys of Jews who were being deported to labour camps in Germany and compelled to do stages of twenty-five to thirty kilometres a day on foot. The Bishop organized a relief centre en route, which he financed and which was administered by representatives of the Committee. It gave shelter from bad weather, for a few hours at least, to thousands of Jews during their terrible exodus. The 'transport groups' of the delegation issued food to them on the road, paid the peasants to carry the weakest, fifteen to twenty at a time, in their carts, gave medical attention to the sick and dispensed medical supplies.
On November 12, a new threat hung over the hospitals protected by the Red Cross emblem, which the police had searched with an order to turn out the Jews. The delegate, on the strength of the authority he had been granted, protested to the government. As a result, the police authorities were instructed not to proceed with the evictions from the hospitals.
It must be apparent what difficulties and dangers were encountered at every turn by the Committee's representatives in a town subject to the most violent bombardments. They were supported in their courageous work by the untiring devotion to duty of the members of the Jewish Senate, and by the equally generous activity of the representatives of the two main protecting Powers, Switzerland and Sweden.
As soon as Budapest was liberated, the delegate and the local Jewish organizations established, with the funds of the New York Joint Committee stocks of foodstuffs and of the most necessary medical supplies. The Russian military authorities had ordered all foreigners to leave Budapest. When our delegate had to go, a Hungarian minister paid him the tribute of stating that he had, in a time of historic crisis, succeeded in making the capital a 'protectorate of Geneva.'
Rumania. - The delegate's part was a very important one, owing to the opportunities there were in that country for the purchase of foodstuffs. Financial aid and relief in kind could be sent from Bucharest to Poland and neighbouring countries. The Committee came to an agreement concerning relief in Rumania itself with the National Red Cross there, to whom our delegate handed funds for the purchase of goods. It should be emphasized that wealthy Rumanian Jews contributed in large measure towards assisting their co-religionists in need. From 1943, the Committee's work in Rumania was made easier by the fact that the delegate had been able to inspire the Rumanian government with trust.
During the period in September 1940, when the 'Iron Guard,' supported by the Gestapo and the German SS, had seized power, the Jews had been subjected to persecution and deportation to death camps. Later, under the dictatorship of Marshall Antonescu, they met with less severity. Special understanding was shown by the Vice-president of the Council, Mr. Mihai Antonescu, who was entrusted with the settlement of the Jewish question. 'The Rumanian government,' he wrote to the delegate in Bucharest, 'repudiates any material solution contrary to civilized custom and in defiance of the Christian spirit which dominate the conscience of the Rumanian people.'
In December 1943 Mr. Mihai Antonescu had an interview with this delegate which led to making their activities of the Committee in behalf of Jews far easier. This talk bore mainly on the case of Jews deported beyond the Dniester to the Ukraine, who were native of Bessarabia and the Bukovina. These provinces had been returned to Rumania after the first World War, and came again under Soviet power by the terms of the Soviet-German treaty at the beginning of the Second War. After the reshuffle in 1941, Rumania, who had become Germany's ally against the USSR, reoccupied these two provinces. The Jews, whom the Rumanians considered guilty of having welcomed too easily a return to Russian allegiance, were then deported. The Rumanian government's plan, drawn up in agreement with Germany, seems to have been to settle these Jews on lands in the region of the Sea of Azov. This could not be carried out, however, unless the USSR were defeated. In the light of the Russian victories, the Rumanian government decided, towards the close of 1943, to repatriate the survivors of this deplorable migration, the numbers of which had fallen from 200,000 to 78,000. Mr. Mihai Antonescu welcomed the opportunity of the approaches made by the delegate in Bucharest, to entrust him with a mission of enquiry into the means of carrying out this repatriation, and authorized him to tour Transnistria to distribute clothing and relief to these unfortunate people. Furthermore, the delegate succeeded in getting an assurance that the Czernowitz Jews, the only ones still compelled to wear the yellow star, should be exempted, as this badge exposed them to the brutality of German troops passing through. Finally, it was agreed that Red Cross purchases might be freely made at the official rates.
When the delegate saw the Vice-president of the Council again on his return, he drew his attention specially to the plight of the children who had lost their parents and were left abandoned in Transnistria. Mr. Mihai Antonescu promised to allow 150 children to leave each week for Palestine or elsewhere, if the Committee could arrange their journey. Three months later, the Rumanian government offered two recently-built first-class steamers, the Transilvania and the Bessarabia, then held in Turkish waters, and suggested the Committee should buy them, reserving to Rumania the option of repurchase, for use as transports for emigrants under the Swiss flag. Switzerland, as the protecting Power for British interests, could in fact be considered as the protecting Power for Jews bound for Palestine, since these Jews were to become on arrival assimilated to British nationals.
Up to that time, the remedy of emigration had been no more than a meagre palliative for the sufferings of the Jews. Bulgaria had shut her frontiers to emigrants traveling on a collective passport, and only Jews under eighteen years of age or over forty-five had been able to reach Turkey, under individual permits. Transport by sea from Rumanian ports would have afforded the best means of emigration. But besides the difficulties met with by the Jews in leaving, account had to be taken of the political problem raised for the British authorities by an influx of Jews, considered as intruders by the majority of the local population of a territory under British mandate. The first vessel, the Struma, which left Constanza for Palestine independently of any action by the Committee, at the beginning of 1942, had been detained at Istanbul owing to engine trouble, and was subsequently obliged to sail again for Rumania, as it was impossible to obtain the necessary permits to continue on its route. It was wrecked, and 750 emigrants were drowned. This pioneer expedition, ending so disastrously, was a lesson in the need of prudence.
The Committee was asked to grant the protection of the Red Cross emblem to emigrant transports and would have consented to this, on the basis of a very liberal interpretation of the provisions of the Tenth Hague Convention of 1907, which govern the use of hospital ships, whilst reckoning too that cargo-boats sailing under their control and carrying relief supplies for PW or civilian internees were covered by the Red Cross emblem. However, it would have wished to do this in agreement with all the Powers concerned. Therefore, the Committee made its consent conditional on the following terms. The transport organizations should charter neutral vessels which would be accompanied by the Committee's representative, and would be used exclusively for the transport of emigrants. The ships were not to sail before obtaining safe-conducts from all the belligerents concerned, as well as their agreement as to the route to be followed.
These conditions were unfortunately never obtained. The Bellacita, however, was authorized by Rumania to carry out a daily service for the transport of Jewish children from Constanza or Mangalia to Istanbul, and sailed under the protection of the Rumanian Red Cross, the Committee having notified all belligerents of these voyages.
The delegate in Bucharest was faced with a very grave decision when the question arose of embarking Jews for Palestine on two Bulgarian vessels, the Milka and the Maritza, both chartered by Zionist organizations. There was reason to fear the same fate for them as for those who sailed in the Struma. Moreover, the heads of Jewish organizations did not agree as to the names for the list of emigrants, and the Rumanian authorities applied to the Committee to arbitrate. The delegate confined himself to a check of the emigration permits and thus aided their departure. They arrived safely in Istanbul a few days later. In August 1944, the Committee finally agreed that vessels carrying emigrants might display the Red Cross emblem, even in the absence of certain of the conditions which had been laid down.
On August 23, the King of Rumania took advantage of the retreat of the German troops to put an end to the dictatorship of Marshal Antonescu, and to enter into armistice negotiations with the Allies. The racial laws were thereupon abolished in Rumania.
The Committee continued their relief work on behalf of Jews, however, until the close of hostilities.
In its report of December 1944, the delegation in Bucharest stated that, thanks to consignments from the Joint Committee of New York and to collections made on the spot, it had been able to come to the help of 183,000 Rumanian Jews, comprising: 17,000 deportees repatriated from Transnistria; 30,000 men liberated from forced labour with their families (90,000 persons); 20,000 evacuees from small towns and villages; 10,000 evacuees from the war zone; 20,000 homeless persons, as a result of bombardments; 20,000 workmen and officials dismissed from their employment; and 6,000 Hungarians who had succeeded in escaping deportation and were found in Northern Transylvania.
Tribute was paid to this humanitarian work by the President of the American Union of Rumanian Jews. He wrote, in March 1945, to the Committee's delegate in Washington as follows:
'The work of the International Red Cross in helping the Jewish population in Rumania, and the Jews transported to Transnistria has been appreciated at its true worth not only by Dr. Safran, the Chief Rabbi in Rumania and the Jewish Community of Rumania, but also by the many thousands of members of our Union whose own relatives benefitted by that help. The International Red Cross Committee had rendered truly invaluable service to our people in Rumania.'
Mr. Joseph C. Hyman, Vice-President of the American Joint Distribution Committee of New York, had already made public the debt of gratitude due to the International Red Cross. In an article published in the journal 'News' on February 16, 1945, under the title 'The Joint Distribution Committee Lauds International Red Cross Co-operation,' he is quoted as follows: 'Thousands of Jews in newly liberated lands and in German concentration camps owe their lives to the sanctuary and the help given them by the International Red Cross. In those parts of the world where J.D.C., major American agency for the rescue and relief of distressed Jews overseas, cannot itself work directly, we know we can count on the International Red Cross [...] to act for us in bringing aid to suffering Jewry."
Volume 3 of the Report, particularly pages 73-84, 335-340, 479-481, 505-529, contains additional material that can be cited as needed.
Recall that our objective here is to form a reasonably accurate picture of what happened to the Jews of Slovakia, Croatia, and Hungary. However there are some matters raised in the excerpt which deserve at least a few remarks.
There are enough references to "extermination" here to lead the casual reader to the impression that the Red Cross accepted the extermination claims. On reflection, however, such an inference is seen as being not so clearly necessary and, even if made, not very relevant. We are told that "the Jews had become [...] condemned by rigid racial legislation to [...] systematic extermination" but there was, as is well known, no such legislation if by "extermination" is meant mass murder. Also "they were [...] sent to death camps," which was true of those who had been conscripted for labor and sent to the concentration camps during the camps' two worst periods (1942 and 1945). It "seems" that "many thousands" of Slovakian Jews went "to the extermination camps." It is anybody's guess what is meant by the "death camps" to which some Romanian Jews were sent in 1940; whatever is meant, it was not a German measure.
In Volume 3 we read (page 479) that "when military operations spread to Hungarian soil (in early October 1944), the ICRC delegate in Budapest made the uttermost exertions to prevent the extermination of the Hungarian Jews." Further on (pages 513-514) we read that during the war, "threatened with extermination, the Jews were, in the last resort, generally deported in the most inhuman manner, shut up in concentration camps, subjected to forced labor or put to death." The Germans "aimed more or less openly at their extermination."
We can see two possible reasons for the presence of such (ambiguous and/or very general) remarks. The first is that they are there because the authors of the Report, or most of them, on the basis of news reports, the war crimes trials, the fact of deportations, the fact of Nazi hostility toward the Jews, and the fact that the Germans wanted the Jews out of Europe, believed the wartime and post-war extermination claims (they obviously did not see any Jews being exterminated). The second possible reason is that the remarks are there for political-public relations reasons. For example, although the Germans and Hungarians had allowed the ICRC to operate in Hungary and the Russians had expelled it, the Report nevertheless finds it expedient to say that Budapest was "liberated" by the Russian capture.
The critical reader will obviously wish that the first explanation for the appearance of these remarks be accepted, at least for purposes of discussion. We should have no objections to this; it makes little difference in the analysis because all we want to know from the Report is what happened to the Jews of Slovakia, Croatia, and Hungary. The presence of the remarks about "extermination," put into the Report at a time when the detailed extermination charges had received the widest publicity, is actually helpful to our case because, whatever the explanation for the remarks, the possibility of extermination of most or many of the Jews of Slovakia, Croatia, and Hungary most definitely is part of the proper subject matter of the Report. An absence of claims bearing on extermination should not, thus, be interpreted as meaning that the possibility of extermination is not part of the matters being treated, but that the ICRC did not observe occurrences consistent with the extermination claims.
With these considerations in mind, what does the Report say happened to the Jews of Slovakia, Croatia, and Hungary? The extent of German influence had differed prior to 1944, and some number of Slovakian Jews had been deported to the East, but the Report makes no speculations of extermination here and obviously accepts that they had merely been deported. By 1944, German influence in the three countries was about uniform, and nothing very consequential happened until the autumn of 1944 when the Germans interned, or attempted to intern, many of the Jews for very valid security reasons and also deported a number of Hungarian Jews to Germany for labor.
On the subject of the Hungarian Jews, a certain amount was going on between March and October 1944, but whatever it was, the events which began in October 1944 after the arrest of Horthy were the most severe. The excerpt is most emphatic on this point in two places and, moreover, to place the critical date in the autumn of 1944 is fully consistent with the identical claim for the contiguous countries of Slovakia and Croatia.
It was after October 15 that "the full tide of the great tribulations of the Hungarian Jews was to set in" on account of the "German pressure (which) was reasserted, from March 1944 onwards," which in October 1944 "provoked a violent crisis; executions, robberies, deportations, forced labor, imprisonments." The Jews "suffered cruelly and lost many killed, especially in the provinces."
To repeat, there was a certain amount going on prior to October 1944, including deportations, but the Report asserts unambiguously that the events beginning October 1944 were the major ones for the Hungarian Jews. The "executions" and "robberies" probably refer to private actions of Hungarians taken, perhaps, with the implicit encouragement or at least unconcern of the new puppet government. The Report is fully precise about the "deportations" and "forced labor" measures that were instituted in October 1944. Jews were put to work on fortifications in Hungary and the Germans decided to send 60,000 to Germany for labor (the number actually deported in this action was between 35,000 and 45,000). There being no rail transport available, the Jews had to walk, as least as far as Vienna, but the Red Cross organized aid along the route.
It is not possible that the ICRC delegation in Hungary could have been unaware of anti-Jewish measures occurring significantly earlier in 1944, which even equaled in severity, much less dwarfed, the events beginning in October 1944. After all, the Jewish Senate of Budapest was being quartered in the Red Cross legation, and was doubtless fully informed on Hungarian Jewish matters. In addition, the later extermination claims would have "reminded" the delegate of far more drastic events earlier in the year, if they had actually occurred, as we shall see shortly.
Before passing on to consider the specific claims of extermination of Hungarian Jews, we should touch briefly on a few points made in the excerpt in connection with Theresienstadt.
We have had occasion in previous chapters to remark on Theresienstadt in Bohemia-Moravia (western Czechoslovakia) and our remarks are consistent with those of the excerpt. What is arresting in the Red Cross account is the report that "this camp had been started as an experiment by certain leaders of the Reich, who were apparently less hostile to the Jews than those responsible for the racial policy of the German government. These men wished to give to Jews the means of setting up a communal life in a town under their own administration and possessing almost complete autonomy."
Jewish policy was administered by Eichmann's office in the RSHA of the SS, and it was Karl Adolf Eichmann, "specialist for all Jewish questions," who had accompanied the head of the Security Police of Bohemia-Moravia, Colonel Erwin Weinemann, in showing the Red Cross delegation around Theresienstadt during the April 6, 1945, visit. During a gathering in the evening, Eichmann had explained to the delegates "that Theresienstadt was a creation of Reichsführer-SS Himmler" and had explained the philosophy involved, accurately passed on to us in the Report excerpt. Eichmann added that he, "personally, did not entirely approve of these methods but, as a good soldier, he naturally blindly obeyed the orders of the Reichsführer."
It is quite clear, therefore, that Theresienstadt was an operation of the SS, who were the "certain leaders of the Reich" involved here. In addition, it is known that it was RSHA chief Heydrich who made the Theresienstadt decision shortly after he had acquired his secondary role of Deputy Protector of Bohemia-Moravia in September 1941.
What the Red Cross saw at Theresienstadt was part of regular SS policy. It is of some interest that the Report tells us, without comment, that the delegate had asked about "departures for the East" and that the ICRC makes no speculations regarding any sinister interpretations to be placed on the "transfers to Auschwitz," despite the notorious and universally known charges in this connection.
In critical evaluation of the Red Cross Report, one must obviously be wary in two senses. First, one should reserve some judgments in relation to a self-serving aspect of the Report. The typical respects in which a charitable organization's publications might be self-serving are in exaggerating the efficacy of measures taken and, in cases where it is evident that no efficacious measures have been taken, in hastily blaming the lack of efficacy on the tight fists of potential contributors (and often there are very solid grounds for such claims). Thus, we should not be crushed if it were found that the Hungarian Jewish children or the Jews who walked to Vienna, both of whom were aided by the Red Cross, actually suffered a little bit more than might seem suggested by the Report (I am not, of course, making any claim that such was the case).
A second reservation concerns inevitable political bias as a result of external political pressures; the "liberation" of Budapest by the Russians shows this at work in the Report. The situation of 1948 clearly implied that when political bias appeared in the Report it be anti-German bias. We observe that this exists in the Report, but fortunately, this bias is effectively non-existent, if one reads the Report with well defined questions in mind, such questions bearing only on matters within the actual sphere of competence of the ICRC and its delegates.
Nevertheless, it should again be stressed that my argument in no way depends upon interpreting the Report as meaning other than what it says, or as not really meaning what it says, at those points selected by me. I offer no parallel of the extermination claims, which insist that phrases such as Leichenkeller, Badeanstalt, special treatment and "readiness for transport" be attributed meanings consistent with wartime propaganda claims. There is no quarrel with the person who insists on interpreting the Report as declaring in a very general way that the Germans were attempting to exterminate the Jews, because all we want to know is what the ICRC delegates were able to witness in their positions in Slovakia, Croatia, and Hungary.
We have seen roughly what happened in Hungary, and now the extermination claims should be examined. We first review the relevant propaganda during 1944 and then the charges made after the war, constituting the legend of the extermination of the Hungarian Jews. There are both significant differences and significant similarities between the 1944 propaganda and the later claims. Our survey of the former again employs the New York Times as source.
In 1944, atrocity and extermination propaganda of a general sort continued:
12 Feb. 1944, p. 6: "A young Polish Jew who escaped from a mass execution in Poland [...] repeated a story [...that at Belzec] Jews were forced naked onto a metal platform operated as a hydraulic elevator which lowered them into a huge vat filled with water. [...] They were electrocuted by current through the water."
This claim had also been made in London in November 1942, and we encountered it on page 102 in the New York Times story of December 20, 1942. The emphasis in the propaganda during the spring and summer of 1944 was, however, on the Hungarian Jews. Immediately after the German occupation:
21 Mar. 1944. p. 4: "The fate of 800,000 Jews in Hungary was one immediate concern of Jewish circles in Stockholm."
Roosevelt involved himself directly with a speech prepared for him by the War Refugee Board.
25 Mar. 1944, p. 4: "In the meantime in most of Europe and in parts of Asia the systematic torture and murder of civilians - men, women and children - by the Nazis and Japanese continue unabated. In areas subjugated by the aggressors innocent Poles, Czechs, Norwegians, Dutch, Danes, French, Greeks, Russians, Chinese, Filipinos - and many others - are being starved or frozen to death or murdered in cold blood in a campaign of savagery.
The slaughters of Warsaw, Lidice, Kharkov and Nanking - the brutal torture and murder by the Japanese, not only of civilians but of our own gallant American soldiers and fliers - these are startling examples of what goes on day by day, year in and year out, wherever the Nazis and the Japs are in military control - free to follow their barbaric purpose.
In one of the blackest crimes of all history - begun by the Nazis in the day of peace and multiplied by them a hundred times in time of war - the wholesale systematic murder of the Jews of Europe goes on unabated every hour. As a result of the events of the last few days hundreds of thousands of Jews, who, while living under persecution, have at least found a haven from death in Hungary and the Balkans, are now threatened with annihilation as Hitler's forces descend more heavily upon these lands. That these innocent people, who have already survived a decade of Hitler's fury, should perish on the very eve of triumph over the barbarism which their persecution symbolized, would be a major tragedy.
[...] All who knowingly take part in the deportation of Jews to their death in Poland or Norwegians and French to their death in Germany are equally guilty with the executioner. All who share the guilt shall share the punishment.
[...] In the meantime, and until the victory that is now assured is won, the United States will persevere in its efforts to rescue the victims of brutality of the Nazis and the Japs. In so far as the necessity of military operations permit this government will use all means at its command to aid the escape of all intended victims of the Nazi and Jap executioner - regardless of race or religion or color. We call upon the free peoples of Europe and Asia temporarily to open their frontiers to all victims of oppression. We shall find havens of refuge for them, and we shall find the means for their maintenance and support until the tyrant is driven from their homelands and they may return.
In the name of justice and humanity let all freedom loving people rally to this righteous undertaking."
April 1, 1944, p. 5: "HUNGARY ANNOUNCES ANTI-JEWSIH DECREES
[...] based on the Nazi Nuremberg laws [...]"
whose nature was further specified as:
April 16, 1944, p. 17: " [...] the registration and closing of all Jewish properties. [...]"
April 28, 1944, p. 5: "[...] recent reports from Hungary said 300,000 Jews had been moved from the eastern and northeastern parts of the country to so-called collection camps."
May 10, 1944, p. 5: "by Joseph M. Levy
[...] it is a fact that Hungary [...] is now preparing for the annihilation of Hungarian Jews by the most fiendish methods. [...] Sztojay's [...] government [...] is about to start the extermination of about 1,000,000 human beings. [...] The government in Budapest had decreed the creation in different parts of Hungary of 'special baths' for Jews. These baths are in reality huge gas chambers arranged for mass murder, like those inaugurated in Poland in 1941."
May 18, 1944, p. 5: "by Joseph M. Levy
80,000 Jews of the Carpathian provinces [...] have been sent to murder camps in Poland."
June 9, 1944, p. 5: "300,000 Hungarian Jews have been interned in camps and ghettos [within Hungary...]"
June 18, 1944, p. 24: "[...] recent statements made by the Hungarian Premier, Doeme Sztojay, that Jews were being exterminated to provide 'room for American Hungarians to return to their native country after the war.'"
June 20, 1944, p. 5: "Czechoslovak Jews interned in [...] Terezin [...] were dragged to gas chambers in the notorious German concentration camps at Birkenau and Oswiecim. Confirmation of the execution there of uncounted thousands was brought to London recently by a young Pole who had been imprisoned in both camps."
June 25, 1944, p. 5: "[A Polish underground] message said that new mass murders were taking place at the Oswiecim concentration camp. They were carried out by gas in the following order: Jews, war prisoners, whatever their nationality, and invalids. A hundred thousand Jews have already been sent to Oswiecim for execution. [...]"
June 27, 1944, p. 6: "Hull [called] upon Hungary to halt her mistreatment of Jews [and warned that] those German officers and men [...] who have [...] taken [...] part in the [...] atrocities, massacres and executions will be punished."
July 2, 1944, p. 12: "Hungarian sources in Turkey reported that the 350,000 Jews [...] were being rounded up for deportation to death camps in Poland. By June 17, 400,000 had been sent to Poland; the remaining 350,000 are expected to be put to death by July 24."
On July 3 (page 3) the "report" that eventually became the WRB report appeared as a report of two relief committees in Switzerland, specifying that since April 400,000 Hungarian Jews had been sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The crematories are reported to contain 50 furnaces each taking 8-10 corpses at a time. On July 6 (page 6), the story was repeated, Eden endorsed the charges, and the World Jewish
"Congress was notified more than two weeks ago that 100,000 Jews recently deported from Hungary to Poland had been gassed in the notorious German death camp at Oswiecim. Between May 15 and 27 sixty two railroad cars laden with Jewish children [...] and six cars laden with Jewish adults passed daily through the Plaszow station near Cracow. Mass deportations have also begun from Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia, where the Jews have heretofore been unmolested."
July 13, 1944, p. 3: "2,500 Jewish men, women and children [...] will arrive in the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps by this week-end, probably with previous knowledge of their fate."
On July 15, (page 3) Hull again condemned the alleged killing of Hungarian Jews, and then from the "Polish underground":
August 4, 1944, p. 5: "courier [...] declared that Hungarian Jews were still being sent to Oswiecim, twelve trainloads every twenty-four hours. In their haste [...] the Germans [...] were killing small children with bludgeons. Many bodies were being burned in open fires, he said, because the crematories were over-taxed."
On August 11 (page 4) is reported a letter by Horthy to the King of Sweden declaring that deportations of Jews had been stopped and that they were being allowed to leave Hungary.
There are too many contradictions in the propaganda for it to equal later charges. However, the charges resemble the propaganda somewhat. The present story is that between the middle of May and sometime in early July 1944, approximately 400,000 Hungarian Jews, from districts outside of the capital of Budapest, were deported by rail by the Germans and that almost all of these were killed at Birkenau, the killings having been the primary purpose of the deportations. This operation essentially cleaned out the Hungarian Jews, except for Budapest, where the Jews were left essentially intact. Even Birkenau was not designed for such large numbers of killings, so many bodies were disposed of in burning pits, and many were shot rather than gassed.
It is obvious that no such thing could have happened, and received world-wide publicity during the war and at the later trials, without the ICRC delegation in Budapest learning of it. After all, we are speaking here of the near entirety of non-Budapest Jews, and such massive and monstrous events could not have been flippantly forgotten by the person contributing the "Hungary" section of the excerpt we have examined. The excerpt says emphatically that the major negative events effecting the Hungarian Jews occurred starting on October 1944 after Horthy's arrest. Moreover, the Report contains the general remarks about "extermination" which we have noted, so any extermination of Hungarian Jews would, if it were a reality, definitely be mentioned in the Report. There is clearly no truth to the claim of exterminations of Hungarian Jews.
At this point it is appropriate to provide some remarks on Hungarian Jewish population in early 1944. The Nazis used a figure of about 700 or 750 thousand. Ruppin's 1940 book reports that the Hungarian Jewish population rose from 440 to 480 thousand in the autumn of 1938, due to the annexation of parts of Slovakia. In the spring of 1939, the Carpatho-Ukraine was annexed so that, in June 1939, there were about 590,000 Jews in Hungary. It is known that a good number of non-Hungarian Jews, mainly Polish, took refuge in Hungary after 1939, so Ruppin's pre-war figure of 590,000 could easily have swelled to the 700,000 or 750,000 figure that the Nazis used. Ruppin's figure for Budapest's Jewish population is 200,000 in 1930. This figure would not have been supplemented by the annexations, but it would have been supplemented to some degree during the Thirties by German and Austrian Jews and to a greater degree by Polish and other Jews after 1939. It seems reasonable to assume that there were about 300,000 Jews in Budapest in the spring of 1944. Thus, we seem to have a fairly good idea of Hungarian and Budapest Jewish population in 1944. Clearly the removal of 400,000 or more non-Budapest Jews in the spring of 1944 would have entailed the removal of essentially all non-Budapest Jews. Not only could this not have failed to be noticed by the Red Cross delegation, it is also difficult to see where the "one hundred thousand Jews" who "poured into Budapest from the provinces" in November could have come from.
There are other arguments against the extermination claims. First, it will be seen that the charges specify that special arrangements were made at a conference in Vienna in early May to provide four trains per day to effect these deportations, and that the trains were in fact provided on schedule. That is, in the crucial few weeks before and after D-Day (June 6), at a time of desperate rail shortages, with both fronts threatening to collapse, the Germans provided an amount of extra rail transportation that would strain the resources of any rail system under the best of circumstances. That is just not believable. It is worth remembering that the rail journey from Budapest to Auschwitz is much more formidable than the map might suggest, on account of the mountains in eastern Czechoslovakia.
Where are the pictures?
A second additional argument against the charges relate to the question, often asked, why did not the Allies attempt to bomb the gas chambers that, by the time of the alleged killings of Hungarian Jews, the whole world "knew" about? The question can be considerably broadened.
On June 8, 1944, the U.S. Fifteenth Air Force, based in southern Italy, was ordered to emphasize oil targets in its bombings, and was given a list of specific oil targets in eastern and southeastern Europe. The principal target and the one that received the major share of attention was the Ploesti area in Romania. However, Auschwitz, which was also one of the targets on the list, was first bombed on August 20 and was subsequently bombed in September and December.
Now in the Allied bombing operations in World War II it was customary to make extensive use of photographic intelligence. One objective was the assessment of damage done by attacks and another was the planning of attacks: determining whether or not the target was worth attacking and also determining the extent and nature of the defenses in the area of the target. It is a certainty that intelligence had photographed Auschwitz and the surrounding area, rather thoroughly, soon after the June 8 order. In this case the Americans should have been able to provide actual photographs of all these Hungarian Jews being moved into Auschwitz and shot and burned out in the open. They should not even have been obliged to take any special measures to produce for us, either at the time of the alleged killings or at the later trials, photographic evidence for their claims. Of course, to have been fully convincing, the former time should have been chosen, because the Russians controlled Auschwitz after January 1945.
The photograph of Fig. 7 is claimed to have been taken at Auschwitz in August 1944, but it has already been discussed in proper context. In any case, the number of bodies evident in the photograph roughly corresponds to the rate of ordinary deaths at Auschwitz, especially for 1942.
Despite all the attention the Hungarian Jews and Auschwitz were receiving at the time and despite the Roosevelt promise publicized on March 25, the Americans did not lift a finger either to interfere with the alleged deportations - by bombing the specific rail lines involved - or with the alleged killings - by bombing the "gas chambers." They not only failed to take the opportunity to provide us with photographic evidence for their claims, they also do not seem to have the evidence despite having taken the photographs.
All of these considerations, the Red Cross Report, the wild impracticality of exterminating Hungarian Jews in the spring and summer of 1944, and the non-existence of any relevant consequences of the Allied control of the air, compel the conclusion that nothing resembling or approximating extermination actually happened to the Hungarian Jews.
Air Raids on Auschwitz: Rudolf Vrba Overreaches Himself
We will shortly review the evidence for the extermination claim, but first we should provide an aside relative to the problem of the date of the first air raid at Auschwitz. We remarked on page 126 that Rudolf Vrba's claim that there was an air raid at Auschwitz on April 9, 1944, undermines his credibility. We have indicated above that Auschwitz was first bombed in August. This view is based mainly on the Combat Chronology, edited by Carter and Mueller, that the U.S. Air Force published in 1973, and on the standard and semi-official work by Craven et al., The Army Air Forces in World War II. The latter also treats the activities of the RAF Bomber Command, especially in connection with the oil campaign. The corresponding four volume British work by Webster and Frankland, The Strategic Air Offensive Against Germany 1939-1945, bases its account of the oil campaign on that of Craven et al.
An attack in early April seems completely out of the question. Auschwitz was of strategic importance only as an oil target. Craven et al. provide an excellent summary of the air force oil campaign. There had been a spectacular raid at Ploesti in 1943, but there was no sustained oil campaign until the spring of 1944, on account of disagreements among Allied leaders regarding target priorities. By May 1944, only 1.1% of Allied bombs had fallen on oil targets. On March 17, 1944, the Fifteenth Air Force was advised to undertake attacks against Ploesti at the first opportunity, but "surreptitiously under the general directive which called for bombing transportation targets supporting German forces that faced the Russians." The first such attack came on April 5, and there were also attacks on April 15 and 24, in all three cases directed mainly against the rail centers near Ploesti, with a hope that there would be "incidental" damage to oil refineries. Oil-related bombings by England-based aircraft did not commence until April 19, but these were also carried out under cover of an objective other than oil. The Fifteenth Air Force carried out several more raids against Ploesti before the June 8 order, after which the oil campaign got under way officially and extensively.
This being the situation, and in consideration of the confirmation provided by the Combat Chronology, it is impossible to believe that Auschwitz was bombed in April, when it was difficult to justify, within the allied command, raids even against choice targets such as Ploesti. That a relatively minor oil target such as Auschwitz, much smaller than the not distant synthetic oil plants at Blechhammer, was bombed in April, is most unlikely. Even Blechhammer is not mentioned as a target until long after April.
Only the U.S. and British air forces are relevant to the problem of possible air raids at Auschwitz in the period April to September 1944. The Russians did not engage in industrial-strategic bombing operations of this nature.
Our conclusions, drawn from the official U.S. Air Force war histories, are confirmed by the recollections of two Germans who were at Auschwitz in 1944. Thies Christophersen, author of the booklet Die Auschwitz Lüge (mentioned on p. 27), wrote that the first air raid was "in the autumn of 1944." Christophersen seems to be completely unaware that there is any significance in the question of the date of the first aid raid at Auschwitz.
In Dr. Wilhelm Stäglich's statement, published in German journal Nation Europa (also mentioned here on page 27), he did not make any remarks in connection with air raids, but he did write that he was a member of an anti-aircraft unit that was stationed near Auschwitz for a very short time starting in mid-July 1944. In reply to a neutrally worded inquiry by this author, with no reference to the nature of the underlying issue involved, Stäglich replied that there were no air raids while he was there and that he believed there had been none earlier, because he had not been informed of any and had not seen any corresponding destruction.
The August date for the first air raid is confirmed by the Italian Jew Primo Levi, who wrote in his book Se Questo è un Uomo (early in the chapter entitled I fatti dell'estate) that the first raid was in August, when he had been there five months.
Our analysis of the problem of the first air raid at Auschwitz is also essentially confirmed by the extermination mythologists. Reitlinger does not explicitly take a position on the date of the first raid but remarks (page 383) on "the failure of the Allies to bomb the passes between Hungary and Auschwitz in May - July, 1944." Hilberg (page 632) is well off the mark in placing the first raid on December 16, 1944, and this date is accepted by Levin (page 701). Friedman (page 78) is relatively on the mark in reporting a raid on September 13, 1944.
Because all evidence rejects a claim that there was an air raid at Auschwitz in April 1944, Vrba's claim that there was such a raid while he was sitting there peeking out from the woodpile is an important factor in demolishing his credibility, in addition to the others mentioned in Chapter 3 (pp. 124-128). Moreover, it would be difficult for Vrba to claim a faulty memory comparable to Stäglich's, because the raid supposedly occurred at a uniquely crucial point in Vrba's life.
Returning to the immediate subject, we now review the evidence which is offered for exterminations of Hungarian Jews. It is mainly documentary.
We will essentially disregard the IMT affidavit (2605-PS) of Kastner, given September 13, 1945. Kastner was a Hungarian Jew who was in contact with Eichmann and associates in Budapest in 1944. His affidavit declares that 475,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported by June 27, 1944. It also gives a general "history" of the entire extermination program, said to be based on things told Kastner by SS Colonel Kurt Becher and SS Captain Dieter Wisliceny. That he enjoyed the confidence of these men is entirely possible, however, because in 1954, as an influential member of Ben-Gurion's Mapai party in Israel, he was accused by another Hungarian Jew of having been a collaborator of Becher, one of Eichmann's superiors in the SS operations in Hungary. The resulting libel actions, with verdicts against Kastner, generated a major political crisis in Israel whose catastrophic consequences were averted by the assassination of Kastner in 1957. Kastner was another victim of the hoax.
Wisliceny, Eichmann's subordinate in Hungary, also gave an affidavit on November 29, 1945, and supporting testimony at the IMT on January 3, 1945. The affidavit is another English-language job with, e.g., the obscure (for a German) expression "heads" for people in transports. In Wisliceny's story there were written orders, given in early 1942 by Himmler, to exterminate the Jews. The orders were addressed to, among others, the "Inspector of Concentration Camps" who, according to the later testimony of Höss, was not intended by Himmler to know anything about the program.
The major evidence is a collection of reputed German Foreign Office documents. In March 1944, one Dr. Veesenmayer of the Foreign Office was sent to Hungary as "plenipotentiary" to act for the German government, supplementing the activities of special Ambassador Ritter. Veesenmayer communicated a great deal with the Foreign Office in Berlin via telegram. A document, NG-2263, shown in Fig. 30, is typical of those which are said to be one of these telegrams, taken from Foreign Office files. As a telegram received at the Foreign Office, it naturally does not have Veesenmayer's signature. The endorsements consist in the Foreign Office stamps that have been used, and the handwritten notation on the left which says that the document is to be filed under "Hungary" (Ungarn) and is initialed by von Thadden and dated: vTh 4/7. It reads:
"I.) Transport of Jews out of Zone III concluded with 50,805 according to plan. Total number out of Zones I - III 340,162.
II.) Concentration in Zone IV and transport out of that Zone concluded with 41,499 according to plan. Total number 381,661. Continuation of operations had been separately reported with teletypes no. 279 of 27 June, no. 287 of 29 June and no. 289 of 30 June to Fuschl. Concentration in Zone V (hitherto uncovered region west of the Danube without Budapest) commenced 29 June. Simultaneously smaller actions in the suburbs of Budapest commenced as preparatory measures. A few small transports of political, intellectual and specially skilled Jews, and Jews with many children, are also under way."
It is a collection of such documents that constitutes the evidence for the deportation of over 400,000 Hungarian Jews between May 15 and early July of 1944. In my determination, the relevant documents are summarized as below. The nature of the endorsements is indicated in each case. Naturally not all documents dealing with anti-Jewish measures, including deportations during the relevant time period, are involved; only those are listed, which might be claimed to compel an interpretation consistent with the extermination claims.
NG-2059: Mimeographed copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated May 8, 1944. A certain number of Jews previously scheduled for deportation are to be put to work on military projects in Hungary instead. Application for the 100,000 employable Hungarian Jews requested by Organization Todt (the Speer ministry) must be made to Glücks of the WVHA, who is in charge of the deportation of Hungarian Jews. The endorsement is Thadden's initials.
NG-2060: In two parts. The second part is a mimeograph copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to Ribbentrop via Ritter, dated April 21, 1944. It reports that 100,038 Hungarian Jews have been confined to camps as a result of the "Special Operations." The endorsements are a Top Secret stamp and Thadden's initials. The descriptive material accompanying the document (the "staff evidence analysis") indicates that Geiger's initials also appear, but this is not confirmed by examination of the rest of the material (in this case the English translation only).
NG-2061: Mimeographed copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated May 20, 1944. It reports arrests of people involved with the anti-Nazi underground, and the interception of "intelligence material concerning the alleged conditions in the German concentration camps in the Government General. In particular the happenings in the Auschwitz camp are described in detail." The endorsements are a Foreign Office stamp and Thadden's initials, although the staff evidence analysis says it is initialed by Geiger.
NG-2190: The first part is a covering note for the second part. Signed by Thadden and Wissberg and initialed by Wagner, and stamped Top Secret. The second part is a report from Thadden to the Foreign Office on anti-Jewish measures in Hungary, dated May 26, 1944. It is reported that the Hungarian government has agreed to the deportation to the Eastern territories of all Hungarian Jews, with the exception of 80,000 to be retained for labor on military projects. The number of Hungarian Jews is estimated at 900,000 to 1,000,000. Most of the Jews outside Budapest have been concentrated in ghettos. As of May 24, 116,000 had been deported to the General Government in daily shipments of 14,000. The Jewish Council in Budapest (same as the Jewish Senate of the Red Cross Report excerpt) was reassured that these measures were directed only against unassimilated Jews, and that others were to be treated differently. However, the SS expects difficulties with future concentration and deportation measures anyway. Plans for future measures are outlined. Problems stemming from the differing German and Hungarian definitions of a Jew are discussed. It is estimated that about one third of the Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz are able to work, and that these are distributed immediately after arrival to Sauckel, Organization Todt, etc. Stamped Top Secret and signed by Thadden. The third part is a covering note for the fourth part, initialed by Wagner and Thadden, with handwritten references to Eichmann. The fourth part is a summary of Thadden's report, with no endorsement.
NG-2230: A copy of a two page letter, dated April 24, 1944, from Thadden to Eichmann relaying the contents of NG-2233 (next to be discussed). Both pages initialed by Thadden. Date stamp and handwritten notations on bottom of page one. Note: the second time I consulted document NG-2230, it was an entirely different document, so there may be some error here.
NG-2233: In two parts. First part is a copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to Ritter, dated April 23, 1944. It reports on the work of interning Jews from the Carpathians in ghettos. 150,000 Jews have already been rounded up. It is estimated that 300,000 Jews will have been affected when the action is completed. The internment of Jews in other areas is then to follow. From May 15 on, 3,000 Jews are to be shipped daily to Auschwitz, and in order not to hold up their transport, the transfer of the 50,000 Jews, demanded for work in the Reich by Veesenmayer, will temporarily be held up. For reasons of security, feeding, and footwear, it is not considered practicable to send them on foot. The endorsement is the stamp of the foreign Office (Classified Material). The second part of the document is a carbon copy of a letter from Thadden to Eichmann, dated April 24, repeating the substance of the telegram. Initialed by Thadden.
NG-2235: A carbon copy of a telegram from Wagner to Veesenmayer, dated May 21, 1944. It is reported that Thadden is to visit Budapest shortly to discuss the disposal of the property of German and Hungarian Jews, within the framework of the general European solution of the Jewish question. Initialed by Wagner. There also appear to be initials "VM" on the document, but it does not appear that this is supposed to be Veesenmayer's initials.
NG-2236: A typed memo from Wagner to Steengracht, dated July 6, 1944. Wagner states that it is the Reich policy to prevent Jewish emigration. The War Refugee Board request, through Switzerland, that emigration of Hungarian Jews to Palestine be permitted, must be denied because that would alienate the Arabs. Anyway, the Swiss-American intervention will be too late by the end of the month, for the anti-Jewish action in Hungary will be completed by that time. Stamped Secret and signed by Wagner. Initialed by Thadden and, possibly, by Hencke.
NG-2237: A mimeographed copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated June 10, reporting that the measures for the concentration of Jews located north of Budapest had started, and that deportation of the Jews would start June 11. The endorsement is a Foreign Office stamp and Thadden's initials.
NG-2238: Typewritten memo by Wagner proposing that negotiations with the Swiss and Swedes on emigration of Hungarian Jews be treated in a dilatory manner until the question of the treatment of the Jews remaining in Hungary had definitely been solved. Dated September 16, 1944. Signed by Wagner, initialed by Thadden and illegible others.
NG-2262: A mimeographed copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to Ritter, Dated May 4, reporting that evacuation of 310,000 Jews of the Carpathian and Transylvanian regions into Germany ("nach Deutschland") is scheduled to begin in the middle of May. Four daily transports, each holding 3,000, are contemplated. The necessary rail arrangements will be made at a conference in Vienna on May 4. Foreign Office stamp and Thadden's initials.
NG-2263: A mimeographed copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated June 30, reporting that 381,661 Hungarian Jews had been deported as of June 30. Round-ups had started west of the Danube, not including Budapest, and also in the suburbs of Budapest. Foreign Office stamp and Thadden's initials.
NG-2424: In two parts. The first part is a typed letter from Foreign Office press chief Schmidt to Foreign Office Secretary of State Steengracht, dated May 27, suggesting a propaganda campaign ("the discovery of explosives in Jewish clubs and synagogues," etc.) to precede any actions against the Jews of Budapest. The endorsement is initialing by Wagner. The second part is a typed copy of a telegram from Thadden to Budapest, dated June 1, passing on the suggestion. Initialed by Wagner and Thadden.
NG-2980: In three parts. The first part is a typed copy of a telegram from Wagner to Budapest, dated May 21, announcing a forthcoming visit to Budapest by Thadden, for negotiations on the Jewish problem. Stamped and initialed by Wagner. The second part is an unsigned carbon copy of a letter from Thadden to Wagner, constituting a covering letter for Thadden's report on his activities in Budapest. Stamped Top Secret. The third part is the typed five page report, dated May 25. It is reported that special referent for Jewish questions at the German Embassy in Budapest von Adamovic, "has no idea of the actual intentions (or) of the practical application of the measure against the Jews." He also reports a visit to Eichmann's office, where he learned that 116,000 Jews had been deported to the Reich and that the deportation of another 200,000 was imminent. Concentration of about 250,000 Jews of the provinces north and northwest of Budapest will begin June 7. More plans are given. It is estimated that only about 80,000 Jews able to work will remain in Hungary. The entire operation is to be concluded by the end of July. The report is five pages long and the only endorsement is a top secret stamp on the first page.
NG-5510:1 A typed copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, date May 8, stating that Count Bethlen and Dr. Schilling do not approve of the Jewish action, and that Veesenmayer will therefore request their dismissal. "Count Bethlen declared that he did not want to become a mass murderer and would rather resign." The endorsements consist of a top secret stamp and a handwritten notation to file under "Hungary."
NG-5532: A typed copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, dated July 9, reporting Hungarian Minister of the Interior Jaross' intention to concentrate the Budapest Jews outside of Budapest and then "release them gradually in batches of 30 - 40,000 Jews for transport to the Reich." No endorsement.
NG-5533: A typed copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated June 14, asserting that numerous Hungarian Jews had been slipping into Slovakia "since we pounced upon them" after March 19. Stamped with "Hungary" and "State Secretary" handwritten on the bottom.
NG-5565: An original typed copy of a telegram from Thadden to the German Embassy in Pressburg, dated May 2, announcing that a conference will be held May 4-5 in Vienna for the purpose of organizing rail transport for "a large number of Hungarian Jews for work in the Eastern Territories." Stamped secret and initialed by Thadden.
NG-5567: A mimeographed copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated June 17, giving the total number of Hungarian Jews deported to the Reich as 326,009. Stamped and initialed by Thadden (the staff evidence analysis states that the document is initialed by Wagner and Reichel, but this is not confirmed by the documents I examined).
NG-5568: A mimeographed copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated June 8. "In execution of Jewish measures in Hungary basic principle to be observed is secrecy regarding dates of deportation and of zones which will be cleansed one after the other in order to avoid disquieting of Jewish elements and attempts to emigrate. This applies especially to the city district of Budapest which is to be the last zone and where difficulties in this respect are to be expected." Stamped and blue pencil noted by Thadden.
NG-5569: In several parts. The first and major part is a mimeograph of a telegram from Ludin in Pressburg (Slovakia) to the Foreign Office, dated June 14. It is reported that guards had entered the trains deporting Jews from Hungary across Slovakia and had robbed the Jews of money and jewelry and had shot some. They had then used the proceeds to get drunk at a nearby restaurant. Stamped. Next four parts are notes discussing the incident. Various stamps; initials of Wagner, Thadden, and Mirbach.
NG-5570: Mimeographed copies of five telegrams. The first is dated October 14, and reports the plans to deport about 50,000 Jews by foot from Hungary for labor in the Reich. It is added, confidentially, that "Eichmann plans [...] to request 50,000 additional Jews in order to reach the ultimate goal of cleaning of Hungarian space [...] " Stamped and handwritten notes. Next four parts discuss operations with Budapest Jews and also with the Jews being deported for labor. Stamps and initialings by Wagner and Thadden.
NG-5571: Typewritten telegrams exchanged by Veesenmayer and Altenburg of the Foreign Office, dated June 25 and 28. In view of the "liquidation of the Jewish problem" in Hungary, the Hungarian government should reimburse the Reich with the corresponding amounts of food-stuffs. Stamps.
NG-5573: Typed report by Wagner to Ribbentrop, dated October 27. Of the 900,000 Jews who had been in Hungary, 437,402 had been sent for "labor to the East." A discussion of Hungarian Jews being allowed to emigrate follows. Stamped and initialed by Mirbach.
NG-5576: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated June 30. Horthy objected to measures against the Budapest Jews but agreed to postponed measures. Thus, "assembling in last provincial Zone V [so far not covered space west of Danube, with exclusion of Budapest] has started. Simultaneously assembling will be carried out within jurisdiction of first constabulary commando in remoter suburbs of Budapest in order to facilitate drive in capital." Stamped.
NG-5594: Anonymous telegram from Budapest to the Foreign Office, dated April 18. The "Hungarian population urgently desires a swift, radical solution to the Jewish problem, since fear of Jewish revenge is greater than the fear of Russian brutality." Handwritten notations to file.
NG-5595: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the foreign Office, dated April 28. "Special operations" in Hungary had resulted in the arrest of 194,000 Jews. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5596: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated April 28. 194,000 Jews arrested by the special operations, and Hungarian plans to distribute the Budapest Jews throughout the city on account of the Allied bombing raids. Stamped.
NG-5597: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated April 30. 194,000 Jews arrested by the special operations, and discussion of Jews trying to be conscripted for labor in Hungary in order to avoid concentration camps. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5599: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated May 5. 196,700 Jews arrested by the special operations. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5600: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated May 6. Jews are being rounded up, and the Jews think that they are "only going to the special camps temporarily." Stamped.
NG-5602: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated May 24. 110,556 Hungarian Jews have been deported. Stamped, handwritten notations, and illegible initials.
NG-5603: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated May 19. 51,000 Hungarian Jews deported. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5604: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated May 20. 62,644 Hungarian Jews deported. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5605: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated May 20. Same report as NG-2061. Handwritten notations.
NG-5607: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated May 16. The deportation of the 300,000 Jews concentrated in the Carpathian area and in Transylvania had began on May 14, with four special trains with 3,000 Jews in each leaving daily. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5608: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office dated May 25. 138,870 Hungarian Jews had been deported to the Reich. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5613: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated July 20. The Hungarian Nazis got the Franciscans to schedule a Thanksgiving mass to celebrate the deportation of the Jews, but the bishop objected and certain compromises had to be made. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5615: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated July 11. 437,402 Hungarian Jews had been deported. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5616: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated July 8. 422,911 Hungarian Jews had been deported to the Reich. Stamped.
NG-5617: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated June 17. 340,142 Hungarian Jews had been deported to the Reich. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5618: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated June 17. 326,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported to the Reich. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5619: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated June 13. 289,357 Jews had been deported from the Carpathian and Transylvanian regions. Future plans for deportation are outlined. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5620: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated June 8. Document, except for staff evidence analysis, was missing from the collection consulted, but it is apparently similar to those immediately preceding and immediately following.
NG-5621: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated June 2. 247,856 Hungarian Jews had been deported to the Reich. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5622: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated June 1. 236,414 Hungarian Jews had been shipped to the Reich. Stamped.
NG-5623: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated June 1. 217,236 Hungarian Jews had been shipped to the Reich. Stamped and handwritten notations
NG-5624: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to the Foreign Office, dated May 31. 204,312 Hungarian Jews had been shipped to the Reich. Stamped and handwritten notations.
NG-5637: Typed memo from Wagner to Steengracht, dated May 21, 1943. Wagner reports a visit from the Hungarian Ambassador. Difficulties relating to solution of the Jewish problem in Hungary were discussed. The deportations would have to be carried out in stages and, in order not to alarm those left behind, the ones deported should be allowed "a possibility to earn a living, at least for a short period." Stamped and signed by Wagner.
NG-5684: Typewritten copy of a telegram from Veesenmayer to Ribbentrop, dated July 6. A six page report of a conference with Horthy, who mentioned that "he received a flood of telegrams every day from all quarters abroad and at home, for instance from the Vatican, from the King of Sweden, from Switzerland, from the Red Cross and other parties," in regard to the Hungarian Jews. He advocated keeping Jewish physicians and also the Jewish labor companies who had been assigned to war related tasks. Veesenmayer told him that "the solution of the Jewish question [...] was carried out by Hungary [but] could never [have been] completed without [SS and SD] support." Initialed by Steengracht.
A few words on the general conditions under which this documents analysis was carried out are in order before proceeding to interpret this evidence. Unless one goes to Washington to examine original documents, what one typically has made available when a specific document is examined may consist of as many as four parts. First, there may be a photostatic copy of the original document. This happens only in a minority of cases. The other three parts are almost always available. First, there is the mimeographed reproduction, in German, of the original document. Thus, instead of any handwritten material, there is typewritten material that is indicated as having been handwritten. Second, there is the English translation of this German language document. Third, there is the accompanying descriptive material, the "staff evidence analysis." Among the four parts, quite a few minor contradictions were noted in the course of the study. In addition, a very few documents were missing from the collection examined.
It might be said, with good grounds, that certain of these documents should not be in the list, because they admit of many interpretations other than transport of the majority of Hungarian Jews to the Reich. NG-2424 is of this nature; we have seen that the proposed Budapest action finally took place in October. NG-5533 and NG-5684 admit of many interpretations; with respect to the latter, there is no doubt that some Hungarian Jews were deported to the Reich specifically for labor and the document may be interpreted in that respect.
Nevertheless, it is obvious that I must declare, at this point, that a quite considerable amount of forgery was involved in the production of these documents; they were written after the war. That the events the documents speak of, involving over 400,000 Hungarian Jews transported to the Reich (or Poland) in May - July of 1944, did not occur is a certainty, for reasons given. However there are grounds for a certain uneasiness here because forgery does not seem to have been practiced with respect to the parts of the Auschwitz extermination legend which have been examined up to this point. Forgery is a risky business. Thus, although forgery seems a certainty, we should wish for some independent evidence for a charge of forgery.
Forgery is less risky if it does not involve the actual forgery of signatures; if the cooperation of the persons who signed or initialed the forged documents could have been obtained, then it might have seemed that the risk was removed or minimized. Thus, we should take a close look at the endorsers of these documents. If NG-5684 is excepted, we have endorsements consisting of initials and/or signatures (or alleged initials and signatures) by Geiger, Wissberg, Hencke, Reichel, Mirbach, Wagner and Thadden, with the great majority of the endorsements coming from the latter two. These seven people have one very interesting thing in common; none were defendants in Case 11 or, apparently, in any other trial. In the cases of the first five, this can be argued to have been reasonable, either on account of the low rank of the person or on account of his peripheral involvement with the alleged crimes. Thus, the first five people had only a minor involvement in Case 11; Mirbach appeared as a defense witness and Hencke was a defense affiant.
With Wagner and Thadden, however, the immunity from prosecution is most mysterious, if one does not grasp that the apparently safe manufacture of the incriminating Hungary documents required, basically, only their cooperation. We should thus examine their roles in the Foreign Office and their experiences after the war.
Eberhard von Thadden was an official in "Inland II" in the Foreign Office. This group's responsibility was liaison with the SS, and thus, Thadden was the "Jewish expert" of the Foreign Office, so to speak. Communication with Eichmann relative to the carrying out of Jewish policies, whatever those policies were, was a quite normal part of his duties. NG-2233 and NG-2980 are quite accurate in at least that respect. Horst Wagner was a member of Foreign Minister Ribbentrop's personal staff and, as the head of Inland II, was Thadden's superior and, as the documents correctly suggest, he was equally involved in the Jewish policies of the German government. The Foreign Office had been accused by the various military tribunals of being implicated in the extermination of Jews, and at the IMT Ribbentrop had been found guilty in this respect. The main defendants in Case 11 were some officials of the Foreign Office, most of them ordinary diplomats, and implication in Jewish extermination was naturally one of the charges. Both ex officio and in consideration of the documents that have been reviewed, both Thadden and Wagner would have seemed, at the start of Case 11, to have been in serious trouble. Moreover, they could not have been considered too obscure in relation to Case 11, the Ministries or Wilhelmstrasse Case. For example, the New York Times story announcing the opening of Case 11 chose to mention eight prominent "defendants or witnesses," and Thadden was one of those in the list.
It is thus inexplicable, on normal grounds, that they were not even defendants in the trial; they both appeared as prosecution witnesses. Strange occurrences continued for several years. With respect to Thadden, German tribunals attempted to correct the glaring omission by prosecuting him. After he was released from American detention in 1949, a German court in Nuremberg charged him in December 1950, but he went to Cologne in the British zone and extradition was denied. Then a Cologne court charged him in May 1952, but the trial never materialized. He signed a prosecution affidavit for Eichmann's trial in 1961. In early 1964, he was arrested again but released after he managed to produce $500,000 bail, but then in November 1964 he was in an automobile accident and died of the injuries received.
Similarly, Horst Wagner was arrested by German authorities in 1949, but he managed to flee to Spain and then to Italy. Extradition proceedings commenced in 1953 but failed. In 1958, he returned to Germany to apply for a pension, was arrested, but soon released on $20,000 bond, despite his previous flight to escape prosecution. His case seemed to disappear, but a trial was finally scheduled for May 20, 1968, ten years after his return to Germany. However there were several postponements for various stated reasons, and finally, in late 1972, his trial was postponed indefinitely. In late 1975, he was living in quiet retirement in a suburb of Düsseldorf.
So much for the documentary evidence supporting the claims of extermination of Hungarian Jews. Wagner and Thadden had joined, as had Höss and others, the "new Meistersinger von Nürnberg," but they evidently did it in an intelligent manner, because they acquired effective immunity from prosecution. In this connection, a detailed study of the documents by some expert person would be, most probably, very worthwhile. One object of analysis should be the language used. For example, the expression "nach Deutschland" in NG-2262 sounds as peculiar to me as "to America" would sound in an official State Department document, but I am not the appropriate judge in this matter. In any case, Wagner and Thadden held some cards merely by virtue of knowledge of the existence of false documents, that others did not hold. For example, Höss was in a position of dependence only on the gratitude of the Allies.
I have not examined all of the documents in the NG series (there are more than 5,000), and therefore I cannot reject the possibility, or even probability, that a few more exist. It is also possible that one or two might turn up with scribbles, said to be initials, for which I have no immediate answer. However, the documents study has been relatively thorough in consideration of the purposes of our study. It goes far beyond the documents that happen to have been referenced by Hilberg and by Reitlinger, far enough to satisfy me three times over on the fundamental dependence of this evidence on the post-war cooperation of von Thadden and Wagner.
It is well worth noting that Wagner and Thadden were not the only Germans involved with the Hungarian Jews who were mysteriously excused from prosecution. SS General Otto Winkelmann, Higher SS and Police Leader for Hungary and in command of all SS operations in Hungary, was also a prosecution witness in Case 11. SS Colonel Kurt Becher, representative in Hungary of the SS Führungshauptamt (and thus of Himmler), served the prosecution at the IMT. In fact none of the principals unquestionably involved in whatever were the German measures relative to the Hungarian Jews stood trial at Nuremberg or (with the exception of Eichmann) anywhere else. Eichmann was missing at the time of the Nuremberg trials, and the others gave evidence for the prosecution of those whose involvement had been at most peripheral.
Nobody should be surprised to find the most sordid practices behind these trials. We have seen in Chapter 1 (pp. 40-43) that no ethical limitations were respected in the means sometimes employed to produce "evidence." We should, therefore, take a closer look at who was in charge in Case 11. Recall that there was no substantial "indictment" process involving a grand jury, and that, as one may confirm by reading DuBois ' book, it was the prosecution in each case that decided who was to be put on trial and with what he was to be charged.
The Wilhelmstrasse Case was not really commensurate with the other cases tried before the NMT; all of the latter had had special purpose characters, as Table 4 shows (p. 35). The Ministries or Wilhelmstrasse Case, however, was somewhat like a "little IMT," that is, people from an assortment of German government ministries were put on trial and the trial had a correspondingly wide scope. Thus, it was split into an "economic ministries section" and a "political ministries section," each of which had different prosecution staffs.
The important section from our point of view and, indeed, the most politically important case to come before the NMT was the political ministries section of Case 11, whose chief prosecutor was Robert M. W. Kempner, who has quite a history. It is very useful to present a short summary here of the "high" points of his career.
Kempner, a Jew, was born in Germany in 1899, studied law, and joined the Prussian Ministry of Interior during the Twenties. In the years 1928-1933, he was a senior counsel for the Prussian State Police (under the Ministry of the Interior) and specialized in investigating the rising Nazi Party. He became an anti-Nazi crusader in his official capacity and energetically attempted, without success, to have the party outlawed.
When the Nazis took over the German government in 1933, he was dismissed from his government position, but although Jewish, he was able to continue his legal practice for a short while as a counselor in international law and Jewish migration problems and also, apparently, as legal counsel for the German taxi drivers' organization. Whether or not he spent any time in a camp or in some other form of detention is not clear. In any case, he moved to Italy in 1935 to take an administrative and teaching (political science) position at a small school in Florence. The Mussolini government closed the school in 1938, so the school and Kempner moved to Nice, France. He did not remain with the school for very long, however, and emigrated to the United States in 1939. His mother already had a research job at the University of Pennsylvania, and this connection seems to have landed him his "research associate" position at that University.
He immediately resumed his anti-Nazi crusading. He had somehow managed to smuggle out of Germany some of the Prussian police papers, to which he had contributed, and these became the basis of a book, which he published privately in 1943. The book, in stencil form, attempted to show, on the basis of Kempner's past experiences in Germany, what should be done in Germany after the war in order to permanently suppress Nazism. It did not achieve wide circulation but, together with some other books and articles that he wrote, established him as a sort of expert on fighting Nazis. He had also smuggled out some phonograph recordings of Nazi meetings; these had been made by the Prussian police during the years of his service. He contributed them to the University of Pennsylvania. He also did a certain amount of anti-Nazi letter writing to the newspapers. As the war was drawing to a close, he wrote that the Nazi leaders should be tried in the U.S. before regular American courts. In the meantime, he had acquired U.S. citizenship.
During the war he worked for both the U.S. Department of Justice and the OSS. In the latter agency, he was charged with drawing up lists of German anti-Nazis who could be trusted with posts in the coming occupation government of Germany. He was one of a large group of German Jews in the OSS (which included, e.g., Herbert Marcuse).
At the end of the war, Kempner switched to the War Department and accompanied the U.S. Army back into Germany "on the payroll of the Judge Advocate General." Prior to the opening of the IMT trial, he served in the fairly significant role of prosecution liaison with defense counsel and later on was in charge of the division that prepared the U.S. trial briefs against individual defendants. During the trial, he was an apparently ordinary member of the prosecution staff and specialized in the prosecution of the Nazi Minister of the Interior Frick. He does not appear to have been particularly prominent, although immediately after the trial he contributed a magazine article to the New York Times on the great work the trial had done in educating the Germans. The killings of the German military and political leaders had not yet been carried out, so he simultaneously predicted, with great satisfaction, that the doomed Nazis would be buried in unmarked graves to "avoid fanatical pilgrimages by still ardent Nazis." Actually, the ultimate procedure was even more hysterical, because the bodies of Göring et al. were photographed (in order to be gloated over shortly later in the press and in newsreels), disguised in U.S. Army uniforms, taken secretly to Dachau and cremated there, the ashes being sifted into a nearby stream.
As he was taking over his responsibilities in Case 11 in 1947, Kempner was in the news in a related but nevertheless highly important connection from the point of view of our subject. In 1943 and 1944, there had been held, in the land of the "free press," some "sedition trials" of Americans whose views of the U.S. government's war policies were considered unwelcome. The U.S. prosecutor was O. John Rogge, an Ohioan who had, in his youth, been expected by family and friends to enter the ministry. He became a lawyer instead and is said to have turned in a brilliant performance at the Harvard Law School. Attorney General Biddle chose him to prosecute the "sedition" case, replacing William P. Maloney, whose methods had provoked protests from several influential members of Congress. The proceedings, involving 30 defendants, were completely contrary to U.S. constitutional principles and were fortuitously aborted when the trial judge passed away in November 1944, and a mistrial was declared. While the government was planning to resume the case, the Supreme Court had reversed another sedition conviction, and grave doubt arose within the Justice Department about the wisdom of continuing the spectacle. We hope the reader will abide this long digression on the "sedition" episode within the present digression on Kempner, for the point to be made is most important.
Rogge lost interest in the sedition case as such, but he did not lose interest in the general subject of a "Fascist" internal menace in the U.S. In the spring of 1946, he went to Germany on an 11 week "information" gathering expedition and accumulated some alleged facts that he summarized in a report, which he submitted to the Justice Department later in the year. Because there was no immediate reaction from the Justice Department to the material he had submitted, it appears that he got impatient and could not restrain himself. He therefore resorted to going around giving speeches in which he divulged some of the "information" he had been able to gather by interrogating Germans. In a speech to B'nai B'rth in New York in October 1946, he reported in very general language that Fascists are still at large "in the world and in this country. [...] Now the Fascists can take a more subtle disguise; they can come forward and simply say 'I am anti-Communist'." A few days later he was much more specific whom he was talking about. John L. Lewis, President of the United Mine workers, and the late William R. Davis, an oil operator and promoter, had, he declared in a speech at Swarthmore College, conspired with Göring and Ribbentrop to defeat President Roosevelt in the elections of 1936, 1940 and 1944. According to the "evidence" that he had obtained in Germany, other prominent Americans who, in the view of the Nazis, "could be organized against United States participation in the war" included, he said, Senator Burton K. Wheeler, former Vice President John N. Garner, former President Herbert Hoover and Democratic big-wig James A. Farley. Rogge had also given some of his material to Drew Pearson, and it appeared in Pearson's column at about the same time. For such flagrant violation of the rules and standards of the Justice Department and of the legal profession and also, presumably, for stepping on some important political toes, Rogge was immediately dismissed from the Justice Department by Attorney General Clark. Rogge defended his actions, explaining that, after all, he had merely made "a study of international Fascism, for the people under investigation were part of an international movement to destroy democracy both here and abroad." Again he was specific; two of the people posing the Fascist threat were Mr. Douglas MacCollum Stewart and Mr. George T. Eggleston, at the time a member of the staff of the Reader's Digest. Rogge said that in Germany he had obtained information about them from former German diplomats who had had official connections with the U.S. before Pearl Harbor. Pravda described Rogge's removal as a "scandal."
In the period before Pearl Harbor, Stewart and Eggleston had published the Scribner's Commentator, which was dedicated to keeping the U.S. out of World War II. During 1941, Stewart had received a large sum of money, $38,000, and could not explain where it came from. He told the "sedition" grand juries of 1943-1944 that he had found this money in his home. Since such a story sounds ludicrous even to an impartial observer, Stewart was assailed by the prosecutor and judge for giving such testimony. His refusal to change it led to his being held in contempt of court, and he was sentenced to serve 90 days in jail (he was paroled after 75 days).
In the course of 1946, the Justice Department, including even Rogge, had become convinced that no "sedition" charge could succeed in court, so the case that had been opened in 1943 was finally closed. However, there was still the matter of Stewart's testimony, which seemed a good basis for a perjury charge. Thus, in March 1947, Stewart was put on trial for committing perjury in testifying before the wartime grand jury.
The prosecution claimed that Stewart had received $15,000 of the $38,000 from the German government and produced two witnesses to support its contention. Baron Herbert von Strempel, former First Secretary of the German Embassy in Washington, testified that he had given Stewart $15,000 in the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York in the fall of 1941. The money had been obtained, he said, from Dr. Hans Thomsen, German Chargé d'Affaires. Thomsen then testified in support of von Strempel's story. The testimony of Strempel and Thomsen was, in fact, the direct consequence of Rogge's information gathering expedition in Germany in 1946.
Stewart's defense produced evidence that Stewart had received large sums of money from American sources in 1941. It claimed that some wealthy Americans wished to support the, by then, beleaguered cause of staying out of the war, but anonymously, so they slipped money to Stewart anonymously. Whether this claim was truthful or the truth was that Stewart had, indeed, lied before the wartime grand jury on account of feeling himself obliged not to divulge the identities of his American supporters, is scarcely relevant to our subject. More relevant was the defense cross examination of the prosecution's German witnesses, because the defense was able to discredit the prosecution case by showing that the testimony had been coerced. Baron von Strempel said that he had been arrested in Hamburg by two British agents who, when asked for their warrant, "smiled, drew their guns from their shoulder holsters, and said that was their warrant." He then spent four weeks in an American interrogation center and then seven months in a detention camp, where he was again subject to continual questioning. During this period, his health was "never so bad." He was questioned by Robert M. W. Kempner, but did not want to talk about this. Judge Laws was obliged to direct von Strempel to reply to defense attorney Magee's questions about this feature of his experiences. He finally said that Kempner had told him that if he "concealed any embassy dealings" he would be court martialed and sentenced to death. He then told the whole story. Incessant, intensive questioning by interrogators made him feel as if he had been "hypnotized." O. John Rogge became one of von Strempel's interrogators in Germany. During Rogge's interrogation, he said, his necktie and shoelaces were removed, he was kept in solitary confinement, was questioned all day without food, and was "at all times under duress." He admitted that he had signed a statement, but said that this was on account of fear of further solitary confinement. He gave this testimony, so destructive to the prosecution's case, despite the fact that the U.S. was paying him $70 per week, plus hotel expenses, in connection with his appearance as a witness against Stewart. There was also the possibility of U.S. retaliation via some sort of "war crimes" charge. Thomsen was likewise cross-examined; he admitted that von Strempel had told him of the death threat and said that he had been "coached" by Rogge in recalling details. The jury found Stewart innocent during the course of a lunch break. Thus had Kempner appeared in the newspapers even before Case 11 had gotten underway.
In examining the sedition affair, we have, therefore, encountered the Wilhelmstrasse Case, in the sense that Kempner enters the picture as interrogator and potential prosecutor of incarcerated former officials of the German Foreign office. The connection with Case 11 is even more substantial because Stewart's attorney in the 1947 trial, Warren E. Magee, was shortly later to become co-counsel for Baron von Weizsäcker, the principal defendant in Case 11. We therefore have the unusual fact that the two sides involved in Case 11 had, almost simultaneously, clashed in a regular U.S. legal proceeding and that the testimony that had been the result of the interrogation of the captive Germans had been successfully challenged by the defense as coerced. This is an extraordinary and important confirmation of the kind of activity, indicated by the evidence we have already reviewed, which must have transpired behind the scenes at the NMT - carrot and stick tactics of various sorts, including even third degree methods in some cases (but not necessarily in all cases where the evidence could correctly be said to have been "coerced"). Magee's successes along these lines did not, moreover, cease with the Stewart trial. In another extraordinary choice of a person to use as a prosecution witness rather than put on trail, Kempner had used Friedrich Gaus, who had a reputation as "Ribbentrop's evil spirit," as the chief prosecution witness against von Weizsäcker. Magee, evidently by virtue of being an American having access to documents denied the German lawyers, was able to prove in court that Kempner had threatened to hand Gaus over to the Russians if Gaus did not cooperate with the prosecution, a frequent and effective threat that had certain variations. Häfliger, one of the defendants in Case 11, was a Swiss citizen, but according to his trial testimony, he was told by interrogator Sachs that if he stood on his Swiss nationality he would be turned over to the Russians, and Sachs urged him "to note that there were no diplomatic relations between Russia and Switzerland." Much more to the point is the fact that von Thadden, under cross examination by defense attorney Dr. Schmidt-Leichner, admitted that Kempner, in connection with an execution that had supposedly been carried out by German authorities in France:
"had made me understand that there were two possibilities for me, either to confess or to be transmitted to the French authorities, before a French tribunal, where the death penalty would be sure for me. A delay of twenty four hours was accorded me, during which I had to decide."
A Swiss journalist wrote at the time that Kempner and colleagues were attempting to misrepresent Nazism as a "concoction of the German upper classes" in order to destroy the pre-Nazi social structure of Germany.
Rogge had a long and interesting career, but a thorough summary would carry us too far afield. In fairness to him, we should say that his behavior in connection with the "sedition" cases should not lead one to assume that he was insensitive in regard to civil liberties, because when the first postwar steps were being taken to set up an anti-Communist internal security program, Rogge started yelling about "witch hunts" and, in the following years, became Chairman of the New York State (Henry) Wallace for President Committee, a perfectly logical appointment, because Rogge embodied all that was unique in that movement's approach to dealing with the Soviet Union. Characterized by the left wing Nation in 1950 as "the lone independent in various Communist-operated congresses, committees, and delegations," he had traveled to Moscow in March to attend the "World Congress of Partisans for Peace." He explained to the Soviets that the cold war was equally the fault of both sides, and stood up in a formal meeting in the Kremlin and quoted Thomas Jefferson, actions that were not appreciated by his Soviet hosts. The Nation commented further that
"It is easy to put down O. John Rogge as a quixotic busybody, a fuzzy-minded liberal so out of touch with reality that he believes the ills of the world to be merely the result of unfortunate misunderstanding. [...] He has shown why the Russian rulers regard with suspicion even their own followers who have had contact with the West."
Rogge also involved himself in the widely publicized "Trenton Six" murder case of 1948-1953 as a lawyer for the "Civil Rights Congress." In December 1949, the judge barred him from the New Jersey trial for :
"[...] violating the lawyers' canons of ethics by denouncing the conduct of the trial in public, by showing 'studied discourtesy and contempt' in the court and by 'deliberately distorting the facts.' [The judge also charged that] the Civil Rights Congress [...] collected more money from the public than was needed for the trial."
Seven months later, a U.S. court held that Rogge's barring from the trial was wrong but did not order his restoration. This short discussion of Rogge suffices for our purposes.
To return to Kempner. When the Bonn government had been newly constituted in 1949, he warned of incipient Nazism there. Such a view did not prevent him from serving, two years later, as Israel's representative to Bonn in negotiations relative to the restitution of Jews who had suffered injury at the hands of the Nazi government. However, the next month he was attacking the reprieves and reductions of sentences of "war criminals" that had been granted by the U.S.
Kempner next appeared in connection with the 1952 House investigation of the Katyn Forest massacre, a well known Russian atrocity whose handling by the IMT throws full light on the absurdity of that tribunal's claim to respect.
On April 13, 1943, the Germans announced that, in the Katyn Forest near the city of Smolensk in Russia (mid-way between Minsk and Moscow), mass graves of Polish officers who had been captured by the Russians in 1939 had been uncovered. Four days later the minister of defense of the Polish government in exile (in London) announced that he was requesting the International Red Cross to make an inquiry. The Germans supported the proposed inquiry but the Russians opposed it, referring to the London Poles as "Hitler's Polish collaborators," and on April 26 broke diplomatic relations with that government over the matter.
On account of the Russian opposition, the Red Cross refused to get involved. However, the German government exhibited the Katyn mass graves to various parties of Poles, to a group of foreign newspaper correspondents, to a group of German journalists, to small parties of British and American POW's, to a technical team of the Polish Red Cross and, most importantly, to an international commission of experts in forensic medicine (specialists in rendering medical opinions in legal proceedings). The commission concluded with a report which demonstrated the certainty that these Polish officers had been murdered by the Russians prior to the outbreak of war between Russia and Germany in June 1941.
When the graves had first been discovered, the German propaganda service, not knowing how many bodies were to be found there but knowing the approximate number of Polish officers who could have been involved as victims, used the figure of 10,000 and 12,000 as the number of bodies discovered, and these were the figures which were given the widest publicity during the war. Consequently, at the IMT, the indictment charged the Germans with murdering 11,000 Polish officers at Katyn, although it had been established, later in 1943, that there were only 4,253 bodies to be found. This fact was published by the German government, but naturally, because it contradicted their earlier claims, the Germans did not give the correct figure great publicity.
What happened at the IMT with respect to this charge illustrates the foolishness of that tribunal's claim to anything approximating legal jurisdiction. The testimony of members of the forensic commission was naturally of interest, so the Russians produced Professor Marko Markov, a citizen and resident of Bulgaria, who had been one of the signers of the commission report. Bulgaria being, by then, under Soviet control, Markov had changed his mind and testified in support of the Russian position, i.e., that the Germans had intimidated him into approving the commission report.
Göring's counsel, on the other hand, applied to have Professor F. Naville, the chairman of the commission, called to testify. On this point one can see the emptiness of the tribunal's effectiveness in getting at the truth, even if it had wished to. Naville was a Swiss citizen, resident in Geneva, and could not be forced to testify and, in fact, he declined to testify. The motivation is obvious. The counsel for Field Marshall Keitel also requested that Naville (who had also been an International Red Cross representative) answer some questions (relative to a different subject) to be put to him in writing, but it appears that this interrogation did not materialize. Thus, the IMT tribunal, by its very nature, was prejudiced against the appearance of the most reliable type of witness: the citizen of a country which had been neutral during the war and independent after the war (I am only saying that the IMT could not compel testimony from such people; we have seen that Burckhardt, the President of the Red Cross, voluntarily answered written questions put to him in Switzerland for Kaltenbrunner's defense). The defense ended up by calling three German soldiers to testify (three witnesses were allowed to each side on this matter).
The tribunal's final disposition of the Katyn issue was a disgrace even independent of the true facts concerning the atrocity: it was quietly dropped and does not appear in the judgment. The Germans were not "found" either guilty or not guilty of this Russian atrocity. The IMT ducked the whole matter.
In 1952, the U.S. House of Representatives investigated the Katyn massacre and naturally made an inquiry into what had happened at the IMT in this respect. The Select Committee set up for this purpose accordingly held some hearings in Frankfurt, Germany, in April of that year. The Committee heard, among others, representatives of both the defense and prosecution legal staffs of the IMT. To speak for the German side, the Committee logically called Dr. Otto Stahmer, who had been counsel for the principal defendant Göring, who had also been the defendant who had pressed this particular matter at the IMT. To speak for the American prosecution, the Committee, surprisingly, chose Robert M. W. Kempner. Examination of the trial record reveals no reason why Kempner should have been selected for this role. That Kempner appears to have been living in Germany at this time and that the Committee naturally thought it convenient that he testify at the Frankfurt hearings, does not explain anything. During the course of all of its hearings, the only other member of the prosecution that the Committee heard was Justice Jackson, but his appearance in November in Washington was somewhat ceremonial and added nothing to the record.
According to the record of the public hearing held in Frankfurt, Kempner explained that the Katyn massacre was, according to the understandings among the prosecution staffs, "a clear-cut Russian affair and was handled right from the beginning by the Russians. [...] We had no right to interfere in any way." Nevertheless, after the witnesses had been heard, the general view, according to Kempner, was that Göring had scored a victory on this point. Thus, the failure to mention Katyn in the judgment called into question the integrity of the Nuremberg trials, and a realization of this was implicit in the questions asked by the committee members. Kempner was asked about possible participation by the U.S. prosecution staff in the behind-the-scenes activity in regard to Katyn, and denied that such had taken place. In response to questioning, he also denied that there had been any "conspiracy or attempt to collude between anybody on the American side and anybody on the Russian side."
The New York Times reported that the tone of the Frankfurt hearing was such that "the principles governing the trial procedure in Nuremberg were being questioned. United States officials at the hearing privately expressed concern over the situation." The Chicago Tribune reported that, at a secret session the night before the public hearing in Frankfurt, Kempner had admitted that the U.S. prosecution staff at the IMT had possessed evidence showing that the Russians had committed the Katyn murders.
The Select Committee on the Katyn Forest massacre concluded that the U.S. government had suppressed the truth about Katyn both during and immediately after the war. In particular, a report by Lt. Col. John H. Van Vliet, Jr., one of the American POW's who had witnessed the mass graves, "later disappeared from either Army or State Department files." It was also found that the Federal Communications Commission had intimidated radio stations in order to suppress criticism of the Russians.
In the years immediately following 1952, there was little for Kempner to do in relation to Nazis, but with the Eichmann affair he was back in action and served as a "consultant" to the Israeli government in assembling evidence for the trial. From that point on, he was very active. He contributed an article to the Yad Vashem Studies on methods of examining Nazis in trials, and he published a book in German, rehashing old propaganda myths. In 1971, he expressed approval of the conviction of Lt. Calley, and in December 1972, he endorsed the "evidence" that Ladislas Farago had gathered in connection with Farago's Martin Bormann-is-in-Argentina fiasco of that month. Evidently yearning for the old days, Kempner declared that the "United States and its Allies should reopen the Bormann case within the framework of the International Military Tribunal." Bormann had been tried in absentia at the IMT and sentenced to death. He was never found, and it is now generally agreed that he died in Berlin.
In regard to Kempner, three principal conclusions may be drawn from this short summary of the man's career (based entirely on material in the public record). First, he could accurately be characterized as a fanatical anti-Nazi, starting in the Twenties, when the Nazis were certainly no more criminal than several other groups on the violent and chaotic German political scene (the Communists and Social Democrats also had private armies). Anti-Nazism is obviously Kempner's consuming vocation. Second, he was an extremely important figure in the trials that the U.S. held in Nuremberg. We have seen that he had critically important responsibilities in connection with the IMT and was also treated, later on, as a particular authority on what had gone on there. At the end of the IMT trial, the press described him as "Jackson's expert on German matters" and "chief of investigation and research for [...] Jackson." At the NMT, he took over the prosecution of the most important case, the political section of the Wilhelmstrasse Case, and he may well have been the most important individual on the Nuremberg staff, although further research would be required to clarify the real power relationships that existed on the Nuremberg staff, if such clarification is possible. James M. McHaney headed the division that prepared Cases 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 12. Other significant persons at the NMT have been discussed by Taylor. The Encyclopedia Judaica describes Kempner as "chief prosecutor" at the NMT trials.
The third conclusion that may be drawn is that there are excellent grounds, based on the public record, for believing that Kempner abused the power he had at the military tribunals and produced "evidence" by improper methods involving threats and various forms of coercion. The Stewart case makes this conclusion inescapable.
This is the man who held the power of life and death over Eberhard von Thadden and Horst Wagner.
Our digression on Kempner is concluded. We came to the point, in our analysis of Hungary, where irregularities in the production of evidence in Case 11 were clearly indicated. Thus, it was necessary to examine two subjects: who was in charge in Case 11 and what was the level of integrity maintained in the operations of the trials at Nuremberg. It was found that the truth in regard to the latter subject was established rather decisively in the course of examining the former; a study of Kempner's career reveals all that one needs to know in order to evaluate the reliability of the evidence generated at the Nuremberg trials.
Clearly, any person who wished to maintain the authenticity of the Hungary-related documents that imply extermination must produce some tortured story whose structure we cannot begin to imagine.
Another person involved in the documents is Veesenmayer, who was a defendant in the Wilhelmstrasse Case and who was questioned in connection with some of these documents. The general position taken in his testimony was a reasonable one in view of his objective of gaining acquittal or a light sentence. He had to report everything that went on in Hungary, and thus, Jewish measures were in his reports. However, these measures did not have the importance in his mind at that time that they have in our minds at this time. He testified that he often got twenty assignments a day and in the course of a month would receive mutually contradictory assignments. His reports, he said, were naturally prepared by assistants, hastily scanned by him, and then signed. Shown documents, which have him reporting that two transports, each of 2,000 Jews fit for work, were sent to Auschwitz in April 1944, and asked if this were correct, he remarked that he had no specific memory but that it was "quite possible," but that he never knew what Auschwitz was. Shown NG-5567, which had him reporting that up to June 17, 326,009 Jews had been deported from Hungary, he also remarked "quite possible." In other words, he did not want to involve himself, in any way, in these matters by taking any strong position, either assenting or dissenting, with respect to the alleged facts. If he had said that he clearly recollected, in detail, mass deportations of Jews in the numbers alleged in the spring and summer of 1944, then such testimony would have implicated him in the alleged exterminations. On the other hand, if he had denied that such mass deportations had taken place, then he would, in effect, have been claiming close involvement in whatever had happened and he would have also, by such testimony, flung down a challenge to the prosecution and court which they couldn't possibly have ignored. Thus the logic of his testimony. He said that he was concerned with moving the Jews out of Budapest because of the danger of revolt as the Russians approached. Pressed on this matter, he explained that:
"In practice the question was, will the front hold or won't it? If Budapest revolts, the whole front will be rolled up. [...] If I participated in such conversations, which I won't deny is possible, then I participated exclusively from a military point of view. What can I do to hold up the Eastern front as long as possible? Only from that point of view."
Veesenmayer was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment, but he was out by early 1952.
This seems to be as good a place as any to point out a fact that seems to be effectively forgotten by many writers on this subject. There was a war going on during World War II. The Germans were thinking about ways of winning it, not about exterminating Jews. The claim of NG-2233 that the extermination program had rail priority over military production is absolutely ridiculous.
What Happened in Hungary?
On the subject of what actually happened in Hungary, note that the Red Cross Report says that the basic German policy in 1944 was to intern East European Jews, on account of their posing a security menace as the front came nearer. Now, the documents reporting concentration and deportation of large numbers of Hungarian Jews may be correct in regard to concentration alone; this was the policy in neighboring countries. However, it seems unlikely that anywhere near 400,000 were concentrated. That would have been quite a huge operation.
It appears possible to get a fairly accurate picture of what happened in Hungary by supplementing the story of the Red Cross with an examination of the documents, rejecting the documents which are obvious forgeries. We are fortunate in having the two-volume collection of reproductions of selected original documents, The Destruction of Hungarian Jewry, edited by Randolph L. Braham; these volumes offer the normally circumstanced reader a handy substitute for a regular documents collection. Examining the documents included and rejecting as forgeries those that pertain to alleged deportations of 400,000 Hungarian Jews, a believable story unfolds. On April 14, 1944, Hungary agrees to the deportation of 50,000 employable Jews to Germany for labor (page 134, NG-1815). On April 19, Veesenmayer requests freight cars, whose procurement is "encountering great difficulties," for the deportation of 10,000 employable Jews delivered by the Hungarians (page 138, NG-5546). Finally on April 27, Veesenmayer reports on the imminent shipment of 4,000 employable Jews to Auschwitz (page 361, NG-5535). Also on April 27, Ritter reports on delays in the deportation of the 50,000 on account of rail shortages (page 362, NG-2196). Later in the year, July 11, Veesenmayer reports on the difficulty of carrying out the Jewish policy in Hungary because of the more lenient policies practiced in Romania and Slovakia (page 194, NG-5586). On August 25, Veesenmayer reports Himmler's offer to stop deportations from Hungary (page 481, no document number), and on October 18, Veesenmayer reports on the new Jewish measures in Hungary (page 226, no document number). A believable story, and one consistent with the Red Cross Report. One may also remark that, on Hungary, the authors of the hoax have again attempted to supply a dual interpretation to a perfectly valid fact. There were, indeed, deportations of Hungarian Jews in the spring of 1944 to, among other places, Auschwitz. However, the deportations, which were for labor purposes only, were severely limited by the disintegrating European rail system and do not appear to have been carried out on the approximate schedule originally contemplated or aspired to.
A few words regarding the Joel Brand affair, the proposed swap of Hungarian Jews for trucks and other supplies, are in order.
The pre-war German policy, which was also maintained to some extent early in the war, was to encourage Jewish emigration by all means. However, after the war had developed into a great conflict, the policy changed, and emigration from countries in the German sphere was made very difficult for Jews. The principal reason for this was, of course, that such Jews were manpower that could and would be used against them. There were a variety of lesser reasons, one of the most important being that, in an attempt to drive a wedge between Britain and the Arabs, the Germans supported the Arab side on the question of Jewish immigration into Palestine. Thus, the standard German attitude in the latter half of the war was that Jewish emigration could proceed in exchange for Germans held abroad, especially if the Jews were not to go to Palestine. We have seen that Belsen served as a transit camp for Jews who were to be exchanged. What was involved in the Brand Affair was the same sort of thinking on the German side, with a variation regarding the form of the quid pro quo. The Germans were willing to let the Jews emigrate in exchange for the trucks and other supplies. Thus, there is nothing implausible in the Brand affair, provided one understands that it was not the lives of the Hungarian Jews that were at stake in the matter.
Although the Brand deal was not consummated, there was a trickle of German and Hungarian authorized emigration of Jews from Hungary to, e.g., Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.S. A rather larger number slipped into Romania and Slovakia illegally in 1944 (reversing the earlier direction of movement, which had been into Hungary). The defense documents Steengracht 75, 76, 77, and 87 give a picture of the situation.
The survey of 1944 propaganda that was presented in this chapter shows that Auschwitz (referred to as Oświęcim) finally emerged in the propaganda as an extermination camp in the period immediately after D-Day, when nobody was paying any attention to such stories. Later in the summer of 1944, the emphasis switched to the camp at Lublin, which was captured by the Russians in late July. The expected propaganda nonsense was generated in respect to the cremation ovens (five in number) that were found there, the Zyklon, some bones (presumably human), etc. Lublin remained the propaganda's leading extermination camp well into the autumn of 1944.
Can Anybody Believe such a Story?
This concludes our analysis of the Auschwitz charges. It is impossible to believe them; the allegations are so breathtakingly absurd that they are even difficult to summarize. We are told that the Nazis were carrying out mass exterminations of Jews at the industrial center Auschwitz, employing the widely used insecticide Zyklon B for the killing. The 30 or 46 cremation muffles at Auschwitz, used for disposing of the bodies of the very large numbers of people who died ordinary deaths there, were also used for making the bodies of these exterminated Jews vanish without a trace. As an extermination center, Auschwitz was naturally the place that the Hungarian Jews were shipped to for execution. Shipments of Jews conscripted specifically for desperately needed labor in military production were delayed in order to transport the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz for execution. The 46 cremation muffles, which existed at Auschwitz, turned out to be inadequate to dispose of people arriving at the rate of about 10,000 per day, so the bodies were burned out-of-doors in pits. This cleaning out of the Hungarian Jews escaped the notice of the International Red Cross delegation in Budapest, which was deeply involved in Jewish affairs. The evidence for all of this, presented to us by the U.S. government, consist of documents whose authenticity is proved by the endorsements of Jewish policy specialists Wagner and von Thadden, who are also incriminated by the documents. However, the U.S. government did not prosecute Wagner and von Thadden in the Wilhelmstrasse Case, where the indictments were in the hands of a lifelong Nazi-hater (Kempner) and where an American lawyer had exposed the evidence as coerced, just as he did in a regular U.S. legal proceeding in Washington where Kempner was involved.
The U.S. government also failed, despite all of its talk in 1944, to interfere in any way with, or even make photographs of, these alleged events at Auschwitz.
Can anybody believe such a story?
|||Red Cross (1948), vol. 3, 523.|
|||Reitlinger, 512-513; Red Cross (1947), 99-100.|
|||Reitlinger, 176-177; Shirer (1960), 991.|
|||US-WRB (1945), 49.|
|||Reitlinger, 447-487, 540-542; Hilberg, 509-554, 599-600. Reitlinger figures some of the Hungarian Jews among the Romanians.|
|||NG-2586-G in NMT, vol. 13, 212; NO-5194, part of the Korherr report, which is reproduced in Poliakov & Wulf (1955), 240-248; NG-5620, cited by Hilberg, 513.|
|||Ruppin, 30-31, 68.|
|||Craven, 280-302, 641f; Carter (see Index under "Auschwitz").|
|||C. B. Smith, 167.|
|||Reitlinger, 421-422; Hilberg, 528; Rassinier (1962), 229-230; Sachar, 463-464; John & Hadawi, vol. 2, 36n.|
|||IMT, vol. 4, 355-373; U.S. Chief of Counsel, vol. 8, 606-621.|
|||NMT, vol. 14, 1023, 1027.|
|||New York Times (Feb. 26, 1947), 4; Hilberg, 350f; NMT, vol. 14, 1057f; Steengracht 86.|
|||NMT, vol. 14, 1031.|
|||Hilberg, 714, 715; Reitlinger, 443, 566, 567; Eichmann, session 85, A1, B1, O1-R1; London Times (Nov. 20, 1964), 16; New York Times (Nov. 20, 1964), 8. London Daily Telegraph, (Nov. 7, 1975), magazine section, 17.|
|||New York Times (Feb. 22, 1940), 22; (Aug. 26, 1940), 17; (Mar. 30, 1944), 6; (Nov. 14, 1945), 8; (Jan. 17, 1946), 14; Select Committee, 1534-1535; Current Biography (1943), 370; Who's Who in World Jewry (1965), 498.|
|||Kempner, 1-12; New York Times (Sep. 28, 1941), sec. 2, 6; (Jan 20,1945),10.|
|||R. H. Smith, 217, 222; Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 5, 44; New York Times (Oct. 6, 1946), sec. 6, 8; (Oct. 7, 1946), 2; (Mar. 18, 1947), 4; Select Committee, 1536, 1539.|
|||Current Biography (1948), 533-534; New York Times (Feb. 7, 1943), 34.|
|||Current Biography (1948), 534; New York Times (Oct. 14, 1946), 44; New York Times (Oct. 23, 1946); 8; (Oct. 26, 1946), 1; (Oct. 27, 1946), 16; (Nov. 3, 1946), 13; Newsweek (Nov. 4, 1946), 26.|
|||New York Times (Mar. 12, 1947), 6; (Mar. 13, 1947), 17; (Mar. 14, 1947), 12; (Mar. 15, 1947), 11; (Mar. 18, 1947), 4; (Mar. 19, 1947), 5; (Mar. 26, 1947), 4; Chicago Tribune (Mar. 19, 1947), 20.|
|||Utley, 172, 177; Gaus (Case 11 transcript, 5123-6167) denied the coercion but, as Magee commented in court, "we have the questions and answers that the witness gave" in the relevant interrogation. The von Thadden and Häfliger declarations were made in the sessions of March 3 and May 11, 1948, respectively, and the corresponding parts of the trial transcript are quoted by Bardèche, 120ff, who gives other examples of coercion and intimidation of witnesses at Nuremberg.|
|||New York Times (Nov. 8, 1947), 10; (Apr. 4, 1948), 46; Nation (May 27, 1950), 528; (Dec. 2, 1950), 499.|
|||New York Times (Dec. 17, 1949), 1; (Jul 22, 1950), 32.|
|||New York Times (Sep. 30, 1949), 2; (Jan. 12, 1951), 7; (Feb. 2, 1951), 8.|
|||IMT, vol. 10, 648.|
|||Select Committee, 1536-1548.|
|||New York Times (Apr. 25, 1952),5; Chicago Tribune (Apr. 24, 1952), pt. 4, 1.|
|||New York Times (Nov. 15, 1952), 2; (Dec. 23, 1952), 1.|
|||Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 10, 904; New York Times (Mar. 31, 1971), 1; (Dec. 5, 1972), 16.|
|||New York Times (Oct. 6, 1946), sec. 6, 8; (Oct. 7, 1946), 2.|
|||Taylor (Aug. 15, 1949), 38+.|
|||NMT, vol. 13, 487-508; Reitlinger, 566.|
|||Lublin (Majdanek) propaganda appeared in Life (Aug. 28, 1944), 34; (Sep. 18, 1944), 17; Newsweek (Sep. 11, 1944), 64; Reader's Digest (Nov. 1944), 32; Time (Aug. 21, 1944), 36; (Sep. 11, 1944), 36; Saturday Review Lit. (Sep. 16, 1944), 44.|
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