Little Grey Rabbit's Historical Skepticism Blog

Altreich transports to Minsk and Gruppe Arlt

Posted in Deportations, Einsatzgruppen, Police etc, Other Camps by littlegreyrabbit on April 7, 2010

One of my beliefs is that our understanding of Holocaust history has been distorted by the systematic tainting of archives, primarily but not solely in the Eastern Bloc.  One of these is the Czech Military Archive in Prague that in 1968 released a documentary collection regarding the RF-SS entitled Unsere Ehre heisst Treue.  This was a facismile collection detailing atrocities during the invasion of the Soviet Union 1941 and 1942.

Amongst this were Tätigkeitsberichten from the Gruppe Arlt, which purport to show that deported German Jews were murdered on arrival at Maly Trostinets, a camp on the outskirts of Minsk.  The published exercepts can be found here

“On the 21., 22., and 23. 7. new pits were excavated.
On the 24. 7. another transport of 1000 Jews from the Reich arrives.
From the 25. 7. to the 27. 7. new pits are being excavated.
On the 28. 7. a big action in the Russion ghetto of Minsk. 6000 Jews are brought to the pit.
On the 29. 7. 3000 German Jews are brought to the pit.
The following days were spent again with cleaning weapons and putting things in order.”

For one transport of the 11 May 1942 Gruppe Arlt apparently reported this:  “Am 11. Mai traf ein Transport mit Juden (1000 Stück) aus Wien in Minsk ein, und wurden gleich vom Bahnhof zur obengenannten Grube geschafft. Dazu war der Zug direkt an der Grube eingesetzt.”  Or translated:

“On 11 May a transport with Jews (1000 pieces) arrived in Minsk from Vienna and was immediately transferred from the train station to the above mentioned grave. To that end the train was deployed directly to the grave”[1]

Not much doubt there, the Jews are portrayed suitable dehumanised as “pieces”.  Fortunately we can compare and contrast this report held in the Prague archives with the report filed by the Transportkommando back in Vienna.[2]

To provide a rough and partial translation:

95 Police Revier                                                                                16 May 1942
Report over a completed Evacuation transport (Jews)

The Jewish transport specified for the 6 May from Vienna to Minsk in White Russia consisting of 1000 people (men, women and children), was loaded on the same day from 12:00 to 16:00.

The handover documented by list (listenmässige Übergabe) to the transport kommando took place at 18:30 by SS-Hauptsturmführer Brunner for the Zentralstelle for Jewish Emigration Vienna, 27 Prince Eugene street.

[details of routing]
With arrival at Kojdanow, 8 dead Jews (3 men and 5 women) were identified and buried at the railway station. Departure of the transport train at 9:00 11.5 from Kojdanow towards Minsk, at arrival at Minsk at 10:30 on 11 May.

The documented by list handover as well as the delivery of 50 000 RM in credit notes took place on 12 May 1942 at the SD in Minsk.
[Details of returned journey including delousing at Brest]

While the transport kommando report does not definitively undermine the authenticity of the Taetigkeitsberichten of Gruppe Arlt, it is somewhat surprising.

Minor discrepancies would include the fact by the time the transport arrived in Minsk it did not consist of 1000 “pieces” but rather 992.  Moreover, its difficult to comprehend how a the transport kommando could not have been aware that immediately on arrival in Minsk the train was diverted to a camp outside the city, to mass grave and then its passengers all shot, nor why they would so completely conceal this fact in their report.  Moreover, specifying a “listenmässige Übergabe” taking place the next day, 12 May, at the Security Services in Minsk, would suggest that at least in the minds of the Transportkommando, these Jews were still alive.

[1] Alfred Gottwaldt, Diana Schulle: Die ‚Judendeportationen’… ISBN 3-86539-059-5, page 238

[2] Downloaded from, April 2010. Original source unknown.

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