Auschwitz as Transit Camp: Salonika – Auschwitz – Malkinia – ?
The Auschwitz myth revolves around the claim that everyone on an arriving transport that was not selected for labour and entered as a registered prisoner was gassed. This claim is usually enforced by strident demands of where are all the transport records for departing trains from Auschwitz. The fact that this questioned can not be answered depends on two factors; a) the documentation in question has probably been deliberately destroyed, b) in all other cases professional historians are supposed to exercise self-censorship and not call attention to any lacunae in historical data.
However, even the most reliable of historians can sometimes slip up and amusingly I have found one from Yitzhak Arad, who ought to have known better, showing off by quoting a document that would have been best left gathering dust in whichever file he found it.
From his Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps page 146 we read the following:
Between March 15 and May 9, the Jews of Salonika, Greece, were sent to Auschwitz for extermination. A document of the German railroad authority in Vienna, date March 26, 1943, mentions a forty-eight car train carrying deportees loaded at Salonika that passed through Cracow and from there to Malkinia. Since in many documents relating to transports to Treblinka Malkinia is noted as the destination station [well now, there’s a surprise], it would appear that at least one transport from Salonika, carrying 2,800 Jews, arrived at Treblinka. Stangl also testified that transports from Salonika arrived at Treblinka. Shmuel Wilenberg bore witness to such a transport.
Nice try Professor Arad, but alas we have all the Salonika transports in a nice sequential numbered list. For the first six transports from Salonika we have:
|Train||Dep. Salonika||Deportees||Arrival Auschwitz||Admitted to Auschwitz||Gassed at Auschwitz|
|Da 1||March 15||2400||March 20||609||1800|
|Da 2||March 17||2635||March 24||814||1800|
|Da 3||March 19||2800||March 25||695||2100|
|Da 4||March 23||2800||March 30||453||2300|
|Da 5||March 27||2800||April 3||592||2200|
This data was compiled from a number of sources, including a list in the war crimes trials regarding the Salonika deportations (and it is to be noted that the numbers given here also agree with Korherr’s statistical reporting for the entire deportations from Europe as regards Greece and the first quarter of 1943 – hence we can be sure this list is complete). The other main source is Danuta Czech’s Kalendarium of Auschwitz, which lists the arriving transports and states all unselected passengers were sent to the gas chambers. Well not at Auschwitz they weren’t, because at least one document has slipped through the dragnet indicating one of these trains, probably Da 3 or Da 4, after having Jews selected for labour then left Auschwitz and travelled onto Malkinia. In all probability they all did, but that is another matter.
So what, I hear my legion of devoted readers cry in protest, they were gassed in Treblinka not Auschwitz. What difference does it make? All I can say is it seems a bit odd, having just spent all this money on building brand-new, state of the art crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau, albeit crematoria that look like bakeries from the outside, that you don’t actually use them and you send all the people you want gassed off to Malkinia or Treblinka or whatever we are supposed to call it. Malkinia, for those unaware, is a town on the main railway line going east to Bialystok, about 8 kms from Treblinka.
Sloppy, Professor Arad, very sloppy.
This document mirrors what can be seen in the film Shoah when Claude Lanzmann interviews some locals from the vicnity of Treblinka/Malkinia. This section of film, shot during the period of Communist Poland, always leaves a bad taste in the mouth due to the obvious enjoyment that the locals are getting from being interviewed. The suppressed mirth on their faces comes through strongly and the super-subtle Lanzmann neatly turns this around to portray them as anti-semitic yokels, whereas in reality the locals probably believed they were acting in a commonality of deceit with Lanzmann and expected to be treated better. Nevertheless, some testimony is worth quoting (the local testimony comes through the medium of an interpreter and is sometimes in 1st and sometimes 3rd person):
Pole :We’d gesture…
CL: Gesture how ?
Pole: That they’d be killed. [makes throat slitting gesture]
CL: These people made that sign ?
Pole: He says the Jews didn’t believe it.
CL: But what does that gesture mean ?
Pole: That death awaited them. The people who had a chance to get near the Jews did that to warn them…
CL: He did it too ?
Pole: That they’d be hanged, killed, slain. Even foreign Jews from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, from France too, surely. And from Holland… These didn’t know, but the Polish Jews knew….He says the foreign Jews arrived here in passenger cars they were well dressed, in white shirts, there were flowers in the cars, and they played cards.
Another local confirms Western European Jews commonly passed through Malkinia
CL: Did foreign Jews arrive here in passenger cars, too ?
2nd Pole: Not always. Often the richest Jews, from Belgium, Holland, France, arrived in passenger cars, sometimes even in 1st class. They were usually better treated by the guards. Especially the convoys of Western European Jews waiting their turn here, Polish railmen saw the women making up, combing their hair wholly unaware of what awaited them minutes later. They dolled up.
Dutch, Belgium or French Jews were not supposed to have got beyond Auschwitz, aside from a number of Dutch Jews that ended up in Sobibor, which is on a different train line from Malkinia. Passenger cars were a feature of the Western European deportations; except for those too poor or unwilling to buy a ticket, these people travelled in the luggage vans. So what Yitzhak Arad inadvertantly described from this Greek transport looks like a common procedure: a stop in Auschwitz for a labour selection and then the train and the rest of the passengers continued onwards to Malkinia.
For what its worth, the original version of the throat slitting gesture that virtually every Pole in Lanzmann’s film claims to have made, comes from the buried Sonderkommando diary of Salmen Gradowski. He claims in this alleged diary to have been transported from Bialystok via Treblinka to Auschwitz and to have seen that gesture from the train at Treblinka station. I guess you could call it collaborating evidence….or just evidence of collaboration.