The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/german/ifz/

Archive/File: orgs/german/ifz
Last-Modified: 1994/02/15

Sender: (Danny Keren)
Subject: German Historians on the Dimension of the Holocaust

A few weeks ago I mailed the Institut Fuer Zeitgeschicthe (Institute
for Contemporary History) in Munich, Germany, asking them for
a short survey on the dimensions of the Holocaust, with special
emphasis on the murder by gas in various extermination camps. Here
is their answer, after translating it from German.

The Institut Fuer Zeitgeschicthe is considered an authority on
this issue in Germany, and has been used as a source of
information on the Holocaust in various trials of Nazi war
criminals there.

Feel free to quote from this letter, under the following

1) Verbatim quotes only.
2) The Institut Fuer Zeitgeschicthe has to be cited as the source.

-Danny Keren.

Concerns:  Number of victims of the Nazi tyranny
In reference to your letter which arrived here on 9/3/92.

Dear Mr. Dr. Keren:

In answer to your above mentioned request we send you in a separate
mailing by air mail book-post a composition achieved in house,
concerning "The killing of humans through gas in the extermination-
and concentration camps under the Nazi tyranny" in which you will find
answers to your questions # 1,2 and 4.

The victims of the operation groups of the security service and the SD
behind the German frontier in the Russia-campaign were to the by far
largest part Jews. Their number is estimated to be at least 900,000.

The difference between the total of the victims of the gassings cited
in the above mentioned composition and the number of victims of the
operation groups and the total of roughly 6 million victims of the Nazi
persecution of the Jews results from the fact that a very high percentage
of the victims have lost their lives through indirect extermination
actions such as the method "destruction through work", bad treatment,
under nourishment, epidemics, exhaustion during forced transportations etc.

About 120,000 people were killed through the Nazi "Euthanasia"-actions.

Concerns: The killing of people through gas in the extermination and
concentrations camps under the Nazi power

The systematic murdering of humans through gas during the Nazi rule was
introduced for the first time from January 1940 on in the area of the
"Euthanasia", the extermination of the "lives not worthy to live" of
the handicapped, mental patients and the terminally ill, and from fall
1941 on was continued to a much larger extent by the pogroms of the
operation groups of the security police and the SD in the seized eastern
areas with the help of mobile gas vans.

Beginning December of 1941 one proceeded in the camp Kulmhof (Polish
Chelmno) to use stationary gas vans for the killing of Jews, and from
the beginning of 1942 in different camps fixed gas chambers were built,
or already existing buildings were restructured for this purpose.

One needs to differentiate by the furnishing of such gas chambers and the
gassing actions carried out within them between the mass gassings of Jews
in the extermination camps build for that purpose and the gassings of
smaller scale in individual, already existing concentration camps (whereby
patients, seized forced laborers, war prisoners, and political prisoners
among others were also victims)

The following extermination camps existed:

Kulmhof i.e. Chelmno (in the then Wartheland), where between December
1941 and fall 1942 and again from May until August 1944 gassings by
means of carbon monoxide from motor exhaust gas took place. Altogether
more than 150,000 Jews as well as 5000 gypsies have hereby been killed.

Belzec (in the district Lublin of the then general governments): from
march to December 1942 in the beginning in three, later in six large gas
chambers by means of carbon monoxide from motor exhaust gas altogether
about 600,000 Jews were killed here.

Sobibor (district Lublin, general government) received in April 1942
three, later in September 1942 six gas chambers and until October 1943
it was "in operation". During this period at least 200,000 Jews have
been murdered through carbon monoxide gas.

Treblinka (district Warschau, general government) from the end of July
1942 on had three gas chambers and received at the start of September 1942
furthermore ten larger gas chambers. Up to the dissolution of the camp in
November 1943 altogether 700,000 Jews were killed here by carbon monoxide.

Majdanek (district Lublin, general government): The concentration camp
existing since September 1941 turned into an extermination camp when between
April 1942 and November 1943 mass shootings took place to which 24,000 Jews
fell victim. In October 1942 also two, later three gas chambers were built.
In the beginning the killings in these were done by means of carbon monoxide, soon however one was using Zyklon B (a highly poisonous insecticide made
from cyan hydrogen). Up until the dissolution of the camp in March 1944
about 50,000 Jews have been gassed.

Auschwitz-Birkenau (in the formerly polish, in 1939 adjoined to the "Reich"
upper eastern Silesian area, south eastern of Kattowitz): The extermination
camp in Birkenau, established in the second half of 1941, was joined to
the concentration camp Auschwitz, existing since May 1940. From January
1942 on in five gas chambers and from the end of June 1943 in four
additional large gassing-rooms gassings with Zyklon B have been
undertaken. Up until November 1944 more than one million Jews and at least
4000 gypsies have been murdered by gas.

In the following concentration camps gas chambers were established and have
gone into operation:

Mauthausen (upper Austria): From fall 1941 on one gas chamber existed which
was operated with Zyklon B. In addition, gassings with carbon monoxide took
place through gas vans which were driven between Mauthausen and it's
side-camp Gusen. Altogether more than 4000 have been killed here through gas.

Neuengamme (southeastern of Hamburg): From fall of 1942 on gassings with
Zyklon B were undertaken here in a "Bunker" prepared for that, about 450

Sachsenhausen (Province Brandenburg, north of Berlin) received mid March
1943 a gas chamber which was operated with Zyklon B. Several thousand
people fell victim to the gassings, a more specific number cannot be

Natzweiler (by Struthof, Elsass): From August 1943 to August 1944 a gas
chamber existed here in which between 120 and 200 people were killed through
Zyklon B in order to be able to dissect their skeletons for the Anatomica
Institute of University of Strassburg.  Back then this institute was managed
by a chief company commander of SS Prof. Dr. August Hirt.

Stutthof (east of Danzig) had from June 1944 on one gas chamber in which
more than 1000 were killed by Zyklon B.

Ravensbruck (Bradenburg, north of Berlin): Here still in January
1945 a gas chamber was established;  the number of the people killed
in it was at least 2300.

Dachau (Upper Bavaria, northeast of Munich): During the establishment of
a new house of cremation in 1942 also a gas chamber was established in it
in which in connection with the medical experiments of the chief company
commander of SS Dr. Rascher also a few experimental gassings were undertaken,
as more recent research has confirmed. (On that see Gunther Kimmel:
The Concentration Camp Dachau. A study of the Nazi crimes of violence in
Bavaria in the NS-time II, edited by Martin Broszat and Elke Froehlich,
Munich, R. Oldenburg Press, 1979, P. 391.) Larger gassing operations
have not taken place in Dachau.

The above mentioned numbers of the people killed in the gas chambers of
the individual camps are only approximations.  They also only refer to the
people killed in gassing operations. The number of the Jews killed in
Europe due to the effects of the Nazi tyranny amounts, according to the
newest research to at least 5.29 million. Possibly, however, also more
than six million.

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