Little Grey Rabbit's Historical Skepticism Blog

Correction Corner: Everybody on Eichmann’s visit to Treblinka, Belzec or anywhere

Posted in Aktion Reinhar(d)(t), Correction Corner by littlegreyrabbit on April 7, 2010

Eichmann, during his custody in Israel, claimed to have visited one of the Aktion Reinhar(d)(t) camps.  A camp he believes was Treblinka.  Historians usually say he visited either Belzec or in the case of Christopher Browning a mystery experimental site somewhere near Belzec.  Either claim involves suppressing information that Eichmann provided, as we shall see.Eichmann gives the first account of his two visits during pre-trial interrogations.  To quote

Globocnik sent for a certain Sturmbannfuehrer Hoefle, who must have been a member of his staff.  We went from Lublin to, I don’t remember what the place was called, I get them mixed up, I couldn’t say if it was Treblinka or some other place.  There were patches of woods, sort of, and the road passed through – a Polish highway.  On the right side of the road there was an ordinary house, that”s where the men who worked there lived.  A captain of the regular police [Ordnungspolizei] welcomed us.  A few workmen were still there.  The captain, which surprised me, had taken off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves, somehow he seemed to have joined in the work.  They were building little wooden shacks, two, maybe three of them;  they looked like two or three room cottages.  Hoefle told the police captain to explain the installation to me.  And then he started in.  He had a, well, let’s say, a vulgar, uncultivated voice.  Maybe he drank.  He spoke some dialect from the southwestern corner of Germany, and he told me how he had made everything airtight.  It seems they were going to hook up a Russian submarine engine and pipe the exhaust into the houses and the Jews inside would be poisoned

Then sometime later:

LESS: But you were in Treblinka again?

EICHMANN: I’ld like to say something about this last, about this last point of this terrible, terrible business.  I mean Treblinka, I was given orders.  I went to see Globocnik in Treblinka.  That was the second time.  The installations were now in operation, and I had to report to Mueller.  I expected to see a wooden house on the right side of the road and a few more wooden houses on the left; that’s what I remember.  Instead, again with the same Sturmbannfuehrer Hoefle, I come to a railroad station with a sign saying Treblinka, looking exactly like a German railroad station – anywhere in Germany – a replica, with signboards, etc.  There I hung back as far as I could.  I didn’t push closer to see it all.  I saw a footbridge enclosed in barbed wire and over that footbridge a file of naked Jews was being driven into a house, a big…, not a house, a big, one room structure, tobe gassed.  As I was told, they were gassed with….what’s it called?…….potassium cyan……potassium cyanide or cyanic acid.  In acid form it’s called cyanic acid.  I didn’t look to see what happened.  I reported to Mueller and as usual he listened in silence,w ithout a word of comment.[1]

Treblinka is north-east of Warsaw, a very long way from Lublin, so historians trying to associate this with Belzec or Sobibor makes sense.  But they do so by omitting or ignoring his second visit there where Eichmann claims he saw a replica railway station and that being called Treblinka.  Given Belzec was never supposed to have had a replica railway station then it can hardly have been there.  This is the first mention of a “footbridge” or the use of potassium cyanide at these camps also.

Christopher Browning’s suggestion of a secret experimental gassing station that has left no other trace is ingenious means to deal with the issue, particularly as it is incapable of being disproved , but again omits Eichmann’s description of 2nd visit to a camp with a replica railway station

[1] Eichmann Interrogated: Transcripts from the Archives of the Israeli Police , edited by Jochen von Lang pp 76, 84

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