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The cross examination of Professor Peter Longerich on his report and on the following document composed by him will be found from February 23, 2000 of the daily transcripts


Glossary of some terms used by the NS regime in connection with the murder of European Jews



1. Introduction

1.1 The National Socialist regime generally avoided speaking of the murder of the European Jews by name, i.e. they avoided the terms "killing" (töten), "liquidating" (Liquidierung), "shooting" (Erschießung) etc. Instead, the National Socialists used "cover up" expressions for the murder of the European Jews.

1.2 The explanation for this linguistic camouflage lies in the fact that in principle the Nazi regime regarded the systematic murder of the European Jews as a state secret. Himmler himself, in a speech to SS officers in Poznan on 4th October 1944, spoke of this principle of secrecy and silence with respect to the "extirpation of the Jewish people" (Ausrottung des jüdischen Volkes), as Himmler, exceptionally, openly referred to it in this speech: ~ also want to talk to you quite frankly about a very grave matter. We can talk about it quite openly among ourselves, but nevertheless we can never speak of it publicly. Just as we did not hesitate on 30th June 1934 (Himmler refers here to the liquidation of Röhm and the SA leadership, P.L.) to do our duty as we were bidden, and to stand comrades who had lapsed up against the wall and shoot them, so we have never spoken about it and will never speak of it. It was a natural assumption of tact - an assumption which, thank God, is inherent in us - that we never discussed it among ourselves, never spoke of it." In the next paragraph he said: "Most of you will know what it means to have a hundred or five hundred or a thousand corpses lying together before you. To have been through this and - disregarding exceptional cases of human weakness - to have remained decent, that is what has made us tough. This is a glorious page in our history, one that has never been written and can never be written."[1]

1.3 According to this basic rule of secrecy surrounding the murder of the Jews, it was forbidden, even at the highest party levels, to openly discuss this question. On 11 July 1943, Bormann sent a circular "on the instructions of the Führer" to the party Gau and Reich leaders:

"Regarding public dealings with the Jewish Question, every discussion of a future complete solution must cease. Nevertheless, it may be mentioned that the Jews as an entity are to be drawn into appropriate work detail."[2]

1.4 In accordance with this principle of secrecy, the organisations employed to carry out the genocide of the Jews received strict instructions not to use terms such as "liquidate" (liquidieren), "execute" (hinrichten) etc. Some examples can be cited of this.

1.5 For example, in January 1942 the head of the Gestapo, Müller, issued an ordinance according to which terms such as "liquidation" (Liquidation) and "liquidate" (liquidieren) were words "used by the Soviet rulers". In German reports, essays, etc. such terms should only be used in this connection.[3] In November 1941 Rödl, the Commandant of the Gross-Rosen concentration camp, enquired of the inspectorate of the concentration camps what he should state by way of justification on a list of names of SS members whom he wished to put forward to receive the war service cross because of their participation at executions: in the column headed "Justification and comments of intermediate superior", should he insert the words "execution" (Exekution) or "special action" (Sonderaktion)? The concentration camps inspectorate replied that "execution of special tasks important for the war effort" be given as the reason. The inspectorate added: "The word "execution" may not be used in any case."[4]

1.6 The following report will concentrate on some of the "camouflage" terms preferred by the National Socialists when speaking of the murder of the Jews. These include, on the one hand, terms which in general use did not have the meaning of "kill" (such as resettle (umsiedeln), deport (abschieben), evacuate (evakuieren) or general, non-specific terms which can be used in the sense of "kill" but which can also have another meaning, such as exterminate (vernichten), extirpate (ausrotten) or the term remove (entfernen).

1.7 The analysis of the actual meaning of these terms in the language of the National Socialists is complicated by the fact that even the National Socialists themselves did not stop using these terms in their original innocent" meanings. The question of whether these terms were used in the sense of "kill" must be decided from the context. With appropriate care, this can be done in almost every case.

1.8 As far as I am aware, no analysis of the history of the definition of these words during the Nazi period, examining all accessible quotations in order to determine their meaning, has been undertaken. I will therefore concentrate on a few examples.


2. Umsiedeln, aussiedeln (noun: Umsiedlung, Aussiedlung), English: resettle

2.1 This term was used from summer 1941 onwards in the occupied Soviet territories to refer to the systematic murder of the Jews.

2.2 For example, the local military command of Bakhchisarai, a Wehrmacht headquarters in the occupied Soviet Union, reported on the killing of local Jews in its activity report of 14.12.41 as follows: "The Jews who lived here were not rich and led a relatively modest life. The S.D. completed the shooting of the Jews on 13.12.41".[5] In the report, the word "shooting" (Erschießung) has been deleted and has been replaced by the handwritten word "resettlement" (Aussiedlung).

2.3 An activity report of the local military command of Jewpatoria, dated 21.12.41, was similarly amended. The original report stated that the "residences of the Jews executed by the SS were taken over by the local military command', while the superior department, the superior field Command 533, replaced the word "executed" (exekutierten) with resettled "(umgesiedelten).[6]

2.4 On 5.2.43, the commander of the security police and the SD in White Ruthenia issued a command ordering the resettlement" (Umsiedlung) of the Jews living in the city of Sluzk. The order continued: "At the resettlement site arc two pits. A group of ten leaders and men work at each pit, relieving each other every two hours." The command also stated which person should be responsible for "issuing cartridges" (Patronenausgeber) at the "resettlement site"( Umsiedlungsgelände).[7]

2.5 The Jews outside the Soviet Union were gradually included in the systematic extermination programme from autumn 1941 onwards. The term resettle (aussiedeln, umsiedeln) was accordingly now also used outside the occupied Soviet territories to refer to deportation to extermination camps. For example, Himmler used the term "resettlement" (Umsiedlung) in a document dated July 1942 to order the murder of the great majority of the Jews of the Polish territory by the end of the year: "I order that the resettlement of the entire Jewish population of the Polish territory be carried out and completed by 316t December 1942.[8] In fact "resettlement" (Umsiedlung) here meant deportation to the extermination camps Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec .[9]


3. evakuieren (noun: Evakuierung), English to evacuate

3.1 Evacuation originally means the organised transport of a fairly large number of people in order to protect them from danger. In the context of the Second World War, this word was used in particular for the transport of people from cities at risk of aerial bombardment. However, evacuation was also used to describe the deportation of the Jews to eastern European ghettos, concentration camps or extermination camps.

3.2 For example, the term appears in the report of the meeting of 6.3.42 in the Reich security head office, at which Eichmann spoke of the procedural guidelines for the "further evacuation of 55,000 Jews from the former Reich and from the Ostmark and the Protectorate".[10] A report of 26th December 1941, in which the head of the police force, Salitter, reported in detail about his experiences accompanying and supervising a transport of 1007 Jews from the Rhineland to Latvia, is entitled "Report on the evacuation of Jews to Riga".[11] On 20th February 1943, the Reich security head office issued "Guidelines on the technical implementation of the evacuation of Jews to the east (Auschwitz concentration camp)"; this includes an instruction that the registers should not indicate the destination (i.e. Auschwitz), but should merely state "moved to an unknown destination" (unbekannt verzogen).'[12]

3.3 A report of the Lodz Gestapo dated 9 June 1942 reads: "In the course of setting up the district ghetto, it initially proved necessary to make space for the Jews to be settled in here. For this purpose, a considerable number of Jews unfit for work were evacuated from the ghetto and transported to the special command."[13] The "special command" here referred to is the command which operated the gas truck station in Chelmno in which the Jews from the Waiki legion were murdered.

3.4 Since deportation to the ghettos, concentration camps and extermination camps normally meant the murder of the deported persons, evacuation in particular was also used as a synonym for murder. This is particularly clear in a speech by Himmler given to SS leaders on 4 October 1944 (already quoted above). Himmler speaks here of the "Jewish evacuation programme, the extermination of the Jewish people". A few sentences further on he makes it unmistakably clear what is meant thereby, when he says that most of those present "will know what it means to have a hundred, or five hundred or a thousand corpses lying together before you."[14]


4. abschieben (noun: Abschiebung), English to deport

4.1 Originally "deport" means the physical removal of foreigners from the Reich territory, in accordance with the law. Under the National Socialists, from 1939 onwards this expression was used for the forced transport of Jews to ghettos, concentration camps or extermination camps.

4.2 For example, the expression "deportation" can be found in Goebbels' diaries of 18.11.41, according to which Heydrich had on the previous day reported to Goebbels on his intentions regarding the deportation of the Jews from the Reich territory". This meant the deportation of the Jews from the Reich territory to the ghettos of Lodz, Riga and Minsk."[15]

4.3 For example, on 27.9.41, Heydrich informed the official chief of the security police: "The deportation of the Jews to the foreign language district, deportation over the demarcation line, has been approved by the Führer." This referred to the deportation, planned at that time, of all Jews under German sovereign territory to a "Jewish reservation in the Polish territory.'[16]

4.4 The head of the Gestapo, Müller, informed Eichmann on 18 October

1939 "that the resettlement and deportation of Poles and Jews to the territory of the future Polish residual state requires central management". The deportations of Jews from Vienna, Moravska Ostrava and Katowice to Nisko am San, already started by Eichmann, were therefore interrupted.[17]

4.5 On 29 June, the Gestapo headquarters in Brussels informed the Mechlin camp that, on the basis of Himmlers instruction, "From now on, Jews of Belgian nationality were to be immediately included in the deportation programme". This referred to deportation to the Auschwitz extermination camp; until that time, these deportations from Belgium had included only Jews of non-Belgian nationality.[18]



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