Mattogno, his Einsatzgruppen book and the Gas Vans. Part V: Nazi Foreign Office Documents vs. Holocaust Denial
Author: Hans Metzner
Monday, January 21, 2019
In mid-May 1943, the German Foreign office was troubled by a story that the Generalkommissar for Weissruthenien, Wilhelm Kube, showed an Italian delegation of fascists "a gas chamber in which the killing of the Jews was allegedly carried out
" in Minsk. It was a mobile "gas chamber", since only gas vans are known
to have operated in Minsk (see also here
It does not come as a surprise that Mattogno has been forced to doubt the authenticity of this German document because it challenges his firm belief in Holocaust denial. Since there are no rational grounds to consider the note by Eberhard von Thadden on the "gas chamber" in Minsk a forgery, he has been compelled to make up stuff like this:
"What is rather dubious, on the other hand, is the authenticity of the signature. Von Thadden usually signed his letters with the initials 'vTh' (followed by the date, day and month), while the signature of the note in question is by a different hand and is a rather clumsy attempted imitation – or reconstruction of von Thadden’s signature."
(Mattogno, The Einsatzgruppen in den Occupied Eastern Territories, p. 329-330)
In the associated footnote, he cites from Braham's The Politics of Genocide (1981) examples of von Thadden's alleged "true signature". He also refers to his own remarks in the Italian edition of Mattogno/Graf/Kues' The "Extermination Camps" of "Aktion Reinhardt" (online here
, p. 552; page numbers apparently do not correspond to the printed edition).
Mattogno starts straight away with a wrong reference. The documents he cites are not from Braham, The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary (1981) but from Braham, The Destruction of Hungarian Jewry (1963), an entirely different book (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Mattogno confusing his own source
The examples, which are supposed to show that "von Thadden usually signed his letters with the initials 'vTh'", are not letters signed by von Thadden. The documents are a submission for telegrams and a comment. The initials on the documents are not von Thadden's signature but, well, just his initials. It is bloody obvious for anybody who has studied documents of German bureaucracy that initials followed by the date are a so-called Paraphe
. It could mean approval, notice, certification, indication, but it was not a formal and legal signature. In 1992, the German Federal Supreme Court commented
that "lettering that appears as a deliberate and intended name abbreviation (hand mark, initials) does not represent a formal signature".
Now, the very same book, from which he cites the documents with Paraphe (initials), also contains numerous documents actually signed by von Thadden. What he has so confidently declared as written "by a different hand" and "rather clumsy attempted imitation – or reconstruction of von Thadden’s signature" is actually his real signature. This arrogance is only trumped in the Italian edition of Mattogno/Graf/Kues, where he adds that "there is no need for an expert calligrapher to see that the first signature comes from a different hand" (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Mattogno confusing a signature with initials
An expert calligrapher, or in fact anyone less obsessed with negating Nazi atrocities, could have saved him from doubting the authenticity of a signature because confusing it with the persons' initials. One can really observe here how Mattogno is making up stuff just for the purpose of denying the Holocaust. He would have unlikely confused this if it were not for dismissing evidence on gas vans. He has seen too many German documents to pretend that he did not know about such practice.
Mattogno is evidently unable to take a reasonable look at the evidence as soon as it is on Nazi mass murder. Any troublesome piece of evidence seems to have the effect on him that it suddenly turns off any residual knowledge, common sense and logic which may be left in his brain.
On the trip of the Italian fascists to Minsk, Mattogno states that "there is no trace of any record of the presumed visit to Minsk itself by any Italian fascist delegation" (p.330). Will Mattogno never ever understand that not known to him usually only means that he has not really looked for it? (feel free to ask Major Pradel, SS-Untersturmführer Ernst and Josef Spacil
or Obersturmführer Huhn
On 7 October 1942, Vidussoni was flown to Hitler's headquarters in Vinnytsia. According to a note of the German Foreign Office from the day later, Vidussoni reported "on the strong experience which for him meant visiting the Italian troops on the eastern front" (Akten zur Deutschen Auswärtigen Politik, Serie E, Band 4, 1975, p.41).
Figure 3: Mattogno confusing his ignorance with knowledge that something did not happen
Vidussoni also wrote a report of the trip for Mussolini (dated 24 October 1942) and explained what he had observed on the Nazi policy towards the Jews:
"An absolute rigour is manifested in regard to the Jews, severely treated and subject to restrictions of all kinds, even if there are those who work. I have been told by Italians living in those territories and sometimes even by the Germans in the mood for confidence, that shootings are at the order of the day and also [concerns] large groups of people of all ages and sexes. In Minsk, at the Opera House, we have seen the stuff of thousands and thousands of Jews murdered and it seems to be distributed to the population. They use, they say, only those who can work and until their physical exhaustion. What has most affected the Italians is the way of killing, to which, moreover, it seems that the victims resigned themselves. The population of entire towns and villages has been decimated by as much as a third or a half, in particular because of the elimination of the Jews."
(ACS, SPD-CR 1922-1943, 50/fasc. Aldo Vidussoni, quoted from Schlemmer, Die Italiener an der Ostfront 1942/43, p. 173; my translation; Italian text available online here
The description corresponds well to von Thadden's note that "on occasion of a visit by Fascist representatives in Minsk Gauleiter Kube had also shown a church that had been used by the Communists for worldly purposes. Asked by the Italians what the little parcels and suitcases piled up there meant, Kube had explained that these were the only leftovers of Jews deported to Minsk".
On the "gas-chamber" note from von Thadden, Mattogno argues "there is no trace of it in the documentation published by the archives of the German Foreign Office (cf. Rothfels 1978 and 1979), whence the document in question should have originated" (p.330; but writes in the footnote that "Browning (1978, fn 21, p. 249) indicates precisely the following archive reference: 'PA [= Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes]. Inland II g 169 a, Thadden memorandum, 15 May 1943. T120/K781/K209619.'").
T120/K781/K209619 is not a reference to the original file but to its microfilm at the US National Archives
. I don't know about the editorial decision not to include the note in the selected collection of Foreign Office files. But Mattogno could have easily learned about the whereabouts of the document if he just enquired at the Political Archives of the Foreign Office in Berlin.
The document is not an isolated piece but part of a dossier with the signature PA AA, RZ 214, R 100848b, Bl.272-278. The matter was started by von Thadden's well-known note
on the "gas-chamber" incident in Minsk, which was reported to him via his superior Franz Rademacher by the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories ("Ostministerium"). Apart from the signed note, there exists in the file also an initialed copy (exactly with the initials Mattogno confused as a signature) (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Note by von Thadden of 15 May 1943 with his initials
Furthermore, the incident with the "gas chamber" in Minsk is mentioned in the copy
of a follow-up letter from von Thadden to the the Ostland representative of the Foreign Office, Adolf Windecker, of 17 May 1943.
At the Opera in Minsk, the Italian delegation had to wonder how so many Jewish families had been killed. It stands to reason that Kube revealed to them the murder weapon - homicidal gassing. The German Foreign Office obtained via the Ostministerium that Kube reportedly told the delegation that the Jews "had been killed in a gas chamber" and that the "Fascists had been most deeply shocked". Vidussoni himself may have indicated this as well with the remark "what has most affected the Italians is the way of killing" (notable without explaining further details).