Himmler reports to Hitler on anti-Partisan warfare, December 29, 1942

Michael Mills comments on July 22, 1999:

IT IS most likely that the German occupation authorities in the Bialystok District and in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine were using the vast anti-partisan campaign commanded by Waffen-SS General Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski as a convenient cover for destroying a large part of the local Jewish population.

There is probably a connection between this report and the December 1941 note in Himmler's diary "Judenfrage - als Partisanen auszurotten". The diary note probably records a decision to treat the Jewish population of the occupied USSR as partisans, or as the main supporters of the partisans, and the Himmler report of one year later documents the results of action undertaken as a result of that probable decision.

However, the killing of Jews as partisans should not be regarded as a totally cynical exercise. The German Government genuinely regarded Jews as the main supporters of "Bolshevism" and of the Soviet partisans. That was partly a result of National-Socialist ideology, but it also corresponded to reality, at least in part. For example, the 1940 report by Jan Kozielewski alias Karski to the Polish Government-in-Exile in Angers, France, stressed that a large proportion of the Jewish population of the Polish areas occupied by the Soviet Union on 17 September 1939 was enthusiastically collaborating with the invaders (although some remained loyal to Poland), including the formation of an armed militia.

Most interestingly, Karski predicted a bloody revenge, though no doubt he did not imagine that it would be wrought by the Germans. These formerly Polish areas constituted a large part of the area covered by Himmler's 1942 report. Furthermore, Jewish writers have boasted of the Jewish participation in the Soviet partisan movement, citing official statistics to the effect that ethnic Jews made the largest manpower contribution after the Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians. Considering that the Jewish population was very small by comparison with the other three nationalities, and that most of the partisans were dragooned peasants, this means that comparatively speaking Jews were the backbone of the partisan movement.

Accordingly, there was some justification for German action against the Jewish population in the context of anti-partisan warfare, although the numbers killed were vastly disproportionate to the actual danger it posed.

However, it must be borne in mind that anti-partisan warfare usually leads to massive civilian casualties, even when waged by "democratic" governments. During the Algerian War, for example, the French Army killed some one million Muslim Algerians, the vast majority of whom were not armed rebels.

As to the question of the numbers quoted, their exactitude is most probably fictional. The 3,211 component may well be a genuine count, made at one particular massacre or derived by the addition of a number of smaller massacres. The 360,000 component is most likely not the result of an actual count, but an estimate extrapolated from a number of counts and/or estimates; it is probably not absolutely accurate, but nevertheless of the right order of magnitude.

Michael Mills

Leon Simmons adds this information:

REPORT number 51, addressed "to the Führer, re: campaign against gangs," inventories 362,211 Jews executed for the period from 1 September to 1 December 1942. This report from Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler was submitted to Hitler on 31 December 1942 by Hitler's Personal adjutant, Hauptsturmführer Pfeiffer, as indicated in Pfeiffer's hand on page one of the report [Under point 2 of the report, headed "Reports to the Führer, re: campaign against gangs in report number 51," we read: "Gang accomplices and suspects: (a) arrested: 16,553; (b) executed: 14,251; (c) Jews executed: 363,211" (NS 19/291, Bundesarchiv, Koblenz)].

Report 51 was presented in quadruplicate on the Führer-typewriter (a special Typewriter with very large type) in Himmler's field-command headquarters on 29 December; it was submitted to Hitler on 31 December, as the handwritten notation by Hitler's adjutant Pfeiffer indicates.

Am I right in assuming that Hitler's and Himmler's adjutants both signed or initialled this document (ie. Pfeiffer and Grothmann)?

Frederick Gabrielsen comments on December 25, 1999:

I don't see why the SS executing Jews en masse under cover of anti-partisan warfare in Ukraine would come as a surprise. From Nov. 1918 until the end of the Polish- Soviet war in late 1920 the new Polish army did likewise.

As the Polish military thrust into Lemberg(Lvov), Vilna, Pinsk, Minsk, they habitually visited death on the Jewish quarter, sometimes lining a couple of dozen Jews against the wall and gunning them down, always on the pretext that they were executing "Bolsheviks. " The Polish Prime Minister proclaimed this to the world press; British and American Jews protested vigorously-Allied governments of course backed the Poles to the tilt.

Now a report written by U. S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr., after a visit to Poland in mid-1919 did conclude that Polish forces up to then had caused the violent death of close to 300 innocent Jews (thereby implicitly calling the Polish P.M. a liar).

If that is what the '"heroic" Polish army did when totally dependent on the Allied great powers and not really at war with Soviet Russia, what would not Himmler's SS do after Germany had broken irreversibly with Britain and launched all-out war against Soviet Russia?

The problem is that the Morgenthau report and the entire Polish murder campaign against Jews in the Polish sphere (Morgenthau noted, rather coldly, that "most of the non-Jewish press in Poland advocates ridding Poland of its Jewish element") after World War 1 was promptly forgotten, if not suppressed, and remains so. The only way to get into it is to read the press of that day (I've used the New York Times, New York Herald), which is an eye-opener indeed.

The most conspicuous, of course, is that the people that scream the loudest about all the Jews murdered by the Nazis are silent about the murder and anti-Jewish rage of the Poles at the very time Hitler had his political awakening.

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