1941 - 1945

Header Photo & Random Thoughts from my Random Mind: The railway track to Auschwitz. The last tracks of life leading to death. Imprisoned in wagons in conditions you wouldn't dream of keeping cattle in, the terrified travellers on this journey to the East were whipped and beaten to get out of the wagons and onto the tracks. From there they were forced from a ghastly present and into a certain past. They were walking into history, or rather the darkest abyss that history has seen or will ever see.

For how can it be that in the last 100 years or so, a fraction of time in the history of the world, one man or one woman could do this to another man and another woman and their children too? How could it be that our parents or grandparents were forced to bear witness to such a thing?

And what of the children? What did they do? All that remains are mounds of their favourite toys, Minnie Mouse figures and teddies and dolls, the thing they grasped with one hand and their mother's with the other as they were led to the end. Isn't it the saddest point in time the world has ever known? Can words, books and films really do justice to the BIGNESS of it all? Are there really words for it?

You can read the facts about The Final Solution below but the words don't convey the fact that behind the figures and the stats were human beings with hearts and souls, living, breathing bodies, murdered on an industrial scale. Adolf Eichmann once said: 'One hundred dead is a disaster. One million dead is a statistic'. When murder is committed in the millions then there are no words, no reconstruction, that can adequately describe just what happened in those Death Camps.

A warning from History, certainly, but it has to be more than that. What it should be I can't say as I don't have big enough words for it. A start would be Shoah to be shown to everybody as the real warning from History and, at the same time, to hear a few survivors as they were in the 1980s, talk about just went on in those Death Camps and the everyday misery of it all. The film is long, really long, but that is part of its power. For me, the power also comes not only in the interviews but in the camerawork. For example, while survivors are talking you get moving imagery of Auschwitz in winter and the camera takes you, slowly, around the Concentration Camp, so you get a feel for just how BIG the place is. I have never felt that in anything else I've seen. And the Warsaw Ghetto, the camera slowly goes around where it was until you reach a building, still standing in the 1980s when the documentary was made, where the front looked on to an 'Aryan' world where all was peace, all was well, whilst the back looked onto Death and the Ghetto. Extraordinary. Whilst, for example, the camera pans around a Warsaw of the 1980s you can just feel, just behind the surface, its tragic history screaming to get out.

And I haven't seen anyone who has.

2nd World War The Final Solution - Complete >> Introduction >> The Final Solution - Random Facts for a Random World >> Introduction >> Operation Barbarossa >> The Final Solution: The Decision >> The Final Solution in the USSR >> The Fate of the German Jews >> The Start of Gassing >> The Wannsee Conference >> Operation Reinhard >> Economic Considerations >> Auschwitz >> End of Auschwitz >> Other Deaths >> Forced Labour in Germany >> The Situation in 1945 >> Conclusion >> Dvds on 2nd World War >> Shoah 4 Disc Dvd Set >> War Book Scans

Kristallnacht >> Auschwitz >> Nuremberg Party Rallies

Adolf Hitler >> Heinrich Himmler >> Josef Goebbels >> Triumph of the Will >> Triumph of the Will 2 Dvd >> Leni Riefenstahl >> Rudolf Hess >> Martin Bormann >> Herman Goering >> Who Helped Hermann Goering Escape The Hangman? >> Josef Mengele >> Adolf Eichman >> Irma Grese

Daily Mail - 2nd May 1945 >> Daily Mail - 3rd May 1945 >> Daily Mail - VE Day - It's All Over >> Scans added of the best books of Germany during the war and after incl. definitive guide on The Nuremberg Rallies - Smartphone Page >> Best 2nd World War Book Scans Added >> British War Dvds

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The Final Solution (1941 - 1945)

Source: Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust

the final solution

Jewish men await death in a gas van.
[Photo credits: Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi War Crimes]

Introduction

On 22 June 1941 Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa - the attack on the USSR. He was now fighting the war he had always wanted. Victory, as well as giving him control of all Europe, would provide the opportunity to destroy 'Jewish Bolshevism' and win lebensraum for the German master race. Defeat, on the other hand, would mean disaster. Given the colossal stakes involved, the war against the USSR was to be different in kind from the war in the west: it was to be a brutal and uncompromising war to the death. At first everything went well for Hitler. His forces won a series of major battles, capturing millions of prisoners and occupying huge swathes of land. As German troops penetrated deeper into Russia, special units of police and SS waged an unprecedented campaign of murder against Communist officials and Jews. This was the prelude to the Holocaust - the systematic extermination of all European Jews. A great deal of controversy surrounds this 'Final Solution', not least the question of when, but also the process by which, the genocide decision was made.

the final solution

A Nazi about to shoot the last Jew left alive in Vinica, Ukraine
[Photo Credit: Library of Congress]

Operation Barbarossa

American historian Richard Breitman has recently claimed that Hitler made the fateful decision to exterminate all European Jews not later than January 1941, as the planning for Operation Barbarossa went ahead: the Final Solution thereafter just became a matter of 'time and timing'. However, Breitman has provided little but circumstantial evidence to support his case. Given the lack of hard evidence, most Holocaust historians think that the genocide decision came later. Yet there is absolutely no doubt that Hitler was determined to defeat and destroy 'Jewish-Bolshevists'.

the final solution

On 3 March 1941 he issued a secret directive to his army high command insisting that 'the Bolshevik/Jewish intelligentsia' in the USSR 'must be eliminated', in the same way that the Polish elite had been annihilated. While some army leaders had opposed the massacre of Polish civilians, all seem to have accepted Hitler's call for unprecedented brutality in the USSR. In part, this reflected the army's increased faith in Hitler after the military successes of 1939-41. In part, it reflected the fact that most German officers shared Hitler's hatred of Bolshevism and Judaism (which they saw as one and the same) and his belief that the demonised enemy had to be beaten, whatever the cost. In early March the army high command accepted that the SS should be entrusted with 'special tasks' in the conquered areas of the USSR, and that Himmler should have special independent powers. Army directives, issued on 19 May, proclaimed that the war against the USSR would require 'ruthless and energetic action against Bolshevik agitators, guerrillas, saboteurs, and Jews, and the total elimination of all active or passive resistance'. On 6 June 1941, army leaders ordered that political commissars (Communist Party officials), 'the initiators of barbaric, asiatic methods of combat', were to be shot after being taken prisoner.

Army leaders, while accepting the need for brutal measures, were happy to leave implementation of most of the dirty work to the SS and to the Einsatzgruppen. In June 1941 there were four Einsatzgruppen - A to D - attached to the four army groups that would invade the USSR. Each Einsatzgruppen, roughly 1,000 men strong, was divided into smaller units called Einsatzkommandos. Most men in the Einsatzgruppen were ordinary policemen, hurriedly seconded from various police departments. The officers, on the other hand, were carefully selected. Well-educated, ambitious, and successful, they were committed Nazis. Otto Ohlendorf, commander of Einsatzgruppen D, was typical. A tall, handsome 34-year-old lawyer, he held degrees in both economics and law.

the final solution

Although the commanders had been briefed by Heydrich in Berlin (on 17 June 1941) and knew in general terms what was expected of them, the precise content of their orders is a matter of controversy. After 1945 surviving Einsatzgruppen leaders gave conflicting evidence about the orders they had received. At the Nuremberg trials, Ohlendorf and several other Einsatzkommando leaders, testified that an order to kill all the Jews had been given shortly before the start of the campaign by Bruno Streckenbach, chief of the personnel for the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), on instructions from Himmler. However, other Einsatzgruppen leaders later testified that they had received no such order until some time in August or September 1941. Furthermore Streckenbach, who was thought to be dead in 1945, emerged from a Soviet prison camp in the mid-1950s and denied having given the order. Three of the Nuremberg defendants then retracted their statements, saying that they had been made in an attempt to save Ohlendorf from the gallows.

To further complicate matters, it seems that different Einsatzgruppen did slightly different things at slightly different times in the summer of 1941. Generally, after entering Russian towns, they rounded up and shot Communist leaders and Jews. In some areas, especially the Baltic States and the Ukraine, where anti-Semitism was deep-rooted and where Jews were seen as representatives of the USSR, the Einsatzgruppen were helped by the local populace who enthusiastically joined in pogrom-style killings. After a year under Soviet rule, many people in the Baltic States had their own scores to settle. Some Ukrainians had the scores of many years to settle.

The Einsatzgruppen leaders had certainly been given the task of liquidating potential enemies. However, by no means all Jewish men and relatively few Jewish women and children were killed in June/July. This very much suggests that there was no pre-invasion genocide order. Swiss historian Philippe Burrin has also pointed out that 4,000 policemen, not specially trained in mass killing techniques, were hardly likely to be thought sufficient to kill five million Russian Jews. While most historians accept that the extensive shootings of Jews in June/July marked a 'quantum leap' in the direction of genocide, there is a world of difference between savage violence and cold-blooded, systematic genocide. In the first weeks of Operation Barbarossa, Soviet commissars were more likely to be shot than ordinary Jews. Moreover some of the first (and worst) outrages against Jews were committed not by the Einsatzgruppen but by local people.

the final solution

On 2 July Heydrich (pictured above) issued written instructions to the Einsatzgruppen commanders. Leading Communist officials, 'Jews in the service of the Party or the State' and other extremist elements were to be executed and pogroms by local people should be 'encouraged'. On 17 July Heydrich issued an order that all Jews among Russian prisoners of war were to be executed by the SS. While neither of these directives is proof of the existence of a genocide order, both show that Nazi attitudes were hardening. Nevertheless, Alfred Rosenberg, head of the occupied Soviet territory (the Eastern Territories), was still not preparing for genocide. For Rosenberg, the final solution was still the resettlement of the Jews in indeterminate territory somewhere in the east. If an extermination programme for Soviet Jewry existed, he seems to have known nothing about it. It seems unlikely that Hitler would not have informed Rosenberg of a decision of such magnitude and of such vital concern to him. There is also evidence that not even Himmler was preparing for genocide. A July 1941 plan suggests that, while he expected a brief period of killing, he then envisaged massive population movement. Over a 30-year period, some 31 million people from the Eastern Territories were to be expelled to Siberia and replaced by 4.5 million Germans. The deportees would include Soviet Jews. This does not suggest that the Holocaust had yet been planned. The final evidence is statistical. Up until mid-August 1941, about 50,000 Soviet Jews are thought to have been killed: this was a modest figure given that 500,000 were to be killed in the next four months.

Browning thinks that an elated Hitler, confident that victory over the USSR was at hand, gave signals to carry out 'racial cleansing' in mid-July 1941. Apparently master of all of Europe, he no longer had to worry about world opinion. Interestingly, both Himmler and Heydrich were in close proximity to his headquarters from 15-20 July. Here was an opportunity for Hitler to have confided new orders. Certainly events now began to gather momentum. In late July Hitler committed two SS brigades (over 11,000 men) to assist the overburdened Einsatzgruppen. This was only the start of the build-up. By the end of 1941 there were some 60,000 men in Einsatzgruppen or police battalions on Soviet territory - sufficient manpower to kill on a massive scale.

the final solution

In August 1941 Himmler (pictured above) travelled through much of the Eastern Territories and was thus in a position to confirm the new policy. The fact that he issued personal instructions probably explains why different Einsatzgruppen leaders learned of the new turn in policy at different times. Whatever the precise time-scale, there is no doubt that by late August the killing of Jews was on a different scale. Jewish women and children were now routinely massacred. In June/July most of the victims were shot individually by firing squad. By August, however, hundreds at a time were forced to lie in or kneel at the edge of a trench (which they had often dug themselves) before being shot in the back of the head.

The Final Solution: the Decision

By September 1941 the mass slaughter of Russian Jews was well underway. However, what Hitler had in store for Jews in other parts of Europe remains unclear. Browning is convinced that Hitler was considering killing all Jews in July 1941 and asked Himmler and Heydrich to come up with a genocide 'feasibility study': after all, it was illogical to kill Russian Jews and then transport Polish Jews into the vacuum thus created. In Browning's view, the mass murder of Jews was the first use to which German victory was going to be put: 'in the euphoria of seeming victory [in July 1941] Hitler solicited a plan to extend the killing process already underway in Russia to the rest of Europe's Jews'.

On 31 July Goering sent the following document to Heydrich:

    I hereby charge you with making all necessary preparations with regard to organisational, technical and material matters for bringing about a complete solution of the Jewish question within the German sphere of influence in Europe. ... I request you further to send me, in the near future, an overall plan covering the organisational, technical and material measures necessary for the accomplishment of the final solution of the Jewish question which we desire.

the final solution

Goering (pictured above) did not initiate but only signed this authorisation, which was actually prepared by Heydrich's office. (Heydrich was thus essentially giving orders to himself) Nevertheless, historian Raul Hilberg regards the Goering document as a critical 'turning point'. Browning agrees. Given that the SS already had far-reaching authority, Heydrich did not need Goering's authorisation to continue expulsion/extermination activities. The 31 July document thus suggests that Heydrich now knew he faced a new and awesome task that dwarfed even the Einsatzgruppen massacres.

However, other historians are not convinced. Some think the 31 July document simply represented an extension of Heydrich's responsibility for the Jewish question beyond Germany's borders. They point out that neither Heydrich nor Goering, in fact, behaved in the days following 31 July as if the decision to kill all Europe's Jews had been taken. There are no signs in August of frenzied activity to organise a genocide programme.

Historians like Burrin and Kershaw are not convinced that the surge of killings in the USSR meant that Hitler had yet decided to kill all of Europe's Jews. They think that Hitler's decision came later - - either in September or October 1941 - and had little to do with the euphoria of victory. 'Everything seems to suggest that there was a decision-making process lasting several weeks before the fatal verdict was handed down in September', thinks Burrin. Kershaw stresses that 'unequivocal signs of actual planning of systematic genocide in Poland, the key area, are not to be found before October'. Burrin and Kershaw believe that Hitler finally decided on genocide more out of a sense of desperation than of elation. By September 1941 Operation Barbarossa was not going to plan. The campaign, which the Germans had anticipated would last no more than four months, was far from over. By August, Hitler was increasingly anxious. The longer the USSR kept up the fight, the greater the danger of guerrilla war. Thus there was a need for even harsher methods to keep the occupied areas under control. Moreover, German casualties continued to mount. According to Burrin, Hitler decided that the Jews would have to foot the bill for the spilling of so much German blood. The central decision in late September or early October, claims Burrin, 'had arisen from a murderous rage increasingly exacerbated by the ordeal of the failure of his campaign in Russia'. By killing his archetypal enemies, he was demonstrating his will to fight to the end.

It is, of course, possible that Hitler gave two extermination orders: one concerning Russian Jews in July 1941 and another later in 1941 affecting the rest of European Jewry. This is Browning's view. Having ordered the killing of Russian Jews and the setting up of a feasibility study, Browning believes that Hitler vacillated between July and September - his mood fluctuating as the fortunes of war in the USSR fluctuated. From mid-September 1941 until mid-October 1941, however, the fighting suddenly swung in Germany's favour. At some stage in September/October 1941, with the second peak of German military success, Browning thinks Hitler unleashed the second great intensification of the Holocaust.

the final solution

Given that documentation is scarce and that most of the chief people responsible for the Holocaust died before the end of the war, the debate about the precise timing of the Final Solution looks set to continue. But most Holocaust historians now accept Burrin's view that the pieces of the Holocaust fell into place between 18 September and 18 October 1941. The vast majority also believe that it was Hitler who initiated the Holocaust. Nothing so radical could have begun without his approval. Admittedly the factors which led to his decision remain speculative, but events do seem to have been propelling him towards a violent solution to the Jewish problem. The slaughter of Soviet Jews would enable Hitler to break out of the vicious circle in which military success brought millions more Jews under German control. Once he resolved to kill all Russian Jews it was but a small step to decide to kill all Jews. Just as with the euthanasia programme, Hitler seems to have been anxious to avoid associating himself too closely with the Holocaust. Thus he probably left it to Goering and Himmler to sort matters out between themselves, having given them the go-ahead in general terms. It is possible that Hitler authorised Himmler to produce a solution to the Jewish question without enquiring too closely into what would be involved. But since any genocide solution required the involvement of numerous state agencies, some form of authorisation from Hitler was necessary. At no stage were local officials acting on their own initiative. They were obeying orders from Himmler, who in turn was obeying Hitler's orders. Himmler later said: 'I do nothing that the Fuhrer does not know.'


The Final Solution in the USSR

the final solution

By mid-August 1941 all the Einsatzgruppen interpreted their task as the extermination of all Soviet Jews. Karl Jager, head of Einsatzkommando 3 of Einsatzgruppen A, kept extensive execution records. In July 1941, the kommando killed 4,293 Jews, of whom only 135 were women. In September 1941, by contrast, the kommando killed 56,459 Jews - 15,104 men, 26,243 women and 15,112 children. By 25 November Jager reported the following number of deaths: 1,064 Communists, 56 partisans, 653 mentally ill, 44 Poles, 28 Russian prisoners, 5 Gypsies, 1 Armenian, and 136,421 Jews. The situation was the same elsewhere. Perhaps the most notorious killing took place outside Kiev (the USSR's third largest city) in September 1941. A few days after the capture of the town on 19 September 1941 a huge explosion killed many German soldiers in the Continental Hotel, the German army headquarters. In reprisal, 33,771 Jews were shot, over a three-day period, at the Babi Yar ravine on the outskirts of Kiev.

Not only the Einsatzgruppen carried out the killings. Auxiliary forces, recruited from people of the Baltic States and the Ukraine, were also willing executioners. So were ordinary German soldiers. The mass shootings of Jews had the support of the army authorities. The following order was issued by Field-Marshal von Reichenau on 10 October 1941:

    The main aim of the campaign against the Jewish-Bolshevist system is the complete destruction of its forces and the extermination of the asiatic influence on the sphere of European culture. As a result, the troops have to take on tasks which go beyond the conventional purely military ones. In the eastern sphere the soldier is not simply a fighter according to the rules of war, but the supporter of a ruthless racial ideology and the avenger of all the bestialities which have been inflicted on the German nation and those ethnic groups related to it. For this reason soldiers must show full understanding for the necessity for the severe but just atonement required of the Jewish subhumans. It also has the further purpose of nipping in the bud uprisings in the rear of the Wehrmacht which experience shows are invariably instigated by Jews.

On 28 October, after Hitler described Reichenau's order as excellent, the army high command instructed all its field commanders to issue orders along the same lines.

the final solution

After 1945 the Wehrmacht tried to hide the fact that it was involved in the Holocaust. However, there is now little doubt about its complicity in the USSR killings - at every level. Army leaders gave the commands and ordinary soldiers willingly carried them out. Indeed they sometimes undertook brutal 'cleansing' operations on their own initiative. The 'primeval' fighting on the eastern front in the Second World War seems to have had a particularly brutalising effect on German troops. The nature of the war - the terrible climatic conditions, the horrendous losses (the Germans suffered some six million casualties in the USSR), the cultural differences between the invaders and the occupied - resulted in German soldiers becoming indifferent to death and suffering. The murder of tens of thousands of Jews was viewed by many as an unavoidable by-product of the battle for survival: probably few had serious misgivings about it. The German army was thus a crucial part of the genocidal machinery in the USSR.

The following description of a killing in the Ukraine in 1942 was given by Hermann Graebe, a German engineer, to a Nuremberg tribunal in 1945.

    The people who had got off the lorries - men, women, and children of all ages - had to undress on the orders of an SS man who was carrying a riding or dog whip in his hand. ... Without weeping or crying out these people undressed and stood together in family groups, embracing each other and saying good-bye while waiting for a sign from another SS man who stood on the edge of the ditch and who also had a whip. During the 15 minutes which I stood near the ditch, I did not hear a single complaint or a plea for mercy. I watched a family of about eight, a man and a woman, both about fifty years old with their children of about one, eight, and ten, as well as two grown-up daughters of about twenty and twenty-four. An old woman with snow-white hair held a one-year-old child in her arms singing to it and tickling it. The child squeaked with delight.The married couple looked on with tears in their eyes. The father held the ten-year-old boy by the hand speaking softly to him.The boy was struggling to hold back the tears.The father pointed a finger to the sky and stroked his head and seemed to be explaining something to him. At this moment, the SS man near the ditch called out something to his comrade. The latter counted off about twenty people, and ordered them behind the mound. The family of which I have just spoken was among them. ... I walked round the mound and stood in front of the huge grave. The bodies were lying so tightly packed together that only their heads showed, from almost all of which blood ran down over their shoulders. Some were still moving. Others raised their hands and turned their heads to show they were still alive. The ditch was already three quarters full. I estimate that it already held about a thousand bodies. I turned my eyes towards the man doing the shooting. He was an SS man; he sat, legs swinging, on the edge of the ditch. He had an automatic rifle resting on his knees and was smoking a cigarette. The people, completely naked, climbed down steps which had been cut into the clay wall of the ditch, stumbled over the heads of those lying there and stopped at the spot indicated by the SS man. They lay down on top of the dead or wounded; some stroking those still living and spoke quietly to them. Then I heard a series of rifle shots. I looked into the ditch and saw the bodies contorting or, the heads already inert, sinking on the corpses beneath."

The following extract was written in January 1942 by Dr Rudolf Lange, responsible for Einsatzgruppen operations in Latvia:

    The aim of Einsaztkommando 2 from the start was a radical solution of the Jewish problem through the execution of all Jews. For this purpose comprehensive purges were carried out in the whole area of our operations by special teams with the help of selected forces from the Latvian auxiliary police (mainly relatives of Latvians who had been abducted or murdered by the Bolsheviks). In early October, the number of Jews executed in the kommando's sphere of operations was about 30,000. In addition, a few thousand Jews have been eliminated by Latvian self-defence formations off their own bat after they had been given suitable encouragement....

    It was impossible to achieve the complete elimination of Jews from Latvia in view of the economic factors and, in particular, the demands of the army.

As the above source makes clear, economic concerns resulted in some Jews escaping immediate death. This issue produced considerable friction between civilian authorities and the army on the one hand, and the SS on the other. Orders from Berlin in December 1941 made it clear that 'economic considerations are to be regarded as fundamentally irrelevant in the settlement of the problem'. However, in practice, a compromise was struck between the SS and the army and economic agencies, whereby a few Jews were given a stay of execution for labour purposes. Nevertheless, over the next two years the Russian ghettos were progressively liquidated, first through piecemeal selections of those no longer capable of work, and then, more comprehensively, during the so-called 'second sweep' starting in the summer of 1942.

the final solution

The numbers of Jews killed in the course of the Einsatzgruppen operations in the USSR can only be estimated. During the first sweep from June 1941 to April 1942 some 750,000 were probably murdered. A further 1.5 million may have been killed in the second sweep of 1942-3. Most of the victims were shot - sometimes by machine gun. A number died in special gas vans, used from December 1941. Others died in labour camps where they were worked to death or succumbed to disease brought about by malnutrition.

It was not just Jews who suffered. The fate of the non-Jewish peoples in the occupied zones depended essentially on the Nazis' conception of where they came on the racial scale. The Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, who were considered partially German, were treated reasonably well. Other peoples were not so fortunate. The 40 million Ukrainians, whose hatred for Soviet oppression was so intense that most welcomed the Germans at first, were soon in the grip of a terror similar to that in Poland. Disobedience of the most trivial kind resulted in summary execution. Tens of thousands of able-bodied Ukrainians were transported to Germany as slave labourers.

The Fate of the German Jews

the final solution

From August 1941 it became illegal for German Jews to emigrate voluntarily. On 1 September all Jews were forced to wear the yellow star of David sewn on their clothing, a move which facilitated the implementation of further anti-Semitic measures. Later that month Hitler declared that the Reich should be liberated of Jews 'as rapidly as possible'. In October Eichmann began transporting German Jews eastwards. Given the situation in Germany, it was not too difficult to find volunteers. Those Jews who were to be 'resettled' in the east were allowed to take with them some money, a case or two of luggage and food for the journey. (The rest of their property was confiscated by the state.) Whatever feelings of optimism the 20,000 Jews who were deported to Lodz in October 1941 had ended as soon as they reached their destination. Some of those deemed incapable of working were killed on arrival. The rest were dumped in the over-crowded ghetto, where many died from starvation and disease. Protests from the authorities in Warthegau about their inability to absorb more Jews led to a temporary end of the transportations to Lodz on 4 November. By then there were other - worse - destinations.

In November and December 1941 some 25,000 Reich Jews were deported to Riga, Minsk and Kovno, towns in the Ostland - a territory in which the Einsatzgruppen operated. (See map) Events in Ostland suggest that, if the ultimate fate of Jews was not in doubt, the actual timing and form of killing was largely improvised, with members of each transport having different experiences depending on where and when they arrived. Some Jews were spared to eke out a survival in the ghettos or nearby labour camps. But in late November 1941, five transports of Jews were massacred at Kovno soon after their arrival and without prior screening to select those fit for labour. The same thing happened in Riga on 30 November 1941. 14,000 Jews from Riga itself were massacred, as well as l,000 Jews who had arrived from Berlin the night before. On 8 December another 13,000 were massacred on the outskirts of Riga. After the war the Ostland SS police leader claimed that Himmler had told him (in November) that 'all Jews in the Ostland must be exterminated right down to the very last one'. Even so, it seems to have been presumed that there would be a Jewish presence for some time in both Riga and Minsk. Trains of Jewish deportees continued to arrive in both towns until the spring of 1942.

The Start of Gassing

Until the winter of 1941-2 the main method of eliminating Jews was mass shootings. While effective in terms of the number killed, this method had some disadvantages, not least the fact that such massacres were hard to conceal, as well as occasionally producing psychological stress among the killers. In August 1941 Himmler commissioned his SS technical advisers to test different ways of killing and recommend those which were more efficient and more 'humane'. Tests with explosives proved to be a gruesome failure. Not surprisingly the SS soon hit upon the idea of gas, which had proved to be a highly effective method in the euthanasia programme. Added to this was the fact that Hitler's Chancellery was eager to redeploy the T-4 personnel.

the final solution

The initial gassing experiment occurred in the Warthegau. By the autumn of 1941 conditions in the Lodz ghetto were appalling and thousands more Jews were still expected. In October Wilhelm Koppe, the area's police chief, aware of the thinking in Berlin, appointed Herbert Lange to find a suitable place for the killing of Warthegau's Jews. (Koppe had already used a special unit commanded by Lange in 1940 to kill some 1,500 mental patients.) In early November Lange recommended Chelmno, some 40 miles north-west of Lodz. An SS team set about converting an old mansion into a barracks where Jews would arrive and undress. A forest clearing, some three miles from the village, was chosen as the site for a mass grave. The first victims in December 1941 were killed in gas vans, the exhaust fumes from which were taken by pipes into the sealed rear. By January 1942 a permanent gas chamber was in use. Chelmno was a pure killing centre: it had no labour camp. By the time it was destroyed in March 1943, some 140,000 Jews (and a few thousand Gypsies, Poles and Russians) are thought to have died there.

Himmler selected Odilo Globocnik, the Lublin police chief, to oversee the killing of Jews in the General Government. Dozens of SS and ex-T-4 men were assigned to him in the autumn of 1941. His task was to construct and run a number of death camps in the Lublin region. Work at Belzec, the first of three sites, began in November 1941. Meanwhile, at Auschwitz (in Upper Silesia), the first gassing experiments on Russian prisoners of war took place in September 1941...cont.

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Links

2nd World War The Final Solution - Complete >> Introduction >> The Final Solution - Random Facts for a Random World >> Introduction >> Operation Barbarossa >> The Final Solution: The Decision >> The Final Solution in the USSR >> The Fate of the German Jews >> The Start of Gassing >> The Wannsee Conference >> Operation Reinhard >> Economic Considerations >> Auschwitz >> End of Auschwitz >> Other Deaths >> Forced Labour in Germany >> The Situation in 1945 >> Conclusion >> Dvds on 2nd World War >> Shoah 4 Disc Dvd Set

Kristallnacht >> Auschwitz >> Nuremberg Party Rallies

Adolf Hitler >> Heinrich Himmler >> Josef Goebbels >> Triumph of the Will >> Triumph of the Will 2 Dvd >> Leni Riefenstahl >> Rudolf Hess >> Martin Bormann >> Herman Goering >> Who Helped Hermann Goering Escape The Hangman? >> Josef Mengele >> Adolf Eichman >> Irma Grese

Daily Mail - 2nd May 1945 >> Daily Mail - 3rd May 1945 >> Daily Mail - VE Day - It's All Over >> Scans added of the best books of Germany during the war and after incl. definitive guide on The Nuremberg Rallies - Smartphone Page >> Best 2nd World War Book Scans Added >> British War Dvds

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Blitz - The Story of 29 December 1940 - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

The Blockade Busters - Cheating Hitler's Reich of Vital War Supplies - book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page


Bomber Boys - the Ruhr, the Dambusters and Bloody Berlin - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

The Burma Road - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Camp Z - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Catch that Tiger - Churchill's Secret Order that Launched the most astounding and dangerous Mission of World War ii - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Changing Course - the Wartime Experiences of a Member of the Women's Royal Naval Service, 1939-1945 - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

The Chianti Raiders - the Extraordinary Story of the Italian Air Force in the battle of britain - book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Churchills Bunker The Secret Headquarters at the Heart of Britain's Victory Hardcover Book
Churchill's Bunker - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Colditz - the Definitive History - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Dad's Army - the Home Guard 1939-1945 - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

daily mail may 8th 1945 edition ve day facsimile copy scanned
Daily Mail May 8th 1945 Edition - Ve Day - Facsimile copy scanned

daily mail may 2nd 1945 edition goebbels dead facsimile copy scanned
Daily Mail May 3rd 1945 edition - Goebbels Dead - Facsimile copy scanned

daily mail may 2nd 1945 edition hitler dead facsimile copy scanned
Daily Mail May 2nd 1945 edition - Hitler Dead - Facsimile copy scanned

The Dam Busters Story by jonathan falconer - book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Das Reich - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

The Day the Devils Dropped in - the 9th Parachute Battalion in Normandy D-day to D+6 - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

D-day - Piercing the Atlantic Wall - book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

The Diary of Petr Ginz Hardcover Book
The Diary of Petr Ginz - book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Dilemmas of the Desert War - the Libyan Campaign of 1940-1942 - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Dunkirk - Retreat to Victory - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Eighth Army in Italy 1943-45 - the Long Hard Slog - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Eighth Army - the Triumphant Desert Army that held the Axis at Bay from North Africa to the Alps, 1939-45 - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

The Fallen - a True Story of American Pows and Japanese Wartime Atrocities - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Field of Fire - Diary of a Gunner Officer - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

I am Fifteen and I do not want to Die - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

First Light - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

For King and Another Country - an Amazing Life Story of an Indian Ww2 Raf Fighter Pilot - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

The Forger - an Extraordinary Story of Survival in Wartime Berlin - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Forgotten Voices of Burma - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Forgotten Voices of D-Day - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Fortress Malta - Hardcover - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Fortress Malta - Paperback - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

French Defeat of 1940 - Reassessments - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Friendly Invasion - Memories of Operation Bolero, 1942-1945 - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Germany at War in Colour Unique Colour Photographs of the Second World War Paperback Book
Germany at War in Colour: Unique Colour Photographs of the Second World War - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Ghost Soldiers - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Guardian - Stalingrad - Pamphlet :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Gunboat Command - the Biography of Lieutenant Commander Robert Hchens Dso Dsc Rnvr - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Hitler vs Stalin - book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Hitler's Admirals - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

The Holocaust by Bullets A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews Hardcover Book
The Holocaust by Bullets - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

In Which They Served - the Royal Navy Officer Experience in the Second World War - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Interrogations - Inside the Minds of the Nazi Elite - book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

It Never Snows in September - the German View of Market-Garden and the Battle of Arnhem, September 1944 - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Italy's Sorrow - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

The Jewish Brigade An Army with Two Masters 1944-45 Paperback Book
The Jewish Brigade: an Army with Two Masters 1944-45, Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Jungle Soldier - the True Story of Freddy Spencer Chapman - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Leningrad - Tragedy of a City Under Siege, 1941-44 - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

The Longest Siege: Tobruk - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

A Lucky Child - a Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Manstein - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Masters and Commanders - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Moondrop to Gascony - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Mussolini's Island - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Operation Neptune - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

The Other Schindlers - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

The Pacific War - From Pearl Harbor to the Fall of Japan - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

The Pacific War - The Official Hbo/Sky Tv Tie-in - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Resistance - Memoirs of Occupied France - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Sea Wolves - The Extraordinary Story of Britain's WW2 Submarines - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Sisters in Arms - British Army Nurses Tell Their Story - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Stirling's Men - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Tanks Across the Desert - the War Diary of Jake Wardrop - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Thunder in the East - the Nazi-Soviet war 1941-1945 - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

To Lose a Battle - France, 1940 - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Waiting for Hitler - Voices from Britain on the Brink of Invasion - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page


War Without Garlands - book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Secret City The Hidden Jews of Warsaw 1940-1945 Hardcover Book
Secret City: Warsaw, Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Victory in Europe - Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives - book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Wartime Courage - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Whicker's War - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Wolfram - The Boy Who Went to War - Book :: extensively scanned - smartphone page

Holocaust - Complete
Holocaust - Complete 6 Dvd boxset

buy/review: UK Dvd

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