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July 15, 2011

Questions about the Holocaust answered by the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:38 am

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has an online list of questions about the Holocaust; you can read the answers to the questions here.

Here is the answer to Question #12, quoted from the website:

Did the Nazis plan to murder the Jews from the beginning of their regime?

Answer: This question is one of the most difficult to answer. While Hitler made several references to killing Jews, both in his early writings (Mein Kampf) and in various speeches during the 1930s, it is fairly certain that the Nazis had no operative plan for the systematic annihilation of the Jews before 1941. The decision on the systematic murder of the Jews was apparently made in the late winter or the early spring of 1941 in conjunction with the decision to invade the Soviet Union.

The decision “was apparently made?”  How do we know that the decision was made at all? Apparently, the decision was not put on paper. Note that the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s answer to this question does not explicitly say that Hitler made this decision nor that Hitler was the one who gave the order. Apparently someone read Hitler’s mind and no order was even necessary.  

What did the decision to invade the Soviet Union have to do with the mass murder of the Jews?  Did the expected conquest of Soviet territory offer an alternate explanation for what happened to the Jews that they were planning to kill?  The Nazis could claim that the missing Jews were not murdered, but were “transported to the East.”  That was, in fact, what Hermann Goering claimed in his testimony at the Nuremberg IMT.

Hitler came to power in 1933 and the decision to genocide the Jews was not made until 1941, so there was plenty of time for the Jews of Europe to escape.  The Simon Wiesenthal Center gives the answers to several questions concerning the reasons why the Jews didn’t get out of Europe during these years.

Quote from the Simon Wiesenthal web site:

How many Jews were able to escape from Europe prior to the Holocaust?

Answer: It is difficult to arrive at an exact figure for the number of Jews who were able to escape from Europe prior to World War II, since the available statistics are incomplete. From 1933-1939, 355,278 German and Austrian Jews left their homes. (Some immigrated to countries later overrun by the Nazis.) In the same period, 80,860 Polish Jews immigrated to Palestine and 51,747 European Jews arrived in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. During the years 1938-1939, approximately 35,000 emigrated from Bohemia and Moravia (Czechoslovakia). Shanghai, the only place in the world for which one did not need an entry visa, received approximately 20,000 European Jews (mostly of German origin) who fled their homelands. Immigration figures for countries of refuge during this period are not available. In addition, many countries did not provide a breakdown of immigration statistics according to ethnic groups. It is impossible, therefore, to ascertain.


The United States and Great Britain convened a conference in 1938 at Evian, France, seeking a solution to the refugee problem. With the exception of the Dominican Republic, the nations assembled refused to change their stringent immigration regulations, which were instrumental in preventing large-scale immigration.


In 1939, the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, which had been established at the Evian Conference, initiated negotiations with leading German officials in an attempt to arrange for the relocation of a significant portion of German Jewry. However, these talks failed. Efforts were made for the illegal entry of Jewish immigrants to Palestine as early as July 1934, but were later halted until July 1938. Large-scale efforts were resumed under the Mosad le-Aliya Bet, Revisionist Zionists, and private parties. Attempts were also made, with some success, to facilitate the illegal entry of refugees to various countries in Latin America.


The key reason for the relatively low number of refugees leaving Europe prior to World War II was the stringent immigration policies adopted by the prospective host countries. In the United States, for example, the number of immigrants was limited to 153,744 per year, divided by country of origin. Moreover, the entry requirements were so stringent that available quotas were often not filled. Schemes to facilitate immigration outside the quotas never materialized as the majority of the American public consistently opposed the entry of additional refugees. Other countries, particularly those in Latin America, adopted immigration policies that were similar or even more restrictive, thus closing the doors to prospective immigrants from the Third Reich.

Great Britain, while somewhat more liberal than the United States on the entry of immigrants, took measures to severely limit Jewish immigration to Palestine. In May 1939, the British issued a “White Paper” stipulating that only 75,000 Jewish immigrants would be allowed to enter Palestine over the course of the next five years (10,000 a year, plus an additional 25,000). This decision prevented hundreds of thousands of Jews from escaping Europe.


The countries most able to accept large numbers of refugees consistently refused to open their gates. Although a solution to the refugee problem was the agenda of the Evian Conference, only the Dominican Republic was willing to approve large-scale immigration. The United States and Great Britain proposed resettlement havens in under-developed areas (e.g. Guyana, formerly British Guiana, and the Philippines), but these were not suitable alternatives.


Two important factors should be noted. During the period prior to the outbreak of World War II, the Germans were in favor of Jewish emigration. At that time, there were no operative plans to kill the Jews. The goal was to induce them to leave, if necessary, by the use of force. It is also important to recognize the attitude of German Jewry. While many German Jews were initially reluctant to emigrate, the majority sought to do so following Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass), November 9-10, 1938. Had havens been available, more people would certainly have emigrated.

Here is the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s answer to the question of where the Jews were living just before they were sent to the death camps:

5. How many Jews were murdered in each country and what percentage of the pre-war Jewish population did they constitute?

Answer: (Source: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust)
Austria 50,000 — 27.0%
Italy 7,680 — 17.3%
Belgium 28,900 — 44.0%
Latvia 71,500 — 78.1%
Bohemia/Moravia 78,150 — 66.1%
Lithuania 143,000 — 85.1%
Bulgaria 0 — 0.0%
Luxembourg 1,950 — 55.7%
Denmark 60 — 0.7%
Netherlands 100,000 — 71.4%
Estonia 2,000 — 44.4%
Norway 762 — 44.8%
Finland 7 — 0.3%
Poland 3,000,000 — 90.9%
France 77,320 — 22.1%
Romania 287,000 — 47.1%
Germany 141,500 — 25.0%
Slovakia 71,000 — 79.8%
Greece 67,000 — 86.6%
Soviet Union 1,100,000 — 36.4%
Hungary 569,000 — 69.0%
Yugoslavia 63,300 — 81.2%

What? No Bulgarian Jews were killed?

At the Mauthausen Memorial Site in Austria, there is a memorial to the Bulgarian Resistance fighters, which is shown in the photo below.

Bulgarian monument at Mauthausen camp

Bulgaria was on the side of Germany during World War II, but there were many Bulgarians who fought against the Germans as illegal combatants.  I photographed the Bulgarian and Hungarian memorials at Mauthausen in 2003.  High school students who tour Mauthausen probably think that the Bulgarian memorial is in honor of the Bulgarian Jews who were killed in the Holocaust.

The photo below shows the Hungarian monument. Hungry was also on the side of Germany at the beginning of World War II.

Hungarian monument at Mauthausen

Although the Simon Wiesenthal Center claims that 569,000 Hungarian Jews died in the Holocaust, most of the Holocaust survivors of Auschwitz and Mauthausen, who are still living today, are Jews that were living in what was the country of Hungary during World War II.  I am sure that many students who visit the Mauthausen Memorial Site think that this monument is in honor of the 569,000 Hungarian Jews who were killed.  Instead, this monument is to the victorious Hungarian Resistance fighters.


  1. “I photographed the Bulgarian and Hungarian memorials at Mauthausen in 2003. High school students who tour Mauthausen probably think that the Bulgarian memorial is in honor of the Bulgarian Jews who were killed in the Holocaust.”

    Perhaps some really want, but haven`t Bulgarian Jews killed only because they were Jews, ie haven`t Bulgarian Jews died in the Holocaust- Why? Read below

    Comment by watchtowerman — June 12, 2013 @ 9:15 am

    • I am pretty sure that no Bulgarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust. To make sure, I looked it up on Wikipedia and found this quote:

      Begin Quote:
      Unlike some other Nazi Germany allies or German-occupied countries excluding Denmark and Finland, Bulgaria managed to save its entire 48,000-strong Jewish population during World War II from deportation to concentration camps, with Dimitar Peshev playing a crucial role in preventing the deportations, as well as Bulgarian Church officials, King Boris, and ordinary citizens. The story of the Bulgarian Jews during World War II has been told in “Beyond Hitler’s Grasp: The Heroic Rescue of Bulgaria’s Jews”[7] by Michael Bar-Zohar, an Israeli historian, politician and former Knesset member who was born in Bulgaria.
      End Quote

      Comment by furtherglory — June 12, 2013 @ 10:01 am

  2. I’m looking thru his site now…but i did find this that i had previously bookmarked..

    the key paragraphs in the article…

    “When Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien, or Jewish Community Vienna, decided to sell a vacant building in the summer of 2000, two employees were sent to look for any archival material that might have been left behind.
    What they found exceeded any historian’s dream: Stacked floor to ceiling in two rooms of one apartment sat some 800 dusty boxes containing, among other things, about half a million pages of detailed records of the community during the Holocaust — archives not known to have survived. ”

    ”For most of the last six decades, people believed that one could not study the action of Jews in the Holocaust period because the Nazis systematically destroyed the records of Jewish communities and organizations,” said Paul Shapiro, director of the Holocaust museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. ”Most Holocaust scholarship has been written based on the documentary record created by the perpetrators of the Holocaust.”

    The Vienna archives, in their entirety, are believed to be the largest collection of material about a Jewish community in the German-speaking world, Ingo Zechner, director of the Vienna group’s Holocaust Victims’ Information and Support Center, said. Indeed, Vienna once had the third-largest Jewish population in Europe.

    A survey of Vienna’s pre-Holocaust records illustrates the community’s diversity: Jewish cultural organizations, welfare societies, chess clubs, groups of Jewish soldiers from World War I, Zionist groups — even monarchist clubs are represented, Mr. Zechner said. A 1927 letter from Sigmund Freud declared his 1926 income of 50,000 Austrian schillings and the tax he expected to pay the group.

    Some of Vienna’s Holocaust-era files can already be viewed on microfilm at the Holocaust museum in Washington and at the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Israel. And, according to plans arranged with Simon Wiesenthal before his death, a proposed Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies will unite under one roof Mr. Wiesenthal’s Nazi-hunting files with the Jewish Community files and will serve as a research institute for visiting scholars and a showcase for themed exhibitions.

    After the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, they began disbanding virtually all Jewish groups. Two months later the Nazis reinstated Jewish Community Vienna, Mr. Zechner said, enlisting it to help carry out their initial plan, which was for Jews to depart Austria after paying fees and leaving behind most of their property.

    Discovered within the Vienna apartment were card indexes, produced by the community’s emigration office, with the names of 118,000 Jews from families that had sought its assistance to emigrate in 1938 and 1939. These indexes were the key to sorting through thousands of emigration questionnaires already stored in Jerusalem.


    …”Also found in Vienna: the lists for 45 deportations, each naming about 1,000 Jews scheduled for transport in 1941 and 1942 to destinations like Auschwitz, Theresienstadt, Lodz and Minsk. Some of these locations were known then as Jewish ghettos. Not as widely known, however, was the fact that after a certain time, they became transfer points to death camps.

    Raul Hilberg, author of ”The Destruction of the European Jews,” viewed the deportation lists in the archives last year. ”The most troublesome question which occurred to me is, who prepared the list?” he asked. ”Who picked these names to begin with? Whenever I asked anyone at all, I got the same answer. The community did not prepare the list. On the other hand, the Gestapo people after the war insisted that they prepared no lists. But someone had to choose the people and look up the addresses.” …”

    and of course: “The records found in Vienna are also being used to help families file restitution claims. The Holocaust Victims’ Support Center was founded in 1999, the year after Austria began serious discussions about compensation for looted artwork, slave labor and stolen property”….

    SO…all thes documents, prepared by the same group of people…but when it comes to the one about who prepared the list of persons identified and selected for transport and presented to the Germans… no one knows who compiled it. Perhaps, long after the war, and knowing that the building would be long vacant and oneday sold, the OdeSSa secretly planted the transport order to make it look like they had Jewish collaborationists sell out some of their own

    Comment by schlageter — July 17, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

  3. Ps…does the author of the blog have an email address where he can directly receive information?

    Comment by schlageter — July 17, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

    • You’ll find it through his main site scrapbookpages, linked above right.

      Thanks for the Viennese Jews info.

      Comment by Black Rabbit — July 17, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

    • You don’t have a link to the story of the list of Viennese Jews do you please?

      Comment by Black Rabbit — July 17, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  4. David Irvings’s site has an interesting anecdote on how the list of Viennese Jews transported east was recently found in the possession of a former prominent member of the city’s Jewish community. Evidence of collusion between certain Jewish elites anf the nazis, perhaps? Ill hold my breath for the conformist holoco$t “historians” to give us a full and fair report.

    Comment by schlageter — July 17, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

  5. You really shouldn’t believe everything you hear on TV or read in approved sources.

    Zionists wanted the Jews in Palestine, and no where else.

    A British offer to settle 500,000 Jews within the Empire was rejected by the Zionist leaders with the observation “Only to Palestine.”

    Do Zionists feel “shameful” that Zionists bankers financed the Nazis? According to Samuel Untermyer (1933), Rabbi Edward L. Israel (1938) and Henrich Brüning (1947).

    Do Zionists feel “shameful” they on June 11, 1944, following a meeting of the Jewish Agency inc David Ben Gurion, they decided not to request Auschwitz-Birkenau was bombed? No, of course they don’t, they expect idiots like you to feel shameful.

    Comment by Black Rabbit — July 16, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

  6. “The key reason for the relatively low number of refugees leaving Europe prior to World War II was the stringent immigration policies adopted by the prospective host countries.”

    I find it shameful that some of the biggest opponents of Nazism closed their doors to the Jews. As far as I understand it the numbers of immigrants allowed into Britain dropped even lower than that. A fear of communist Soviet Union also contributed to this, I think.

    Comment by John Braun — July 16, 2011 @ 10:57 am

    • “I find it shameful that some of the biggest opponents of Nazism closed their doors to the Jews. As far as I understand it the numbers of immigrants allowed into Britain dropped even lower than that. A fear of communist Soviet Union also contributed to this, I think.”

      You find it “shameful” because you believe the received wisdom on Jewish immigration before, during and after the war. Despite “official” policies in place Germans encouraged Jews to immigrate and immigrate they did to every country in Europe, to Palestine, South America, Canada, the USA, Mexico, Cuba and to the Dominican Republic which officially invited them. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas has been declared A Righteous Gentile Among the Nations for his clandestine rescue effort. He illegally issued visas to refugees who used them to enter the USA at the Port of Galveston. Harbor Masters in ports on the upper East Coast and Canada were encouraged to look the other way as boats with undocumented refugees aboard unloaded their cargos. The Romanian government and the Mossad (originally a clandestine immigration operation) had a deal. For a set price per head Jews leaving Germany and Poland boarded ships with false passports, flying under false flags headed for false destination before, during, and after the war. Zionists combed the DP camps after the war herding Jews to Constanta where they continued to board ships to Palestine and elsewhere. Boats also left from Italy with Jewish refugees aboard until the boom was lowered there. Varian Fry wasn’t the only U.S. State Dept. functionary helping Jews leave Europe. There were lesser know U.S. embassy employees and foreign service officials from other countries as well as AJC (American Jewish Committee), WJC (World Jewish Congress) and “The Joint ” (Joint Distribution Committee) liaisons at work, too. Besides these networks there was a black market in counterfeit documents for those who could afford them. Jews entered the US from Canada and Mexico via South America and Cuba. This story, like the Holocaust story itself, has been the provenance of Jewish historians who have put into service a version tailored to fit their myth of eternal victimhood. Until more demographic studies (along the lines of Walter Sanning’s The Dissolution of East European Jewry) appear we are stuck with the “shame” of not having done enough for the Jews of Europe despite the fact America sacrificed 418,000 citizens in the fight to liberate these ingrates from regimes that considered them a security risk.

      Comment by who+ dares +wings — July 16, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  7. “Apparently someone read Hitler’s mind and no order was even necessary.”

    Yes, they did exactly that, so wrote Raul Hilberg in 1983 at least:

    “what began in 1941 was a process of destruction not planned in advance, not organized centrally by any agency. There was no blueprint and there was no budget for destructive measures. They were taken step by step, one step at a time. Thus came not so much a plan being carried out, but an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus-mind reading by a far-flung bureaucracy.”
    page 33:

    Comment by Black Rabbit — July 16, 2011 @ 4:53 am

  8. Someone should ask the Simon Wiesenthal Center why Holocaust memorial monuments are so uniformly ugly. I’ve yet to see a sculpture or example of conceptual architecture memorializing the Holocaust that is not a ham fisted design disaster. What they ought to do is clear the decks of all the iron and granite drek they’ve erected at these sites and replace it with a single outsized sculpture of “The Incredible Hulk” with his head in his hands. It would be instant branding and a classic piece of kitsch like Rodin’s “The Thinker,” only instead of thinking The Hulk would be crying. Visualize a string of roadside garden sculpture stands stretching from California to Connecticut with copies of “The Weeper” in cement for sale. Then imagine rows of little dashboard sized “Weepers” lined up on shelves in the souvenir shoppes at Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrük. I think “The Hulk” would make the perfect Holocaust mascot because most of the memorial art I’ve seen looks “Hulky” already.

    Comment by who+ dares +wings — July 15, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

    • Speaking of Holocaust monuments, the one that wins the prize for ham fisted design is the monument at Majdanek.

      Note the size of the monument compared to the size of the people in the picture.

      Comment by furtherglory — July 15, 2011 @ 3:11 pm

      • Yikes! Their plan is to destroy us with ugliness.

        Comment by Skeptic — July 16, 2011 @ 7:05 am

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