Höfle Telegram

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The Höfle Telegram[1] (or Hoefle Telegram) is a document discovered in 2000 among recently declassified World War II materials from the Public Record Office in Kew, England. The document consists of two messages, one to SS Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann in Berlin, and one to SS Obersturmbannführer Franz Heim, in German-occupied Cracow (Kraków), sent by SS Sturmbannführer Hermann Höfle on January 11, 1943. It gave arrivals in the prior fortnight, and cumulative arrivals, for the camps of Einsatz Reinhardt (later more commonly called Aktion Reinhard) to December 31, 1942.

Translation[edit]

This is a decoded message, presumably from an Enigma machine secret message. A missing "5" is added in the table, and is considered to be the correct figure, because (1) The number 713,555 yields the correct total of 1,274,166, and (2) The Korherr Report substantiates that the total number (1,274,166) is correct. The British decoded version would be almost certainly a transcription error. Since British security clearly did not realise what this telegram was about (see above), it is unlikely that the mistake would have been noticed at the time. Note that the interception and decoding was not 100% accurate, as indicated by "?" and the remarks in square brackets.

The Hofle Telegram
(including two small PRO annotations)
12.   OMX de OMQ                           1000                           89 ? ?
         State secret!   To the Reich Security Main Office, for
         the attention of SS Obersturmbannführer EICHMANN, BERLIN [...rest missed...]

13/15.   OLQ de OMQ                      1005                      83 234 250
         State secret!   To the commander of the Security Police,
         for the attention of SS Obersturmbannführer HEIM, KRAKAU.
         Re: 14-day report Operation REINHARD. Reference: radiogram from there.
         Recorded arrivals until 31 December 42, L 12761, B 0, S 515, T 10335 totaling
         23611. Situation [ ... ] 31 December 42, L 24733, B 434508, S 101370,
         T 71355, totaling 1274166.
         SS and police leader of Lublin, HOEFLE, Sturmbannführer.

For clarity the figures may be arranged as a table:[2]

Destinations
Recorded arrivals for the 2 weeks until
31 December 1942
Sum total as of
31 December 1942
L (Lublin, i.e. Majdanek)
12,761
24,733
B (Bełżec)
0
434,508
S (Sobibor)
515
101,370
T (Treblinka)
10,335
713,555
Total
23,611
1,274,166

Importance of the document[edit]

According to the US National Security Agency, "It appears the British analysts who had decrypted the message missed the significance of this particular message at the time. No doubt this happened because the message itself contained only the identifying letters for the extermination camps followed by the numerical totals. The only clue would have been the reference to Operation Reinhard, the meaning of which – the plan to eliminate Polish Jewry that was named after the assassinated SS General Reinhard Heydrich – also probably was unknown at the time to the codebreakers at Bletchley."

This document is only the second to detail the numbers involved in the execution of Einsatz Reinhardt (the other is Korherr’s report, which makes use of the figures in this radio telegram).

Apart from indicating the numbers for 1942, it also indicates that the camp at Lublin (Majdanek), was part of Odilo Globocnik's "Einsatz Reinhardt", a fact that historians previously had not realised.

The discovery of these exact numbers has raised questions as to where the Jews that were admitted to the respective camps came from. At this stage it is still speculative.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Public Record Office, Kew, England, HW 16/23, decode GPDD 355a distributed on January 15, 1943, radio telegrams nos 12 and 13/15, transmitted on January 11, 1943.
  2. ^ a b Peter Witte and Stephen Tyas, “A New Document on the Deportation and Murder of Jews during ‘Einsatz Reinhardt’ 1942,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 15:3 (2001) pp. 468-486.