Unfolding my usual newspaper on May 17, 1963, my eye was caught by the following: "Legal error uncovered in Austria: innocent persons have been in prison for fifteen years." Then followed the explanation, in the form of a press dispatch from Vienna, dated the day before:
Sentenced sixteen years ago to hard labor for life, two Austrians, Hubert Ranneth, 43, and Joseph Auer, 30, were yesterday set free.
Following a new investigation ordered last November by the Austrian Minister of Justice, light was thrown on one of the worst legal errors of the century.
In 1947 Ranneth and Auer were sentenced for having murdered with iron bars three workmen in a steel works. But it was only last November that an important fact became known. The "complete confession" of Auer, on which the accusation had been based, had been extorted by means of a shot of scopolamine, a euphoric medicine, paralyzing in big, doses. Finally the medical experts have established that the iron bar, at the time, the item that led to conviction, could not have been used to murder the victims.
Many good people think that this information offers an explanation for the sensational confessions in the celebrated Moscow trials. It does not seem that this method of Austrian justice was used at Nuremberg, at least not during the thirteen big trials. That drugs might have been used in the multitude of minor trials which have taken place since, against former S.S. or petty bureaucrats of the Third Reich, is quite possible. Most of these cases never came to a hearing except after a long period of imprisonment of the defendants, after having been many times postponed, and that fact raises all sorts of suspicions. The drugging of the defendants seems to have been the case, for example, in the trial of the "Death busses," March 1963, where the accused gave technical details of the operation which experts cannot accept. This could be the case again in the trial of the second commandant of the camp at Auschwitz, where the matter has been under preliminary investigation for three years and where the trial has been postponed four times already. As of the date of this writing, the Prosecutor has still not succeeded in proving that 437,000 Hungarian Jews were gassed at Auschwitz between the 16th of May and the middle of October 1944. Perhaps, that is why the defendant, instead of committing suicide like Gerstein (whose case will be discussed farther on), decided to die of a "heart attack"; in 1963 it has become very difficult to have suicides. This could be the case with Eichmann. Once the first injection is admitted, one is permitted to think that others may have come later, a fact which would explain a lot of things.
Additional means at the disposal of justice include compulsion through bad treatment and physical torture (Streicher, Pohl, Ohlendorf), intimidation (Sauckel, whose wife and nine children in the hands of the Russians were, according to his statement at the Trial of the Major War Criminals, used to exert pressure on him, by the Soviet examiners), psychological torture or "brainwashing," and, finally, the situation that the defendant found himself in with regard to the charges (Hoess, Kurt Becher, Hoettl, Wisliceny, von dem Bach-Zelewski).
Next followed the witnesses who were not brought to the bar by any charges and who gave evidence without any pressure being exerted on them: the partisans of guilty conscience. One easily understands why the Czech communist, Doctor Blaha, saw a gas chamber in action at Dachau where none existed. It was communist doctrine to say so. Furthermore, as a prisoner belonging to the Haeftlingsfuehrung of the Dachau camp, this individual could not have had a clear conscience. One can just as easily understand an analogous declaration of the S.S. Hoellriegel concerning other imaginary gas chambers at Mauthausen. It is an example of a guilty conscience in its pure form on the part of a man who had to get himself pardoned for his participation in the drama, and who, furthermore, might have to jump, from one day to the next, from the role of witness to that of defendant. I have explained this factor in connection with the cases of Louis Martin-Chauffier. David Rousset and Eugen Kogon. I could have added to their names the names of others such as the Reverend Father Riquet of the Society of Jesus. Professor Pierre Bertaux and many others who, having given during the German occupation certificates of good conduct to collaborators or Gestapo agents, later became fierce upholders of the Resistance orthodoxy in order to excuse their former actions.
The most typical case of this kind of guilty conscience seems to me to be that of the German Pastor Martin Niemoeller.
In short, he is a man who could have been at the defendants' bench at Nuremberg under the charge of "Crimes against peace," for having participated in the Nazi "Plot," which the indictment included, from 1920 until 1936. Such a conclusion is inescapable when one reads his own book. Vom U-Boot zur Kanzel which came out in Germany in 1935, when Hitler had been in power for two years, and which was written on the theme "Damals versank mir eine Welt." It is the harshest of any indictment of Bolshevism that I have yet read it is also a narrow and chauvinistic profession of faith in nationalism, and it shows the most complete adherence to the general policies of the N.S.D.A.P.
To get pardoned for all that, Pastor Niemoeller, President of the Council of the German Protestant Church, in a speech which he gave on July 3, 1946, and which was published under the title Der Weg ins Freie (F.M. Hellbach, Stuttgart, 1946), testified that 238,756 persons had been exterminated at Dachau, although we know today that in reality there were only about 30,000 deaths there; he confirmed the existence of a gas chamber, and we know today there was not one there; and since 1945, every time he has opened his mouth to speak, he has preached the unilateral responsibility of Germany, and the collective responsibility of the German people, in the war of 1939-1945. He is today at the head of a pacifist movement, and he defends without exception all of the contentions which are the basis of Soviet Russia's foreign policy. There is no doubt that if he had not conducted himself in the way that he has, he would have been one of the chief objects of the accusations that the Soviets incessantly make against the Germans. Pastor Niemoeller, in short, has the same attitude as all of those people of the Parisian gentry, or of the world of arts and letters, who led a Dolce Vita in the company of the highest German personages of occupied Paris, rejoicing in the champagne of Hitler's victories, and who, as soon as the wind turned, gave their allegiance to the communist party and became the most severe denouncers of the collaborators, in postwar France, solely with an eye to escaping the defendants' bench.
It was people like that who gave the prosecutors and the judges at Nuremberg their most striking evidence and who continue to enrich the archives of Rehovot (Israel) and of Warsaw with all those documents, as fanciful as they are new, which are discovered from time to time and which are published to the sound of trumpets in order to keep alive in the world those anti-German feelings on which the world policy of Bolshevism and Zionism depend.
At Nuremberg, the Prosecution and the Judges got sensational results by this method. Notice this curious document P.S. 3319 (N.M.T. XXXII, pp. 159-92) which Mr. Raul Hilberg cites and comments upon (pp. 502-709). In question is the organization, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Third Reich, of an anti-Jewish congress at Krummhuelbel on April 3 and 4, 1944, with all the representatives at foreign posts participating. In 27 Pages a certain Ludwig Kohlhammer, Landesgruppenleiter, reports very exactly on the number of participants -- 31 persons -- and their names and what each one said.
Now, this congress never took place. This is how the matter was presented to the Nuremberg Tribunal:
March 27, 1946, von Steengracht (Secretary of State, Foreign Affairs, Third Reich) is interrogated by Colonel Philimore, deputy prosecutor-general for the English, who asks him:
"I would now like to bring up the question of the Jews. You told us yesterday that you yourself and Mr. Ribbentrop had prevented the anti-Jewish Congress of 1944 from taking place. Is that true?
"Yes," answered von Steengracht. (TX., p. 137.)
And this is what he stated the day before in reply to a question put by Dr. Horn, von Ribbentrop's counsel:
"Our liaison with Hitler informed us that the latter, informed by Bormann, had ordered Rosenberg's office to organize an anti-Semitic congress. Ribbentrop did not want to believe it, but after having had a conversation with the liaison agent, he had to believe it. Since this decision made it impossible for us to prevent the congress through official channels, we tried to prevent it with a policy of hesitation, delay and obstruction. And, although the order had been issued in the spring of 1944, and the war was still not over in April 1945, the congress never took place." (T.X., p. 125.)
On April 2, 1946, von Ribbentrop is interrogated by Mr. Edgar Faure, who at the time was deputy prosecutor-general for France, and who later was to become President of Council in France:
Mr. Edgar Faure (to Ribbentrop): "During the examination of your witness Steengracht, the English prosecutor brought forth document P.S. 3319, which has the English No. G.B. 287. I would like to refer to this document just for one question: In this document appear the minutes of a congress, of a gathering at which were present all the reporters on Jewish matters in the various diplomatic missions in Europe. This congress was held at Krummhuebel on April 3 and 4, 1944. It had been organized by Schleier. That was read the other day. You knew about this congress, I suppose?"
von Ribbentrop: "No, I am hearing about it for the first time. What was that congress? I have not even heard that such a congress took place. What sort of a congress was it?"
Mr. Faure: "The document has been filed with the Tribunal, and I simply want to ask you one question. You have testified that you did not know about this gathering at which were present thirty one persons, almost all of them diplomatic personnel. I point out to you that during this reunion Counsellor of Embassy von Thadden made a declaration which was reported in the following terms:
'The orator is showing why the Zionist solution of Palestine and other similar solutions should be rejected, and why there are grounds for the deportation of the Jews to the eastern territories.'
I suggest that this declaration made by a Counsellor of Embassy before thirty one persons in your department represented your own thesis on the subject."
von Ribbentrop: "Yes, but I do not know at all what you are trying to say. Will you please put the document at my disposal so that I may answer?"
Mr. Faure: "I have no intention of showing you this document .... (T.X., p. 420)."
That was the proof of forgery. It was also a typical breach of the Rule of Procedure No. 2 of the Tribunal itself which provided that "all the documents appended to the Indictment shall be put at the disposition of the defendants not less than 30 days before the trials" (T.I., p. 2 1 ). This matter was never spoken of again. If one looks in the Index of Names (T., 24) for information on Landesgruppenleiter Ludwig Kohlhammer, he is not listed. But, Document P.S. 3319 was admitted into evidence. One can hardly understand why. If Mr. Edgar Faure wanted to prove that the Zionist and other similar solutions, according to the thesis of the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs, were rejected in April, 1944, there was no need to invent a document. It was common knowledge that the main obstacles to these solutions derived from the strategic operational situation, and that, as the affair of Joel Brand proved the following month, the Allies turned them down, through neutrals. One understands even less how it is that seventeen years later, Mr. Raul Hilberg still does not know that this document was a common forgery.
Shall I speak to Mr. Raul Hilberg about his principal witness on the missions of the Einsatsgruppen, Gruppenfuehrer Ohlendorf? On January 3, 1946, in the morning session, he said, "On the subject of Jews and communist commissars, the heads of the Einsatzgruppen received verbal [sic] orders before each mission," and that "on Russian territory [we admire the precision] that meant that they were to be assassinated" (T. IV, p. 322), and in the afternoon session, to the question as to whether this had been arranged in the agreement between the O.K.W. and the R.S.H.A., he replied that "he did not remember, but that in any case that job of liquidation was not mentioned" (T. IV, p. 319). Every two hours he was asked if "most of the heads of the Einsatzgruppen came from the R.S.H.A.," to which he replied that "they came from all over the Reich," (op. cit. p. 325); then, again to the same questions, he stated that "they were furnished by the State police, the Kripo, and to a lesser extent by the S.D." (op. cit. p. 332). The poor fellow, with the threat of a death sentence hanging over him, had completely lost his head and did not know what Saint to turn to for help to escape his destiny. He was hanged in 1951 in spite of his willingness to please, and after having suffered such treatment! At his trial in 1948, when all that he had said at Nuremberg was brought up against him, he said that all previous declarations had been extorted from him under pressure and were worthless.
The preceding paragraphs are concerned only with the witnesses, testimonies and earlier documents on which Mr. Raul Hilberg bases his work. At Rehovot (Israel) and Warsaw (Poland) the Zionists and Communists have for fifteen years been concentrating on a search for new documents to back up the earlier ones so as not to halt the wave of hatred against Germany, which is playing both Zionism's and Bolshevism's game. The most famous of all these testimonies which have their place on the shelves of the libraries of these two centers is surely the Diary of Anne Frank (Paris, Ger. tr. 1958, Calmann Levy). This document did not capture the attention of Mr. Raul Hilberg, but some day he might be drawn to consider it. Far from me to claim that it is a forgery. A teacher who lives near Hamburg did this, and he received a heavy sentence. Furthermore, I must admit that this matter did not engross me very much, although I followed it closely enough. What immediately struck me as being most peculiar was the handwriting itself of the unfortunate child. Aside from the fact that if the text is read in the different languages in which it has been printed in none of them are the same things found, the two specimens of the child's handwriting, one is presented by her father in the German edition and the other as shown by Life (September 15, 1958), appear to be quite different -- i.e., written by different persons.
I want to be clearly understood. I do not say that the Diary of Anne Frank is a forgery . I do not want to make any trouble! I only ask if these two writings are by the same person of the same age, since I am not a graphology expert. After that, I shall decide about the authenticity of the document. Perhaps, Mr. Raul Hilberg will take this problem up ....
And now, moving from the general to the particular, let us speak a little about the late Messrs. Rudolf Hoess, Kurt Gerstein, and Miklos Nyiszli, who, in varying degrees are the stock witnesses of Mr. Raul Hilberg.
Born in Baden-Baden on November 15, 1900, Rudolf Hoess was a soldier in the First World War. As a member of the N.S.D.A.P. from 1922 on, in May 1923, he and two accomplices killed Walter Kadow who had turned over to French occupation troops in the Ruhr Leo Schlageter, a sabotage organizer in the occupation area. Hoess was sentenced to ten years but was paroled after serving six.
Hoess was a member of the S.S. from 1934 on; while in the S.S., he became a block chief (Blockfuehrer) at Dachau at the end of 1934; later he was promoted to manager of the prisoners' belongings and, then, deputy to the commandant of the Sachsenhausen Camp. He served as Commandant at the Auschwitz camp from May 1940 (the camp was not ready for prisoners until June 14) until the end of November 1943. He was arrested for the first time at Heide (Schleswig) in May 1945 by the English, who released him almost immediately, and was arrested again in May 1946 at Flensburg (Holstein), where he was interrogated with "whip and alcohol," as he says in his book, Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle, (p. 211, French ed.). He was then transferred after a few days "to Minden on the Weser, an interrogation center in the British zone," where he suffered "the most brutal treatment from the military prosecutor, an English commander." (ibid.) He came to Nuremberg at the beginning of April as a defense witness for Kaltenbrunner. He testified at Nuremberg on May 15, under threat of being turned over to the Soviets. Knowing what treatment they had in store for him, it was quite natural that he said what he thought was best calculated to keep the Americans from doing that. Professor Gustav Gilbert, a psychologist attached to the prosecution staff, was at the Trial and, encouraging this hope, adroitIy suggested what he should say. He did not complain about his treatment at Nuremberg: on the contrary, he said it was a "health cure" (p. 21 1) when compared with what he had undergone at Heide and Minden. Unfortunately for him, he was claimed as a war criminal by Poland, and was transferred there on May 25 where, on July 30, he was incarcerated in the Krakow prison. At Krakow he experienced a change of scene that was much worse than Heide and Minden, and "without the intervention of the Prosecutor they would have finished me off," he said (p. 214). His case was heard from the 11th to the 29th of March, 1947. He was condemned to death on April 2 by the Warsaw Supreme Court and was hanged on the 4th at Auschwitz.
In prison, while waiting his trial, he wrote his memoirs. For this purpose, he was given not a pen and ink but "a pencil." The advantage, for those who wish to exploit it, is that facsimiles -- and surely the originals, too -- from pencil writings are almost illegible. It follows that authenticity can only be attested by experienced specialists, the kind who work on Egyptian palimpsests, and so far the original manuscript has not been submitted to one, if my information is correct. The original document is in the Auschwitz Museum where the International Committee of the camp has custody of it, and where its inspection by scholars has been carefully restricted. Just try to examine it there! To my knowledge, one part of it has been published in German entitled Autobiography (1951), but it does not seem to have been translated into any other language except Polish. As far as I know only a few fragments, cited by authors more fortunate than I (for example, Michel Borwicz, Revue d'histoire de la seconds guerre mondiale, October 1956, pp. 56-87) have appeared until now. Another part was published with the title, Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle (1959) in French, English, German and Polish. It seems that the whole manuscript has not yet been published and that, at the present time, specialists are studying and preparing the rest for publication, doubtless in "pencil" too. It looks like there are many fine days ahead for the historians. In short, together with the testimony of the author at Nuremberg, on the same subject, we have at hand three texts from the same person. What do these texts say?
The judgment of the Supreme Court at Warsaw which sentenced Hoess to death and which served as the introduction to Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle (pp. 9-13, French ed.) charges him with taking part in the killing of:
-- about 300,000 persons confined in the camp as prisoners, and listed in the camp register.
-- a number of people, whose exact number is difficult to determine, but at least 2,500,000 mostly Jews brought to the camp by wagons from all over Europe for immediate extermination, and not in the camp register for that reason.
-- at least 12,000 Soviet prisoners of war held in the concentration camp contrary to the law of nations with regard t o the treatment of prisoners.
Therefore, the Polish court claimed that 2,912.000 persons in all for the period from May 1940 to the end of November 1943 died at Auschwitz. By assuming that this figure was correct, and by adding those who were exterminated from the end of November 1943 to January 1945, witnesses at Nuremberg spoke of 4,500,000 dead. In October 1956, Mr. Henri Michel, a former French deportee and the editor-in-chief of the Revue d' histoire de la seconds guerre mondiale, put the total number of dead at Auschwitz at 4,000,000, in this way: "This camp was the most international and the most western of the death factories, and its soil is enriched with the ashes of four million corpses." (p. 3.)
In reply to the question put by Dr. Kaufmann, Kaltenbrunner's legal counsel at Nuremberg, "Did Eichmann tell you in fact that more than 2,000,000 Jews were destroyed at Auschwitz camp?", Hoess answered, "Yes, that is right." (T. XI, p. 409.) Behind the scenes he is supposed to have told the American psychologist, Gustave Gilbert that "Every day two trains brought in 3,000 persons, for 27 months" (therefore, for the whole length of the period of deportation, from March 1942 to July 1944). "So that makes a total of about 2,500,000 people." (Statement of Professor Gilbert before the Jerusalem Tribunal in judgment on Eichmann, May 30, 1961.) But, when it came to giving details about these 2,500,000 people he wrote in the Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle (p. 239, French ed.):
As for me, I never knew the total number, and had no way of determining it. I can only remember the number in the most important cases, often pointed out to me by Eichmann or one of his deputies:
-- From Upper Silesia, or Poland in general: 250,000
-- From Germany, or Theresienstadt: 100,000
-- Holland: 95,000
-- Belgium: 20,000
-- Slovakia 90,000
The figures concerning cases of less importance are not graven in my memory, but they were insignificant compared with the above. I think the figure 2,500,000 much too high.
These figures, too, have to do with the whole period of deportation and Hoess got them from Eichmann. And, Eichmann definitely did have things to say about the matter, but when Hoess' statement at Nuremberg is compared with his book, we see that these things do not always agree.
It is my opinion that very few Jewish deportees came to Auschwitz from countries other than those which appear on Hoess' list. It is possible that this total corresponds to the reality, although it is still very high. Apparently, this realization was admitted by the Institute of Jewish Affairs in Eichmann's Confederates and the Third Reich Hierarchy when it concluded that " at Auschwitz, [together with its satellite camps, best known of which was Birkenau, located to the south not far from Krakow]... about 90,000 Jews perished." Probably, Mr. Raul Hilberg referred to this estimate, too, in order to figure at a million (p.572) the number of Jews who died there. What is the basis for the estimation of the number of survivors, one of 230,000, and the other of 130,000? Neither in Eichmann's Confederates and the Third Reich Hierarchy nor in The Destruction of the European Jews is there an explanation of how these figures were determined. Therefore, they are probably conjectural. In Mr. Raul Hilberg's case, it is a little troublesome because (p. 670) he finds only 50,000 survivors for the whole of Poland, which is astonishing considering that there were already 130,000 at Auschwitz.
But, we shall not anticipate the discussion of the general statistics which will follow in another chapter; we are concerned here with the witness Hoess, not the general statistics. And, about those two trains that for 27 months brought 3,000 people to Auschwitz every day, witness Hoess does not seem very certain. On this subject I invite the reader to think about these three propositions:
1. "As far as I can remember the convoys arriving at Auschwitz never carried more than 1,000 prisoners." (p. 220.)
2. "Following some delays in communications, five convoys a day, instead of the expected three, arrived." (p. 236.)
3. "In the extermination of Hungarian Jews, convoys were arriving at the rate of 15,000 persons a day." (p. 239.)
From which it appears that under certain circumstances five trains per day of 1,000 persons each delivered a total of 15,000 persons.
To the Tribunal on April 15, 1946, Hoess had stated that these trains carried 2,000 persons each (T. Xi, p. 412). To Professor Gustave Gilbert he said that they contained 1,500 each, and in his book, he comes down to 1,000. What is certain is that for the period given none of these estimates on the capacity of the trains corresponds to a total of 1,130,000. The last one is the closest to the truth with an exaggeration of only 300,000. Since Mr. Raul Hilberg takes under consideration six "killing centers," an exaggeration of 300.000 for each one would yield a total exaggeration of nearly 2,000.000 persons and, out of six million a total exaggeration of that magnitude is quite important.
The same observation holds for the soundness of this testimony: "ln the middle of spring, 1942, hundreds of human beings perished in the gas chambers." (p. 178.) But, as we have seen, Document No. 4401 establishes beyond any doubt that the so-called "gas chambers" were not ordered for Auschwitz until August 8, 1942, and Document No. 4463 establishes that they were not actually installed until February 20, 1943. At Nuremberg, Hoess had already stated in his deposition that "in 1942, Himmler came to visit the camp and was present at an execution from beginning to end," (T.XI, p. 413), no one called his attention to the fact that even if it were possible that Himmler had gone to Auschwitz in 1942, it was not possible for him to have been present at an execution, since the gas chambers had not been constructed yet. And, furthermore, we know that it would have been unlikely for Himmler to have been present at an execution because as we learned after the war from his physician, Dr. Kersten, he could not bear the sight of an execution.
Hoess' comments concerning the capacity of the gas chambers and the crematories also are grossly contradictory. For example, he says on one page that:
The maximum figure for the number of people gassed or incinerated every 24 hours was a little more than 9,000 for all the installations. (p. 236, emphasis added.)
But, then, he says a few pages later:
As I have already said, Crematories I and II could incinerate about 2,000 bodies in 24 hours; it was not possible to exceed this if one wanted to avoid damage. Installations III and IV were supposed to incinerate 1,500 corpses in 24 hours. But, as far as I know, these figures were never reached. (p. 245, emphasis added.)
How can one fail to deduce from these flagrant contradictions that here is a document which was fabricated hastily after the event by illiterates?
Moreover, this fabrication, after the event, can be detected just from the kind of book it is, written in pencil and carefully preserved in the archives of the Auschwitz Atuseum, where, unless one is a well-known communist, one cannot examine it. Although it bears the date of February-March 1947, it became known and published only in 1958; this fact further clouds the reliability of the document. In addition, it is attributed to a dead man who, in any case, cannot protest what is said over his signature; this fact, in itself, tells all too much.
Finally, a careful analysis of the following language reveals a pearl:
Toward the end of 1942, all the mass graves were cleaned [crematory ovens had not been built yet, and incineration was done in mass graves]. The number of cadavers buried there exceeded 107,000. This figure [as Rudolph Hoess explains farther on] includes not only convoys of Jews gassed from the beginning, until the moment when they went on to incineration, but also the cadavers of all the prisoners who died in Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. (p. 231)
From this statement one infers that in nearly three years 107,000 persons died. I say "in nearly three years" because the two phrases, "toward the end of 1942" and "until the moment when they went on to incineration," are paradoxical, since the cremations could not have been begun, according to the official thesis, before February 20, 1943. Therefore, for the two to be concomitant, which is called for here, it is absolutely necessary that both should have occurred on this last date. Since the camp was opened on June 14, 1940, one has to speak of almost three years. Hence: the cremation of 107,000 cadavers before February 1943 must mean that all of the rest were cremated at a later date. Taking into account that between February 1943 and October 1944 (the official end of the exterminations) there are 17 months and that, as the Kasztner Report tells us, for 8 or 9 months (the autumn of 1943 to May 1944) the gas chambers at Auschwitz were out of order and not working, it remains to be established how many persons more than 107,000 could have been "incinerated," from February 1943 to October 1944, when the camp was equipped with four crematory ovens of 15 burners each. I would be very astonished if a cremation expert, given these facts, should reply that it was possible to cremate the million bodies that are claimed by Mr. Raul Hilberg, or even the 900,000 of the Institute of Jewish Affairs. And, here we must also remember that Eichmann gave May 15, 1944, as the date when Himmler ordered that cremation be stopped and that, therefore, the period during which the killings and the cremations took place -- if they took place -- could not have been longer than 5 or 6 months (March-Fall 1943).
But, there it is a question of how much credence can be given to Hoess' different versions, and after what we have seen I should imagine that his credibility is very limited.
What follows is, unhappily for Mr. Hilberg, not much more convincing. Witness what Hoess says about the development or the final solution in the direction of extermination.
We have seen that when he visited the camp in March 1941, Himmler told Hoess about his intention to transform the camp into "a great armament plant, which would keep 100,000 war Prisoners occupied." Therefore, at that date, Auschwitz was not destined for the extermination of Jews, and so Mr. Raul Hilberg's contention -- based upon a speech of Hitler's on January 30, 1939, that after such extermination was decided upon, it was carried out according to a mathematically progressive plan that already had been worked out -- is destroyed.
On the contrary, there seems to have been no planned extermination. In fact, it seems that gas was used for the first time to kill prisoners without any order whatsoever, with gassing apparatus that was makeshift, and without anyone in a responsible position in the camp, from top to bottom, expecting it:
During one of my business trips (1942) my substitute, Schutzhaftlager Fritsch, made use of gasses with a group of political officers of the Red Army. For this he used cyanide (Zyklon B) which he had at hand, because it was used all the time as an insecticide. He informed me as soon as I returned. (Page 172)
Thus, from the fortuitous initiative of a subaltern is supposed to have arisen the method which was supposed to have been used on a massive scale against the Jews.
Many times, in his work. Rudolf Hoess says (or he is made to say) that verbal orders from the highest government offices, particularly that of Himmler, told him to exterminate the Jews with gas, but, he then adds, "We never got a clear-cut decision on this matter from Himmler" (p. 233). Moreover, when Hoess was all for gassing on a large scale, he states that, "I often brought this up in reports, but I could do nothing against pressure from Himmler who always wanted more prisoners for armaments factories" (p. 189). So now, Himmler was against the gassings? In any case, it is not clear how Himmler could have had more and more prisoners for munitions work if he was exterminating more and more with gas.
In addition, we must note that when Himmler verbally asked Hoess to construct gas chambers at Auschwitz (in the summer of 1941), Hoess "submitted a detailed plan of the proposed installations." About these plans, he stated, "I never had an answer or a decision on this matter" (p. 227). Nevertheless, gas chambers were constructed, because, says Hoess, "... later Eichmann casually told me [-- verbally, therefore; everything is verbal in this business! --] that the Reichsfuehrer approved" (p. 227). Himmler, then, could never have given the order to construct the gas chambers -- the admission is tremendous! It seems that Himmler wanted at one and the same time to destroy as many and as few as possible of the same people. Hoess adds that:
The Jewish prisoners under his [Himmler's] jurisdiction were to be treated with every consideration .... They could not do without the great supply of manpower, especially in the armament industries. (Page 191)
It does not clarify matters to look into the method used for extermination. We have seen above that the gas used was an insecticide, Zyklon B, which was used, Hoess tells us, for all asphyxiations after the gassing of the political officers of the Red Army. It is strange, to say the least, that to carry out such an order, even given verbally, that some gas other than an insecticide was not provided (3).
Be that as it may, this is what Zyklon B is: "Zyklon B exists in the form of blue pellets, delivered in boxes, out of which gas is formed under jets of water vapor." (p. 228.) But, as we shall see further on, Dr. Miklos Nyiszli claimed that the gas was formed on contact with air. It was so dangerous to handle that after it had been used in a room, the room "had to be aired for two days" before it was safe to go in that room again (p. 229), but the gassing of the Jews "lasted on an average of half an hour" (P. 173), after which "the doors were opened and the Sonderkommando immediately began the work of clearing out the cadavers" (p. 230, emphasis added). In fact, sometimes they dragged "... the corpses out while eating and smoking" (p. 180) and without incurring the least harm. Equally incredible is the account of the first extermination which took place in a morgue. In order to get the gas in there, "while they were unloading [the future victims from] the trucks, several holes were rapidly made in the stone and concrete walls of the morgue" (P. 172). We are not told how the necessary water vapor was let in, nor how the holes were stopped up after the blue pellets were put in; no doubt, that was done rapidly too, with old rags.
I would like to add that in addition to the contradictions that can be uncovered from one page to another in Le Commandant d'Auschwitz parle and in addition to those which appear when it is compared with what its author said at Nuremberg, the testimony on Auschwitz-Birkenau is written in a style that is strangely similar to the public confessions of the defendants in the famous Moscow trials, which no one in Western Europe took seriously. Perhaps, this strange style is further corroboration of my contention that Hoess' memoir is a fraud. Arthur Koestler told the whole story in his Le Zero et l'Infini -- I must not fail to refer to that!
In March 1951, in Les Temps Modernes, a monthly review run by Jean-Paul Sartre, a certain Tibere Kremer presented, with the title S.S. Obersturmfuehrer Docteur Mengele, and subtitle, Journal d'un medecin deporte au crematorium d'Auschwitz, a piece of false evidence concerning that camp which will remain one of the most abominable pieces of trickery of all time. The author was, he said, a Hungarian Jew named Miklos Nyiszli, a medical doctor by profession, as is indicated in the sub-title. The article contained 27 pages of selected extracts from the doctor's memoir (pp. 1655-1672). The April issue of the review devoted 31 more pages (pp. 1655-1886). This false evidence had just been presented to American public opinion by Mr. Richard Seaver, with a preface by Professor Bruno Bettelheim. It was only in 1961 that it was published as a whole, in German, by the Munich illustrated weekly Quick in five issues (January to February) under the title Auschwitz, and, in French, by Julliard Publishers in a volume of 256 pages with the title Medecin a Auschwitz, and the sub-title Souvenirs d'un medecin deporte.
It made a sensation in France in 1951. The trial over Le Mensonge d'Ulysse was in full swing, and in the eyes of the public I had the blackest of souls. In 1961 it made a sensation again, but the world over this time -- the Eichmann trial was in full swing.
The things he had to say, this Doctor Miklos Nyiszli! And, in addition, he gave the first detailed account of all the horrors that took place at Auschwitz, including the exterminations in the gas chambers in particular. Among other things, he claimed that in this camp was a gas chamber, 200 meters long (width was not given), together with three others of similar dimensions. They were used to asphyxiate 20,000 persons a day, and four crematory ovens, each with 1 5 burners, incinerated the victims as the operation proceeded. He added, in another connection, that 5,000 other persons were, every day, done away with by less modern means in two immense open air hearths. And, he added again that for eight months he had been personally present at these systematic massacres. Finally (this is on page 50 Of the JulIiard edition), he stated specifically that when lie arrived at the camp (about the end of May 1944 at the earliest) the exterminations by gas, at the rate cited above had been "going on for four years."
From the aforementioned testimony, the following contradictions can be gleaned. First, this fellow did not know that if there were gas chambers at Auschwitz they had not been installed or made ready to work until February 20, 1943 (Document No. 4463, already cited).
Second: He did not know that the area of the gas chambers, officially and respectively, was 210 square meters for the first (the very one he mentioned), 400 square meters for the second, and 580 square meters for the last two. In other words, the gas chambers which he saw, and whose operation he describes so minutely, must have been only 1.05 meters wide. In fact, it must have resembled a long hall. Since he states precisely that down the middle of the chamber there was a row of columns With holes from which the gas came out (these columns came up through the roof, and into these openings hospital attendants wearing Red Cross arm bands threw the tablets of Zyklon B), that there were along the walls on both sides benches for sitting (surely not very wide, those benches!) and that 3,000 persons (they were gassing batches of 3,000!) could move about easily in the room, I claim that one of two things is true: either this Dr. Miklos Nyiszli never existed, or, if he did exist, he never set foot in the places that he describes.
Third: If the gas chambers at Auschwitz, together with the open hearths, exterminated 25,000 people a day for four and a half years (since according to this "witness" they continued to exterminate for six months after his arrival) that makes a total of 1,642 days. And at the rate of 25,000 persons per day for 1,642 days, there would have been 41 million cadavers, a little more than 32 million in gas chambers and a little less than 9 million in the open hearths.
I shall add that even if it had been possible for the four gas chambers to asphyxiate 20,000 persons a day (at the rate of 3,000 per batch, as the witness says), it was absolutely not possible to cremate that many at the same time, even if there were 15 burners and even if the job took only 20 minutes, as Dr. Miklos Nyiszli also falsely claims. Taking these figures for a basis, the capacity of the ovens, all working together, could not have consumed more than 540 corpses per hour, or 12,960 for the 24-hour day. At this rate the ovens could not have been put out until several years after the liberation. And only then on the condition that not a minute was lost for nearly ten years. Now, from information from Pere-Lachaise on how long it takes to incinerate three bodies where there is one burner, we see that the ovens at Auschwitz are still burning, and that they are not anywhere near ready to be put out!
Since, I have made my point regarding the ovens, I shall pass over the two open air hearths (which were, our witness says, 50 meters long, 6 wide, and 3 deep and in which were burned 9 million cadavers during their four and a half years of operation) without further comment.
Fourth: There is another impossibility, at least as far as extermination by gas is concerned, since, if there were gas chambers at Auschwitz, they were not officially operating except from February 20, 1943 to November 17, 1944, or for 17 or 18 months. The number of deaths by this means, based on Dr. Miklos Nyiszli's facts, would then be about 11 million, and with the 9 million of the open hearts, about 20 million, which -- by some unknown mathematical process -- are reduced to 6 million by Tibere Kremer in his presentation of this "testimony."
Fifth: That is not all. This Dr. Miklos Nyiszli is as much in contradiction with himself as he is with all those who testified before or after him about Auschwitz. The following is a comparison of his testimony with that of the others: it is he who says (p. 56) that the gas was produced from pellets of Zyklon B "on contact with air!" Hoess told us that it was "in contact with water vapor." It is he who tells us (p. 56) that "in five minutes" everyone was dead, according to Hoess the Zyklon B took "half an hour." Again, it is Dr. Nyiszli who tells us (p.36) that the Hungarian Jews were transported to Auschwitz at the rate of "four or five trains a day," each of which contained forty cars, which, in turn, contained 80 persons (p. 15), or 3,200 persons altogether, but a few pages later, he says that they, each carried "about five thousand people... " (p. 18).
This last statement must cause surprise, since we know that the deportation of Hungarian Jews lasted for 52 days (May 16 to July 7, 1944) according to the Kasztner Report, and that the Histoire de Joel Brand agrees on this point, Hoess said at Nuremberg that the deportation took "a period of four to six weeks." (T.Xl, p. 412.) Let us make some calculations concerning the four possibilities:
1st: 4 trains of 3,600 persons equal 14,000 persons per day, and for 52 days yield 748,000 persons
2nd: 4 trains of 5,000 persons equal 20,000 persons per day, and for 52 days yield 1,040,000persons
3rd: 5 trains of 3,600 persons equal 18,000 persons per day, and for 52 days yield 936,000 persons
4th: 5 trains of 5,000 persons equal 25,000 persons per day, and for 52 days yield 1,300,000 persons
But, in statistics from Jewish sources, the highest figure given for Hungarian Jews is 437,000 (4). I leave it up to the reader to figure out this odd item. I shall add that the Kasztner Report tells us that on March 19, 1944, Eichmann arrived in Budapest with a company of 150 men and that 1,000 rail cars were at his disposal to carry out the transportation of the Jews. If, as Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, says, the trip lasted four days -- which is plausible; it took that long to go from Compiegne to Buchenwald in the convoy I was in -- then after six days there were no more cars in the railway station at Budapest! Consequently, the work of deportation was halted until the 9th day when empty cars began returning. And, this estimation is made without taking into consideration the number of railway carriages that were necessary to bring to the assembly points all of the Jews who had been rounded up all over Hungary. The court of the Jerusalem Tribunal that condemned Eichmann to death moreover completely destroyed this testimony in stating (in Exhibit No. 12) that "in less than two months 434,351 persons were deported in 147 sealed freight trains, with 3,000 persons in each train, men, women and children, two or three trains a day on the average," and so, as we shall see farther on, this new version is not any better.
The passages in the testimony of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli where he contradicts himself are numberless: the crematory in action, his nose and throat assailed "by the smell of flesh burning and hair scorching," (p. 19); "the hair of the dead is clipped off" (p. 60), after removal from the gas chamber and before incineration; then, "coarse hands cut off the tresses of their well-kept hair" (p. 168), before they were sent to the bathing place and then to the gas chamber. And, so it goes.
But, what is more significant than the contradictions in the texts themselves is what one finds by comparing the French version of this so-called testimony with the German version which appeared in the Munich illustrated weekly Quick in successive issues after January 15, 1961. In the latter version, the crematories all together are not incinerating more than 10,000 persons a day instead of 20,000. A pistol shot which hits the target at 40 to 50 meters in French, does so only at 20 to 30 meters in German. An institute which was "the most celebrated in the Third Reich" in the one case becomes "the most celebrated in the world" in the second. "Pretty rugs" become "Persian carpets." Auschwitz camp which could hold "up to 500,000 persons" in the French version is no more than "gigantic" in the German version, all precision, having disappeared, without doubt, because between 1951 and 1961 the author -- long since dead, as we shall see -- discovered through an intermediary that at Nuremberg Hoess had stated that "it held up to 140,000 persons." (T. XI, p. 416.) A distance of three kilometers is reduced to 500 meters, or vise versa, etc.
One of two things can be concluded from the preceding discussion: either it is an authentic document, in which case it should be the same in 1951 as in 1961, in its French and in its German versions, or, if it is not the same, then it is apocryphal. The fact that the two versions do not agree with each other in almost any respect and that neither one agrees with the descriptions, for example, that were derived from the documents produced at Nuremberg permits one to maintain, at least, that this Dr. Miklos Nyiszli never set foot in Auschwitz. That fact I suspected after having read the very first page of his testimony. Did he not say of the convoy of which he was a part that after "leaving behind us the Tatra mountains, we went past the stations of Lublin and Krakow" (in order to get to Auschwitz from the Hungaro-Rumanian frontier). This statement proves that in addition to not knowing the camp at Auschwitz he did not know the route to get to it either. And, to think that a publishing house was found in Paris that would place such utter nonsense as this testimony before the public!
In April, 1951, when the extracts from his testimony were published by Les Temps Modernes, I wrote to him. In October of the same year he answered, through the agency of Mr. Tibere Kremer, that actually "2,500,000 persons had been exterminated in the gas chambers at Auschwitz . . . " In February 1961, after having read the entire text in Quick, I decided to write to Mr. Tibere Kremer. The letter was returned to me with the notation "no longer at this address" stamped on it. I next wrote to Dr. Nyiszli in care of Quick, and I was told that my letter could not be forwarded to Dr. Nyiszli because he was dead.
In November 1961, after having read the entire text in the French version, I wrote to Julliard Publishers, asking them kindly to forward the enclosed observations to Mr. Tibere Kremer, whose address they surely must have since they had just published his translation. I added:
Historic documents are rightly respected and versions of them should not be published unless their authenticity is guaranteed. It happens that for ten years, in connection with my research, I have been seeking the original of this one, and no one has ever been able to tell me where it can be consulted. The best qualified historians in the world know nothing about it. The versions which have been published are divergent and contradict each other on every page. The author speaks of places which he has obviously not been to, etc. Therefore, if you could give me sufficient assurance to allow me to state "authentic document" in the case of Dr. Nyiszli, in the references in my work, I would be very much obliged.
On the 8th of December, in the name of Julliard Publishers, of which he is one of the literary directors, Mr. Pierre Javet answered:
Thank you very much for having sent me a typewritten copy of your letter of November 16th.
I am forwarding it today to Mr. Tibere Kremer, translator of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli's "Medecin a Auschwitz," so that he may reply to you.
Meanwhile, I may tell you that it is true that Doctor Nyiszli is dead, but his wife is still alive. Moreover, I have showed his book to several deportees who have confirmed its authenticity.
I am still waiting for an answer from Mr. Tibere Kremer. However, it is quite probable that I shall never receive it. First, as we have said, on October 24, 1951, Mr. Tibere Kremer sent on to me a reply from Dr. Nyiszli to my letter of April, l 9 51. Then as a result of my continued research concerning this singular witness, I learned from New York, where the book was published in 1951, that Dr. Nyiszli had died long before his testimony was first published. If this fact is true, this dead witness -- another one -- was thoughtful enough to write to me after his death. And, so Mr. Tibere Kremer's silence is understandable. No further comment is necessary.
June 6, 1961: The Jerusalem Tribunal in judgment on Eichmann is overwhelmed with testimonies on the subject of the extermination of Jews that was said to have taken place at the camp at Belzec. All of the journalists reporting the hearings say just about what this one from Le Figaro (Paris, June 7, 1961) says:
The third extermination camp in question [at the hearing of June 6 during the Eichmann trial], that of Belzec located between Lublin and Lemberg, had only one survivor at the war's end, and he has since died.
The prosecutor bases his case on a series of depositions made before Allied officers by Kurt Gerstein, lieutenant in the Health Service of the Waffen S.S., who afterwards hanged himself in a military prison in Paris. Gerstein had been ordered by Eichmann to look into quicker poisons.
And, here again in the limelight is Kurt Gerstein, as he was in January 1946 at the Nuremberg trial and as he was recently in Germany in the drama Der Stellvertreter (Hamburg, 1963) by a certain Rolf Hochhuth. It is a story as gruesomely phantasmagorical as that of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli.
In the very first days of May 1945 (the 5th, it seems) French troops on going into Rottweil (Wurttemberg) found and took prisoner in a hotel a certain Kurt Gerstein. He was wearing the uniform of the S.S. with the epaulettes of a Obersturmfuehrer. He was taken to Paris where he was interned in a military prison, according to some, in the Cherche-Midi, according to others, or in the prison at Fresnes, still others said, where he is said to have committed suicide. In short, no one knows exactly where he was imprisoned. As for when he died, a morning in July -- the 25th almost all the annotators say, in particular, Professor H. Rothfels (Vierteljahrshefte fuer Zeitgeschichte, No. 2, April 1953, p. 185) -- is given, but nothing could be less certain. On March 10, 1949, the widow Gerstein is said to have announced that she received from the Ecumenical Commission for the Spiritual Aid of War Prisoners, headquartered at Geneva, only the following terse communication on the death of her husband:
Unfortunately, in spite of repeated attempts, it has not been possible to learn more about the death of your husband, nor can the whereabouts of the grave be determined.
At the present moment neither the arrest, nor the death of the man, seem to have been made public. At least, there has been no publication to my knowledge. In any case, it was only on January 30, 1946, that this fact became sensational news through the attention drawn to it by some first class blunderers.
Without doubt, the first and best known of these blunderers was Mr. Dubost, the French prosecutor at the trial of the Major War Criminals at Nuremberg. In the archives of the American delegation he had found a number of invoices for Zyklon B that had been furnished to the Auschwitz and Oranienburg concentration camps by DEGESCH Gesellschaft, of Frankfurt/M; they were dated April 30, 1944, and were appended to an account in French, signed by Kurt Gerstein, Obersturmfuehrer of the S.S., which pertained to the extermination of Jews in the gas chambers at Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor, Majdanek and Treblinka; the account does not give the date of these exterminations. (T. VI, pp. 345-347.) Subsequently, Mr. Hans Rothfels tells us (Vierteljahrshefte f. Z., op. cit. p. 177) that this document was made use of by the prosecution in the German language, in its principal passages, as evidence at the so-called "trial of the doctors," which was conducted at Nuremberg on January 16, 1947. And, then, the part about Zyklon B and the appended invoices were used at the trial of the DEGESCH Gesellschaft at Frankfurt in January 1949.
The date of this document, April 26, 1945, was made public for the first time at the "trial of the doctors." And, until the article of Mr. Hans Rothfels, mentioned above, only the French version was used, which for various legal purposes was translated into German. In Le Breviaire de la Haine (Paris, 195 1, pp. 220 ff.), Mr. Poliakov gives this French version, but without the date. In 1959, Heydecker and Leeb in Le Proces de Nuremberg do the same. In Der Gelbe Stern (Hamburg, 1961) Mr. Schoenberner gives the date as May 4, 1945. But in 1961, Exhibit No. 124 of the Jerusalem Tribunal which condemned Eichmann gives no date, and, furthermore, the French version therein is in no way similar to the version that was published by Mr. Poliakov in 1951. What is remarkable is the fact that it is thanks to Mr. Poliakov that we know about this second version (Le Proces de Jerusalem, Paris, 1962, p. 224 ff.) and that he gives it, apparently without remembering that it was he who gave us the first.
We had to wait for the "trial of the doctors," in January 1947, for that of the DEGESCH Gesellschaft, in January 1949, and -- above all -- for the article, cited above, by Mr. Rothfels, in order to learn how this document got into the archives of the American delegation, where Prosecutor Dubost had found it, together with not only the two invoices from DEGESCH Gesellschaft that are mentioned above, but 12 of them, bearing dates between February 14 and May 31, 1944. At the same time, we learned that the French version, composed of six typewritten pages ending with a handwritten statement attesting to the authenticity of the contents, followed by the signature of the author (Vierteljahrshefte f. Z.., op. cit. p. 178), had two more attached pages, also handwritten and signed, but in English, bearing the same date, in which Gerstein said that not more than four or five people had been able to see what he had seen. There was one more page in which he asked that his statement not be made public before finding out whether Pastor Niemoeller had died at Dachau or had survived, plus 24 typewritten pages in German with a handwritten note, dated May 4, 1945, but not signed (Vierteljahrshefte f Z., op. cit. p. 179). It seems -- at least that is what Mr. Rothfels tells us -- that this German version in 24 pages, and the French version, are "on the whole identical on all points." Since there are two different French versions, the one published by Mr. Poliakov and the one that was Exhibit No. 124 at Jerusalem, nothing is lost in asking him which of the two he takes as his basis for comparison.
Now, let us return to these two French versions. In January 1946 the Americans had not yet realized the importance of this document -- which existed in two versions, even three versions if one believes Mr. Rothfels -- and they did not think it was worth being produced in evidence against the defendants at the Tribunal. Fortunately, Mr. Dubost was there. On January 30, 1946, he brought it out of his brief case, and submitted it as reference P.S. 1553-RF. However, before we discuss what happened, we should first learn a little more about its author Kurt Gerstein.
Who was Kurt Gerstein? To this question, no answer is to be found anywhere in the forty-two volume report of the proceedings of the Nuremberg Trial. For reasons which the reader will not fail to understand, the Tribunal, in fact, did not want to hear anything about either Kurt Gerstein or his testament; out of the bundle of documents that were produced by Mr. Dubost, it accepted only two invoices of April 30, 1944, each for 555 kilos of Zyklon B, one for Auschwitz and the other for Oranienburg.
The next day, January 31, 1946, in such a form that no one could doubt its authenticity and its admission into evidence by the Tribunal, newspapers all over the world reproduced this document which was not allowed to be read at the hearing the day before. It was this "press offensive" that started the exploitation of this document, which has continued for fifteen years by those eminent historians from the Ecole Normale Superieure, de la Rue de la Liberation (sic), founded by Father Loriquet, such as Mr. Poliakov (Le Breviaire de la Haine -- what a nice title!) and a few others like the Germans H. Krausnick (Documentation sur l'extermination par les gaz), J.J. Heydecker and J. Leeb (Les Proces de Nuremberg), and Gerhardt Schoenberner (L'Etoile Jaune), among others.
As much as one can gather from the writings of these brilliant historians, Kurt Gerstein was a chemical engineer. In 1938 he was arrested by the Gestapo and was interned in the concentration camp at Welzheim. How he managed to get out we do not know. In any case, we find him again in 1941 in the political S.S. and in 1942 in the Waffen S.S., with the rank of Obersturmfuehrer in the "hygiene division" (Abteilung der Entwesung und der Entseuchung) of the Central Sanitation Service (Hauptamt des Sanitaetsdienst). In this capacity it was his business to receive the orders for Zyklon B, a chemical that was used as an insecticide by the Reichswehr, since 1924, and then by the Wehrnacht, which was not fortunate enough to know about DDT. These purchase orders he passed on along with a request for delivery, to the chemical works of DEGESCH Gesellschaft of Frankfurt/M. or to its subsidiary, Testa of Hamburg. And, naturally, when he received the disinfectant he got invoices.
The facts that he tells about -- or to be more correct -- which are found in the account that is attributed to him -- belong in 1942. So, on the 8th of June he met in his office with S.S. Sturmfuehrer Gunther who said he urgently needed 100 kilos of Zyklon B to be delivered to a place which was known only to the driver of the truck.
A few weeks later, the driver of the truck in question presented himself; he was accompanied by Gunther. They loaded the 100 kilos of Zyklon B in the truck, Gerstein got in, and they drove off for Prague and then for Lublin where they arrived on the 17th of August. On the same day, they met Gruppenfuehrer Globocnik, who is charged with the extermination of Jews in Warthegau and who has not found any better way to carry out his task than by using the exhaust gas from Diesel motors, which he has arranged to have piped into rooms especially fixed up for the purpose.
Naturally, the Gruppenfuehrer, who has a sense of logic, starts by talking to Gerstein and detailing the scope of his entire operation. In his region there are three installations for exterminating Jews with diesel fumes: Belzec (on the route from Lublin to Lwow) with a capacity of 15,000 persons a day; Sobibor (he is not sure just where that is!), with a capacity of 20,000 per day; Treblinka (120 kilometers NNE of Warsaw), with no indication as to capacity according to Mr. Poliakov, but Heydecker and Leeb are more precise and give the figure of 20,000 per day. (This remarkable document does not speak the same language to one and the other!) A fourth installation, Majdanek, is in preparation, but nothing is said by anyone about where it is or what its capacity was anticipated to be. To be thorough about this, we must add that in L'Etoile Jaune (German ed.), by Mr. Gerhardt Schoenberner, this part of the document not given; doubtless, it is an example of another sort of historical method. In citing the four locations, nevertheless, Mr. Gerhardt Schoenberner attributes to Gerstein's pen a total capacity of 9,000 persons per day for the four installations.
From Le Breviaire de la Haine of Mr. Poliakov and the Documentation sur l'extermination par les gaz by Mr. Krausnick, we deduce in addition that the Fuehrer was at Lublin two days before (apparently, they do not shrink at anything in these factories where historical forgeries are fabricated!) with Himmler, and that they gave the order to "speed everything up." But this part of the document is not reproduced in either L'Etoile Jaune by Schoenberner, or the Proces de Nuremberg by Heydecker and Leeb.
Finally, Globocnik -- but only according to these two authors -- informs Kurt Gerstein of his mission to improve the gas chambers, particularly with the use of a more poisonous gas and less complicated mechanisms. Then, the men part company, after deciding to go to Belzec the next day.
And, after having repeated all that he was told, Gerstein recounts what he saw. Upon arriving at Belzec on August 18th, Mr. Kurt Gerstein began by visiting the camp under the guidance of a person that Globocnik put at his disposal. Mr. Poliakov was not able to read the name of this person. But after working at it, he thought he could make out "Wirth." More fortunate than he, Mr. Schoenberner was able to read clearly "S.S.-Hauptsturmfuehrer Obermeyer von Pirmasens." Unfortunately, when the latter speaks of S.S. Wirth, who is quite another person than the one mentioned by Mr. Poliakov, he gives him the rank of "Hauptmann," a grade that never existed in the S.S!
In any case, during this visit Gerstein saw gas chambers in action using Diesel exhaust, and he measured the places: 5x5 or 25 square meters in area; 1.90 meters in height or 45 cubic meters, he calculated. We will say nothing about his 2.5 cubic meter error. Messrs. Krausnick, Heydecker, Leeb, and Schoenberner did not say anything about it either. More concerned about what was probable, Mr. Poliakov corrected the document (as we have had the honor to tell you!). He calculated that the chambers were 93 square meters in area (Breviaire de la Haine, p. 223, 2nd ed.), without any further details, and that figure was more prudent. But, in the Proces de Jerusalem (Paris, 1962) when the Tribunal admits into evidence the 25 square meter version, Mr. Poliakov is not at all put out, and agrees with that figure, too. How right he was to correct the document! Later on, Kurt Gerstein recounts, as factual, that the next day, August 19th, he saw the gas chambers -- four according to some; ten, protest the others -- in action.
At the crack of dawn, a trainload of Jews arrived from Lemberg at the Belzec station, on the very edge of the camp, composed of 6,700 -- Mr. Poliakov gives 6,000 -- men, women and children, who were crammed into 45 cars (therefore, between 148-150 people per car, and, for those who know the size of Polish freight cars, quite a figure). It is certain that with its 6,000 to 6,700 people, this train of 45 cars was the most nightmarish of all deportee trains. Please recall that Dr. Miklos Nyiszli did not dare to give more than "about 5,000 persons per train." This Kurt Gerstein certainly has no eye for estimating or measuring, and for an engineer that is not very good.
Two hundred Ukrainians, with whips in hand, hurl themselves at the train doors, tear them open (i.e., actually rip them off of the cars!) and make everyone get out, under the surveillance of other Ukrainians, with loaded guns in hand. "Captain of the S.S. " Wirth directs the operation, assisted by a few of his fellow S.S.: the prisoners are forced to undress completely, to turn in their valuables, to have their hair cut off; then, they are taken to the gas chambers.
"The rooms are filling. Everyone squeeze closer, ordered Captain Wirth. Many people were standing on the tips of their toes, 700 to 800 in an area 25 meters square, and 45 cubic meters. The S.S. pack the room as full as they can. The doors are closed." relates Mr. Schoenberner in L'Etoile Jaune, and, except in style, the others say the same thing, except for Poliakov, who sticks to his 93 square meter area.
The point on which everyone agrees, on the other hand, is the duration of the operation, measured by Gerstein, chronometer in hand. First the 700 to 800 persons who are jammed into the gas chambers had to wait two hours and forty-nine minutes before the diesel motor would run; then, it took thirtytwo minutes for everyone to die. These times come from Gerstein who clocked them with his chronometer in hand, I repeat.
It was this fantastically gruesome account that Mr. Dubost -- not just,anyone, but a prosecutor, and, doubtless, a well known one too, since he was chosen from among his peers to represent France at Nuremberg -- wanted to have accepted by the International Tribunal on Janaury 30, 1946. The Tribunal did not go along. But, one must say that for the Tribunal not to go along it had to be really a little thick, because in other circumstances it swallowed, apparently without the flick of an eyelash, lots of other tricky things of this kind. This refusal of the Tribunal to consider the evidence did not keep the world press from issuing, the next day, January 31, 1946, ad nauseam and to cry yourself to sleep, the Kurt Gerstein story as an unquestionably authentic document. And, even today -- fifteen years later -- men who lay claim to the title of historian still dare to present it as unquestionably authentic in their books. Nor, by doing so, do they lose prestige or the favor of the world press. This reality was demonstrated at the Eichmann Trial. And, as we have mentioned above, the story has recently been staged in Germany by an actor of sorts, on a text written by Rolf Hochhuth, who obviously is seeking literary publicity by the presentation of a shocking subject matter.
In the Eichmann Trial, the Kurt Gerstein account was presented by the public prosecutor as being one of a "series of depositions given by Gerstein before various Allied officers." The judgment at Jerusalem did not refer to that series of depositions, and they were never made public. It seems that we do not know all that there is to know about the Gerstein dossier. Why? I am afraid that the answer to that question lies in this one little fact: in the article by Hans Rothfels (op. cit.) we find him writing that "so fehlt insbesondere die im franzoesischen Text eingefuegte verallgemeinernde und sehr uebertreibende Schaetzung der Gesamtzahl an Opfern" (p. 179), and in a note (p. 180) "G. schaetzt hier auf 25 millionen (Nicht nur Juden, sondern vorzugsweise Polen und Tschechen)." The preceding sentences translate as follows: "Thus is lacking in particular the generalized and very exaggerated estimation of the total number of victims inserted in the French text. G. estimates here 25 million (not only Jews, but especially Poles and Czechs)." It really was a little unbelievable. What is astonishing is the fact that those who made use of this singular document did not discover that gas chambers 25 meters square with a capacity of 700 to 800 persons was an even more shocking exaggeration. This oversight reveals quite a lot about their intellectual faculties as distinguished "Professors." Only those statements of Kurt Gerstein that were considered "objective" (sachlich, Mr. Rothfels says, p. 179) and, therefore, true, were made public and used at the tribunals. Another case of testimony that has been tampered with.
In the case of the Hochhuth play, we have only to point out the sources which he leans on for the authenticity of all the assertions in the Gerstein document as it was made known to the public, especially the assertion that "700 to 800 persons [were] asphyxiated" in gas chambers whose "floor area [was] 25 square meters." Among these sources there figures, naturally, Pastor Martin Niemoeller (and, we have seen what his testimony concerning Dachau was worth), a certain Professor Golo Mann (who attests to gas chamber exterminations at Mauthausen from 1942 on), and various other persons of about the same including even Bishop Otto Dibelius, who I held in esteem until then as having much greater discernment; various newspaper articles by unqualified people and numerous rumors round out Hochhuth's source material.
All this passes understanding. It is true that one should be astonished at nothing: at that Eichmann trial the judges accepted as truth, for days on end, the statements of people who saw -- with their own eyes -- the gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen working, which even the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte at Munich, that model of world resistantialism, admitted as having never existed.
Without doubt as a worthy counterpart to the Stellvertreter of the aforesaid Rolf Hochhuth there has just been brought out in France the Tragedie de la deportation in which, endorsed by Mrs. Olga Wormser and Mr. Henri Michel, even people like Mademoiselle Genevieve de Gaulle and the gentle Germaine TilIon come forward to reaffirm the existence of gas chambers and the systematic extermination by that means in one or the other of those camps where the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte says that they did not exist.
Every day, with pen quivering with indignation, the press wonders at the resurgence of nazism, racism, and anti-Semitism -- among which, however, they draw no distinctions. What makes me wonder is why the text tamperings of Mr. Poliakov and the others have so far not injected even more poison into the racism and the anti-Semitism which are aimed against the Jews. Nothing has been overlooked that would lead to that effect .
We know that Kurt Gerstein was an engineer, and, as such, he probably had a logical mind and probably was trained to make careful and accurate observations. Consequently, if it is true that he made the statement of which we have just read the resume (4), this man was obviously not, or was no longer, in possession of all his faculties when he did so. It is of interest to find out why. On this point, the clues we have about the circumstances of his death are to me very revealing. If we are to believe Hans Rothfels (op. cit. p. 185, note 25), the widow Gerstein was informed that he had hanged himself, with the following notice: "...Death was due to hanging. This manner of killing oneself can absolutely not be prevented in a prison." That may by true. but it is no reason for not telling her when the event took place or what was done with the body; and, the fact that the authorities professed ignorance on both scores seems to me to explain a lot of things.
Suppose, for instance, that the two military inquisitors -- a Major D.C. Evans and a J.W. Haught -- who were said to have started the interrogation of Kurt Gerstein, found themselves in the presence of a man who, at the time they confronted him, had not yet written anything, or, between the date of his arrest and his first interrogation, had written only what he had actually seen, which would have been horrible enough, knowing the savage character of the war in the East on both sides. To read the memoirs of all those who were arrested in Germany at this time, and under these conditions, that is generally what happened to them. They were invited by those who had arrested them to write their confessions; so, this is not an entirely gratuitous supposition. Whether Kurt Gerstein wrote his confession in French or in German is not important. It is possible that he wrote them in both languages -- at least, so they say. Let us suppose again, and this is not entirely gratuitous, either, given the ways of the military and the police, that after the French version was written they attempted to force him to say what is in the document which bears his name, but which represented their view at the moment of the events in question; on the Allies' side, concentration Camps, gas chambers and "genocide" were in general the central theme of the anti-German propaganda, and being familiar with the intellectual level of the military and the police in all countries of the world, it would not be astonishing if that view represented their profession of faith. They might, themselves, have gone on to the editing of the French text, which was then presented to Kurt Gerstein for his signature; at the same time they could have asked him to write a few lines at the end of the last page to make its authenticity positive. One can imagine the scene -- Kurt Gerstein -- an engineer, and a man who was a precise thinker refusing to countersign and to authenticate all of those technical impossibilities which do not stand examination, and the two inquisitors giving him the beating that was usual in such cases. They were pretty brutal with him, no doubt, since Kurt Gerstein was usually described as a man who could not be pushed without resisting into saying what he did not want to say. Later, we can imagine the same scene for the German text, which lasts much longer but takes place in the same manner. The German text was written on a typewriter with a handwritten endorsement, but was not signed. Another detail must be noted: the handwritten endorsement is shorter, and the formula of certification under oath which occurs in the French text is missing. So, my conclusion is that Kurt Gerstein was beaten unconscious, and then he died before getting to the oath and the signature ....
| Introduction | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 |
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This text is the the first half of Chapter 13 of Debunking the Genocide Myth, A Study of the Nazi Concentration Camps and the Alleged Extermination of European Jewry, by Paul RASSINIER, Introduction by Pierre Hofstetter, Translated from the French by Adam Robbins, published in 1978 in Los Angeles by The Noontide Press, PO Box 2719, Newport Beach, CA 92659, USA.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 78-53090. ISBN 0-911038-24-8. Copyright © 1978 by the Noontide Press. The book has been produced with the permission of Madame J. Rassinier, the author's widow. Notes between brackets are by the translator.
The original French text
was published as Le Drame des juifs européens, Paris,
1964, Aux Sept Couleurs, a book which will soon be available in
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