Institute for Historical Review

Institute for Historical Review

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Continued from Part 3


The most revealing trial in the "Einsatzgruppen Case" at Nuremberg was that of S.S. General Otto Ohlendorf, the chief of the S.D. who commanded Einsatzgruppe D in the Ukraine, attached to Field Marshal von Manstein's Eleventh Army. During the last phase of the war he was employed as a foreign trade expert in the Ministry of Economics. Ohlendorf was one of those subjected to the torture described earlier, and in his affidavit of November 5th, 1945 he was "persuaded" to confess that 90,000 Jews had been killed under his command alone. Ohlendorf did not come to trial until 1948, long after the main Nuremberg Trial, and by that time he was insisting that his earlier statement had been extracted from him under torture. In his main speech before the Tribunal, Ohlendorf took the opportunity to denounce Philip Auerbach, the Jewish attorney-general of the Bavarian State Office for Restitution, who at that time was claiming compensation for "eleven million Jews" who had suffered in German concentration camps. Ohlendorf dismissed this ridiculous claim, stating that "not the minutest part" of the people for whom Auerbach was demanding compensation had even seen a concentration camp. Ohlendorf lived long enough to see Auerbach convicted for embezzlement and fraud (forging documents purporting to show huge payments of compensation to non-existent people) before his own execution finally took place in 1951. Ohlendorf explained to the Tribunal that his units often had to prevent massacres of Jews organised by anti-Semitic Ukrainians behind the German front, and he denied that the Einsatzgruppen as a whole had inflicted even one quarter of the casualties claimed by the prosecution. He insisted that the illegal partisan warfare in Russia, which he had to combat, had taken a far higher toll of lives from the regular German army - an assertion confirmed by the Soviet Government, which boasted of 500,000 German troops killed by partisans. In fact, Franz Stahlecker, commander of Einsatzgruppe A in the Baltic region and White Russia, was himself killed by partisans in 1942. The English jurist F. J. P. Veale, in dealing with the Action Groups, explains that in the fighting on the Russian front no distinction could be properly drawn between partisans and the civilian population, because any Russian civilian who maintained his civilian status instead of acting as a terrorist was liable to be executed by his countrymen as a traitor. Veale says of the Action Groups: "There is no question that their orders were to combat terror by terror", and he finds it strange that atrocities committed by the partisans in the struggle were regarded as blameless simply because they turned out to be on the winning side (ibid. p. 223). Ohlendorf took the same view, and in a bitter appeal written before his execution, he accused the Allies of hypocrisy in holding the Germans to account by conventional laws of warfare while fighting a savage Soviet enemy who did not respect those laws.


The Soviet charge that the Action Groups had wantonly exterminated a million Jews during their operations has been shown subsequently to be a massive falsification. In fact, there had never been the slightest statistical basis for the figure. In this connection, Poliakov and Wulf cite the statement of Wilhelm Hoettl, the dubious American spy, double agent and former assistant of Eichmann. Hoettl, it will be remembered, claimed that Eichmann had "told him " that six million Jews had been exterminated -- and he added that two million of these had been killed by the Einsatzgruppen. This absurd figure went beyond even the wildest estimates of Soviet Prosecutor Rudenko, and it was not.given any credence by the American Tribunal which tried and condemned Ohlendorf. The real number of casualties for which the Action Groups were responsible has since been revealed in the scholarly work Manstein, his Campaigns and his Trial (London, 1951), by the able English lawyer R. T. Paget. Ohlendorf had been under Manstein's nominal command. Paget's conclusion is that the Nuremberg Court, in accepting the figures of the Soviet prosecution, exaggerated the number of casualties by more than 1000 per cent and that they distorted even more the situations in which these casualties were infiicted. (These horrific distortions are the subject of six pages of William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, pp. 1140-46). Here, then, is the legendary 6 million in miniature; not one million deaths, but one hundred thousand. Of course, only a small proportion of these could have been Jewish partisans and Communist functionaries. It is worth repeating that these casualties were inflicted during savage partisan warfare on the Eastern front, and that Soviet terrorists claim to have killed five times that number of German troops. It has nevertheless remained a popular myth that the extermination of the Jews began with the actions of the Einsatzgruppen in Russia. In conclusion, we may briefly survey the Manstein trial itself, typical in so many ways of Nuremberg proceedings. Principally because Action Group D was attached to Manstein's command (though it was responsible solely to Himmler), the sixty-two year old, invalid Field Marshal, considered by most authorities to be the most brilliant German general of the war, was subjected to the shameful indignity of a "war-crimes" trial. Of the 17 charges, 15 were brought by the Communist Russian Government and two by the Communist Polish Government. Only one witness was called to give evidence at this trial, and he proved so unsatisfactory that the prosecution withdrew his evidence. Reliance was placed instead on 800 hearsay documents which were accepted by the court without any proof of their authenticity or authorship. The prosecution introduced written affidavits by Ohlendorf and other S.S. Leaders, but since these men were still alive, Manstein's Reginald Paget K.C. demanded their appearance in the witness-box. This was refused by the American authorities, and Paget declared that this refusal was due to fear lest the condemned men revealed what methods had been used to induce them to sign their affidavits. Manstein was eventually acquitted on eight of the charges, including the two Polish ones which, as Paget said, "were so flagrantly bogus that one was left wondering why they had been presented at all."


The case of the Action Groups is a revealing insight into the methods of the Nuremberg Trials and the fabrication of the Myth of the Six Million. Another is the trial of Oswald Pohl in 1948, which is of great importance as it bears directly on the administration of the concentration camp system. Pohl had been the chief disbursing officer of the German Navy until 1934, when Himmler requested his transfer to the S.S. For eleven years he was the principal administrative chief of the entire S.S. in his position as head of the S.S. Economy and Administration Office, which after 1941 was concerned with the industrial productivity of the concentration camp system. A peak point of hypocrisy was reached at the trial when. the prosecution said to Pohl that "had Germany rested content with the exclusion of Jews from her own territory, with denying them German citizenship, with excluding them from public office, or any like domestic regulation, no other nation could have been heard to complain." The truth is that Germany was bombarded with insults and economic sanctions for doing precisely these things, and her internal measures against the Jews were certainly a major cause of the declaration of war against Germany by the democracies. Oswald Pohl was an extremely sensitive and intellectual individual who was reduced to a broken man in the course of his trial. As Senator McCarthy pointed out, Pohl had signed some incriminating statements after being subjected to severe torture, including a bogus admission that he had seen a gas chamber at Auschwitz in the summer of 1944. The prosecution strenuously pressed this charge, but Pohl successfully repudiated it. The aim of the prosecution was to depict this dejected man as a veritable fiend in human shape, an impression hopelessly at variance with the testimony of those who knew him . Such testimony was given by Heinrich Hoepker, an anti- Nazi friend of Pohl's wife who came into frequent contact with him during the period 1942-45. Hoepker noted that Pohl was essentially a serene and mild-mannered person. During a visit to Pohl in the spring of 1944, Hoepker was brought into contact with concentration camp inmates who were working on a local project outside the camp area. He noted that the prisoners worked in a leisurely manner and relaxed atmosphere without any pressure from their guards. Hoepker declared that Pohl did not hold an emotional attitude to the Jews, and did not object to his wife entertaining her Jewish friend Annemarie Jacques at their home. By the beginning of 1945, Hoepker was fully convinced that the administrator of the concentration camps was a humane, conscientious and dedicated servant of his task, and he was astonished when he heard later in 1945 of the accusations being made against Pohl and his colleagues. Frau Pohl noted that her husband retained his serenity in the face of adversity until March 1945, when he visited the camp at Bergen- Belsen at the time of the typhus epidemic there. Hitherto the camp had been a model of cleanliness and order, but the chaotic conditions at the close of the war had reduced it to a state of extreme hardship. Pohl, who was unable to alleviate conditions there because of the desperate pass which the war had reached by that time, was deeply affected by the experience and, according to his wife, never regained his former state of composure. Dr. Alfred Seidl, the highly respected lawyer who acted as principal defence counsel at the Nuremberg Trials, went to work passionately to secure the acquittal of Pohl. Seidl had been a personal friend of the accused for many years, and was thoroughly convinced of his innocence with respect to the fraudulent charge of planned genocide against the Jews. The Allied judgment which condemned Pohl did not prompt Seidl to change his opinion in the slightest. He declared that the prosecution had failed to produce a single piece of valid evidence against him. One of the most eloquent defences of Oswald Pohl was made by S.S. Lieutenant Colonel Kurt Schmidt-Klevenow, a legal officer in the S.S. Economy and Administration Office, in his affidavit of August 8th, 1947. This affidavit has been deliberately omitted from the published documents known as Trials of the War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals 1946 -1949. Schmidt-Klevenow pointed out that Pohl had given his fullest support to Judge Konrad Morgen of the Reich Criminal Police Office, whose job was to investigate irregularities at the concentration camps. Later on we shall refer to a case in which Pohl was in favour of the death penalty for camp commandant Koch, who was accused by an S.S. court of misconduct. Schmidt- Klevenow explained that Pohl was instrumental in arranging for local police chiefs to share in the jurisdiction of concentration camps, and took personal initiative in securing strict discipline on the part of camp personnel. In short, the evidence given at the Pohl trial shows that the proceedings involved nothing less than the deliberate defamation of a man's character in order to support the propaganda legend of genocide against the Jews in the concentration camps he administered.


Spurious testimony at Nuremberg which included extravagant statements in support of the myth of the Six Million was invariably given by former German officers because of pressure, either severe torture as in the cases cited previously, or the assurance of leniency for themselves if they supplied the required statements. An example of the latter was the testimony of S.S. General Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski. He was threatened with execution himself because of his suppression of the revolt by Polish partisans at Warsaw in August 1944, which he carried out with his S.S. brigade of White Russians. He was therefore prepared to be "co-operative". The evidence of Bach-Zelewski constituted the basis of the testimony against the Reichsführer of the S.S. Heinrich Himmler at the main Nuremberg Trial (Trial of the Major War Criminals, Vol. IV, pp, 29, 36). In March 1941, on the eve of the invasion of Russia, Himmler invited the Higher S.S. Leaders to his Castle at Wewelsburg for a conference, including Bach-Zelewski who was an expert on partisan warfare. In his Nuremberg evidence, he depicted Himmler speaking in grandiose terms at this conference about the liquidation of peoples in Eastern Europe, but Göring, in the courtroom, denounced Bach-Zelewski to his face for the falsity of this testimony. An especially outrageous allegation concerned a supposed declaration by Himmler that one of the aims of the Russian campaign was to "decimate the Slav population by thirty millions." What Himmler really said is given by his Chief of Staff, Wolff -- that war in Russia was certain to result in millions of dead (Manvell and Frankl, ibid. p. 117). Another brazen falsehood was Bach-Zelewski's accusation that on August 31st, 1942 Himmler personally witnessed the execution of one hundred Jews by an Einsatz detachment at Minsk, causing him to nearly faint. It is known, however, that on this date Himmler was in conference at his field headquarters at Zhitomir in the Ukraine (cf K. Vowinckel, Die Wehrmacht im Kampf, vol. 4, p. 275). Much is made of Bach-Zelewski's evidence in all the books on Himmler, especially Willi Frischauer's Himmler: Evil Genius of the Third Reich (London, 1953, p. 148 ff). However, in April 1959, Bach-Zelewski publicly repudiated his Nuremberg testimony before a West German court. He admitted that his earlier statements had not the slightest foundation in fact, and that he had made them for the sake of expediency and his own survival. The German court, after careful deliberation, accepted his retraction. Needless to say, what Veale calls the "Iron Curtain of Discreet Silence" descended immediately over these events. They have had no influence whatever on the books which propagate the myth of the Six Million, and Bach-Zelewski's testimony on Himmler is still taken at its face value. The truth concerning Himmler is provided ironically by an anti-Nazi -- Felix Kersten, his physician and masseur. Because Kersten was opposed to the regime, he tends to support the legend that the internment of Jews meant their extermination. But from his close personal knowledge of Himmler he cannot help but tell the truth concerning him, and in his Memoirs 1940-1945 (London, 1956, p. 119 ff) he is emphatic in stating that Heinrich Himmler did not advocate liquidating the Jews but favoured their emigration overseas. Neither does Kersten implicate Hitler. However, the credibility of his anti-Nazi narrative is completely shattered when, in search of an alternative villain, he declares that Dr. Goebbels was the real advocate of "extermination". This nonsensical allegation is amply disproved by the fact that Goebbels was still concerned with the Madagascar project even after it had been temporarily shelved by the German Foreign Office, as we showed earlier. So much for false evidence at Nuremberg. Reference has also been made to the thousands of fraudulent "written affidavits" which were accepted by the Nuremberg Court without any attempt to ascertain the authenticity of their contents or even their authorship. These hearsay documents, often of the most bizarre kind, were introduced as "evidence" so long as they bore the required signature. A typical prosecution affidavit contested by the defence in the Concentration Camp Trial of 1947 was that of Alois Hoellriegel, a member of the camp personnel at Mauthausen in Austria. This affidavit, which the defence proved was fabricated during Hoellriegel's torture, had already been used to secure the conviction of S.S. General Ernst Kaltenbrunner in 1946. It claimed that a mass gassing operation had taken place at Mauthausen and that Hoellriegel had witnessed Kaltenbrunner ( the highest S.S. Leader in the Reich excepting Himmler) actually taking part in it. By the time of the Concentration Camp Trial (Pohl's trial) a year later, it had become impossible to sustain this piece of nonsense when it was produced in court again. The defence not only demonstrated that the affidavit was falsified, but showed that all deaths at Mauthausen were systematically checked by the local police authorities. They were also entered on a camp register, and particular embarrassment was caused to the prosecution when the Mauthausen register, one of the few that survived, was produced in evidence. The defence also obtained numerous affidavits from former inmates of Mauthausen (a prison camp chiefly for criminals) testifying to humane and orderly conditions there.


There is no more eloquent testimony to the tragedy and tyranny of Nuremberg than the pathetic astonishment or outraged disbelief of the accused persons themselves at the grotesque charges made against them. Such is reflected in the affidavit of S.S. Major-General Heinz Fanslau, who visited most of the German concentration camps during the last years of the war. AIthough a front line soldier of the Waffen S.S., Fanslau had taken a great interest in concentration camp conditions, and he was selected as a prime target by the Allies for the charge of conspiracy to annihilate the Jews. It was argued, on the basis of his many contacts, that he must have been fully involved. When it was first rumoured that he would be tried and convicted, hundreds of affidavits were produced on his behalf by camp inmates he had visited. When he read the full scope of the indictment against the concentration camp personnel in supplementary Nuremberg Trial No. 4 on May 6th, 1947, Fanslau declared in disbelief: "This cannot be possible, because I, too, would have had to know something about it." It should be emphasised that throughout the Nuremberg proceedings, the German leaders on trial never believed for a moment the allegations of the Allied prosecution. Hermann Göring, who was exposed to the full brunt of the Nuremberg atrocity propaganda, failed to be convinced by it. Hans Fritzsche, on trial as the highest functionary of Goebbels' Ministry, relates that Göring, even after hearing the Ohlendorf affidavit on the Einsatzgruppen and the Höss testimony on Auschwitz, remained convinced that the extermination of Jews was entirely propaganda fiction (The Sword in the Scales, London, 1953, p. 145). At one point during the trial, Göring declared rather cogently that the first time he had heard of it "was right here in Nuremberg" (Shirer, ibid. p. 1147). The Jewish writers Poliakov, Reitlinger and Manvell and Frankl all attempt to implicate Göring in this supposed extermination, but Charles Bewley in his work Hermann Göring (Goettingen, 1956) shows that not the slightest evidence was found at Nuremberg to substantiate this charge. Hans Fritzsche pondered on the whole question during the trials, and he concluded that there had certainly been no thorough investigation of these monstrous charges. Fritzsche, who was acquitted, was an associate of Goebbels and a skilled propagandist. He recognised that the alleged massacre of the Jews was the main point of the indictment against all defendants. Kaltenbrunner, who succeeded Heydrich as chief of the Reich Security Head Office and was the main defendant for the S.S. due to the death of Himmler, was no more convinced of the genocide charges than was Göring. He confided to Fritzsche that the prosecution was scoring apparent successes because of their technique of coercing witnesses and suppressing evidence, which was precisely the accusation of Judges Wenersturm and van Roden.


The concentration camp at Auschwitz near Cracow in Poland has remained at the centre of the alleged extermination of millions of Jews. Later we shall see how, when it was discovered by honest observers in the British and American zones after the war that no "gas chambers" existed in the German camps such as Dachau and Bergen-Belsen, attention was shifted to the eastern camps, particularly Auschwitz. Ovens definitely existed here, it was claimed. Unfortunately, the eastem camps were in the Russian zone of occupation, so that no one could verify whether these allegations were true or not. The Russians refused to allow anyone to see Auschwitz until about ten years after the war, by which time they were able to alter its appearance and give some plausibility to the claim that millions of people had been exterminated there. If anyone doubts that the Russians are capable of such deception, they should remember the monuments erected at sites where thousands of people were murdered in Russia by Stalin's secret police -- but where the monuments proclaim them to be victims of German troops in World War Two. The truth about Auschwitz is that it was the largest and most important industrial concentration camp, producing all kinds of material for the war industry. The camp consisted of synthetic coal and rubber plants built by I. G. Farben Industrie, for whom the prisoners supplied labour. Auschwitz also comprised an agricultural research station, with laboratories, plant nurseries and facilities for stock breeding, as well as Krupps armament works. We have already remarked that this kind of activity was the prime function of the camps; all major firms had subsidiaries in them and the S.S. even opened their own factories. Accounts of visits by Himmler to the camps show that his main purpose was to inspect and assess their industrial efficiency. When he visited Auschwitz in March 1941 accompanied by high executives of I.G. Farben, he showed no interest in the problems of the camp as a facility for prisoners, but merely ordered that the camp be enlarged to take 100,000 detainees to supply labour for I.G. Farben. This hardly accords with a policy of exterminating prisoners by the million.


It was nevertheless at this single camp that about half of the six million Jews were supposed to have been exterminated, indeed, some writers claim 4 or even 5 million. Four million was the sensational figure announced by the Soviet Government after the Communists had "investigated" the camp, at the same time as they were attempting to blame the Katyn massacre on the Germans. Reitlinger admits that information regarding Auschwitz and other eastern camps comes from the post-war Communist regimes of Eastem Europe: "The evidence concerning the Polish death camps was mainly taken after the war by Polish State commissions or by the Central Jewish Historical Commission of Poland" (The Final Solution, p . 631). However, no living, authentic eye-witness of these "gassings" has ever been produced and validated. Benedikt Kautsky, who spent seven years in concentration camps, including three in Auschwitz, alleged in his book Teufel und Verdammte (Devil and Damned, Zurich, 1946) that "not less than 3,500,000 Jews" had been killed there. This was certainly a remarkable statement, because by his own admission he had never seen a gas chamber. He confessed: "I was in the big German concentration camps. However, I must establish the truth that in no camp at any time did I come across such an installation as a gas chamber" (p. 272- 3). The only execution he actually witnessed was when two Polish inmates were executed for killing two Jewish inmates. Kautsky, who was sent from Buchenwald in October, 1942 to work at Auschwitz-Buna, stresses in his book that the use of prisoners in war industry was a major feature of concentration camp policy until the end of the war. He fails to reconcile this with an alleged policy of massacring Jews. The exterminations at Auschwitz are alleged to have occurred between March 1942 and October 1944; the figure of half of six million, therefore, would mean the extermination and disposal of about 94,000 people per month for thirty two months - approximately 3,350 people every day, day and night, for over two and a half years. This kind of thing is so ludicrous that it scarcely needs refuting. And yet Reitlinger claims quite seriously that Auschwitz could dispose of no less than 6,000 people a day. Although Reitlinger's 6,O00 a day would mean a total by October 1944 of over 5 million, all such estimates pale before the wild fantasies of Olga Lengyel in her book Five Chimneys (London, 1959). Claiming to be a former inmate of Auschwitz, she asserts that the camp cremated no less than "720 per hour, or 17,280 corpses per twenty-four hour shift." She also alleges that, in addition, 8,000 people were burned every day in the "death-pits", and that therefore "In round numbers, about 24,000 corpses were handled every day" (p. 80-1). This, of course, would mean a yearly rate of over 8-1/2 million. Thus between March 1942 and October 1944 Auschwitz would finally have disposed of over 21 million people, six million more than the entire world Jewish population. Comment is superfluous. Although several millions, were supposed to have died at Auschwitz alone, Reitlinger has to admit that only 363,000 inmates were registered at the camp for the whole of the period between January 1940 and February 1945 (The S.S. Alibi of a Nation, p. 268 ff), and by no means all of them were Jews. It is frequently claimed that many prisoners were never registered, but no one has offered any proof of this. Even if there were as many unregistered as there were registered, it would mean only a total of 750,000 prisoners -- hardly enough for the elimination of 3 or 4 million. Moreover, large numbers of the camp population were released or transported elsewhere during the war, and at the end 80,000 were evacuated westward in January 1945 before the Russian advance. One example will suffice of the statistical frauds relating to casualties at Auschwitz. Shirer claims that in the summer of 1944, no less than 300,000 Hungarian Jews were done to death in a mere forty-six days (ibid. p. 1156). This would have been almost the entire Hungarian Jewish population, which numbered some 380,000. But according to the Central Statistical Office of Budapest, there were 260,000 Jews in Hungary in 1945 (which roughly conforms with the Joint Distribution Committee figure of 220,000), so that only 120,000 were classed as no longer resident. Of these, 35,000 were emigrants from the new Communist regime, and a further 25,000 were still being held in Russia after having worked in German labour battalions there. This leaves only 60,000 Hungarian Jews unaccounted for, but M. E. Namenyi estimates that 60,000 Jews retumed to Hungary from deportation in Germany, though Reitlinger says this figure is too high (The Final Solution, p. 497). Possibly it is, but bearing in mind the substantial emigration of Hungarian Jews during the war (cf Report of the ICRC, Vol. I, p. 649), the number of Hungarian Jewish casualties must have been very low indeed.

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