The murder of Dutch Jews during the Holocaust has been in the news a lot lately due to the trial of John Demjanjuk in Germany. I decided to do a little research on this subject and came across a blog titled “Inconvenient History” which I have read many times in the past. I love this blog because the articles are so erudite, not like my dumb blog posts. I especially love the name: Inconvenient History.
This blog post on the “Inconvenient History” blog is about the speeches of German writer Thomas Mann on the BBC during World War II; it mentions Dutch Jews who were allegedly gassed at the Mauthausen concentration camp, according to Mann.
Here is a quote from the article on the blog “Inconvenient History”:
Two months later, in the speech from January 1942, Mann had an astounding tale to tell his listeners:
”The news sounds implausible, but my source is good. In numerous Dutch-Jewish families in Amsterdam and other cities, so I have been informed, one mourns deeply for sons, who have suffered a horrible death. Four hundred young Dutch Jews were brought to Germany to be used as guinea pigs for poison gas. The virulence of this chivalrous and through and through German weapon of war, a true weapon of Siegfried, has proven itself against the young subhumans. They are dead, dead for the sake of the New Order and the military ingeniosity of the Master Race. At least for that they were good enough. After all, they were Jews.”
A bit later in the text Mann refers to the above alleged event as ”the trial gassing [Probevergasung] of four hundred young Jews”.
In his speech from June 1942 Mann returned to the subject of the gassed Dutch Jews:
”In one of my earlier broadcasts I made myself guilty of a regrettable mitigation of the truth. I spoke of Nazi atrocities and mentioned that 400 young Dutchmen of Jewish blood had been brought to German to be killed with poison gas. Now I hear via indirect channels from Holland, that the number of victims mentioned by me was nearly half that of the actual figure. It was almost 800 people who were arrested at that time, brought to Mauthausen and gassed there. The exact figure has meanwhile been published by the Dutch government [in exile?], but since I do not believe that this report has yet reached you, I do well to pass on to you this privately received information.”
Mauthausen and the nearby Gusen camp had been designated, in January 1941, as the only Class III camps in the Nazi system. Later, Gusen became a sub-camp of Mauthausen. Dachau and Sachsenhausen were designated as Class I camps and Buchenwald became a Class II camp.
The Class III designation meant that Mauthausen was the worst camp in the Nazi concentration camp system; it was a punishment camp for resistance fighters who had been accused of sabotage, and for Allied POWs who were categorized as spies or commandos, Russian POWs who had previously escaped, and German criminals who had been condemned to death. As the worst of the concentration camps, Mauthausen also became the source of the worst atrocity stories told by the Allies, including the stories about the Dutch Jews. I previously blogged about stories told by a Dutch survivor here.
I visited the Mauthausen Memorial Site several years ago after doing a lot of research about the camp. I learned that, from 1941 to 1943, there were around 1,350 Dutch Jews who had been brought to Mauthausen because they were accused of resistance activities during the Nazi occupation. The first to arrive were 361 Jews from Amsterdam who had been transferred from Buchenwald to Mauthausen after it became a Class III camp in 1941. These Dutch Jews were from the group of 425 young men who had been arrested in the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam in reprisal for what the Nazis considered an act of resistance on February 19, 1941 when German occupation soldiers were sprayed with ammonia in a tavern, which was run by Ernst Cahn, a Jewish refugee from Germany. In his book entitled Holocaust, Martin Gilbert claimed that the alleged attack was accidental.
In June 1941, there had been more arrests of Jews in Amsterdam after an explosion, caused by the Dutch Resistance, in a villa where German Army officers were living.
Here is another quote from the “Inconvenient History” blog:
The reality behind this allegation is described by Raul Hilberg as follows: In early February 1941 German Security Police men were attacked by Jewish members of the resistance. On 25 February the Higher SS and Police Leader Rauter proclaimed that 400 Jews in the age group 20-35 had been sent to a German concentration camp. A total of 389 youths were in fact sent to Buchenwald, where a tenth of them perished in the next months. The survivors were sent on to Mauthausen. In June another 291 Amsterdam Jews were sent there directly. The Dutch Jews in Mauthausen were set to carry out heavy work in a stone quarry, and many who did not perish from exhaustion or illness reportedly committed suicide. Following concentration camp routine, the Mauthausen command sent death notices to the families of the deceased. No Holocaust historian has ever asserted that the Dutch Jews deported to Mauthausen in 1941, or even part of them, were killed with poison gas. According to the foremost defender of the Mauthausen gas chamber legend, Hans Marsalek, the alleged homicidal gas chamber of that camp was not put in operation before May 1942, and of the either 526 or 726 victims supposedly gassed (on a total of five occasions) up until 9 September 1944, all were either Soviet, Czech or Polish citizens. Thus none of the approximately 640 Dutch Jews sent to Mauthausen in 1941 could have been gassed there, even from an exterminationist viewpoint.
Note that this quote from Raul Hilberg mentions that the Dutch Jews, who were sent to work in the quarry at Mauthausen, “committed suicide.” This contradicts one of the favorite atrocity stories about Mauthausen, which is that the Dutch Jews were forced to jump off a cliff by the German guards, who jokingly called this “parachuting.”
Robert Abzug wrote about this allegation in his book entitled Inside the Vicious Heart. According to Abzug, hundreds of Dutch Jews were forced to jump to their deaths from the high cliff overlooking the quarry floor.
However, Martin Gilbert wrote the following in his book Holocaust:
On the third day after the arrival of the Dutch deportees at Mauthausen, the camp guards began machine-gunning the climbers on the steps. On the fourth day, some ten young Jews linked hands and jumped to voluntary death.
Note the pool of water below the cliff. One of the stories is that some of the Dutch Jews survived and were forced by the German guards to jump off the cliff again.
So were the Dutch Jews pushed, or did they jump off the cliff to commit suicide? If you live in the Netherlands, it would be better to go with the story that the Jews were pushed off the cliff. The Jews in the Netherlands are cracking down on Holocaust denial, according to this news story.