1 June 1998
UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) is a specialized body of the UNO (United Nations Organisation) established in 1946. Its headquarters, the Palais des Nations (Palace of Nations), is in Paris 1
(*). Its current Director General is the Spaniard Federico Mayor, whose successor might well be the Frenchman Jack Lang, former Minister of Culture and, moreover, a staunch Zionist.
In 1972 the member states of UNESCO adopted a convention concerning the protection of World Heritage. In 1976 a World Heritage Committee and World Heritage Fund were created. The director of the World Heritage Centre today is the German Bernd von Droste zu Hülshof.
The World Heritage Fund derives its income mainly from mandatory contributions from States Parties to a convention which determines the role of these States in the protection and preservation of cultural and natural sites.
In May 1997 the States Parties numbered 149. The number of protected sites was 506. The cultural sites (for example, in France, the Versailles Palace) numbered 380 while the natural sites (for example, a certain number of national parks throughout the world) numbered 107; 19 sites were both natural and cultural (for instance, in Peru, the Inca sanctuary of Machu Picchu).
1 - Auschwitz site in the "World Heritage" of UNESCO
On 26 October 1979, the Auschwitz (Poland) concentration camp was listed as a Cultural Property to be protected and preserved. In the enumeration of the parts of the camp to be protected and preserved there figure textually "the gas chambers and the cremation ovens", and it is pointed out that, in this camp, "four million persons, among them a great number of Jews, were systematically starved, tortured and assassinated" (document WHC 98/15, p. 59 of the English version and p. 72 of the French).
It is abnormal that in a document dated January 1998 there should appear this figure of 4,000,000. Let us recall that, until early 1990, this figure was in fact inscribed in nineteen different languages on nineteen slabs of the Auschwitz-Birkenau monument but that, following a decision of the Auschwitz State Museum authorities taken in agreement with the Polish government and the International Commit t ee of Auschwitz, these slabs were removed in April 1990 to be replaced, five years later, in 1995, after some bitter discussions, by new ones showing the figure of 1,500,000 instead of 4,000,000, which meant a decrease of 2,500,000 of the presumed number of victims.
Why do UNESCO (Mr Federico Mayor) and its World Heritage Centre (Mr Bernd von Droste zu Hülshof) stick to, in 1998, an official truth of Communist origin (see Nuremberg trial document USSR-008 setting this figure at 4,000,000) which in 1995 was revised considerably downwards by the Polish government (Mr Lech Walesa in person)?
Would the reason perhaps be that the very World Heritage Convention itself expressly demands the conservation and preservation of protected sites? In that case, how were the museum authorities able, unimpaired, to undermine the preservation of the Auschwitz site by removing those nineteen slabs and, in 1995, to install new ones whose message is not the same?
2 - UNESCO's World Heritage Centre highlights its concern for authenticity
The World Heritage Centre's primary mission is to ascertain the authenticity of a site before putting it on the list of Cultural Properties. Then, when a site is listed, it is to be conserved and preserved; thus, its authenticity is to be preserved.
A UN document attests to the importance, first, of this mission, and second, of this responsibility. It was issued by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, and is entitled Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. Its reference: WHC-97/2, February 1997 (WHC-97/WS/1). About forty pages long, it is divided into 139 sections. The word "authenticity" appears at least a dozen times, which suggests that authenticity is among the most important criteria employed in selecting a cultural site; the preservation of authenticity is of paramount importance for maintaining a site on the World Heritage List. Finally, as will be seen below, the "significant loss of historical authenticity" shall lead to the deletion of a property from the list.
3 - UNESCO's World Heritage Centre repeatedly stresses its concern for authenticity
Page after page, or section after section, the World Heritage Committee, referred to below as "the Committee", plainly shows a constant preoccupation with authenticity. I have emphasized some important words, and kept to the subject of cultural sites to the exclusion of natural ones:
Section 5: The Committee is fully aware that its decisions must be based on considerations which are as objective as is scientifically possible, and that any appraisal made on its behalf must be thoroughly and responsibly carried out. It recognizes that objective and well considered decisions depend upon carefully prepared criteria, thorough procedures, [and] evaluation by qualified experts and the use of expert referees.
Section 6, § V: Inscriptions of sites shall be deferred until evidence of the full commitment of the nominating government, within its means, is demonstrated.
§ VI: When a property has deteriorated to the extent that it has lost those characteristics which determined its inclusion in the World Heritage List, it should be placed on the World Heritage in Danger List; subsequently the procedure concerning the possible deletion from the List will be applied.
[...] in accordance with the criteria and conditions of authenticity
or integrity [...]
Section 22: [...]criteria and the conditions of authenticity or integrity [...].
Section 24: [...] the test of authenticity.
(b) (i): meet the test of authenticity [...] (The Committee stressed that reconstruction is only acceptable if it is carried out on the basis of complete and detailed documentation on the original and to no extent on conjecture).
Section 27, § I: [...] criterion of authenticity [...].
§ II [...] criterion of authenticity [...].
§ III [...] their authenticity is undeniable [...].
Section 46: [Procedure for the eventual deletion of properties from the World Heritage List] The Committee adopted the following procedure for the deletion of properties from the World Heritage List [...].
Section 54: Each State Party to this Convention recognizes that the duty of ensuring the identification, protection, conservation, presenta t ion and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage [...] situated on its territory, belongs primarily to that State.
Section 56: The World Heritage Committee invites the States Parties to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage to inform the Committee, through the UNESCO Secretariat, of their intention to undertake or to authorize in any area protected under the Convention major restorations or new constructions which may affect the World Heritage value of the property. Notice should be given as soon as possible (for instance, before drafting basic documents for specific purposes) and before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse, so that the Committee may assist in seeking appropriate solutions to ensure that the world heritage value of the site is fully preserved.
Section 57: [...]criteria and the conditions of authenticity/integrity.
Section 58: [...]and the conditions of authenticity or integrity.
Section 61, § a: [ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) is invited to be as strict as possible in its evaluations.]
Section 64, § 2c: Authenticity/integrity.
Section 69: Systematic monitoring and reporting is [sic] the continuous process of observing the conditions of World Heritage sites with periodic reporting on its [sic] state of conservation.
Section 71: The States Parties are invited to submit to the World Heritage Committee through the World Heritage Centre, every five years, a scientific report on the state of conservation of the World Heritage sites on their territories.
Section 75: [for purposes of "reactive monitoring"] the States Parties shall submit to the Committee through the World Heritage Centre, specific reports and impact studies each time exceptional circumstances occur or work is undertaken which may have an effect on the state of conservation of the site. Reactive monitoring is foreseen in the procedures for the eventual deletion of properties from the World Heritage List [...].
Section 78, § e: [...] significant loss of historical authenticity.
126: These plaques [marking the properties' World Heritage listing] are designed to inform the public of the country concerned and foreign visitors, that the site visited has a particular value which has been recognized by the international community. In other words, the site is exceptional, of interest not only to one nation, but also to the whole world.
Annex 1 [In the "model for presenting a tentative list" to be filed as application for the listing of a site, and as justification of its "outstanding universal value", there are five headings; the second of these is] Assurances of authenticity or integrity.
4 - The purported gas chamber of Auschwitz I constitutes an acknowledged imposture (my article of 26 January 1998):
Since 1948, the year of the founding by the Polish communists of the Auschwitz State Museum, millions of tourists have visited the crematorium of the main camp (Auschwitz I) with its "gas chamber" (500,000 visitors per year in the early 1990's).
That crematorium and that "gas chamber" are presented by the guides as genuine, but recalcitrant visitors who put questions to the authorities have been told, since my own visits of 1975 and 1976, that it is in fact a "reconstruction" (understood to be an identical replica of the original). In reality, the whole is neither genuine nor an identical replica of the original. In 1941-42, it was the most conventional of crematoria with, especially, a cool room for the corpses and an incineration block with six ovens; in 1943-44, the six ovens were done away with and the cool room, along with other parts of the building, were transformed into an air-raid shelter with a surgical operating room serving the nearby SS hospital.
I made these discoveries in 1975/1976 and published the subsequent results from 1978 to1980.
Fifteen years afterwards, the reporter-historian Eric Conan, although quite hostile to revisionism, published in the Express (Paris) of 19-25 January 1995 a lengthy study, "Auschwitz : la mémoire du mal" (Auschwitz: the Memory of Evil), in which he denounced the falsifications of the crematorium and its "gas chamber". Concerning this point, here are the findings of his inquiry, to certain words of which I add emphasis:
In 1948, during the museum's creation, crematorium I was reconstituted in its supposed original state. Everything in it is false: the gas chamber's dimensions, the location of the doors, the openings for the pouring in of the Zyklon B, the ovens, rebuilt according to what some survivors remembered, the height of the chimney. In the late 1970's, Robert Faurisson exploited these falsifications all the better as the museum administration balked at acknowledging them (p. 68).
E. Conan questioned a museum official about what he calls a "misrepresentation" and about what, according to him, Théo Klein, former president of the CRIF, the "representative council of Jewish organisations of France", calls an "artifice":
Krystyna Oleksy, whose director's office, which occupies the old SS hospital, looks straight out on to crematorium I, has not resigned herself [to telling the truth about the gas chamber]: "For the time being, it is to be left 'as is', with nothing specified to the visitor. It's too complicated. We'll see to it later on."
This person's reply amounts to saying: "We have lied. We are lying. And, until further notice, we shall continue to lie."
Robert Jan van Pelt and Deborah Dwork
In 1996 two historians of Jewish origin, the Canadian Robert Jan van Pelt and the American Deborah Dwork, devoted a work to the history of Auschwitz, from 1270 AD (year of the town's founding) to current times (Auschwitz / 1270 to the Present, published in London by Yale University Press, 1996, 443 pp.). They in turn state that the authorities at the Auschwitz State Museum have proceeded to make alterations, transformations, and falsifications of the Auschwitz I site as concerns both the detainees' reception building and crematorium I with its "gas chamber". The authors use the following words: "postwar obfuscation", "additions", "deletions", "suppression", "reconstruction", "largely a postwar reconstruction" (p. 363), "reconstructed", "usurpation", "re-created" (p. 364), "falsified" (p. 367), "falsifying" (p. 369).
On the subject of the gas chamber they write:
[After the war] four hatched openings in the roof, as if for pouring Zyklon B into the gas chamber below, were installed (p. 364).
They point out that no sign calls the public's attention to any changes, on which...
...the guides remain silent [...] when they take the visitors through this building that is presumed by the tourist to be the place where it happened (ibid.).
Appeal to UNESCO
The entire Auschwitz complex is registered by UNESCO as a protected world heritage site. Some countries of the Arab-Islamic world, irritated by the prosecution in France of Roger Garaudy for having called the gas chambers into question, could, if the latter were convicted on 27 February 1998, bring an action at UNESCO for the case of the emblematic "gas chamber" at Auschwitz; they might, at the same occasion, demand a forensic examination of the remains of the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau's crematorium II; the caved-in roof of this gas chamber has visibly never possessed any of the four special 25 by 25 cm (9 7/8 in.) holes which, we are told, were meant to allow the pouring in of the Zyklon B pellets. That being the case, how could an execution gassing operation simply have begun?
5 - I remind the Auschwitz State Museum that it is itself aware of this imposture (my letter of 23 February 1998):
Dear Sir, Dear Madam,
Would you please be so kind as to find attached a text of mine dated 26 January 1998, entitled " The 'Gas Chamber' of Auschwitz I"? I have included a German and an English translation along with the French original.
This alleged "gas chamber" is a fake (in French "une imposture" and, in German, "ein Schwindel" or "ein Betrug").
Your are well aware of this fact.
In 1941-42, the period of the alleged gassings in the building, there existed neither "the victims' entrance door" nor "the four openings in the roof for the pouring in of Zyklon B pellets". Consequently neither the victims nor the poison gas could have got into the premises in the manner in which we are deceitfully told that they did.
As I discovered in 1975-76, during my visits to the camp and my contacts with Messrs Jan MACHALEK and Tadeusz IWASZKO (archivist), the place had been, in 1941-42 and until August 1943, a cool room for the laying out of corpses awaiting cremation; then, as of September 1943, it had been transformed, at the price of several months' effort, into an air-raid shelter with a surgical operating room and two adjoining sickrooms serving the nearby SS hospital.
Your present-day offices look out onto this false "gas chamber".
My findings of 1975-76, published in 1978-80, thenceforth earned me some violent attacks, over a period of about fifteen years. Since then (since January of 1995, precisely) they have been confirmed by the French journalist and historian Eric CONAN ("Auschwitz : la mémoire du mal", L'Express [Paris], 19-25 January 1995, particularly on page 68) and in a book published in 1996 by the Canadian-Jewish historian Robert Jan van PELT and the American historian Deborah DWORK, also of Jewish origin (Auschwitz / 1270 to the Present, London, Yale University Press, 1996, particularly on pages 363-364, 367, and 369).
I repeat and again specify: this "gas chamber" is neither "in its original state" (the version given by the guides to your 500,000-odd visitors per year), nor "a reconstitution or a reconstruction [identical, or nearly so, to the original]" (the version of some State Museum staff members). It is in fact a fake created by the Communists in 1948.
It was precisely in 1995 that, after five years of delay and hesitation, you decided to make a drastic revision of the estimated death toll at Auschwitz: instead of the figure of 4,000,000 inscribed on 19 slabs in 19 languages, slabs which you had dismantled in 1990, you opted for that of 1,500,000. This latter figure remains extravagant but it does represent progress on the path of truth.
It remains for you to take another, similar step in the right direction, first by immediately closing the place called "the gas chamber" to all visitors, then by revealing the truth about it.
COPY to UNESCO (Paris), with appropriate cover letter.
6 - I inform UNESCO's World Heritage Centre of this acknowledged imposture (my letter of 23 February 1998):
Would you please be so kind as to find attached the copy of a letter which I have addressed by fax today to the director and assistant director of the Auschwitz State Museum?
It is on the subject of the imposture, now finally acknowledged, of the purported "gas chamber" of Auschwitz I.
The site of Auschwitz has been declared by UNESCO to be part of the world heritage (on this point you may refer to your colleague David Martell).
I solemnly call to your attention the fact that UNESCO's responsibility would be seriously engaged if, informed of this grave imposture, it nevertheless continued to sanction it in one manner or another, particularly by silence.
For my part I have no intention of remaining silent about a Communist lie which has lasted since 1948 (year of the State Museum's founding) and which, in the 1990s alone, has fooled roughly 500,000 visitors yearly.
enc: Copy of correspondence sent by fax today to the Auschwitz State Museum.
7 - UNESCO's World Heritage Centre responds (its letter of 6 April 1998):
I hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 23 February 1998. Your calling into question of the authenticity of the gas chambers is an insult to all the persons who lived that tragedy and lost their lives in Auschwitz or in the other concentration camps.
That site is a symbol for humanity and commemorates all the victims of Nazism; it was put on the World Heritage List, in accordance with the guidelines for the implementation of UNESCO's World Cultural and Natural Heritage Convention, for its outstanding universal significance [his emphasis].
Bernd von Droste
UNESCO World Heritage Centre
copies to: Polish National Committee for UNESCO, Permanent delegation of Poland, Auschwitz Committee, Auschwitz Museum
Writing in the name of UNESCO, the German Bernd von Droste zu Hülshof has replied to me: "Your calling into question of the authenticity of the gas chambers is an insult [...]. "
I shall take the liberty of pointing out that this "calling into question" is not peculiar to me but has also been the doing of all the personalities and historians cited above, namely Eric Conan, Theo Klein, Krystyna Oleksy, Robert Jan van Pelt, and Deborah Dwork. I might have added, for instance, the name of the French historian of Jewish origin Olga Wormser-Migot who, as early as 1968, admitted in her doctoral thesis that Auschwitz I had "no gas chamber" (Le Systeme concentrationnaire nazi (1933-1945), Presses Universitaires de France, 1968, p. 157); on 20 April 1991 the same historian stated in conversation: "I recall having made the remark that the Auschwitz I gas chamber was not credible."
I shall also point out that it is not here a matter of "the calling into question of the gas chambers" (in the plural) but of the ackowledged imposture of a single purported gas chamber, that of Auschwitz I (in the singular).
I therefore respectfully beseech the UNESCO authorities, beginning with Mr Federico Mayor and Mr Bernd von Droste zu Hülshof, to be so good as to offer a response to the question which I took the liberty of putting to them on 23 February of this year and which serves as the introduction to this article.
(*) 7, place de Fontenoy 75232 Paris 07 SP; telephone: (33-1) 45 68 18 76; telecopier: (33-1) 45 68 55 70; Internet: <http://www.unesco.org/whc/ >
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