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Michael Mills of Australia writes Sunday, January 27, 2002



Some problems with interpreting that British intercept about arrivals at "B,S,T,L"

A few comments on the content of the intercepted signal [English] [German original]

1. Use of the word "Zugang"

"Zugang" [translation, roughly: accretion, growth. influx. -- Website] was the official term used for the intake of new prisoners at concentration camps, and implies an induction process of registering the new prisoners in the camp administration books and the assigning of a number. Each daily "Zugang" was normally recorded in a "Zugangsliste" for that date. For example, in the case of Auschwitz-Birkenau, there are surviving "Zugangslisten" containing around 28,000 names; 17,000 names of prisoners, mainly Poles, delivered in 1941, 10,117 names of Jews delivered in 1942, and 960 names of prisoners of various nationality delivered in 1943.

For example, the book Die Zahl der Opfer von Auschwitz by Franciszek Piper reproduces on page 111 the "Zugangsliste" for May 23, 1941. This shows for each prisoner the category ("Schutzh. Pol." or "Schutzh. Jud."), the registration number, name and first name, date of birth, place of birth, and occupation.

The "Zugangsliste" included only prisoners inducted into the camp and registered. Persons who were brought into a concentration camp for execution were not registered and not included in the "Zugangsliste"; they were not considered "Zugang". As an example, the Soviet PoWs selected from Dulags [prisoner holding cages] as fanatical Communists were sent in batches to Auschwitz from September 1941 onward for execution; they were not counted and recorded in the camp books (although they may have been counted and recorded elsewhere); they do not appear in the "Zugangslisten". By contrast, the 10,000 Soviet PoWs sent to Auschwitz in October 1941 as a labour force to construct Birkenau camp were classified as "Zugang", and were registered in a separate series from the Schutzhäftlinge.

Given the function of the word "Zugang" in official usage, its appearance in the intercepted signal presents some difficulties. In relation to Lublin, which was a normal concentration camp where prisoners were inducted and registered, "Zugang" is the word that would be expected for new arrivals. However, in the case of B, S and T [the locations referred to thus in the intercept] the usage is anomalous. The picture [of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka] presented by the testimony of prisoner survivors and former staff is of places of mass extermination, where the arrivals were not taken into the camp as registered prisoners but simply killed en masse. In other words, those localities had more in common with a massacre site such a Bikernieki Forest where groups of Jews were taken from Riga Ghetto for execution in shooting actions.

Since the persons arriving at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka had the same status as the Soviet POWs sent to Auschwitz for execution, or the Jews who arrived there and were not registered, i.e. as groups of arrivals not recorded as "Zugang", it is difficult to understand why the term "Zugang" was used to describe the arrival of those persons.

Perhaps the term was used as a form of camouflage, to blur the distinction between Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka and normal concentration camps. The casual observer seeing the message and noticing the term "Zugang" might assume that these were normal concentration camps where prisoners were being held. However, the very large number recorded for B, more than twice the projected strength of 200,000 for Auschwitz-Birkenau, planned as the largest concentration camp, might have given pause.


2. The numbers

The numbers of arrivals recorded [in the intercept] for each camp seem extremely precise, implying an exact count. However, descriptions by survivors of their reception at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka do not allow for an orderly counting and recording process, with the relatively small camp staff and Ukrainian guard concentrating all their efforts on terrorising the large number of arrivals (typically 5,000 in a transport) as a means of control. Descriptions of the reception of transports at Auchwitz-Birkenau also suggest that arrivals who were not registered were not counted or recorded there either; estimates of their number are derived from deportation lists, not from camp records.

It is probable therefore that the precise numbers appearing in the signal were the result of counts made at points of departure, representing the number in a transport from a particular point of departure to either B, S or T.

It is noteworthy that Korherr did not usually show "Zugang" at destinations in his tabulation of the numbers of Jews affected by the Final Solution. Instead, he used two different tabulations. One was a list of "Evakuierungen" from different places of origin and the numbers "Evakuiert" from each; that information must have been obtained from the RSHA, drawing on deportation lists kept by its offices at the various places of origin. The other was the number of Jews in the concentration camps of the "Stichtag"; that information must have come from the WVHA, drawing on the "Staerkebuecher" kept at each camp and showing the total number of prisoners kept on a particular day.


3. The use of the term "durchschleusen" by Korherr.

It is well known that Korherr had the formulation "durchgeschleust durch Lager" dictated to him by Himmler's office, to be used to describe the deportation of Jews from the Generalgouvernement and the Eingegliederte Ostgebiete, in place of his original form of words, which is unknown, but must have contained the word "Sonderbehandlung" since that was the term [which Himmler] objected to.

The impression is usually given that "durchschleusen" was a euphemism plucked out of the air. However, it may have been a word used in bureaucratic language with some precise meaning. For example, the book Arbeitseinsatz und Deportation by Dieter Maier reproduces on page 242 the "Entlassungs-Bescheinigung" from Organisation Todt of Albert Hentrich, dated March 5, 1945. The letterhead reads:

"Der Reichsminister fuer Ruestung und Kriegsproduktion Amt Bau - Org. Todt - Zentrale A 17 - Durchschleusung - Zi/ "

It is apparent that "Durchschleusung" was a bureaucratic process carried out in Organisation Todt by a specific office. The context suggests that it was the process of recruiting people into OT and releasing them, but perhaps this is an area for further research.

In any case, it seems that when Himmler's office prescribed the word "durchschleusen", it did so to give the impression that what was happening to the Jews arriving at camps in the Wartheland and the GG was the bureaucratic process known officially as "Durchschleusung", whatever it may have been.

Michael Mills

© Focal Point 2002 David Irving