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The Korherr Report

Last Update 16 July 2005

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On 18 January 1943, Heinrich Himmler instructed the chief inspector of the statistical bureau of the SS, Dr Richard Korherr, to prepare a report on the progress of the "Final Solution of the Jewish question". Although comprehensive statistics were maintained by Adolf Eichmann in department IVB4 of the RSHA, Himmler had reason to doubt their accuracy. He was under pressure from Albert Speer, Minister of War Production, and General Friedrich Fromm, Chief of the Replacement Army, who colluded to express to Adolf Hitler their concern about the rapidly disappearing pool of Jewish labour, and the number of potential soldiers lost in guarding concentration camps. The implication was that the SS was not fully disclosing the extent of its inroads into human resources.
Himmler was thus faced with a dilemma, for on the one hand he wished to provide evidence of his achievements to Hitler, yet on the other he needed to couch those achievements in a manner discrete enough to camouflage the slaughter. Korherr's credentials for this task were unimpeachable, since he was a professional statistician, had only been a Nazi party member since 1937 and was not a member of the SS.

The report that Korherr produced and its supplement are among the most important surviving Nazi documents. The main report of 23 March 1943 summarized the position as at 31 December 1942. The supplement detailed the events of the three months to 31 March 1943. Himmler was generally satisfied with the report, apart from Korherr's use of the code word for murder, Sonderbehandlung (special treatment) to describe the treatment of the Jews. Instead he demanded the use of the word durchgeschleust, variously translated as "sifted", "processed" or "dragged through." By 1943 the true meaning of Sonderbehandlung was so well understood that it could not appear in a document intended for presentation to the Führer. In fact, Korherr omitted to remove a later use of the word in his report. A summary of the report, typed with special large lettering in Eichmann's office for presentation to Hitler, is believed to no longer exist. No final summary was prepared in 1944 or 1945, although the statistics of new deportations continued to be collected in department IVB4.
Himmler wrote to Ernst Kaltenbrunner, head of the Sipo-SD:
"I regard the report as general purpose material for later use and extremely good as camouflage. At present it must neither be published nor communicated to anyone. I shall continue to be informed through the short monthly reports of the RSHA how many go and how many remain behind."

Most of Korherr's statistics came from the RSHA, and specifically from Eichmann's office. Although he did not at first mention Korherr by name, during his interrogation in Israeli captivity Eichmann recalled discussions with a statistician about camps and how many Jews had been killed by Odilo Globocnik in the Generalgouvernement, as well as the number of Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen. Korherr also consulted with the WVHA about registered Jewish inmates in Auschwitz, Majdanek and other camps.
During his trial in Jerusalem, Eichmann stated that he had subsequently used the report in planning the extermination programme. Information on the number of Jews enabled determination of the size of the team needed to organize liquidations in a particular place or country, the number of railroad cars required, and the camp to which the victims were to be deported.

The report is careful to distinguish between emigration and what it terms as "evacuation", another code word for deportation prior to mass murder. In the prosaic language of the statistician, Korherr reports:
"The evacuation of the Jews replaced the emigration of the Jews, at least on the territory of the Reich. It was extensively prepared since the prohibition of Jewish emigration in the autumn of 1941 and to a large extent carried out throughout the Reich territory in the year 1942. In the balance of Jewry it is referred to as 'off-going'." Details of these "evacuations" then follow.

Nazi Race Map #1
Nazi Race Map #1
Nazi Race Map #2
Nazi Race Map #2
Korherr estimated the Jewish population of Germany (as defined by Nazi law) at the time the Nazis came to power at about 561,000. By 1 January 1943 this figure had shrunk to 51,327, of whom more than 100,000 had been "evacuated". For Austria, the number of Austrian Jews at the time of the Anschluss was estimated to be about 220,000. On 1 January 1943 they numbered 8,102. 211,898, or more than 96% of Austrian Jews had either emigrated, been deported (mostly to their death) or had otherwise died. Officially, only Vienna any longer had a Jewish population. In what the Nazis termed "The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia", corresponding in part to the modern-day Czech Republic (excluding the Sudetenland, then part of the Reich), the Jewish population at the time of the German invasion in March 1939 was 118,310. By the time of Korherr's initial report it numbered just 15,550. From these three countries, Korherr concluded, a combined total of 217,748 Jews had been "evacuated".

Even more telling are Korherr's statistics for the Generalgouvernement and the former Soviet territories occupied by Germany. 1,274,166 Jews are described as having been "sifted" through the camps of the Generalgouvernement. This figure is of particular interest, since it precisely coincides with the total of Jews transported to the Aktion Reinhard camps as disclosed by the recently discovered Höfle Telegramme. This would undoubtedly have been Korherr's source for this data. The report also mentions 145,301 Jews as having been "sifted" through the camps of the Warthegau (principally Chelmno and, according to the RSHA statistics, the "evacuation" of 633,300 Jews from the occupied Soviet territories, including the Baltic countries, since the beginning of the Eastern Campaign (principally victims of the Einsatzgruppen).
As the latter figure did not include a full accounting of the deaths of Soviet Russian Jews in the occupied Eastern territories, nor any assessment of deaths in the rest of European Russia and at the front, it may be regarded as an underestimate. Excluding inmates of ghettos and concentration camps, a total of 2.5 million Jews had been "evacuated". This figure took no account of the excessive mortality rate in the ghettos and labour camps, nor of shootings outside of the occupied Soviet territories. Korherr concluded his initial report by stating that in the decade since the Nazis came to power, either through forced emigration or extermination, European Jewry had lost almost half its number something in excess of 4 million people.

After the war Korherr attempted to diminish the importance of the report that bore his name. As a potential witness or defendant in court proceedings, he claimed that the data in his report were false because of inflated claims contained in the Einsatzgruppen reports. He also claimed that he did not understand the figures in his report, nor did he realize that the Einsatzgruppen killed people.
Korherr had been employed by the West German Ministry of Finance, but was dismissed from this post in 1961 following the publication of Gerald Reitlinger's book "The Final Solution", in which the Korherr Report featured prominently.

The significance of the Korherr report lies as much in the irrefutable evidence it contains of the Nazi's genocidal policies as in its wealth of statistics. Whether or not, as Korherr alleged, the Einsatzgruppen did overstate the number of their victims (and as already indicated, the number killed by the Einsatzgruppen as contained in the report is clearly understated), the Korherr Report abundantly demonstrates a concerted, continent-wide strategy of government sponsored annihilation. As such, it remains a pivotal document for our understanding of the Holocaust.

Hilberg, Raul. The Destruction of the European Jews, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2003
Gutman, Israel, ed. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1990
Reitlinger, Gerald. The Final Solution The Attempt to Exterminate the Jews of Europe 1939-1945, Jason Aronson Inc, Northvale, New Jersey and London, 1987

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