Posted Monday, May 30, 2005

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David Hebden points to a little known document on a WW2 Nazi gas chamber at Minsk, Monday, May 30, 2005


Gas chamber at Minsk

THE Franke-Grisksch report may not be the only example of gassings having been mentioned in contemporary German wartime documents.

In the book Nazi Mass Murder: A Documentary History of the Use of Poison Gas (Yale UP, 1993) (a translation of the 1983 German book Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas (ed. Kogon, Langbein, and Ruckerl) in the chapter Killings in the Gas Vans behind the Front, we learn:

'On 15 May 1943 representatives of the Italian Fascist party visited Minsk. The general commissioner for Byelorussia, whose name was Kube, showed them a church that was being used as a warehouse. A diplomat named von Thadden, who held the rank of legation counselor, first class, and was then stationed at the Foreign Office in Berlin, heard about this visit from another legation counselor, von Rademacher, and made the following note in his diary on 15 May 1943:

"The Italians asked about the little packages and suitcases that were piled up in the church. Kube explained that that was all that was left of the Jews who had been deported from Minsk. Then he showed them a gas chamber in which he said Jews had been gassed. The Fascists were severely shaken."'

The source given is: Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes, ref. K-206919 (Archives of the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany).

Generalkommissar Wilhelm Kube is an interesting figure who features in most Holocaust histories ( e.g. link), but this particular gas-van-chamber story is unfamiliar to us. Why is it not better known, we wonder?

David Hebden


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Other letters by David Hebden on this website:

Unexplained dots on aerial photos of Auschwitz
Discrepancies in the Jan 1943 decode on "Operation Reinhardt" | and finds another problem with it: The Korherr Report
The source of Rudolf Höss's figures | and another
What Stalin told his generals of plans to attack Germany
Harry Mazal, OBE, tells H Net, Oct 2000, that he is off to Auschwitz to search for those holes again | Harold Schaffer writes to him but receives only an evasive reply | Mazal posts an air photo of the "holes" at Auschwitz | "Samuel Crowell's" comment on it (Nov 9, 2000)


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 David Irving comments

I SUSPECT there are many documents buried in the German foreign ministry archives that contain pickings both for the conformists and for the real historians. This is after all where the Wannsee protocol came from.

The K206919 is the frame number stamped on the document when it was filmed by the British at Whaddon Hall after the war. If my Catalogue of Captured German Foreign Ministry documents, vol. iii, had not been seized by the British government Trustee in May 2002 along with my archives and library -- about which misdeed the lawyers are meeting tomorrow in London in fact -- I could at once state what file the document came from, and its microfilm number, and check the document and its context.

I confess that I have never heard of the Von Thadden diary, but I have heard of the authors of the book mentioned: Adalbert Rückerl was the conscientious director of the German prosecuting agency at Ludwigsburg; Eugen Kogon was a communist Jew who was accused of himself being part of the killing process.

Other documents show that the ministry's Franz Rademacher (of the Inland II dept., I think) was involved in the Final Solution. The quoted facts are of course third-, fourth-, and by the time it reaches you and me fifth- and even sixth-hand hearsay.

In my view most of the killing at Minsk was done by the old fashioned bullet in back of head method which the Russians themselves had pioneered; I am surprised to hear talk of a gas-chamber in use there, other than the experimental gas truck that was demonstrated once to Adolf Eichmann in that area.

If you type K-206919 into Google it yields two links to the document.

Einsatzgruppen and Gas Vans ... K-206919 (Archives of the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany). 30a. Vorläufiges Verzeichnis der Konzentrationslager, 1933-1945 (Arolsen, ...

Shofar FTP Archives: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts//Exhibits ... ... 523) T/341 Minute by von Thadden on a visit to Minsk by an Italian delegation; Berlin, 15.5.43 (K-206919, TK-321, BO6- 203, Vol. I, p. ...

 © Focal Point 2004 David Irving