The Holocaust Historiography Project

Arthur R. Butz archive

The Hoax of the Twentieth Century

Chapter 4

Structure of the Legend

We now consider the specific Auschwitz extermination story that we are offered.

The trials that generated the evidence on which the extermination claims are based took place in a prostrate, starving Germany whose people were in no position to do anything but that which the occupying powers wished. This was the political reality of the situation. By the record, the Zionist International organized the specific extermination claims that were made, which were given no credence by high and knowledgeable Washington officials. The leading personality in setting up the legal system of the war crimes trials was none other than the American prosecutor at the IMT trial. At that trial the judges had previously expressed themselves on the obvious guilt of the defendants, and the findings of the trial were formal legal constraints on subsequent trials. The most important of the subsequent trials were those organized by the arch-Zionist David Marcus, future hero of Israel, and then head of the U.S. War Crimes Branch, an agency that had engaged in torture of witnesses in connection with certain trials. The honor of the states conducting the trials was committed to the thesis of extraordinary Nazi brutality. Under such conditions it is difficult to see how one could fail to expect a frame-up; this and the following chapter shows that the Auschwitz charges are what one should expect.

It must first be asked: what is the essential attribute, the trademark of a hoax on this scale? No sane author of such a thing would present a story which is untrue in every or in most details; ninety nine percent valid fact can be present in a story whose major claim has no truth whatever to it and recognition of this leads the author of the hoax to the maximally safe approach to his deed: distort the meaning of valid facts.

This is the basic structure of the Auschwitz extermination legend. It is shown here that every real fact contained in the story had (not could have had, but had) a relatively routine significance, having nothing to do with exterminations of people. Thus, those who claim extermination must advance a thesis involving a dual interpretation of the facts, but by then the impartial reader, in consideration of what has just been noted, should be on my side; the need for a dual interpretation of fact, the trademark of the hoax, has emerged.

Another trademark, not so obvious at this point, will be suggested by the analysis.

Also, facts which contradict the extermination claims will be noted, and for those who still believe the claims these facts are mysteries. The inconsistencies and implausibilities and obvious lies will appear and finally the crushing blow, a fact contradicting the claims, so huge in significance that there can be no mumbling about mysteries.

The Höss ‘Confession’

The commandant of Auschwitz from May 1940 to late 1943 was SS Colonel Rudolf Höss. During the IMT trial he had signed some affidavits for the prosecution, the most noted being signed on April 5, 1946.[1] In accord with a common IMT and NMT practice, he was then called by the Kaltenbrunner defense on April 15, 1946.[2] The major content of his testimony was in his assenting, during cross-examination, to his affidavit of April 5, and also in certain points of supporting testimony.

Höss is universally considered the star prosecution witness and, despite the origins of the Auschwitz hoax in the WRB report, the extermination mythologists essentially treat the Höss affidavit as the Auschwitz extermination story or, more precisely, the framework for the story. All pleaders of the Auschwitz extermination legend present a story that is the Höss affidavit, with only numerical variations, as supplemented by the IMT, NMT, and similar evidence. None of the principal extermination mythologists gives prominence to the WRB report, and only Reitlinger seems to perceive a problem of some sort of importance in connection with it.

Thus, it is convenient to allow the Höss affidavit to act as framework for our analysis also. It is presented in full here, and then the individual points are reviewed with due regard for the supplemental and additional evidence. The fateful duality will emerge as an undeniable feature. The contradictions, inconsistencies, wild implausibilities, and lies will appear. The analysis will reveal something of the psychological context of the trials.

Due regard is also given to verifiable interpretation of sources, including instances where it is deemed better to reference Hilberg or Reitlinger rather than an original document, to which the reader is not likely to have convenient access.

I, RUDOLF FRANZ FERDINAND HŌSS, being first duly sworn, depose and say as follows:

1. I am forty-six-years-old, and have been a member of the NSDAP since 1922; a member of the SS since 1934; a member of the Waffen-SS since 1939. I was a member from 1 December 1934 of the SS Guard Unit, the so-called Deathshead Formation (Totenkopf Verband).

2. I have been constantly associated with the administration of concentration camps since 1934, serving at Dachau until 1938; then as adjutant in Sachsenhausen from 1938 to May 1, 1940, when I was appointed commandant of Auschwitz. I commanded Auschwitz until December 1, 1943, and estimate that at least 2,500,000 victims were executed and exterminated there by gassing and burning, and at least another half million succumbed to starvation and disease, making a total dead of about 3,000,000. This figure represents about 70% or 80% of all persons sent to Auschwitz as prisoners, the remainder having been selected and used for slave labor in the concentration camp industries. Included among the executed and burnt were approximately 20,000 Russian prisoners of war (previously screened out of Prisoner of War cages by the Gestapo) who were delivered at Auschwitz in Wehrmacht transports operated by regular Wehrmacht officers and men. The remainder of the total number of victims included about 100,000 German Jews, and great numbers of citizens, mostly Jewish from Holland, France, Belgium, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Greece, or other countries. We executed about 400,000 Hungarian Jews alone in the summer of 1944.

3. WVHA [Main Economic and Administrative Office], headed by Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl, was responsible for all administrative matters such as billeting, feeding and medical care, in the concentration camps. Prior to establishment of the RSHA, Secret State Police Office (Gestapo) and the Reich Office of Criminal Police were responsible for arrests, commitments to concentration camps, punishments and executions therein. After organization of the RSHA, all of these functions were carried out as before, but pursuant to orders signed by Heydrich as Chief of the RSHA. While Kaltenbrunner was Chief of RSHA, orders for protective custody, commitments, punishment, and individual executions were signed by Kaltenbrunner or by Müller, Chief of the Gestapo, as Kaltenbrunner’s deputy.

4. Mass executions by gassing commenced during the summer 1941 and continued until fall 1944. I personally supervised executions at Auschwitz until the first of December 1943 and know by reason of my continued duties in the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps WVHA that these mass executions continued as stated above. All mass executions by gassing took place under the direct order, supervision and responsibility of RSHA. I received all orders for carrying out these mass executions directly from RSHA.

5. On 1 December 1943 I became Chief of AMT I in AMT Group D of the WVHA and in that office was responsible for coordinating all matters arising between RSHA and concentration camps, under the administration of WVHA. I held this position until the end of the war. Pohl, as Chief of WVHA, and Kaltenbrunner, as Chief of RSHA, often conferred personally and frequently communicated orally and in writing concerning concentration camps. On 5 October 1944 I brought a lengthy report regarding Mauthausen Concentration Camp to Kaltenbrunner at his office at RSHA, Berlin. Kaltenbrunner asked me to give him a short oral digest of this in complete detail. This report dealt with the assignment to labor of several hundred prisoners who had been condemned to death […] so-called ‘nameless prisoners.’

6. The ‘final solution’ of the Jewish question meant the complete extermination of all Jews in Europe. I was ordered to establish extermination facilities at Auschwitz in June 1941. At that time there were already in the general government three other extermination camps, BELZEC, TREBLINKA and WOLZEK. These camps were under the Einsatzkommando of the Security Police and SD. I visited Treblinka to find out how they carried out their exterminations. The Camp Commandant at Treblinka told me that he had liquidated 80,000 in the course of one-half year. He was principally concerned with liquidating all the Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. He used monoxide gas and I did not think that his methods were very efficient. So when I set up the extermination building at Auschwitz, I used Cyclon B, which was crystallized Prussic Acid which we dropped into the death chamber from a small opening. It took from 3 to 15 minutes to kill the people in the death chamber depending upon climatic conditions. We knew when the people were dead because their screaming stopped. We usually waited about one-half hour before we opened the doors and removed the bodies. After the bodies were removed our special commandos took off the rings and extracted the gold from the teeth of the corpses.

7. Another improvement we made over Treblinka was that we built our gas chambers to accommodate 2,000 people at one time, whereas at Treblinka their 10 gas chambers only accommodated 200 people each. The way we selected our victims was as follows: we had two SS doctors on duty at Auschwitz to examine the incoming transports of prisoners. The prisoners would be marched by one of the doctors who would make spot decisions as they walked by. Those who were fit for work were sent into the Camp. Others were sent immediately to the extermination plants. Children of tender years were invariably exterminated since by reason of their youth they were unable to work. Still another improvement we made over Treblinka was that at Treblinka the victims almost always knew that they were to be exterminated and at Auschwitz we endeavored to fool the victims into thinking that they were to go through a delousing process. Of course, frequently they realized our true intentions and we sometimes had riots and difficulties due to that fact. Very frequently women would hide their children under their clothes but of course when we found them we would send the children in to be exterminated. We were required to carry out these exterminations in secrecy but of course the foul and nauseating stench from the continuous burning of bodies permeated the entire area and all of the people living in the surrounding communities knew that exterminations were going on at Auschwitz.

8. We received from time to time special prisoners from the local Gestapo office. The SS doctors killed such prisoners by injections of benzine. Doctors had orders to write ordinary death certificates and could put down any reason at all for the cause of death.

9. From time to time we conducted medical experiments on women inmates, including sterilization and experiments relating to cancer. Most of the people who died under these experiments had been already condemned to death by the Gestapo.

10. Rudolf Mildner was the chief of the Gestapo at Kattowicz and as such was head of the political department at Auschwitz which conducted third degree methods of interrogation from approximately March 1941 until September 1943. As such, he frequently sent prisoners to Auschwitz for incarceration or execution. He visited persons accused of various crimes, such as escaping Prisoners of War, etc., frequently met within Auschwitz, and Mildner often attended the trial of such persons, who usually were executed in Auschwitz following their sentence. I showed Mildner throughout the extermination plant at Auschwitz and he was directly interested in it since he had to send the Jews from his territory for execution at Auschwitz.

I understand English as it is written above. The above statements are true; this declaration is made by me voluntarily and without compulsion; after reading over this statement, I have signed and executed the same at Nürnberg, Germany on the fifth day of April 1946.

Rudolf Höss

By NSDAP is meant the Nazi Party, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Worker’s Party).

Some points of information, which have not been included in the affidavit, although some might consider them relevant, are that Höss, as a nationalist brawler in the twenties, had committed a political killing, for which he served five years in prison,[3] and that he started in the concentration camps at Dachau as a corporal in 1934. He may seem to have risen unusually quickly because in 1945, during the final weeks of the war, he was a colonel and was negotiating concentration camp matters with the Red Cross and representatives of neutral countries.[4] Most probably, his low rank in 1934 was due to artificial limitations on the size of the SS, imposed for political reasons. His rapid advance was probably the result of the expansion of the SS after the SA-Röhm purge of June 1934 and the greater expansion, which took place after the war began.

We now analyze the significant points of the affidavit. The plan of Birkenau is shown in Fig. 29; it is based on information gathered at the Auschwitz trial of 1963–1965, but the WRB report presents a similar plan.[5]

Contradictions at the Outset

Paragraph 2

It would have been helpful in putting things into slightly better focus and perspective if Höss had briefly indicated what the nature of the concentration camp industries at Auschwitz was and the enormous importance this industry had for the Germans. In the entire transcript of IMT testimony there appears to be only one specific reference to the nature of the industry at Auschwitz. It is in the testimony of political prisoner Marie Claude Vaillant-Couturier where she makes passing reference to an ammunition factory (no doubt the Krupp fuse plant) and to a large Buna factory, but as [she] did not work there [she did] not know what was made there.[6] There are other references, especially in the documents, but they are buried quite deeply.

Not even Höss clung to the figure of 2,500,000 victims gassed; in private at the time of his testimony and also at his own trial in 1947 in Poland (he was hanged), he used a figure of 1,135,000. The lowest figure to be claimed by those who claim that gassings took place is 750,000.[7] The Russians claimed 4,000,000, including some killed by injections, ill treatment, etc.,[8] but the highest figure claimed seems to be 7,000,000.[9]

The remark about 400,000 Hungarian Jews was in accord with a strange emphasis in the legend on the Hungarian Jews. This emphasis existed well before the Höss affidavit, and it has persisted to this day. It was on May 5, 1944, that Eichmann was supposed to have proposed, through the intermediary Joel Brand, a trucks for Hungarian Jews swap with the Western allies.[10] The continued emphasis on the Hungarian Jews seems to be a result of the focus, since 1960, on the activities of Eichmann. For the initial emphasis, the only explanation I can offer is that the problems of the Hungarian Jews started in March 1944 with the German occupation of Hungary, which was simultaneous with the beginnings of the functioning of the War Refugee Board, which had been established in January.

Much of the attention of the WRB was thus directed toward Hungary.[11] The problem of the Hungarian Jews is given special attention in the next chapter.

Paragraph 4

Höss places the commencement of the gassings in the summer of 1941. He gets promoted in December 1943 to the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps at Oranienburg but knows by reason of [his] continued duties there that these mass executions continued. To claim knowledge of significant events at Auschwitz, while with the Inspectorate, seems very reasonable, but in his testimony he said that in the summer of 1941 he, Höss, had been summoned to report directly to Himmler and that during the interview the concentration camp commandant had received directly from the Reichsführer-SS the order to begin exterminating the Jews, with the stipulation that he should maintain the strictest secrecy, not allowing even his immediate superior Glücks to find out what he was doing. Glücks was, so to speak, the inspector of concentration camps at that time and he was immediately subordinate to the Reichsführer.[12]

When Did It Start?

Paragraph 6

It will be seen in Chapter 7 what the final solution of the Jewish question meant. Höss claims that he was ordered to establish extermination facilities at Auschwitz in June 1941. Thus, he reaffirms the date given in paragraph 4 and his testimony in support of the affidavit reaffirmed this date again; there seems no doubt that Höss was knowingly and deliberately given the summer of 1941 as the start and that no slip is involved here. Also, Höss testified that, at the time of the Himmler order, the Inspectorate (Glücks) was immediately subordinate to Himmler. This could only have been true prior to March 1942, at which time Oswald Pohl, chief of the WVHA (paragraph 3), took over the Inspectorate and Glücks started reporting to Pohl, who reported to Himmler. Prior to March 1942, the Inspectorate seems to have been an orphan organization and may have reported to Himmler, although it had connections with both Heydrich and Jüttner’s Operational Main Office (Führungshauptamt). Höss, of course, was familiar with these administrative arrangements, because in late April 1942 Pohl had held a meeting of all camp commanders and all leaders of the Inspectorate for the specific purpose of discussing them.[13]

Despite all this, Reitlinger insists that Höss meant the summer of 1942, not 1941, for certain reasons that will be seen later and also for other reasons. First, an obvious implicit claim of Höss‘ affidavit is that the visit to Treblinka took place after large deportations of Warsaw Jews to that camp. Höss confirmed this point explicitly in another affidavit. That puts the Treblinka visit in 1942. Second, according to Reitlinger’s sources, the first large transports (2,000) of Jews to Birkenau date from March 1942, when the small gassing installation in Birkenwald had only started to work.[14] Actually, such arguments only increase the confusion, if we are also told that Höss received the extermination orders in the summer of 1942.

These are simply the sorts of contradictions that one should expect to emerge from a pack of lies. However, for the sake of discussion we should accept that Höss really meant the summer of 1942 and continue on to other matters. By any interpretation, however, Höss says that there were three other extermination camps at the time of the Himmler order, that he had visited Treblinka and that this camp had been exterminating for one half year. That puts the beginning of the gas chamber exterminations in early 1942 if we accept Reitlinger’s point.

The Alleged Gassings and Zyklon

One must agree that gassing with carbon monoxide is inefficient. The source of the carbon monoxide was supposed to have been the exhausts of a diesel engine[15] at Belzec and of captured Russian tanks and trucks at Treblinka![16]

One must also agree that Cyclon (Zyklon) B was more efficient because it consisted of crystals which, when exposed to air, sublimated into Prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide gas). There was no deadlier gas and, in fact, Zyklon was a well-known and widely used insecticide developed by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung (DEGESCH), German Pest Control Co. It had been marketed world-wide before the war as an insecticide;[17] the word Zyklon means cyclone, i.e. the product was a cyclone for pests. It was used throughout the German armed forces and camp system during the war, and it was thus used as an insecticide at Auschwitz. The ordering and receiving of Zyklon at Auschwitz was done by the so-called Referat für Schädlingsbekämpfung (Pest Control Office).[18]

The constant menace of typhus as carried by lice has been noted, and the calamitous results of a complete breakdown of disinfestation measures at Belsen have been seen. In view of the particular hospitability of the Auschwitz-Kattowicz operations to the typhus-bearing louse, in view of the fact of epidemics at Auschwitz that actually forced work stoppages, and in view of the tremendous importance of the Auschwitz industry to the German war effort, it is not surprising that Zyklon was used in liberal quantities at Auschwitz, and in the surrounding regions, for its intended purpose. It is this chemical product, known to be an insecticide and known to be used at Auschwitz as an insecticide, which, in the WRB report but starting even earlier, was claimed and continues to this day to be claimed as the source of the gas used to exterminate Jews at Auschwitz.

It is not correct to say that the insecticide role of Zyklon has been concealed; the WRB report mentions the anti-parasite role of Zyklon and a dual role for Zyklon at Auschwitz is explicitly claimed in the IMT transcript.[19] We must be careful at this point to note the significance of the legend’s Zyklon B allegation. Here we have, on a major point, the main attribute of a hoax as we begin to examine the details of the Auschwitz extermination claims: the fact requiring a dual interpretation. This is not discussed or, apparently, even appreciated in the final solution literature. Hilberg merely utters the completely irrelevant assertion that very little was used for fumigation and then cites unconvincing authority. Reitlinger does no better.[20]

The most typical use of Zyklon was in disinfestation rooms and barracks. Everything was sealed and then the necessary amount of Zyklon, which came in green cans (Figs. 27, 28), was emptied in. After the proper time interval, it was assumed that all the lice and other insects and pests were dead, and the enclosure was aired out. Zyklon could be used for disinfesting clothing by employing an extermination chamber; such were marketed by the German extermination industry, although at that time steam baths were also used for the disinfesting of clothing, especially at permanent installations. The extermination chambers were preferred in connection with highly mobile or special conditions. The U.S. Army, which also had insect control problems during the war, had correspondingly similar devices and had devised a field chamber. Because the U.S. came into the war late, it had time to adopt the newly developed chemical DDT for the functions that Zyklon performed for the Germans.[21] Naturally, the Americans employed DDT in their camps, concentration or otherwise. As a more advanced insecticide, DDT was more versatile for various reasons, e.g. it was not nearly as lethal for human beings as Zyklon, which was quite lethal and in its commercial form contained a warning stuff, an irritant that was noticed much easier than the almost odorless cyanide gas. It is common to leave out frills in military versions of products, and thus the irritant was absent from the Zyklon employed in concentration camps.

The dual role of Zyklon was asserted at the IMT on January 28, 1946, in the testimony of a witness called by French prosecutor DuBost. On January 30, DuBost submitted as evidence document 1553-PS, consisting of a number of invoices from DEGESCH, addressed to SS 1st Lieutenant Kurt Gerstein, for various quantities of Zyklon sent to Oranienburg and to Auschwitz, plus a lengthy statement attributed to Gerstein. After some hesitation over certain legal technicalities, both parts of the document were accepted in evidence, notwithstanding the claims of Rassinier and Reitlinger to the contrary that the statement was rejected.[22] Two invoices are printed in the IMT volumes, and part of the statement is printed in one of the NMT volumes.[23] The invoice samples printed in the IMT volumes include one invoice for 195 kg of Zyklon sent to Oranienburg and one for the same sent to Auschwitz. It is probable that the Oranienburg Zyklon was ultimately destined for other camps and that the Zyklon sent to Auschwitz was to be shared with all the smaller camps of the region and possibly also with the coal mines.

The case of Kurt Gerstein shows that there is no limit to the absurdities that intelligent people can attain once they have accepted falsehood as truth. This is the same Gerstein who appears as a major character in Rolf Hochhuth’s play, The Deputy.

Gerstein’s title in the SS was Chief Disinfestation Officer in the Office of the Hygienic Chief of the Waffen-SS,[24] and as such it was his responsibility to supervise the deliveries of disinfestation supplies to all the camps administered by the SS. Two versions of what happened to him at the end of the war are offered. In the one he encountered American interrogators by chance in a hotel in Rottweil, Black Forest, to whom he related that he had obtained a responsible post in the Nazi Party while operating as a secret agent for the sometimes anti-Nazi Reverend Niemöller, that he had been involved in operating gas chambers, and that he was prepared to act as a witness in any court. He handed them a seven-page document, typed in French, together with a note in English and some Zyklon invoices, and then vanished.[25] In the other, he somehow found himself in Cherche-Midi military prison in Paris, composed a document in his own hand in French, added the Zyklon invoices, and then hanged himself in July 1945.[26] In either case neither he nor his body has ever been found. He vanished, allegedly leaving a statement and some Zyklon invoices that became document 1553-PS. The former version of the Gerstein story is the one claimed in the descriptive material accompanying the document.

Even if we were not presented with such an obviously fishy story concerning Gerstein, we would doubt the authenticity of the statement merely on the grounds of its contents, for it is ridiculous in the story it presents, e.g. that Gerstein took his position in the SS in order to attempt to sabotage the exterminations (a man who had penetrated hell with the sole intention of bearing witness before the world and aiding the victims[27]). The text of the statement, including the part published by the NMT, is included here as Appendix A; the statement plays no great role in the analysis, but the reader should examine it sometime. It is absolutely insane. It is no marvel that people who can take this story seriously have remarked on the ambiguity of good and feel a certain malaise, an inability to arrive at a full explanation of Gerstein as a person.[28]

It is thoroughly unforgivable that Hilberg and Reitlinger use such an obviously spurious statement as a source, and without apology. Reitlinger, however, points out that Hitler never visited Lublin, as the statement asserts.[29]

DEGESCH was not the only firm involved in the extermination business. The firm of Tesch and Stabenow supplied customers with Zyklon and also with equipment for extermination chambers that were of typical volume ten cubic meters and smaller. On page 71, we saw that there apparently existed such gas chambers at Dachau which were, of course, represented as murder chambers in the early phases of the propaganda, although today no attempt is made to claim they are anything other than disinfestation chambers. Tesch and Weinbacher, officers of the firm of Tesch and Stabenow, who had sold some extermination chamber equipment to the camp at Gross-Rosen, were hanged for their role in the extermination business, their plea that they did not know that their merchandise was to be used for purposes other than disinfestation and their alternate plea that an order of the SS could not be refused having been rejected by the British military court.[30]

Lines of Authority

Paragraph 7

According to affidavits given by Höss and Friedrich Entress in 1947,[31] the first gas chambers put into operation in the summer of 1942 (now contradicting the affidavit of 1946), were makeshift affairs consisting of two old peasant houses made air tight, with windows sealed up. At the Auschwitz trial in 1963–1965 it was held that the bunker in Fig. 29 was one of these early gas chambers.[32] The nature of later gas chambers is examined below.

This is a good point at which to raise objections regarding lines of responsibility and authority in these operations. Höss says he received his order directly from Himmler during — we have agreed to pretend — the summer of 1942. This means that Himmler not only bypassed Glücks, but also Pohl in giving this order directly to the camp commandant, specifying that Glücks was not to learn what was going on. Himmler reached three levels or more down to give the order and specified that Höss was to maintain an impossible secrecy. Most irregular.

That is not all. The story we are offered by the Höss affidavit and testimony and all other sources is that (except for certain later developments to be discussed) the German government left the means of killing, and the materials required, a matter for the judgment and ingenuity of the local camp commandant. Höss decides to convert two old peasant houses. Höss found the Zyklon kicking around the camp and decided that it offered a more efficient method of solving the Jewish problem than that employed at Treblinka, where they had scrounged up some captured Russian tanks and trucks to use for exterminations.

All of this is idiotic, and Reitlinger is obviously uncomfortable with the problem of the responsibility of the Zyklon decision but gets nowhere with the difficulty except to make it graver by suggesting that Hitler (!) finally decided on Zyklon with misgiving.[33]

Transports to Auschwitz

We are told that those Jews not fit for work were gassed immediately upon arrival (and hence do not appear in any written records, for the most part), but an account directly in conflict with this claim appears even in the WRB report.

According to that report, a transport of four to five thousand Jews from Theresienstadt, traveling as families, arrive at Birkenau in September 1943. They kept their baggage and were lodged as families in the camp sector designated in Fig. 29. They were allowed to correspond freely, a school was set up for the children, and the men were not obliged to work. They were considered to be in six months quarantine. It is said that they were gassed on March 7, 1944, and that the young people went to their deaths singing. The relatives of these Jews got mail from them dated March 23 or 25, but it is claimed that the mail had been written on March 1 and post-dated, in obedience to German orders.

This procedure was repeated with another group of Jewish families, 5,000 people who arrived from Theresienstadt in December 1943 and whose quarantine was due for expiration in June 1944. Some men were put to work. According to what are said to be surviving records, in May 1944 two thousand were on the employment list, 1,452 were still in quarantine, and 1,575 were considered in readiness for transport (Vorbereitung zum Transport), which Reitlinger considers to mean in reality waiting for the gas chambers. This was repeated a second time with a group of Theresienstadt families which arrived in May 1944.[34] Since these people were put into quarantine, it is a certainty that their quarters had been disinfested with Zyklon just prior to their moving in and perhaps at periods while they were living there. Now we are asked to believe that the Germans planned to kill them with the same chemical product later on!

Essentially the same story was repeated in IMT testimony.[35] The presence of such material in the WRB report is no mystery. Whatever was happening to the Theresienstadt Jews in 1943–1944 was fairly well known in Europe. In October 1943, when 360 Jews were deported from Denmark, they were sent to Theresienstadt, where the Danish king could be assured of their safety.[36] We noted on page 108 the Red Cross visit of June 1944; the Red Cross involvement with Theresienstadt receives further treatment in the next chapter. In a 1945 visit, the Red Cross reported transfers to Auschwitz in 1944, adding no sinister interpretations.

To describe the Theresienstadt Jews as in readiness for transport just before their quarantine was to expire was perfectly logical, because it is known that many Theresienstadt Jews were being deported East. A source sponsored by the Israeli government, who had been at Theresienstadt, reports that from 1941 to 1944 the Germans were transporting Jews to such places as Minsk in Russia and Riga in Latvia. One must have passed by quite a few extermination camps to travel from Theresienstadt to those cities. The source also reports that young Theresienstadt Jews were eager to volunteer for transports to Auschwitz as late as August 1944.[37] Rabbi Leo Bäck has claimed that somebody escaped from Auschwitz in August 1943 and made his way back to Theresienstadt, where he told Bäck of gassings. Bäck has explained why he told nobody else of this at the time. So that explains how it was possible that all those people were so eager to go to Auschwitz in their ignorance — at least that is what we will no doubt be told.[38]

The part of the Auschwitz legend touching on the Theresienstadt Jews is obvious nonsense even without contrary evidence, however. It is not believable that the Germans would quarter for six months at Birkenau each of three distinct groups of people of a category for which there exists an extermination program at Birkenau. The dual role of Zyklon in this story merely effects passage from the nonsensical to the incomparably ludicrous.

If we examine another extant source of what is said to be statistical data concerning transports to Auschwitz, we meet the same situation. The data offered in the Netherlands Red Cross reports is more reliable than that offered in the WRB report, although it is rather limited. Nevertheless, as shown in Appendix C, the data shows that virtually all of the male Jews who were deported from the Netherlands to Auschwitz in July and August of 1942 entered Birkenau and were given registration numbers. It is also known that these Dutch Jews wrote letters to acquaintances in the Netherlands in which they described the work at Auschwitz as hard but tolerable, the food adequate, the sleeping accommodations good, the hygienic conditions satisfactory and the general treatment correct (this was reported by the Jewish Council in Amsterdam which claimed, however, that it knew of only 52 such letters). To Reitlinger, these things are mysteries for, he says, at certain periods, entire transports were admitted.[39]

The term spot decisions has not been used subsequent to the Höss affidavit, so far as we know. The common term is selections. The story is that selections were made on incoming transports on a basis of suitability for work. This, of course, must be essentially true; given the extent and variety of the industrial operations at Auschwitz, selections were required not only on a work vs. no work basis but also on, e.g., a light work vs. heavy work basis. Other factors which must have figured in this connection were whether a given transport was composed of prisoners, volunteer laborers, Jews being resettled (such as the Theresienstadt Jews) or other. The transports were no doubt also screened for certain key professionals, such as medical personnel, engineers, skilled craftsmen, etc. The extermination legend merely claims that one category sought in these elaborate sortings and selections was all non-employable Jews, destined for extermination. This claim has already been seriously undermined by the evidence.[40]

A Hospital for the People Being Exterminated?

Selections on incoming transports are not the only mode of gas chamber selections which have been claimed. A Dutch Jew, Dr. Elie A. Cohen, was arrested in 1943 for attempting to leave the Netherlands without authority. In September 1943, he and his family were shipped to Auschwitz, and he was separated from his family, which he never saw again. He later wrote a book, Human Behavior in the Concentration Camp, based on his experiences as a member of the hospital staff at Auschwitz I. Because Cohen’s contact with the people who were being exterminated was of a doctor-patient nature, it was necessary to produce an extraordinarily descriptive term for his book, and objective was as good a choice as any.

Cohen interprets certain selections in the hospital as selections for the gas chamber:[41]

After the ‘HKB (camp hospital) administrative room’ had given warning that the camp physician was about to make a selection, the whole block became a hive of activity, for everything had to be spic-and-span […] while everybody stood at attention, he made his entry with his retinue: SDG (medical service orderly), Blockälteste and block clerk. The sick Jews were already lined up — as a matter of course, naked. Simultaneously with the presentation of the card with the personal notes concerning each prisoner, to the camp physician, the block physician, in whose ear the diagnosis was being whispered by the room physician, introduced the patient in question to him […] in 90 per cent of the cases the card was handed to the SDG, which meant death by gassing for the patient, unless the political department gave orders to the contrary, which frequently occurred in the case of ‘Schutzhäfltinge’ (people charged with ordinary crime).

Not only emaciated prisoners, but also some who looked well fed were sometimes consigned to the gas chamber; and occasionally even members of the HKB staff, who were officially exempt, had to suffer a similar fate. Therefore, especially when one considered the ‘medical style’ of the camp physician, it was generally supposed that it was not only people incapable of work who were scheduled for killing, but that the decisive factor must be that a certain number of persons had to be gassed.

Officially no one knew what the final object actually was, not even the staff of the administrative room, for after the names of the gassed the initials S.B., short for ‘Sonderbehandlung’ (special treatment) were placed.

Cohen does not report having seen any gas chambers; the only evidence which he draws on to support a gassing interpretation of such scenes (such interpretation certainly not being evident from the raw facts) consists in the post-war claim of extermination at Auschwitz and also in that there were rumors inside the camp of extermination somewhere at Auschwitz. The existence of such rumors is practically certain because a delegate of the International Red Cross reported their existence among British POWs at Auschwitz III in September 1944.[42] However, nothing much can be inferred from the existence of rumors, as rumor spreading is an elementary aspect of psychological warfare, and we have seen that the OSS and, of course, the Communists engaged in rumor spreading and black propaganda. In fact, knowledgeable officials of the U.S. government have admitted the information spreading. At the Farben trial, prosecuting attorney Minskoff asked defense witness Münch the following question about gassings at Birkenau:[43]

Now, Mr. Witness, isn’t it a fact that, during the time you were at Auschwitz, Allied planes dropped leaflets over Kattowitz and Auschwitz informing the population what was going on in Birkenau?

Münch did not know that. Minskoff was knowledgeable in this area because he had been a foreign operations oriented lawyer in the Treasury Department during the war and was presumably well-informed on WRB matters; the WRB had collaborated with the Office of War Information on various leaflet operations. The head of the prosecution staff at the Farben trial was DuBois, who had been general counsel of the WRB, who wrote that in his office in 1944, [he] knew […] what was going on at Auschwitz, and who chose in his book to reproduce with general approval the part of the testimony containing the Minskoff question.[44] This is good evidence for an American leaflet operation over Auschwitz, although the method seems somewhat crude. My guess is that, if the leaflets were indeed dropped, they were dropped at night and in moderate quantities.

Actually, a leaflet operation was not necessary to get rumors going in the camps, for the highly organized Communists were very active in this area. Their superior organization, which involved systematic illegal listening to radios, had made the other inmates essentially fully dependent on them for news.[45] Let us remember that it was a small world, even in 1939–1945, and that, on account of the general ease with which information flowed into and out of the camp (a fact noted on page 131), the Allied stories about the camps would have ultimately and necessarily penetrated into those camps by various routes.

The Red Cross delegate mentioned above had attempted to visit the Auschwitz camps but apparently got no further than the administrative area of Auschwitz I and the quarters of the British POWs. The latter were the only persons the existing conventions entitled him to visit; with regard to other matters the German officers there were amiable and reticent. The delegate reported without comment that the British POWs had not been able to obtain confirmation of the rumors by consulting camp inmates. It is claimed that, despite these rumors, the British POWs who were interrogated by the Russians after the capture of the camp knew nothing at all of the crimes.[46]

Subsequent events have, of course, changed the rumors into knowledge in many cases. Incoming Jews certainly had no suspicions of gassings.[47]

With the selections we are offered another fact for dual interpretation. There is no doubt that the extensive industrial and other activities required selections of people for various conventional purposes. We are then asked to add an extermination purpose to these activities.

Before leaving Cohen, we should note that there were sick emaciated Jews, as well as others, in the Auschwitz I hospital. He further informs us:[48]

[…] The HKB was housed in five good stone-built blocks. There was one block for surgery, one for infectious diseases, one for internal diseases, one for ‘Schonung’ (less serious cases) and Block 28 (X-ray, specialists’ rooms, medical experiments, admissions). The sick lay in three bunks, one above another, on straw mattresses, and were dressed in a shirt (with, later, a pair of drawers added), under two cotton blankets and a sheet. Every week the patients were bathed, and every two weeks they were given ‘clean’ underwear and a ‘clean’ sheet; there were few fleas and no lice. Each berth was seldom occupied by more than two persons. But […] even patients in a state of high fever had to leave their beds to go to the toilet or to wash in the cold lavatory in the mornings. Because of ‘organizations’ from the SS, there were always medicines, though not in sufficient quantities, including even sulfa drugs; these had been brought in by large transports of Jews from every European country.

He adds that hospital conditions were much worse in other camps (about which he has only read).

The Auschwitz I hospital was obviously no luxury establishment but nevertheless it showed a serious concern, on the part of the Germans, for the recovery of inmates, including Jews, who had fallen ill. This observation also opposes the claim that those not fit for work were killed. Cohen reports certain selections of an incompletely known character, in connection with unknown destinations. It may be that those considered of no further use as labor were sent to Birkenau; this would be very reasonable because it has been shown that the unemployables from the Monowitz hospital were sent to Birkenau.

‘Special Treatment’

The term special treatment, Sonderbehandlung, is supposed to have been one of the code words for gassing. When it is said that N Jews in a transport to Auschwitz were gassed, and that this is according to some German record or document, it is the case that the word Sonderbehandlung is being interpreted as meaning gassing. The documents in question are two in number, and are printed (not reproduced from originals) in a 1946 publication of the Polish government. Both documents are said to be signed by an SS Lieutenant Schwarz. They state that from several Jewish transports from Breslau and Berlin to Auschwitz in March 1943, a certain fraction of Jews were selected for labor, and that the remainder were sonderbehandelt. As far as I know, these documents are not Nuremberg documents; the originals, if they exist (which I am not denying), are in Polish archives.[49]

On account of this relatively well publicized interpretation of the term Sonderbehandlung, Cohen thinks that he has read SB in the notes made in the Auschwitz I hospital, but it is likely that he misread NB, nach Birkenau (to Birkenau).

There exists a document, apparently genuine, from the Gestapo District Headquarters Düsseldorf, which specifies the manner in which executions of certain offending foreign workers were to be carried out, and which uses the term Sonderbehandlung as meaning execution. There is also a document, put into evidence at Eichmann’s trial, which referred to the execution of three Jews as Sonderbehandlung.[50]

Thus, it seems correct that, in certain contexts, the term meant execution, but it is at least equally certain that its meaning was no more univocal in the SS than the meaning of special treatment is in English-speaking countries. There is completely satisfactory evidence of this. At the IMT trial prosecutor Amen led Kaltenbrunner, under cross examination, into conceding that the term might have meant execution as ordered by Himmler. Then, in an attempt to implicate Kaltenbrunner personally in Sonderbehandlung, Amen triumphantly produced a document which presents Kaltenbrunner as ordering Sonderbehandlung for certain people. Amen wanted Kaltenbrunner to comment on the document without reading it, and there was an angry exchange in this connection, but Kaltenbrunner was finally allowed to read the document, and he then quickly pointed out that the Sonderbehandlung referred to in the document was for people at Winzerstube and at Walzertraum, that these two establishments were fashionable hotels which quartered interned notables, and that Sonderbehandlung in their cases meant such things as permission to correspond freely and to receive parcels, a bottle of champagne per day, etc.[51]

Poliakov reproduces some document which show that Sonderbehandlung had yet another meaning within the SS. The documents deal with procedures to be followed in the event of the pregnancies caused by illegal sexual intercourse involving Polish civilian workers and war prisoners. A racial examination was held to decide between abortion and germanization of the baby (adoption by a German family). The term Sonderbehandlung was a reference either to the germanization or to the abortion. In addition, at Eichmann’s trial, some documents were put into evidence which dealt with the treatment of 91 children from Lidice, Bohemia-Moravia. These children had been orphaned by the reprisals which had been carried out at Lidice after Heydrich’s assassination. A certain number were picked out for germanization and the remainder were sent to the Displaced Persons Center in Lodz (Litzmannstadt), operated by the RuSHA. The commander of the Center, Krumey, regarded the children as a special case within the Center, to be given Sonderbehandlung while at the Center. The term or its equivalent (eine gesonderte Behandlung) was also used in the Foreign Office in connection with special categories of prisoners of war, such as priests.[52]

It is only to a person not accustomed to the German language that the term Sonderbehandlung sounds like it stands for some very special concept. For a German, however, the term is as diverse in possible application as special treatment is in English.

Himmler commented somewhat unclearly on Sonderbehandlung when he examined the Korherr report, documents NO-5193 through 5198. Korherr was the chief SS statistician and thus, in late 1942 and early 1943, he prepared a report for Himmler on the situation regarding European Jews. In March 1943 he reported that a total of 1,873,594 Jews of various nationalities had been subjected to a program of evacuation, with a parenthetical note including Theresienstadt and including Sonderbehandlung. The report also gave numbers of Jews in ghettos in Theresienstadt, Lodz and the General Government, the number in concentration camps, and the number in German cities on account of a special status conferred for economic reasons. It was also remarked that, from 1933 to December 31, 1942, 27,347 Jews had died in German concentration camps.

After Himmler examined the report, he informed Korherr through Brandt that the term Sonderbehandlung should not be used in the report and that transport to the East should be specified. Nevertheless, the document, as it has come to us, uses the term in the way indicated. The document gives no hint how the term should be interpreted but, because it occurs in such a way that it is linked with Theresienstadt, it is obviously fair to interpret it in a favorable sense, as a reference to some sort of favored treatment.

In a document said to be initialed by Himmler, he wrote shortly that he regarded the report as general purpose material for later times, and especially for camouflage purposes. What was to be camouflaged is not indicated in the document but, at his trial, Eichmann testified that after the Stalingrad disaster (January 1943) the German government quickened the pace of the deportations for camouflage reasons, i.e., to reassure the German people that everything was OK out there. Himmler specified that the Korherr report was not to be made public at the moment, but the camouflage remark could still be interpreted in the sense in which Eichmann suggested (Eichmann’s statement was not in connection with the Korherr report.)[53]

Other documents are 003-L, a letter by SS General Katzmann, speaking of 434,329 resettled (ausgesiedelt) Jews of southern Poland as having been sonderbehandelt, and NO-246, a letter from Artur Greiser to Himmler dated May 1, 1942, referring to the Sonderbehandlung of about 100,000 Jews in the Warthegau (part of annexed Poland) to be completed within 2 to 3 months. Greiser was sentenced to death by a Polish court on July 20, 1946, despite the intervention of the Pope on his behalf. There is also a letter by Lohse, which is discussed on page 261.[54]

Summarizing the situation with respect to documents which speak of Sonderbehandlung, we may say that, while one can certainly raise questions regarding the authenticity of the relevant documents, it is nevertheless the case that even if all of the relevant documents are assumed authentic, they do not require an extermination interpretation of those that apply to Auschwitz. That the term Sonderbehandlung had more than one meaning within one agency of the German government is not very peculiar. For example, I understand that, within the Central Intelligence Agency, termination can mean execution or assassination in certain contexts. However, the term obviously could also be applied to the dismissal of a typist for absenteeism.[55]

The point in paragraph 7 of the Höss affidavit about endeavoring to fool the victims into thinking that they were to go through a delousing process is, of course, a logical one because anybody on entering a German camp went through a delousing process such as Höss described in the affidavit and in his testimony — disrobe, shave, shower.[56] Again we are offered a fact for dual interpretation.

The Crematories

The last subject in paragraph 7 is the cremations; it is a big one. According to Höss and all other accounts of exterminations, Birkenau cremations took place in trenches or pits prior to the availability of the modern crematory facilities there.[57] It is claimed that the new crematories were intended for extermination of Jews, but we have suggested a more routine purpose in the preceding chapter (pp. 87, 131). Let us review their history.

The construction was well into the preliminary stages of planning and ordering early in 1942 and this fact, in itself, makes it difficult, to say the least, to believe that they were related to any extermination program orders by Himmler in the summer of 1942. The construction plans for four structures containing crematory furnaces are dated January 28, 1942.[58] On February 27, 1942, the head of the construction department of the WVHA, SS Colonel (later Lieutenant General) Dr. Ing. Hans Kammler, an engineer who also supervised the design of the German V-rocket bases and the underground aircraft factories, visited Auschwitz and held a conference at which it was decided to install five, rather than two (as previously planned), crematory furnaces, each having three muffles or doors.[59] This matter, therefore, was not left to the ingenuity of Höss. In the extermination legend, however, Höss definitely gets credit for the Zyklon. The fifteen muffles to be installed in each of the structures or buildings were ordered from Topf and Sons, Erfurt, on August 3, 1942.[60] The ovens were of the standard type which Topf (still in business in Wiesbaden in 1962) sold. Fig. 26 is said to be a photograph of one of the crematories at Auschwitz. Each muffle was designed to take one body at a time, as are all standard cremation muffles; there is no evidence for the installation of any non-standard muffles, such as any designed to take more than one body at a time. Topf had also supplied ovens to camps for which exterminations are not claimed, such as Buchenwald.[61]

The plans for the four buildings containing the crematories, numbered II, III, IV and V (Crematory I seems to have been the ultimately dormant crematory at Auschwitz I which contained four muffles[62]), show that a large hall or room existed in each. For II and III, these were below ground level and were designated Leichenkeller (mortuary cellar — literally corpse cellar — a German word for mortuary is Leichenhalle); their dimensions were height 2.4 meters and area 210 square meters and height 2.3 meters and area 400 square meters, respectively. The halls in the building containing Crematories IV and V were at ground level and were designated Badeanstalten (bath establishments); they were each of height 2.3 meters and area 580 square meters.[63] According to the information generated at the Auschwitz trial of 1963–1965, these four buildings were located as shown in Fig. 29.

The Auschwitz construction department, in erecting the crematories, was assisted not only by Topf but also by the SS company DAW (Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke, German Equipment Factory), which helped with miscellaneous constructions. The first ovens installed were in Crematory II and numbered, as we have noted, fifteen muffles in five three-muffle units. The construction took considerable time, although it was carried out with deliberate haste as shown by the documents. The NMT volumes offer us the following English translation of document NO-4473; if the reader thinks he sees something in the document that is hostile to my thesis he should withhold judgment:[64]

January 29, 1943

To the Chief Amtsgruppe C, SS Brigadeführer and Brigadier General of the Waffen SS.,

Dr. Ing. Kammler

Subject: Crematory II, condition of the building.

The Crematory II has been completed — save for some minor constructional work — by the use of all the forces available, in spite of unspeakable difficulties, the severe cold, and in 24-hour shifts. The fires were started in the ovens in the presence of Senior Engineer Prüfer, representative of the contractors of the firm of Topf and Söhne, Erfurt, and they are working most satisfactorily. The planks from the concrete ceiling of the cellar used as a mortuary [Leichenkeller] could not yet be removed on account of the frost. This is, however, not very important, as the gas chamber can be used for that purpose.

The firm of Topf and Söhne was not able to start deliveries of the installation in time for aeration and ventilation as had been requested by the Central Building Management because of restrictions in the use of railroad cars. As soon as the installation for aeration and ventilation arrive, the installing will start so that the complete installation may be expected to be ready for use February 20, 1943.

We enclose a report [not attached to document] of the testing engineer of the firm of Topf and Söhne, Erfurt.

The Chief of the Central Construction Management,

Waffen SS and Police Auschwitz,

SS Hauptsturmführer

Distribution: 1 — SS Ustuf. Janisch u. Kirschneck; 1 — Filing office (file crematory); Certified true copy: [Signature illegible] SS Ustuf. (F)

I interpret this as meaning that, although all work for Crematory II was not completed, the ovens could be used in January 1943 for cremations, despite the impossibility of using the Leichenkeller.

On February 12, 1943, Topf wrote to Auschwitz acknowledging receipt of an order for five three-muffle units for Crematory III, the construction to be completed April 10. I have not seen any documentation indicating installation of any ovens in Crematories IV and V, unless a letter of August 21, 1942, from an SS 2nd Lieutenant at Auschwitz, mentioning a Topf proposal to install two three-muffle units near each of the baths for special purpose, should be interpreted as such.[65] There was, however, carpentry work done on Crematories IV and V.[66]

This brings us to the problem of the number of muffles at Birkenau; it is a problem because it is said that the Germans demolished the crematory buildings before abandoning Auschwitz.[67] Obviously, we must assume that there were at least thirty available, fifteen in both Crematory II and Crematory III, sometime in 1943. Evidence for ovens installed in IV and V consists mainly in the appearance of a labor Kommando assigned to these crematories in what is said to be the Birkenau employment roster for May 11, 1944 (the same document the Theresienstadt Jews appear in), plus some witness testimony. The Russians and Poles claimed that each of these crematories had two four-muffle ovens, and that the other two had fifteen muffles each: 46 muffles. The WRB report had specified 36 in both II and III and 18 in IV and V: 108 muffles.[68]

Reitlinger claims 60 muffles by assuming that each crematory had fifteen. His only authority for this is the writings attributed to one Miklos Nyiszli, which we should not accept on anything, least of all a number. The Nyiszli account purports to be a record of personal experiences of a Hungarian Jewish doctor deported to Auschwitz in May 1944. It appeared in French in 1951 in the March-April issues of Les Temps Modernes, with a preface by translator T. Kremer. Rassinier has reported on his strenuous subsequent efforts to contact Nyiszli and determine whether or not he actually existed; the only person who seemed unquestionably to exist was translator Kremer.[69] An English translation of Richard Seaver, foreword by Bruno Bettelheim, was published in New York in 1960 under the title Auschwitz. Nyiszli was obviously dead by then because it is specified that the copyright is held by N. Margareta Nyiszli. As is the usual practice with deceased authors who held doctor’s degrees, the title page of a doctoral thesis, by Nicolaus Nyiszli, Breslau 1930, is reproduced in the 1960 NY edition.[70] The book was republished in French and German editions in 1961.

According to Rassinier, it is difficult enough to reconcile the numbers in the various editions, but it is not even possible to get internal consistency in one edition. In the 1960 edition we read (page 55) that the 60 muffles could reduce several thousand corpses per day. Further on (page 87) we are told that when the two (burning pits) were operating simultaneously, their output varied from five to six thousand dead a day, slightly better than the crematoriums, but then later on (page 92) we learn that Crematories II and III could alone dispose of at least 10,500 per day. This is total confusion.

The writings attributed to Nyiszli also commit what I consider the basic witness-disqualifying act; they claim gratuitous regular beatings of initially healthy prisoners by the SS (e.g. pp. 25, 27, 44, 57); it is known that this was not the case. Aside from possible humanitarian objections to such beatings, the prisoners were a source of income to the SS. Many were the complaints, on the part of the SS, against various forms of alleged Farben mistreatment. On the other hand, for security reasons, the SS discouraged fraternization between guards and prisoners. The SS guard was ordered to maintain distance (Abstand) from the prisoners, not even talking to them unless absolutely necessary. This regulation was of course difficult to enforce and the regular and very frequent infringements of it produced memoranda from Pohl to the camp commanders ordering appropriate and systematic instruction of the guards.[71]

Despite a certain amount of SS guard brutality as reported by authors of other books, Cohen does not report such experiences at Auschwitz and remarks that the reception ceremony for his transport passed without violence. However, he mentions a specially constructed wooden table used for beating prisoners on the buttocks. This was a formerly regulated mode of punishment of prisoners who committed various offenses in the camps; intensified beating was defined as whacking on the naked buttocks.[72]

When an Auschwitz witness starts claiming regular gratuitous beating, he may be telling the truth on some matters, but one must reject his general credibility.

On the basis of the available evidence, the best assumption is that there were 30 muffles available at Birkenau in the spring of 1943, and 46 a year later. Before leaving the subject of the number of muffles, we should remark that there are certain ambiguities in the documents relating to the crematories. The most obvious is due to the fact that the WRB report does not seem to be the only source that mistakenly numbers the Birkenau crematories I-IV rather than II-V; the Germans sometimes did this themselves, or so it would appear from, e.g., NO-4466.[73]

The limit on the rate at which people could have been exterminated in a program of the type alleged is not determined by the rate at which people could have been gassed and the gas chambers ventilated, but by the rate at which the bodies could have been cremated. In estimating the capacity of the crematories, it is possible for arithmetic to produce some impressive figures. At that time an hour was a very optimistic time to allow for the reduction of one body, and the body’s being wasted would not have made much difference.[74] If we allow for one hour of cleaning and miscellaneous operations per day, one muffle could reduce perhaps 23 bodies per day, so 30 muffles could reduce 690 and 46 could reduce 1058 per day. This could accommodate exterminations at the respectable rate of about 240,000 to 360,000 per year, but of course one must bear in mind that, because the exterminations are supposed to have been halted in the autumn of 1944, Auschwitz could not have had 46 muffles for more than about one year of exterminations.

However, the logic leading to such figures as the preceding is rubbish; things do not work that way. People, especially concentration camp inmates, who manned the crematories, do not work with such efficiency, such equipment cannot be used in such a continuous manner, and equipment needs do not occur with such mathematical regularity in any case. If we allow operations to relax toward something more realistic, taking into account downtime for regular and irregular maintenance and allowing for usual engineering margins of excess capacity we have figures that are generally in line with anticipated epidemic conditions. It is also possible that, as the WRB report asserts, there was a backlog of buried bodies to dispose of.

It is obvious that, given a policy of cremating dead inmates, a vast operation such as Auschwitz would naturally provide relatively elaborate cremation facilities for the purpose. Thus, we again have a fact for dual interpretation if we are to believe the extermination legend; to the commonplace interpretation of these ovens, unquestionably valid, it is proposed that we also accept as valid a second interpretation of exterminations. Below we will examine specific evidence that the number of muffles was completely compatible with the rate of normal deaths.

That is not the last fact for dual interpretation that we are offered in connection with the cremations. Höss tells us that all of the people living in the surrounding communities knew that exterminations were going on on account of the foul and nauseating stench from the continuous burning of bodies. If I were to select just two points in the extermination tale to hold up as near proof that the whole thing is a hoax, it would be this point and also the alleged role of Zyklon.

The hydrogenation and other chemical industry that existed at Auschwitz was notorious for creating stenches. Visit the northern part of the New Jersey Turnpike by the Standard Oil (now Exxon) refineries, or any other refineries, to see (or smell) this.[75] The only significant difference Auschwitz presented, in terms of a stench, is that the coal the Germans started from is by any relevant measure a dirtier source than crude oil. If we are told that 30 to 46 bodies being reduced in modern crematories could even compete with, much less overwhelm, this stench of industrial origin then we know that what is involved here is not a fact for dual interpretation but an obvious lie. Actually, on account of the furor of phony objections raised by various fanatics in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, cremation had been developed so that it was a rather clean process.[76] Höss cannot be believed.

The analysis has revealed a previously unsuspected but nearly inevitable attribute of the great hoax: the excess fact. Following the principle that his story should involve mostly or almost entirely valid fact, the author of the hoax easily slips into the error of including as much fact as possible and commits the major blunder we have just seen; the story would obviously have been much better off without that fact. Of course, it is only on account of the passage of time that it has become a major blunder. At the time it was completely effective on account of an hysterical emotional atmosphere that it is impossible to recapture. DuBois wrote in 1952:[77]

On the stand Schneider had said that he never heard of any exterminations, although he recalled going along the main road one day, past a ‘dormant crematorium.’ At that time this ‘dormant’ crematorium was burning corpses at the rate of a thousand a day. The flames shot fifteen meters into the air; the stink pervaded the countryside to the north for forty miles until it joined the stink of the Warsaw crematorium; the fumes would pucker the nose of anyone within half a mile, and Schneider — a scientist with a specially acute sense of smell — had passed within a hundred yards of the place.

It does not seem possible that, toward the end of a book, which gives (outside of technical literature) the best available description of the chemical industry at Auschwitz, DuBois could write thus, but there it is. It is not explicable in terms of normal errors of judgment; it is explicable only in terms of hysteria.

It would seem that somebody at the trial would have challenged Höss on this point. There was a challenge, but it was weak and ambiguous. The following exchange occurred near the end of Höss‘ testimony (Kaufman was counsel for Kaltenbrunner):[78]

THE PRESIDENT: The last sentence of Paragraph 7 is with reference to the foul and nauseating stench. What is your question about that?

DR. KAUFMAN: Whether the population could gather from these things that an extermination of Jews was taking place.

THE PRESIDENT: That really is too obvious a question, isn’t it? They could not possibly know who it was being exterminated.

DR. KAUFMAN: That is enough for me. I have no further questions.

It is possible that there was a language difficulty at the time of this exchange, and that a misunderstanding existed, and that Kaufman really meant persons rather than Jews in his question. In any case this episode suggests the utterly irrational atmosphere that must have pervaded the IMT trial; Höss was not caught in a clumsy and transparent lie. It is not possible for us to grasp the spirit of these proceedings except to classify them as a form of hysteria. Speer was there, and he could have seen through this lie easily. Was he effectively asleep, resigned to the futility of opposition? Was he or his lawyer merely being careful to avoid becoming entangled in the extermination question? Only he can tell us; we do not know. All that is certain is that the spirit of the trial was such that even a simple truth such as the true source of the stench, exposing with great deftness that the witness was lying and suggesting the nature of the factual basis for the charges, could not emerge.

The stench was the basis for quite a bit of witness testimony to knowledge of exterminations,[79] and its use at one particular point of the Farben trial, to be discussed on page 242, was not only rather amusing but also revealing and illustrative of an important point to bear in mind when reading the records of these trials. This is discussed later.

In his booklet, Christophersen considered the problem of the factual basis, if any, for references to a pervasive stench at Auschwitz. The only thing he could recall was a blacksmith establishment at Auschwitz I; when horses were being shod, the burning hoofs created a stench, which could be perceived in the immediate neighborhood. Christophersen recognized that this could not account for a stench of the extent claimed in connection with the exterminations.

I communicated with Christophersen on this point, inquiring into the possibility that Christophersen might have forgotten the stench of industrial origin, in searching his memory for some stench that might have approximated the stench of burning flesh. Christophersen recalled no stench of industrial origin. I also communicated with Stäglich, who distinctly recalled only clean and fresh air near Auschwitz.

The recollections of Christophersen and Stäglich are, however, consistent with the theory that the stench of the hoax is none other than the stench associated with the Farben plant. With reference to Fig. 5, the map of the Auschwitz area, Christophersen was quartered at Raisko during his year at Auschwitz and had occasional business at Auschwitz I and Birkenau. Stäglich was quartered in the town of Osiek, which is about 6 miles due south of the town of Oświęcim, and mentions that he visited the KZ-Lager Auschwitz (presumably meaning Auschwitz I) three or four times. We do not know exactly where the Farben plants were, but we know that the camp called Monowitz was either within or immediately next to the town of Monowitz, and that the camp had been placed there so that it would be close to the Farben plants. In consideration of the locations of the rail lines, rivers and roads in the area, it is probable that the Farben plants were either immediately to the east or to the west of the town Monowitz. If the former, they were four or five miles from Auschwitz I and, thus, people at that camp, at Birkenau, and a fortiori at Raisko and Osiek would never have smelled the chemical industry (which was very modest in size compared to a typical American cracking plant). If the Farben plants were immediately to the west of the town, it is possible that people at Auschwitz I might have gotten a whiff now and then when peculiar wind conditions prevailed, but that could not qualify as a pervasive stench. Thus, close consideration of the point shows that Christophersen and Stäglich should not have experienced the stench of industrial origin to any extent that they would recall thirty years later. Moreover, the trial at which the pervasive stench was a pervasive feature of witness testimony was the Farben trial, at which most of the Auschwitz related defense witnesses and almost all of the prosecution witnesses were people who either lived near or worked at the Farben plant. Thus, they did indeed experience a stench and testified correctly in this respect, adding only an erroneous interpretation of the stench.

Back to the ‘Gas Chambers’

The final subject in paragraph 7 is the gas chambers that, except for Höss’ early sealed up huts, are supposed to have been integrated into the crematory buildings. Reitlinger and Hilberg take different approaches to making this claim. Reitlinger interprets NO-4473, whose translation is presented above as it appears in the NMT volume, as evidence for a gas chamber in Crematory II. This is a result of mistranslation.

The crematories at Auschwitz are frequently referred to as gas ovens but this is hardly informative since, with the exception of electric crematories which enjoyed a brief existence during the Thirties, all modern crematories consist of gas ovens, a fuel-air mixture, which may be considered a gas, is introduced into the oven to start, control and finish the burning. The fuel used may be gas, town gas or some sort of liquefied gas is popular. Such a crematory is termed gas-fired on account of the use of gas as a fuel. Other types are oil-fired and coke- (or coal-)fired, but all are gas ovens because in all three cases it is a fuel-air mixture which is injected under pressure into the oven.[80]

The customary German word for the concept in question here is Gaskammer, but the word in NO-4473 which was translated gas chamber is Vergasungskeller, which Reitlinger also mistranslates as gassing cellar.[81] Now the word Vergasung has two meanings. The primary meaning (and the only one in a technical context) is gasification, carburetion or vaporization, i.e., turning something into a gas, not applying a gas to something. A Vergaser is a carburetor and, while Vergasung always means gasification in a technical context, it usually means, specifically, carburetion in such a context.

There is also a secondary meaning of Vergasung, established by military usage in World War I: attacking an enemy with gas. Why the word Vergasung was used in this sense is not clear; it may be because the gases used in that war were really dusts and were generated by exploding some chemical into the atmosphere: Vergasung.

The translation gassing cellar is thus not absolutely incorrect; it is just over-hasty and presumptuous. A gas oven requires some sort of gasification or carburetion. In the case of the gas-fired ovens of Utting and Rogers in 1932:[82]

Burners set in the crown and sole of the furnace are fed by a mixture of air and gas under pressure; the mixture is regulated by fans, housed in a separate building. Separate control of both air and gas provides better regulation of the furnace temperature.

That building is just a big carburetor. Oil-fired crematories are so similar in design that most gas-fired ovens can be easily adapted for use with oil.

The ovens at Birkenau seem to have been coke or coal-fired,[83] and with this type there is an extra stage of fuel processing due to the initially solid state of the fuel. The two most common methods of producing fuel gases from coal or coke are, first, by passing air through a bed of burning coke to produce coke oven gas and second, by passing steam through the coke to produce water gas.[84] The first coke cremators employed what amounted to coke oven gas.[85] Processes for generating such gases are termed Vergasung in German, as well as processes of mixing them with air. The coal-fired crematory ovens that W. H. Lawrence saw at the Lublin camp after its capture by the Russians employed equipment, including fans, very similar to that described in the above quotation. Lawrence, incidentally, termed a gas chamber what was obviously a steam bath.[86]

In any case, it is obvious that the crematories at Auschwitz required equipment for doing Vergasung in order to inject a fuel-air mixture into the ovens and that the translation of NO-4473 should be revised, possibly to gas generation cellar. I have confirmed this interpretation of the Vergasungskeller with the technically competent sources in Germany. The reasons for installing such equipment in special separate rooms or even buildings are most probably the considerable noise that must be made by the fans and, in coal-fired ovens, the heat of the burning coal.

The primary meaning of the word Vergasung is of necessity applicable to document NO-4473. It is written in a technical context; it is a letter from the chief of the Auschwitz construction management to the head of the SS engineering group. It makes reference to a process, Vergasung, which is standard with all crematories, and the wording of the letter is such that it is implied that it would normally be peculiar to find bodies in the Vergasungskeller, because bodies are normally stored in what is correctly translated as the cellar used as a mortuary.

Document NO-4473 tends, in fact, like so many prosecution documents, to rejection of the prosecution’s claims when it is properly understood. We see that in Crematory II there were at least two cellars, a Leichenkeller and a Vergasungskeller, and that neither was a gas chamber.[87]

Now NO-4473 is included in the NMT volumes in a selection of prosecution evidence from Case 4 (trial of concentration camp administration). One must assume that the prosecution has selected well. Yet this is as close as it has gotten to offering the documentary evidence that gas chambers existed in the crematory buildings at Birkenau. The three gas tight Türme (towers) ordered from DAW in NO-4465[88] are obviously irrelevant.

Hilberg takes a different and even less sound approach. He inexplicably passes over NO-4473 without dealing with the problem it raises; he even quotes from the document without quoting the phrase containing the word Vergasungskeller. He simply declares that the Leichenkeller in Crematories II and III and the Badeanstalten in Crematories IV and V were, in reality, gas chambers. Absolutely no evidence is offered for this; the documents cited by Hilberg at this point do not speak of gas chambers.[89] The only evidence for interpreting the Leichenkeller and Badeanstalten in this manner is in the affidavits and testimony (June 27 and 28, 1947) in Case 4 of witness (not a defendant) Wolfgang Grosch, an engineer and Waffen-SS major, who baptized these as gas chambers, the existence of Zyklon at Auschwitz being obvious justification for such baptisms.[90] However, Grosch was a very unsteady witness since in affidavits of February 20 and March 5, 1947, he claimed knowledge of the existence of gas chambers, and then on June 26, 1947, the day before he was to testify, he retracted all these statements during interrogation and denied any knowledge of gas chambers.[91] None of Grosch’s testimony is reproduced in the NMT volumes, and Hilberg does not cite his testimony or affidavits.

There is no reason to accept, and every reason to reject, the claims regarding the Leichenkeller and Badeanstalten. As for the Badeanstalten, we have observed that a shower for incoming inmates was standard procedure at all German camps, so there must have been showers at Birkenau. Now, according to Fig. 29, the baths or Badeanstalten associated with Crematories IV and V are near filtration plants and also near Canada, where the clothes of incoming inmates was stored.[92] The steam bath was no doubt for disinfesting clothes, either prior to storage or after being temporarily taken away from inmates.[93] If it was a sauna for incoming inmates, the inmates would need a cold shower afterwards in any case. The people remove their clothing near Canada and then shower. What could be simpler?

No reasonable considerations can make these gas chambers materialize. The claim that the shower baths, which are said to have been housed in the same buildings as some of the crematory ovens, were really gas chambers is just as unfounded as was the identical claim concerning the Dachau shower bath, which existed in the crematory building at that camp.

There is, incidentally, a small amount of doubt whether the shower baths were, indeed, in the same buildings as Crematories IV and V, because the camp plan given in the WRB report has the baths in a separate building. However, the point is of no importance.

This completes the analysis of the points raised in paragraph 7 of the Höss affidavit.

Why in English?

Final paragraph

This is a minor point. It seems strange that the Höss affidavit is in English. We are not aware of any evidence that Höss knew the English language but, in common with many Germans, he might have known something about it.

However, a prudent German, signing a document of this importance voluntarily and without compulsion, would not be satisfied with an ordinary foreign language ability; he would either have considered himself expert at English or he would have insisted upon a German translation to sign (a request that would necessarily have been honored). Höss was evidently not in a spirit to insist on anything.

There is no doubt that Höss hoped to buy his life by cooperating with the IMT prosecution, and it is most probable that a specific offer was made in this connection. However, Höss’ reward for his services was to be packed off to Poland about a month after his IMT testimony. In Poland he dutifully wrote out an autobiography for his captors, wherein he explained that he was just following orders in the exterminations. His reward on this occasion was final; he was tried and killed in April 1947. The autobiography was published in Polish translation in 1951 and in German and English in 1959.

The Role of Birkenau

Birkenau, of course, performed the normal functions of a German concentration camp; it quartered inmates for the principal or ultimate aim of exploiting their labor. Thus, when we refer to the role of Birkenau, we are referring to a theory that Birkenau was the site of certain very special functions that bear particularly strongly on the matters we have been considering.

The theory, which I consider beyond dispute, is simply that Birkenau was designated to accommodate all persons who were in the non-worker category but were, for whatever reason, the responsibility of the Auschwitz SS administration. Thus, Birkenau was designated to receive the permanently or semi-permanently ill, the dying, the dead, the underage, the overage, those temporarily unassigned to employment, and those for whom Auschwitz served as a transit camp. These categories could have been received either from other camps (including the many small camps in the Kattowitz region) or from incoming transports. This theory is based on the following considerations.

First, as has been noted, Birkenau was clearly the principal camp in terms of inmate accommodating functions. Auschwitz I was the main camp in an administrative sense, but it was a converted and expanded military barracks, while Birkenau had been designed from the beginning as a much larger camp intended for the specific needs of the SS operations in the area.

Second, it has been noted that people discharged from the Monowitz hospital as unfit for work were sent to Birkenau.

Third, family camps existed at Birkenau (the gypsy and Theresienstadt camps in Fig. 29). It has been seen that these people had been designated as being in readiness for transport during their stays of pre-specified limited duration, so that the obvious interpretation of these family camps is that they were transit camps, comparable to those that existed at Belsen and Westerbork. The destination of transport has been suggested and will be discussed further in Chapter 7.

Fourth, it was only at Birkenau that unusually extensive facilities for disposal of the dead via cremation were constructed.

Fifth, it was quite normal for a very high proportion of Birkenau inmates to be unemployed. In the two years summer 1942 to summer 1944, as Reitlinger remarks, only a fraction of the starved and ailing Birkenau population had been employed at all. On April 5, 1944, 15,000 of the 36,000 Birkenau inmates were considered unable to work, while only about 3,000 of the 31,000 other prisoners of the Auschwitz area were considered in this category. A month later, two-thirds of the 18,000 inmates of the Birkenau male camp were classed as immobile, unemployable, and unassigned and were quartered in sick and quarantine blocks.[94]

This makes it impossible, of course, to accept the assumption, so often expressed, that to be sick and unemployable and to be sent to Birkenau meant execution. This has been expressed in particular in connection with sick people being sent from Monowitz to Birkenau, the assumption being reinforced by the fact that such inmates’ clothing came back to Monowitz. The return of the clothing, of course, was due to their being transferred from the Farben to the SS budget.[95]

Sixth and last, there was an unusually high death rate at Birkenau, although there are some difficulties in estimating the numbers except at particular times. The first major relevant event is the typhus epidemic of the summer of 1942, which resulted in the closing of the Buna factory for two months starting around August 1. The major evidence of this is the WRB report,[96] but there is confirming evidence. First, there certainly were typhus epidemics at Auschwitz.[97] Second, the data presented by the Dutch Red Cross (Appendix C) shows that the average death rate at the Birkenau men’s camp from July 16 to August 19, 1942, was about 186 per day, with the rates toward the end of the period noticeably higher than those toward the beginning. Third, there exists in Amsterdam a single volume of the Birkenau death book (also discussed in the Netherlands Red Cross Report).[98] This volume contains death certificates for the five days September 28 to October 2, 1942. The number of deaths is 1,500, and the causes of death that are given are those typical of typhus epidemic conditions, although Reitlinger seems to consider such recorded causes as weakness of the heart muscles and others as invented […] fanciful diagnoses of internee doctors, who were trying to save their patients from the transport list or the phenol syringe.[99] In fact, such causes of death are typical with typhus; under the Typhus Fever listing in the Encyclopedia Britannica (eleventh edition) we read:

Typhus fever may, however, prove fatal during any stage of its progress and in the early convalescence, either from sudden failure of the heart’s action — a condition which is especially apt to arise — from the supervention of some nervous symptoms, such as meningitis or of deepening coma, or from some other complication, such as bronchitis. Further, a fatal result sometimes takes place before the crisis from sheer exhaustion, particularly in the case of those whose physical or nervous energies have been lowered by hard work, inadequate nourishment and sleep, or intemperance.

On account of the policy of sending sick people to Birkenau it appears that the victims of the typhus epidemic got recorded as Birkenau deaths, regardless of where they had been working. The WRB report claims that there were fifteen to twenty thousand deaths at Auschwitz during the two or three months of the epidemic.[100] Despite the unreliability of the source the claim seems consistent, at least in order of magnitude, with such other information as we have concerning this period at Auschwitz (although there is probably at least some exaggeration). It is also the case, as we shall see below, that the summer of 1942 was by far the worst at Auschwitz.

Incidentally, the phenol syringe which Reitlinger mentions comes up in so many places in the literature that it appears to have been real; mortally ill concentration camp inmates were sometimes killed by phenol injections into the heart.[101]

The fact of a very high death rate at Auschwitz during the summer of 1942 is, of course, at best only indirectly material to an extermination problem because these were recorded deaths from normal reasons, not exterminations carried out in attempted secrecy. They also have nothing to do with Jews as such, although some of the victims were Jews.

Reitlinger considers the high death rate at Auschwitz and offers an estimate of 160 to 179 deaths per day as a normal rate. However, the data he employs is essentially that which applies to the summer of 1942, which was a particularly catastrophic period. In the connection with these high death rates we should observe the fact that the extermination mythologists Reitlinger and Hilberg make much over such happenings at Auschwitz, although they recognize the distinction between high death rates and exterminations. It is therefore remarkable, indeed almost incredible, that they do not consider the possibility that the crematories existed on account of these high death rates. On the contrary, they both treat the crematories as having been provided primarily to serve in the extermination program.

In establishments that were supposed to be providing desperately needed labor these high death rates were naturally intolerable, so in late 1942 a special campaign got under way to reduce the concentration camp death rate and on December 28, 1942, Himmler ordered that the rate be reduced at all costs.[102] On January 20, 1943, Glücks, in a circular letter to all concentration camp commanders, ordered that every means must be used to lower the death rate. On March 15, 1943, Pohl wrote Himmler that:[103]

[…] the state of health […] of the prisoners sent in by the administration of Justice is catastrophic. In all camps a loss of between at least 25–30 per cent is to be reckoned with […] till now there were 10,191 prisoners […] of which 7,587 were assigned to […] Mauthausen-Gusen. From these the deaths totaled 3,853; 3,306 of them died in Mauthausen-Gusen. The reason […] must presumably be that the many prisoners […] who have been in prisons for years are suffering from physical debility owing to the transfer to a different milieu […] a great number of tuberculosis patients were also delivered.

On April 10, 1943, Pohl requested Himmler’s approval of the draft of a letter to the Reich Minister of Justice. The letter, approved and presumably sent, points out that of 12,658 prisoners transferred to concentration camps, 5,935 had died by April 1. Pohl complained in the letter that these:

[…] shockingly high mortality figures are due to the fact that the prisons transferring them have literally released inmates who were in the worst possible physical condition [and] that in spite of all medical efforts the […] death of the prisoners cannot be retarded. […] I do not wish to support a quarantine station in the concentration camps. […]

What seems involved here is inter-departmental rivalry or, at least, conflict of interest. The prisons of Germany no doubt had their own economic-productive aspects and were not only reluctant to part with their more healthy prisoners but also eager to part with the more sickly ones.

We do not know whether or not Pohl managed to get more cooperation from the prison system. However, on September 30, 1943, he was able to report progress, due mainly to hygienic, nutritional, and procedural measures; he presented the Reichsführer-SS the following two tables with a promise that, allowing for the onset of the cold weather, the results achieved would be of a permanent nature.[104]

Table 6: Death cases in the concentration camps, July 1942 to June 1943
Month Inmates Deaths Percent Month Inmates Deaths Percent
July 98,000 8,329 8.50 Jan 123,000 9,839 8.00
Aug. 115,000 12,217 10.62 Feb. 143,000 11,650 8.14
Sept. 110,000 11,206 10.19 March 154,200 12,112 7.85
Oct. 85,800 8,856 10.32 April 171,000 8,358 4.71
Nov. 83,500 8,095 9.69 May 203,000 5,700 2.80
Dec. 88,000 8,800 10.00 June 199,500 5,650 2.83

Thus, after more than a half year of a campaign to reduce the death rate in the camps, Auschwitz still had about 80 per day on the average. Because, as had been seen, almost all the unable to work were at Birkenau, it is certain that almost all of these deaths occurred there.

Auschwitz also seems to have received some rather bad selections of inmates from other concentration camps.[105]

The Netherlands Red Cross report on Auschwitz (vol. 2) also offers some data on the death rates at Auschwitz for 1942–1943. For the period October 30, 1942, to February 25, 1943, the death rate is specified as about 360 per week on the average, and about 185 per week for the period February 26 to July 1, 1943. It is also said that a total of 124 of the Dutch Jews who entered Birkenau in July-August 1942 (mentioned above) died in the period October 30, 1942, to July 1, 1943. However, their figures for total deaths seem somewhat low and difficult to reconcile with the data presented above, so there may be some error or misunderstanding here.

It is perfectly obvious that these deaths, however deplorable and whatever the nature and location of the responsibility, had nothing to do with extermination or with Jews as such. From the point of view of the higher SS administration, they were catastrophic and efforts were made to bring them under control. It is not at all remarkable that with such death rates, cremation and mortuary facilities anticipating worst period death rates of even hundreds per day existed at Auschwitz.

The Auschwitz death rate improved but slightly during the course of the war. During 1944, when the inmate population of the camp had expanded to 100,000 or more (probably on account of territorial losses in the east which forced evacuations of labor camps), the death rate was 350 to 500 per week at Birkenau (which, as we have seen, accounted for almost the entire Auschwitz death rate).[106]

Table 7: Death cases in the concentration camps for the month of August 1943
Concentration camp Inmates Deaths August % July % Change
Dachau 17,300 40 0.23 0.32 -0.09
Sachsenhausen 26,500 194 0.73 0.78 -0.05
Buchenwald 17,600 118 0.67 1.22 -0.55
Mauthausen-Gusen 21,100 290 1.37 1.61 -0.24
Flossenbürg 4,800 155 3.23 3.27 -0.04
Neuengamme 9,800 150 1.53 2.14 -0.61
Auschwitz (men) 48,000 1,442 3.00 2.96 +0.04
Auschwitz (women) 26,000 938 3.61 5.15 -1.54
Gross-Rosen 5,000 76 1.52 2.69 -1.17
Natzweiler 2,200 41 1.87 1.63 +0.24
Bergen-Belsen 3,300 4 0.12 0.39 -0.27
Stutthof (men) 3,800 131 3.45 5.69 -2.24
Stutthof (women) 500 1 0.20 0.00 +0.20
Lublin (men) 11,500 882 7.67 4.62 +3.05
Lublin (women) 3,900 172 4.41 2.01 +2.40
Ravensbrück (men) 3,100 26 0.84 0.76 +0.08
Ravensbrück (women) 14,100 38 0.27 0.24 +0.03
Riga Herzogenbusch 3,000 1 0.03 0.33 -0.30
Total 224,000 4,669
Overall average for August 1943: 2.09
Overall average for July 1943: 2.23
Decrease: -0.14

It is a tragic fact that, even in modern times, camps established during wartime have amounted to death traps for many sent to them. The basic causes for such conditions have been similar: people thrown together chaotically in hastily organized camps, with inadequate sanitary measures and an uncertain situation as regards food and other supplies. Thus, during the American Civil War, the POW camps in the North such as Rock Island and Camp Douglas experienced death rates of 2%-4% per month. These figures were even exceeded in camps in the south such as Florence, where diarrhea and scurvy caused 20 to 50 deaths per day, in a prisoner population of about 12,000. Conditions at Andersonville were even worse, and 13,000 of the 50,000 Union POWs who were interned there perished.[107]

During the 1899–1902 Boer War in South Africa, about 120,000 non-combatant white Boers and 75,000 black Africans were placed in British concentration camps. For about a year, the Boer mortality rate ranged from 120 to 340 deaths per thousand per year (1.1% to 3.4% per month) while the Boer infant mortality rate, due chiefly to epidemics of measles, was as high as 600 per thousand per year (7.35% per month). About 20,000 Boer women and children died in these camps.[108] During World War I, the Germans mixed Russian POWs with those of other nationalities, resulting in typhus epidemics in their POW camps; conditions were strikingly similar to those experienced in the World War II concentration camps.[109] We have seen that Russians were used as labor at the concentration camps, especially at Auschwitz, so they were no doubt one of the principal sources of typhus. Because they were not considered regular concentration camp inmates, it is not clear whether or not they were included in the camp death figures which were reviewed above. However, it is certain that they contributed to the overall death rates at the camps, and that their bodies were disposed of in the same crematories, but numbers are not available.

A ridiculous feature of all this, as it strikes the student of the subject, appears in NMT volume 5, which summarizes Case 4, U.S. vs. Pohl. In section B, The Concentration Camp System, we are presented with documents which show that the camps experienced remarkably high death rates. These have just been summarized above. Then in section E, The Extermination Program, we are presented with documents showing that the Germans were building crematories at these camps at the time of the high death rates. Apparently it is believed that nobody would actually read one of these volumes, or maybe the compilers of the volumes did not read them!

Taking into account the different death rates, we can see that the number of muffles at Auschwitz was completely comparable to those which existed at camps where there were no exterminations. In 1942, crematories were constructed at Dachau and at Sachsenhausen; each contained four muffles. At Dachau, a crematory consisting of two muffles had existed prior to 1942, and the older crematory continued to be used after 1942. It is most likely that the same situation with respect to an earlier crematory held at Sachsenhausen. At Buchenwald, the pre-war cremation facilities were those, which existed in the nearby towns of Weimar and Jena. After the war started, crematories were constructed at the camp, and by the end of 1941, Buchenwald had a two tripple-muffle oven crematory. It appears that the Weimar crematory continued to be used until the end of the war.[110] It is also possible that concentration camp crematories, whether at Auschwitz, Dachau, or elsewhere, were used to dispose of the bodies of people who had nothing to do with the camps (e.g. Russian POWs).

This, then, is our view of the death camp aspect of the Nazi concentration camps. It is a view which does not harmonize with those of Christophersen and of Stäglich, who saw no high death rates and are not convinced that there existed extensive cremation facilities at Auschwitz. Our view is based on the relevant prosecution documents and comparable material, and their views are based on their observations at Auschwitz in 1944. It may seem that their observations are more to be trusted than the documentary material, but I believe that a careful consideration of the matter resolves the point in favor of our theory, while not denying their observations.

It is true that there exists a possibility of forged documents; indeed, it is more than a possibility. We shall see that there was considerable forgery of documents at Nuremberg. However, it does not appear that the documents dealing with deaths in the camps and with the constructions of crematories were forged, for the simple reason that there is absolutely nothing about extermination in them, as the reader can verify by consulting the selections of documents in NMT volume 5. They speak of a very high death rate, at certain times, in penal institutions (concentration camps), which a relatively small country, fighting against overwhelming odds for its existence, was attempting to exploit for labor. That high death rates might have been one consequence is perfectly plausible.

While the documents we have reviewed say nothing of extermination, they are nevertheless somewhat unsatisfactory in the sense that one does not get a full picture from them in regard to the causes of the death rates and the specific victims involved. The unhealthy prisoners contributed by the Ministry of Justice do not explain everything. The picture must be guessed and inferred, so here we will offer our impressions.

German concentration camps during the Thirties had only punitive and security functions, and no economic function. After the war with Russia got started, the camps underwent rapid expansion and also assumed their economic roles. Thus in 1942, there were three things happening in the camps:

  1. the rapid expansion was accompanied by the general chaos, unanticipated problems, and organizational difficulties which are common when large new enterprises are put into operation; this is particularly true of Auschwitz, which was a new camp in the process of rapidly expanding into the largest of all camps;
  2. the continued German victories and advances in Russia resulted in hordes of Russian POWs, some of whom were absorbed by the camps;
  3. unhealthy prisoners were contributed by the Ministry of Justice.

There were probably other problems, but these three factors seem to me sufficient to explain a high death rate in late 1942 — early 1943.

By late 1943 the death rate, while still deplorably high, was relatively under control as compared to the previous year and remained under control until the collapse at the end of the war. The statement of the Birkenau camp commander (Appendix D) indicates that at Auschwitz, by 1944, the deaths occurred primarily among ordinary criminals who had been transferred out of prisons. I have seen no documents, comparable to those we have reviewed, which deal with high death rates for late 1943 or any later period.

Now we are in a position to consider the observations of Christophersen and of Stäglich, which included neither crematories nor a high death rate at Auschwitz. Very simple considerations support their observations. First, deaths are naturally not things that the Auschwitz camp administration would have advertised; both the deaths and the associated cremations would naturally have been concealed to the extent that such concealment was possible. Thus in mid-1943, Pohl complained to concentration camp commanders that, too commonly, crematory buildings were situated in excessively public locations where all kinds of people could gaze at them. In response to Pohl’s complaint, Höss had a belt of trees planted around Crematories II and III. Moreover, it was the policy to carry corpses to the crematory only in the evening.[111] That Christophersen and Stäglich, who had only slight contacts with Birkenau, were unaware of the existence of a high death rate or of large crematories, is perfectly understandable.

The role that Birkenau plays in the hoax is very simple. Like any large industrial operation, Auschwitz was organized in a systematic manner thought to be of the greatest efficiency. The unemployed were quartered at Birkenau. Thus, the transit camps, to be discussed again in Chapter 7, were at Birkenau. This explains the existence of the gypsy and Jewish camps there. Also, the sick and the very sick and the dying and, perhaps, the dead were sent to Birkenau, and such concentration of the ill naturally meant that Birkenau was a death camp, complete with mortuary and cremation facilities, if one chooses to describe things thus. Indeed, of the order of one-half of all of the deaths in the entire German concentration camp system for 1942–1944 occurred at Birkenau. While the whole thing looks quite foolish when examined closely, as we have done in these chapters, the propaganda inventors obviously made a very rational choice in deciding to claim Birkenau as an extermination camp. The death rate in the concentration camp system was very high; it was near its highest at Auschwitz, which was the largest German concentration camp, and the Auschwitz deaths were concentrated at Birkenau.

Summary for Auschwitz

In the introduction to this chapter it was promised that the Auschwitz extermination legend would be shown to possess the basic trademark of the great hoax: the need for a dual interpretation of facts. This is true in every significant respect conceivable:

  1. Zyklon was employed for disinfestation and also allegedly for exterminations.
  2. The selections were necessary by the nature of the operations at Auschwitz and also allegedly for exterminations.
  3. It would not have been inaccurate (although perhaps somewhat misleading) to call Birkenau a death camp, especially at certain times (and especially when the Baruch Committee was in existence and immediately thereafter); it was also allegedly an extermination camp.
  4. Disrobing — showering procedures were followed for delousing and also allegedly for exterminations.
  5. Conventional crematories existed for accommodating both the death camp role and alleged extermination camp role of Birkenau.
  6. Some Leichenkeller were mortuaries while it is alleged that others were, in reality, gas chambers. The two types of Leichenkeller were in proximate locations at Birkenau.
  7. Some Badeanstalten were bath establishments while it is alleged that others were, in reality, gas chambers. The two types of Badeanstalten were in proximate locations at Birkenau.
  8. The stench that the people of the area experienced was due not only to the hydrogenation and other chemical processes at Auschwitz but also allegedly to the cremations.

Actually in view of the points made in the analysis, it is only charity to say that there are proposed dual interpretation of fact in connection with these eight points. The proposed interpretations of extermination are obvious lies and the last, concerning the stench, is the excess fact; the authors of the hoax should never have used the fact of the stench in their story.

The facts in contradiction to the claims, the inconsistencies and the implausibilities have been reviewed. Himmler gives his orders directly to Höss, but leaves the means to the ingenuity of Höss. The interview emphatically took place in the summer of 1941; on the other hand it must have taken place in the summer of 1942, so Höss started improvising half a year after the plans for the four crematories which were used in the exterminations were formulated. The crematories were not left to the ingenuity of Höss. Or something. Jewish families with children reside for months at Birkenau, their quarters having been previously disinfested with the same chemical product they are supposed to have been killed with on entering, but they will be killed with it later. Or something.

The analysis of Auschwitz is not complete. Although it may seem that the promised crushing blow has been delivered, the material of this chapter was not what was being referred to when that expression was used in the introduction to the chapter. Our analysis has, thus far, focused on happenings at Auschwitz and has not considered the fate of any specific nationality group of Jews at Auschwitz. For the sake of thoroughness this must be done, and we can think of no better case for emphasis than that which the bearers of the legend have selected themselves: the Hungarian Jews, whose fate or whatever it should be called will be examined in the next chapter, with special regard for the Auschwitz claims.

[1] 3868-PS
[2] IMT, vol. 11, 396–422.
[3] Hilberg (1961), 575; Reitlinger, 113.
[4] Reitlinger, 113, 502, 516f.; Red Cross (1947), 95, 98, 103f.
[5] Langbein, vol. 2, 930f.; Naumann, opposite of 19; US-WRB (1944), pt. 1, 22.
[6] IMT, vol. 6, 211.
[7] Reitlinger, 119; editor’s note: even lower figures were later claimed by Pressac (1993), 148; 1994 (202); and F. Meyer.
[8] 008-USSR (IMT, vol. 39, 261)
[9] Friedman, 14. Editor’s remark: two French sources mention higher figures: 8,000,000 (Aroneanu, 7, 196) and 9,000,000 (documentary Nuit et Brouillard; 1955)
[10] Reitlinger, 472–478; US-WRB (1945), 39f.
[11] US-WRB (1945), 49f.
[12] IMT, vol. 11, 398.
[13] Hilberg (1961), 556–560; Reitlinger, 107ff.; documents R-129, NO-719 and 1063(F)-PS in NMT, vol. 5, 298–303.
[14] Reitlinger, 109, 115.
[15] Editor’s note: on the absurdities involved with Diesel gas chamber claims see Berg.
[16] Reitlinger, 147ff.
[17] DuBois, 213. Some of the chemistry of Zyklon (Cyclon) is discussed in the article on cyanide in the Encyclopedia Britannica for 1943.
[18] Hilberg (1961), 567–571.
[19] IMT, vol. 6, 225–332.
[20] Hilberg (1961), 570 Reitlinger, 154–156.
[21] Hardenbergh, 252–254, 257–259; Knipling.
[22] IMT, vol. 6, 211, 225, 360–364; Rassinier (1962) 80, 224; Rassinier (1964), 105n; Rassinier (1965), 38–48; Reitlinger, 161n.
[23] NMT, vol. 1, 865–870; IMT, vol. 27, 340–342.
[24] Hilberg (1961), 570.
[25] Reitlinger, 161; 1553-PS.
[26] Friedlaender, vii-xii.
[27] Ibid., xi.
[28] Ibid., x.
[29] Reitlinger, 162f. See also Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte (Apr. 1953), 189n. Editor’s note: for a more recent and comprehensive work on Gerstein see Roques.
[30] Hilberg (1961), 567; Reitlinger, 155f.; documents NO-4344 and NO-4345 in NMT, vol. 5, 362–364.
[31] Hilberg (1961), 565; Reitlinger, 158n.
[32] Langbein, vol. 2, 930f.; Naumann, opposite of 19.
[33] Reitlinger, 155–158.
[34] US-WRB (1944), pt. 1, 19–21, 37f.; Reitlinger, 182f.; Blumental, 105.
[35] IMT, vol. 6, 218.
[36] Reitlinger, 183.
[37] Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 7, 109, 110n, 113.
[38] Reitlinger, 181f.; Boehm, 292f.
[39] Reitlinger, 118–121. Reitlinger remarks on the mystery presented by the data in the Netherlands Red Cross reports, which is presented and discussed here in Appendix C. The letters from Auschwitz are considered by de Jong.
[40] The Kalendarium, first published in 1964 in German as a magazine series, says that of 1500 people in a transport that arrived at Auschwitz on April 16, 1944, from the camp in Drancy, France, a certain number of the men were registered as inmates and the others gassed. Many years ago Robert Faurisson pointed out that, according to the deportation lists, the others included Simone Veil, who, as Faurisson wrote (1979, 1986a), was the first President of the European Parliament. Later I noticed that the English translation of the Kalendarium, published in 1990, engages in a little bit of revisionism on this, and now says some of the women were registered. A document from the International Tracing Service, Arolsen, Germany, is cited.
[41] Cohen, 38f.
[42] Red Cross (1947), 91f.
[43] NMT. vol. 8, 320.
[44] DuBois, 53, 173, 231; US-WRB (1945), 48–55.
[45] Lerner, 152f.
[46] Friedman, 13f.
[47] Cohen, 119.
[48] Ibid., 60.
[49] Friedman, 14f.; Reitlinger, 172; Hilberg (1961), 587; Blumental, 109f. One of the documents are reproduced in Poliakov & Wulf (1955), 198.
[50] NO-4634 in NMT, vol. 4, 1166; Eichmann, session 79, W1-Y1.
[51] IMT, vol. 11, 336–339.
[52] Poliakov & Wulf (1956), 299–302; Eichmann, session 79, Y1-Bb1; session 101, Hhl-Mml; session 107, U1-V1; session 109, F1-H1, N1, O1; NG-5077.
[53] Most of the Korherr report is reproduced in Poliakov & Wulf (1955), 240–248. Eichmann, session 77, Y1, Z1.
[54] Reitlinger, 557. Documents reproduced in Poliakov & Wulf (1955), 197–199.
[55] Editor’s remark: On special treatment at Auschwitz cf. Mattogno (2004a).
[56] IMT, vol. 11, 400f.
[57] IMT, vol. 11, 420; Central Commission, 87f.
[58] Central Commission, 83f.; Rassinier (1962), 85f. Rassinier does not cite a source, so he presumably got it from Central Commission. Editor’s remark: in early 1942 only one new crematory for the Auschwitz main camp was planned. The other three crematories were added in the summer of 1942, after an expansion of the camp to some 200,000 inmates had been decided upon and after the typhus epidemic had already broken out; cf. Mattogno (2010), 289f.
[59] Reitlinger, 157f.; Hilberg (1961), 565; NO-4472.
[60] Central Commission, 83; Rassinier (1962), 86; NO-4461.
[61] Reitlinger, 159; NO-4353, NO-4400 & NO-4401 in NMT, vol. 5, 353–356; NO-4445; NO-4448. Photograph also in Schoenberner and in Nyiszli.
[62] Friedman, 54; editor’s note: crematory I later received a third double-muffle oven, resulting in 6 muffles altogether. See Mattogno (2003a), 373–412, and Mattogno (2005b).
[63] The halls adjacent to the furnace rooms of Crematories IV & V were mortuaries. Several more rooms existed in these buildings, of which three small ones do not bear any descriptions in the blueprints. These were obviously shower rooms and/or delousing rooms; orthodox historians claim, however, that these were execution gas chambers; cf. Pressac (1989), 401; Mattogno (2010), 158–180; editor’s note.
[64] NMT, vol. 5, 619f.
[65] 008-USSR; editor’s note: the crematories IV & V each obtained one eight-muffle oven, whose muffles had a design similar to those of the other crematories; cf. Mattogno (2003a) for details. Regarding the ovens near the baths for special purpose cf. Mattogno (2010), 206–212.
[66] NO-4466 in NMT, vol. 5, 624; editor’s note: apart from Mattogno (2003a) see also Mattogno (2010), 158–180, on some aspects of construction works on these buildings.
[67] Friedman, 20, 74, 78; Hilberg (1961), 632.
[68] 008-USSR; Central Commission, 88; US-WRB (1944), pt. 1, 14–16; Phillips, 158; Blumental, 100.
[69] Rassinier (1962), 245–249.
[70] On Nyiszli see Provan; editor’s note.
[71] DuBois, 221. NO-1245.
[72] Cohen, 81, 125. See also Phillips, 159, and Appendix D here.
[73] NMT, vol. 5, 624f. See also Blumental, 100.
[74] Polson, 138, 143–145.
[75] Editor’s note: equipped with modern ecological technology, today’s refineries do no longer produce such an intensive smell.
[76] Polson, 138f.
[77] DuBois, 340f.
[78] IMT, vol. 11, 421.
[79] DuBois, 218, 230, 232.
[80] Polson, 137–146.
[81] Reitlinger, 158f. Editor’s remark: the English gerund suffix -ing can very well be translated using the German prefix ver-, hence Reitlinger’s is not wrong as such.
[82] Polson, 142.
[83] 008-USSR; Central Commission, 89.
[84] Johnson & Auth, 259–261.
[85] Polson, 141.
[86] The New York Times (Aug. 30, 1944), 1.
[87] Editor’s remark: This 1976 interpretation turned out to be wrong. See the author’s new interpretation in the Appendix, Supplement 5: Vergasungskeller.
[88] NMT, vol. 5, 622f.
[89] Hilberg (1961), 566.
[90] Grosch’s testimony is supposed to be in the Case 4 transcript, 3565–3592, but these pages were missing in the transcript copy I consulted. Presumably he testified in agreement with his affidavit NO-2154.
[91] NO-2154 quoted in Rassinier (1962), 84ff, and also in Poliakov & Wulf (1955), 136. Grosch’s pre-court wavering is reported in the Ortmann memorandum attached to NO-4406.
[92] Central Commission, 41, 43; Naumann, 194, 254; German edition of Naumann, 540.
[93] IMT, vol. 6, 211.
[94] Reitlinger, 125; NO-021 in NMT, vol. 5, 385. See also Phillips, 729, or Appendix D herein.
[95] DuBois, 192, 220.
[96] US-WRB (1944), pt. 1, 30, 32; Reitlinger, 122.
[97] DuBois, 209.
[98] The death book is at the Rijksinstituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie, and is discussed by the Netherlands Red Cross, vol. 1, 8–12. Editor’s remark: See the Sterbebücher von Auschwitz (Auschwitz Death Books) as published by the Auschwitz Museum (Staatlichen Museum… 1995); see also the analysis by Aynat (1998).
[99] Reitlinger, 122f.
[100] US-WRB (1944), pt. 1, 32. Editor’s remark: The typhus epidemic in fact raged at Auschwitz with varying intensity until late 1943, i.e. almost one and a half years, with a total of probably twice as many victims as given in the WRB report.
[101] E.g. Burney, 108f.
[102] Reitlinger, 127; 2172-PS.
[103] NO-1523 and NO-1285 in NMT, vol. 5, 372–376.
[104] 1469-PS in NMT, vol. 5, 379–382.
[105] NO-1935 in NMT, vol. 5, 366f.
[106] Phillips, 729, or Appendix D herein. Case 6 transcript, 14326.
[107] Hesseltine, 152, 156, 192, 203; Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 1, 960.
[108] Amery, vol. 5, 252f., 601; vol. 6, 24f.
[109] Encyclopedia Britannica, 12th ed., vol. 32 (third volume supplementing 11th ed.), 157.
[110] Komitee der Antifaschistischen…, 86; M.J. Smith, 95; NO-3863 and NO-3860 in NMT, vol. 5, 613–616; Internationales Buchenwald-Komitee, 206f. and Fig. 55; Musiol, Figs. 88–91.
[111] Documents NO-1242 and NO-4463, cited by Hilberg (1961), 566; Phillips, 731 or Appendix D herein.