A Reply to Jürgen Graf:
On the 1944 Deportations of Hungarian JewsArthur R. ButzI sometimes hear revisionists point out that there exists no record of a Hitler order to exterminate the Jews. The point must be made, but its significance is too easily misunderstood.
If such an order, written and of incontestable authenticity, were found then I would not renounce my thesis that the Jews were not exterminated. I would only renounce my claim that there was no plan or official program to exterminate the Jews. I would say yes, there was such a plan, but it was not carried through. The reasons have been given by revisionists over the years.
Such a Hitler order would, however, raise new problems for historians. Was Hitler serious? If so, did he change his mind? Or was he defied?
In the context of debates in which it is insufficiently recognized, in my opinion, that evidence must be commensurate with the allegation, it would be easy to ridicule such a position, but I would consider it a solid one. I am confident that we will never be in that position, but perhaps I am in a similar position on the major problem having to do with the Hungarian Jews. I quickly review the salient points of the received legend:
My main reasons for holding as I do were given many years ago in Chapter 5 of The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, and the reader should review those arguments there. I can briefly summarize the principal ones:
Consider the practical implications of deporting all Hungarian Jews in such a short time interval. In Hungary the Jewish situation was similar to what it had been in Germany and Austria before Hitler: the Jews were a strongly entwined group, especially in the economy. The Nazis had about ten years to effect the emigration and/or expulsion of the 600,000 Jews of Germany and Austria, and even there the expulsion was not complete. The expulsion of all Hungarian Jews, or even of only those in the provinces outside Budapest, in an interval of two months, would have been like a virtual atom bomb dropped on the Hungarian economy.
As for the Red Cross report, it is unacceptable to simply dismiss the author as "incompetent." The ICRC delegate in Budapest from October 1943 was Jean de Bavier. However the President of the ICRC, Max Huber, was unsatisfied with de Bavier, who did not speak German. Thus de Bavier was replaced by Friedrich Born, who took over in an acting capacity in mid-May 1944. Both de Bavier and Born had conferred with the Jewish leader Saly Mayer in Geneva before going to Budapest.[note 7]
Friedrich Born died in 1963, and in 1987 he was designated "Righteous" by the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.[note 8] Since the 1948 ICRC report on Hungary describes his work as "courageously undertaken," he may not have been its actual author, but we should assume that it was Born who provided the information for the report, and that he most probably reviewed it prior to publication.
I digress with one point for the benefit of those reading this who believe the extermination legend. Deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Hungary, to make the difficult journey across the mountains of Slovakia to Auschwitz, only to be killed there, makes no sense on practical grounds. If such were the objective, why not improvise means to kill them in Hungary, and perhaps even blame it on the Hungarians? Whoever might object by saying that Auschwitz had specially designed means for extermination has not been studying the subject matter. The legend claims that the means of extermination at Auschwitz were improvised anyway! The gas was the pesticide Zyklon, the gas chambers were rooms that had been built as morgues in the crematory buildings (Kremas), and the crematories turned out to be inadequate in capacity to dispose of the bodies, so the corpses were burned outdoors in huge pyres. All of that could have been done in Hungary! Whoever might object by contending that Auschwitz was in an isolated region, where large-scale things could be done in secrecy, knows nothing of the circumstances under which the site for the industrial activities around Auschwitz was chosen. It was near the major city of Cracow, and was served by major rail lines. Civilian workers in the Auschwitz industries communicated more or less freely with outsiders.[note 9]The camp was visited in September 1944 by ICRC delegates, who were able to interview British POWs there.[note 10] This industry was strategically important and received the scrutiny of the Allies, who made many aerial photos of the camp and bombed it. The Hungarian Jews whose bodies allegedly were burned in huge pyres at Auschwitz are not to be found in the aerial photos the Allies took of the camp during this very same period, and which were only made public in 1979.[note 11]
To return to my argument, I should cite additional data from the Vatican that became available to me in 1980. It relates mainly to Romania but bears on Hungary as well. Northern Transylvania is a province that has been sometimes in Hungary, sometimes in Romania, and must not be confused with Transnistria, further east in an area of Ukraine, beyond the Dniester River, to which many Romanian Jews were deported in 1941. When by late 1943 Russian advances made it impractical to try to keep them there, they started returning, but their movements were suspended when the Russians overran Transnistria in the spring. Our concern is with Hungary and northern Transylvania, which was transferred from Romania to Hungary in 1940. However Jewish leaders in Romania remained in touch with events effecting Jews not only in northern Transylvania, but also in Hungary generally.[note 12]
On June 30, 1944, Alexander Safran, Grand Rabbi of Romania (later Grand Rabbi of Geneva), wrote to Andrea Cassulo, the Papal Nuncio in Bucharest, to acknowledge his "noble action" in favor of Romanian Jews, particularly those evacuated from Transnistria. He added that such support encourages him to ask for papal support for Jews in Hungary "exposed to great deprivations and suffering." The only reference to deportations is of the Jews of Transnistria.[note 13] There is no reference in Safran's letter to exterminations of Hungarian Jews, or to their mass deportation.
Two more documents were obtained from the Vatican in 1980. On July 11 Cassulo had sent the Safran letter of June 30 to the Vatican, and on July 28 he transmitted another letter to the Vatican that, he said, "confirms the sad fact" of Safran's letter. The new communication was an undated letter to Cassulo signed by six "Jewish personalities." It said[note 14]
... the Hungarian government has ordered the deportation of the Jews. Impacted by this order were mainly the Jews living in northern Transylvania, who were compelled without exception to leave their homes. For a long time we have known nothing of our relatives, since all our attempts to learn their fate have been fruitless.I assume this letter was written some time in July, and it implicitly denies that the Jews had been cleared out, since "mainly" the Jews of northern Transylvania were effected, and the authors were not even sure what the situation was with them. Cassulo interpreted the letter as a plea for the Catholic Church "to alleviate in some manner the lot of so many unfortunates forced to leave their homes and live in concentration camps," and authoritative enough to be forwarded to the Vatican.
I note in passing a remark about northern Transylvania in the 1948 ICRC report, in the section on Romania. In its December 1944 report to Geneva the ICRC delegation in Bucharest said that
...thanks to consignments from the Joint Committee of New York and to collections made on the spot, it had been able to come to the help of (6,000 Hungarian Jews) who had succeeded in escaping deportation and were found in Northern Transylvania.This says that there were deportations from northern Transylvania and that 6,000 Jews of northern Transylvania later came into contact with the delegation in Bucharest (about 200 miles from the major north Transylvanian city of Cluj). It does not say that only 6,000 Jews were left in northern Transylvania after the deportations.
The third document obtained from the Vatican is a letter to Cassulo, dated December 11, 1944, from the General Jewish Curatorship of Northern Transylvania (then resident in Bucharest). It says that in May and June 150,000 Jews, of all ages and conditions, were deported from northern Transylvania to Auschwitz. Direct information on their fate is not available, but escapees say some have been exterminated. The letter asks that the Vatican intervene with the German government to arrange distribution of parcels to them.[note 15] The late date and the reference to "escapees" as a source of information suggests lesser probative value for this document, because the reference is probably to what I called the "War Refugee Board Report" (WRB Report, also called the "Auschwitz Protocols"), published in Washington on November 25, 1944, which I have discussed at length.[note 16] The structure of the mass extermination claim had been largely settled on by then, so that reports can be suspected of being based on what was by then widely said to have happened, rather than actual observations and experiences of the reporters.
The document which later became the WRB Report was in limited circulation in Europe in June and was reported in the New York Times in July.[note 17] Its receipt was probably the reason the ICRC felt obliged to make the September visit to Auschwitz.
One should also carefully consider the document of August 15, 1944, quoted by Graf, which speaks of 612,000 prisoners in the process of being added to the camps. Of this number 90,000 were Hungarian Jews from the "Jewish Action" there, and 400,000 were Poles from Warsaw. Graf does not make clear that these people were not yet physically in the camps, because he does not take into account the final sentence of the relevant section of the document: "A large number of the prisoners is already on its way and will arrive during the next days for delivery to the concentration camps." One infers that most were being held elsewhere on that date. For the Hungarian Jews, the only place they could have been at the time, if they were not in the German camps outside Hungary, would have been in some sort of detention in Hungary. The document is at best irrelevant to Graf's thesis; all it implies is that in mid-August there were at least 90,000 Jews in Hungary that were viewed as well enough organized for quick transport. They could have been either Budapest Jews or Jews in the provinces. These 90,000 new Hungarian Jewish camp inmates did not in fact materialize in the sense of the document (as even Graf implies in his paper), probably because of transport shortages that finally had to be overcome in the fall by making Jewish labor conscripts walk.
In 1984 Mark Weber called to my attention a document that had been cited during the proceedings of the Nuremberg trial of 1945-1946, but which I had missed when writing my book. An excerpt, which was a British prosecution exhibit, was also published in the official Nuremberg Tribunal record.[note 18] I wrote Graf about this document on November 5, 1993.
The document is the August 23, 1944, edition of Die Lage ("The Situation"), an information bulletin published by the Goebbels ministry of propaganda. Theoretically it was intended for a restricted readership, as it is specified "Strictly Confidential!" (Streng vertraulich!), but that has to be taken with a grain of salt considering, for example, that the first section of this issue reports that the Allied landings in France had been successful because of the Allies' complete control of sea and air -- hardly a secret.
The second section is about the Hungarian Jews, and is very consistent with the legend. It says that the German authorities
commenced with the cleaning up of the northeastern area -- north Transylvania and the Carpathian province -- where the Jewish element was the strongest numerically. Then the Jews were collected in the remaining Hungarian provinces and transported to Germany or German controlled territories. A hundred thousand Jews remained in the hands of the Hungarians to be employed in labor battalions ... By July 9 approximately 430,000 Jews from the Hungarian provinces had been handed over to the German authorities. The handing over takes place on the Hungarian national frontier ... As a final stage of the Jewish measures the Jews from Budapest were to be deported. It is a question of approximately 260,000. But in the meantime pressure from enemy and neutral countries ... had become so strong that those circles in Hungary that are friendly to the Jews attempted to influence the Hungarian Government to prevent any further measures against the Jews ...This may seem to settle it in favor of Graf's thesis but please bear with me. The many objections, especially those regarding the basic physical plausibility, and even possibility, of the alleged events still stand. I shall return to this Goebbels ministry matter.
We should consider writings by historians who accept the essentials of the received legend. Randolph L. Braham has written more on this subject than anyone else, and his magnum opus is his two-volume work The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary.[note 19] As for the mass deportations, Braham's principal evidence is
We take this opportunity to mention that Hungarian Jews are not slated for deportation. A large number of Jewish manual laborers is being placed at the disposal of the German government, and the fact that their families were sent together with them to Germany is the result of the decision to keep families undivided, since greater performance can be expected from Jews when they are relaxed by the presence of their families. In this connection, we saw to it that in the retention within the country of the manpower absolutely needed to maintain industrial and economic life, priority be given to the converted Jews and to their families.This June 30 Hungarian government letter seems to me a fair representation of the situation at that time, both in Hungary for Jews in general, and among Catholic representatives, who were particularly concerned with the lot of Jewish converts to Catholicism.
Prominent among the projects contemplated for the Hungarian Jews conscripted for labor was fighter aircraft production, and armaments minister Albert Speer and colleagues were eager in this period to get the promised Jews from Hungary. Thus they complained at a May 26 meeting that[note 22]
Till now two transports have arrived at the SS camp Auschwitz. For fighter construction we were offered only children, women, and old men with whom very little can be done... Unless the next transports bring men of an age fit for work the whole action will not have much success.This implies non-employables were not killed on arrival at Auschwitz. It also suggests another less noble motivation for deporting "families": fulfillment of quotas in the context of rivalry among nominal allies. Such a situation arose in 1943 when Oswald Pohl, the head of the concentration camp system, complained "that the prisons transferring (prisoners to the camps) have literally released inmates who are in the worst possible physical condition."[note 23] The first thought of a warden, if given the choice, is to get rid of the useless ones and retain the useful.
Returning to the May 26, 1944, document, we note that it was a transcript of the stenographic minutes of a regular meeting of the "Jägerstab," the group formed of representatives of the air force and Speer's ministry to oversee the production of fighter planes. Therefore the statement, that up to that date only two transports of Jews from Hungary had arrived at Auschwitz, cannot be taken as authoritative in itself. However I believe that the remark has independent confirmation. The first transport would have been the group of 4,000 Jews, said above to be ready for transport on April 27, that arrived in two transports on or about May 1, but were referred to in this conference as one transport. The second transport would have been a group that arrived later in May, and from which 4,000 Jews were registered, 2,000 on each of the two days of May 22 and 24. A transport that apparently arrived during the night of May 25 would have been too recent to be taken account of at the May 26 meeting.[note 24] Apart from whether or not the remark was strictly correct, I do not believe it would have been made in that form if Jews had for about a week been pouring into Auschwitz, at a rate of some 7,500 per day, in two to five transports per day, for whatever purpose. There would have been complaints that, with so many people pouring in, more useful labor ought to be offered. On the contrary the "next transport" was only speculated for some unknown future date, and the transports they were talking about fairly represented the "whole action." The May 26 conference remark disagrees not merely in detail or degree, but in kind, from what would have been said if the massive regular transports claimed had been real.
To return to Braham, I must admit I have not read all of his massive work of 1,500 pages, partly because it is mainly about well known things I do not contest, and partly because it is clear that treatments of the problems that I would consider serious tests are either not there or support my original theory when they are there. Let me explain.
Historical events can only occur in association with other events. Every such event is accompanied by ancillary, correlative and consequent events. If a stone is thrown in the water, then the event must create ripples on the surface. If there is a forest fire, then there must be smoke. In a competent criminal investigation it is necessary to test such events. There is the classic question "Did the dog bark?" It is easy to formulate an internally consistent phony confession or perjured testimony which speaks in general terms of a crime, but it is not easy to anticipate the questions that a competent interrogator will ask about the details, related events, and consequent events. Those are the sorts of events lacking when I consider the claim that the Hungarian Jews were cleared out.
The obvious questions that occur to me in considering Graf's thesis are the problems of transport and destination. I insist that the provision of transport for clearing out the Hungarian Jews in the time interval claimed would have generated controversy and even conflict among the Germans. To be more blunt, I think that such transport capabilities did not exist, but I am willing to consider their provision as a hypothesis.
Even if such transport could have been provided, there is the problem of destination. Where were the Jews sent, and why? The Germans were in retreat. Destination is not a problem for Braham, because he thinks they were killed at Auschwitz. It has not been a problem for me, since I don't believe the Jews were cleared out. It is however a problem for Graf, and he does not solve it. For him it is not just an unresolved detail, but a consideration challenging the credibility of his entire thesis. His failure to explain this is a more serious defect in his theory, in my opinion, than his failure "to explain this mysterious ICRC report."
Both Graf and Braham have the problem of the provision of adequate rail transport. Graf does not confront it. Braham has a section on the general subject of transport, but the conflict and controversy among the Germans are not there. This is not to say that further digging will not uncover any controversy over rail transport. For example it is likely that the German authorities in Hungary had to quarrel with somebody to procure the late April transport for the 4,000 employable Jews; that is suggested by the relevant documents.
Rather than relate to us a controversy among the Germans on the allocation of transport, Braham serves us another gem to ponder. By 1971 it was realized that the accomplishment of such deportations would have required the unusually enthusiastic support of the German railway (Reichsbahn). Accordingly its executive director, Theodor Ganzenmüller, was indicted that year in Germany. Repeating the episodes we have already seen in the cases of German Foreign Office Jewish specialists Eberhard von Thadden and Horst Wagner, trial was repeatedly postponed and then never held at all.[note 25] This datum has importance beyond the immediate problem of Hungary.
There is also the problem of resistance by the Jews, or at least their obstruction of the wholesale deportation operations. Far from giving such details, Braham's section on this subject tells us there was no resistance or serious obstruction.[note 26] In fact there was no organized Jewish resistance during the time interval under discussion.
An analogy. I am told that a child has just thrown a boulder into the water. I object that the child is not strong enough. I learn that five witnesses of unblemished probity testify to the event. I observe that the event created no splash and no waves, and that the boulder can't be found at the bottom. What would you conclude? I would say the reputations of the witnesses have been greatly damaged. The only unanswered question would be why they lied or how they were deceived.
I am not alone in complaining of the lack of substantial historical detail in the alleged May-July mass deportations. In 1994 there were several conferences on the 1944 events in Hungary, and the published records of them are interesting. Genocide and Rescue: the Holocaust in Hungary 1944 (edited by David Cesarani) includes most of the papers presented at a London conference. Papers presented at a 1994 Budapest conference are included in The Holocaust in Hungary: Fifty Years Later (edited by Randolph L. Braham and Attila Pók). A 1994 conference at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum is represented by The Nazis Last Victims: The Holocaust in Hungary (edited by Randolph L. Braham and Scott Miller).
Tim Cole, a social historian at the University of Bristol, complained in a review that both the Cesarani and Braham & Miller books have remarkably little on the events of late spring and early summer 1944: "Such silence is not simply puzzling, but troubling."[note 27] It ought to be.
As for the Braham & Pók book, about half of the papers are in Hungarian, which I can't read, but there are English language summaries. The book was reviewed by István Deák of Columbia University, who did not confront the issues I have identified.[note 28] As with all these conference proceedings, the various papers do not appear to me to confront them, except in the sense of trying to explain why there was no Jewish resistance.
The point here is not that the 1994 conferees did not try to prove that the mass May-July deportations took place. If they regarded them as well established then of course they would not try to prove they happened, just as a postwar article about the military campaigns of 1940 does not have to prove that the Dunkirk rout took place, since it is well known. I am referring to a lack of exposition about events directly related to the alleged deportations. In general I would have to say that the alleged mass deportations of 1944, if they had happened, would have generated so many related events as to dominate any 1994 conference.
Cole's complaint was right on the mark. Graf is not alone in providing no account of how such events unfolded. I know of no source that relates the events at the operational levels, except for the "Veesenmayer telegrams."
I believe that historians are not writing such papers because the documentary evidence is faulty and does not correlate with ascertainable events. The documentary evidence of the clearing out of the Hungarian Jews is apparently a historiographic dead end. Historians write papers when they have something to write about. If one forged a report asserting that the World Trade Center was blown up and destroyed, then some people might believe it, but historians would find no record of correlative events, such as disruptions of the operations of many companies that do business there or funerals of thousands of their employees. If they believed the claim then there would be nothing for them to say, beyond saying it happened and citing the forged document, but that would already have been done. That appears to be what has happened with the 1994 conferences on Hungary, and indeed generally with writings on this subject. Scholars are supposed to say something new when they write papers; they can't work at historiographic dead ends.
I made related remarks in my 1982 IHR conference paper, recently ably translated into German by Graf, when I said that historical claims must "be tested by the normal method of placing them as hypotheses in appropriate historical context and seeing if they cohere."[note 29] That is what I am attempting to do here. It is our basic defense against historical fraud.
We nevertheless have a problem on our hands. The Goebbels ministry report. How do we account for it? It is here that I feel somewhat as I would if confronting a Hitler order to exterminate the Jews.
This problem had continued to bother me until I read Graf's report of August 10, 1997, on his and Carlo Mattogno's research trip in Eastern Europe of that year. There appears the following paragraph:
It was completely new to us that evidently many Hungarian Jews were deported to Riga(!) even in summer 1944, which seemed illogical in view of the military situation at the time. From Riga they were later transferred to Stutthof.In his present paper Graf refers to these movements, without repeating that the deportations to Riga were "illogical in view of the military situation at the time." For me Graf's 1997 passage supported a hypothesis that I had raised in my letter to him of November 5, 1993. I repeated it to Graf in Australia in 1998 and at the IHR conference in 2000.
In my book I wrote that at his trial Eichmann claimed that, after Stalingrad, the deportations were stepped up "for camouflage reasons" to conceal the desperate military situation.[note 30]That could be the key to understanding the Goebbels account of deportations of almost all Hungarian Jews, in the absence of convincing evidence that such actually happened, and in consideration of convincing reasons to believe they could not have happened.
>By May 1944, there is no doubt that the Germans wanted to clear the Jews out of Hungary; they made that clear. Goebbels was the propaganda minister, responsible for maintaining the morale of the German population. Why admit that the desired deportation could not be accomplished? The point of sending a small number Hungarian Jews to Riga could have been precisely that it was illogical. It implied a false military and logistic situation. That was also the case for the general claim of mass deportation of Jews out of Hungary. It was, in a sense, a semi-hoax of the sort that propagandists are hired to create. Graf declares, "The declarations of a Soviet propagandist should be regarded with skepticism." So should the declarations of a Nazi propagandist.
There exist dozens of photos showing deported Hungarian Jews upon their arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. Taken by one or more anonymous German photographers, they were published in a 1981 book The Auschwitz Album.[note 31] (Several of these are also in Jean-Claude Pressac's 1989 book, and in a more recent work published by the Auschwitz Museum, which identifies them as "taken by the SS, 1944.")[note 32]
Braham remarks that "It was during the deportations from Hungary that the SS authorized for the first time the taking of photographs in Auschwitz." He means of course photos of people from arriving Jewish transports. I believe Braham is right, since I can't recall seeing comparable photos taken at earlier dates. He adds "the Germans also produced a propaganda film" on the deportations.[note 33] I believe I have seen excerpts of this film.
Braham should have said "ordered" rather than "authorized", for these are clearly official photos. Why did the German authorities take these photos? My hypothesis would explain why, and why they would have taken other publicity measures such as make a film on the deportations.
In summary I think I must refine my earlier conclusions only slightly.[note 34] I implied that only employable Jews were deported. That is not true. Some families were deported for reasons given above, and perhaps also as part of a camouflage operation. As for the number deported, I had written "somewhat less than 100,000"; now I would be more reticent to give a number, but I can't believe any number on the order of 438,000 for May-July, for reasons given, and my original statement is probably valid provided the October-November deportations on foot are not included. It is possible that a fairly precise number will be determined some day. In all accounts, northern Transylvania receives a great emphasis. Perhaps that region was more hard hit by deportations than others.
Jürgen G raf and Carlo Mattogno are commended for their hard work and their research visit to Hungary. This is a difficult problem, as is suggested by Graf's wavering positions on it over the years. As for Graf's present paper, it is on the whole a good one.
I believe that starting in March 1944 the Germans made a lot of noise about wanting to deport the Hungarian Jews, and the Jewish propagandists then decided to take them up on it, giving the story their own twist. If I am right then Goebbels was an unwitting co-author of the Hoax!
Notes1. The figure comes from Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1967), p. 553, and in the 3-volume 1985 Holmes & Meier (New York) edition, p. 838. I am not confident of its accuracy. I gave a slightly higher figure in my book The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (1976 and 1997), p. 144.
2. Arthur R. Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (1976 and 1997), p. 170.
3. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 134-142, reproduces the relevant section from the ICRC's Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its activities during the Second World War (September 1, 1939 -- June 30, 1947), (Geneva: May 1948, 3 vols.), vol. 1, pp. 641-657.
4. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 162f.
5. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), p. 164.
6. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 179f.
7. Jean-Claude Favez, The Red Cross and the Holocaust (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999), pp. 234-237.
8. Jewish Chronicle (London weekly), June 12, 1987, p. 3.
9. On these points the reader can consult for example, Walter Laqueur, The Terrible Secret (Boston: Little, Brown, 1980/ New York: H. Holt, 1998). Paradoxically, Laqueur argues that the exterminations at Auschwitz, which he believes in, could not have been a "secret," and yet they were! He still has not figured out the simple resolution of the paradox.
10. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 110f. ICRC, Documents sur l'activité du CICR en faveur des civils détenus dans les camps de concentration en Allemagne (1939-1945), (Geneva: 1947), pp. 91f. The propaganda claims of exterminations at Auschwitz had by then (September 29) received wide circulation, but the ICRC reported that the British POWs were unable to get confirmation of such rumors from other inmates. When they were interrogated by the Soviets in 1945 they still "knew nothing at all" of exterminations.
11. In his World War II Photo Intelligence (New York: Scribner's, 1981), Roy M. Stanley II discusses the wartime aerial reconnaissance photos of Auschwitz and remarks (p. 348) on the "film of 31 May 1944 showing (apparent) ongoing cremations" at Birkenau. The weasel word "apparent" is his, as are the parentheses. In fact what appears on the film are three columns of black smoke coming from small point sources. Given that diesel engines smoke that way when they are given full throttle or encounter an irregular load, and given that the smoke is coming from a part of Birkenau that was still under construction, my guess is that the smoke is diesel exhaust. The truth of my guess may not be obvious, but it is obvious that the smoke is not coming from a mountain of burning Jews. A person such as I, with no expertise in aerial photo interpretation, can only be disgusted and furious when such lies come from the technically qualified experts.
12. Randolph L. Braham, "Romanian Nationalists and the Holocaust," Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Winter 1996 (vol. 10, no. 3), pp. 211-251.
13. This letter is quoted from in vol. 10 of Actes et Documents du Saint Siège Relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale (Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1980), p. 45, but specified as non-published on p. 347. I obtained a copy from the Vatican in 1980.
14. Actes et Documents du Saint Siège ... (cited above), p. 365. The term "Jewish personalities" is from the Vatican's cover letter to me.
15. Actes et Documents du Saint Siège ... (cited above), pp. 46, 510f.
16. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 89-99, 150-152, especially on alleged Report author Rudolf Vrba. Also see my further remarks on Vrba in A. R. Butz, "Some Thoughts on Pressac's Opus," The Journal of Historical Review, May-June 1993, pp. 23-37. At least one prominent author on the Auschwitz survivor circuit had to change his tune on Vrba as a result of my writings. Erich Kulka authored a chapter in the collection They Fought Back, Yuri Suhl, ed. (New York: Schocken, 1975 [originally published in 1967]). There he discussed the "dramatic" escape from Auschwitz of Rudolf Vrba (as Walter Rosenberg), and the "completely authentic" account he brought to the outside world. Later he had an article, entitled "Attempts by Jewish Escapees to Stop Mass Extermination," in Jewish Social Studies, Fall 1985 (vol. 47), pp. 295-306. There he portrayed Vrba as a scoundrel whose book (I Cannot Forgive, New York: Grove, 1964) contains "contradictory and problematic statements" that were "misused" by me. A similar article by Kulka appeared in Zeitgeschichte, vol. 13, 1986, pp. 381+. Appearing as a prosecution witness at the first Zündel trial in Toronto in 1985, Vrba admitted that his book is not true; according to him it is "only 'an artistic picture'." (Toronto Sun, January 24, 1985, p. 52).
17. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), p. 147.
18. Nuremberg document D-908 (GB-534), excerpted in the International Military Tribunal (IMT), 42-volume "blue series," vol. 36, pp. 1-3. It was also cited and quoted during the proceedings on July 30, 1946. See IMT, vol. 20, pp. 48-50.
19. Randolph L. Braham, The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary, two vols. (Boulder, Colorado: East European Monographs, 1993 [revised edition]). Reviewed by Egon Mayer in Holocaust and Genocide Stories, Spring 1996, pp. 98ff.
20. R. L. Braham, The Politics of Genocide (cited above, 1993), p. 674.
21. R. L. Braham, The Politics of Genocide (cited above, 1993), pp. 1219f.
22. Document NOKW-336, quoted in Trails of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals, the NMT "green series," vol. 2, pp.555ff. Also quoted by Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (cited above, 1967), p. 599, and p. 935 in the 3-volume Holmes & Meier edition of 1985.
23. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), p. 126.
24. D. Czech, ed., Auschwitz Chronicle (New York: Henry Holt, 1990/London: I.B. Tauris, 1990), pp. 618, 630, 632. There are references in this source to additional transports in the interval of May 16-25, but the only specific information given for them is that very small groups of Jews were registered from them. These transports, to the extent that they are real, I interpret as involving the registration of people who arrived either in special groups too small to be called "transports," or as "depot prisoners" from earlier transports. At many points in the Auschwitz Chronicle one reads that, when registration of prisoners in the camp is noted, "The remaining people are killed in the gas chambers." That is not true, and there is no documentary evidence for the claim. As Graf remarks, the evidence for such gassings is the collection of testimonies that revisionists and even some anti-revisionists have discredited over the years. In many cases there may not even have been any "remaining people" that could have been sent to the "gas chambers," if such chambers had existed. The Auschwitz Chronicle requires some expertise to read, and even then one is left with uncertainties, because purely factual data are mixed with fantasy with no indication of where the line between the two is. For example, it passes along without apology (pp. 633f) a claim attributed to the "camp resistance movement" that, from the middle of May to May 25, each day saw 13 trains arrive, each train consisting of 48 to 50 cars, 100 Hungarian Jews to a car. That's 62,400 to 65,000 per day! Incidentally this formulation reminds me of the Talmud passage that claims that in the village of Bethar, besieged by the Romans in 135 A.D., there were 400 synagogues, each having 400 teachers, each teaching 400 students. 64 million Jewish kids in the village! The Holocaust legend is fairly oozing and dripping with Talmudic formulations. The Romans wrapped each kid in his scroll and burned them all! That yarn has also been transposed to Auschwitz. See A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 246f.
25. R. Braham, The Politics of Genocide (cited above, 1993), pp. 669, 685 (note 18). R. Hilberg, The Destruction (cited above, 1985), vol. 3, p. 1095, says "Albert' (sic) Ganzenmüller worked for Höchst A.G. 1955-1968, was indicted in Düsseldorf in 1973, but was "not tried because of ill health."
26. R. Braham, The Politics of Genocide (cited above, 1993), pp. 1123-1148.
27. Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Spring 2000, pp 135ff, esp. p. 137 and note 2. Cole is also the author of Selling the Holocaust: From Auschwitz to Schindler: How History is Bought, Packaged and Sold (New York: Routledge, 1999). I have not yet seen this book. Cole will soon learn, if he has not already, that he is treading on dangerous ground, though he is a Holocaust believer. See his "Constructing the 'Jew,' Writing the Holocaust: Hungary 1920-1945," in Patterns of Prejudice, July 1999 (vol. 3, no. 3), pp. 19-27. As co-author of "Ghettoization and the Holocaust: Budapest 1944," Journal of Historical Geography, July 1995 (vol. 21, no. 3), he finds Holocaust revisionism "distasteful" (p. 313).
28. Holocaust and Genocide Stories, Spring 1998, pp. 161-169.
29. Arthur R. Butz, "Context and Perspective in the 'Holocaust' Controversy," The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1982 (vol. 3, no. 4), pp. 371-405. Posted on the IHR web site at www.ihr.org/jhr/v03/v03p371_Butz.html . This paper has been reproduced as a supplement in recent printings of my book The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. Graf's translation is published in Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, Dec. 1999 (vol. 3, no. 4), pp. 393-410 (Castle Hill Publishers; PO Box 118; Hastings TN34 3ZQ; England) and posted on Germar Rudolf's web site at http://vho.org/VffG/1999/4/Butz391-410.html. An Italian translation, "Contesto storico e prospettiva d'insieme nella controversia dell''Olocausto'," was published in 1999 by Graphos; Campetto 4; 16123 Genoa, Italy.
30. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), p . 113.
31. The Auschwitz Album (New York: Random House, 1981)
32. Jean-Claude Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers (New York: B. Klarsfeld, 1989), pp. 251, 343; Tere sa Swiebocka, ed., Auschwitz: A History in Photographs (Oswiecim: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, and, Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1993). Three of these photos are also reproduced in the recent anti-revisionist book by M ichael Shermer and Alex Grobman, Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2000), pp. 134, 146, where they are unhelpfully attributed only t o "Yad Vashem, Jerusalem."
33. R. Braham, The Politics of Genocide (cited above, 19 93), p. 792.
34. A. Butz, Hoax (cited above), pp. 170, 216f.
Arthur R. Butz was born and raised in New York City. In 1965 he received his doctorate in Control Sciences from the University of Minnesota. In 1966 he joined the faculty of Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois), where he is now Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In addition to numerous technical papers, Dr. Butz is the author of The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, which was first published in 1976. His web site is: http://pubweb.nwu.edu/~abutz
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Friday, June 18, 2010
My Role in Berlin on July 20, 1944By Otto Ernst Remer
My assignment to the guard regiment "Grossdeutschland" in Berlin was actually a form of rest and recreation -- my first leave from the front -- after my many wounds and in recognition of my combat decorations, including the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and the Close Combat Badge in Silver (48 days of close combat). Later I would be wounded again. In all I was to command the guard regiment for only four months, since I felt obligated to be back with my comrades at the front.
My mission as commander of the guard regiment "Grossdeutschland," which I took over at the end of May 1944, was, aside from purely ceremonial duties, to safeguard the Reich government and the Reich capital. Since there were more than a million foreign workers in Berlin and its immediate vicinity, the possibility of internal unrest had to be taken into account. Around noon on July 20, 1944, First Lieutenant Dr. Hans Hagen, who had been severely wounded at the front, concluded his lecture on cultural history before the officers and NCOs of the regiment. He was attached to my regiment only administratively and in no way as a National Socialist political officer, as has often been reported. I was the regiment's sole leader, politically as well as militarily.
I had invited Hagen to lunch afterward in my quarters at the Rathenow barracks, together with my adjutant, First Lieutenant Siebert. Siebert, who had lost an eye in combat, was a pastor of the Confessional Church [a branch of the German Protestant Church that opposed Hitler]. He attended services every Sunday at the Garrison Church, with my express permission, although I myself had left the church. Among us personal freedom was the rule. Nor did it bother me that, after having been an SA stormtrooper and a member of the party during the years of struggle before Hitler came to power, he had resigned from both organizations to protest defamatory remarks by his local party leader concerning the ancestry of Jesus Christ. Lt. Siebert suffered no adverse consequences due to his resignation.
In those days that sort of thing was entirely possible, with no repercussions. Indeed, before I chose Siebert, due to his character, as my adjutant, he confided to me that while still a stormtrooper he had broken into a Gestapo office in order to obtain documents incriminating colleagues in the Confessional Church. For me Siebert's frank admissions were just a further evidence of the personal élan that recommended him as a trustworthy adjutant That's the way it was in the Third Reich, so widely demonized nowadays. Neither in my unit nor in the officer corps as a whole did there prevail the stubborn narrowmindedness, not to mention the sort of terror against dissenting opinions, that is carried on against nationalists in Germany today by the "Office for Constitutional Protection." Nor have I ever heard that Pastor Siebert considered himself to be a "resistance fighter" or that he later pretended to have been one.
During the early afternoon of July 20, 1944 my regiment, like all units of the Replacement Army, was alerted by the codeword "Valkyrie." "Valkyrie" provided for the mobilization of the Replacement Army in case of internal unrest. While my regiment automatically implemented the prescribed measures, I was summoned from the swimming pool. In compliance with my orders I drove immediately to my designated post, the Berlin City Command Center, directly across from the "Eternal Watch" honor guard. While the other unit commanders waited in the anteroom, I alone was admitted to the city commander, Major General von Hase, and given the following briefing on the situation and my assignment:
The Führer has had a fatal accident! Civil disorder has broken out. The Army has assumed executive authority! The guard regiment is ordered to concentrate a strong force, reinforced for counterattack, to seal off the government quarter so that nobody, not even a general or a government minister, can enter or leave! To support you in sealing off the streets and subways, I'm seconding Lieutenant Colonel Wolters to your command!As these orders were being issued, I was struck by the circumstance that a younger officer of the general staff, Major Hayessen, assisted, while the former and senior general staff officer, whom I knew personally, stood about, idle and noticeably nervous.
I was naturally very shocked by the general's words, since I felt that with Hitler's death the possibility of a favorable turn in the war had almost disappeared. Immediately I asked:
Is the Führer really dead? Was it an accident or has he been assassinated? Where have civil disturbances occurred? I saw nothing unusual while driving here through Berlin. Why is executive authority passing to the Army and not to the Wehrmacht [Armed Forces]? Who is the Führer's successor? According to Hitler's testament, Hermann Goering is automatically his successor. Has he issued any orders or proclamations?Since I received neither detailed information nor clear answers to my questions, the situation became even murkier, and I felt a certain sense of mistrust even from the beginning. When I tried to get a brief glimpse of the papers which lay before me on the table, above all to see who had signed the orders, Major Hayessen ostentatiously gathered them up and put them in a folder. As I returned to my regiment I kept thinking: "Hitler's dead, now confusion reigns, and various people will probably try to seize power." I contemplated the future struggles for succession.
I decided that, in any case, I would not allow myself to be misused in my capacity as commander of the only elite unit on active duty in Berlin. My regiment was made up entirely of picked, proven combat soldiers with high decorations for bravery. Every officer sported the Knights Cross. I was also mindful of the events of 1918, after which the Berlin guard units had been reproached for their hesitancy, which contributed to the success of the revolution. I had no desire to expose myself to a similar reproach before History.
When I returned to my troops, I gathered my officers and informed them of the situation and our orders. The alleged death of Adolf Hitler sent officers and men into shock. Never in my life, even at Germany's final defeat, have I witnessed such despondency. Despite the numerous stories which flourish today, that is the absolute truth: I vouch for it.
I made no secret to my officers that there was a lot that was still unclear, indeed mysterious to me, and that I would in no way allow myself or my unit to be exploited. I expressly demanded unconditional confidence and absolute obedience, just as at the front, from every one of my officers. This somewhat unusual demand was due to a telephone call I received during the briefing from a general I didn't recognize -- it was probably Major General Friedrich Olbricht -- at the High Command of the Replacement Army, requisitioning a company from my unit for a special assignment. This demand I explicitly rejected, pointing out that I had been entrusted with a clearly defined mission and that dispersing my forces didn't seem advisable.
After the briefing I received two reports which further disturbed me. The first was from First Lieutenant Dr. Hagen, a member of my staff, who informed me that while on the way to the barracks he had seen Field Marshal Brauchitsch, in full uniform, driving his car on the streets of Berlin. This was strange, for Brauchitsch was retired. Given the circumstances, his appearance in uniform seemed remarkable. It later turned out that the officer seen by Dr. Hagen could not have been Brauchitsch. Probably it was one of the conspirators.
The second disconcerting report was from Lt. Colonel Wolters, who had been attached to my regiment as a liaison officer by the Command Center. He told me that I musn't believe he was there to keep tabs on me as an informer. Such a remark was completely uncalled for. Not only was it incongruous and annoying, it awoke precisely the suspicion it was designed to allay: somebody had something up his sleeve. As it turned out, the briefing I gave my officers caused the colonel misgivings. In order to avoid responsibility, he simply went home -- an unthinkable course of action for an officer on active duty.
I had my doubts that Major General von Hase's description of the situation matched the facts. I also doubted another version of the story, according to which Hitler had been murdered by the SS. Those doubts convinced me that I had to determine the facts for myself. I decided to telephone every command post I could. That was just basic reconnaissance, a matter of course for every commander before committing his troops. Needless to say, this type of thinking and acting is quite at odds with the notorious corpse-like obedience that denigrators of the Third Reich's army attribute to it.
Among other things I decided to send First Lt. Dr. Hagen, who had eagerly volunteered, to the Reich Defense Commissioner for Berlin, Dr. Joseph Goebbels. Dr. Hagen had earlier worked under Dr. Goebbels in the Propaganda Ministry, and I believed that by dispatching him to Dr. Goebbels I would be informed not only about the military but also the political situation. Dr. Goebbels was not only Reich Propaganda Minister. He was also Gauleiter and Defense Commissioner for Berlin. As a consequence of those two latter positions, he was patron of the "Grossssdeutschland" Division, which was made up of soldiers from all the provinces of the Reich.
About an hour and a half after the "Valkyrie" order was given, my regiment, by then combat-ready, moved into the areas to be sealed off in accordance with its orders. The normal guard units, such as those at the War Memorial and the Bendlerblock, the headquarters of the Commander of the Replacement Army and of the Defense Production Office, remained at their posts. At about 4:15 p.m. Lt. Arends, the duty officer in the Bendlerblock, reported to me that he had been ordered to seal off all entrances to the building. A Colonel Mertz von Quirnheim, whom Lt. Arends didn't know, had given him this assignment. Lt. Arends had further been instructed by General Olbricht to open fire on any SS units that might approach.
After personally inspecting my troops in their new positions, at about 5:00 p.m. I returned once more to the City Commander, General von Hase, to inform him that I had carried out his orders. At that time I was asked to establish my command post there in the City Command Center, opposite the War Memorial. I had already set up a message center, commanded by Lt. Gees, in the Rathenow Barracks, with which I maintained telephone contact. Then von Hase gave me an additional assignment: to very tightly seal off a block of buildings north of the Anhalt Rail Station (he showed me where on the map).
As I began carrying out these orders, I ascertained that the designated block housed the Main Office of Reich Security. The unclearness, not to mention the deception, of this misleading order, only strengthened my suspicions. Why wasn't I given explicit orders to place the Main Office of Reich Security under guard? It goes without saying that I would have carried out even that order.
Thus, on my third visit to General von Hase, I asked him directly "Herr General, why am I receiving orders formulated so obscurely? Why wasn't I simply told to pay special attention to the Main Office of Reich Security?" Von Hase was quite nervous and excited. He didn't even respond to my question. If one wonders today how a young officer like me could allow himself such liberties with a general, it should be borne in mind that we young commanders saw ourselves as battle-hardened, proven combat leaders, and we had scant regard for the chairborne warriors of the home front.
In this connection I should like to point out something based on my long experience at the front. Just as in the First World War, it was the veteran commanders of the shock companies who epitomized the front experience, so also in the Second World War it was the young commanders, come of age on the front, who had forged with their troops a sworn fellowship of combat. These men not only could fight, they wanted to fight, particularly since they believed in Germany's victory.
While in General von Hase's office I overheard from a conversation between the General and his First General Staff Officer that Goebbels was now to be arrested, and that this assignment was to be mine. Since I found this an unpleasant duty in light of my attempt to contact Goebbels, I jumped in and told General von Hase:
Herr General, I consider myself unsuited for this assignment As you know, I've been with the "Grossssdeutschland" Division, I've worn its stripe for years. This mission would be very unchivalrous for me, for as you are doubtless aware, Dr. Goebbels, in his capacity as Gauleiter of Berlin, is at the same time the patron of the "Grossdeutschland." Only two weeks ago I paid Goebbels my first call as new commander of the guard regiment. On these grounds I consider it inappropriate that I, in particular, be ordered to arrest my patron.Possibly von Hase sympathized with my arguments. For whatever reason, he now ordered the military police to take Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels into custody.
Around 5:30 p.m. Lt. Dr. Hagen finally met with Dr. Goebbels in his private residence, at 20 Goering-Hermann Strasse beside the Brandenburg Gate, after having tried in vain to see him at the Propaganda Ministry. The Reich Minister had no idea of the danger he was in. It was only after Hagen, in order to emphasize how serious the situation was, pointed out vehicles from the guard regiment as they drove by, that Goebbels took fright. He cried, "This is impossible! What shall we do?" To that Hagen suggested, "The best thing would be for you to summon my commander here." Goebbels asked curtly: "Can your commander be trusted?" "I'd lay down my life for him!" replied Hagen.
As I was going down the corridor just after leaving the City Commander's office, I finally found my bearings as a result of Hagen's contacting Goebbels.
Hagen had driven back to the barracks, gave Gees his instructions, and then drove to my new command post at the Command Center, which was heavily guarded. To avoid any hindrance, he did not enter the building, but informed my adjutant, Lt. Siebert, and my orderly, Lt. Buck, of the situation, asking them to inform me without delay. They reported as follows:
There's a completely new situation! This is probably a military putsch! Nothing further is known! The Reich Defense Commissioner requests that you come to him as quickly as possible! If you're not there within twenty minutes, he will assume that you are being forcibly restrained. In that case he will be compelled to alert the Waffen-SS. To avoid civil war, he has until then ordered the Leibstandarte [Hitler's personal bodyguard, the 1st Division of the Waffen-SS] to stay where it is.When I learned these things from my adjutant, I decided to see General von Hase one more time. That I still trusted the Major General, even then, is shown by my having Lt. Buck repeat to me once again, in the presence of von Hase, the message from Goebbels. I didn't want to seem an intriguer; as a veteran combat officer it was my practice to lay all my cards on the table. Von Hase bluntly rejected my request to comply with the Reich Defense Commissioner's summons so that I might clarify the situation in the interest of all concerned.
After leaving the Command Center without interference, I deliberated, together with my adjutant, Lt. Siebert -- today a pastor in Nuremberg -- about what I should do. My key role in this difficult and obscure situation, which I had not caused, was increasingly clear to me. By now I felt that my head was on the line too. After evaluating the situation as carefully as I could at that time, I decided that in spite of von Hase's order to the contrary I would go to Goebbels. My reasons were as follows:
First, under no circumstances did I want to be deprived of my freedom of action, as often happened at the front. Often there was a very thin line between being awarded a high decoration, or being sentenced to death by a court martial.
Second, I felt myself still bound by my oath. The report of the Führer's death was still at least doubtful. Thus, I had to act in keeping with the oath I swore on the flag.
Third, at the front I had many times made responsible decisions on my own, decisions the correctness of which were confirmed by my being awarded high decorations. Many a situation can only be mastered by decisive action. I felt as one with my comrades at the front, who wouldn't understand if I were to stand idly by out of a lack of civic courage. I could not allow myself the responsibility of letting things come to a fatal head. I thought of 1918.
Fourth, I was under compulsion, since Goebbels had plans to alert the Waffen-SS, raising the possibility that a fraternal war between two forces, each proven in combat, might break out. As the commander of the only elite unit in Berlin on active duty I was responsible for the lives of the men entrusted to me. To employ them in a totally confused affair was not my duty.
Nevertheless, I didn't entirely trust Goebbels either, for I still assumed that Hitler was dead, and believed that a struggle for succession was possible. I was far from wanting to let myself and my unit be thrust into a latterday Diadochian struggle. Inasmuch as Goebbels' role remained unclear, I took along Lt. Buck and a platoon of soldiers. Their orders were to come and get me if I didn't emerge from Goebbels' residence in 15 minutes.
Then, after releasing the safety catch of my pistol, I entered the Reich Minister's office, where I had been eagerly awaited, and asked Goebbels to orient me. With that Goebbels asked me to tell him everything I knew. I did so, although I didn't reveal that von Hase intended to arrest him, since I was still unclear as to Goebbels' role in all this. When he asked me what I intended to do, I told him that I would stick to my military orders and that I was determined to carry them out. Even if the Führer were no longer alive, I felt bound by my oath and could only act in accord with my conscience as an officer. At that Goebbels looked at me in amazement and cried: "What are you talking about? The Führer is alive! I've spoken with him by telephone. The assassination failed! You've been tricked."
This information came as a complete surprise. When I heard that the Führer was still alive, I was greatly relieved. But I was still suspicious. Therefore I asked Goebbels to assure me, on his word of honor, that what he said was true and and that he stood unconditionally behind the Führer. Goebbels hesitated at first, because he didn't understand the reason for my request. It was only after I repeated that as an officer I needed his word of honor in order to see my way clear that he obliged.
My wish to telephone the Führer's headquarters coincided with his. Within seconds I was connected to the Wolf's Lair at Rastenburg in East Prussia. To my great surprise Hitler himself came on the line. Geobbels quickly explained the situation to the Führer and then handed me the receiver.
Adolf Hitler said to me, approximately, the following: "Major Remer, can you hear me? Do you recognize my voice? Do you understand me?" I replied affirmatively, but I was nevertheless uncertain. It flashed through my mind that someone could possibly be imitating the Führer's voice. To be sure I had become personally acquainted with the Führer's voice during the previous year, when, after he had awarded me the Oak Leaf to the Knight's Cross, I had been able to speak with him alone and completely frankly for an hour about the cares and miseries of the front. It was only as he continued speaking over the telephone that I became convinced that I was indeed speaking with Hitler. He went on:
As you can tell I'm alive. The assassination has failed. Providence didn't intend it. A small clique of ambitious, disloyal, and traitorous officers wanted to kill me. Now we've got these saboteurs of the front. We'll make short work of this treacherous plague, by brute force if necessary.The Führer's words were very calm, determined, and convincing. I could breathe a sigh of relief, for the conversation had removed all my doubts. The soldier's oath which I had sworn to the Führer was still binding, and was the guiding principle of my actions. Now my only concern was to eliminate misunderstandings and to avoid unnecessary bloodshed by acting quickly and decisively.
Goebbels asked me to inform him of the content of my conversation with Hitler, and asked me what I intended to do next. He placed the downstairs rooms of his house at my disposal, and I set up a new command post there. By this time it was 6:30 p.m. About 15 minutes later, the first report of the bomb attack in the Führer's headquarters was broadcast over the Greater German Radio Network.
Due to my visit to the Berlin City Command Center I had a rough idea, for the most part, of the dispositions of the units advancing on Berlin. To let their commanders know the real situation, I dispatched staff officers in all directions to bring the word. Success was total. The question "The Führer -- with him or against him?" worked miracles. I would like to state unequivocally that every one of these commanding officers, who like me were outraged at what had happened, subordinated themselves unconditionally to my command, although they all outranked me. Thus, they demonstrated that their soldier's oaths were binding for them as well. Difficulties, temporary in nature, arose here and there, where personal briefings were not immediately possible.
Due to the prevailing uncertainty and because of misunderstanding -- some thought that the guard regiments sealing off its designated area meant that it had mutinied -- on two occasions my regiment came within a hair's breadth of being fired on by other units. At the Fehrbelliner Platz an armored brigade had assembled at the order of the conspirators, but an order radioed by Lt. General Guderian removed it from the conspirators' control. Thereafter this unit undertook reconnaissance and mistakenly concluded that the guard regiment "Grossdeutschland" was on the side of the conspirators and had apprehended Reich Minister Goebbels. Several of the brigade's tanks advanced tentatively, and bloodshed would have been a near thing had I not intervened personally to clear up the confusion.
The same thing happened in front of the Bendlerblock, the headquarters of the Commander of the Replacement Army, when a panzergrenadier company tried to take over from my guard, which had been authorized by the Führer. The energetic intervention of officers from my regiment made possible a clarification at the last moment and prevented German soldiers from firing on each other. Here too the question "Hitler -- with him or against him?" proved decisive. I had sent one of my company commanders, Captain Schlee, to the Bendlerblock in order to clear things up. At this point I had no idea that the leadership of the conspiracy had its Headquarters there. Schlee had orders to withdraw our guards, because I wanted, as much as possible, to avoid bloodshed. When he arrived he was ordered to see General Olbricht. He took the precaution of telling the guard to bring him out by force in the event he didn't return promptly. In fact he was placed under arrest in the general's waiting room by Colonel Mertz von Quirnheim, who told him to stay there. When Mertz went into Olbricht's office, however, Schlee simply walked away.
When he returned to our guard, Lt. Arends informed him of a strange occurrence. He'd heard shouts coming from an upper story of the building and just then a typewriter and a telephone came flying through the window and into the courtyard. Schlee did an about-face and led a patrol back up to find out what was going on. He quickly identified the room from which the noise was coming; it was locked, but not under guard, and the key was still in the lock. Inside was General von Kortzfleisch, commanding general of the Berlin Military District. It was he who had thrown the objects out the window. The general had been summoned to the Bendlerblock to receive his orders. On his arrival, he steadfastly refused to cooperate with the conspirators. He was arrested and locked in, but left unguarded. Now that he was free, he gave us our first information regarding the leadership of the conspiracy.
At 7:30 p.m. our guards were relieved, in keeping with orders. Olbricht had to replace our guard detail with his own officers. The commander of the new guard was Lt. Colonel Fritz von der Lancken. As he was moving out Schlee learned from a captain in the communications center in the Benderblock that I had been ordered by the Führer to put down the putsch. They had been able to overhear my conversation with the Führer, and recognized that the telexes they were to send out were the conspirators' orders. Thus the men in the communications center deliberately delayed sending the messages, or in some cases didn't dispatch them at all.
Truly a masterfully prepared plan: the conspirators had no accomplices! Furthermore, telexes and telephone messages continued to come in from the Führer Headquarters, making the actual state of affairs quite clear.
Countless orders were given that late afternoon of July 20th. Among other measures I moved the replacement brigade of the "Grossdeutschland" from Cottbus to the outskirts of Berlin as a combat reserve. The brigade, too, had been given different orders earlier by the conspirators. Its tried and true commander, Colonel Schulte-Neuhaus, who had lost an arm in combat and whom I knew from the front, reported to my command post. I introduced him to Goebbels. Meanwhile I concentrated my own troops more tightly around the Reich Chancellory complex, and formed a strong combat reserve in the garden of Goebbels' official residence. Goebbels asked me to address the troops assembled there, which I did. Their outrage at the traitorous goings-on was so great that they would have torn every single conspirator to pieces, had they been there.
Then I sealed off the City Command Center, for I'd gotten the impression that there was a number of questionable characters there. I also learned that after my refusal to arrest Goebbels, the military police had been ordered to do so. I waited in vain for them to appear. Later I heard that not a single unit was ready to arrest Dr. Goebbels, so that it was left to von Hase himself. At this point the City Commander was at the headquarters of the deputy commander, to which he had driven in order to work out further measures with the general who had been installed there by the conspirators. They had discussed things for two hours without coming to a decision, which was typical behavior for these combat-shy conspirators.
After General von Hase's return to the City Command Center was reported to me, I asked him over the telephone to come by my command post at Goebbels' residence in order to clarify the situation. At first he refused my invitation, and demanded that, since I was his subordinate, I should report to him at the Command Center. I informed him that I had been ordered personally by the Führer as his immediate subordinate, to restore peace and order, that von Hase was therefore under my orders, and that I would come and get him if he didn't appear of his own free will. Only then did the general arrive. At this point I was still under the impression that von Hase, who had often been my guest at the officers' club, who frequently expressed his solidarity with the soldiers at the front, and who never omitted a "Sieg Heil!" to his beloved Führer from any speech, had been deceived, just as I had been, and was unaware of the facts. Therefore I apologized for my unusual behavior. On his arrival von Hase was affability personified; he even praised me for my independence and decisiveness, and for seeking out Goebbels, by which I had averted a good deal of mischief.
Even with Goebbels von Hase played the innocent, and acted as if he had no inkling of any conspiracy. He was asked to stand by for further information, and a room was placed at his disposal. As von Hase left Goebbels' office, there was an embarrassing incident, which made me, as a German officer, blush for shame. In these very tense circumstances, von Hase stated that he had been busy the whole day and hadn't had a thing to eat. Goebbels immediately offered to have a sandwich prepared and asked him if he would like a glass of Mosel or Rhine wine as well. As soon as von Hase had left the office, Goebbels sneered:
"My name is Hare [Hase], I know nothing." That's the stuff our revolutionaryputsch generals are made of. With the irons still in the fire they want to be wined and dined, and call their mommies on the telephone. In their place I'd see my tongue ripped out before I'd make such contemptible requests.Two events illustrate how little thought and planning went into the putsch. My conversations and orders were routed through the same communications center in the Bendlerblock, headquarters of the conspiracy, from which the plotters' orders were being disseminated in all directions. The communications officers could have delayed my orders or not transmitted them at all, or they could have interrupted my telephone calls, none of which they did. I even received a message from the Reich Broadcasting Service, asking what was going on. As a result, I was able to give the order that under no circumstances was any unscheduled transmission to be made. As a result, this important communications medium was also denied to the plotters. What transpired at the Broadcasting Center on the Masurenallee? Major Jacob had been ordered to occupy the Broadcasting Center. Astonishingly enough he had been ordered neither to broadcast any announcements nor to shut down the station. He attempted to telephone the conspirators to report his occupation of the radio station and to request additional orders. He had no luck, however. He wasn't put through, as happened at many offices. For front-line soldiers the loss of telephone connections was a frequent occurrence. In such a case the normal procedure was to establish radio communications or to send a courier. Major Jacob had a teleprinter at his disposal as well, but he used none of those methods. Stauffenberg, the General Staff officer who planned the putsch, gave no thought to furnishing motorcycle couriers. Such trivial details were studiously overlooked.
Rudolf-Günther Wagner, the man who was to broadcast the conspirators' proclamations, said later:
I had known for years that I was to broadcast the proclamation on the day of the putsch. I awaited with feverish excitement the arrival of the lieutenant who was to bring me the proclamation. Unfortunately I waited in vain, until I heard from Goebbels' loudspeakers that the assassination had failed.As is now well known, General Lindemann, who had the text of the proclamation, was nowhere to be found. General Beck was not willing to step in; he ordered Hans-Bernd Gisevius, a conspirator with the Abwehr, to bring the proclamation. First, however, Gisevius had to speedily draft a new statement, while the conspirators Stauffenberg, Hoepner, Yorck, Schwerin, and Schulenburg shouted suggestions at him. For this fiasco, too, Stauffenberg, the "manager" of the conspiracy, bears responsibility. To keep a broadcasting station in operation requires skilled and trustworthy personnel. A team had been ordered to the City Command Center, but it waited there idly until it was arrested during the counteraction. Hans Kasper, who was part of Operation Jacob, later commented:
It was around that time that the July 20 [attempted putsch] collapsed. From the perspective of a radio editor it was tragic. Tragic because the way in which details were handled made it obvious that this revolt had had very little chance of succeeding.In the meantime Lt. Schlee had reported to me what was happening at the Bendlerblock. I knew nothing of the inside story, nor that Lt. General Fromm, Commander in Chief of the l Replacement Army, had withdrawn from the plot and been arrested by the conspirators. Schlee was further ordered, after our guards ad been relieved, to surround and seal off the Bendlerblock, without entering the buildings. At about 7:00 p.m. I felt I had the situation in Berlin in hand. The tension began to subside.
About the Author
Born in 1912, Otto Ernst Remer enlisted in the German army in 1930. During the Second World War he served as a front line officer in Poland, the Balkans, and in the campaign against the Soviet Union. He was wounded eight times, and his courage and ability earned him the German Cross in Gold, the Iron Cross, and other decorations. In May 1944 he was given command of the Guard Regiment “Grossdeutschland” in Berlin.
Remer played a key role in putting down the attempt by Claus von Stauffenberg and other conspirators to kill Hitler and seize control of the German government on July 20, 1944. On that day, one of the conspirators, Paul von Hase, ordered Remer and his troops to seal off the government buildings in central Berlin and arrest Reich minister Dr. Goebbels. However, Goebbels put Remer in direct telephone contact with Hitler, who ordered him to arrest the conspirators in the German capital and put down the attempted coup. Remer did this quickly and with no loss of life.
Promoted to Colonel, he took part in the Dec. 1944 Ardennes offensive. He was promoted to Generalmajor on Jan. 30, 1945. In the final weeks of the war he commanded a panzer division in Pomerania. After the war he helped found the Socialist Reich Party (SRP), which was later banned. After a court sentenced him to prison for “Holocaust denial,” he emigrated to Spain, where he died in exile in Oct. 1997.
This essay is from The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1988 (Vol. 8, No. 1), pages 41-53. It is translated by Mark Weber from a chapter of Otto Ernst Remer’s memoir,Verschwörung und Verrat um Hitler (“Conspiracy and Treason Around Hitler”). A review of this book appears in the same Spring 1988 issue of the IHR Journal. This essay parallels Remer’s address at the Eighth IHR Conference (1987).