There is one major detail few people are not aware of or are readily reminded of; that The Wannsee Conference (German: Wannseekonferenz) on 20 January 1942 was a "business" meeting. This "Business Meeting" was arranged and carried out, in a very convivial atmosphere over good food and wine, to discuss every finite detail from the previous highly (unprofitable) experience of dealing with "The Jewish Question", to one of profit for the Nazi war machine in the (Die Endlösung der Judenfrage) or "Final Solution" (extermination) of the Jews.
At the Wannsee Conference in 1942 the director of the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office; RSHA) SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich voiced the disappointed of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi regime at the problems encountered concerning the "Jewish Question".
Conference attendees included representatives from several government ministries, including state secretaries from the Foreign Office, the justice, interior, and state ministries, and representatives from the Schutzstaffel (SS).
During the course of the conference, Heydrich outlined how European Jews would be rounded up from west to east and sent to extermination camps in the area of General Government (the occupied part of Poland), where they would be exterminated in his carefully calculated, organized arrangement.
In his comprehensive plan, most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe would be rounded up to be deported by thoroughly coordinated train transportation to specially constructed death camps in Poland.
However the true story of just how the Nazi's were able to carry out their diabolical scheme is recounted here from "IBM and the Holocaust," by Edwin Black:
"IBM engineered a strategic business alliance and joint planning program with Nazi Germany from the very first moment in 1933 and extending right through the war that endowed the Hitler regime with the technology and the tools it needed to expedite and, in many ways, automate, all six phases of Hitler's war against the Jews. Those six phases are identification, expulsion, confiscation, ghettoization, deportation and ultimately even extermination.
When Hitler came to power, a central Nazi goal was to identify and destroy Germany's 600,000 Jews. To Nazis, Jews were not just those who practiced Judaism, but those of Jewish blood, regardless of their assimilation, intermarriage, religious activity, or even conversion to Christianity. Only after Jews were identified could they be targeted for asset confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, and ultimately extermination. To search generations of communal, church, and governmental records all across Germany-and later throughout Europe-was a cross-indexing task so monumental, it called for a computer. But in 1933, no computer existed.
When the Reich needed to mount a systematic campaign of Jewish economic disenfranchisement and later began the massive movement of European Jews out of their homes and into ghettos, once again, the task was so prodigious it called for a computer. But in 1933, no computer existed. When the Final Solution sought to efficiently transport Jews out of European ghettos along railroad lines and into death camps, with timing so precise the victims were able to walk right out of the boxcar and into a waiting gas chamber, the coordination was so complex a task, this too called for a computer. But in 1933, no computer existed.
However, another invention did exist: the IBM punch card and card sorting system-a precursor to the computer. IBM, primarily through its German subsidiary, made Hitler's program of Jewish destruction a technologic mission the company pursued with chilling success. IBM Germany, using its own staff and equipment, designed, executed, and supplied the indispensable technologic assistance Hitler's Third Reich needed to accomplish what had never been done before-the automation of human destruction. More than 2,000 such multi-machine sets were dispatched throughout Germany, and thousands more throughout German-dominated Europe. Card sorting operations were established in every major concentration camp. People were moved from place to place, systematically worked to death, and their remains cataloged with icy automation.
IBM Germany, known in those days as Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft, or Dehomag, did not simply sell the Reich machines and then walk away. IBM's subsidiary, with the knowledge of its New York headquarters, enthusiastically custom-designed the complex devices and specialized applications as an official corporate undertaking. Dehomag's top management was comprised of openly rabid Nazis who were arrested after the war for their Party affiliation. IBM NY always understood-from the outset in 1933-that it was courting and doing business with the upper echelon of the Nazi Party. The company leveraged its Nazi Party connections to continuously enhance its business relationship with Hitler's Reich, in Germany and throughout Nazi-dominated Europe.
Dehomag and other IBM subsidiaries custom-designed the applications. Its technicians sent mock-ups of punch cards back and forth to Reich offices until the data columns were acceptable, much as any software designer would today. Punch cards could only be designed, printed, and purchased from one source: IBM. The machines were not sold, they were leased, and regularly maintained and upgraded by only one source: IBM. IBM subsidiaries trained the Nazi officers and their surrogates throughout Europe, set up branch offices and local dealerships throughout Nazi Europe staffed by a revolving door of IBM employees, and scoured paper mills to produce as many as 1.5 billion punch cards a year in Germany alone. Moreover, the fragile machines were serviced on site about once per month, even when that site was in or near a concentration camp. IBM Germany's headquarters in Berlin maintained duplicates of many code books, much as any IBM service bureau today would maintain data backups for computers.
I was haunted by a question whose answer has long eluded historians. The Germans always had the lists of Jewish names. Suddenly, a squadron of grim-faced SS would burst into a city square and post a notice demanding those listed assemble the next day at the train station for deportation to the East. But how did the Nazis get the lists? For decades, no one has known. Few have asked.
The answer: IBM Germany's census operations and similar advanced people counting and registration technologies. IBM was founded in 1898 by German inventor Herman Hollerith as a census tabulating company. Census was its business. But when IBM Germany formed its philosophical and technologic alliance with Nazi Germany, census and registration took on a new mission. IBM Germany invented the racial census-listing not just religious affiliation, but bloodline going back generations. This was the Nazi data lust. Not just to count the Jews — but to identify them.
People and asset registration was only one of the many uses Nazi Germany found for high-speed data sorters. Food allocation was organized around databases, allowing Germany to starve the Jews. Slave labor was identified, tracked, and managed largely through punch cards. Punch cards even made the trains run on time and cataloged their human cargo. German Railway, the Reichsbahn, Dehomag's biggest customer, dealt directly with senior management in Berlin. Dehomag maintained punch card installations at train depots across Germany, and eventually across all Europe."
Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD" who were Schutzstaffel (SS) paramilitary death squads of Nazi Germany that carried out mass killings, primarily by shooting of Jews in the East.
From September 1939 in Poland to June of 1941 with the invasion of the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. The Einsatzgruppen worked hand-in-hand with the Orpo Police Battalions on the Eastern Front to carry out operations ranging from the murder of a few people to operations which lasted over two or more days, such as the massacre at Babi Yar with 33,771 Jews killed in two days, and the Rumbula massacre (with about 25,000 killed in two days of shooting).On December 15th, 1941 commenced one of the largest (Photos on left) mass executions of over 2,700 Jews as well as 23 Communists from the Latvian town of Liepaja (Libau, to the Germans) forced over the course of two-plus days to strip on the freezing Skede dunes overlooking the Baltic and there shot by German and Latvian teams into a vast pit. It’s one of the most recognizable Holocaust atrocities because it was extensively photographed. As one can see from the pictures, the victims here were mostly women.
These mass murders were ordered (indirectly) by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, the Wehrmacht cooperated with the Einsatzgruppen and provided logistical support for their operations. SS documentation related to the Einsatzgruppen and their related auxiliary troops reveled that they killed more than two million people, including 1.3 million Jews between 1941 and 1945.
In most cases when Jewish "Shtetls"-or villages with Jewish inhabitants were encountered by German forces, Einsatzgruppen were called upon to deal with the "Jewish Question". In 8mm films made by Wehrmacht film crews who accompanied the Einsatzgruppen on their mission we have seen how the Jews were rounded up and made to dig ditches and then are made to run to them where members of the Einsatzgruppen would shoot the Jews.
It was only after a few months that upon reading the reports of "Aktions"- the murder of the Jews, that the SS High Command realized their error in allowing the Russian neighbors from participating in the "Aktions", As seen in the films the non Jewish; Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian and Ukrainian neighbors, had in many cases "gleefully" helped to round up and liquidate their Jewish neighbors, from confiscating valuable items from the Jews.
Due to the "loss of valuable items" an order was issued that when Jewish villages were encountered that members of the Ordnungspolizei would organize the rounding up the Jews the day before an "Aktion". The Jews were ordered to pack two suitcases per family and that at a table in the local Synagogue all Jews were required to bring their "valuables" -items of silver and gold for "registration and storage". Selected female members of the community, who were not immediately murdered were assigned to sort and package the clothing of those ordered to strip.
Upon further review the SS High Command found that this new procedure which did begin to improve profit, still had flaws. They found that the cost of the ammunition and alcoholic drinks provided to the members of the Einsatzgruppen who performed the murders still effected the overall profitability of the operation.
The next step of the (Die Endlösung der Judenfrage) or"Final Solution" of the "Jewish Question."was the introduction of "Gas Vans." Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler learned the psychological impact of shooting women and children on the Einsatzgruppen during trips to Russia in 1941 and he commissioned Arthur Nebe to explore ways of killing that were less stressful for the task forces. Nebe's experiments eventually led to the utilization of the "Gaswagen" or Gas van.
These vans manufactured by German Magirus-Deutz and Gaubschat Fahrzeugwerke GmbH were first tested on Soviet prisoners in Sachsenhause in 1940 and for the gassing of East Prussian and Pomeranian mental patients in Soldau, a camp located in the former Polish corridor.
It was a vehicle with an airtight compartment for victims, into which exhaust gas was piped in while the engine was running. As a result, the victims were gassed with carbon monoxide, resulting in death by the combined effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and suffocation. The suffocations usually occurred as the gas van was carrying the victims to a freshly dug pit or ravine for mass burial.
Gaubschat Fahrzeugwerke GmbH the main producer of gas van had delivered 20 gas vans in two models (for 30–50 and 70–100 individuals) to Einsatzgruppen units, out of 30 ordered by June of 1942.
The existence of gas vans first came to light in the trial of members of crimes against humanity of Nazi collaborators involved in the gassing of 6,700 civilians in the Krasnodar Territory of the USSR.
Prior to the Wannsee Conference the Jews were sent primarily to forced labor camps, but from 1942 onward they were mostly deported to the extermination camps under the guise of "resettlement". For political and logistical reasons, the most infamous Nazi German killing factories were built in occupied Poland, where most of the intended victims lived; Poland had the greatest Jewish population in Nazi controlled Europe.
On top of that, the new death camps outside the prewar borders of the Third Reich proper could be kept secret from the German civil populace.
Under Operation Reinhard three top-secret camps (at Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka) were built solely to efficiently kill thousands of people each day. These camps differed from the likes of Auschwitz and Majdanek, because the latter operated as forced-labour camps initially, before they became death camps fitted with crematoria.
The "Extermination camps" (Vernichtungslager) and "Death camps" (Todeslager) where designed specifically for the primary function of genocide by mass gassings of Jews. They were established in the months following the Wannsee Conference in January 1942 in which the principle was made clear that the Jews of Europe were to be exterminated.
Up until then most of the Jews had already been confined to ghettos and interned in Nazi concentration camps. The Wannsee Conference had place the responsibility for the logistics of the program to Adolf Eichmann as the administrator.
Todeslagers were designed specifically for the systematic killing of people delivered en masse by the Holocaust trains. The executioners did not expect the prisoners to survive more than a few days.
Death camps differed from concentration camps located in Germany proper, such as Bergen-Belsen, Oranienburg, Ravensbrück, and Sachsenhausen, which were prison camps set up prior to World War II for people defined as 'undesirable'.
From March 1936, all Nazi concentration camps were managed by the SS-Totenkopfverbände (the Skull Units, SS-TV), who operated extermination camps from 1941 as well.
An SS anatomist, Dr. Johann Kremer, after witnessing the gassing of victims at Birkenau, wrote in his diary on 2 September 1942:
"Dante's Inferno seems to me almost a comedy compared to this. They don't call Auschwitz the camp of annihilation for nothing!"The distinction was evident during the Nuremberg trials, when Dieter Wisliceny (a deputy to Adolf Eichmann) was asked to name the extermination camps, and he identified Auschwitz and Majdanek as such. Then, when asked "How do you classify the camps Mauthausen, Dachau, and Buchenwald?" he replied, "They were normal concentration camps, from the point of view of the department of Eichmann."
Death Camps" were for the systematic murder in an economically efficient manner of large numbers of Jews in gas chambers. Careful planning for the construction of crematoriums with large industrial size ovens with special elevators to bring the bodies up from the underground gas chambers were carefully made and implemented.Consideration for the re-use of the belongings of the murdered Jews from their hair, clothing, shoes, bones and even ashes was made with German efficiency so as to make the extermination of the Jews profitable.
Under the direct leadership of Director of the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office; RSHA) SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich together with his subordinate SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Adolf Eichmann outlined their detailed economically feasible "Final Solution" plan. The Jews would now be put to work and those who could not would be "liquidated" as soon as possible upon arrival at the "Death Camps" so as to not "waste" funds on -the Jewish children, the infirm, enfeeble and old age. That all possible profit be earned from those murdered- clothing, belongings, glasses, gold teeth, hair, bones ashes and even fat. Nothing was wasted and all this data was minutely recorded on cards of each victim. The SS with typical Germantic efficiency worked out the average profit to be expected down to to the residual yield from the gold in the teeth.
And when they were called for “Deportation” for their “Resettlement-ie Death” the Jews were forced to pay for a full one-way ticket, while children under 10–12 years of age paid half price particularly where passenger carriages were used Those who were running out of money in the ghetto were shipped to the East first, while those with some supplies of gold and cash were shipped last.
50 freight cars × 50 prisoners per freight car × 1.5 trains/day × 1,066 days = 4,000,000 prisoners. The Reichsbahn pocketed both this money and their share, after the SS fees, of the money paid by those transported.
The arrows are pointing at Crematorium 1 on the left and Crematorium 2 on the right at Aushwitz.