The Role of the Holocaust in German Economy and
Military Strategy During 1941–1945

“Nobody was exterminated, the victims of the Holocaust were murdered. Plain English.”

In 1997, when Rudolf Vrba was invited to Berlin to speak about the Holocaust. He delivered an important address that accentuated the extent to which the persecution and eradication of Jews was an economic strategy as much as it was a racist strategy in order to produce a so-called Master Race.

1. Introduction.

I thank you for inviting me here and for giving me an opportunity to tell you some of my opinions and some of my recollections about certain aspects of the Holocaust.

2. On methods of investigation. The Newton Laws. We ask not why, but what, when and how.

The Holocaust is an emotionally laden issue, but if we want to comprehend it, we must look at it from a certain distance and ask ourselves certain questions without the usual ethical and sometimes even mystical connotations, just as if we would study a particular chapter of physics. All of you remember when you were taught physics in school, that until Isaac Newton came on the scene, people were trying to understand why an apple falls down from a tree.

They simply knew that it never goes up a tree and anything that goes up on a tree is either a bird or an angel. And apples always fall downward; this is a fact. The philosophers were speculating about why it was so. Then Galileo and Isaac Newton appeared on the scene and they said, no, we are not going to ask the question why, we will ask the question what, when and how. And then perhaps we will understand why, or perhaps not, but the question why, we will not ask. And then they dropped an apple from a tower and measured how long it took to fall down and then they dropped a bigger apple and a smaller apple, it was noted that they fell down with equal speed and on such and similar observations, the laws of gravitation were formulated. Newton, in fact, invented the word gravitation which, in itself, explains nothing, it was a new word, it only restated that all things fall downwards not upwards.

Nevertheless, the new theory of Newton (Newton’s Laws) was quite good for over 300 years. They could make very good clocks based on Newton’s laws; they measured time very well. They used Newton’s laws for exact calculations of artillery fire because one can, with the help of those laws, calculate better than before the flight paths of the ammunition. Even in very modern times of flight to the moon, Newton’s laws were successfully used to calculate the exact trajectories of the rockets which carried the astronauts to the moon.

In analogy to Newton’s approach, I shall not ask why the Holocaust happened, but I shall try for an overview of what happened, when did it happen and how it was done. And once we clarify these questions, then we might perhaps be less puzzled by the almost incomprehensible but only too real phenomenon of the Holocaust.

“We have to abandon the theory that the Holocaust was engineered just as a crazy idea of a crazy man.”

3. Was the Holocaust a crazy idea of a crazy man?

There is often the belief expressed that the six million people, children, women, old people, all the victims of the Holocaust had to die because Hitler was crazy. All of you have heard about the guy in Texas who climbed up on the tower of the Texas University with a gun and started to shoot anybody he saw, and he shot 14 people before the police got him. Now that is what a crazy man would do. And this sort of crime has since been repeated several times, sometimes it was 20 and sometimes 40 people who fell as victims to a crazy gunman.

But can a crazy gunman kill 40,000 people, 400,000 people, or four million people? No, a crazy man can’t do it. Crazies don’t do such things; it is too big for crazies. So, we have to abandon the theory that the Holocaust was engineered just as a crazy idea of a crazy man.

4. Where did the property of the victims of the Holocaust go?

You have heard many times about six million Jews having been killed, murdered and burned. They call it “exterminated”, which is an utter nonsense. Nobody was “exterminated”. The word exterminated comes from the Nazi dictionary, the Nazi’s, in order to make mass-murder palatable, spoke about “Ausrottung,” about “extermination.” But in our society these expressions are used only in connection with parasites. They say, “We will exterminate parasites,” but they mean for instance, cockroaches in a kitchen. To use the word “extermination” in connection with mass-murder of humans is not right. We are giving in to the Nazi mentality, to Nazi terminology, if we use this expression.

Nobody was exterminated, the victims of the Holocaust were murdered. Plain English. And they were robbed. Why do I speak here about robbery? Because this was an integral part of the process. They were robbed, and you must have heard many times that those six million were murdered and burnt during the Holocaust, but you never heard that their houses were burnt, or that their fields and gardens were burnt, their “Shops in the High Street,” and their other property, including valuables and money? No such fires took place. What happened to this property? What are the connections between redistribution of this property and the events taking place in Auschwitz? This is a fundamental question I would like to address today.

5. Where was the Wehrmacht during the Holocaust?

Another fundamental problem which I would like to discuss today, is the question of the role of the regular German Army in the process of the Holocaust. You have heard many times that it was not Hitler alone, but Hitler and the SS. They did it together. However, at that time the SS was only a fraction of the German armed forces. It was only a maximum of 5% of the armed forces. 95% were the German heroes, who were fighting the war with “clean hands.” Where were they during the Holocaust? Didn’t they know about it; that the big murder was going on?

If you are in power in an occupied country, you must always know whenever a shot is fired in anger, that your police will find who fired the shot. And here millions of people were murdered, and the army didn’t know about it? This question is important because if the army knew about it, what did the army do about it? After all, the army was powerful; if the army had moved one little finger, there would have been no SS. Why didn’t they do it? What was the reason for the silence of the army during the Holocaust? Were the German generals and officers and soldiers some sort of pitiful cowards, afraid of a bunch of ridiculous civilians from the Gestapo? After all, they were not afraid to die in their hundreds of thousands at Stalingrad and so on. What were the reasons of the regular army’s “silence” during the Holocaust? That is another topic which I am going to discuss today.

So, I am going on to talk to you not only about Money and the Holocaust, but I am going to talk to you about the Army and the Holocaust. Not about SS, not about the Gestapo, not about the Reserve Police battalions but about the regular Wehrmacht. And their Generals and officers, of course.

6. The Spanish Inquisition and the Law of Inheritance

Even before the Holocaust, various inhumane events had happened in the history of Europe. One major event was the so-called Holy Inquisition. All of you have heard about the Holy Inquisition in Spain. What happened? During the Holy Inquisition, people who were heretics, or accused of being heretics or confessed under torture to being heretics, were executed by fire so that no blood was shed. That was the reason why fire was used.

Their property was confiscated and forfeited to the crown. This went on not for four years as the Nazi Holocaust, which took place in 1941-1945. The Spanish Inquisition lasted for 400 years. It started before Columbus came to America. And ended only in the year 1825 when there was a law declared in Spain that outlawed burning people for heresy. And during the preceding time, hundreds of thousands of people were burnt alive and their property confiscated for the Crown. However, this murder did not take place with the same intensity over the four centuries.

Charles Henry Lea, a professor of History in Philadelphia about a hundred years ago, studied the history of the Spanish Inquisition and he came up with a very interesting observation. Sometime in the 17th century the “liberals “among the Catholics started to campaign, that it was not justice to confiscate property from innocent people. Heretics, yes, they should be burned. To say something different would have been heresy. But what about the wives and children of heretics? They were not heretics and if they were heretics, they should be burned but if they were not heretics, why should they be punished by confiscation of property? So, these liberals didn’t say “stop burning heretics,” because that would be heresy, and for that, they would burn themselves.

But they started to say, let us be fair, when we burn the heretics, we should not punish their innocent relatives. And then finally a law was passed which said you can be burnt for heresy, but your widow and innocent children have still the right to retain the family’s property according to the laws of inheritance.

Now, Charles Henry Lea took notice of the number of victims before this law was passed and the number of victims after this law was passed. And it is no surprise that after the law was passed that forbade the confiscation of the property of heretics, the number of burned heretics decreased logarithmically.
Say before Easter, some zealous monks came to a County Council and said, ” It’s time that we show the strength of our Faith and burn some heretics during the next Easter celebration.” And the County Council said, “Yes, in principle this might be a very good idea, but who is going to pay for the wood? Who is going to pay for the guards? As you know, we are in a period of fiscal austerity now. We have limited funds for entertainment and for this year, we have already hired a dancing bear for an Easter entertainment for the people. There won’t be another auto-da-fe until the financial situation improves.” There are many records of this sort of decision from various County Councils.

It should be noted that the property of the burned victims could not and was not directly transferred to the King when it was confiscated. If a victim owned a house, 6 cows and 12 goats, it wasn’t transferred directly to the King, one had to sell the house, one had to sell the goats, one had to sell the cows, one had to have a notary putting stamps on it that everything was all right. Many people were making a profit from these transactions, as agents, as buyers of cheaper goods, as various supervisory officials and so on.

So, what the King finally got wasn’t more than approximately 20% of the money, and approximately 80% which was collected from the sale of the confiscated property was distributed under various titles in the hands of the operators who faithfully served the King and the Faith and the Country. And once this source of income for many disappeared, the Inquisition started to peter out. And in the last 15 years of the Holy Inquisition in Spain, there was not one case of somebody having been burned alive. In 1825 a law was passed in Spain, that outlawed the Holy Inquisition, when practically, it did not exist anyway. The historian Charles Henry Lea drew the following conclusion: “Persecution as a steady and continuous policy rested upon confiscation. It was this which supplied the fuel to keep up the fires of zeal and where it was lacking, the business of defending the faith languished lamentably.” In plain English it means, when you couldn’t rob, there was no point in murdering in the name of the faith.

So, this is what I wanted to tell you as an introduction to our subject which is the Nazi-organized Holocaust. During the Holocaust, money obviously played a big role.

“If you want to know my opinion, it was close to 6,800,000. Something of that sort.”

7. The number of victims of the Holocaust.

This is a statistic of the Holocaust as historians have reconstructed it and as you can see there are certain discrepancies at the moment.

Estimates

Estimates of the murdered

The main camps of mass murder and mass robbery were Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka and the largest was Auschwitz. Apart from these death camps, there existed the so-called “Einsatzgruppen.” This means” emergency groups” or “storm trooper groups ” or something of this sort. It is very difficult to translate this word. And they (in addition to the infamous Police Reserve Battalions) were shooting people by thousands at a time, whereas in Auschwitz they were gassing people with an industrially manufactured gas used otherwise also for disinfection of lice infested clothing. In Chelmno they forced their victims into transport vans, such as those used for transport of furniture. They closed the vans, and they directed the exhaust fumes into the vans and drove the vans to mass graves where they later burned the asphyxiated victims. In Treblinka they forced the victims into simple gas chambers and asphyxiated them with exhaust gasses supplied from motors of old tanks. It was a slow death and an ugly type of murder.

As far as Wetzler’s and my observations in Auschwitz are concerned, I would say that during the 21 months I was there I saw about 1.75 million victims murdered in the gas-chambers of Auschwitz until our escape in April 1944, and it has been very well documented how many were killed there after our escape. So that the total figure will be well over two million in my estimation, but Reitlinger and Hilberg — and neither one was there — but they didn’t find all the documentation and they claim that there were only about one million people killed in Auschwitz; and as far as the number of victims of the Einsatzgruppen, Reitlinger and Hilberg believe it was about one and a quarter of a million, but a very good German documentation published in 1980 by Professors Krausnick and Wilhelmi claims that the number of victims of Einsatzgruppen was two-and-a-quarter million. Now this means that Hilberg thinks that there were only 5 million Jews killed during the Holocaust. There are others who think it was 7 million. If you want to know my opinion, it was close to 6,800,000. Something of that sort. And if I would have to document why I think this figure and not the other figures are closer to the truth, then I would have to give a completely different lecture. And it is not so important now, whether it was 5 million or 7 million and the general figure of 6 million I will accept as being reasonably exact with a ±15 % of margin of error due to destroyed documentation.

8. The geographical Location of the mass-murder camps.

Now have a look at this map. This is the map where the mass murder camps were located.

Camp Locations

Mass-murder camp locations

You can see on the territory of the Nazi Germany there are a number of concentration camps like Ravensbruck, Sachsenhausen, Gross-Rosen, Theresienstadt, Dachau, Mauthausen, Buchenwald, these were by no means all. There were 1,200 of them but those were the major camps as recorded on this map. In general, there were no gas chambers there. There were some very small gas chambers in some of these places at the end of the war for a few hundred people. Those camps were originally built as instruments of terror and not for mass murder in general. The real mass murder camps were Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek, Belzec and Auschwitz. Take note that they were all in the territory of former Poland. And now we must also realize that this was not propitious from the point of view of military strategy. It was very illogical to make the centres of the mass murder here for reasons we are going to discuss shortly.

9. The German Generals did not object to the transports of Jews.

Let us have a look on this map in terms of the whole of Europe. By 1941, Poland and France were defeated, the British after Dunkirk were out of Europe, and after Yugoslavia and Greece were defeated and occupied, Nazis ruled over almost the whole of Europe. Then, in June 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union, which was basically the Russian empire under a new flag. And as the German Army moved forward into the Russian empire, the Einsatzgruppen (there were four of them: A, B, C, D) and the Police Reserve Battalions were far behind the front lines murdering Jews, who were usually first concentrated in various ghettos to make their murder easier.

Map of Europe during WWII

Map of Europe during WWII

The occupied part of the Soviet Union, mainly Belarus and Ukraine and the Baltic was a territory where the Einsatzgruppen and German Police Reserve Battalions murdered more than two million people by shooting them. And in the territory of Poland where the camps of mass-murder were located, about four and half million of people were killed in gas chambers. When the Nazis attacked Russia, they attacked it with a tremendous power. Never before in the history of mankind has such a military power been amassed. Three hundred German divisions marched into Russia, and they went through Russia like a knife through butter during the first six months.

These three hundred divisions had to go from Germany mainly on the railways and on roads in the eastern direction and as you can see, Poland is a bottleneck. If you look at the railway lines which connect Germany with Russia, you will be surprised how few railways are there. And into the muddle of hundreds of transports of troops having to be transported and constantly supplied on their march to Russia, the German administration directed into this bottle-neck, hundreds of transports of Jews, which came from Greece, from Hungary, from Czechoslovakia, from Germany, from Austria, from France, from Belgium, from Holland, from Norway, from numerous ghettos in Poland and even many transports from Minsk and from Bialystok (Western territories of the former USSR). They were all directed to Auschwitz.

Just when the German Army desperately needed the transport lines through Poland to Russia, the German administration started to clog these lines with transports of Jews from all over Europe. It would have been logical to imagine that the German Generals would come to Mr. Hitler and tell him, ” For heaven’s sake don’t sabotage our war. Wait until we win the war, after the war you can do what ever you want with the Jews, but don’t clog our railways with Jewish transports just now, when we need every wagon, every line. The generals didn’t do that. Why didn’t they do that? This is a fundamental question in the history of the Holocaust.

10. What did the common soldiers, officers and Generals know about the Holocaust?

We might perhaps try to say the Wehrmacht didn’t know about the secret transports of Jews towards the East. Well, that is certainly not so. When the Germans travelled to the East there was a man in the German army whose name was Hubert Pfoch. He was a young man from Vienna, who at that time was about 20 years old, and he was in a train going to the Russian front. After the war he became a member of the Austrian parliament. He published in due course his memories of war as he saw it. In August 1942 while travelling to the Eastern front he wrote down in his diary that close to Treblinka he saw a transport of Jews being deported to the gas chambers of Treblinka. And this transport of deported Jews had to wait until his (Pfoch’s) military transport (which was more important) passed by.

The transport Pfoch saw contained about 7,000 people. Pfoch had no idea who these 7,000 people were at the time. The next morning, 22 August 1942, Pfoch heard the rumor that those people were a Jewish transport. His diary continues: “They [the Jews] called out to us that they had been travelling without food or water for two days and then we became witness to the most ghastly scenes. The corpses of those who died the night before were thrown by Jewish auxiliary police onto a lorry that came and went four times. The guards, Ukrainian SS- volunteers, some of them drunk, crammed 120-150 people into each train car, parents into one, children into another, they didn’t care how they separated families.

They screamed at them, shot at them and hit them so viciously, that some of their rifle butts broke. When all of them were finally loaded into the trucks, there were cries from all cars. Water, they pleaded. They offered the nearby standing German soldiers gold rings for water. Others offered up to 5,000 zlotys for a cup of water. ($1200 USD in today’s money.) Pfoch also took pictures on that occasion and preserved from this particular day those pictures for us.

dead-jews. This is one of Hubert Pfoch’s photographs of Jews boarding the railway carriages for their transport to their death in Treblinka. Shortly after taking this photograph, Pfoch saw the guard on the right kill a Jew with the single blow of his rifle butt. Pfoch wrote, “When some of them managed to climb out through the ventilating holes, they were shot the moment they reached the ground. A massacre followed that made us sick to our souls. A bloodbath such as I never dreamt of. A mother jumped down with her baby and calmly looked into a pointing gun barrel, a moment later we heard the guard who shot them boast to his fellows that he managed to do them both with one shot through both their heads. When at last the train left the station, at least 50 dead, women, men, and children, some of them totally naked, lay along the track.” He photographed it. Here is a picture which illustrates what he was recording in his diary.

Pfoch recorded many other things, and I am not going to give you all the details of his diary. I will now limit myself to one statement. Pfoch was only one soldier in the transport of at least 1,000 German soldiers. He was not alone travelling to the Eastern front. So at least 1,000 soldiers saw what he saw. Obviously, Pfoch’s transport was not the only one that went to the Eastern front. Day and night many German military transports were travelling to and from Russia and inevitably saw similar scenes.

And that particular Jewish transport was not the only transport which went to Treblinka, to Chelmno or to Auschwitz. In the years 1942-1944, there were hundreds of those transports on those lines. So, what Hubert Pfoch saw was seen by tens of thousands of soldiers and was taken notice of by thousands of officers. The fate of Jews was no secret from the German army. And obviously the time had come when the commanding generals of the German army had to speak out to their soldiers how to behave in a situation such as the one in which Pfoch found himself. To teach what is the right behavior for a proper German soldier in a situation like Pfoch’s.

11. The Order of the Day issued by Field Marshal Walter von Reichenau on October 10, 1941

The common sight of mass-murder of Jews forced the Army Commanders to issue elaborate manifestos, which were intended to reconcile their men to what they might see. As an example, let us read the order of the day to the Sixth Army, published on October 10, 1941, by Field Marshall Walter von Reichenau. Army hero, great commander. He said to his soldiers, the following: “The soldier in the Eastern territories is not merely a fighter according to the rules of the art of war, but also the bearer of a ruthless national ideology. Therefore, the soldier must understand the necessity of a severe but just revenge on sub-human Jewry.”         Thus spoke a German General to his soldiers.

And there was no doubt what this meant. Every soldier of von Reichenau’s command knew that there had been a tremendous killing of Jews in the district of the army. All other very similar orders issued by highest German Wehrmacht Commanders (von Runstadt, von Manteuffel, etc. etc.) are well preserved and are not only similar to those of Field Marshall von Reichenau but they contain an additional note – German soldiers were strictly forbidden now to take photographs of the mass murder of Jews. The generals understood that the mass -murder of Jews should be kept confidential if it could not be kept secret.

Telegram

Auschwitz telegram seeking recapture of  the escapees Walter Rosenberg and his companion in flight and testimony, Alfréd Wetzler. The underlined word on the bottom is “special arrest book’ (Click)

Many similar documents, signed at that time by commanding German generals and handed down through the ladders of military hierarchy, down to the last soldier, allow us to draw only one conclusion. The German general staff and the German officer corps were perfectly well informed about the events of the Holocaust and supported the mass murder not only with their hearts; their general’s batons gave full protection to the actual SS and other murderers who were plying their trade of murder-cum-robbery while being protected by the fire power of the regular German army. This means that when I escaped from Auschwitz and the SS in Auschwitz issued a warrant for my capture, the warrant was addressed not only to the stations of the Gestapo but to all army military police stations, all over occupied Europe. We have a copy of that warrant. And anybody who fired a shot against the SS was automatically the enemy of the whole army, not only of the SS. So, the SS were in fact the protected children of the Germany army.

Why were the German Generals so protective of this bunch of murderers and robbers and why did they treat them with such care?
It is wrong to believe, and it is a popular belief, that Nazis created the mass murder machinery merely to satisfy their hunger for dead Jews. Undoubtedly, an obsessional antisemitism produced the seeds from which the mass -murder camps in general and Auschwitz in particular, grew. But the Nazi system of killings were carried out with an efficiency which few time and motion experts would fault, and they paid rich dividends. And the German Generals were well aware of the importance of these dividends for their Armies and for the whole conduct of their criminal war.

There was antisemitism and sadism too of course, but that was an integral part of a vast business enterprise, which did much to bolster Germany’s economy and with it the morale of their soldiers. To elucidate this statement, I will now speak briefly about my personal experiences, particularly what I saw on the ramp in Auschwitz.

“Among Polish peasantry, Canada was considered to be the “Land of Plenty” and that is why the stores got the name Kanada.”

12. The Ramp in Auschwitz.

This is a plan of Auschwitz, which I made with Wetzler from memory immediately after our escape and of course today, we have much better maps than this one, but this will give you an idea of how Auschwitz operated.

Camp layout

Auschwitz consisted of two camps. The “mother” camp which was relatively small, called Auschwitz One and the Birkenau Camp, called Auschwitz Two, where there were four crematoria with gas chambers. The first half year I lived in Auschwitz One, and the next one and half years I lived in Birkenau, Auschwitz Two. Those two camps were surrounded by an outer chain of sentry posts, and you can see that just between them was passing the railway line which connected Vienna to Cracow.

When the trains with the Jewish deportees arrived, it was shunted here onto a dead line of the railway, but in such a way that the transports were still outside of both the camps. In fact, due to various technical factors they were still at least formally in a civilian territory. When the transports arrived here, this ramp was surrounded by the SS with a dense cordon, and a group of prisoners was brought into this cordon. I was one amongst them, in a working group which was called by the Germans “cleaning commando” (“Aufraumungskommando”) and for other reasons by the prisoners it was called the “Canada commando”.

Jews arriving at camp

Every time a transport arrived, we were marched into a new sentry chain standing all around this ramp, after which the lights went on and no matter whether it was a foggy or a rainy night, summer or winter, there was light as if it was day. And when the train stopped, the deportees were driven out from the wagons and marshalled into a line which had to pass by an SS doctor, who simply “sorted out” those who could work and those who in his opinion are not fit to work. The final diagnosis was usually made within five seconds as a rule.

The doctor’s analytical instrument for diagnosis was usually a walking cane with a crook. All the SS carried their walking canes, bamboo walking canes, not truncheons. So, they didn’t look like people who beat others unless it was necessary. The deportees were marshalled into columns of five abreast, and than forced to march before those doctors. There the good SS Doctors of Medicine separated the people to left or to right, for slave work or for the gas chamber; and when for instance, there was a mother of 50 and a daughter of 20 years old, he would separate them by a gesture of his thumb or sometimes indicating this by showing it with the walking cane. And if they wouldn’t separate, he didn’t have time to explain.

In order to save time, without slowing down the whole procedure, the SS-doctor held the walking cane by its lower end, putting the bent upper part around the neck of the inspected deportee and he pulled the cane towards left or towards right, thus indicating the final diagnosis. If the deportee still did not understand this clear indication what to do, then the walking stick would go down on either of one or of the other women, and if there were children around who started to scream at such a sight, then the people usually gave in.

Jews getting ready to march to the crematorium.

And so, the healthy were picked out for slave labour (and the most of them died later) and those who were too old or too young, and those who were obviously ill or incapacitated went straight into the nearby gas chambers. All women with small children were sent to the gas chambers automatically, healthy or not, because the SS knew that if you take a small child away from a woman you can’t manage the situation anymore, walking canes or not. And the selectees were loaded on trucks which took them from the ramp about two kilometers farther, where they were murdered in gas chambers and burned.

As the trucks came back empty from the crematoria, we loaded the luggage of the victims onto the same trucks and these trucks with the luggage went in the opposite direction, into the Auschwitz Camp One where there were the Aufraumungskommando (clean-up squad)- stores, also called by the prisoners Kanada-stores. Among Polish peasantry Canada was considered to be the “Land of Plenty” and that is why the Canada-stores got the name Kanada.

13. The work in the Canada stores

After the deportees from the new transport disappeared in the crematorium, we were marched into those stores and our first job would be to open the luggage. We were organized in various groups, the first group consisted of specialists for breaking up the luggage. Then everything was thrown out from the luggage. Suits left, underwear right, coats, money, kitchen utensils, and so on. In a special heap the documents and papers of the murdered people were collected and immediately destroyed. There was a special group of prisoners who were burning all papers belonging to the murdered people, for instance family albums, birth certificates, graduation certificates, doctors’ diplomas, children’s textbooks, correspondence, etc., etc.

All those papers which the resettled people thought they would need in their new place. And then we started to sort the contents of the luggage. I estimate that during the two years some five million pieces of luggage were “sorted out” in Auschwitz by this group of prisoners, which was up to 1000 men strong. They were working day and night in shifts, and they sorted out the contents of the luggage into suits of first class, suits of second class, suits of third class and rubbish (Lumpen), this means pieces of clothing which were not worth preserving and these were sent on trains to paper factories, for making paper. Nothing was wasted. Then you had shoes of first class, shoes of second class. The shoes came either from the luggage or from the crematoria, the people had to undress there before they were gassed, and even small children before their gassing had to, with the help of their mothers, bind together their two shoes. So that in the heaps of thousands and thousands of shoes the pairs were not mixed up.

14. The robbery by Auschwitz.

So, from here, the Aufraumungskommando stores (or Canada stores) there was a “redistribution of property” and all the property after being sorted we loaded into trains which took this property back to Germany. Also, tons of the looted gold were sent from this mass murder camp to the Berlin State Bank. Many potential victims before their deportation tried to sell their houses or whatever other property they had and to convert it into hard currency, hoping that one day they might use it to improve with it their unknown but sinister fate ahead and so they attempted to smuggle currency, gold , diamonds or other valuables with them  for their last journey, although the Nazi authorities usually robbed (“confiscated”) all the valuables from the deportees before they were driven for their last journey into the deportation trains.     All the undeclared and subsequently “smuggled” valuables ended up of course under the hands of the SS-supervision in the Kanada stores.

Part of this gold (which was not stolen by the SS-men on the spot) was used by Nazi Germany to bolster their buying abilities abroad. This included the gold which was taken either from the mouths of the victims in form of extracted dental gold (melted down into ingots right in the crematoria) or from their pockets, or from body cavities of the victims. The bodies were inspected before cremation. A fortune in dollars, pounds, Swiss francs, gold and diamonds thus found their way to Auschwitz and a part of it was stolen by the local SS handling this property. The rest went into the vaults of the German State Bank which badly needed hard cash to buy ore for steel in Sweden for instance, but they had to pay with hard cash.

15. The robbing of Jews living in territories occupied by the German Armies

This tremendous loot which I have seen in Auschwitz was originating only from the meagre last luggage of the victims which were allowed 20 kilos to take with them for their last journey for resettlement. All victims before they came to Auschwitz left behind their homes. Their houses, apartments, “Shops on the Main Street,” furniture, cars, radios, sewing machines, carpets, kitchen utensils, bicycles, baby prams, and all imaginable sorts of other property which was vital during the war time, was confiscated from the deported Jews and redistributed as Germany’s industry was at that time prevalently geared towards manufacture of military goods. Also, the German industrial complex was under constant onslaught of allied bombing, which tried to interrupt the production of goods in Germany. The Nazi administration was replacing the missing wares by wares confiscated from the so-called “racial enemy”. A new way was invented how to replace the myriads of vital goods lost in the bombing raids. So, this loot of the Holocaust became now very vital for the German army. Not always for direct use by Germans. In the occupied countries, the confiscated properties of these Jews who were deported to the ” resettlement centres”, were administered by special offices which were auctioning them at peppercorn prices.

But to these auctions only those were admitted who had persistently shown a positive attitude to the Nazi order. They would not say “good morning” on arrival to their job, they would say ” Heil Hitler”.   They would wear a Nazi swastika on their lapel or arm.

They would greet everybody with a lifted arm, a so called “Aryan greeting,” and they would show that they were prepared to “defend the Nazi honour.” They paraded in uniforms of various pro-Nazi paramilitary organizations, e.g. “Hlinka Guards” in Slovakia,”Ustashi” in Croatia, etc. And only such persons were admitted to these auctions. And at such auctions they could buy a house for $3,000 which normally would cost $100,000. You could buy a car for $50, which would normally cost $5,000, etc. etc. So, this was a new German way of buying the goodwill of a certain part of the population in the occupied countries. The Germans paid the local collaborators with Jewish property.

16 The military situation of Germany at the end of 1941.

In November 1941, General Hoffman wrote to Berlin. He was the Chief of Staff of the Eastern Front North. Although the situation is not critical, he thought, but the blitzkrieg, the sudden lightning surprise attack on Russia was not a full success and Germany is going to face a long war in Russia.   And he communicated to the headquarters in Berlin, that as far as he, General Hoffman, can see, he doesn’t think that Germany is going to lose the war against Russia, because the Germans can, for better or for worse, hold their ground for the years to come. However, the faithful General added, they are fighting this war in the East without any manpower reserves.

Whatever reserve the army had, they had to use for the occupation of Europe and due to the adverse development on the Russian front, no manpower could be withdrawn from the East. To keep Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Yugoslavia, Greece, Norway, Belgium, Holland under occupation, all available reserves were used up. Furthermore, General Hoffman quite rightly assumed that sooner or later, the Western allies would attack Germany from the West and create the second front, the Western front. And the only forces available for this coming Western front are the German occupational forces in Europe. If this army stationed in Europe was to be moved against the forces of the British and American invasion in the west of France, Europe would not be occupied anymore. And the whole “fortress Europe”, as they called their system at that time, would collapse from inside because there were no military reserves.

The Nazis reacted to this with great sensitivity. The” final solution of the Jewish question” was an important part of the answer to this strategic and military problem.

17. The “good will” in occupied lands bought by Jewish property

From all occupied territories of Europe, the forces of the occupational army deported the Jews into the mass murder centres. The property of the Jews was distributed among local Nazi sympathizers for peppercorn prices. And by these gifts the Nazis created in the occupied lands armies of “goodwill.” Once the new local masters, the Nazi collaborators, owned the houses and the cars and the positions and the bank accounts of the deported Jews, they could be trusted with arms, and a system of self occupational forces had been created which liberated the occupational forces of the German army for other tasks.

For instance, in places like my native Slovakia they declared an “independent Slovakia” under Nazi protection ruled by Nazi collaborators guarding the” New Order”and owning Jewish properties under the guise of “Aryanisation”. In Croatia they created a quisling pro-Nazi Croatian state of Nazi oriented “ultra- nationalists,” who were rewarded with Jewish property.  And so, they were finally creating a situation where they could arm their collaborators and by the fifth year of the war the Germans had as many as 50 divisions of foreigners, Ukrainians, Slovaks, Croatians, French and others in their service with arms in their hands.  And those new soldiers (and their families) from occupied Europe were paid with Jewish property, because there was a cash flow problem in powerful Nazi Germany.

You couldn’t pay the collaborators with German “Schachtmarks,” the artificial German money, because for that artificial money you couldn’t buy a half a pound of coffee on the free market (“black market”) at that time. It was inflationary money. But if you gave to the new pupil of Nazism in Croatia or in Slovakia or in Ukraine, a Jewish house or field, a factory or a shop, an apartment or a car, or valuable objects of art, it spoke better than money. So, the cash flow which was missing in the German banks was replaced by the property of the segment of the population which was murdered. They not only murdered the Jews, but they also thoroughly robbed them. And they murdered the children so that it was clear that nobody could claim any inheritance from what the deported Jews left. And the Jewish property was then distributed among those who, although not German, would now support the Nazi regime with German arms in their hands.

You can imagine what political power you would have using this method. How many people live in Berlin? Perhaps six million. Berlin is a big place, there are rich people and poor people and most of them are something in between like you and me. For a practical simplification we can assume that everything in Berlin belongs to the Berliners. Imagine if you could suddenly say, in your political campaign, that you will resettle all the six million Berliners from Berlin to Labrador because they are not a pure race; and you become the inheritor of their property. Count how many houses are here in Berlin, which you could distribute among your supporters.

And if you could distribute to your supporters all those houses including the property inside them, you would be in the position to “redistribute” properties of an astronomical value and you would see that your campaign for re-election would be more successful. Not everybody would be keen to accept that sort of property but there would be many who would.

So here you see how politics, military strategy and the Holocaust are very closely connected. The Nazi collaborators which were created in occupied Europe with the help of this property, benefited in many ways. Jewish property, business and domestic property alike would either be allocated to them or disposed of in controlled auctions at which they could acquire desirable things for give-away prices. Suddenly those people found themselves becoming the new rich under the new regime.

They suddenly lived in better houses or better apartments. Better furniture. Better income. Better social position. Better gifts for wives and girlfriends, in addition to the public respect now due to them, wearing the new and shiny quisling uniforms. Every inducement was placed in their way to make them toe the Nazi line and to administer with the guns and truncheons in their hands the Nazi policy in occupied territory. With the help of anti-Jewish “administrative decisions” the German invaders successfully redistributed the local property at the cost of the local Jews. And this meant a certain change of public opinion in favour of Nazis by people who had been bought with the help of this property. And this gave of course a tremendous advantage to the German army because suddenly the German army in the occupied Europe could pay their collaborators not with paper money, but with real property. With Jewish property. And then the Germans could trust the “nouveaux riches” and arm them up to their teeth to help them to keep the occupied lands in subjugation.

18. The “moral fiber” of the Nazi German Generals

Now when you listen to what the German Generals were saying after they lost the war, it is always the same. They claimed they were not the SS and that they fought the war with clean hands and all of them claim that they did nothing to promote the Holocaust. It was not them, it was the SS. It was the Einsatzgruppen. It was the Reserve Police Battalions. So might a defendant in court say that be took no part in the murder of a night watchman during a robbery, although be knew very well that murder was an essential part of the plot.
So, we see the Holocaust is something which was invented by the Nazis and successfully used by the Nazis for purposes of economical changes, favorable to their internal policy and to their way of running the war.

19.  About the New German Generations

When we look at the Germans today, should we hate them? Certainly not, for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is that most of the Germans who are alive today, were either not alive in the year 1945 or they were so young, say 12 years old or less, that you can’t blame them for anything. Eighty five percent of the German nation today are people who are too young to be blamed directly. If we would transfer the guilt of their fathers upon this new generation, we would be Nazis ourselves. We can’t do that. And we should not do that. And we must not do that.

However, those new Germans have got a certain duty and one of their duties is to face their past and to know what their parents were doing in their attempt to play the Master-race (Herren-Volk) and to rule the world.

This is from Spiegel, a very popular German journal like Newsweek in America and this is Mr.Kohl. This was published in January 1987 after the famous Bittburg visit of President Reagan and Chancellor Kohl in the cemetery where SS graves were honored. And you can see that Mr.Kohl just jumped over the years of the Nazi rule in the German history, as if it would be better not to know what was actually happening during the Nazi period. And this sort of ignorance and forgetfulness is not a good thing.

 

 

Cartoon from Der Spiegel 1987

Cartoon from Der Spiegel 1987

It is not a good thing, not because of the past, but because of the future and because we must learn to understand what is behind many of those “ultranationalists,” which we sometimes now hear including the neo­Nazis which try of course to whitewash everything. They are trying to tell you that the moon is made from cheese, and that there was no Holocaust and there were no gas-chambers.

Humans are anatomically and physiologically very similar to animals. But they are very different &om animals in certain respects, clearly different, because animals don’t have philosophy, animals don t have religion and animals don’t have history.

Knowledge of our history is an important part of us being different from animals. Neo-Nazi’s try to tell us that there was no Holocaust, because they hope to be able to enter politics again. They are conspiring again with the help of a Goebbels-type propaganda, to mislead the nation again by falsifying their own history and that is very dangerous.

If they deprive the nation of its history, then the first step for the new bestialization of the nation has been made. So when we are today analyzing and remembering the Holocaust, we are not thinking of the past in order to teach hatred toward any anybody, but we are trying to prevent the always present dark forces from repeating the politics of murder and robbery of the Nazi period.

 

Thank you very much for the patience you showed by listening to this lecture. I wish to thank to the (incomprehensible)   in Vancouver for translating my speech into a proper German.

Transcribed December 5th,1996 in Vancouver, BC

Next: GERMANY 1996