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Höfle telegram

On 11 January 1943 the British secret service intercepted a radio telegram that was sent from Lublin to Krakow. After decoding and translation the message ended up in the archive. Until 2001, when two British historians discovered this seemingly insignificant document.

As it turned out the radio telegram was sent from the Aktion Reinhardt headquarters in Lublin. Staff officer Hermann Höfle reported to the Sicherheitsdienst in Krakow about the progress of Aktion Reinhardt, the extermination of the Jewish population in Poland. He reported that in the last two weeks of December 1942 more than 23,000 Jews had been murdered in the Lublin-Majdanek concentration camp and the extermination camps Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. Höfle even provided a detailed summary per camp, indicating the camps by their initial letter:

L 12.761
B 0
S 515
T 10.335

No victims are mentioned for Belzec (B)Hoeflebecause the camp had been closed down several weeks earlier. In the final two weeks of 1942 there was only one transport to Sobibor (S), which also explains the relatively limited number of 515 victims. In the radio telegram Höfle also reported the total number of Jews killed in the four camps that year: 1,274,166. He again specified the numbers for each camp:

L 24.733
B 434.508
S 101.370
T 713.555

Up to 31 December 1942 more than one hundred thousand Jews had been killed in Sobibor. At that point the mass gassings had been going on for eight months. In order to determine the total number of victims of Sobibor, it must be examined how many Jews arrived between 1 January and 14 October 1943 (the day of the uprising). These data were collected by Jules Schelvis:

Netherlands 34.313
France 3.500
Sovjet Union (Lida, Minsk en Vilnius) 13.700
Yugoslavia(Skopje) 2.382
Poland (various towns) 14.900

In 1943 therefore at least 68,795 Jews died in Sobibor. Adding the 101,370 dead from 1942, the total number of Sobibor victims can be set at 170,165.


Jules Schelvis, Sobibor, a history of a nazi death camp (Oxford & New York 2007) pg. 197-198
Witte P. & S. Tyas, "A new document on the deportation and murder of jews during 'Einsatz Reinhardt' 1942" in: Holocaust and Genocide Studies volume 14-3 (Oxford & New York 2001) pg. 468-486

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