The Franke-Gricksch 'Resettlement Action Report':
Anatomy of a Fabrication
By Brian A. Renk
It was long presumed that the alleged German policy to exterminate the Jews of Europe was set in motion by a direct, if not a written order, from Adolf Hitler. This purported order was cited in the main Nuremberg trial a 1945-46 and in subsequent trials of "Nazi war criminals." Although documentary evidence for the "Führer Order" has remained elusive, its existence was taken for granted by exterminationist historians until 1977.
In that year the British historian David Irving provoked considerable discussion in the historical establishment with the publication of his Hitler's War. Irving argued, on the basis of a painstaking study of the documentary record as well as exhaustive interviews with surviving members of Hitler's entourage, that the German leader did not order mass killings of Jews, and that he did not learn about an extermination policy until, perhaps, 1943.
Anglo-Jewish historian Gerald Fleming, now reader emeritus at the University of Surrey (England), decided to deal with this problem--and specifically to respond to Irving's provocative 1977 thesis--by setting to work on a book that would prove conclusively that Hitler did indeed order the extermination of European Jewry. After several years of research and writing, he presented his case in Hitler and the Final Solution (German edition 1982, published in America 1984), a work that was widely hailed as a definitive response to Irving and other Revisionists.
A key document cited by Fleming in his book is a two-page report entitled "Umsiedlungs-Aktion der Juden" ("Resettlement Action of the Jews," although Fleming calls it "Resettlement of the Jews"), which describes mass killings of Jews in gas chambers at Auschwitz and makes explicit reference to the "Führer Order." This document, said to be part of a longer report, is alleged by Fleming to have been composed by SS Sturmbannführer (Major) Alfred Franke-Gricksch, a high-ranking official in the SS personnel main office in Berlin, shortly after an inspection tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau in May 1943.
The "Resettlement Action" document was apparently first cited by the American historian Charles W. Sydnor (in his book Soldiers of Destruction (Princeton Univ., 1977, p. 3371). More recently, it was published-both in facsimile and in English translation-by the French anti-Revisionist historian Jean-Claude Pressac in his Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers (The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York, 1989 [pages 236-239]).
The importance Fleming attaches to this report is indicated by the fact that he devotes an entire chapter of Hitler and the Final Solution to it. He gives this chapter the title "An Official Report from Auschwitz-Birkenau."
If authentic, the "Resettlement Action" report would seem to confirm several key points of the Exterminationist thesis:
- The phrase "resettlement of the Jews" was a euphemism for a policy of mass extermination, particularly by "gassing."
- Mass killings at Auschwitz were part of a secret program ordered by Hitler to exterminate the Jews.
- Homicidal gas chambers in the crematorium complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau were used to kill Jews during the spring of 1943.
But is the "Resettlement Action" report authentic? In this paper, we shall establish that it is almost certainly not. A careful examination of the text, as well as Fleming and Pressac's analysis of that text, will reveal the following:
- The "Resettlement Action" report is almost certainly a postwar forgery. No original, carbon copy or facsimile of the document, let alone the longer report from which it is supposed to have been excerpted, has ever been produced or is even known to exist.
- Orthographic peculiarities in the German of the "Resettlement Action" report suggest that the man who is supposed to have transcribed it did not have a German original before him.
- Specific details about Auschwitz-Birkenau given in this report are demonstrably false.
- Fleming and Pressac have ignored or glossed over numerous factual "errors" and gross implausibilities in this "report," indicating shoddy and perhaps even unethical scholarship.
The 'Resettlement Action' Document
The following is a translation of the complete text of the "Resettlement Action" report:
Part of a report rendered by SS Sturmbannführer Franke-Gricksch on a trip through the General Gouvernement on 4 to 16 May 1943.
Resettlement Action of the Jews
The Auschwitz camp has a special role in the settlement of the Jewish question. The most up-to-date methods make it possible to implement the Führer Order here very quickly and discreetly.
The so-called "resettlement action" for the Jews proceeds as follows:
The Jews arrive in special trains (freight cars) toward evening and are taken by a special rail track into an area of the camp specifically set aside for this purpose. There they are unloaded and are then examined for their fitness for work by a medical team in the presence of the camp commandant and several SS officers. Here every person who can somehow be integrated into the labor program is taken to a special camp. Temporarily sick persons are immediately taken to the recuperation camp and are restored to health with a special diet. The basic principle is: Conserve all manpower for work. The earlier "resettlement action" policy is now completely rejected, because no one can afford to systematically destroy valuable labor energy.
The unfit are taken into the basement rooms of a large building, which can be entered from the outside. They go down five or six steps and come into a long, well-built and ventilated basement room, which is fitted with benches on the right and left. It is brightly lit and above the benches are numbers. The prisoners are told they are to be disinfected and washed in preparation for their new tasks. They must therefore undress completely in order to be bathed. In order to avoid any panic and disorder, they are told to arrange their clothes neatly and leave them under a number so they can find their things again after the bath. Everything proceeds in complete calm. They then go through a small corridor and come into a large basement room that resembles a shower room. In this room there are three big pillars. Into these it is possible to introduce certain materials from above, outside the basement room. After 300-400 people have gathered in this room, the doors are closed and from above the containers with the materials are let down into the pillars. When the containers reach the base of the pillars, they produce certain substances that put people to sleep in one minute. A few minutes later, the door on the other side, which leads to an elevator, is opened. The hair of the corpses is cut off, and the teeth (gold teeth) are broken out by specialists (Jews). It has been observed that Jews have hidden jewelry objects, gold, platinum, etc., in hollow teeth. The corpses are then loaded into the elevators and are taken to the first floor. There are located ten large crematory ovens, in which the corpses are burned. (Because fresh corpses burn particularly well, the entire process requires only one-half to one Zentner [50 to 100 pounds] of coke). The work itself is carried out by Jewish prisoners who will never leave this camp.
The result so far of this "resettlement action": 500,000 Jews.
The present capacity of the "resettlement action" ovens: 10,000 in 24 hours.
[Handwritten notation in English:]
I affirm that this is a true copy of the original report. Eric M. Lipman.
Origins of the Document
As he worked on Hitler and the Final Solution, Fleming searched for proof that Franke-Gricksch had actually written the "Resettlement Action" report attributed to him. In a private letter to Alfred Franke-Gricksch's widow dated July 18, 1978, Fleming wrote:
I am writing these lines to you today because ten months ago the British Academy [of Arts and Sciences] officially granted me the research assignment to clear up once and for all, that is, to thoroughly research the following important topic, because this has not yet been done by any contemporary historian: [To find proof for] Adolf Hitler's personal, direct orders for mass liquidation [of Jews] as issued by Hitler during the Second World War ... I would like to quote an excerpt from the report of May 15, 1943, signed by your husband, as it pertains directly to my topic: Hitler's personal orders for liquidation ...
A preliminary comment: Fleming's reference to Franke-Gricksch's signature is not correct. In fact, the "Resettlement Action" report bears only the signature of the purported copyist, Lipman. And whereas Fleming asserts in this letter that Franke-Gricksch's report was written on May 15, 1943, in his book he vaguely dates it "sometime between 4 and 16 May."
According to Pressac (pp. 238-39), a carbon copy of a report by Franke-Gricksch on an inspection tour of the General Government, the German occupation regime in Poland, was discovered after the end of the Second World War "somewhere in Bavaria" by Eric M. Lipman (whom Pressac mistakenly calls "Lippmann", an officer with the War Crimes Branch of the U.S. Third Army. After finding the full report in Franke-Gricksch's "career file," Lipman is supposed to have made a typescript copy of that portion of the report describing Auschwitz, i.e. the "Resettlement Action" report. Pressac writes that the carbon copy of the full report was turned over to the American prosecution team at Nuremberg, and is now "thought to be preserved in the National Archives Collection reference NA RG 238." Charles Sydnor, however, who first wrote of the document, writes that "the original of this document evidently is lost amid the still unindexed collection of Nuremberg prosecution documents."
If the carbon copy of the full report was in fact turned over to the American prosecution team at Nuremberg, however, the question arises as to why this explosive document was never introduced into evidence. And why is Eric Lipman the only person who seems to have known anything about it until the 1970s?
I wrote to Mr. Lipman, who now resides in Richmond, Virginia, to ask him about the "Resettlement Action" document. In a letter dated January 23, 1991, he informed me:
[I] have disposed of most of my Nazi documents to various institutions, including Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, the Tauber Institute at Brandeis University, and the archives of Temple Beth Ababa in Richmond.
Consistent with this, Pressac writes (p. 238) that the two-page report typed by Lipman is "now preserved in the Tauber Institute at Brandeis University, with other documents from the Third Reich."
It is therefore quite likely that Sydnor, who teaches at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, either learned of the Lipman's typescript from Lipman himself, or discovered it at Brandeis, while he was researching his book Soldiers of Destruction.
In a footnote following his presentation of the "report" in Hitler and the Final Solution (p. 143), Fleming characterizes the existing "Resettlement-Action" document as follows:
Typewritten copy, deposited by Charles W. Sydnor in the U.S. National Archives; one of three carbon copies from [sic] Alfred Franke-Gricksch's report, written on a service mission through the Generalgouvernement between 14 and 16 May 1943, is in author's possession.
In a letter to Fleming dated February 19, 1991, 1 wrote:
I have been trying to locate the carbon copy from which the typewritten report was culled, and as a result, have been directed to you, as I have discerned that Brandeis and the US National Archives do not possess the carbon.
Upon reading Fleming's reply of March 1, in which he wrote, "I am sending you the requested photocopy," I rather understandably expected to receive a photocopy of the carbon copy of the full report ascribed to Franke-Gricksch. Instead, Fleming merely sent me a photocopy of the same typescript "copy", complete with English-language heading, that is reproduced in facsimile by Pressac.
Thus, Fleming's statement that "one of three carbon copies from Alfred Franke-Gricksch's report ... is in author's possession" is apparently not true.
To sum up: There is no evidence that a carbon copy of the original report was ever "found" in the SS officer's career file. Nor is there any evidence that this elusive "carbon copy" is in the National Archives, or even that such a document ever existed. The only version of this report that seems to exist anywhere is Lipman's typescript "copy" of an alleged extract from the missing report.
Analysis of the Document
The document itself, Lipman's alleged typed copy of a carbon of the original, bears no reference to a letterhead or classification number, which were routine on authentic official reports, and would have been present on the original. Oddly enough, instead of supplying the date of the report at the top of page 1, Lipman has given the dates of Franke-Gricksch's supposed trip through the "General Gouvernement" (sic - the correct German designation is "Generalgouvernement"), although he stumbled over the year and had to handwrite "3" over the last digit, indecipherable in the copy available to this writer, in the year.
An analysis of the text of the "Resettlement-Action" report points toward a fabrication. Although it is represented that Lipman merely typed the "Umsiedlungs-Aktion der Juden" from the German original, the document contains tell-tale anglicisms, some of them uncorrected, some of them typed over with the equivalent German words. Thus, on the first line of the purported report, "had" for "hat"; "der," the second word of line 2, typed over "the"; and on line 3, "hier" typed over "here." On line 8 of the second page of the report, the alleged copyist typed "had," but corrected that to "hat," only to begin the following word with "t" (evidently for "the") before catching that and typing the correct German definite article, "die". Furthermore, in the final paragraph of page 1, the English participial ending "d" is twice typed for the German "t", i.e. "ausgestatted" "ausgestattet" on line 5, which has been corrected, and "gebaded" for "gebadet" on line 9. And last, but not least, the verb "kommt" is used twice with the same subject in the sentence beginning on line 6 of the third paragraph of page 1.
These are certainly remarkable characteristics for what Fleming and Pressac advance as a simple transcription of a German original. A less trusting (or perhaps more scrupulous) interpreter might well be within his rights to suggest that this document was based on an English-language, not a German, source.
Fleming avoids dwelling on, or even mentioning, the textual peculiarities of the document. Instead, he limits himself to carping about the accuracy of one portion of the "report." He writes (p. 144):
Franke-Gricksch's account of "the execution of the Führerorder," namely, the lowering of "certain materials" into a large cellar room resembling a "shower bath" and activation and release of "particular substances that put people to sleep in one minute" is a fraudulent and cynical white-washing of death by gassing.
Grasping to confirm the orthodox extermination story, Fleming regards the absurd statements which immediately follow as completely accurate. He accepts that specially chosen Jews extracted gold-filled teeth from the corpses, which were then loaded into elevators. He believes that the corpses burned very quickly in the "ten large crematoria." Fleming credulously accepts that half a million Jews had already been killed as part of this "Resettlement Action" by mid-May 1943, and that the camp's crematory ovens could "process" as many as ten thousand corpses every twenty-four hours. In support of this, he cites the incredible, and indeed fantastic, "testimony" of former "Sonderkommando" member Filip Müller, who made much the same claim.
As for whom the report was intended, Fleming's viewpoint is no less unsatisfactory. He cites a letter written by Franke-Gricksch's superior, SS-Obergruppenführer Maximilian von Herff, who headed the SS Personnel Office and reported directly to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, in which von Herff stated his intention to inspect the Auschwitz camp on May 4, 1943. Fleming goes on to argue, without advancing any evidence, that von Herff may not have visited Auschwitz after all, although he accepts that von Herff carried out the rest of the inspection tour. The reasoning for Fleming's contention here becomes evident on the next page of his book, where the Exterminationist scholar claims that Franke-Gricksch wrote the "Resettlement Action" report for von Herff. Fleming's shaky facts and logic provide, of course, the only possible rationale for Franke-Gricksch's composing such a report.
In short, Fleming ignores the basic elements of historical source criticism, passing over the manifest defects and incongruities of the text of the alleged "transcript," and straining to manufacture a reason for its existence.
In any case Fleming's real authority for the authenticity of the "Umsiedlungs-Aktion" report is another, postwar, document, also allegedly composed by Alfred Franke-Gricksch, which bears the title "From the Diary of a Fallen SS Leader." We shall analyze this document in the light of Franke-Gricksch's remarkable political affinities and activities from the last years of the Weimar Republic to the postwar occupation, further on in this paper.
In contrast to Fleming's rather superficial appraisal of the document, French researcher Jean-Claude Pressac, the leading Exterminationist expert on the crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau, has wrestled with the "Resettlement-Action" report at length in his 1990 Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, not always to the advantage of the report's authenticity and veracity.
Pressac reproduces a facsimile of a "typed copy of the carbon copy" of the alleged Franke-Gricksch report which is identical to the one provided to this author by Gerald Fleming, except that Fleming's version does not include Lipman's handwritten sentence and signature.
Pressac acknowledges a number of serious factual errors in the "Resettlement Action" report, which he accepts as authentic. He tries to discount their importance by explaining them away as understandable mistakes. As we shall see, Pressac's apologetic explanations are woefully inadequate.
Pressac assigns the site of the mass murders described in the report to Krematorium No. II at Birkenau. Whereas the "Resettlement Action " report describes "three big pillars" in the alleged death chamber, Pressac points out (p. 239) that there were actually four pillars in this room (which was actually a mortuary cellar, or Leichenkeller). He also acknowledges as erroneous the report's assertion that there were ten large crematory furnaces in this building. In fact, there were five three-muffle crematory ovens in Krema II. Pressac's "explanation" that perhaps Franke-Gricksch was referring to the total number of ovens in Kremas II and III together cannot be valid because the document specifically asserts that these ten crematory ovens were in a single building.
Pressac also admits that the figure of ten thousand daily cremations given in the "Resettlement Action" report is a physical impossibility (p. 239, n. 8). His lame "explanation" for this absurd figure is that it must have been a product of SS propaganda. He does not explain, though, why there should be propaganda falsehoods in a confidential, internal SS report. Pressac also fails to note that this figure, which he concedes is ridiculous, has also been cited by supposedly authoritative "eyewitnesses" such as Rudolf Höss, Miklos Nyiszli and Filip Müller, as well as in the Soviet War Crimes Commission Report of May 1945 (Nuremberg document USSR-008).
Pressac concedes that the "Resettlement Action" reports claim that 500,000 Jews had already been killed by May 1943 is not true. The real figure, he asserts without evidence, was "probably somewhere between 200,000 and 250,000." Pressac fails to convincingly explain just why the killers would want to exaggerate their grisly toll by at least two-fold. Furthermore, even this lower estimate is difficult to accept, given the fact that the four Birkenau crematory facilities were not completed until between March and June 1943.
The "most striking and serious error" in the "Resettlement Action" report, Pressac writes (p. 239), is the assertion that the "gas chamber" had a door at each end. In fact, this room had only one door ("through which the victims entered and from which the corpses were removed," Pressac adds). Pressac's lame explanation for Franke-Gricksch's "confusion" is that he must have taken "some kind of break in his visit to the crematorium that caused him to lose his bearings somewhat."
In addition to the errors that he willingly acknowledges, Pressac silently passes over other problematic assertions in the document. For example, Pressac does not even try to explain how Jewish "Sonderkommando" members could have begun their gruesome work of hauling bodies from the "gas chamber" only "a few minutes" after the killings without themselves promptly falling victim to the residual poisonous vapors.
Contrary to the claim in the "Resettlement Action" report (and by various "eyewitness") that the lethal substance (supposedly Zyklon) was lowered or dropped into the chamber through hollow pillars, anyone visiting the site of the extant ruins of this chamber (Leichenkeller I) can easily verify that the pillars there are not hollow, but are made of solid, steel-reinforced concrete.
Further, Pressac offers no explanation for the document's silly assertion that "fresh corpses burn particularly well."
Nor does he attempt to account for the report's mention of a "special rail track into an area of the camp specifically set aside for this purpose." This can only refer to a rail spur from the main Auschwitz (Vienna-Krakow) rail line into the Birkenau camp. In fact, work on this Birkenau rail spur did not even begin until January 1944.
This false reference to a "special rail track" would by itself be enough to show that the "Resettlement Action" report is fraudulent, and almost certainly a postwar fabrication. Fleming's credulity not merely in accepting the "Resettlement Action" report but in making it a centerpiece of his defense of the thesis that Hitler did give an explicit order to exterminate the Jews of Europe, and Pressac's ineffectual lucubrations to validate it, tell a good deal about the substance of contemporary Exterminationist scholarship.
Franke-Gricksch's Dubious Diary Entry
There remains the enigma of a postwar writing attributed to Alfred Franke-Gricksch, on which Fleming bases much of his credence in the "Resettlement Action" report.
Several months after his release from British captivity in 1948, Franke-Gricksch is said to have dictated a statement to his wife entitled "From the Diary of a Fallen SS Leader" ("Aus dem Tagebuch eines gefallenen SS-Führers"). This statement, which is quoted at some length by Fleming in Hitler and the Final Solution (pp. 146-151), would seem to corroborate the extermination thesis, including an order by Hitler to "blot out once and for all the biological bases of Judaism."
The purported diary entry (Franke-Gricksch's actual diary of the wartime years, if it ever existed, seems to be missing), concerns an alleged meeting between Himmler, von Herff, and Franke-Gricksch shortly before the May 1943 "Generalgouvernement" inspection tour. (For reasons of space, the document is not reproduced here.)
As Gerald Fleming readily concedes, even the title of this document is misleading: Franke-Gricksch did not "fall" during the war. Fleming also accepts that this "diary" entry is not a contemporary record, but was indeed written after the war. In his 1978 letter to Franke-Gricksch's widow, Fleming wrote:
The text "From the Diary of an SS Leader [sic]" can only be understood if it is read together with, and compared with, the report your husband drew up for Maximilian von Herff in mid May 1943.
Franke-Gricksch's son Ekkehard begs to differ. In a November 4, 1990, letter to this author, he explained:
By war's end, my father was manager of the office of Maximilian von Herff, head of the SS Personnel Main Office, and a member of Himmler's inner staff. As a member of this inner staff, he was involved, above all, with the questions of socio-political, economic, and financial-political policy that the SS had to put into effect ...
Through his work with von Herff, my father gained a keen insight into the morale among the SS leaders. As indicated in the "Diary of a Fallen SS Leader," no SS man wanted to serve in the concentration camps. The supervision of labor camps seemed pointless. This matter was repeatedly raised in discussions with Himmler, as a result of the increasing discontent among the SS men.
It was in this context that Himmler spoke of the assigned task of the SS to administer and supervise these camps. This [he said] was a Führer Order. Fleming turned this into the [so-called] Führer Order for the extermination of the Jews. The diary was dictated by my father after the war. From many letters, I recognize his typewriter [script] with which the diary was written ... As a consequence of his position in the SS Personnel Office, my father visited the concentration camps, but this was only out of concern for the SS men who worked there. It was out of this that the falsification was produced.
While Ekkehard's interpretation seems plausible, he fails to explain why his father would have entitled it "From the Diary of a Fallen SS Leader," or why this odd document was submitted in evidence at the 1965 Treblinka Trial.
Assuming that Alfred Franke-Gricksch wrote "From the Diary of a Fallen Soldier," what was his motive in writing it? Fleming, who recognizes that the document is enigmatic enough to require the help of the "Resettlement Action" "report" for elucidation, provides a speculative explanation that simply defies belief (pp. 152-153):
... In autumn 1948, when the above account [the "Diary"] was written, von Herff was no longer alive to testify (having died in British captivity in 1945); Alfred Franke-Gricksch therefore saw himself with no choice but to supply, in as convincing and plausible a form as possible, the background circumstances of the report he made on the liquidation machinery at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He did not know at the time whether the Auschwitz ["Resettlement Action"] report had already been found and registered, but he had to reckon with the possibility that sooner or later this compromising document would indeed be found.
As we have demonstrated, though, the "Resettlement Action" document is not what it purports to be. It could not possibly have been written as an authentic first-person contemporary report. Franke-Gricksch therefore would not have had any reason to "cover himself" by writing this "Diary." In fact, it is obvious from even a casual reading of the "Diary" document that it more tended to incriminate than to exonerate Franke-Gricksch, particularly if one takes into account that the "Resettlement-Action" document has all the earmarks of a clumsy postwar forgery.
Fortunately, a look at Franke-Gricksch's ideology and background, and especially his political activities between late 1948 and late 1953, provides the most likely explanation of why this 'Diary" was fabricated.
During the early 1930's, Franke-Gricksch was a leading activist in the political movement of Otto Strasser, who like his brother Gregor was a one-time comrade and later a bitter enemy of Hitler.
In his letter to the author of November 4, 1990, Ekkehard Franke-Gricksch wrote about his father's prewar activities:
My father, my mother, the Strassers, and Himmler had known each other since about 1927. They were dedicated National Socialists, and thus followed Hitler. My father joined the party in 1928 and left it in 1930. Gregor Strasser was the witness at my parents' wedding ...
When Hitler took control of the government in 1933, and distanced himself from his original National Socialist goals ... my father fled the country with Gregor [meant is Otto] Strasser ... The Reich Supreme Court sentenced my father to death in absentia for treason -- that is, because he was a member of the Strasser organization ... [However] my father came to an understanding with Himmler about the Party's betrayal of the National Socialist revolution. Himmler and my father came to an agreement, and my father [returned to Germany and] joined the Waffen SS under the name of Alfred Franke -- behind the back of the Party. Himmler only asked that he refrain from political activity for the time being, until the time was right for that.
In a short autobiographical statement ("Mein Lebenslauf in Stichworten") composed while in British captivity, Alfred Franke-Gricksch recalled his activist days with the Strasser organization in Prague:
Separation from Otto Strasser due to fundamental differences of opinion in political matters. Strasser wanted his newspaper to oppose the return [to the Reich] of the Saar and Memel [territories] ... I was of a different opinion: the Saar and Memel territories belong to Germany, and if we did not want to lose the trust of our fighters in Germany, the fight against Hitler must not be permitted to become a fight against Germany.
Despite his break with Otto Strasser's "Black Front" and his enlistment in the SS, Franke-Gricksch maintained an open, indeed critical, mind. In February 1941 Franke-Gricksch sent Himmler a memorandum from Dachau, where he was serving as an officer responsible for ideological training of SS Totenkopf recruits, who guarded the concentration camps. The memorandum was, as Charles Sydnor summarizes (pp. 315-16):
... subtly critical of the crude and harsh emphasis upon hatred of racial enemies and obedience to orders that Franke-Gricksch describes as the staple of political indoctrination in the SSTK The document concludes with an appeal that Himmler revise the ideological training in the SS to include an emphasis upon what Franke-Gricksch calls the great political, economic, and geographical issues the SS soldier needed to know to be a convinced National Socialist.
After his release from British captivity in 1948, Franke-Gricksch played a major role in organizing the "German Brotherhood" ("Deutsche Bruderschaft"), a semi-clandestine group largely made up of former Wehrmacht officers, Hitler Youth leaders, and SS men. Franke-Gricksch became the group's spokesman and "chancellor."
The ideology of the "Brotherhood" reflected Franke-Gricksch's own past as a leader in the "Red-Brown" Strasser organization. The "Brotherhood" aligned itself with the Communist "National Front" and supported cooperation with the Soviet Union. A Munich newspaper reported in 1950 that the "Brotherhood" even offered to transfer its organization to the Soviet army.
By all accounts, Franke-Gricksch opposed Hitler (and "Hitlerism") before, during, and after the war. Given this record, it is reasonable to conclude that he was capable of working together with Allied intelligence personnel to furnish background information that would provide credibility for the "Resettlement Action" report. Such cooperation would also explain why an SS officer of Franke-Gricksch's standing might have been released by the British rather than being tried as a "war criminal." It may also provide a plausible motive for Franke-Gricksch to compose his back-dated, damningly anti-Hitler "diary" entry. In any case, Franke-Gricksch's political activities and aspirations indicate that he might well be willing to accept, and even help bolster for some conceivable reason of Realpolitik, the Allied propaganda claims about "gas chambers" and the like.
But Franke-Gricksch's political activity was short-lived. Fleming reports (p. 141):
In October 1951, he [Franke-Gricksch] went to visit his mother in Potsdam, where he and his wife were subsequently charged. For his activities with the SS Police division in Russia between August and the winter of 1942, Franke-Gricksch was condemned to death by the Russians in October 1951, in Karlshorst [a Berlin suburb], while his wife was sentenced to twenty-five years in a labor camp. In October 1955, his wife left Vorkuta and returned to West Germany.
With regard to his father's arrest and deportation, Ekkehard writes in his letter to the author (see above, p. 273):
As a leader of the Brotherhood, my father was lured to East Berlin in late September 1951 where he was arrested by Soviet secret service agents. One or two days later his wife [Ekkehard's stepmother] was lured into the Soviet Zone with a fabricated letter containing the message that her husband had suffered a severe colic and was laid up at his mother's in Potsdam.
He died on August 18, 1953, in the Vorkuta camp in the Soviet Union. My stepmother was sentenced to 25 years forced labor, but was released in 1956.
Why Franke-Gricksch was arrested, convicted, and sent off to death in the Gulag at precisely that time remains, no less than the motivation for his writing his fake diary entry, speculative. Could Franke-Gricksch have been playing some complicated intelligence game between East and West, Britain's SIS and its Soviet counterpart, while all the while striving to resurrect a neutral Germany following a "third way" beyond capitalism and communism?
As already indicated, Frau Liselotte Franke-Gricksch submitted the "Diary" entry as evidence for the prosecution in the 1965 West German Treblinka Trial. Interestingly, Frau Franke-Gricksch asked about her husband's fate and whereabouts in a letter of February 3, 1969, sent to the Tracing Service of the German Red Cross. Apparently she believed, or at least hoped, that her husband might still be alive in Soviet captivity. This provides a possible explanation for her decision to submit the "Diary" as evidence in the Treblinka. trial. She may have believed that this act of cooperation might help procure her husband's release.
As we have shown, a careful examination of the available evidence shows that the "Resettlement Action" report attributed to Franke-Gricksch ("Umsiedlungs Aktion der Juden") is a postwar fabrication, most likely by Eric Lipman.
Even though this "report" is worthless as a document of historical importance, the way it has been handled and exploited by Exterminationist historians Gerald Fleming and Jean-Claude Pressac is revealing. In their frantic search for evidence to prove the Holocaust story, these historians have misrepresented, ignored or white-washed the clearly false assertions in the document's text, and ignored other evidence, including the suspiciously defective text itself, that indicates its fraudulent character.
Instead of calmly evaluating evidence, subjecting it to critical analysis, and then drawing conclusions from it, Fleming and Pressac have instead tried to portray the bogus "Resettlement Action" report as an authentic and credible document, exploiting it as "evidence" to "prove" a preconceived view. This technique, which by the most charitable interpretation might be called wish fulfillment, is precisely the opposite of how open-minded historians should go about their work.
- Eleven years after the publication of Hitler's War, Irving further modified his stand on this issue. On the basis of his own further research, and impressed with the results of execution expert Fred Leuchter's investigation of the alleged extermination gas chambers in Auschwitz, Irving joined Holocaust Revisionists such as Dr. Arthur Butz and Prof. Robert Faurisson, who maintain that there was no German wartime policy of extermination. For a more detailed discussion of the lack of documentary evidence for an extermination program, see: Carlo Mattogno, "The Myth of the Extermination of the Jews," The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1988 (Vol. 8, No. 2), pp. 133-140.
- C. Sydnor, Soldiers of Destruction (1977), p. 337, footnote.
- In a January 1991 telephone conversation, Lipman informed me that he could not recall the Franke-Gricksch "Resettlement" document.
- However, Lipman's handwritten sentence and signature at the end appears possibly to have been blanked out on the photocopy sent to me by Fleming.
- Supposedly corroborating the "Resettlement" report, Fleming also cites Müller's description of the alleged gassing procedure. However, this is a description of gassings in Krema I (in the Auschwitz main camp), and not in Krema II in Birkenau, the supposed setting of gassings in the "Resettlement" report. Fleming also ignores differences between Müller's description of the gassing procedure, and the description given in the "report."
- G. Fleming, pp. 144-145.
- J.-C. Pressac, pp. 236-239.
- Pressac provides no plausible explanation for his assertion (p. 239, n. 8) that "the maximum daily throughput of the four Birkenau Krematorien was in the order of 3,000 incinerations," since the coke consumption (25 to 50 kg per body) would have required 75,000-150,000 kg per day (!), and the retorts themselves could not possibly have operated at such a rate.
- J.-C. Pressac, pp. 246, 348.
- Whereas the "gas chamber" could hold 300 to 400 persons, according to the "Resettlement" report, both Fleming and Pressac fail to note that Filip Müller and other "eyewitnesses" have insisted that as many as 3,000 persons at a time were herded into the room.
- Still another description of the alleged gassing procedure is given in the 1944 Vrba-Wetzler WRB report.
- Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies (1981), p. 34 (fn 3), p. 175.
- G. Fleming, pp. 152, 153.
- From p. 1 of a two-page typed copy provided the author by Ekkehard Franke-Gricksch.
- Various German press accounts from the year 1950, including Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin), Nov. 17, 1950. Copies in author's possession, provided by Ekkehard Franke-Gricksch.
- The case of Alfred Franke-Gricksch resembles in some respects that of Kurt Gerstein. See: Henri Roques, The "Confessions" of Kurt Gerstein (IHR, 1989).
From The Journal of Historical Review, Fall 1991 (Vol. 11, No. 3), pages 261-279
About the Author
Brian A. Renk was born in British Columbia in 1964. He studied at Selkirk College and the University of British Columbia (Vancouver), with a special interest in history and philosophy. At the time this article was published (1991), he was living in Ottawa, where he was studying toward a degree in history.